Monthly Archives: September 2007

 

Sep

30

2007

Trevin Wax|3:59 am CT

O Lord, Draw Near

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We bring before you, O Lord,
the troubles and perils of people and nations,
the sighing of prisoners and captives,
the sorrows of the bereaved,
the necessities of strangers,
the helplessness of the weak,
the despondency of the weary,
the failing powers of the aged.
O Lord, draw near to each;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- Anselm of Canterbury

 
 

Sep

28

2007

Trevin Wax|2:46 pm CT

Free Download from Keith & Kristyn Getty

Keith and Kristyn Getty (the writers of “In Christ Alone” and other modern hymns) have released a new song called “Love of God.” You can download the audio for free here.

 
 

Sep

28

2007

Trevin Wax|3:39 am CT

In the Blogosphere

The Episcopalians met in New Orleans this week to decide whether or not to obey the wider Anglican Communion by ceasing to ordain homosexual clergy. Take a look at what their Scripture readings were that day (from the lectionary.) 

N.T. Wright’s political stances have always made me shake my head in bewilderment that a man of such knowledge and wisdom could be so naive in regards to the means toward a peaceful resolution in the War on Terror. The Weekly Standard rightly takes on Wright’s views.

One of John Piper’s greatest sermons. His warning? Don’t buy into the American dream!

Tim Challies reviews Brian McLaren’s newest work: Everything Must Change.

A compendium of Spurgeon quotes on the gospel

Mark Driscoll: “Everyone needs a rabbi. We have one. His name is Jesus!”

It’s about time someone stood up and told Reformed-leaning evangelicals to stop taking pot shots at Rick Warren.

Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: Why the SBC Outpost Should Change Its Name to the SBC Outhouse

 
 

Sep

27

2007

Trevin Wax|3:31 am CT

In Memory of John: June 21, 1981 – September 27, 1997

Ten years ago today, my next-door neighbor and best friend committed suicide.

John and I didn’t have a lot in common. He liked things I didn’t. I liked things he didn’t. But we made our friendship work. Both of us loved pretending, something that seems to be a lost art for many kids today. So, from 1992-95, John and I tape-recorded more than 100 episodes of a “radio sitcom” we called The Trevin and John Show. We were silly. We were carefree. And boy, it was fun.

But the fun did not last. In late 1996, John went through a period of depression. We were both 15 at the time. I didn’t quite know how to relate to John during the last year of his life. He was listening to music that seemed to darken, not brighten his world. He began dressing funny – the Gothic, black-jacket look. He began hanging out with different kinds of people. John stayed drug-free. He hated the thought of getting “high,” and never once tried. He wasn’t a drinker. He wasn’t a smoker. He was one of the “tortured” youth of the 1990′s, and his pain drove him to suicide on a pretty Saturday morning in September.

John’s death affected me profoundly and his absence still leaves a hole in my life. Whenever I listen to one of our Trevin and John Shows, the laughter is quenched by sadness. How could my happy-go-lucky friend arrive so quickly at a place of such desperation?

Easy answers elude me. For the weeks and months after John’s death, I wondered what might have been different had I reached out to John more during the last year of his life. What could I have done differently?

I was also plagued by the question of John’s eternal state. Can a person who commits suicide go to heaven? Was John even in his right mind? Was he suffering under some sort of spiritual oppression? Was he mentally unbalanced? Was he even really the John I knew? Had his profession of faith in 1992 been a genuine conversion? If so, where was the fruit?

I still ache when I think about John doing the unthinkable. I can still see him in his casket. I can still hear the people reciting the Apostle’s Creed at the packed church house for the funeral. I can still hear the crunching of colorful leaves under my feet and feel the breeze that swept more leaves down from the trees as I walked out of that church house. I still remember looking out my bedroom window and seeing his empty house across the way and knowing that something deep inside me had died. My childhood innocence was gone. Darkness had swept into our idyllic neighborhood and Death had claimed one of my best friends.

I know there are more Johns in the world – other teenagers who suffer under the weight of guilt and depression. Our society has been described as “suicidal,” and suicide is now the 9th leading cause of death. But more than statistics, these are people. These are our friends and family members. Death is an enemy that robs us of the people we love. And suicide is one way of dying that magnifies the terrible nature of this Enemy. 

That is why I am thankful for the One who conquered Death and the grave – the One who willingly gave his life, even for those who willingly take theirs. I am thankful for the Life that pierces through the darkness of depression. Though many stories end tragically, as did John’s, many more find deliverance and healing through the cross of Jesus Christ. May we be the fragrance of life in a suicidal, death-embracing culture.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2007 Kingdom People blog 

 
 

Sep

26

2007

Trevin Wax|9:17 am CT

Book Review: The Christian and the Pharisee

Two Outspoken Religious Leaders Debate the Road to HeavenDo you ever wonder how Jewish leaders interpret the Old Testament passages that seem to so explicitly point to Jesus Christ? Do you ever wonder what a Jewish rabbi thinks about the messianic Jews that are growing in number? Do you ever wonder what a genuine, respectful dialogue between a Jewish rabbi and a Christian minister would look like?

The Christian and the Pharisee contains a series of letters between Dr. R.T. Kendall and Rabbi David Rosen. Both men are well-known and well-respected in their respective religious circles. The Christian and the Pharisee compiles their correspondence and features their discussion and debate regarding the pertinent issues that divide Jews from Christians. The friendship of these two men is evident in the books, even as the differences are sometimes starkly contrasted.

R.T. Kendall does not attempt to hide his desire to see Rosen evangelized and converted. His letters are overtly evangelistic, even as he respects Rosen and his faith. Rosen, on the other hand, does not consider his Judaism to be exclusive, and therefore, he affirms that Kendall may indeed be saved, even as he strongly disagrees with his Christian faith.

Just when The Christian and the Pharisee begins to delve into significant issues of Scriptural interpretation, the book comes to an end. I am not sure why these two men ended their correspondence so soon. Another set of 10 letters or so would surely not have exhausted this discussion. Perhaps a sequel will be in the works? Let’s hope so. The Christian and the Pharisee is a good read with significant insight into the differences between these two religions.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2007 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Sep

26

2007

Trevin Wax|3:45 am CT

Book Review: Worship Seeking Understanding

Windows into Christian PracticeWorship Seeking Understanding: Windows into Christian Practice by John Witvliet is one of the only books on the market that offers a look at Christian worship from so many angles - biblical, theological, historical, musical, and pastoral. Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, brings his extensive knowledge of worship and tradition to bear in this book of essays that examine the current state of Christian worship in light on biblical and historical practice.

The book succeeds in providing several different perspectives from which to look at today’s worship. It fails to present these cohesively, perhaps because the variety is at times too much for a single book. But there is gold in this book, if you persist in looking for it.

Most helpful for me were the chapters analyzing the Americanization of worship and the theological issues that the frontier worship traditions were forced to encounter. The historical chapters help today’s readers understand the roots of American worship today and provide an opportunity for critical self-reflection. The “Musical Studies” section was also helpful, although some of the chapters were needlessly technical.

Continue

 
 

Sep

25

2007

Trevin Wax|3:55 am CT

I Love Revelation, but Eschatology Scares Me

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Revelation is one of my favorite books of the Bible, yet I’m not quite sure what to make of it. The different interpretations of Revelation can be overwhelming at times. How can it be that so many good, biblical theologians have come to so many different conclusions regarding the last book of the Bible? How is anyone to know who is right and who is wrong?

Sometimes, I feel like an agnostic when it comes to John’s apocalypse. I know there is an answer and a correct interpretation, but I wonder whether or not we finite humans will ever completely understand it.

My own eschatological journey began deep in Dispensationalism. When I was in the 7th grade, I wrote a series of stories about a teenager who was “left behind” after the Rapture. (This was before Left Behind ever hit the shelves. I’m still waiting on LaHaye to send me some royalties.) The book was an amalgam of all the Dispensationalist ideas I’d heard in my Christian school. Man-eating locusts. Solar flares that baked the world. Millions dying from plagues and wars.

Growing up in an independent Baptist school, the pretribulational, premillennial rapture was considered one of the “fundamentals” of the faith. It was like the Virgin Birth or physical Resurrection of Jesus. You just didn’t question Dispensationalism.

Then I moved to Romania. I soon discovered that no one over there had even heard of a Rapture, a 7-year tribulation and all that jazz. For a couple weeks, I tried to convert everyone to the “correct” understanding of eschatology. But the wide-eyed looks and furrowed brows of my colleagues convinced me that maybe I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

Reading through Mark one day, I arrived at the apocalyptic language of chapter 13. Two things stood out from my reading. First, the chapter began with Jesus making a specific prediction about the destruction of the temple and then the disciples asking him what the “signs” would be. I skipped over that pretty quickly and kept reading Mark 13 as I always had – as a treatise on the wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, and missions efforts that would accompany the very last days of earth.

But when I got to the final part of the predictions (Jesus’ statement that “this generation shall not pass away until all these things take place”), something struck me as wrongheaded about my approach.

Up to that point, I had always interpreted the apocalyptic language of Mark in a literal manner and had taken Jesus’ final statement as figuratively (“Generation” could mean “race” or that last generation; all these things could refer to some of these things). But for the first time, I realized that perhaps I was getting this all backwards. Maybe the apocalpytic language of Mark 13 was meant to be interpreted figuratively, and Jesus’ seemingly straightforward conclusion was meant to be taken… well… straightforwardly.

Then came September 11. The tragedy of September 11 came with a variety of cosmological metaphors. It was an earth-shattering event. The sky fell in on New York.  Artists sang songs like “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” All Americans grasped for words to describe the events of September 11. Two towers came down, yes. But so much more was lost in the aftermath of 9/11.

Shortly after 9/11, I realized that I had been reading Revelation wrongly. Statements about the sun and moon not shining, about stars falling from the sky, and earthquakes are metaphors designed to invest earthly events with cosmic significance. It would be absurd for me to interpret all the 9/11 metaphors in a literalistic manner. No, the world did not actually stop turning on 9/11. The sky did not really fall in on New York. The earth did not shatter. But the events of 9/11 were so gruesome that those metaphors are still true descriptions of 9/11.

The same is true of Revelation. Could it be that most New Testament prophecy is pointing ahead to a “Day of the Lord” that finds its fulfillment in the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70? Not all of the prophecy, of course. But much of it, anyway.

I do not make any lofty claims to superior knowledge of Revelation. I am now decidedly not a Dispensationalist. I have found myself in each of the millennial camps at some point and occasionally dabble in partial preterism.

What I do know, though, about Revelation is that the focus of the book is not ultimately a “theology of the end times” designed to fascinate us with details we can chart on a map. The focus of the book is on the unveiling of Christ and his bride. Read Revelation to find out about the end of the world and you might miss Christ – the center and focus of all Bible prophecy.

Maybe one day I will better understand Revelation. Until then, I’m satisfied to leave the eschatological speculation to the pro’s. Better yet, I’m going to keep my eyes on Jesus – the One who is coming soon.

written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog

 
 

Sep

24

2007

Trevin Wax|3:30 am CT

The Prodigal Son 1

For the next 17 Mondays or so, we will be looking in depth at the parable of the Prodigal Son. No passage of Scripture has gripped my heart more than the picture of the running father to meet his rebellious son. I am going to be writing on the Prodigal Son in its historical context. Some of the cultural details bring the parable to life and will allow us to read the story afresh.

“There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’”
- Jesus, “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-12)

Jesus’ table fellowship with well-known “sinners” stirred up controversy among the Jewish religious leaders. Facing their criticism head on, Jesus told a parable about a loving father who had two rebellious sons.

The sons knew that upon their father’s death, they would gain a sizeable inheritance, comprising the family’s assets and property. But the younger son demanded his portion early. In Middle Eastern culture, such a request would be unspeakable and scandalous. Today’s equivalent would be a teenager spitting in his dad’s face and screaming, “I WANT YOU DEAD!” Asking for the inheritance early insinuated that the son couldn’t wait for his father to die. He wanted what his father could give him now, at the expense of their relationship.

Through the younger son’s example, Jesus is retelling the story of Israel. The Jews had often rebelled against God, craving His blessings while casting off the covenant relationship for which they had been chosen. The younger son’s request also epitomizes the enormity and consequence of all human sin. “God, we want what You can give us, but we don’t want You!”

Consider God’s gifts: His beautiful creation, the social order He has established, the institutions of family and government. But just as the younger son wanted to profit from his dad without continuing a relationship, we often exploit these blessings without submitting to God’s laws. We savor the creation and snub the Creator.

How often have our actions whispered to our God what the younger son shouted to his father? How do we profit from God’s blessings without thought of the responsibilities that accompany them? Human nature makes us thirst for the blessings that we believe will bring us happiness and freedom. But apart from our Father, we change those blessings into curses that bring misery and enslavement.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2007 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Sep

23

2007

Trevin Wax|3:09 am CT

A Blessing

Let nothing disturb you,
nothing frighten you;
all things are passing,
God never changes!

Patient endurance attains all things;
who God possesses
in nothing is wanting;
alone God suffices.

In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

 
 

Sep

22

2007

Trevin Wax|10:45 am CT

Why the SBC Outpost Should Change Its Name to the SBC Outhouse

Blog attacks on Southern Baptist leaders have reached an unprecedented level. Leading the charge is the website SBC Outpost. For weeks now, the bloggers behind this blog have been loading, aiming, and firing at just about every Southern Baptist leader that does not cater to their sensationalistic reporting. Most of the attacks come insidiously masked as “questions” and “curiosity” when in reality they are simply veiled attempts to mock, ridicule, and drag our Convention through the mud.

When Marty Duren first began SBC Outpost, the intention of the site was to bring renewal to the SBC by uniting younger leaders and asking tough questions about the burgeoning SBC bureaucracy. As long as Marty was at the helm, the Outpost remained a viable, respectable option for those who wanted to hear a different perspective. (I often disagreed with Marty’s conclusions, but I appreciated the tone of the debate.)

Since Marty “retired” from blogging, the site has been left in the hands of a renegade bunch who are determined to smear current SBC leaders and their families. Last night, I followed a link to an animated video that featured the faces of each Seminary present pasted onto dancing showgirls. Incensed by the mockery found in the post, I then breathed a sigh of relief…

They’ve finally done it. The SBC Outpost guys have shown their true colors. Their site is not ”news,” not respectable, not even gracious. It is a site meant to anonymously assassin the character of other men, openly mock the legacy of our seminaries, demean the positions of leadership in our Convention and rid the blogosphere of the honor and humility that should characterize our discussions.

I am tired of SBC Outpost giving the rest of us Baptist ministers who blog a bad name. I am sad to see the brilliance and energies of men like Ben Cole be channeled into the tearing down of others rather than the building up of God’s kingdom. I am sickened at the thought of how we must appear to the watching world – as we increasingly become known for how we mock each other, rather than how we love each other.

The SBC Outpost should do all of us a favor and change its name to the SBC Outhouse. Then, at least, there would be no misunderstanding about the site’s content.

written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog