The Kingdom Notes

And It Came To Pass

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

I was not, as a kid, a particularly gifted athlete. I enjoyed sports, however, and so my hours were determined by the seasons: football, basketball, baseball. I realized early on that my gifts were limited, while my desire to compete was boundless. My solution- will. I determined to will myself to victory, to be the dog in the fight with the most fight in the dog. The Rocky movies resonated with me. I would take a punch, and come back for more. That same perspective survived my childhood, and is still with me. But it has matured. I went against Goliaths on the gridiron, faced Apollyon staring me down from the pitcher’s mound, but before the hand of God I have been humbled. My will wilts before His. As one wise theologian has been wont to say, “You have free will. God has free will. Whose will is more free?”…

Jesus Changes Almost Everything

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

I love Twitter. When I first heard about it I confess I was conflicted. The social commentator in me was appalled. My inner Neil Postman took the curmudgeon approach, bemoaning the dumbing down of our discourse to 140 characters. Has our attention span really dropped this far? The poet and the economist inside me, however, formed a strange alliance in embracing Twitter, the economist loving the streamlined nature, the poet adoring the challenge of cramming as much wonder, as many surprising moments of epiphany wrapped in beauty into 140 characters as possible. As a theologian my job is to make distinctions, often ones so subtle they are hard to see. Precision and nuance are the tools of that trade. On Twitter all of these hats I wear often clash. The use of the most potent poetic image may mean, from time to time, that qualifiers are left off. On the…

Paradise Remembered

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

Nostalgia, I have argued, has as its lightly buried foundation a longing for a place we have never been to, Eden.  Home is but an echo, a shadow of our first and final home. I understand that most were not blessed as I was, to grow up in an idyllic combination of peace and beauty, that many suffered early the curse of Cain to wander east of Eden. Others had a childhood fueled more by the fruit of the fall than that which preceded the fall. For all the hardships I have been through, a traumatic childhood was not one of them. Indeed of all the blessings I give thanks for that flowed through hands of my parents, after my assurance of their love for me, I count dearest that they raised me in the mountains of western Pennsylvania, a stone’s throw from the Mayberry-like hamlet of Ligonier, Pennsylvania. It…

Is to Ought

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

Immanuel Kant, though a rather bright fellow, built an imaginary wall. He taught that there are two worlds, the noumenal and the phenomenal. The latter was that world which could be experienced by our senses, what we see, hear, taste, touch and smell. The former was where the actual thing-in-itself dwelt. God Himself, being spirit, resides exclusively in the noumenal realm, since the wall between the two worlds is unable to be scaled. According to Kant, you can’t get from the phenomenal world to the noumenal. Paul, inspired by the far brighter, indeed omniscient Holy Spirit, disagrees, arguing in Romans 1 that we know the unseen God by the things we see. But, being sinners, we suppress that truth in unrighteousness.

The Rest of the Story

Blog, General, The Kingdom Notes

I’m tired as I write this, but, I suspect, not half as tired as I will be as you read. 48 hours from now I will be just 8 hours into a 35 hour trip to Indonesia, 28 of which will be in the sky. I’m usually quite comfortable flying, avoiding the grouchiness that plagues so many frequent fliers. I’m quite comfortable as well on my morning walks. But I’m pretty sure a marathon would do me in.

Three Bad Pro-Life Arguments

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

There is a thin line between friendly fire and sound coaching. I’m grateful for everyone who recognizes the humanity of the unborn and longs to see them protected from all who would do them harm. That said, from time to time our rhetoric carries with it unhealthy assumptions, however potent they might be at tugging at our heartstrings. We end up, while fighting for precious ground, giving up more precious ground. Here then are three arguments I hear regularly from my friends that I don’t believe help.

Image Bearers at Planned Parenthood

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

Unborn babies bear God’s image. It is His sanctity that makes them holy, not their own. It is not their genetic background, their capacity to feel pain, their wide open futures, their potential capabilities that makes them imbued with dignity and value. It isn’t their relative moral innocence, but the image of God, graciously given to all, no matter the circumstances of their conception, no matter their viability, no matter the relative development of their organs.

The Myth of Influence

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

It’s a story I tell often, though it is embarrassing to me. I was a young man and came up with what I believed to be a brilliant idea. It was the height of the Steeler’s dynasty. I loved the Steelers, (and still do) and loved Jesus (and still do.) So I figured out a plan to serve them both. “Lord,” I prayed, “if you will make me an all-pro wide receiver for the Steelers, I will be able to do great things for the kingdom. When I catch the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl I will point heavenward to you. When the reporters ask me if I’m going to Disney World I’ll tell them I’m going to church. In the locker room I’ll give all glory to you.” Great plan huh? But God didn’t bless me with any of the physical gifts I would need. So I came…

Bread, Circuses, and the Coliseum

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

While the Christians who went to their deaths under the empire of Rome died for their faith, I fear they did not die for our faith. First, we must understand what Rome had against these saints. Part of the genius of the Roman empire was their “broad-mindedness.” They did not roll into town after their phalanxes had left not one brick upon another and rebuild from scratch. Instead it was their habit to assimilate. As they did with the Pharisees, they cut a deal. We will rule over you, but you can, by and large, keep doing what you were doing.  Keep your temple. Worship there. Keep your traditions, your way of life.  All we ask of you is that you pay your taxes, acknowledge our authority, and then this one other little thing- we need you to acknowledge that Caesar is Lord. Burn a pinch of incense, bow the…

Student In a School of Fools

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

Moments ago I finished a refreshing encouraging conversation, recorded for a future podcast, with my friend Tim Challies on the subject of writing.  One of the things covered in that conversation was dealing with criticism. The irony is that each of us has at one time or another criticized, or at least critiqued the other. Tim is quite clear on his conviction that public schools are a viable option for Christian parents. I’ve been quite clear over the years that I think not. Our pens, mightier than swords, have crossed. That, however, has not kept me from being blessed by, served by, taught by Tim.