Racial Reconciliation: Jarvis Williams

Jarvis Williams understands the concept of reconciliation better than most. He is  a scholar on the concept of racial reconciliation, especially within the Pauline corpus of Scripture. Enjoy him as he expounds Scripture.

You also will enjoy greatly his, One New Man: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation (B&H).

PBS: Secret State of North Korea


PBS/Frontline’s “Secret State of North Korea” is worth watching. While watching, my wife quipped, “Look at the scope of the Evil One.” I remember, too, the word of a friend from South Korea: “We [South Koreans] believe North Korea will soon collapse; it cannot survive.” Find the air time of the show in your area.

I just added Lankov’s, The Real North Korea to my Amazon cart.




Themelios 39.3 and Review of Preaching the Farewell Discourse by Kellum

UnknownThemelios 39.3 posted today. Kindly they included my review of L. Scott Kellum’s, Preaching the Farewell Discourse: An Expository Walk-Through of John 13:31-17:26 (Broadman and Holman). Scott’s book is worth  reading in its entirety. Themelios has many very good articles and reviews.

Ferguson, MO, Unreached

imagesSomeone who loves me dearly asked me not to make public commentary on the happenings in Ferguson and the related conversations about racial injustice in America. (Sigh.) It is hard to let such a significant series of events pass without comment. However, it is great to have someone who deeply loves you make a plea for you to use wisdom. So I am not making public commentary.

I do not need to add my little voice to the streams of important observations made by the likes Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr., Voddie Baucham, Thabiti Anyabwile (also here), Benjamin Watson, Leon Brown, Jarvis Williams, Carl Ellis, Russell Moore, Al Mohler, and Harold Dean Trulear. However, I do want to say this again: I ask, “Where are all the brothers?” because African American men remain one of the most Unreached People Groups in North America:

An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group.

The original Joshua Project editorial committee selected the criteria less than 2% Evangelical Christian and less than 5% Christian Adherents. While these percentage figures are somewhat arbitrary, “we should not underestimate the significance of the small group of people who have a vision of a just and gentle world. The quality of a whole culture may be changed when two percent of its people have a new vision.” – Robert Bellah, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, originally quote in Psychology Today in the 1970s, currently quoted in Christianity Today Oct 2011: 42.

(The Joshua Project provides this definition. We assume African American men are reached. I would suggest they fall well within the definition of “Unreached.”)

Reaching my brothers in the flesh is part of the task of those being obedient to the Gospel. If those men of color in Ferguson we see in the news throwing rocks and bottles, swearing in absolute rage, burning cars and buildings, and taunting the police and National Guard were, instead, men transformed by the good news of Christ’s death for sin and resurrection for righteousness (cf. Rom. 4:25), the local and national responses to Ferguson would be vastly different – even in the midst of a perceived miscarriage of justice. Such truth does not nullify the need for institutional justice. Yet it does remind us that the real battle lines are not in human realms even though they are played out in the human realms:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore… as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:12-15 ESV)

Comments are good and necessary. Boldly sharing the Gospel has eternal and present implications. Go tell an African American man about the love of God in Christ, and do so without fear.






Pre-Thoughts for Reading through the Bible in 2015

“ ’The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.’ ” (Amos 8:11-12)

“It is easy to see how this judgment works out in history. For complex historical reasons, France turned on the Huguenots and persecuted them almost out of existence, so the Bible and the Reformation never took hold in France as it did in England. Sometimes the antipathy toward the Bible has arisen from drift, rather than from persecution. In many Western countries, the public sense of morality was until a few decades ago largely tied to the Ten Commandments. Nowadays very few even know what the Ten Commandments are. The result is not freedom and integrity, but a lilting scorn that flaunts its superiority over something no longer even understood, much less respected—and what shall the end of these things be? So many Bibles, so many Bibles—and so little thoughtful reading of them. The next stage is the Bible as source of prooftexts; the stage after that is the Bible as quaint relic; the next, the Bible as antiquarian magic; the next, implacable ignorance—and all the while, a growing hunger for something wise, something stable, something intelligent, something prophetic, something true. And the hunger is not satisfied.

The only answer is the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:17.”

D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word, vol 2. Online.

Also see Justin Taylor, “How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014.”


Montgomery County Board of Education B-Ballin With Holy Days






Christmas and Easter have been stricken from next year’s school calendar in Montgomery County. So have Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

Montgomery’s Board of Education voted 7 to 1 Tuesday to eliminate references to all religious holidays on the published calendar for 2015-2016, a decision that followed a request from Muslim community leaders to give equal billing to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha.

In practical terms, Montgomery schools will still be closed for the Christian and Jewish holidays, as in previous years, and students will still get the same days off, as planned.

Board members said Tuesday that the new calendar will reflect days the state requires the system to be closed and that it will close on other days that have shown a high level of student and staff absenteeism. Though those days happen to coincide with major Christian and Jewish holidays, board members made clear that the days off are not meant to observe those religious holidays, which they say is not legally permitted. (Donna St. George, “Holidays’ Names Stricken from Next Year’s Montgomery Schools Calendar,” The Washington Post, November 11.)

The move by the Montgomery County (MD) Board of Education to cease recognizing religious holidays seems to concern budgets. The school system retains traditional Jewish and Christian religious holidays on their academic calendar due to the scores of children who will miss school by choice on these days. They do not recognize the days because they are religious days. Instead, they recognize them because opening schools on these days would not be the best use of resources. Seemingly, therefore, the issue for the board is economics, not religion. So the request for recognition of a Muslim holy day is rebuffed; it is not (yet) economically necessary.

I would love to explore the religious beliefs of the members of the Montgomery County Board of Education. I am wondering if this was a vote by a body predominantly non-religious in individual practice, or a group of whom several would hold to a false fact/value dichotomy with respect to religious ideas. But board members don’t post their religious beliefs with their biographies. Certainly that portion of their personal lives now will be kept from public consumption.

What then is the message we should take from a State action such as this? Here are some options:

  1. If you can gather a significantly sizable student pool, you can create your own holiday on whatever academic calendar day you wish. You simply need enough members of your group to be absent the same day or days every year in order to force the hands of the Board of Education.
  2. Christians and Jews would be wise to stand up in the Public Square for the religious concerns of Muslims. The issues of not adding and not recognizing religious holidays are not issues of Religious Freedom. Muslim families can practice their beliefs associated with their holidays, including pulling their children from school on such days if desired or needful. Then they can write notes to the schools to cover the absences of their children. An issue of the wisdom of the State toward religious groups will remain. Thus, no major religious group should sit on the sidelines and watch another get pummeled. With kindness, it would be wise to clear the bench on such issues, or soon there will not be a need for this bench within your school system.
  3. Churches in our community should begin to think seriously about speaking with local politicians about the value our religious holidays hold. Remember too, however, that days off are not necessary for us to maintain the faith and practice of the holidays. The death of Christ for sin, his resurrection from the dead, and his offer of eternal life to all who believe on him are things Christians can celebrate privately, daily, publicly, and corporately at least once a week, uniquely on Christmas and Easter, and on all of the other special days we have created in our churches. These celebrations do not require days off, except for a day to maintain the New Testament appropriation of the Sabbath regulations.

Either way, based on the Montgomery County Board of Education’s deliberations and decisions, I want to see if I can get another day off school for my children in our county. I would need it to be a non-religious holiday that will create a large enough absentee base to force a school board to see that it would be wise to codify a full day off. Also, I do not want to risk another crashing of our pluralistic car into the Wall of Separation. So I need all of the NBA fans near me to boycott school the day of the third game of the NBA finals each year so we can force the creation of B-Ballinday. It will be a few years before the WNBA and MLS fan bases will be devout enough to give the school board members any further concerns.

(If you have not yet read D. A. Carson’s, The Intolerance of Tolerance, I would suggest that you should hurry to get a copy and read it over this weekend or the coming week.) (Kindle version)

Joining Moody

moody blog post pix
It is with gratefulness to God our Savior that I am joining the Bible faculty at Moody Bible Institute! Pam and I are excited about the opportunity to move to Chicago and serve the students and extended friends of MBI. With its distance learning programs, campuses in Chicago and Spokane, WA, and a multi-campus seminary, Evangelist D. L. Moody’s school has trained many great servants Christ who both have made and are participating in incredible works around the world. Among many amazing people who have passed through MBI’s halls of learning is Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman University. Moody currently thrives under the leadership of President Paul Nyquist.

41w+kX5Dt9LWe also are looking forward to becoming part of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, IL. Calvary prospers under the shepherding of Todd Wilson and a cache of godly elders. Gerald Hiestand, co-director of the Center for Pastor Theologians, serves as the church’s assistant pastor. (Gerald recently co-authored, Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach (Crossway), and I recommend it highly.) I will be joining the staff as Minister of Adult Ministries, and Pam will join the staff as Ministry Associate for Pastoral Ministries.

Pam and I were able to spend some time with Calvary Memorial the first weekend of November. Warmly and graciously they already have welcomed us as if we are family, and the elders have laid hands on us with prayer, in love. We are eager to grow in Christ with our new church. You can get a glimpse of Calvary’s ministries by watching the video about its basketball team ministry to local high school students.Unknown

Until we land in Chicago, we will be splitting our time between our membership at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, Washington, DC, and my service as pulpit supply for Belcroft Bible Church, Bowie, MD! I am appreciative of Pastor Terry Streeter’s display of Christ in his expressed, kind desire to send us to our new ministries with the blessing of a church behind us.

We will miss all of our friends and family in the Washington, DC region. I hope the many of you will contact us when you are visiting Chicago! If you will be in the Windy City on a Sunday, please plan to worship with us at Calvary Memorial. For a great time to visit Moody, why not make plans to participate in the annual Founder’s Week, February 2-6? Or you can drop in a section of Introduction to the Bible during the Spring 2015 term beginning in January; I am preparing the notes. See you then!

Great Readings on MBI and D. L. Moody

Vincent, James. 2011. The MBI Story: The Vision and Worldwide Impact of Moody Bible Institute. Chicago: Moody. (Kindle version.)

Belmonte, Kevin. 2014. D. L. Moody – A Life: Innovator, Evangelist, World Changer. Chicago: Moody. (Kindle; or audio version.)

Bailey, Faith Coxe. 1937. D. L. Moody: The Greatest Evangelist of the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: Moody. (Kindle)

From the Pens of Pastors Todd Wilson and Gerald Hiestand

Ecclesial Theology and Academic Theology: Why We Need More of the Former.” (2009)

Mr. Milquetoast and Other Misconceptions About Humility.” (2014)

Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith (Zondervan, 2014)

Other Related Resources

Evensen, Bruce J. 2003. God’s Man for the Gilded Age: D. L. Moody and the Rise of Modern Mass Evangelism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Pollock, John. 2005. D. L. Moody: Moody Without Sankey. Scotland, UK: Christian Focus.