Monday, August 31, 2009

For Those Who Love the Writings of Lewis and Tolkien

There is a new book (July 2009) that documents the story of "The Inklings of Oxford: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Their Friends" who met to discuss literature and to share their various writings together.  I just wanted to share this short YouTube video with anyone who has ever enjoined the works of Lewis and Tolkien (who are two of my all-time favorite writers).  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reflections on the Beatitudes

I was reflecting on the beatitudes (while reading several books
that dealt with this subject) and had the realization that the truer characteristics Christ describes of His followers are in fact  demonstrated less by their action and more by their reaction.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (Mat 5:3-11 NIV)
What do I mean by that?  I noticed that it is much easier for me to do something that fits this profile when its on my terms, my timing, etc., but not when I'm busy, having  a hard day, etc.  When reading the beatitudes I notice that the poor in spirit are lacking and/or abused first, that the mourners have suffered first, the meek have been humbled first, the merciful have been wronged unjustly first, the ones hungering/thirsting after righteousness are inadequate and unsatisfied first, the peacemakers, are in turmoil first, the persecuted...well they are being persecuted first.  So the reaction of Christ's followers are significant in demonstrating the Lordship of Christ in one's life.

I realize that the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) in my life is more readily apparent (or not) when I'm reacting to something or someone else.  How I respond/react demonstrates more truly the work of God in my life than simply how I act (not that the acting isn't also extremely important, but it can certainly be used as a mask of what is really going on in my heart).  I once heard someone say, "No one really wants to be good, but everyone wants others to think they are good." 

My reaction to adversity and trouble truly demonstrates the working of the Spirit in my life and drives me back to the all-sufficient Cross of Christ.  His reaction "as a lamb to the slaughter" in the midst of hatred, rage, abuse, rejection, torture and even execution drives me back to His life...may I be found hidden in Him and live in step with the Spirit.

So I pray today that the Lord Jesus help me by His Spirit to not just act, but react in ways that reflect His life in my life (and my life hidden in His).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Grounds of Faith

I read a wonderful quote in a book I'm almost through by Mark Batterson (pastor of National Community Church) "Wild Good Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God" (2008: pg. 79):
Faith is not logical. But it isn't illogical either. Faith is theological. It does not ignore reality; it just adds God into the equation.... Faith is not mindless ignorance; it simply refuses to limit God tothe logical constraints of the left brain.... Logic questions God. Faith questions assumptions. And at the end of the day,faith is trusting God more than you trust your own assumption.
I was struck by this quote, because it reminds me of a saying by Augustine: Credo ut intelligam "I believe so that I may understand."
Faith is not logical or illogical, but theological. It is the firm foundation of life beginning and ending in Christ -- God for man and man for God. And there can be no other foundation and no other goal than this one. All knowledge, all logic, has Christ as the center and boundaries.
Lord, I my unbelief...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Al Mohler

I just listened to an amazing 2 part message by Al Mohler (President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary). He is both humorous and punchy! One might say prophetic to the Church, calling us to return to the Lord.

His proposal about evangelical bible studies being one of the most dangerous places in the world is well worth noting! He suggests that we MUST move beyond asking "What does this passage say to you?" to asking "What is God saying or showing us about Himself?" We should not be focused in our study of Scripture on personal application/meaning, but on glorifying God in everything! A hard-hitting reminder to myself to not study Scripture for myself but for the the absolute Glory of God.

The Hidden God Made Known

St. Basil the Great (one of the Cappadocian Fathers in his wonderful little book "On the Holy Spirit - 'De Spiritu Sancto') wisely wrote, "We confess that we know what is knowable of God and yet what we know reaches beyond our comprehension." These are wise words to be remembered by those of us professing to speak as if we know God. Indeed we know God, but this is by the Scriptures -- through the Spirit -- through Christ. But we only know in part (as Paul says).

We would do well to do theological and pastoral work in light of this with all humility. God has truly revealed Himself and given Himself to us and for us in Christ, but yet we must never forget that we are still broken and awaiting our final redemption. Our knowledge is only in part. May we know Him as He is in Himself -- Our Father in Christ by the Holy Spirit, but may we never think that we have fully understood this Great God who is hidden even in His revelation (think of Moses who was graciously permitted to "see" God, but only in passing), until He returns. Someday we will know Him as He is and that Day will be glorious...oh, for the Day of His Coming again when we will know Him in all his ineffabel Glory and Majesty! Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Word/s of Life?

"Simon Peter replied, 'Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.' (John 6:68 - NLT). This was Peter's reply after many had left from following Jesus. Were they offended by Jesus' statements about eating his flesh and drinking his blood for "life" or were they offended because Jesus had just said that only the ones the Father gives to him will come to him?

But let's move beyond the question of the motivation for so many deserting Jesus at that moment, I want to deal with Peter's reply to Jesus query of his immediate disciples, "Are you also going to leave?" Peter replies that they have nowhere else to go. He states that Jesus has "the words that give eternal life." But is this the end of his reply? No! In fact, it would be entirely insufficient for Peter to only believe that the words of Jesus give eternal life. No, in fact it is Christ Himself who is life. The rest of Peter's answer "and we believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." This is where the key rests.

The disciples who deserted Jesus may have believed his words could give life (after all he multiplied the fishes and loves by a seeming blessing of God). The key is not that Jesus' words alone give life, but that Jesus is THE life (John 11:25 -- concerning the death and resurrection of Lazarus where Mary and Martha's belief in his word as life needed to be redirected to Jesus as THE life; and John 14:6 where Jesus reminds his disciples that he is the way, the truth and the life and therefore no one comes to the Father except through him). This is not to downplay the words, but to emphasize the one whose words they are. The words point clearly to the Word (John 1:1). May we not only believe the words of Jesus, but let us place our faith in Jesus Himself as THE LIFE. It is the difference between believing something about someone, and actually believing in that someone. May my faith move beyond God's words and to God's Word -- the Lord Jesus Christ...where else can we go???

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Glory of the LORD and His Torah

I just listened to one of the most amazing defenses of Mosaic authorship of the book of Deuteronomy that I've ever encountered which was a lecture (about 50 minutes long) delivered to the faculty of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on Sept. 29, 1999 entitled "The Genesis of Deuteronomy." This message (while heavily academic) is similar to other messages I've heard from Dr. Block that are extremely pastoral and delivered as an impassioned plea to know and glorify the LORD in everything.

Daniel I. Block, D.Phil - University of Liverpool (Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and author of multiple commentaries, books and articles including the publicly lauded "standard" for commentaries on the OT with his "Ezekiel" [2 volumes in the New International Commentary of the Old Testament]) has presented many convincing arguments for the structure and compilation of Deuteronomy (not to mention the influence upon Genesis-Leviticus) and its relation to the rest of Scripture. He moves well beyond the likes of Martin Noth and Moshe Weinfeld and indeed offers a truly Evangelical approach and critique to the contemporary critical understanding and history of Torah. I hope he includes such work (and further develops it) as a part of his soon (?) coming commentary on Deuteronomy in the NIV Application Commentary series. It is always refreshing to listen to a Scholar who knows his stuff, but shares it in the spirit of a Pastor.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy Ramadan

Today begins the Islamic month of Ramadan where Muslims the world over will be fasting. I have participated in Ramadan for 16 years now, but as a Christian. I don't participate in order to obtain salvation or blessing, but in order to pray for Muslims everywhere to come to know the Lord of all. There are numerous resources that can aid Christians in better praying for Muslims during this month where in particular the Islamic community is praying for God to hear them and to have a revelation from Him. One site that I use is and it publishes a daily update (when subscribed to) for reading/prayer that can aid Christians in focusing their prayer time during the month. Reports every year show that more Muslims come to know the Lord Jesus Christ during Ramadan than during any other time of the year. Please pray!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why Are You Learning Greek and Hebrew?

I've been asked this question numerous times (by some family, friends and my church), "Why would you want to learn Hebrew/Greek?" There have of course been times I've wondered the very same thing. It's hard work that requires tremendous amounts of time, energy, focus and just plain type A personality giftings (or would it be better to say a little OCD doesn't hurt :-)). I've taken a couple of years of Greek and Hebrew now at both the undergrad and now the Grad level and while I've learned alot, it seems the more I learn the more I realize that I don't know. The complexities of not only learning a language, but of learning a dead language that you are incapable of chatting with anyone in, that there is no new literature being written in, etc.

But them I'm reminded of why I do this when I begin to study the Scriptures in the original languages and soon realize all the things that are missing by only reading a translation. Not to mention it aids in memorizing the Scriptures in English and understanding the translations you read that much more clearly. I find that when I'm able to read something in the original language suddenly I feel that I can hear the voice of the Lord a little clearer and as if the words come to life.

Over the last few years I have grown to love learning languages more and more (while still struggling day in and day out) and to realize that to know Christ is not always an easy matter. Discipleship requires discipline and there is no easy path for following Him. The shortcuts to discipleship tend to water down the disciple.

While I don't think its necessary to learn Greek and Hebrew in order to follow Christ, yet there is inestimable advantage in reading what was originally written and thereby drawing closer to Christ and walking in faithfulness with His Spirit. The admonition of Paul to Timothy to "study to show yourself approved to God" is not the call to a casual study of Scripture and the following of the Lord, but a call to work hard at knowing the revelation of God and to walk in faith-filled obedience to it. I pray the Lord help us as His body (and myself as a servant to His glorious Church) to offer ourselves in obedience, to work as to Him and to bring Him greater glory through the process.

"I now studied much, about 12 hours a day, chiefly Hebrew . . . [and] committed portions of the Hebrew Old Testament to memory; and this I did with prayer, often falling on my knees . . . I looked up to the Lord even whilst turning over the leaves of my Hebrew dictionary." – George Mueller, 1829

"For the devil smelled a rat, and perceived that if the [biblical] languages were revived a hole would be knocked in his kingdom which he could not easily stop up again. Since he found he could not prevent their revival, he now aims to keep them on such slender rations that they will of themselves decline and pass away. They are not a welcome guest in his house, so he plans to offer them such meager entertainment that they will not prolong their stay. Very few of us, my dear sirs see through this evil design of the devil." —Martin Luther, 1524

Oh, for more George Muellers and Martin Luthers! Lord, help me in my weakness to study faithfully that I may be approved in the Last Day as a worthy Son and Disciple!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Judgment of God???

John Piper just posted an amazing (and controversial -- but what's new) blog. Just yesterday I was visiting with another minister about the ELCA convention that was meeting in Minneapolis to discuss the issue of homosexuality. I had voiced my heartbreak for the ELCA that has moved so far from her Lord that she would bless what God doesn't, and declare righteous what God declares sinful. I have no angst against the ELCA, but only compassion that they might return to the Lord. It seems that at the very church (Central Lutheran) where this was going on at 2PM there was a freak tornado that tore through downtown Minneapolis and ended at Central Lutheran by destroying the steeple (where it suddenly lifted and was gone). John Piper's blog gives some more details and what he believes may be the point of it all. We need to pray for the ELCA for repentance and righteousness.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Wonderful World of Wadholms is changing!

This family blog has basically been abandoned (due to Jenn's greater personal satisfaction in maintaining updates on Facebook :-). So it is being revived as Rick's personal blog (not excluding the family, but not posting the family updates that are better shared on FB) to just post random thoughts on life, theology and the Bible.

Choosing Prayer

I'm taking a directed studies this semester that is called "Advanced Pastoral Ministry Experience" where I get to choose anything that I feel is a weakness in my pastoral ministry. (I realize there are MANY weaknesses in my life that could be worked on). So after talking with my advisor I've decided to do this class on "Prayer" (beyond just praying for good grades).

However, I have to actually pick a couple of books on prayer and read them, then write a critical review/response for each book before writing a final paper on my personal prayer journey -- where I've been and where I intend to go and how I intend to get there. This should be a fun class. My only problem is actually finding any books that particularly focus on the pastoral ministry and prayer. This isn't essential, but I feel would be very helpful.

There are a number of books that I'm considering (Karl Barth "On Prayer";and Dietrich Bonhoeffer "Psalms: The Prayerbook of the Bible"), but I'd be interested in any proposals on what books anyone has read and would recommend as well as what particularly about the book has effected a beneficial change in your prayer life. I look forward to finding greater times with the Lord in prayer.