Saturday, December 16, 2006


Today is going to prove to be busy but productive day. I will be going to help some friends who are working on their house while my wife works on some preparations for a martial arts class she teaches. Afterward's my wife and I have a few more Christmas gifts to buy...The traffic at the stores should be fun to navigate :)

BTW, I am working on a post concerning the question of whether the Sunday gathering of believers should be more important than other gatherings that we have. Also, I am looking at how 2 Cor. 12:13 relates to the question of honoring elders. Have a blessed day.

Reading Luke...

Last night my wife and I gathered with about 20 other believers to read through the book of Luke together. A family we have recently come to know has been doing this for several years now. It was our first time gathering with them. Reading through a whole gospel at one time was extremely encouraging to me.

Everyone chose a chapter number at random to read. We read eight chapters at a time and then would take a 15 minute break to talk and have some food. When we got the chapter 22 we celebrated the Lord's supper together. Throughout the night, there were great conversations going on about what God was teaching people while we were reading His Word. As I reflect on our time together last night, I can't help but think about how beautiful it is to see the church built up and encouraged in such a simple way. May God build you up and encourage you as you spend time in His Word today.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Acts 9:31

This evening I studied part of Acts 9 with a group of friends. Verse 31 was very interesting to me. After Paul was taken to Tarsus, Luke writes "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being build up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase."

A couple of things grabbed my attention:

1. The verb for increase in an imperfect passive. So the increase was brought about not by the church, but by God. (see Mt. 16:18)

2. The church experienced growth during a time of peace. This made me think of the current peace that many Christians experience, especially in the U.S. However, we are not seeing the kind of increase that the book of Acts speaks of here. The difference, I think, is that these believers were "going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit." Even though they enjoyed peace, they continued to trust and rely on God instead of themselves.

This seems to fly in the face of many church growth and church planting strategies out there. I we sometimes try to produce what only God can bring about?

Honoring Elders

Lately I have been studying 1 Tim. 5:17-18 and other related passages. Paul instructs Timothy to consider the elders who lead well worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in word and teaching. There are two questions that I am still trying to answer about this instruction.

First, who is responsible to honor an elder? Is it the individual believer, the organization/institution, or something else I haven't thought of?

The second question is what is the best way to express that honor to an elder? Is the best way through a salary, through only respect, through individual gifts of time and material resources as the Holy Spirit leads? Are there other options?

I have some thoughts on these questions. But before I share them, how do you answer them?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I have always struggled with defining hospitality. Sharing a meal with someone is typically the only thing that would come to my mind. Duane Elmer in his book Cross-Cultural Servanthood provides a definition of hospitality that greatly helped me. I hope it helps you as well. He says,

"In North America, hospitality conjures images of inviting someone, usually friends, neighbors or relatives, into the home for a meal, perhaps overnight. Showing hospitality and providing a meal seem synonymous, especially toward friends or relatives. Yet the Scripture expands the idea considerably.
Hospitality refers to an attitude that prevails in a person's lifestyle, an attitude of extending grace to people, including the stranger, the person who is different. It certainly includes inviting people to your home, but if that is the extent of it, we have missed the core meaning.

Hospitality is extending love to those we don't know and who may be of a different ethnic or cultural history. It is the idea of being gracious to all people, welcoming them into your presence and making them feel valued. A true servant is characterized by hospitality - one who welcomes and embraces those who are unlike us - just as Jesus embraced us across our radical differences.

Hospitality is rooted in the word hospital, which comes from two Greek words meaning "loving the stranger." It evolved to mean "house for strangers" and later came to be known as a place of healing. Eventually, hospitality meant connecting with strangers in such a way that healing took place. Therefore, when we show openness toward people who are different from us, welcome them into our presence and make them feel safe, the relationship becomes a place of healing. As we welcome people just as they are and invite them to join us just as we are, it becomes a sacred event reflecting what Jesus did for us - providing us with a healing relationship."

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Role of Organization in a Body of Believers.

Lately I have been thinking about the role of organization within a body of believers. Is organization good or bad? Is it neutral? How should we approach the different types of organization a group of believers might want to use? The following paragaph is some of my thoughts. I am still learning and studying so I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

The church (believers in Jesus Christ) can be served by organization (specifying a time to meet for example). However, problems arise when the church serves the organization instead of being served by it. Organization is beneficial when it aids in carrying out the commands and purposes that God has given us in Scripture (for example, organizing a trip overseas to spread the Gospel). We must be careful when implementing a form of organization in order to understand the demands that that particular form of organization requires. For example, purchasing a building will require a budget of some kind to pay for it. So the decision to buy a building is also a decision to have a budget. Because of this, we must be wise and discerning as to the types of organizational measures that we implement. We must not put into place any type of organization that would draw us away from following the Scripture as well as organization that would cause us to serve it rather than being served by that form of organization. In addition, any form of organization that we seek to implement must be weighed against the Scripture. For we believe that the Scripture is sufficient for all that we need to know to live as the church. Therefore, when a form of organization is found to be in conflict with the command or pattern of Scripture, it would not be wise to implement that form of organization.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Should Pastors Be Paid?

How does the New Testament answer this question? In this post I want to start a discussion as to whether pastors should be paid or not. I will offer my thoughts as the discussion progresses, but I would like to hear from you first.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Determining if Scripture is Prescriptive or Descriptive

Lately I have been asking myself how to determine if a particular passage of Scripture is only descriptive of the first century believers or if it is prescriptive for the church today or if it is both. I do not claim to have all the answers to this hermeneutical issue, but it is one I think is important for us to answer in order to properly interpret and apply the Scriptures.

One approach to this question is to ask whether the action we see modeled in scripture is cultural to that time period or supracultural applying to all cultures. For instance, in Acts 2:42 the believers devoted themselves to prayer. This passage is clearly descriptive of the live of the early church. Is it prescriptive for believers today? Are we to devote ourselves to prayer? I would say yes, because prayer was not something that was unique to the Roman culture. In fact prayer is found as far back as the book of Genesis. It appears then that prayer is rooted in God's plan for how man would communicate with Him. Therefore, I would conclude that prayer is supracultural and devoting oneself to prayer is prescriptive for believers today.

The question becomes more difficult when we try to apply this principle to other patterns seen in Scripture. For example, Paul traveled from city to city to spread the Gospel. He went to the places with large populations instead of the towns and villages. Are we to see this as a pattern for how we are to spread the Gospel. Should we make it a point to concentrate on the cities first and then let the Gospel spread to the surrounding towns and villages from those cities? Another example would be that believers gathered in homes rather than in "church" buildings in the first century. Is this practice prescriptive for us today? (I do think principles of stewardship come in to play here as well.)

I would enjoy hearing your thoughts as to how you deal with these types of interpretive issues in the Scripture.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Currently Reading...

I am currently reading Ideas Have Consequences by Richard Weaver. So far I have been enjoying the book. In one paragraph he makes the following statement:

"Man is constatly being assured today that he has more power than ever before in history, but his daily experience is one of powerlessness. Look at him today somewhere in the warren of a great city. If he is with a business organization, the odds are great that he has sacrificed every other kind of independence in return for that dubious one known as financial. Modern social and corporate organization makes independence an expensive thing; in fact, it may make common integrity a prohibitive luxury for the ordinary man, as Stuart Chase has shown. Not only is this man likely to be a slavey at his place of daily toil, but he is cribbled, cabined, and confined in countless ways, many of which are merely devices to make possible physically the living together of masses. Because these are deprivations of what is rightful, the end is frustration, and hence the look, upon the faces of those whose sould have not already become minuscule, of hunger and unhappiness."

This book was written 58 years ago yet it stll rings true today. I have felt this sacrifice of independence for the financial return in my own life. Now don't misunderstand, I do believe that I should work hard to provide for my family. However, something does appear to be wrong with the current way that most organizations are set up to run their business. Many people will work 50 weeks a year, at least 40 hours a week, with only two weeks for time off. I do believe that someone's place of employment is a mission field for them. However, it is not the only place they can or should seek to spread the Gospel. What if someone desires to spend several weeks overseas spreading the Gospel? In the current corporate structure, they are imprisoned in such a way as to not be able to do this type of ministry. Have we sacrificed too much for financial gain? Are we devoting ourselves to the wrong pursuits? Working to provide for one's family is the right thing to do, but there must be other ways to do so beyond the slavery that Weaver speaks of above. I have a few thoughts in my mind of ways to accomplish this, but would love to hear from you on ways to have independence from "the man" in order to pursue taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Scot McKnight has written some great posts on zealotry lately. I agree with him that believers should be free to walk in the Spirit and follow Him wherever He lead. You can read his three posts


Friday, June 30, 2006

Believers Loving One Another

This week one family in our church moved out of our community to go overseas as missionaries. For months they have been selling and paring down their possessions. Well, Tuesday was the day of the big move. They rented the smallest truck they could get and invited our church to help load up. That evening thirty people showed up at their apartment to load their things. It only took about thirty minutes to load it all! Their neighbors happened to be moving the same day. So once we were done moving our friends, all of us helped the neighbors load their truck for about an hour. The neighbors that were moving as well as others in the apartment building could not believe the love that our body showed them by laboring in this way. Now keep in mind, this was seminary housing so these were all believers. What was amazing to me was that believers loving one another in a real practical way was so foreign to other believers. May we never forget the impact that loving one another as the church has on those who are watching.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Being the Church (It's more than changing our terminology)

Over the past several years my thinking has changed on the concept of Church. I used to think that I go to church. Now I realize that I am the church along with they rest of the Body of Christ. Throughout this process of changing my thinking to line up with Scripture, I have seen the need to change the terminology I use when referring to the Church. I don't go to church, I am the church (at least part of it). However, there seems to be much more that needs to be changed than just my terminology. If I start speaking differently but continue doing the same old thing, then has anything really changed at all? (e.g. the emerging church, although they do add a few candles) My life must be conformed to the way the Scriptures say I should live. This involves how I relate to God and how I relate to others. Many things must change. This is good though because we are not taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth by continuing to do business as usual.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

One year from now I will be graduating from Southeastern Seminary with an M.Div. degree. Over the past three years I have developed a passion for Biblical studies, discipleship, and spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The question that has constantly been on my mind recently is "What next?" There are many avenues I could go down and many options I could pursue. My passion for Biblical studies has me thinking about pursuing a PhD degree from Southeastern. However, my passion for missions and discipleship has me wanting to be free of school to have more time for these pursuits. So I have been asking myself, in light of this tension, what God is leading me to devote myself to for the rest of my life. Will I continue working in the IT field as a means of providing for my family? Should I pursue a PhD in Biblical studies and seek to teach in a Bible college or seminary? Should I seek another bachelor or masters degree in a different field to equip myself to teach at a high school level as a profession?

One question I have been asking as well (I do not mean to offend here. I am only asking the question.) is the effectiveness of teaching in a Bible college or seminary. I do not doubt that the students of these institutions grow and mature in their faith as they study alongside their professors. The limitation I am seeing is that a Bible college or seminary will only minister to a limited segment of the general population. Typically it is those people who are "called to ministry" meaning those who see themselves becoming religious professionals. (Just a side note: All believers are called to ministry. Eph. 4:16) Since my desire is to be a part of discipling the whole body of Christ, I am having a hard time committing to a PhD in Biblical studies since it appears to lead naturally to teaching in one of these institutions. From what I have seen, the great things that are taught in a seminary rarely if ever trickle down to the common man since there seems to be a great divide between academia and everyday life. Well, enough rambling about this topic.

So if I do not go that route, then I am faced with what to do next. Maybe another bachelors in a romance language in preparation of teaching high school and developing relationships with students and their families. Maybe a masters in IT or business and continuing to work in the business world. Maybe a PhD in Biblical studies for personal edification. At this point only the Lord knows and I am thankful that He knows and desires to reveal His will to me.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Church Planting?

One interest that I have is in the spread of the Gospel and the multiplication of churches (bodies of believers). I have read many books on church planting from modern authors. There seems to be a common thread among the books. It seems as if church planting is being defined as the replication of an institution.

Many of the books teach you how to find a building to meet in, how to secure finances, and how to market the new church. These things are presented as essential to the proper functioning of a church. The problem I am having is that the Scripture does not indicate that these types of concerns are essential to a church. There seems to be a difference between the Scriptural portrayal of the Church and modern day methods of starting a church. So I have some questions for you.

Is church planting a biblical concept? If so, how should it be defined? What are believers called to reproduce (more believers, an institution, or something else)? How do churches maintain relationships with other churches the way it is modeled in Scripture (for example, the churches in Macedonia and Achaia were involved with the church in Jerusalem despite the geographic distance)? I am still working through these questions and would like to hear from and dialogue with others about them.

Friday, May 12, 2006


The past couple of weeks have been extremely busy. I was finishing my paper on the textual variant in Acts 2:42. While this work consumed almost all of my time, it was very productive since I learned a great deal from the research.

My conclusion was that the "and" should be included in the verse for a couple of reasons. First this reading has the most geographically widespread attestation. It was found in all the text types while the omission was found in two text types. Also, the inclusion of "and" seemed to match Luke's theology given his expanded definition of koinonia in the verses that follow.

Luke portrays the early Christians as sharing their lives with each other in a wide variety of ways. They shared meals together, prayed together, and even sold their posessions to help those in need. I finished my paper with the question of whether these activities that the early believers devoted themselves to are normative for Christians today. I argue that they are not only normative but also essential to the proper functioning of the body of Christ.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Progress on Acts 2:42

I am currently making slow but steady progress on my paper to resolve the variant in Acts 2:42. One interesting thing I have found is that in modern English translations of the verse, the only translations that include the "and" were produced between 1534 and 1899. Any translation produced after 1899 does not include the "and." This means the the KJV and NKJV are split in the way they deal with this variant even though they are both based off the Textus Receptus (which includes the "and"). I wonder what could cause such a drastic change in the way the verse was translated. I propose some things in my paper...but I will leave you in suspense for now.

Last Weekend

This past weekend my wife and I spent some time at the farm of Dr. David Alan Black for his and Mrs. Blacks student day. We had a wonderful time sharing each others lives. We took a tour of the farm, shared a meal together, and even tried some Ethiopian food. I love to try food from other cultures so this was quite a treat. Thank you Dr. and Mrs. Black for your hospitality. We truly felt at home while we were at your home.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Alan Knox has some great postings on church discipline and the bodily resurrection over at Assembling.

Textual Variant in Acts 2:42

I am currently working on a research paper on the texual variant in Acts 2:42. There are actually two variants in the verse. The one I am working on is the inclusion or exclusion of the "kai" between "fellowship" and "the breaking of bread." Your may be asking, why does it matter whether the word "and" is present in this verse or not? (The editors of the UBS New Testament must have thought the same thing since they did not include the variant in the textual apparatus.) If we are to understand the life of the early church, this variant needs to be dealt with.

There are two possible readings to this verse:

1. And they were devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.

2. And they were devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.

Now, if reading 2 is the original, then Luke is speaking of four distinct activities that the early church devoted themselves to. If reading 1 is original, then there are two possibilities or how it can be read. First, Luke could be referring to two distinct activities, the apostles teaching and fellowship, with fellowship being explained by the breaking of bread and prayer. Second, Luke could be referring to three distinct activities, the apostles teaching, fellowship, and prayer, with fellowship being explained by the breaking of bread.

Since none of these aspects of the life of the early church were bound by the culture they lived in, the proper interpretation of this verse has great significance on our practice as a community of believers today.

I will continue to post on how I resolve this variant over the next few weeks. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would guide my mind as well as my pen.

The Past Two Weeks...

The past two weeks have been quite busy. My wife and I have been on a trip to Atlanta to visit family and friends. We had a good time catching up with everyone and even had some opportunities to minister to some of our family while there. When we returned to Wake Forest, I participated in a week of training with my job. It was a fruitful week no matter how exhausting it was. Anyway, it is good to be back and blogging again.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Structural Diagramming in Bible Study!

We continued our Wednesday Bible study last night in the book of Philippians. We began by creating a structural diagram on 1:27-30. This was the first time we had done something so "academic" in this group of people. Everyone loved it. As we diagrammed the passage on a white board, people could visually see Paul's intended meaning in the passage. We even spent time discussing Paul's use of politeuomai instead of peripateo in verse 27. A harder issue that we tackled was the use of the neuter demonstrative pronoun touto at the end of verse 28. What is the "that" that Paul is pointing back to? There were several options given. What do you think?

After finishing the diagram and discussing the argument, we talked about how this passage applies not only to our lives individually, but also to our life as a body of believers. The passage is clear: it has been given to us to suffer on behalf of Christ not for evil things we do, but to suffer unjustly for the fact that we follow Christ and obey Him. However, we do not suffer alone. In our suffering we are to live worthy of the gospel by standing firm in four ways: in one Spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel, in no way terrified by our adversaries. Notice the emphasis on unity among the body in this passage.

It was a great evening helping people see the joy of digging deeper into the Scriptures and training them to dig in themselves.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Are Seminaries in Need of a Reformation?

Before raising some questions about the current state of seminaries, some preliminary thoughts. I am currently a masters level seminary student who is eternally grateful for the education I am receiving. There are many godly men who have meant a great deal to me during my education. I in no way wish to downplay the influence they have had on my life, but to raise some questions as to the effectiveness of today's seminaries. With that said, on to the questions...

During the Protestant Reformation, one of the issues that the reformers faced was the fact that the common people did not have the Scriptures in their own language. Only those with special training in Greek or more likely Latin were able to read the scriptures for themselves. The reformers sought to remedy this by translating the scriptures into the languages of their day. I wonder if we are facing a similar situation in seminaries today?

Now, I do not mean to say that the Scriptures need to be translated into another language. What I am getting at is this: the seminary, more often than not, is designed to prepare the "professional minister" to preach and teach to a congregation. This "professional" gets wonderful training in Greek, Hebrew, Hermeneutics, New & Old Testament, and Systematic Theology. He gets to delve deep into God's Word and grows in maturity in Christ. However, this wonderful knowledge that he has gained usually does not get passed on to the congregation he becomes a part of. The "minister" continues to be enriched through his studies, while the congregation continues to eat "previously chewed food."

Therefore, there is a new divide that has been created between the "professional minister" and the common people. There is a dearth of biblical knowledge and reflection among many Christians. There is the "minister" who grows in his faith, while the others have not been taught to read and understand the Scriptures for themselves, but have been trained to get their spiritual nourishment from another man instead of the Word of God.

We must bridge this divide. We must show people how to study the Scripture for themselves. (yes, this even means teaching them Greek and Hebrew!) The church will never be what it is called to be by relying on a few good human leaders. The whole body must be transformed by a deep love for and study of the Word of God.

So how can we reform our seminaries and our churches to reconnect all believers with the deep riches of God's Word? Is it just through pastors making the effort to teach these things? Should the seminaries make an effort to go out and train whole congregations? Are there other ways? You comments are most welcome.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Rethinking Systematic Categories

I have been pondering the idea recently as to whether we need to redefine our typical systematic theology categories. I have particularly been thinking in the area of ecclesiology.

When we talk about the doctrine of ecclesiology, what do we mean by the term ecclesiology? Are we speaking only of the assembly or gathering of God's people? This is what the term ecclesiology would imply since the greek word ekklesia carries the meaning of gathering or assembly. So, are we only seeking to define what happens within the context of the assembly of believers? Or are we seeking to define something larger than the assembly?

Perhaps we need to change the labels that we use. Maybe instead of the Doctrine of Ecclesiology we should use the title the Doctrine of the People of God.

I am still working through this, but there appears to be some basic presuppositions that come to mind when we use the word church. Some people would immediately think of a physical building or of a Sunday morning "worship" service. The Scripture, though, does not define the church in this way.

There is so much work to be done in redefining our terms to match the biblical pattern. How would you seek to define the way the Scripture portrays God's people?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wednesday Night Gathering

We just arrived home from our regular Wednesday gathering with some of our brothers and sisters from Messiah Baptist Church. We gather each week to build each other up toward maturity in Christ. Tonight we spent time sharing our lives with one another, studying the Scripture (Philippians 1:18b-26 in particular), and praying together.

Paul's outlook on life in Philippians 1:21 continues to challenge me. He found absolute fulfillment in Christ. We, oftentimes, love the world far too much. I pray that God will grow my brothers and sisters as well as myself to find that kind of fulfillment in Christ.

Next week we will study verses 27-30. These are such rich verses. Did you know that the first imperative verb in the epistle is found in verse 27?

The Byzantine Text Type

Today in Textual Criticism class we read some of Harry Sturz work on the place of the Byzantine text type. While some have argued for the Byzantine text being a late conflation of the Alexandrian and Western texts, Sturz argues for an early date of the Byzantine text. He bases this on distintively Byzantine readings found in the second century papyri. Some are even readings where the Byzantine is the shorter text compared with the other two.

I think this shows that the Byzantine text is just as early as the Alexandrian and Western. Therefore, given the early nature of all three text types, it is my belief that we should give all three equal weight when attempting to resolve a textual variant. I have not yet been convinced, as Dr. Maurice Robinson has, that the Byzantine should be given priority over the Alexandrian and Western.

I am still in the process of working through all these issues. Let me know what you think.