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March 13, 2012

This week’s episode of the Connected Kingdom Podcast has David talking about typology in the Bible; if that sounds dry, it’s because you don’t understand it well enough! Understanding even just the basics of typology transforms the way you read the Old Testament. You’ve got two options: You can read the transcript below or you can listen in by clicking on the audio player. If you listen in, you’ll be able to hear the two of us interact a little bit.

Connected Kingdom“A picture is worth a thousand words.”


Pictures help us remember, understand, and look forward.

When we want to remember our wedding, we don’t get our diaries or journals out; we open the photo album. When we want to understand how a rocket works, we don’t get NASA’s instruction manual out; we look for some pictures. When we are looking forward to our vacation, we don’t look up Wikipedia; we look up Google images.

 “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It helps us remember better, it helps us understand better, and it helps us anticipate the future better.

That’s why God used so many pictures in the Old Testament. Vivid visuals like the Passover lamb, or the flood, or the Tabernacle helped Israel remember better, understand better, and look forward better.

March 06, 2012

This week’s episode of the Connected Kingdom Podcast (another of our new, shorter episodes) has me discussing the Christian life being safe—too safe. You’ve got two options: You can read the transcript below or you can listen in by clicking on the audio player.

Connected KingdomA couple of months ago I worked with a graphic designer to put together an infographic that would display the attributes of God. Putting it together was far more worship than work as I looked to the Bible to see what God tells us about himself, about who he is and what he’s like. Each one of those attributes is worthy of a study because each one is part of an answer to questions like this: Who is this God who has forgiven me for my sin? What is this God like?

February 21, 2012

This week’s podcast has David Murray answering my request to hear him speak on the subject of entitlement. You can read or listen to what he had to say. If you choose to listen to it, you can also hear me interact with him a little bit.

Jack Chambless is Professor of Economics at Valencia College. Every year he starts his class off by asking his students to write a 10 minute essay on what the American dream looks like to them, and what they want the federal government to do to help them achieve that dream. He describes this year’s results:

About 10% of the students said they wanted the government to leave them alone, not tax them too much, and let them regulate their own lives. But over 80% of the students said that the American Dream to them meant a house and a job and plenty of money for retirement, and vacations and things like this. But when it came to the part about the federal government 8 out of 10 students said they wanted free health care, they wanted the government to pay for their tuition. They want the government to pay for the down payment on their house. They expect the government “to give them a job.” Many of them said they wanted the government to tax wealthier individuals so that they would have an opportunity to have a better life.

Professor Chambless’ students belong to the “Entitlement Generation,” also known as the “Gimme Generation.” They think they can have and should have whatever they want, whenever they want, and from whomever they want it, while others pay for it.” Or more simply, as one Occupy Protestor painted on her placard, “Where’s my bailout?”

February 14, 2012

This week’s episode of the Connected Kingdom Podcast (another of our new, shorter episodes) has me discussing introversion. You’ve got two options: You can read the transcript below or you can listen in by clicking on the audio player.

I am an introvert. Whatever an introvert is, I know it is a description that applies to me. The classic definition of an introvert pretty much describes me to a T. The problem is that it’s not a label I am comfortable with.

We are taught today that there is a kind of binary distinction between people—some are introverts and some are extroverts. If you’ve ever taken a personality test or aptitude test, you have probably been diagnosed as one or the other. Or more likely, you’ve been told that you are somewhere along a single continuum that extends from the greatest introvert to the greatest extrovert. It is a line and all of us fall along it somewhere. When I was in the workforce there were a few occasions that I had to take the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator test and I was always shown to be pretty far along that scale. That’s just who I am. Or is it?

What people mean by this personality distinction is that some people are naturally shy and inward-focused while others are outgoing and other-focused. Some are introspective while others are assertive. Introverts tend to need to get away from people in order to rest and recharge; extroverts tend to need to get together with people in order to do the same. This kind of distinction impacts all of life, it describes each one of us in a really basic, foundational way. It’s an attempt to answer the question, Who am I?

But here is my concern: introvert is not a biblical word and, as far as I can see, not even a biblical concept. This doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily unbiblical or anti-biblical; just that it’s not a term the Bible uses to describe me, to describe the way I am, to describe my identity. It is a-biblical, unknown to the Bible. Yet it clearly describes some kind of a reality, that there are different kinds of personality.

February 07, 2012

This week’s episode of the Connected Kingdom Podcast (another of our new, shorter episodes) has David Murray answering a question I asked him last week: What’s it like to be ordinary? You can listen in or read along…

What would you say if one of your friends asked you, “David tell us what it’s like to be ordinary?”

Well I had the privilege of “enjoying” that experience last week. When offered the opportunity to challenge me to speak on a subject of his own choice, my friend Tim Challies said, “David, why don’t you tell us what it’s like to be ordinary.”

So that’s what springs into Tim’s mind when he thinks of me: “Ordinary.”

I mean it’s not a huge insult I suppose. He didn’t ask me to speak on being “Ugly” or being “Offensive” or being a “Fool.” But it’s not exactly the greatest compliment either is it?! “Ordinary”

OK, I didn’t expect him to ask me about being “Extraordinary” or “Super-intelligent” or “Tall, dark and handsome,” but I expected maybe something a bit more than “Ordinary.”

Maybe something like being “Loyal” or “Consistent” or “Reliable” or something like that. But “Ordinary!?”

January 31, 2012

At long last, David Murray and I are back with season 3 of The Connected Kingdom podcast. There’s a few changes this year, the most notable of which is that we are now including a [partial] transcript of the podcast. So you’ve now got the option to listen to it or read it. More information at the end…

Horatio Spafford was a man who knew pain and a man whose pain has left a powerful and lasting legacy to the church. A wealthy Chicago businessman, Spafford invested heavily in real estate and saw almost his entire fortune consumed in the Great Chicago Fire that swept the city in 1871. Far greater pain awaited him. In 1873 he decided that he and his family should enjoy a vacation. They decided to go to England since their dear friend D.L. Moody would be preaching there in the fall. Though business delayed his own departure, he sent his family on ahead. His wife Anna and their four daughters boarded the steamship Ville du Havre and set out for England. On November 22 another ship collided with that one and two hundred and twenty six people lost their lives, including all four of the Spafford girls. Upon arriving in England, Anna sent her husband a tragic telegram: “Saved alone.”

Spafford set out to England to be with his wife and during that crossing penned the hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul,” a powerful declaration of trust in the midst of tragedy.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

“When sorrows like sea billows roll.” It is a poignant metaphor, a simile really, that speaks of sorrow coming upon us like waves on a storm-tossed sea. The same sea billows that poured over the heads of his daughters, the waves that stole their lives, are now pressing hard against him, threatening to drown him in despair, to steal his soul. They are rising up above him, they are cresting and crashing down upon him, they are pulling him under and tossing him in the undertow. Yet he has more hope for his soul than his girls did for their lives. The Lord has taught him that all will be well. Whatever his lot, whatever the Lord decrees for him, he is able to say, “It is well with my soul.” What was the source of such comfort in trial? It was this: “Christ hath regarded my helpless estate / And hath shed His own blood for my soul.”

November 17, 2011

Joe ThornThe phrase “gospel-centered” is fast entering the Evangelical mainstream. We are encouraged to be gospel-centered or to preach the gospel to ourselves. It is easy to say but, in my experience, far more difficult to do. This morning David Murray and I spoke with Joe Thorn about this very thing.

Joe Thorn is Lead Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, IL and is the author of the great little book Note To Self. We took the opportunity to ask Joe what it means to be gospel-centered, whether the gospel truly applies to all of life, and then to give some practical pointers for how to preach the gospel to yourself in joy and in pain. Speaking personally I found it very, very helpful. So why don’t you give it a listen? It will take less than 30 minutes of your time and I think you’ll be well-rewarded for the effort.

If you want to give us feedback or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You will always be able to find the most recent episode here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that here or if you want to subscribe with another audio player, you can try this RSS link.

November 01, 2011

The Attributes of GodI am woefully underqualified, or perhaps just plain unqualified, to evaluate rap music. Whatever I say on the subject, at least as it pertains to the beats and the rhythms and any other component that makes rap what it is, should be taken with a grain of salt. Or two. Maybe even three.

However, even if I am unqualified to speak of the music as music, I can at least comment on the lyrical content and on my personal feelings toward an album. And with the full weight of my complete lack of qualification I say that Shai Linne’s new album The Attributes of God is the best rap album I’ve heard; at least, it’s definitely my favorite.

As you may have surmised from the title, this is an album that speaks of God’s attributes. In a statement in the liner notes, Shai writes this:

In releasing this music, I’m hoping for something that is humanly impossible. My hope is that this collection of songs would point beyond themselves to the God who is described in them. That as His character as revealed in Exodus 33:18 – 34:14 is expounded through rhythmic poetry, complex rhyme schemes, melody, harmony and instrumentation —the heart of the listener would be compelled to exalt God and to love and trust and adore Him. To the extent that I have failed in this attempt, I am solely to blame. To the extent that I have succeeded, all of the credit goes to God. Soli Deo Gloria!

This is a noble goal and certainly a brave one. And what’s more, I think he has succeded. By combining that rhythmic poetry along with the rhymes, melodies, harmonies and instrumentations, he has crafted an album that speaks powerfully of the attributes and character of God. It is an album not of personal experiences with God, but rather an album that delights in the God who is. He writes of God’s glory, goodness, sovereignty, holiness, wrath and patience and love and faithfulness and so on.

So how does someone go about writing a song that delights in God’s wrath? Here is how Shai did it: