THE SHACK…Review Coming and some links in the meantime

As soon as I have some free time I intend to write my review of The Shack. I promised my Twitter followers that it was coming yesterday. Sorry, all of my free time this week is going to painting and flooring.

In the meantime, you can read Bob’s great review here.

Also, if you did not catch Driscoll’s series on prayer it is really good. Even though it won’t literally earthshaking for you as it was for Ryan, it is still really good. And here is a video for his new book, Death By Love.



On Becoming a Good Daddy…

In preparation of impending fatherhood I have started reading a wonderful book entitled Grace Based Parenting. Vicky thinks I should focus on books that will prepare me for how hard it is going to be with twin babies. I find that idea to be quite superfluous. I mean, I don’t need a book to tell me how much getting kicked in the balls will hurt. Nor do I need a book to tell me how to brace myself for getting kicked in the balls. No, when kicked in the balls, it’s best to ride out the pain and find the best way to move forward (or get off the ground). So I am focusing on books about how to be a good daddy. I’ll just binge on the how-to stuff when the babies get here.

Grace Based Parenting has been both wonderful and hard to read. It has been wonderful in that it has filled me with much hope and excitement about what being a parent means. You get to teach a kid how to be a human, and really, you get to love them and teach them how to love. This has me bouncing off the wall like a hypoglycemic kid at a candy store. It is hard in that it warns us of all the ways that we can jack up our kids. And let’s be honest, there are a lot of jacked up kids in the world. Just take a trip down to the mall on a Saturday and you’ll see both jacked up teens as well as parents preparing their toddlers to be jacked up teens.

The premise of Grace Based Parenting is that “grace” based parents will helped their kids develop into mature adults who bless society instead of developing into jacked up drains on society. Or to make a more timely reference, it helps us raise Mandy Moores and not Lindsay Lohans. As a future father of a daughter I can say that a daily trip to greatly inflames my desire to be a parent who uses “grace” as a primary parenting tool.

Grace Based Parenting contends that grace is the best philosophy for parenting in that love is freely given not earned or withheld based on performance. We get this concept from God who, instead of dealing with us as we deserved, lovingly sent Jesus to take our place on the cross, and through his blood, cleanse us of all our sin. Because of this grace of God we receive only love and favor from God instead of his wrath and punishment. This grace provides the basis for our development as children of God.

Here’s a practical thought about being a Grace Based Parent: what would it mean for a child if they knew that nothing they did could make us love them any less?

In processing how to become a Grace Based Parent, I have encountered a MAJOR problem: I cannot say that I am a grace based husband. This is weird considering all that Vicky and I have been through in over five years of marriage. We had to see a counselor our first year just to get through, and then the next few years seemed like a tough climb We have been two passionate, immature people seeking to learn how to become one with one another as we traveled through life.

How we could have continued to grow and yet I still see myself as lacking so much grace in how I interact with my wife?

The answer: we have learned how to accommodate each others sinful behavior, instead of giving grace to each other.

My wife has subtlety learned how to accommodate an over-zealous, know it all, bossy, hot-head who must tell everyone around them how everything should be. In some amazing way she has found a way to subvert a hypo-critical theological and grammatical neat-nick. And I have learned to have fewer outbursts, apologize quicker, all the while subverting repentance and change. We aren’t holier or better people, we’re just more accommodating. And a marriage based on accommodation will lead to Accommodation Based Parenting, not Grace Based Parenting.

My prayer is that as I am learning methods to help me be a good father that those principles will find their first fruits in my behavior as a husband. That I would learn to repent of being a selfish control freak and learn to create an environment where grace enables my wife and I to best enjoy each other and God. I pray that you would also consider the ways that you have decided to accommodate instead of being sanctified in your relationships. I pray that we all would commit to repenting of our sin and eagerly showing grace to each other instead of finding ways to hide it, or accept the ways that others accommodate for it. God has dealt with our sin in Jesus, now we get to live in the freedom that grace supplies.


Interpretation and Application

I have written before on the issue on interpretation and application. However, as I continue to progress in my class, my understanding continues to become more refined. As stated before, I believe one of the biggest pastoral hermeneutical issues of contention is the mixing up of the science of interpretation and the art of application. Take this diagram for example:

The best way to summarize this diagram is to say that interpretation is a science and application is an art.

The science of interpretation deals with a text written by a specific author to a specific audience completely apart from us. The data itself is objective and our attempts to understand what the author was saying to his audience is objective. In interpretation the goal is to find out what the authors meant to say to his audience. This makes statements such as, “This is what this passage MEANS to me,” silly (in general), ignorant (in sharing) and dangerous (in teaching).

Most of our issues with interpretation, though, come from applying the art of application to the science of interpretation. This is an understandable mistake considering the fact that we read the Bible with the goal of application to our lives (note: I do not mean for this to take away from the fact that we read the Bible to interact with God. However, that interaction when done must find it’s way to application because any time we interact with God, our lives are changed).

In the art of application we seek to take the truth/principle we have resolved in the science of interpretation and apply it to our lives and the lives of others. A great example of this is how we take the principle that Jesus died for our sins and apply it to our lives and the lives of others. The ways that we do this surely can never be exhausted. In this case we should often hear, “This is how I apply this truth to my life.”

Perhaps the most common form of interpretation/application confusion is when a passage is used allegorically. Often we use the truths of a passage as an allegory for our lives or the world we live in. Sometimes we do this correctly (interpretation first, allegory second), often we do not.

David Martin Lloyd Jones once preached a sermon on the passage of Jesus and the three coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration. There was a father who had brought his son to the JV apostles and they could not get the demon out (side note: can you imagine how they felt. Left like the desperate girls on the bachelor while Jesus and the three go on a special date, only to fail at the one ministry opportunity while they were gone. My wife had a similar experience. When she was baptized, she was the only one of her friends who didn’t come out speaking in tounges. She felt spiritually inferior for years.). If you remember, Jesus said that this kind [of demon] could only come out through prayer. Jones summarized, “the demon is too deep, it can only come out through prayer.” Jones then went on to use that summarizing truth/principle and apply it allegorically to a city. Thus making the point that in certain cities, spiritually speaking, demons are so deep that only prayer can move God to pull them out.

Now, is that what the passage MEANS? Of course not. Jones gives us a wonderful example of the difference between the science of interpretation and the art of application. He did not say, “Well, I think the passage MEANS that demons are to deep within a city and they can only come out through prayer.” No, there really was a demon possessed boy, there really was a concerned father, there really were a bunch of confused disciples with low self-esteem and there really was a Savior willing both to heal and teach at the same time. Paul himself uses the story of Jacob and Esau in an allegorical teaching point in Galatians, but even he is clear to point out he is doing so to prove a different point. Therefore, we should not then have freedom for multiple interpretations of Jacob and Esau.

Now this brings us to a certain point of contention in regards to the clarity of scripture. If we believe that the Bible is both grammatically clear in general and aided by the Holy Spirit for believers, then this process (the diagram) seems a bit arduous and contradictory. I mean, consider all the time and work that goes in to the science of interpretation and the art of application. That would take some time studying and conversing with others, how is that necessary if we have the Holy Spirit.

I would argue that such reasoning puts more limitations on the Holy Spirit than does the process laid out in the diagram. Such reasoning is so culturally conditioned it’s quite laughable. As if the Holy Spirit is like a magic lamp that we simple need rub in order to reveal scripture instantaneously. Or he is a microwave we simple put our Bible passage in, and within minutes we have a warm and tasty interpretation. I see no evidence in scripture, however, in which we are led to believe that the Holy Spirit works in such a way. I do see plenty of examples, on the other hand, of meditating on the scripture day and night, waiting on God to speak and working long and hard to understand God clearly.

It is therefore my conclusion that the reason we often convolute the science of interpretation with the art of application is because we put the same instantaneous expectations we have for our culture, given to us by our culture, on the scriptures. If we would but humble ourselves and take the posture of interpreters we have as examples in our Bible, perhaps we would more clearly hear from God and not convolute his Word.



Hey so remember when teachers told us is school that when we were cheating we were only “cheating ourselves.”

Turns out they were right. I can vividly remember cheating on all my major grammar assignments in junior high and high school. I had to relearn what adverbs and pronouns were in college. And right now (GOD BLESS WIKIPEDIA) I am teaching myself a class on syntax.

In following the examples of how we did it in school. I have created a glossary, written out the definitions and examples, and am trying to memorize them. Some examples of my glossary include:

– noun
– pronoun
– infinitive
– gerund
– predicate
– direct object
– indirect object
– predicate noun
– predicate adjective
– participle
– adverb
– article
– demonstrative nouns
– prepositional phrases
– antecedent

Dammit!!! I should have listened.


McLaren, Driscoll, Juno and Famous Black People

Vicky says it has been too long since I have blogged. Not believing her I decided to check and yeah, it’s been a while. So I thought I would catch up in 3’s:

3 Books I’m in right now

– Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren

– Introduction to Biblical Theology by Klein, Blomberg, etc.

– World Biblical Commentary – 44 – Colossians, Philemon by O’Brien

Mostly school and a little fun from BMac.

3 CD’s that are rocking my world right now

– Fort Nightly by White Rabbits

– In Rainbows by Radiohead

– Juno Soundtrack

3 Issues that have been on my mind

– Abortion

thanks to the following: NPR – possibly the worst thing I have ever heard on the subject, I had to turn it off before I completely lost it; Obama – the man and I have very different idea of what “justice” means; Juno – great, great, great movie. Unfortunately, what it does for pro-lifers it does the same for teenage fornicators. Adam Carola – he’s been especially preachy lately, great for perspective on commentary against the church)

– Politics

thanks to the following: Vicky – she’s a junkie for sure; Time Magazine; Jonathan’s blog; Matt Drudge

– 14 kinds of Grace

thanks to Mark “300 books” Driscoll. I mean really, was mentioning over and over again that you are going to write that many books necessary to helping me understanding grace? Really? Still great, but really?

3 Things That Might Change This Year

– The city I live in  (I know, when will it stop)

– The amount of people I live with

– The amount of healthy churches that meet it bars in Las Vegas

3 Things About This Blog

– We get roughly 25-30 hits a day for people searching for “famous black people” thanks to my post on The Bible Experience. And with Black History Month coming up I expect that number to increase. Sorry people searching for famous black people, you’re stuck with two white guys.

– Ryan’s in his last real semester of Seminary. Go ahead and send him some encouragement. I am really proud of him. Who would have though Dawson Leary in Seminary and Joey a manipulated Scientologist. Times have changed.

– Last year we had a little over 13,000 blog hits which was aided supremely by the Washington Post linking here. This month we had a little over 3,000. So expect a healthy dose of posts about more famous black people over the next few weeks. We’re shooting for 50,000 this year.

Peace Out – matt

Back in School

Here’s an excerpt from a recent conversation I had with a good friend:

Good Friend: “Hey Matt, want to go to the Rebel game on Wednesday night?”

Me: “Um, I think I’ll pass. I need to study.”

And may I say for the record that I would have never said such a comment in undergrad. And the Rebels were TERRIBLE when I was attending. Maybe it’s the fact that I just shelled out over a thousand dollars of my own money for a class, or maybe it’s the fact that I absolutely love my class on Biblical Interpretation; I’m not sure.

What I do know is that I have a 4 page Historical Background Study due next week and I am totally geeked up about it. And for those of you thinking, “Aw, you’re so cute, tell me how excited you are when your in the middle of Hebrew”, you may be right, but don’t steal my joy.

It’s getting late though, time for a whiskey sour, a Colossians manuscript and some constant play of IN Rainbows by Radiohead.


Now playing: Radiohead – Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
via FoxyTunes

Cheating on my own blog

Ryan and I had a conversation a few days ago that pretty much consisted of us patting ourselves on the back for co-blogging. Here were our reasons why co-blogging is the best way to blog:

– You don’t have to carry the weight of always having to post. For example this is my first post in about two weeks, but my co-blogger has picked up the slack.

– You become less important. It’s not your blog, its both your blog. The other person can always put you in check for any abhorrent post.

– Unlike multi-blogging, co-blogging doesn’t overflow the blog with a million posts like Scot McKnight does (side note: I am reading The Jesus Creed right now. It is good).

– You constantly get emails from your co-blogger saying things like, “Did you see the search terms that brought some one to our blog.” Followed by you checking the stats and nearing spitting coffee all over your computer screen.

– If no one reads, you can act as if you are just having a conversation with a friend. Which makes the inside jokes that much funnier. Like the name of our blog, probably the biggest inside joke we have.

All that to be said, I wanted to thank Ryan for carrying the load the last few weeks, and also confess my blogging indiscretions.

Apparently I wrote three guest blogs on Devin Hudson’s blog.

Actually I wrote the first draft of the Core Values for FIVE20, the church venue we are starting in a bar located in Downtown Las Vegas. Devin has posted them on his site. Check them out and feel free to comment on both this post and his to let us know what you think.

Sorry Ryan, you’ve been so caring and this is how I treat you.