Catching Genesis

This Sunday I start my teaching trek through Genesis in one28. I already sense the thrill of paddling to catch the wave, but likewise sense the fear that at any moment the wave may upend me and pound me into the rocks.

Genesis 1Photo thanks to Roy’s World

I am excited about Genesis because it is (obviously) the explanation of the beginning of almost everything. Genesis casts God’s light of revelation on why we exist and what He made us to do. Not only that, any study in the Old Testament compliments the standard fare of current evangelical exposition. More time in OT study also lets me continue to work on my Hebrew, in which there is significant room to excel still more. I look forward to the challenge of accurately interpreting narrative and trying to communicate the story in a way consistent with the genre. And more than anything else, I’m eager to catch the gravity of the Creator/creature distinction and why we as image-bearers should be both head-bowed before Him and heads-up in fulfilling His mandate.

On the other hand, I am fearful to begin Genesis because I suspect it will take a lot of rear-in-the-seat time just to scratch the surface of the book. I haven’t spent much previous effort studying narrative and even less time preaching it. If insight is “the product of intensive, headache-producing meditation”1 then I may need some Costco size bottles of Tylenol in my attempt to subdue Genesis. I hope to move through the book quickly, but not too quickly. I want to show how it frames our present-day story, without missing the historical-providential-redemptive, all-by-itself importance of the text itself. And apart from all those things, I’m afraid I may also be confronted with my failure to enjoy the bounty God has provided for men in vegetables.2


  1. From John Piper’s chapter, “Brothers, Let Us Query the Text” in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, 75.
  2. Prior to the fall, men ate vegetables only, and somehow this was no quandary for the first couple living in paradise. So if there is something to enjoy about living in a Genesis 3 world, eating meat must make the list.

You think English is easy?

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.
  11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  13. They were too close to the door to close it.
  14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  18. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  19. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  20. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face it–English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? One index, two indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

The Savanna Project

My friend, David W. Cleland, is now writing at and about The Savannah Project. He has moved a time zone, switched blogging platforms, and even converted blog genres (the third day of my week feels empty without Cat Tuesdays). More than that, he’s committed to planting a church in his hometown, a church he hopes will be rooted in the rich soil of God’s Word.

Discerning Repentance

One’s attitude does not produce discernment, like sadness can’t diagnose disease. On the other hand, the right attitude should be one of the results of discernment, like an accurate diagnosis may cause sorrow. As always, discernment flourishes only when energized by the light of doctrine.

Discernment is not created in God’s people by brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance. It is created by biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds. When that happens, then the brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance will have the strong fiber of the full counsel of God in them. They will be profoundly Christian and not merely religious and emotional and psychological.

Quoted from John Piper’s post, Test Revival with Doctrine.

How Do You Respond

One week ago I was minding my own business, working on something in my office when I received a text message on my iPhone. I suspected it was a one28 staff person letting me know they were unable to make it to our meeting later that evening, but when I looked at the snippet I didn’t recognize the number. I was even more surprised upon opening the entire message, and though they said they didn’t want a response, I sent one anyway. The following image is a screen capture of the original (in grey) and my response (in green). The only photo edit was to mask the final four digits of the phone number.

Wrong number

Making Disciples – The Booklet

*A few months ago I blogged through a series of posts on Making Disciples. My ulterior motive was to prepare a booklet from those notes to share with parents of new students coming into our ministry. I wanted parents to get a glimpse of our passion and plan to help them help their students become complete in Christ.

That booklet is now complete. I want to say thank you to Jonathan Sarr and my mom for lending their editing pens and pencils, and thank you to Jesse Martin for transforming the text and diagrams into a fabulous printed page format.

By no means is this booklet the deep-end of the pool on the subject, but hopefully it invites (or pushes) more people into the waters of discipleship. Eventually I hope to make a 6×9, saddle stitch copy available through Lulu, but in the meantime you can download the PDF and print your own copy free of charge.

UPDATE [4:47PM September 3]: After downloading applications and scripts and spending a couple hours of trial and error, you can now download the PDF for booklet printing. Make sure to use the double-side, short-side binding print options.

Rightly Dividing Your Copy of God’s Word

Today we announced a new seminar at church:

*

Rightly | Dividing aims to move believers beyond personal Bible reading to Bible study. There are many useful Bible reading plans, and for that matter, much excellent material is available from good Bible teachers. But this seminar hopes to train people how to understand and depend on the Book, not only on teachers of the Book.

I’ll be teaching this seminar on Saturday, October 11.1 It will include over six hours of teaching, covering topics like how to prepare for study, basic principles (hermeneutics) for Bible study, how to find the point of a paragraph, and recommended tools.

Anyone in the area is welcome to attend. If you’re interested, jump over to the Rightly | Dividing website for more details and online registration.


  1. Don’t tell anyone, but October 11 also happens to be Mo’s due date with Hallie.

Fools Play with Fire

Series | Whispers and Flames

Avoiding drama doesn’t mean we never say tough things, it means we don’t add theatrics. It also means that we say tough things to the person, not about the person. Being kind to someone’s face doesn’t always equal love, and saying difficult things to someone’s face doesn’t always equal not love.

On the other hand, whisperers are invariably haters. They talk a love game in certain settings but, as Proverbs 26:23-28 describes, they are hiding an evil heart and harboring deceit. It is never loving or kind to whisper; it is dishonest, insincere, two-faced talk. Whisperers, quarrelers, deceivers, and haters are destroyers.

The whisperers in Proverbs 26:20-22 are fools. Of course, the entire book of Proverbs identifies the contrast between wisdom and foolishness, and a man’s speech tells on him. Wise men quiet contention; fools start fires. Fools whisper and start fights. Fools take a bad situation and stir it up. Other fools listen to and eat up drama.

While these related proverbs comment on the effect or results of drama, the apostle Paul reveals the cause of drama. Whispering and fighting are works of the flesh.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. (Galatians 5:19-20)

Some of these sins fly under the banner of drama. The point is, drama–especially drama in whispers–starts in the heart. These sins are also a sign of God’s abandoning men to their unrighteousness.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Romans 1:28-31)

It’s no wonder tongues cause such turmoil since “the tongue stains the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). We inflame and sustain fire with our mouths, because our tongues are hellish. It may not be a surprise, but it is no less wrong.

Spirit-filled Christians should not whisper or quarrel. Drama is fleshly. Galatians 5 says that if we walk in the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. We will stop the drama. Those who increase drama, therefore, are those not walking in the Spirit.

This has application for everyone, but young ladies appear especially susceptible to being busybodies, buttinskies, and backbiters.

But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. (1 Timothy 5:11-15)

Apparently because they don’t have enough to do and aren’t looking for responsibility, they go about writing on other’s Facebook walls, text messaging, and getting each other in corners to talk about what Miss So-and-so did. But the devil watches young women. He takes their drama and uses it to slander Christ. Ladies must keep their tongues from wagging after Satan.

no dramaWith every response we show what is important, either drama, or the Lord. We’ve got to guard our hearts, guard our lips, and guard our ears. Especially for leaders, those who typically know more information about others, and those on whom more eyes and ears concentrate, drama must not be entertained or tolerated in our reactions. We need to make disciples, not drama.