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seeking balance in understanding God, Scripture and theology.

Seeking balance in understanding God, Scripture and theology is important. In his book on the big ideas from the Reformation, Kevin Vanhoozer rightly asserts that: “The Reformers had Rome to the right of them and enthusiasts to the left of them; they therefore had to hammer out their understanding of Scripture’s authority against those who exaggerated human tradition, on the one hand, and those who exaggerated the immediate revelations of the Spirit, on the other.” (Kindle loc 3183)

For those of us who seek to know God relationally through Scripture, the infallible Word of God, and who also affirm the gifts, this is an important balance to maintain. 

Whether we have biblical ignorance, knowledge or understanding will determine our ability to discern the validity of counsel. That includes the instance where some tells us that “the Lord wants you to know that…” For if we have not a Growing understanding of Scripture, we are subject to be guided by counsel that may not actually be from God, though our friend is well meaning. 

A prophetic gift is such only as much as it agrees with Scripture and gives glory to God.

Thus, our growing understanding of Scripture is paramount, our theology is paramount (and yes we all have a theology) as we seek to deepen our relationship with God.

Like in the time of the reformers, an imbalance in these creates confusion, error and can lead to idolatry.

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We must become less.

Sitting in a baccalaureate rather than presiding over it as I did as chaplain at Covenant those 14 years was a great experience.

The student exhortations were funny, brief and meaningful. The music was incredible, we sang “In Christ Alone” to organ accomplishment and were treated to a piece by Bach in German presented by a soprano accompanied by two flutes and organ in the incredible Gordon College Chapel.

The worship through preaching was presented by Rev. Dr. Raymond Pendleton, who is retiring after more than four decades of teaching at Gordon-Conwell.

I found his sermon apt for we Gordon-Conwell Seminary graduates who have academics and accomplishment on our minds. His message centered on this:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:30‬ ‭ESV‬

I deeply appreciated his heart and his words. Here are a couple of quotes:

He noted it was himbling to work among such scholars at Gordon-Conwell, noting. “I’m not a scholar, I’m a practitioner.” That was great to hear. I know the feeling.

He focused on our identity at signposts pointing to Jesus. Again, applying the Baptizer: Jesus must increase as we decrease. 

Thus “We ought to be faithful in pointing others to Jesus.”

And then he reminded us that: “The best leaders recognize and empower others to go beyond themselves.”


“The leader must be willing to become less.”

There will now be some Pendleton quotes in my leadership course. 

At the end we sang a great hymn, written by A. J. Gordon, for whom Gordon College is named.

1 My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;

for thee all the follies of sin I resign;

my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;

if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

2 I love thee because thou hast first loved me

and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;

I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;

if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

3 I’ll love thee in life, I will love thee in death,

and praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath,

and say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow:

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

4 In mansions of glory and endless delight,

I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;

I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. 
Let us point to Jesus today, not at ourselves. Bask in His work not our own. That I wish to be reminded of as I receive today.

Sola Christo 

Soli Deo Gloria

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Salem, MA

Hanging out with the family before graduation weekend at Gordon-Conwell.

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Trusting God for the day and for sleep…

A wise brother once said that if you’re having trouble sleeping, you should check your heart. I am most anxious when I am trusting my efforts. The people of Judah were surrounded by all kind of threat. They gathered and looked to the Lord… He answered 

“And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” ‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭20:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We too may look to the Lord rather than dwelling in anxiety over this or that. I know. Anxiety can grab us an paralyze us. But we can look to the Lord…

Let’s learn from the psalmist…

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭127:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Rest in the Lord, when sleep won’t come marinate in the word and He will bless you with rest. Rest in His care little sheep.

(Man, you gotta love ridin the MCeyne train.)

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Marinating, soaking up light

A week ago I was blessed to be on a retreat on top of a Virginia mountain with 45 other guys from our church. It was a great time of rest, fellowship and good teaching that had the reorienting of ourselves to the Lord as our focus. It was at this retreat that I saw the video I posted earlier this week. I took this picture of this tree as I was reminded we’re all branches and God is our source, Father, Son and Spirit. 

On the drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway (that’s the road in the background) I read Psalm 119. All of it. Twice. I was struck by it in a way I’d not noticed the joy about God’s word that is so deeply ingrained. This week the M’Cheyne train has had me reading sections of 119 each morning. This morning I was struck by these words:

“Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:129-130‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God’s word is indeed a wonderful marinate for us to soak up. May it give us light and understanding of the greatness of God. Like the roots and strong trunk of that great tree bring nourishment to the branches, let us soak up the word every day.

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A song of joy and comfort to sing! (a memory from Covenant)

In my reading plan this morning, I ran across a song we sang long ago in chapel at Covenant. It was a favorite of our lead worshiper. Today it has a more significant meaning for me as I walk alongside folks who are struggling with the things of this life…
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

‭‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Indeed as it says across the front of St. Istvan’s in Budapest (above), He is the way, truth and life. Remember the Lord is in our midst as we walk with Him. May we rejoice rather than fear when the enemy surrounds because the Lord is in our midst! As fellow disciples of our Master let us point one another to this truth!

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