Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Reordering the Trinity: Six Movements of God in the New Testament by Rodrick K. Durst

Rodrick K. Durst gives a marvelous gift to the Body of Christ, the Church. In his book he explores the triadic patterns of the Trinity in the New Testament. Dr. Durst took up the challenge to explore the meaning of the varieties of triadic orders presented in scripture. There are six possible combinations of Father Son and Spirit. Dr. Durst identifies seventy-five places in the New Testament where they are discernible and notes the context of each order and it’s implications.

In Part 1: Considering Four Key Questions, Durst discusses things like why does the Trinity matter? Where did the Trinity come from? Was the Trinity in the minds of the New Testament writers? As well as a very good chapter on the development of ideas about the Trinity throughout history.

The heart of the book is Part 2: The Contextual Question and the Trinitarian Matrix. Divided into six chapters each addressing one of the possible triadic orders. Those chapters are as follows:

Chapter 5: The Sending Triad: Father Son Spirit as the Missional Order
Chapter 6: The Saving Triad: Son Spirit Father as the Regenerative Order
Chapter 7: The Indwelling Triad: Son Father Spirit as the Christological Witness Order
Chapter 8: The Standing Triad: Spirit Father Son as the Sanctifying Order
Chapter 9: The Shaping Triad: Father Spirit Son as the Spiritual Formation Order
Chapter 10: The Uniting Triad: Spirit Son Father as the Ecclesial Order

This book will help anyone who desires to better understand the Trinity doctrinally as well as practical applications for living a fuller Trinitarian experience as a Christian believer. The book is scholarly but not written in a way that would keep non-specialists from gaining much benefit. The ample footnotes, very useful appendices, and bibliography are welcome resources. Each chapter has discussion questions and Part 2 in addition has what Dr. Durst calls sermon starters. To me they seem to be meditative synopsis with practical applications. Excellent work in my opinion.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


1. The Parable of the Sower or The Parable of the Soil

In this series I am writing about two parables. I don’t mean to infer from my title that this parable is actually two, just that it is known by two names. First I will discuss the parable of the sower, then in future posts I will discuss this parable in relation to the parable of the hidden treasure.

The parable of the sower is told in three gospels, commonly called the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The parable of the hidden treasure is found only in Matthew. As we look at the parables I would like to demonstrate a principle of biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) that I call Scripture Best Interprets Scripture. “Use the Bible to help interpret itself. Interpret difficult passages with clear ones. This is sometimes called the law of non-contradiction. Because the Bible is God’s word, and God is true, the Bible will not contradict itself.” i

So let us begin. For sake of space I will leave you to read the parable for yourself. I suggest you read it from all three of the gospels. It is the same parable but each gospel author tells it with some slight differences. It is my thinking that these differences clarify rather than confuse, more views give us a wider perspective. I will highlight some of these along the way.

All three gospels begin “a sower went out to sow”.

The first condition is that the seeds fell along the path and then the birds devoured them. Not unusual; birds like seed. I remember feeding pigeons as a young boy. I was fascinated by the power I held in my hand. These birds would normally never come near me but as I began to scatter seed they came from everywhere and some were even so bold as to land on my head and arm. So is the intended meaning that a farmer should take care not to waste the seed or is it to show how to attract birds? Hmmmm? Lets keep reading.

The second condition we are told is rocky ground without much soil. Luke tells us that the soil “had no moisture” So what happens to seeds under these conditions? They spring up but have no depth so when the sun is hot they wither away. Again as a young boy at my school’s science fair, I had to present a science project. Mine was radish seeds/sprouts, my experiment was something like this. I learned the basics of germination. In order for seeds to grow, they need moisture and light (but not too much). The moral? A lack of moisture plus a hot sun kills the seedlings. So wouldn't a farmer avoid this situation? You bet, farmers clear the rocks from their fields.

Third condition is some seeds fell among thorns and “the thorns grew up and choked them.” Have you noticed anything yet? Perhaps a progression? First birds eat the seeds, this is rapid they don’t even get to germinate. Then the rocky ground prevents the seedlings from developing after germination but at least they sprouted. Here the thorns are choking the plants. This takes a little more time. I planted strawberries about five years ago. Overall they are doing good. I made one small mistake though. I thought I was doing the right thing. I used my lawnmower clippings as mulch. It worked great the first couple of years. I thought I was keeping the weeds down and it did for a time. But slowly the Bermuda grass clippings I was placing in my strawberries for mulch took root. Now it is a yearly battle to pull the Bermuda grass out. The grass is choking my strawberries! I am not a very good farmer.

The fourth condition is what every farmer wants, the seeds fell on good soil and produced crops. So what does all this mean? Jesus’ disciples had the same question. Mark’s version of the disciples asking Jesus about this is informative for interpreting parables “How then will you understand all the parables?” Luke and Matthew record for us that Jesus intends for the disciples “know the secrets of the Kingdom” so shouldn't we pay attention to what Jesus is about to tell them?

i Lesson 6: Principles of Biblical Interpretation, https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-6-principles-biblical-interpretation, last accessed 4/26/2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: REFLECT, Becoming Yourself by Mirroring the Greatest Person in History by Thaddeus J. Williams

How would I describe this book? Is it theology, spiritual-formation, Christian living? Yes, yes and yes. I once read that the fruit of the Spirit is singular in Galatians 5:22 because they are not fruits but fruit; one fruit with multiple facets. To have one is to have them all. REFLECT, Becoming Yourself by Mirroring the Greatest Person in History by Thaddeus J. Williams is very helpful towards that end. Integrating the characteristics of Christ in an authentic way to bring Him glory, the author shows, is God’s design for our lives and God’s means to bring it about.

Each chapter; Reason, Emote (passion), Flip (holiness), Love, Elevate (grace), Create, Transform could stand on their own. The author provides many notes and challenged my thinking and preconceptions in an engaging and stimulating manner. Like a good friend speaking to my doubts and intimidations he leads me to the place where I can see for myself. There is much food for thought in each progressive chapter.

There are many quotes that I could give but my favorite came from the last chapter Transform, “Jesus is not a sum; he is a fully integrated Person. Every one of his attributes can be used as an adjective or adverb to describe any other attribute.” The author also kindly provides a REFLECT log you can copy from his book or download from his webpage. It is a suggested tool that he has used for 10 years and it is sort of a check list or inventory to help you to reflect on the status of your journey.

If purchase this book I would recommend buying two. You will get part way through and think of others you would love to share this journey with. If you lead a small study or prayer group this would make an excellent addition to your times together.

I love to meditate on scripture; this book would, in my mind, fall under Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”

I am very grateful to The Weaver Book Company for providing me a copy of the book for an unbiased review. I am hopeful for the books success and looking forward to a study guide. I will be using this in my small group.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Meditation for Easter

Meditation for Easter

Psalm 2 verse 6

✠I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill. ✠

Psalm 3 verse 2

✠Many are saying of my soul, 
‘There is no salvation for him in God.’ (cf. Mk 15:26-32)

Psalm 3 verse 4

✠I cried aloud to the LORD, 
and he answered me from his holy hill. (cf. Mk 15:34)
Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani

Psalm 3 verse 5

✠I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. (cf. Mk 16:6)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Spirituality of Paul by Leslie T. Hardin

The author starts with good background on the meaning of the term spirituality. He then asks a series of questions about how it relates to Paul. How does Paul imitate Jesus? What spiritual disciplines did he make use of? Then each following chapter focuses on one of the attributes of Paul’s spirituality.

In speaking of Paul’s use of the Old Testament the author says, “There’s hardly a chapter that doesn't contain a quote, an allusion, or a rhetorical wink in the direction of something from the Old Testament.” (p. 28)  The author takes some time to translate (my word) Paul’s oft used phrase, “works of the law” and refers to E. P. Sanders work. I found that very helpful.  He sums up Paul’s devotion to scripture as a progression; from learning about scripture, through thinking with scripture, to thinking from scripture.

This little book (182 pages) is not given to a swift read. I made that mistake and had to start again. This book in spite of it’s size is best read slowly. Not because it is difficult but rather because it is compressed. Each paragraph holds much to chew and digest. So don’t make my mistake, read it slowly and allow the author to show you something worth waiting for. For example as I was reading I was a bit irritated that there were so many scriptural references strung into the paragraph. I thought why  didn't the author just quote one or two examples? Then I took the time to look them up. Wow, I am glad I did.

Chapter 1 starts the journey of Paul’s spirituality with “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”. Chapter 2 explores Paul’s devotion to scripture. Chapter 3 explores Paul’s prayers. This chapter is rich and where I needed look up all the references the author gives. The most mentioned theme in Paul’s prayers is for others to have “continued growth in the faith” (p. 49)  One point which I found odd or perhaps misplaced, was the author’s treatment of Abba. (Rom 8:15, Gal 4:6) He points out that Abba should not be equated with Daddy (he provides footnotes) but he neglects to discuss why Paul would use that term.

The other themes dealt with in the following chapters are Disciple-Making, Proclaiming Christ, Worship, Holiness, Spiritual Gifts, Encouraging Others, Chapter 10 is on Suffering and Hardin definitely saved the best for last. The idea discussed is Paul’s Suffering through the lens of the “Suffering Servant” from Isaiah 42-56. This idea is rich and hopefully the author will develop it further.

One very helpful thought given is about the tension we feel about the origin of suffering. Does God cause it or allow it? Hardin very wisely (IMHO) offers “Sometimes the question of my response to suffering is of more concern to the Father and to my own spiritual development than is the question of its origin. (p. 166)

The 11th and final chapter is sort of an epilogue. Each chapter is densely packed and this one helped to unpack and give pause to meditate and digest. This work deserves careful attention and there are treasures to be gleaned, but as I said before, don’t hurry through this one.  The author also includes 8 pages of bibliography. Well done.

Monday, March 13, 2017

i see the Glory

rocks and trees 
water and sky

beauty i behold
through my eye

light shines bright 
photons fly

i see the Glory
I wonder why

This image is not original with me I found it here 

I encourage you to visit that site and see the other beautiful images of Lake Tahoe. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Let Your Kingdom Come

(I normally dislike music embedded in web-pages but this was so well done I couldn't not give you the option.)

Let Your Kingdom come” This is the second imperative in the Lord’s Prayer.

Before we look at that imperative, lets get a little background from something Jesus did in Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus asked his disciples “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples began to rattle off a list of possibilities that the people had been saying. “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Jesus is asking what do they think? And then he asks, “What do you think?” Most of us know what Peter answered. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

These verses are a source of some controversy and division across denominational lines. I don’t intend to address that here. What I find stunning is how Jesus answered Peter. “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Peter did not discover this truth. It was revealed by “my Father who is in heaven”.

So then; The confession of “Jesus as the Christ” is evidence of someone who is living in the Kingdom. Consider the following scriptures; Rom 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” Matt 10:32-33 “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” 1 John 4:15 "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God."

Next, Jesus in Matthew 16:18-19 says, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The implication of these verses are debated in Christianity. I draw your attention to them because I hope you will see that the Lord’s Prayer is a helpful rubric for understanding these verses. As I mentioned above I am not going to address the meaning of “the keys” or “the rock”, but I will discuss the ideas of binding and loosing.

What is Jesus talking about? Is Jesus giving Peter the authority to bind and loose whatever he chooses? This idea makes the imagination run wild with possibilities. So in order to tame the imagination I suggest we use the Lord’s Prayer as a filter, a hermeneutic if you will to inform our imagination and understanding. “Let your kingdom come” becomes then a helpful guide with which to understand what Jesus is saying in vs 20.

So then when I pray let your kingdom come, I am not attempting to affect conditions in heaven. When I “bind” or “loose” something on earth I should not expect those things to be bound or loosed in heaven. It should be the reverse, praying let your kingdom come, I am attempting to affect conditions on earth. When I “bind or “loose” something on earth it should be something already bound or loosed in heaven. As Tom Wright has mentioned in his book The Lord and His Prayer Heaven is to come down! "Think of the vision at the end of Revelation. It isn’t about humans being snatched up from earth to heaven. The holy city, new Jerusalem, comes down from heaven to earth. God’s space and ours are finally married, integrated at last. That is what we pray for when we pray ‘thy Kingdom come’." (Pg. 24)

What are the things that are bound and loosed in heaven? Here are a few examples.

From Ephesians:
  • We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
  • God the Father chose us in Jesus “before the creation of the world” to be holy.
  • God has predestined us for adoption to sonship.
  • The Father has given us a surety of the Holy Spirit who guarantees our inheritance.

From Hebrews:
  • Jesus Christ is our high priest in heaven.

From James:
  • Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

From 1 Peter:
  • An inheritance that can never perish.

Also the sermon on the Mount gives examples of what citizens of the Kingdom will look like.

From Matthew:
  • Poor in spirit
  • Persecuted for righteousness
  • Hungry for righteousness
  • Meek
  • Pure in heart
  • Peacemakers
  • Merciful
Pray that these things would be bound in your heart as they already are in Heaven. Pray that they would come down and be made manifest in our lives on earth for the glory of God our Father and our Lord Jesus.

I’ll close with this thought from Mt 5:16.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

To pray “Let your kingdom come” would look something like this. Loosing the good works in heaven;
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10

Jonah’s Prayer

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying,

I called I cried
out out out
out to the LORD
out of my distress
out of the belly of Hell!

He answered me
He heard my cry

You cast me drove me
into into away
into the deep
into the heart of the seas
away from your sight!

Wait! I will look again
I will look again on Your Holy Temple

My life slammed shut forever
deeper deeper down
deeper in water
deeper in weeds
down in death!

What? You O Lord
brought me up from the pit

Those not I
ignore Your faithfulness
Those not I
love their self made ideas

I not those
render Yours to You
I not those
gratefully yell
Salvation is from the LORD!

Inspired by Jonah 2:2–9