Tips on Writing

“Hey Dad, I can’t see too good, is that Bill Shakespeare over there?” How might we encourage the aspiring writers among us, if we want to do better than Chris Farley in the famous “van down by the river” SNL skit? Writing is a gift, a stewardship—a tool to be leveraged for the kingdom. Slipshod, grainy, bland writing generally accomplishes less for the kingdom than writing that is colorful, sonorous, and compact. And its less fun. So here are the five biggest tips I would give to those wanting to improve the quality of their writing. See also my earlier…

Fall Update

Esther and I are headed to Nashville this week for some much needed vacation time. Its been a very full and rewarding summer in the youth ministry. We’ve done several trips and lots of other events, and ‘m grateful to catch my breath before heading into our fall kickoff. This month I’ve also started working at The Gospel Coalition as an editor. That means basically I am responsible for recruiting/writing 3 articles a week in the realm of Bible/theology or ministry. Its been a lot of fun so far. I love thinking about posts and series ideas that will edify the…

Reflections on God’s Not Dead

2014 has certainly been an interesting year for Christians going to the movies. We’ve already had the controversy about Noah, we’re currently seeing Christians respond very differently to Heaven is For Real, and we still have Exodus: Gods and Kings to go this December (a movie about the exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses). Another movie that has had a big splash within Christian culture, despite being panned by the critics, is God’s Not Dead, which tells the story of college student Josh responding to his atheist professor’s challenge that “God is dead” (along with several interconnected subplots). I saw…

Revival isn’t Weird

I really enjoying watching these 2005 interviews of my Grandparents. Thanks to my friend Mark Ellis for doing them. Its meaningful to hear their voices and see their personalities after they’ve gone to be with the Lord, and its inspiring to hear them share the story of this mini-revival on Wheaton’s campus back in the 1970’s. One of the comments that that I particularly appreciate here is my Grandad’s assertion at about 5:07 that “there was nothing weird about it—it was honesty.” Later he says, “it was happy—relief and release.” I think one of the reasons many well-meaning Christians don’t…

Christmas Books for 2014

I got several good books for Christmas. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read them! The next best thing is to skim the first chapter, or enough to get a sense of what they are about, and then file them away until a day I have more time—hopefully later in 2014. Here are the four books I got, and what interests me about each of them. 1) Four Views on the Historical Adam This is the other Zondervan Counterpoints book that came out last month along with Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy. The contributors are: No Historical Adam: Evolutionary Creation…

Thoughts on Scholarship

This fall quarter I took a PhD seminar called Historiography. Its basically a research methods class for work in historical studies, and specifically church history. I’ve been plowing through a lot German and French stuff, learning new methods for locating obscure old articles and monographs, and writing a rough draft of the first chapter of my dissertation. Its been a lot of fun, and caused me to reflect on the nature of scholarship. Some miscellaneous thoughts: 1) Scholarship can be used for great good. Its like the army, or the press, or technological advance. It can serve the greater good…

Will there be scholarship in heaven?

This would make for a fun journal article. And it would be a window into some important larger issues, like continuity/discontinuity between creation and new creation. Here’s my tentative answer: certainly there are some realms of scholarship that are only necessary in a fallen world—for example, the study of medicine will no longer be necessary when sickness and death are extinguished. And certainly there are some characteristics of scholarship in a fallen world that will need to be purged—the pretentiousness, the elitism, the (at times) dishonesty, and so forth. But at its best, scholarship simply represents an apparatus in which…

Keys for Ministry Longevity

I was recently reading a bit of Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving And Thriving, by Bob Burns, Tasha Chapman, and Donald Guthrie (three old seminary professors). It looks like a really helpful book, and sparked some thoughts in me on what the key elements for a healthy ministry over the long haul are. As I was reading, I was reminded of how partial seminary training is. A minister going to seminary is like a basketball coach reading books about basketball, or a general reading books about war. Its good, but it only covers one portion of what…