Bags of Bran

From Your Perspective
June 27, 2018, 1:49 pm
Filed under: Bible, Biography

Job’s words in Job 26:5-14 reflect a man confronted with “the fringes of His ways” (14). Here we see serpents pierced, Rahab shattered, the moon obscured, the north stretched over empty space. Clearly, for Job, there is a numinous quality to nature: it is, in some ways, as frightening and mysterious as nature’s God.

But when we consider Job’s relationship to this God at this point in the narrative, it makes sense. Let’s assume that you believe, as Gerard Manley Hopkins put it, that “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” Now, put yourself in Job’s position: The God that he feared and served and loved had, by all appearances, done him dead wrong. Job’s relationship with God was embittered. Back to this passage: when you know that God is all-powerful and all-knowing and everywhere-present, but you aren’t sure of your standing before Him, this is what nature looks like to you. It is a terrifying place.

Compare Job 26 with Psalm 8, where the author sings of God’s creation from an entirely different perspective. God’s presence in and behind the forces of nature are no longer uncanny and hostile: His name is majestic in all the earth! No longer are the signs in the heavens portents of divine wrath: they are splendid! Why?

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.” (Psalm 8:3–8, NASB95)

Here is the difference: David was certain of God’s love for him. These two men could look on the same set of phenomena and come away with very different impressions based on the status of their relationship to the Creator.


Token Life Update
January 3, 2018, 2:11 pm
Filed under: Biography, Personal Adventures

I’ve been away too long, so many have probably given up on any chance that I’ve been thinking about anything worth writing about. The facts are thus (in no particular order):

  1. I hurt my back in October and have been struggling since.
  2. Prior to that, I had been scrambling around to accomplish summertime things, such as get in shape, because
  3. I was sick for much of the spring with things like strep and influenza.
  4. I have also been lazy, which is what makes 1-3 seem like such valid excuses.

Meanwhile my kids have become bigger and smarter. Man, do I love them! Their personalities can be summed up thus:

In a few days, I and the Mrs will be celebrating the beginning of our 18th year of marriage. To say that she has blossomed since she’s been a pastor’s wife would be criminal understatement. She’s more than just a secretary (not only because she’s been on maternity leave for the past three years from her secretarial duties): she is incredibly thoughtful and reminds me often that so-and-so is having a tough time and  could probably use a word of encouragement. It’s like having an alarm clock for my conscience! Beyond this, our kids are really turning out to be neat little people. They spend just about every waking moment with Lady, so it’s no coincidence.

That’s all for now! Maybe soon I’ll get around to writing about my favorite 1 Timothy commentaries or waxing bike chains or something like that.

The Neglected Resource
September 23, 2017, 9:22 am
Filed under: Biography

The wisdom of Socrates: find an older person who has been where you’re going. Listen.

“There is nothing which for my part I like better, Cephalus, than conversing with aged men; for I regard them as travellers who have gone a journey which I too may have to go, and of whom I ought to inquire, whether the way is smooth and easy, or rugged and difficult.”

-Plato, Republic

Preaching Was People Work in the 7th Century
August 26, 2017, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Biography, Pastor Stuff

Among the several worthy Gregories from church history is Gregory the Great, perhaps best known as Pope Gregory I, father of Gregorian chant. Now, before you tune out, be aware that John Calvin appreciated Gregory’s writings very much. Remember also that Roman Catholicism was a different beast in the 7th century compared with the 16th.

At any rate, Gregory’s Book of Pastoral Rule turned up in my weekly reading. In it, I unearthed this gem (Part III, chapter 1), in which Gregory addresses the various considerations that will influence the way he approaches his sermon preparation:

Whence every teacher also, that he may edify all in the one virtue of charity, ought to touch the hearts of his hearers out of one doctrine, but not with one and the same exhortation…

Differently to be admonished are these that follow:—

Men and women.
The poor and the rich.
The joyful and the sad.
Prelates and subordinates.
Servants and masters.
The wise of this world and the dull.
The impudent and the bashful.
The forward and the fainthearted.
The impatient and the patient.
The kindly disposed and the envious.
The simple and the insincere.
The whole and the sick.
Those who fear scourges, and therefore live innocently; and those who have grown so hard in iniquity as not to be corrected even by scourges.
The too silent, and those who spend time in much speaking.
The slothful and the hasty.
The meek and the passionate.
The humble and the haughty.
The obstinate and the fickle.
The gluttonous and the abstinent.
Those who mercifully give of their own, and those who would fain seize what belongs to others.
Those who neither seize the things of others nor are bountiful with their own; and those who both give away the things they have, and yet cease not to seize the things of others.
Those that are at variance, and those that are at peace.
Lovers of strifes and peacemakers.
Those that understand not aright the words of sacred law; and those who understand them indeed aright, but speak them without humility.
Those who, though able to preach worthily, are afraid through excessive humility; and those whom imperfection or age debars from preaching, and yet rashness impels to it.
Those who prosper in what they desire in temporal matters; and those who covet indeed the things that are of the world, and yet are wearied with the toils of adversity.
Those who are bound by wedlock, and those who are free from the ties of wedlock.
Those who have had experience of carnal intercourse, and those who are ignorant of it.
Those who deplore sins of deed, and those who deplore sins of thought.
Those who bewail misdeeds, yet forsake them not; and those who forsake them, yet bewail them not.
Those who even praise the unlawful things they do; and those who censure what is wrong, yet avoid it not.
Those who are overcome by sudden passion, and those who are bound in guilt of set purpose.
Those who, though their unlawful deeds are trivial, yet do them frequently; and those who keep themselves from small sins, but are occasionally whelmed in graver ones.
Those who do not even begin what is good, and those who fail entirely to complete the good begun.
Those who do evil secretly and good publicly; and those who conceal the good they do, and yet in some things done publicly allow evil to be thought of them.

He then goes on to develop each distinction in turn throughout Section III.

But of what profit is it for us to run through all these things collected together in a list, unless we also set forth, with all possible brevity, the modes of admonition for each?

That’s an incredibly thoughtful approach.

Getting Christology Right
August 15, 2017, 10:46 am
Filed under: Biography

To everyone who struggles to say meaningful things about Christ succinctly without bumbling into heresy, I offer:

He hungers–but He feeds thousands….

He is wearied, but is the Rest of them that are weary….

He is heavy with sleep, but walks lightly over the sea….

He prays, but He hears prayer.

He weeps, but He causes tears to cease.

He asks where Lazarus was laid, for He was Man; but He raises Lazarus, for He was God.

He is sold, and very cheap, for it is only thirty pieces of silver; but He redeems the world….

As a sheep He is led to the slaughter, but He is the Shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also.

As a lamb He is silent, yet He is the Word….

He is…wounded, but He heals every disease….

He dies, but He gives life….

If the one give you a starting point for your error, let the others put an end to it.

Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. 29.20

Cited in Thomas Oden, Classic Christianity, 312

Augustine and Bible Interpretation
July 15, 2017, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Biography

The man who fears God seeks diligently in Holy Scripture for a knowledge of His will. And when he has become meek through piety, so as to have no love of strife; when furnished also with a knowledge of languages, so as not to be stopped by unknown words and forms of speech, and with the knowledge of certain necessary objects, so as not to be ignorant of the force and nature of those which are used figuratively; and assisted, besides, by accuracy in the texts, which has been secured by skill and care in the matter of correction;—when thus prepared, let him proceed to the examination and solution of the ambiguities of Scripture.

Augustine, On Christian Doctrine

Liturgical Dance?
July 12, 2017, 10:07 am
Filed under: Biography

Kevin Bauder gets to the real issue with the Redeemer offertory: it has no place in a New Testament worship service.


Celebrating Revivalism and Other Noxious Pieties


\"If I am immoderate, I am immoderate to God.\" - Bengel


Like sawdust, but edible.

Broad Meadow

I have spoken the truth coldly; who cares for the truth? To be useful, one must be charming, and my pen has lost that art.

Planting churches with the Baptist Confession in one hand and Tolkien in the other

Orchard Keeper

Plucking fruit from the grove of biblical and theological studies

Jubilate Deo

Music in the service of the church


Theology, apologetics, ramblings

Towards Conservative Christianity

Promoting true conservative Christianity


"a changeless sword, By pen and paper lies, That it may moralise My days out of their aimlessness." - Yeats

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