Category Archives: Spiritual Discipline

And If We Refuse We’re Rebels

Eric Auerback (Mimesis, 14-15) writes that the intent of biblical stories:

“is not to bewitch the senses, and if nevertheless they produce lively sensory effects, it is only because the moral, religious, and psychological phenomena which are their sole concern are made concrete in the sensible matter of life. But their religious intent involves an absolute claim to historical truth. . . . Without believing in Abraham’s sacrifice, it is impossible to put the narrative of it to the use for which it was written. . . . The world of the Scripture stories is not satisfied with claiming to be a historically true reality—it insists that it is the only real world, is destined for autocracy . . . The Scripture stories do not, like Homer’s, court our favor, they do not flatter us that they may please us and enchant us—they seek to subject us, and if we refuse to be subjected we are rebels.”

HT: A. Philip Brown II, Hope Amidst Ruin, 28 n. 23.


Filed under Bible and Theology, Biblical Theology, Books, Discipleship, Great Quotes, History, Inerrancy, Spiritual Discipline, Typology

Slave Master, by Donald L. Hilton, Jr.

Patrick Schreiner is probably right: everyone looks at the same blogs. Still, I have noticed that I reach a "tipping point" in deciding whether to read something after several of the blogs I look at post on the same thing. So Thabiti first highlighted this, then JT blogged on it this morning, and I’m hoping that people who look at those blogs and mine but aren’t convinced yet will go read this essay from Salvo by Donald L. Hilton, Jr, "Slave Master: How Pornography Drugs and Changes Your Brain."

Here’s a paragraph on some of the moral issues involved:

Pornography has become the sex education venue for the majority of the next generation, an internet candy store, and it teaches that sex is physically and emotionally harmless, with no negative consequences. Men and women are mere visual drugs to be used and discarded, and sex is solely for personal pleasure. The truth, of course, it that those who actually perform sexually to make the pornography are consumed and discarded by pornographers; they are “throwaway people,” as Dr. C. Everett Koop called them.

Read the whole thing, and pray for yourself, your children, and those you love. Hilton writes:

Pornography wants you, it wants your husband or wife, it wants your son and daughter, your grandchildren, and your in-laws. It doesn’t share well, and it doesn’t leave easily. It is a cruel master, and seeks more slaves.

There’s a Dark Lord who is using pornography to ensnare and enslave, a deeper evil behind Sauron’s voice. God help us to love people, and God help us to resist the siren songs that ancient Dragon, who is the Devil and Satan, uses to lure souls onto the rocks of destruction.

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Filed under Current Events, Discipleship, Reformation and Revival, Spiritual Discipline

That the Generations to Come Might Praise the Lord

On January 31 it was my privilege to preach at Kemp Road Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio.

I attempted to set the role of the family in the wider context of God’s purposes in Old Testament theology, moving from the father’s role in Deuteronomy 6 to the king’s role as a father to his people in Deuteronomy 17 to some brief thoughts on Proverbs 3, where we see Solomon acting as a father obediently teaching his son (and by extension the nation) as he teaches Torah in the book of Proverbs.

Have a listen and let me know what you think.

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Filed under Biblical Theology, Education, Messiah in the OT, Preaching, Sermon Audio, Spiritual Discipline, Youth Ministry

“Arise, O Star” at Songs of Southern Friday Night

Last summer I posted the lyrics to “Arise, O Star,” which is my attempt to put the Messiah in the Old Testament to music.

This spring there was an invitation here at SBTS for folks to submit songs they had written, so I turned this one in along with another (an attempt to put the ESV text of Psalm 67 to music, more on that later). Anyway, this Friday night some of the songs submitted, including “Arise, O Star,” will be sung in Dillard Chapel. Here are the details:

The School of Church Music and Worship School Council and the Hymn Society are sponsoring a worship service presenting new songs and hymns written by members of the Southern Seminary community.  The service will held in Dillard Chapel on Friday, April 17th at 7:30 pm.  Everyone is welcome to attend.

If you’re in the Louisville area, it would be great to see you at this event Friday night.

Thanks to the valiant efforts of Chris Fenner, a “lead sheet” replete with musical notations and guitar chords now exists for “Arise, O Star.” If you are interested, you can download that here. You have my permission to sing this anytime you like with anyone who will join you.


Filed under Attempts at poetry, Bible and Theology, Biblical Theology, Messiah in the OT, OT in the NT, Spiritual Discipline

How to Prepare for Second Semester Greek

Second semester Greek is done different ways in different places. Some places take two semesters to go through a grammar like Mounce’s, other places go through the elements of the language in one semester and jump into Syntax and Exegesis in the second semester. Here at SBTS, we do the latter, but before I address those who have been through all the elements of the language and are ready to move forward, let me address those who may need a basic review of the language. 

A Basic Review of Greek

Ted Hildebrandt of Gordon College has put a whole set of videos online that will take you through the entire language. There are worse things you could do with your time than watch these videos. Seriously, these are a treasure trove! We should all thank Ted Hildebrandt for putting these videos online for free! Whatever basic Greek Grammar you have, you’ll be able to match one of Hildebrandt’s videos with the chapters in the book you have. 

All you need is the discipline to do this every day until you have watched all the videos. Hildebrandt has 28 units online, each with a number of different videos. 

Hildebrandt has also made available mp3 files both for Vocabulary words and for the whole book of 1 John–and this stuff is all free! If you don’t remember your vocabulary, get these onto CD’s or your iPod and listen to them while you’re in the car or on the treadmill, while you mow the lawn or do the dishes. 

In my opinion, Hildebrandt’s site is the best place to go to review first semester or first year Greek. If you’re looking to get your Greek back, look no further. Get after it. Make it an appointment. Put it in your calendar. Don’t be late and don’t play hookey. 

Moving Forward after Review

I really have nothing to say here other than this: get your Greek New Testament out and read it. Every day. Start small, say, with one to four verses. Read. Understand all the vocab and all the parsings (using whatever you need to use–BibleWorks, Kubo or Burer and Miller, and or the Analytical Greek New Testament, or some free software), then read and re-read that one to four verse section until you don’t have to look at the parsing tool or the vocab list to understand the meaning of the words, their grammatical function in this context, and how they work together to communicate meaning. Read the passage again and again until you can put everything together. If this has taken all the time you’ve alloted to yourself for this task for the day, go on to whatever is next. If you have more time, read the next verse.

The important thing is that you stay with it. Read every day for 15 to 30 minutes at least. If you have more time, give it more time.

I can remember Dr. John Hannah relating in class one day that he was once at the photo-copier at the same time that S. Lewis Johnson was there. Dr. Hannah said that Dr. Johnson, who was older than Hannah, looked at him and said, “John, if I had everything to do over again I would spend a lot more time reading the Bible.” 

When we come to the end of our days there are many things we will regret. Assuming we don’t ignore the wife and kids to do it (which will be regretted–don’t do that!), we will not regret the time we spent studying to show ourselves approved. 

PS: If you’re in my Greek Syntax and Exegesis class here at SBTS in the spring, I suggest you get the syllabus from ecampus and make the biblical texts we’ll cover in class the texts you’re working through over the break. 

Enjoy! And may the Lord bless the reading and the hearing of his most holy word.


Filed under Bible and Theology, Spiritual Discipline

Daily Reading of the NT in Greek

Lee Irons has done us all a great service in making available these helpful resources for planning your annual trip through the Greek NT:

Annual Greek Reading Program (PDF 2 pp.) 
Read-Greek Calendar 2008 (PDF 1 p.) 
Read-Greek Calendar 2009 (PDF 1 p.) 

The semester is almost over, which means that many students will have more time on their hands in December and January. Devoting yourself to healthy doses of reading the Greek New Testament will be a far, far better use of your time than watching men in tights, helmets, and shoulder pads gladiate over a leather ball in front of screaming thousands. When we come to the end of our days I suspect we will wish we had spent more time reading the Bible and less time watching television.

An alternative to reading through the NT in Greek according to the calendars linked above is simply to read approximately 25 verses a day. If you do that every day, you will get through the NT in a year’s time. Of course, there’s no reason to avoid reading more than that in a day’s time, and there’s no reason to avoid reading through the NT in Greek more than once a year. . . but time and chance happen to us all (Eccl 9:11).


Filed under Bible and Theology, Books, Spiritual Discipline

Travis Cardwell Interviews Tommy Dahn

My friend and former pastor, Tommy Dahn, has been interviewed by my friend and former co-pastor, Travis Cardwell. 

These are two dear saints and faithful servants of the Lord. I praise God for them both and count myself privileged to know them.

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Filed under Bible and Theology, Spiritual Discipline

Celebrating God’s Mercy in My Life (Audio)

Last week it was my joy to share many of the ways that God has been merciful to me.

I could never enumerate them all!

If you’re interested in the audio from that event, it’s here.

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Filed under Bible and Theology, Gospel, History, Spiritual Discipline, Worship

ESV Audio Bible

Justin Taylor has the details on the new ESV Audio Bible:

From the ESV blog:

ESV Hear the Word Audio Downloads—the audio found at the ESV Online Study Bible—are now available.Prices are $29.99 for the complete Bible, $19.99 for just the Old Testament, $14.99 for just the New Testament, $4.99 for Psalms and Proverbs, and $4.99 for the Gospels.

The complete Gospel of John is available for free download, as are a few other samples. As always, the ESV Online Study Bible lets you stream any passage you’d like.

This recording is by David Cochran Heath. Heath is a veteran stage actor, performing in more than one hundred productions. He has recorded many audio books, including Christian classics by Thomas a Kempis, Francis Schaeffer, and John Piper.

If you’re technically inclined, after you buy, you can choose the bitrate that best meets your needs: 128 KBps (4 GB for the complete Bible), 64 KBps (2 GB for the complete Bible) or 32 KBps (1 GB for the complete Bible). Unless you’re an audiophile, we recommend 64 KBps as the best balance between file size and audio quality.

The ESV Hear the Word Bible is also available as a physical product: on 59 CDs ($99.99) or 7 MP3 CDs ($49.99).

You’ll also notice a new button on the right, a link to the site where the ESV Audio Bible can be downloaded.

May the word dwell in us richly!

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On Politicians and Elected Officians

A simple question: do you spend more time worrying about who they are and what they will do than you spend praying for them? 

All of us who love the gospel can no doubt agree that what we want most is for others to love the gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners, raised in triumph over death and the forces of evil. 

And as we can agree that we need the Holy Spirit to break through in our own lives and apply the truths of the good news of Jesus Christ, so we can, and should (1 Tim 2:1-4) pray for the good news of the gospel to break through by the power of the Holy Spirit and transform the minds and hearts of those public servants who seek and occupy elected office. 

ESV 1 Timothy 2:1-4 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

If you’re interested in my political philosophy, here it is: “The Church Militant and Her Warfare: We Are Not Another Interest Group,” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 11.4 (2008), 70-80.


Filed under Spiritual Discipline

Interview with Thabiti on Being a Healthy Church Member (particularly as a seminarian)

Thabiti Anyabwile was kind enough to interact with me on topics related to his new book, What Is A Healthy Church Member? Our exchange is below. Enjoy!

[JMH = me; TMA = Thabiti M. Anyabwile]


JMH: Dear Thabiti,

Thanks for your service to us, brother. If I may, I’d like to ask you for some advice that applies to my particular situation, and then I’d like to put it on my blog that it might benefit others.

Moving from one seminary to another takes me out of a role at Baptist Church of the Redeemer, where I have been serving as pastor of preaching, to a new city (Louisville) where we’ll be looking for a church for our family to join. This is going to be a radical change for us in terms of church life. In addition to the ways I’ve been involved (preaching, worship planning, song selection, involvement in pastoral conversations and situations, etc.) my wife has been heavily involved in ministering to the ladies at our church. Redeemer is a church that was planted only three years ago, so, we’re accustomed to seeking the Lord, consulting with a relatively small group of people, and then doing what we think will most honor the Lord (whether that pertains to nursery furniture, a ladies’ Bible study or book club, or even a place to meet!). We certainly have our preferences on music style, preaching style, and ministry style, and we’re leaving a congregation we love that sings songs we love and does ministry, we think, in a healthy way.

I suspect that for various reasons there are others like me, who go from being involved in shepherding a congregation to looking for a new church to join. How would you advise us? What kinds of things would you suggest we look for as we seek a new church home, and how can we be healthy church members?


TMA: Jim, that’s an excellent question.  Actually I can identify with you quite a lot.  When my family moved from N.C. to Washington, D.C., we moved from a 3-year old church plant into a situation where we knew next to nothing about the church scene.  We loved that church and we set about the task of finding something like it in many ways.  Actually, that’s the first piece of advice I’d have for someone in this situation.  Don’t look for a church that is “like” your previous church, particularly if the likeness you have in mind involves a host of secondary matters.  Our preferences can be the death of a good church search.  Hold them up to the light of Scripture and be sure to cultivate an accepting heart for other believers who do things differently in secondary matters (Rom. 14).  Look for the essentials first: a church holding a sound doctrinal stance, that preaches the gospel faithfully, that preaches the Scripture expositionally, and that at least encourages a strong “one anothering” culture.  With the word and a strong membership culture, so many other things have fertile soil in which to grow.  That would be my short list, I think.

As for being healthy members, overall it’s probably helpful to find a place where you think you can grow spiritually.  When the Lord moved us from NC to DC and Capitol Hill Baptist Church, I went from being one of three elders backing up the senior pastor in preaching and teaching duties to being #49 on the depth chart at CHBC.  It was clear to me that I knew less than most everyone there, and more important than how much I knew or they knew, they were living so much better than me it seemed.  I felt like the entire family would grow spiritually in ways that really mattered—holiness, humility, love, joy, righteousness and so on in Christ.  So, search for a place where you’ll grow spiritually, even if it’s a place where you’re one of the smartest guys there.

I think there are some temptations and sensitivities you can bring to a church given your labor as a pastor and professor.  The temptation would be to either try to influence the church in pride (“I’ve been a pastor and professor and you should do it this way”) or to assume that you should have more access to the pastors than other members (“I’m a pastor; I can help.  Why don’t they ask?”)  Either attitude, left unexamined or unidentified, could create strain and difficulty in a new church situation.  Be careful of the temptation to say, “I wouldn’t do it that way.”  There may be pride and a judgmental attitude there.  Instead, pray and look for the mindset that says, “I want to support and follow the leaders in any way I can.”  As a member, we’re called to that attitude without regard to our history as pastors.  Support the leaders the Lord has called to that place, and perhaps go out of your way to let them know of your support and that you’re not judging them.  Be a good leader to the other sheep by modeling the kind of submission you perhaps experienced or longed for in your previous church situation.  And that’s one of the unique sensitivities a former pastor brings to a new church.  He knows what it’s like to be the shepherd and for the sheep to misunderstand.  With that sensitivity, you can model so much of what nearly every pastor wishes his people understood.

Beyond that, be healthy church members by attending regularly, giving your life to the people there, sitting joyfully, humbly and eagerly under the leadership and teaching of others.  Pray fervently and without ceasing for the leaders, the members, and the ministries of the church.  Give generously and so on.


JMH: Following up on that question, do you have thoughts on how seminary professors in particular can be healthy church members?


TMA: Again, you bring perspectives and resources that most members will not have.  You can be helpful in your area of expertise, or connect the church to seminary-based resources.  When the elders or the church is working through a particularly knotty problem, you may be in a position to deliver some expertise.  Only be careful.  Remember you’re not in a classroom but in a living breathing church where histories and cultures are always at play.  Be sensitive to who those people are.

Another way you can be a healthy member is help the church leaders fight the mistaken impression that “the seminary is where it’s at.”  Your participation in the church will help with that.  But talk often of the seminary’s parachurch support role for the church.  Encourage seminarians to cultivate that understanding.  Encourage more young men with gifting to consider the pulpit rather than the academy.


JMH: And lastly, how can seminary students be healthy church members?


TMA: Seminarians should think of themselves primarily as church members, not “seminarians.”  I think a lot of men see themselves as ‘tweeners levitating somewhere between their previous church and the church or mission field they’re headed towards.  They’re in a kind of suspended animation.  And often a seminarian can suffer spiritually as they float out their in academic space somewhere.  The church suffers too without their gifting and service.

It will be tempting to think of their studies as a special status that obviates their relationship to and responsibilities in the local church.  But they are primarily Christians, and as such should be active in a local church body as members not seminarians.  We don’t excuse other college students from the expectation that they should be active in a local fellowship; and we shouldn’t do it with seminarians either.  So, they should join a local church and plant roots.  They may be leaving in a few years but learning to love a church quickly will help them learn to love new members quickly when they’re pastors or when serving in highly transient areas.

And like seminary professors, students should be humble and patient, avoid judging others and asserting unimportant preferences.  They should see the church as the main classroom of Christ, and the classroom as an auxiliary.  Given that, they should seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  And by God’s grace, they will as they humbly receive the word (Jam. 1:21), receive grace through the various administrations of God’s gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11), and are equipped for service until they reach maturity in Christ, the Head (Eph. 4:11-16).


JMH: Thabiti, hearty thanks for these helpful and edifying thoughts. I am particularly grateful for the way you have applied the truth of the Scripture to the situation we face. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry!


Filed under Church, Ecclesiology, Education, Reformation and Revival, Spiritual Discipline

David Reimer on Learning Biblical Languages

David Reimer is one of three filling in for Justin Taylor this week, and I have found him to be an invariably stimulating person. Linking to another article, he had this to say about the learning of the biblical languages:

Meanwhile, one of my jobs as a teacher of biblical languages is to get the inevitable rote-learning to go down deep, so that the Hebrew (or Greek, or Aramaic) becomes a language, and not just an obscure code for what we already knew the text meant from our favourite translation.

Amen. Read the post and the post to which he links.

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Filed under Bible and Theology, Reformation and Revival, Spiritual Discipline, Worship

CCEF Annual Biblical Counseling Conference

Those interested in biblical counseling might want to consider attending the 2008 Annual Conference hosted by CCEF.

This year’s theme is “The Addict in Us All.” I think this conference would be beneficial for anyone interested in (or practicing) biblical counseling.


Filed under Bible and Theology, counseling, Spiritual Discipline

Time Management and a Cool Paper Airplane

Couple items for busy dads in ministry:

Happy plodding and flying for the glory of God!


Filed under Spiritual Discipline

Russell Moore on the Kingdom of the Crushed Skull

Dr. Moore writes:

The Atlantic Monthly notes a recent study in the journal Psychological Science that suggests that “humans may have a built-in aversion to snakes and their hissing, slithering, menacing ways.” Researchers at the University of Virginia studied 120 preschool-age children and their parents to pick up reactions to images of various things, including snakes.  The researchers were surprised to find that the children, even those who had had no exposure to snakes, immediately picked out the snakes as threatening.

The preschoolers had no such “threat-relevant” reaction to pictures of frogs or caterpillars. This suggests, says the Atlantic, “an innate predisposition to see a snake as a threat.” The authors of the article contend that humans and “other primates” could “have an evolved tendency to rapidly detect” a snake.

What, though, if this loathing isn’t at all evolutionary? What if it is the result of a cataclysmic events somewhere in the primeval past, something still embedded in the human heart?

Read the whole thing.

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Filed under Bible and Theology, Evangelism and Apologetics, Spiritual Discipline

Reading the Greek New Testament

Lee Irons has some good advice on Reading through the Greek New Testament year by year. He has even worked up a one year calendar for doing it. If anyone knows of similar resources for the Old Testament in Hebrew (and/or Greek), I would be grateful to know of them.

He is also putting together syntactical notes on the Greek New Testament, which you can get to by scrolling down this page until you see the heading “Greek New Testament.”

If you decide to read through the Greek New Testament, be careful. The things in that book got most of its authors killed, and when people have taken it seriously in the history of the church, crazy things like the reformation have happened and some folks even got themselves burned at the stake.

The Greek New Testament is decidedly unsafe. If you embrace it, you will be hated (see John 15:18-20). To paraphrase Lester De Koster: there it is, throbbing on your desk, the living word of God.


Filed under Bible and Theology, Books, Spiritual Discipline