Blog

  • All
  • Academic Articles
  • Events
  • Interviews
  • Media
  • Periodicals
  • Podcasts
  • Popular Online
  • Rejoicing in Lament
  • The Lord's Supper
  • Uncategorized
  • Union with Christ
  • Word of God for the People of God

We like to lump people into categories -- nationality, race, social class, etc. One sociological study after another classifies, analyzes, dissects. But one thing that all of us have in common is this: we are dying. How much do we reflect upon this reality? On a day-to-day level, do we live as if our days will have no end? The Psalmists suggest that many of us do: You have made my days a mere handbreadth;     the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath,     even those who seem secure. “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;     in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth     without knowing whose it will finally be. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (Ps. 39:5-7, NIV)  This last year, I've been honored to lead a group of pastors in congregational ministry through a series of colloquies focused upon this question: How can we cultivate genuine resurrection hope...

On August 15th I conducted an interview with Faith Radio as a follow up on Rejoicing in Lament, two years later. From the interview: “When we think about Psalm 90 and numbering our days, it can be a temptation to act as if we need to take out our schedule and make every minute count because we’re the center of the universe and we should never waste any time.” “We number our days by making ourselves very efficient in a Western industrialized environment. But I think that Psalm 90 is actually moving a different direction. Whether we live 30, 70, or 100 years, our lives are really short; our lives are like a breath in the larger picture of things. It is the Lord who is everlasting; it is the Lord who has been there from all generations.” “Although there are times when I just want to sort of pound out everything I can...

Is the study of theology a distraction from Christian discipleship, or essential to it? Unfortunately, I've known people who have studied a bit of theology, and then their faith seemed to evaporate. Perhaps you have know people like that as well. But there is also an opposite danger: that we focus upon the practices of discipleship in a way that is disconnected from coming to know and love the Triune God made known in Jesus Christ. At its best, theology can be part of the path of discipleship, of loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind. I explored this recently in an interview with Dr. Keith Johnson, Associate professor of Theology at Wheaton College. We discuss his marvelous book called Theology as Discipleship. We discuss how theology, at its best, is connected to Christian discipleship in the church. And we explore what it means to approach scripture as...

On November 13, I had the honor of joining pastor A. J. Sherrill at Mars Hill Bible Church, in Grandville, MI in delivering a message on Psalm 13 and lament. Mars Hill is in the midst of a teaching series on the Psalms and the Stars -- encountering the Psalms anew, with wonder. Pastor Sherrill begins with a stunning portrait of "black holes," and the way in which Psalms of lament provide a way to pray to the Lord of the universe when our lives seem to implode.  He unpacks how Psalm 13 reaches us in the "black holes" of abandonment, betrayal, agony, depression, shame, waiting, and mortality. To view Pastor Sherrill's teaching and our discussion on video, or download the audio, click here. I join Pastor Sherrill at the 16 minute-point in the video/audio. I came to see Psalm 13 in new ways through this teaching time -- I hope that you...

What does it mean to live as mortal creatures? It is a timeless question, but the answers will vary greatly depending upon the era and place in which you live. Atul Gawande gives an extremely illuminating account of the contemporary opportunities and challenges for living as mortal creatures in his book, Being Mortal. I wrote an engagement with the book in Comment Magazine -- you can read from it below, or click here for the full article:   Why is the experiment of turning dying into a medical experience failing? When medicine becomes the heroic master over human life rather than its servant, it crowds out the space otherwise filled by family and faith communities. Gawande contrasts our current practice of dying in institutions with the practices in India as his grandfather faced death. His grandfather displayed the characteristic Indian pattern of dying: he lived with his extended family as an elder—seen as a source...

This summer, between chasing around my kiddos, going to numerous doctor's appointments, and continuing with regular faculty work, I've have the privilege to write on one of my favorite topics: theology of the Lord's Supper. I've published some articles and chapters on the subject in the past. And I'm working on a book on the Lord's Supper and the gospel for Eerdmans press: exploring the way in which a renewed theology and practice of the Lord's Supper can move congregations into a deeper embrace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While working on the book, I agreed to write a chapter in a wonderful new book of essays: Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic, edited by Michael Allen and Scott Swain. It was recently released by Baker Academic press. I'm honored to join Kevin Vanhoozer, the late John Webster, and other stellar theologians in this volume. In my own chapter, I...

I've been reflecting a lot on lament and racism, particularly in light of the current events that have plagued this country. We live in an age animated by social media -- social media which generates and spreads outrage and anger at extraordinary speeds. Exasperating our already polarized society, social media creates echo-chambers and demonizes any missteps of the “enemy” ideology. This polarized society has far reaches which have spread broadly, even in our public personas. For Christians, there is good can come from this, as it can awaken us from our slumber, reminding us that we live in the “already, but not yet.” Be it outrage that stems from the Planned Parenthood videos or the racism protested by Black Lives Matter, our world is filled with open wounds of sin and injustice. In a recent article I wrote for Relevant Magazine, I explore how within our 'twitter-world' learning how to lament "opens up a...

In January, I participated in a conversation with Chris C. J. Kingdom Grier, Mark Charles, and Mary Hulst about lament, cancer, and cancerous racism at the Calvin Symposium on Worship in Grand Rapids, MI. The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship collected our remarks from the panel and our written responses all in one place and I am grateful to share a part of this conversation here: "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, Nobody knows but Jesus, Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, Glory, hallelujah! Like the psalmist, the singer of this African American spiritual comes before the Lord and readily names the open wound of grief. “Nobody knows” expresses the gathered people’s alienating and unspeakable grief and anger over injustice—of a husband whose wife and children were sold away in slavery, of governments that repeatedly fail in promises that guarantee the freedom of black Americans, of yet another black youth killed by police brutality. And yet, Christ...

Last week, Christianity Today released my review article of Paul Kalanithi's amazing book, When Breath Becomes Air. He was a Stanford neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with an incurable cancer when he was 35. In the midst of the shadow of death placed upon him, he found his life invigorated in new and profound ways. Most reviews of his book have not highlighted his faith. But when you look for it, the book portrays a renewal and rediscovery of Christian hope. From the review: "With story after story, Kalanithi shows how our ambitions to 'save the world' run up against sharp limits. Our responses to shocking pain and evil are never enough, and we are likely to lose family, vocation, and perhaps even the desire to live if we do not honestly face our creaturely limits. Yet Kalanithi goes further, pointing to the One who can face the problem of death. Though 'raised in a devout Christian...

As Christians in the modern West, we often minimize our resurrection hope when we minimize the profound loss in death. Resurrection hope is radically good news. But we miss its power when push the reality of our mortality to the sidelines. I recall a recent conversation with a pastor who serves in a church made up exclusively of persons in their 20s and 30s. He emphasized, rightly, that the Kingdom of God has come among us, and we are to be involved in the Kingdom of God now. But he realized that after several years at the church, they had never talked about death, or life after death -- it's "here and now" rather than "life after death." If that is the case, what is our "resurrection hope" besides a call to be involved in the Kingdom in the present? That is good as far as it goes. As long as one...