Category Archives: Ministry

Autumn Seminar: Why These Books? Intro to OT and NT Canon

Screen shot 2014-09-16 at 10.30.44 PMChrist Church Cambridge is hosting a variety of seminars (see full listing) this autumn, covering a range of biblical and church-related topics. I am leading a 4-week series covering how and why we consider the biblical books authoritative for faith and practice. Specifically, we will be covering the following questions, among others:

  1. What exactly is canon, and why does it matter?
  2. Who “picked” the books (if anyone), and on what grounds?
  3. Who decided we needed a canon in the first place, and who “closed” it?
  4. Why are some books considered part of the biblical canon and not others?
  5. Why do the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches have different canons?
  6. What are we to make of all the other works that are roughly contemporaneous with the OT/NT but which were not received as canonical?
  7. How can we know we have accurate copies of the right books?

The seminar audios and handouts for each class will be posted below as they become available. If you would like the full set of teaching notes, feel free to email me.

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“So You Want to Get Married?” Brief Thoughts on Pre-Marital Counseling

In honor of the fact that today is our 8th wedding anniversary—and in honor of the woman to whom I have been delightfully attached for over 12 years—I wanted to do a quick post following up on recent pre-marital counseling sessions we did together.

We had the opportunity to meet with a young couple to talk about marriage before they tie the knot in June. It was our first time doing it, and it was a tremendous blessing both to get to know them and to think about our own marriage through the process.

As we didn’t necessarily expect to be doing this while here in Cambridge, all our marriage books (and our own pre-marital counseling notebook) were left in storage in the States. So we had to put together something ourselves.  While what we came up with is far from perfect, we found it worked well and was simple enough to serve as a framework to build upon, depending on the amount of time one might have with any given couple.

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New Sermon: Mark 8:11–21

Earlier today I had the opportunity to preach at Christ Church Cambridge, where we currently attend during our Cambridge sojourn. We have found a most welcoming home at Christ Church. The philosophy of the church and, in particular, the two ministers, is to foster and encourage the pastoral development of those in the flock who (like me) are pursuing a long-term calling to the ministry. So I was humbled and delighted to be extended the opportunity to preach, given that an expatriate with a Southern accent and a desire to keep serving in some way while abroad cannot necessary presume such chances will automatically be there. So I’m quite grateful, and I hope to be able to do so again.

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Grief Without a Label

In the span of a little over a year, three friends of mine on both sides of the Atlantic have mourned the death of their infants either just before birth or just after. Late yesterday I learned that the son of one of my friends lived from 10:08am to 10:28am that morning, after which his young but eternal spirit entered the presence of his Creator to await a glorious resurrection, when the phrase “chromosomal abnormality” will have been conquered.

Words cannot adequately give voice to their grief—the silence of phantom cries, which should be there but aren’t, is too loud. Tears cannot adequately capture our own suffering with them—for though we can help bear the burden, we cannot take it away.

Few funerals have been harder for me than seeing a classmate bravely and brokenly deliver a eulogy for his son who died after only one 24-hr period of life. Few videos cause more tears than watching another friend hold his 3-yr old daughter’s hand as they delicately placed flowers on her deceased sister’s fresh grave.

Few things are more difficult than knowing what to say to a friend who has entered into such a period of suffering.

And, oddly, there isn’t even a set way to refer to such a person. A child whose parent(s) have died is called an orphan. An adult who has lost a spouse is called a widow/widower.

But there is no label for this kind of grief. Parents who have lost a child far too early. Families with a gaping hole torn into the family portrait that is invisible to everyone but those who still remember. Brothers and sisters with a sibling they will only know from vaguely recollected, tear-stained stories.

We all know that, should the Lord tarry, our children will ultimately die. But some parents are prematurely bereaved.

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The Biggest Lost Sheep

Too Big to Fail.

Screen shot 2014-01-18 at 10.24.20 PMThus is titled a best-selling book (and HBO movie) about the bailout of several major US banks during the economic collapse of the late 2000s. [Side trail: how many people even remember that whole sequence? I was working in the financial sector then, afraid of losing my own job, and even now I have trouble remember all the details: who bought whom, who collapsed, who merged, etc. We need a new syndrome to replace Attention Deficit Disorder: “How Mass and Social Media Keep Us Entertained and Ruin Our Memory by Shuffling Major Story after Major Story Until They All Run Together and We Cannot Remember Anything that Happened 3 Hours Ago, Let Alone 3 Years Ago.” But HMSMKUEROMSMSAMSUTARTWCRAH3HALA3YA is a horrible acronym, and probably hard to remember. Wait, what was I talking about. Let me check Twitter again…]

Anyhow, the whole premise of the book, the movie, and, frankly, the historical reality upon which they were based is simple: some banks were so big and so important that they deserved to be rescued – in fact, they had to be rescued – at whatever cost, even if it meant losing a lot of other things along the way (taxpayer dollars, other banks, other industries, international reputation, etc.). In other words, only the biggest things – because they are the biggest – are worth striving to save and rescue when the going gets tough.

Sometimes it feels like that with the Lord. Fortunately God does not operate on that principle.

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