Vacuuming and the Paradigms of Greek Grammar

What do these two things have in common?  Almost nothing is the quick and easy answer.  I say almost nothing because at an hour and half into my professor’s lecture on Greek Grammar the two collided and for a brief moment were simultaneously swimming about in my mind.  Thus, is their slight commonality.  And to press matters tangentially, the Lord knew the simultaneity of these two rather odd pairings before they entered my brain (so says Psalm 139:2).  Thus, we have another commonality: the amazing and meticulous omniscience of God.  But aside from these two things . . . 

Anyway, there is a point to be had here!  Vacuuming corresponds to a particular evidence of the greater ideal of loving my wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.  Thus, when the thought of vacuuming came to mind, it was propagated by the greater reality – loving Jenny; and the Word of God attested to it, as well as the Spirit upon my conscience, saying, “Ah, here is a tangible way to practice love for your wife and reflect the Gospel!”  Simple enough – unless, like me, the desires of your flesh are still operative (even while the Spirit in you is infinitely mightier in promoting the things you not only should but want to do as a new creation).  The temptation for me, and in this case it is a genuine temptation, is to put off vacuuming in order to memorize and recite the paradigm for Greek articles.  Now, I (as odd as it sounds) wholeheartedly recommend memorizing Greek articles, and learning Greek grammar, especially if you are going into the pastorate or some other Christian vocation.  Greek is good!  The temptation comes, however, in putting off that which most presses me as a Christian man who has the privilege of being a Christian husband: loving my wife, primarily.  The task is to do both without forsaking that which is primary – the mistake, I confess, I often make.  And mistakes are sins (or at least evidence of the pervasiveness of it; read Leviticus 5:14-6:7 lately?).  

So, fellow seminarians, and fellow Christian brothers: it is always better to love your wife than to devote yourself to hours of study under the guise of godliness – a supposed godliness by which we forsake our utmost privilege and in so doing prove ourselves to be less pious than we thought.  You will be more in line with Christ in forsaking your Greek for your wife than in forsaking your wife for Greek grammar – but if you can vacuum in love and recite Greek grammar simultaneously, well then, God bless you!

Summer Reading

Well, classes continue.  And with classes comes reading.  This summer I’m taking two classes – Introduction to Family Ministry, June 1-5, and Pastoral Ministry, July 20-24 – these will have their respective books.  In fact, I’ve already put down 2 of the 6 for “Intro” with the help of the Lord.  The first, A Parent Privilege, by Steve Wright was a biblical articulation of the role of parents in the discipling of their children – primary! – and the means by which they can be equipped for this task.  I would call it a necessary book for the majority of parents in the body of Christ.  The second, Humility, by C.J. Mahaney is a much needed discussion on this biblical grace which he calls “true greatness.”  In a sentence, our Lord came not to serve but to be served, and thus, the character of each who abides in Christ is to be marked by such humble servitude.  A good, practical guide into the means of mortifying pride and cultivating Christ-like humility.

The remaining 4 books for the class include:

Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders, by Aubrey Malphurs (haven’t gotten riveting reviews on this one)

Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Wayne Grudem and Dennis Rainey

Peacemaking for Families: A Biblical Guide to Managing Conflict in Your Home, by Ken Sande (this sounds like it could go either way, but you can’t judge a book by its cover)

Leading the Team-Based Church: How Pastors and Church Staffs Can Grow Together into a Powerful Fellowship of Leaders, by George Cladis (sounds interesting?)

Between June 6 and the second week of July – call it a month or so – and from July 25 (after my second class of the summer) through the second week of August, I will be reading (hopefully) the following “summer list” of books in no particular order (drum roll please):

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Psalms 1-50, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Acts, Romans, Colossians in the Bible, by God

Biblical Theology: A History of Theology from Adam to Christ, by John Owen

The Supremacy of God in Preaching, by John Piper

Dominion and Dynasty: A Biblical Theology of the Hebrew Bible (New Studies in Biblical Theology), by Stephen Dempster

From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race (New Studies in Biblical Theology), by Daniel Hays

Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission (New Studies in Biblical Theology), by Andreas Kostenberger and Peter T. O’Brien

The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (New Studies in Biblical Theology), by G.K. Beale

The Mission of God, by Christopher Wright

The Cross of Christ, by John Stott

Christ and Culture, by D.A. Carson

Augustine of Hippo, by Peter Brown or The Life and Diary of David Brainerd, by Jonathan Edwards (haven’t decided between these two for the biography of the summer)

The Faith of Israel, by William Dumbrell

No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?, by David Wells

That’s all for now – I’ll let you know how I’m doing, what I’m gleaning, and how these agree or disagree with God’s Word – the standard by which all is judged.  Looks like a summer of fun and gracious expectation!

Seminary Classes, Golden Calves, and the Glory of Christ – by Matt Click, a Guest Blogger

You don’t have to book an international flight in order to witness pagan idol worship. 

After all, seminary tuition is much cheaper. 

In an era when Christian education is increasingly popular, especially with the rise of New Calvinism, it is easy to forget that golden calves are not always “over there” but can sometimes be “right here.” 

As a seminary student who is quickly approaching his graduation, I have lately been pondering what it means to glorify God in all things—particularly, in my studies and, especially, while attending my classroom lectures. Now while it is no surprise that a seminarian would ask, “How should I glorify God with my life?” yet it is not as easily apparent why he (or she) would need to inquire about such in relation to his theological studies. I mean, is it not overtly obvious that the Bible student deeply cares about the glory of God even in his learning? 

Nevertheless, in my own life, I have found it to be true that I am not always concerned about glorifying God precisely in the times when I ought to the most, in particular, when I am listening to a professor give a lecture about God, the Bible, and redemption. Indeed, there have been numerous times during my seminary career when, during a lecture, I was actually consumed by things other than the glory of Jesus Christ. 

In a very real sense, there were times when I stood at the foot of the glory-soaked mountain and yet chose to produce, and run after, cast metal objects. 

No earrings were used. Nor were there any engraving tools involved. In fact, from an observer’s standpoint, I may have even appeared as one who was enthralled by Christ, with my fast-paced, note-taking precision. And yet, I must admit, Christ was not always at the blazing center of my affections. Sometimes I murmured about the classroom temperature, moaned against the length and dryness of the lecture, complained that I had too much on my plate and could not afford to write another response paper. Grumble, grumble, grumble. 

At other times, though, I almost bowed in reverence to my teachers, because of their eloquent words and clever theorems. Can you hear the fashioning sounds of the hammer? 

And so with that, then, I ask: How shall a seminary student attend a class lecture for the glory of God? 

First of all, it is important to note (and be utterly convinced of the reality) that we are, as C. J. Mahaney is fond of saying, doing much better than we deserve. It is true. No boiling-hot classroom comes even close to the scorching-hot hell that I deserve for a life of rebellion against a perfect and holy God. Yet by his awesome and irresistible grace, I have been united to Christ in faith and forgiven of my sins. I have been made new. I am a child of the Most High and an heir of all his glorious promises. No amount of homework or dry lectures will annul this truth. 

Second, it is also imperative that we recognize that for all of the good lectures (and these, I believe, far outnumber the bad, at least at SBTS), even these things—good and glorious as those classes and their content may be—are but a dull and pale-like picture of what the true reality will actually be. At seminary, we aim to know Jesus Christ and him crucified. Yet during our exile here on earth, we only know him in part. But on that great Day, when we are caught up in the air with him, we will see him face-to-face. Now we see him dimly; then we will see him in the full splendor of his radiant glory. Therefore, we need not make too much of our classes. Nor should we idolize even our Bible-saturated, Christ-embracing professors—godly as they are. For our ultimate desire is Christ. He alone is the One whose voice and unfading perfections we wish to behold. 

Third and finally, all that we learn must overflow into white-hot worship for our King. The information and raw facts cannot remain hidden in our scribbled-up notebooks. Our systematic theology must become unrestrained doxology. Our history courses must allure us to the One who controls and orchestrates all of history. Our Greek and Hebrew ought to morph us into the kind of people who love and adore the eternal Logos. Our spiritual disciplines must magnify the One who relentlessly and without fail ordered his life to please God. In a nutshell, our seminary classes ought to lead us to a deeper appreciation and fuller passion for the Christ who loved us and gave himself up for us. 

Otherwise, we might as well quit seminary and just save up for an overseas plane ticket. 

Added by Brian: you can visit Matt Click’s site and stay informed on his upcoming graduation and move to China for the glory of Christ and the supremacy of His name amongst the nations, and the Clicks church planting efforts amongst the Chinese, here.

Starting Southern Seminary

I will be writing part 7 of The Sinfulness of the Sin of Silence soon, but this moving to seminary thing is proving to be quite the handful.  But it has been a gracious experience, and one that I am excited to undergo by the grace and mercy of our God.

Jenny and I have moved a lot of our belongings to St. Matthews (Louisville), Kentucky.  I would ask that you continue to pray that God will provide all of the circumstances that are necessary for our house to sell in South Carolina.  Currently, God has blown us away by the love and working of his body, – in particular, David and Anna Lyles and how they have so freely and generously opened up their home to us.  For these things I am humbled before Christ, – and I honor Him for His grace.

Pray for us in this time of transition away from many loved family and friends.  Pray for my lovely bride that God would strengthen her in these days and encourage her in the faith and vision of His Word.  Pray for me that God would help me as I prepare to dive into my classes (and 15+ books) that above all I might come to Him, – to the feet of Jesus Christ my Lord and that I might know Him and be supremely mobilized in the Gospel for His name’s sake.

Thank you all in advance for your many prayers and petitions.  God has made previous supplications known to us by His powerful working in Christ.  I just want to know Him and I pray that you all will have such a hunger.  In the coming days I’ll return to typical posting, but for now, while we awesomely settle in uncomfortability where God is most glorified in our absolute dependence upon Him, may God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you and grant you peace, – in Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.