Sound Doctrine and No Stress

8. How does God carry out his decrees?

God carries out his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

11. What are God’s works of providence?

God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preservation and control of all his creatures, and all their actions.

12. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the state in which he was created?

When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, on condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil on penalty of death.

– The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1646 and 1647)

Three Cs

The three Cs, circa 1999, certainly smiling because they just finished enjoying morning family devotions in the catechism.

Today, one of my daughters told me that understanding the doctrine of predestination lowers her stress levels. When I inquired more – because I thought I heard a hint of Pelagianism mixed in with her Augustinianism – I found that she is resting on God’s providence daily. This is a joy to me as a father.

It seems that part of the Lord’s great grace to Pam and me was giving us copies of Starr Meade’s, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, and Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds, to use in devotions with our children – ad nauseam for them! – when they were younger and in their formative years. I’m not even sure how the earlier resource landed in our laps, leading us later to the second, but I am grateful for them. Without these resources, I’m also not sure how I would have taught the children theology systematically and simply rather than abstractly and randomly or haphazardly.

My three oldest seemed to have latched onto the catechisms’ teaching on the providence of God more than anything else – which is good! One of the three also latched onto explaining the doctrine of the Trinity very strongly. Asthanasius and the Westminster framers would rejoice to see that their labors still yield fruit for Christ.

I would wish for every Christian parent of toddlers and pre-schoolers to grab hold of Starr Meade’s resources, or something very much like them. Children need to start learning strong, sound theology very early in life. We have a responsibility to pass on the faith to our children, and to prepare them to stand on the truth. prpbooks-images-covers-md-9781596384651

In Song: Christmas Cancels Hell

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.

(Galatians 3:13 ESV)

I am grateful for the joyous reminders in song that Christmas cancels Hell for those elect in Christ:

“Rank on rank the host of heaven

Spreads its vanguard on the way,

As the Light of light descendeth

From the realms of endless day,

That the powers of hell may vanish

As the darkness clears away.”

(Lines from, Liturgy of St. James, 4th Century; translated from Greek to English by Gerard Moultrie, 1864.)

“O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny

From depths of Hell Thy people save

And give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

(Lines from, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, trans. 1881.)

“No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow
 Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.”

(Lines from, “Joy to the World,” Isaac Watts, 1719.)

“So wrap our injured flesh around You

Breathe our air and walk our sod

Rob our sin and make us holy

Perfect Son of God

Perfect Son of God

Welcome to our world”

(Lives from, ‘Welcome to Our World,” Chris Rice)

Merry Christmas!

The Incarnation in Song: ‘In the First Light’ by Kauflin

In the first light of a new day
No one knew he had arrived
Things continued as they had been
While a newborn softly cried
But the heavens wrapped in wonder
Knew the meaning of his birth
In the weakness of a baby
They knew God had come to Earth

As his mother held him closely
It was hard to understand
That her baby, not yet speaking
Was the Word of God to man
He would tell them of his kingdom
But their hearts would not believe
They would hate him and in anger
They would nail him to a tree

But the sadness will be broken
As the song of life arose
And the firstborn of creation
Would ascend and take his throne
He had left it to redeems us
But before his life began
He knew He’d come back not as a baby
But as the Lord of every man

Hear the angels as they’re singing
On the morning of his birth
But how much greater will our song be
When he comes again
When he comes again
Hear the angel as they’re singing
On the morning of his birth
But how much greater will our song be
When he comes again to Earth
When he comes to rule the Earth

Copyright, Bob Kauflin, 1996. Recorded by Glad.

Major Christmas Dessert Sale!


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SweEat Dreams N Sunshine is cutting back prices for the holidays from now until New Years!!!! Contact me ASAP for details!!! SPREAD THE WORD!!!!!


For order info please contact Lauren Gilliam at Please follow my cake page @SweEatDreamsNSunshine and visit my website

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Psst… They sell the best cupcake on the planet–the Sugar Cookie Cupcake! Now they also sell pies!


Essays in Honor of Elliott E. Johnson on Hermeneutics


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House-Weiland-front-395x600This morning, at the Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) Alumni Breakfast at the ETS Annual Meeting, we honored Dr. Elliott E. Johnson with a festschrift, entitled, The Theory and Practice of Biblical Hermeneutics: Essays in Honor of Elliott E. Johnson (Lampion Press). H. Wayne House and Forrest S. Weiland served as editors. The book recognizes Dr. Johnson for more than 40 years of ministry at DTS, and his influence in the field of contemporary biblical hermeneutics. The work has contributions from Johnson’s present and former colleagues, and former students, including Weiland, Norman Geisler, Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Charles Baylis, Mark Bailey, Stephen Bramer, and Stephen S. Kim. Most graciously, E. D. Hirsch provided the forward. Several of the chapters intend to demonstrate the theory and method advanced by Johnson in Expository Hermeneutics and many of his other essays.

I gladly contributed a chapter: “The Very Right of God: The Meaning of Luke 13:1-9, and Criticism(s) of John Piper’s View of the Role of God in Tragedy: A Narrative Analysis” (185-203). The essay allows me to honor my former advisor and friend, who has most shaped my hermeneutical theory. It, too, provides me an opportunity to interact honorably with some of the thinking of John Piper, also my friend and the contemporary theologian who has most shaped my theology of the Christian life. Both men acknowledge Hirsch in their interpretive theories. A version of the essay shortened by the editors, due to space limitations, appears in the book. I have attached a pdf of the originally submitted essay below.

Congratulations to Drs. House, Weiland, and Johnson on a worthy project!


The Very Right of God March 2014 pdf The Very Right of God March 2014 pdf


Zimmermann and Wright on Parables


parables1parables2At the ETS Annual Meeting I have been able to leaf through copies of Ruben Zimmerman’s, Puzzling the Parables of Jesus: Methods and Interpretation (Fortress), and Stephen Wright’s, Jesus the Storyteller (Westminster/John Knox). Both look like texts I need for upcoming work and courses in the parables. I am thankful for Zimmermann’s work on paroimia (παροιμία) in John. All current discussions in NT parables should include Johannine paroimia (and other non-synoptic paroimia/parabolé (παραβολή) in the NT). Wright’s work also is appropriate for use by the non-specialist in the pew who simply loves Jesus and desires to know him through the parables.





On the Ecclesial Theologian


Pastor TheologianHiestand and Wilson write on Calvin as an ecclesial theologian, “[Calvin] changed the world because he wrote as a robust, theologically informed, intelligent, prophetic pastor who understood — as a matter of vocation — what is was to have the weight of souls upon his shoulders.”  – The Pastor Theologian, 86. May the Lord raise up scores upon scores of self-conscious, intentional, ecclesial theologians (and academic theologians) with this same theological burden, for the sake of His church in this generation and the generations to come.


Join Hiestand and Wilson, Kevin Vanhoozer, Peter Leithart, James K. A. Smith, me, and many others at this year’s Center for Pastor Theologians’ Conference: The Pastor as Theologian: Identities and Possibilities.


More on Literal, Literal Interpretation, and Literalism


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imagesIn our doctoral seminars this week, we keep coming back to the concept(s) of “’literal’ hermeneutics.” Evangelicals long have affirmed that “literal” refers to both “a system that takes what the Bible claims to be true of itself as a necessary framework for interpretation,” and two commitments within that system: (1) “A commitment to understanding that the Bible’s authority is embedded in the meanings expressed in the words of the text,” and (2) “meanings expressed in the Biblical text are true and have reference to what is real unless the context indicates otherwise.”[1] They acknowledge with Longman, as he expressed a dispensational understanding of “literal” in discussion with dispensationalists as a covenantalist: “Indeed, that is a part of a literal approach to treat as metaphor what is metaphoric.”[2]

While interacting with, Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither? Three Views on the Bible’s Earliest Chapters, we came across this quote:

Galileo thought that these passages should be interpreted not according to their strict, grammatical meaning but according to a different set of rules: rules that take into account the complexities of communication such as metaphor, symbolism, and imagery…. Galileo had the courage — or what his inquisitors regarded as hubris — to read the Bible with sensitivity toward its various genres…. His statement was not a literal description of fact. It describes something different than what its grammar implies; we know this intuitively.[3]

I would suggest that to interpret according to “strict, grammatical meaning” is to “take into account the complexities of communication such as metaphor, symbolism, and imagery.” The aforementioned suggested dichotomy between the two concepts is false. So while Galileo did “read the Bible with sensitivity toward its various genres,” it is not true that “his statement was not a literal description of fact.” It was a literal description of fact, for literal takes into account that which is figurative.

Now, to contradict myself in order to make my point even clearer, I agree with the statements about Galileo above. For as I read the above, based on Galileo’s critics’ understanding of Galileo (which I elided from the quotes), and the contrast of “strict” with “complexities of communication,” and the contrast between “literal description” and “what its grammar implies,” I know that the authors of those selections of quotes mean “literalistic” when speaking of “literal.” If I make a literalistic reading “literal” rather than a literal reading of “literal”—one that accounts for the use of the term in its grammatical, historical, literary context, then I will misread “literal” as I did intentionally in the previous paragraph while yet correctly defining “literal.” Yet it is my recognition of “literal” readings accounting for literary clues that allows me to critique the paragraph on Galileo, set up a “literal” straw man, and then make a literal critique of my use of “literal” such that it reveals my “literalism” when first discussing another’s use of “literal.” Even so, it is my recognition of “literal” readings accounting for literary clues that allows me to make a double-entendre in the second use of “literal” in the previous sentence. So I am not ready to abandon a literal hermeneutic; neither are you if you are trying to make sense of what I just said.


[1] Elliott E. Johnson, “Literal Interpretation: A Plea for Consensus.” Paper delivered at the 1992 Pre-Trib Study Group Conference,, accessed September 24, 2015.

[2] Tremper Longman III, “What I Mean by Historical-Grammatical Exegesis: Why I am not a Literalist,” Grace Theological Journal (1990), 148.

[3] Kenton L. Sparks, “Response to James K. Hoffmeier,” in In Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither? Three Views on the Bible’s Earliest Chapters, James K. Hoffmeier, Gordon J. Wenham, and Kenton Sparks, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015, 63.

Be Filled: Ruth 1 – 4 Rendered Artistically and Simply



UntitledYou have to love it when a student really grasps a concept you have taught and makes it his or her own. I briefly explained my thoughts on Ruth 1 — that it portrays a contrast between Naomi’s views of her circumstances in opposition to God’s view of her circumstances (“full-empty” vs. “empty-full”), and that it is not a simple love story or a paean to a heroine who powerfully manipulates a man in order to rescue a sister in need. My MBI student, “Eli,” ran with it and brought me the briefest summarization of her idea of the meaning of Ruth 1-4: “Be filled.” She is so right, expressing it with Micron pen and watercolor wash.


In the DMV: Opportunity to Sip & Shop the Sugar Cookie Cupcake




DMV FRIENDS AND FAM: I’m not sure all that a “Sip & Shop” event entails. However, since the SUGAR COOKIE CUPCAKE is part of the main event, you need to get over there! Please come out and support SweEat Dreams N Sunshine on Sunday, October 4 from 1-4. Habana Village 3rd Floor, 1834 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009. SweEat Dreams N Sunshine  is my favorite cupcake company, and the Sugar Cookie Cupcake is the best cupcake on the planet. Now, can we get one of these events in the foodies’ town called “Chicago?”

#Cupcakes #Cakes #FromScratch #CustomCakes#CustomCupcakes #SugarCookieCupcakes#RedVelvet #RedVelvetCupcakes#RedVelvetChocolateChipCupcakes#PersonalizedCupcakes #PersonalizedCakes#WashingtonDCCakes #DMVCakes#WashingtonDCCupcakes #DMVCupcakes#WashingtonDCBaker #DCBaker #DMVBaker#BeHappyAndEatCake #SweEatDreamsNSunshine


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