Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why I Haven't Been Blogging Much Lately

One word. Greek. It is a ton of work. I am two weeks behind before a mid-term next week. I have about 100 vocabulary words to stuff into my head over the next week, and I have to keep the other 550-600 words from falling out. I have to translate 1 John 3:19-5:21 (here in Greek), bone up on my Greek syntax, finish 1 John in Stott's excellent commentary on The Letters of John, and complete two more 20 minute, audio-recorded readings/ translations/ meditations.

I'm tired! I've been working mornings and evenings on Greek, to the neglect of my family (!), and I even dream Greek vocabulary words!

So, I'll post when I can!

~ Todd ~

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gracious Engagement of Google Geeks

Wow. I think Tim Keller is an incredibly gifted minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He recently spoke about some very difficult questions (discussed more fully in his new book, The Reason for God) with a skeptical, and packed, audience at Google, and he blew me away with his gracious attitude and mastery of the philosophical subject matter.

Here's the video on youtube.

I believe God is using Tim Keller to engage people that many other ministers cannot.

Interestingly, one questioner commented that the only recent guest to draw half the crowd that Dr. Keller did was a sex-blogger giving a talk on sex education. May the name of Jesus Christ be praised.

~ Todd ~

ht |

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Unclean Made Clean

Yesterday, as I was studying my Greek vocabulary, my children were "helping" me. I began trying to use some of the Greek words to describe everyday activities, like "get your ποδος (foot) off me!" Or, "raise your χείρ (hand)!" It was just silly.

My son had just finished with his shower, and so I asked, "are you ακαθαρτος (unclean)?" Of course, he didn't understand, but when I explained my question in English, he said, "Yes."

"Yes?" I asked. "Didn't you just take a shower?"

"Oh!" answered Brandon. "I thought you meant unclean because of sin!"

The poor boy doesn't have a chance. He's already pondering theology on a regular basis. Sometimes I'm shocked by how clearly he is like me. He even summarizes, restates, and illustrates things that I teach him. It is something that I have always done--a tool for trying to understand and clarify.

Did I mention that he's seven?

"Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and grace in creating a little one who is so much like me. He is made in my image, just like I am made in yours. I only ask that you help me not to pass on the sinful tendencies of my heart. Make the unclean in both of us clean before you through the sacrifice of your Son, our King, Jesus Christ the Righteous!"

~ Todd ~

Friday, March 14, 2008

Up Next on the MP3 Player

Have you heard of Arturo Azurdia? He's the "Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Director of Pastoral Mentoring at Western Seminary in Portland, OR." He is the author of Spirit Empowered Preaching, and he founded and served Christ Community Church in Fairfield, CA, for 19 years.

While serving at Christ Community Church, Azurdia preached several book series, including my next audio adventure through the book of Revelation. While listening to the introductory sermon, from 1 Corinthians 13 of all places, I became convinced that I will not be disappointed with this series!

Azurdia argues that we should avoid falling into either of two very common categories: becoming one who is obsessed with John's Revelation and all the related charts and graphs, and becoming one who shuns this book because of all the wild and difficult to understand interpretations. We should not avoid this book, and he pleads with his congregation to embrace one another even when differences of opinion might arise (thus the 1 Corinthians text).

I look forward to sharing some of "Art's" thoughts as I listen through the series. Feel free to join me by downloading the sermons here. You can also obtain the free two-CD set of mp3s from for the price of shipping.

May God bless the hearing of this particularly difficult and often mis-interpreted book!

~ Todd ~

Free Download of the Gospel of John by Max McLean

Get a free download of John's Gospel as narrated by Max McLean. This is the NIV from The Listener's Bible. Download it, listen to it, give it away for evangelism.

Check it out here.

~ Todd ~

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"He meant to pass by them..."

Photo by Brian - Progressive Spin
Sometimes the Bible says things that just make your head spin. I am convinced by Scripture that God "works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11). He is large and in charge.

And he became a man. He continued to rule over nature (Mark 4:35-41), to cast out demons (Mark 5:1-20), and to heal the sick (Mark 5:21-43), and yet he imposed some limits on his power and knowledge.

Mark 6:48 is a prime example of this. Jesus, having sent his disciples on across the Sea of Galilee, decided to walk to meet them. But he didn't want to walk around the lake, he just decided to walk across it. And he meant to pass by them. He was going to just walk on by during the storm and greet them on the other side.

Here's my question: if God (Jesus) intended to do something, but didn't, how do I reconcile this with the facts that I know about God from other passages in the Bible? Like the fact that God "does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth" (Daniel 4:35). If Jesus intended to pass by them, what prevented him from doing so?

If the Bible had simply said that Jesus intended to prove his deity (once again) to his disciples by walking on the water right up to the boat and joining his disciples, this passage would be much easier to understand. Or he could have passed by them without being seen and greeted them on the other side, and they would have been amazed by how he beat them across the sea.

I think this passage reveals a.) something about the relationship that Jesus, the God-man, had with God the Father, and b.) a behind the scenes picture about how God sometimes works. First, we see that Jesus intended to pass by them, but that was not in God the Father's ultimate plan. The God-man, who never sinned, planned one course of action, yet yielded to God the Father's sovereign providence without sin. Seriously, this is making my head hurt. So we, too, may be perfectly obedient while following one course of action, and God may redirect us.

Second, we see that Jesus used supernatural means to accomplish his purposes, even in mundane things like travel. This is not the first time someone traveled supernaturally. Elijah traveled for 40 days without food or water (1 Kings 19). Philip was carried supernaturally from the Ethiopian Eunuch to Azotus without knowing what had happened to him (Acts 8).

All we are left with is wonder and amazement at how God works in this world.

~ Todd ~

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eight Years of Romans

Photo by Dan Kamminga
How long does it take to listen to eight years worth of sermons on Romans? For me, with a thirty-minute commute each way to work, it took about 2 1/2 years. Yesterday I finished listening to John Piper's 218 sermon series on "Romans: The Greatest Letter Ever Written." What a blessing! I have been helped and shaped in ways I might never understand. Piper has been the closest thing I have had to a mentor without my having ever met him.

I praise God for his work in the lives of men like John Piper and for using them to make disciples.

~ Todd ~

Monday, March 10, 2008

When Did Jesus Become Famous?

In Mark 6, Jesus sent out his disciples, two by two, into the surrounding cities and villages. They were commissioned to cast out demons, heal the sick, and call people to repentance. And so his disciples did. I wonder what they must have felt as they traveled and healed and exercised authority over the demonic powers. Strangely enough, this was the means by which God used to introduce the world to his Son. You mean he didn't just audition for "Palestinian Idol"?!?

Notice in verse 14, king Herod heard about all the things Jesus' disciples were doing. "King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known." Don't you see? Its the same today; God calls his followers to go out and heal and pray for and minister to people. By doing so, the name of Jesus becomes known. Doesn't this sound quite similar to the Great Commission?

So, how are you doing at making the name of Jesus famous? Are you even considering making the name of Jesus famous? Or are you actually causing damage to the name of Jesus by the way you act and speak and think and don't act? Imagine Jesus' disciples' reaction when Jesus told them to go without money or clothes. "Don't pack, just get out there and help people in my name."

I'm feeling convicted. How 'bout you?

~ Todd ~

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A State of Emergency

New Albany, Indiana, has received about 10-12 inches of snow, and it fell rapidly. Our county government has declared a state of emergency and asked that everyone stay off the roads. Our family ventured out this morning to play, and despite the cold, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, we will not be having church tomorrow, so we will miss meeting together with our church family.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool." -- Isaiah 1:18

~ Todd ~

Friday, March 07, 2008


No, not the song by AC/DC. Thunderstruck by a thunder-snowstorm! It is bizarre. I hear the rumble and I think, "Hmm... lightning... rain... wind... hail?" Nope, snow! It is surreal. We're expecting 8 to 14 inches! More sovereignty meditations could flow, but not tonight. I'm working on Greek.

Greek... Even more reasons to ponder God's sovereignty!

~ Todd ~

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

More Valuable Than Many Sparrows

Every time I fly in a plane, I get a bit of a knot in my stomach. It's not that I'm afraid or even worried, it is just that I wonder if this will be my last flight. Every time the plane approaches the runway for a landing I recognize my utter helplessness; every breath I take is caused and sustained by the Sovereign King of Creation. I cannot cause my heart to beat or my brain to work or my eyes to see. I am completely dependent upon God for my every experience.

So, I close my eyes, and the Holy Spirit calls to my mind spectacular passages of Scripture like this one:

"29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. . . . 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." -- Matthew 10:29, 31

I know the context of this passage refers to times of persecution, but it still applies to my situation. Because God is Sovereign, or he is not. It is simple. And we can trust him even when landings are tragic, or almost tragic:

"Thank you, Jesus, for speaking words of comfort and peace, and for preserving them for your servants so long ago!"

~ Todd ~

P.S. - Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love to fly; I was just reminded of the butterflies this past weekend.

Monday, March 03, 2008

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

Photo by mamjodh
I've been listening to Jeremy Riddle's Full Attention CD tonight, and one track has really grabbed my attention. It's based on William Cowper's song, God Moves in a Mysterious Way, and it is captivating. This song makes me think of Jonathan Edwards' famous quote:

"The Doctrine of God's Sovereignty has very often appeared an exceeding pleasant, bright and sweet Doctrine to me: and absolute Sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God."

Here are the lyrics of Riddle's version:

God moves in a mysterious way
His Wonders to perform
He plants His Footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm
Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright Designs
And works His sovereign Will

And ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings
Yeah (and) in blessings (yeah)
And in blessings on your head

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His Grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face
His Purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding ev'ry hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flow'r

And ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings
Yeah (and) in blessings (yeah)
And in blessings on your head

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His Work in vain
For God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain
In His own time
In His own way yes
In His own time
In His own way

I bow my sinful heart before a holy and righteous God who wrote history and included me in his family.

And all I have to offer is worship.

~ Todd