rabbit trails 6.12

Things have been pretty full the last few months. All our environments in TVCI wrapped for the year, I graduated with my DMIN from SBTS, and then we got out of Texas and saw some real mountains in Alaska for a few days. I’ve been setting aside links and interesting bits, I hope something below is of service to you. – MK


The Life of the Pastor: Zack Eswine

I’ve been watching a series of lectures from Zack Eswine on the life of the pastor at Grace Theological College in New Zealand. Eswine’s work, The Imperfect Pastor, is on my personal yearly read list.

In these videos, what you need to watch for (beyond the excellent content) is Zack’s way of being with those in the room. He’s an incredibly present person. He hits on the discipleship we receive and have to unlearn as we come to Jesus, the way he trains elders, and how to restore dignity to those you minister to as you recognize their image bearing along the way. There were many moments I rewound to listen, and am planning on finishing up the series soon.

A Godfather on Humility:

Just wrapped Stanley Hauerwas’ book, The Character of Virtue, which felt like a modern cousin to Lewis’ Letters to Malcom. With each chapter, he addressed a virtue with his godson. Here are a few quotes:

Those that are genuinely humble often don’t call attention to themselves because their humility doesn’t allow them to do so .They don’t mind not being singled out for their humility because they’re at home with who they are. They live in a manner that suggests they have nothing to prove. After all, humility is a virtue that makes it possible for us to rest easy with ourselves. This doesn’t mean that humble people are self-satisfied. It means they live by acknowledging the gifts that have made them who they are.  (148-9)

I hope that the accounts of the virtues in these letters will help you be at home in the truth, which is no easy accomplishment. We often “shade the truth” because we fear losing the love or regard of those who mean much to us. To be at home in the truth is also a demanding business because so often we lie first and foremost to ourselves, insce we fear facing what we can only acknowledge as a failure. In short, we lie to ourselves and others not because we’re corrupt but because we want to be good. (197)

Living in the truth may give you a life that’s difficult, but it will be one that will make it possible for you to look back and want no other life than the one you’ve lived. (198)


On Big Words and Feeling Stupid

Ever been in a classroom and felt slightly ashamed of wanting to ask for the definition of a five dollar word?

I spent a good deal of time in seminary trying to learn what the big words meant, and then figure out how to communicate the idea without wielding my SAT vocab skills. Now that I lecture on a weekly basis, I am continually reminded of the desire to keep my hand down and not ask the obvious question: Can you explain that word please?

Enter Justo Gonzalez’ work, Essential Theological Terms. There’s stuff in here that I haven’t studied, and I’m brushing up on concise definitions of stuff I’ve forgotten after our three children entered into the world.


Bruner on John and Vainglory:

This last year at church we have been working through the Gospel of John, and in conversation with our pastor, he recommended a commentary by Frederick Bruner, primarily based around the humanity that Bruner brought to the text which at times can be really challenging. I’ve found this to be true every time I’ve sat with the work, and recommend it as an addition to your library.
I was reading in John 5 this week, where Christ engages the reality that men trust those who come in their own name, but won’t trust Him who comes in the name of the Father and who is witnessed to by the Father. He speaks of how men seek glory from each other, but won’t seek the glory that comes from God.
Here’s Jesus:

[37] And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, [38] and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. [39] You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, [40] yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. [41] I do not receive glory from people. [42] But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. [43] I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. [44] How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? [45] Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. [46] For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. [47] But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

(John 5:37–47 ESV, bold formatting mine addition)

While reading Bruner on this section, I felt my need for deliverance from this “all-too-human” idol of being extraordinary in the world’s terms – in whatever facet it comes about: from the mundane to the professional.  Here’s two quotes from Bruner that I’ve been sitting with:

The Gospel of John says our reorientation begins when Jesus is trusted, and in a hundred different ways and from as many different angles, every paragraph in our Gospel seeks to elicit this trust. The service of this verse is the unmasking of our major idol. Perhaps we can only pray, “Dear Lord, please free me from seeking to receive glory from others and instead to seek and to receive glory from you and you only. Please, you alone be God to me and to your people in the world.” The first hindrance to believing in Jesus’ divinity, then, is our all-too-human egomania.  (350)

And, as my friend says, “there’s no burn quite like a poetry burn”:

All of us who work in biblical studies and who seek the judgment and respect of our peers must be very careful. Strachan in Morris, 333 n. 124, amplifies: “ ‘Scripture study had become a world in which men sought fame by showing their intellectual prowess.… where men sought honour of one another, ’citing, tellingly, John Masefield (The Everlasting Mercy):

The trained mind outs the upright soul,
As Jesus said the trained mind might,
Being wiser than the sons of light,
But trained men’s minds are spread so thin
They let all sorts of darkness in;
Whatever light man finds they doubt it,
They love not light, but talk about it.


Those are the big buckets. A few quick hits:

  • Recently I discovered that one of my favorite instrumental bands, Balmorhea, has a slew of albums that I’ve been unaware of.
  • I’m listening to J.P. Moreland’s work, Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace. Here is a recent interview between him and Eric L. Johnson.
  • Here’s a pic from our Alaska trip. It is easy to see why people flee the concrete jungle to live in such beauty. I keep saying to myself, “but the people are so nice in Texas.” That makes up for the lack of this, right?
rabbit trails 6.12
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