Thursday, December 02, 2010


But this sendup of post-Christian emerging Christians is hilarious.

Monday, November 29, 2010


I've never paid much attention to John MacArthur, probably influenced by a snarky comment by, I believe, D.A. Carson directed his way. Nonetheless, my opinion of him went up substantially when I heard his discussion on "application" in preaching. Yes, he overstates, but he's certainly on the right track.

Listen on streaming MP3 (about 5 minutes).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pancakes or Prayer?

The International House of Pancakes has sued Kansas City based International House of Prayer over use of the acronym "IHOP":

IHOP (pancake), based in Glendale, Calif., has sued IHOP (prayer), based in Kansas City, for trademark dilution and infringement. The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, essentially said there was room for only one IHOP and that would be the restaurant chain that has been using the initials since 1973.

The religious group drawing thousands from around the world to south Kansas City to prepare for “end times” was started just 10 years ago.

And I was amused at this:
Thus the question, why sue now? The church mission started calling itself IHOP a decade ago.

“They’ve expanded — and now some of the branches are serving food,” [IHOPancake spokesman Patrick] Lenow said.

IHOP (the religious one) is based very near where I preach in Kansas City, and their future headquarters is set to be constructed pretty much across the highway from our building.

I don't know much about the IHOPrayer, but apparently they're, well, a little kooky:

The IHOP (prayer) on Red Bridge Road operates 24/7/365, sending a never-ending digital signal of prayers to Jerusalem, where it streams live on God TV for broadcast all over the world....

IHOP (prayer) was started by a man named Mike Bickle, who by his own admission grew up in a Waldo bar and claims to have traveled to heaven twice.

A friend of mine visited an IHOPrayer service with a young female he was interested in at the time. I asked him at the time if they gave little bottles of maple syrup to visitors. Apparently they don't.

Monday, September 13, 2010


From The Art of Manliness:

“Have upon your study table, always accessible, a good-sized substantially bound blank book. Whenever a germinant thought comes seize your pen and write it down. Such thoughts will come out of your special course of literary reading, out of your cursory scanning of current fiction, even out of the five-minute glance given to the morning paper, out of nowhere and from anywhere. Thought-compelling suggestions entirely foreign to the sermon on which you are just now engaged will frequently send you to your treasure book, and without any damage to present preparation you will scribble down a page of matter that will set you on fire at some future day just when you are in need of inspiration and help. Have also a special vest-pocket notebook and let nothing escape you.” -The Methodist Review, 1907

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Back On Murder
by J. Mark Bertrand
Bethany House, $14.99

I’ve long been skeptical of “Christian” fiction, which is why I usually avoid reading it. It’s something one wants to like, but can’t quite bring oneself to. Much like Christian pop music, Christian fiction is often so forced, so self-consciously holy that it can be hard to take. This is especially disappointing since the great fiction of Western civilization has always been Christian in the best sense of the word. The grand themes of the Christian story informed and undergirded it. What one desires first and foremost from Christian fiction is that it be good fiction with all the fundamentals of quality writing.

With this somewhat bleak background of opinion, I approached new author J. Mark Bertrand’s first solo novel Back On Murder (his co-authored Beguiled was released earlier this year). Bertrand’s self-appointed task is not simply to write a Christian mystery, but to write a Christian hardboiled mystery (think Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler). This may seem like a disaster in the making except that Bertrand gets it. He has not set out to write a “Christian mystery” at all, but rather a hardboiled mystery that is informed by the great themes of the Christian story. Rather than dropping the Acme anvil of Christianity on the reader’s head, Bertrand has sought first and foremost to provide us with a good story that is well written while being informed by the need for redemption in an often brutally sinful world.

In traditional hardboiled fashion, we are introduced to down and out Houston Police Detective Roland March who was once the golden boy of the department, but is now an unwanted, stumbling failure. He faces not only trouble at work, but also at home. His wife Charlotte is a successful attorney, but a chasm grows between them of unspoken origin. At work, March gets assigned to the cause célèbre du jour, the missing person case of Hannah Mayhew, an attractive teen who is also the daughter of a now deceased popular evangelist. He has hopes that a chance (?) discovery from another case will be his key to cracking the case and reviving his flailing career. Teamed with young and attractive up and comer Theresa Cavallo, March attempts to navigate the world of evangelical churches, police politics, ravenous media attention to his case and, ultimately, his own inner demons.

I must confess that at first I was a little put off by the staccato effect of March jumping from assignment to assignment, but that is really March’s frustration as well. Bertrand is letting us know that in the real world you don’t have an hour, including commercials, to smoothly solve a case with few distractions. It’s an authentic feature of the hardboiled genre. Bertrand also explores how media coverage influences investigative choices as well as the significance of the media choices behind that coverage. The media creates the cause célèbre du jour, which usually showcases a young attractive white girl as a victim. They then drive the story in their quest to fill the 24-hour news cycle. The police run the risk of “not doing enough” unless they feed the media machine with constant breaking news press conferences.

Bertrand does a nice job of exploring his characters, although the first person narrative doesn’t allow him a completely free hand. I would have liked to have seen a more depth to Hannah Mayhew’s mother, for example, but what we learn is what Roland March can learn. Special note has to be made of my favorite portrayal in the book, youth pastor Carter Robb. Robb is the self-flagellating spiritual mentor to the missing Hannah Mayhew. Bertrand skewers the modern evangelical youth leader with little more than straight-faced descriptions of appearance, from flip-flops to ever changing Christian “message” shirts. But Robb’s character is not cartoonish. It’s the realism of the descriptions that make them so hilarious.

While Bertrand successfully avoids the common dangers of Christian fiction—primarily its self consciousness—the real benefits are certainly found in Back On Murder. We’re not browbeaten with foul language and sexual encounters, such a staple of much of modern popular fiction. And Bertrand succeeds in integrating American religious life into a story whose protagonist himself is not religious. To read most fiction, or watch most television (or even the news), an outside observer would be shocked to find that tens of millions of Americans are active in churches throughout the country.

Back On Murder is the first in a projected series of Roland March mysteries. It is an auspicious beginning. Bertrand’s ultimate success is crafting a suspenseful story that not only draws you eagerly from chapter to chapter, but leaves you anticipating the next installment. As publishers constantly throw new fiction on the wall to see what sticks, Back On Murder tells us that Bertrand deserves to hang around.

[Readers of Theosebes may be familiar with J. Mark Bertrand as the man behind the excellent Bible Design Blog, well worth checking out.]

Sunday, July 11, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING: "Myth: All Religions Lead to God" from a new Spiritual Mythbusters series, an idea borrowed from the good folks at Nashua Church of Christ who is doing a summer series with that theme.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING..."Rooting Out Weeds", a look at the parable of the tares. Why does God tolerate evil in this world?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING..."The Father & the Two Lost Sons." On Father's Day we take a look at the Father who desperately desires us to seek Him.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Four Soils: Four Hearts', a look at the parable of the sower/soils of Matthew 13. Why doesn't everyone understand or respond to the gospel? It all depends on their heart.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Martyrs'. As we reflect on those who have fallen for our country, we need to remember there are those who have fallen for our Lord. And he asks us for that same level of commitment.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


A nice piece from CNN on the Shacklett Church of Christ hit hard by the Nashville flood. Thanks to Terry Francis for the link.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

LET YOUR father and mother be glad;
let her who bore you rejoice. (Proverbs 23:25)
PREACHING THIS MORNING...'A Mother's Faith' from Matthew 15:21-28. Nothing would stand in the way of this Canaanite woman's faith, not silence, not opposition or even perceived insults. She relied on the grace of Christ.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Open Season on Jesus

Although too frightened to air uncut a South Park episode that spoofed the Muslim prophet Mohammed, Comedy Central has no qualms about targeting the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ:
As part of the network's upfront presentation to advertisers (full slate here), Comedy Central is set to announce "JC," a half-hour show about Christ wanting to escape the shadow of his "powerful but apathetic father" and live a regular life in New York City.

In the show, God is preoccupied with playing video games while Christ, "the ultimate fish out of water," tries to adjust to life in the big city.

Don't worry, though. This will not only be highly funny, but comedy in its purist form:
"In general, comedy in purist form always makes some people uncomfortable," said Comedy Central's head of original programming Kent Alterman.

Oh, that's why it makes people uncomfortable.

I think running scared from threatening Muslims while declaring open season on Jesus and Christians is more like cowardice in its purist form.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

TWO @ NEWSBUSTERS...Tim Graham finds that at the Daily Kos it's all about worshiping the creature rather than the Creator:
In so far as all morality is fundamentally based on preservation, betterment and continuation of life, there is no higher morality than environmentalism.

And Ken Shepherd discovers that the Washington Post Book Review finds a book denigrating the Biblical view of Jesus as the Christ "inspiring".

What a great way to celebrate the National Day of Prayer.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

WHAT DO CHRISTIANS LIKE? Jonathan Acuff has the answers. (Make sure you take your sense of humor with you.)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'New Things' a look at the parables of Jesus of the new cloth and the new wineskins in Luke 5:27-39. Our lives cannot be patched--they must be made new.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Giving & Attendance' from a series on the church. Without a doubt the two least popular topics to preach on. So we'll do them both at once!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Imitate Good', a look at 3 John. It is easy to get caught up in the stumblingblock of Diotrephes, and ignore the good work of men like Gaius and Demetrius. Imitate good, not evil.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...Judas Iscariot: Betrayer of Judas. What drew Judas to Jesus? Why did he betray Him? What do we need to do to make sure it's not better that we were never born?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CHRISTIAN BOOK AWARD FINALISTS have been announced. Other than the Bible Reference & Study section most of seems to be ephemeral fluff.

But while we're on the subject: The American Patriot's Bible, really? I mean, really? I suppose it has religious quotes from the Founders and such, but can you imagine a Roman Patriot's Bible from the first century?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'The Lord's Supper', part of an occasional sermon on the church.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING..."Can Christians Have Fun?", a sermon in answer to a question from the sermon suggestion box.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'You Have Eternal Life' from 1 John 5:13-21. Throughout the epistle of 1 John, John has focused on what we 'know'. We are to know the One who is True, and knowing Him we know we have eternal life.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'A People of Compassion', just as our salvation depends on undeserved compassion from God, so we, too, as God's children, show compassion to those created in His image.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'God's Great Love Affair'. Rejected by His bride Israel, God intended to woo her back, redeeming her to be a bride shining in righteousness.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Will You Choose Life?'. With the Tim Tebow ad for the Super Bowl and the Tiller-Roeder trial recently completed, abortion has been swirling in the news. God asks us: Will we choose life?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Overcoming the World' from 1 John 5:1-12. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I showed this amazing video to our high school Bible class--'Is There a God?'--last week. Can you say irreducible complexity?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'What the Scribe Wrote: The Khirbet Qeiyafa Inscription', an examination of the discovery that provides physical evidence of that the Hebrews had writing as early as the 10th Century. Such discoveries can help bolster our confidence in Scripture and be used as evidence to help convince others.

Monday, January 18, 2010


News of the Khirbet Qeiyafa fragment is filtering into the mainstream press, and continues to undermine the long accepted position of Biblical minimalists who have argued that the Bible could not have been written when it claims to have been written:
The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought. (The Bible's Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.)

Until now, many scholars have held that the Hebrew Bible originated in the 6th century B.C., because Hebrew writing was thought to stretch back no further. But the newly deciphered Hebrew text is about four centuries older, scientists announced this month.

"It indicates that the Kingdom of Israel already existed in the 10th century BCE and that at least some of the biblical texts were written hundreds of years before the dates presented in current research," said Gershon Galil, a professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel, who deciphered the ancient text.

Archaeology continues to vindicate Scripture, and the more this is realized on a popular level the better.

Monday, January 11, 2010


This little beauty arrived a few weeks ago, a lovely pre-Christmas present. It's my second Bible from the Scottish firm of R.L. Allan, both ordered through the good folks at It is in single-column format (my preference) and is bound in Red Alhambra goatskin. In the second and third picture is the PSR with its R.L. Allan and ESV older brother bound in tan highland goatskin. And at the bottom is a Bible stack (loved by all readers of the dangerous Bible Design Blog) with a goatskin Cambridge Pitt Minion helping to form an ESV stairstep (click on each for a bigger image).

THE KHIRBET QEIYAFA INSCRIPTION is being closely followed by friend of Theosebes, the globetrotting Luke 'Indiana' Chandler, here and here. The inscription is--and this is like a broken record with archaeological discoveries these days--challenging the 'accepted' timeline and understanding of the Bible by liberal critics while strengthening the case for Scripture.

The inscription testifies to the fact that the Hebrews were literate much earlier than claimed by Biblical critics. If the early Hebrews did not have writing, then early books such as the Pentateuch could not have been written until much later than Scripture claims.
'LET IT SNOW, Let It Snow, Let It Snow', a new bulletin article now posted at the Hickman Mills church website.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Living For Jesus', in keeping with our congregational theme for 2010. Our lives must be hidden in Christ, who is our life.

I have also for the first time created a fill-in the blank hand-out to go with the lesson. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Brit Hume said what needed to be said about Tiger Woods: become a Christian. He knew he would be opening himself up to criticism, but it's high time Christians were willing to stand by their faith.