A Father’s Day Exhortation

Happy Father’s Day!

There is a hunger out there. It is not a hunger for food, money, power; it is a hunger for fathers. This is what Douglas Wilson referred to as “Father Hunger.” Sons and daughters are craving for them. And they do not come neatly packaged. They usually come with imperfections and without an instruction manual.

But this is all right. They usually have a pretty good sense of what is right and wrong, and when they make mistakes they don’t justify themselves, but they seek forgiveness.

Where are these fathers today? They are nowhere to be found. We can find their shell in their homes, but we can’t detect their fatherly souls. This is tragic. And we do want to emphasize the important roles that fathers play in the home. But in order to do so, they must be present.

So to fathers who are present, what we want to do is to encourage you to be servants in the home, lovers of truth, carriers of joy, and examples of repentance and faith. Our children will mirror our worst traits, and this is frightening indeed. But God has not left us hopeless. He has provided Himself as an example of true fatherhood. Even those without a father today know that you have a heavenly father; One who does not leave the orphan or widow, but who cares and proves his perfect fatherhood each day.

Fathers, I urge you to take dominion over your role. You only have one shot at it, but remember that no circumstance is too late or too far gone. Every prodigal is within reach. Every prodigal still would prefer dad’s table to the table of doom. Be encouraged and hopeful.

Fathers, you are what you worship, and your children will worship joyfully the God you worship most joyfully. So worship most joyfully the God of your Father Abraham. Do not idolize your children, but teach them to crush idols. Do not serve mammon, but teach them to use mammon wisely.

This is the charge to fathers in this congregation. It is a noble and mighty charge: to love your children and to conquer their hearts, before others conquer them. Learn early and often that you are a servant of your heavenly father. If you do not serve him alone, you will be another absent father in our culture. May it never be! May God grant you strength and wisdom as you lead your families, and may He lead you to your knees, beautify your words with truth and grace, strengthen your faith with biblical conviction, and renew you daily. Amen.

Prayer: O God, our Father, we have at times failed you. We have viewed ourselves as too mighty. We have repented too little, and suffered for it. May we be fathers that delight in You, our great Father. Do not leave us to our own resources, but be our present help in times of trouble. May our hearts be aligned with yours, even as your heart is aligned with your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose Name we pray. Amen.

Saturday Night Live (SNL), DJesus Uncrossed, the Romans, the Jews and the God of the Bible

DJesus UnCrossed is SNL’s latest attempt to de-christ Christ. Of course, in our day, Jesus is easy to disrespect. One wonders if SNL would attempt a comedy journey through the life of Muhammad. No further comments needed.

David Flowers believes that the skit has something to teach us, and that we should begin to listen to our critics. He argues that the skit has hermeneutical problems, but that it shows our hypocrisy and inconsistency in our faith. Flowers argues that this is the result of an American-shaped Jesus. He is correct to assert that humor has a way of offending Christians and revealing weaknesses and hypocrisy. We should be aware of them.

The Jesus raised from the dead murdering Romans out of revenge seems bizarre in light of the biblical narrative. Flowers is correct to assert that it reveals the Jesus kick-ass motif portrayed by many in our evangelical culture. It is easy to object to the video’s false portrayals, but in what sense is this skit true, even with its exaggerative and faulty hermeneutics? There is something to be learned here. Flowers is correct that we are to listen to our critics. The point, however, is that our critics don’t go far enough.

Surely the 2nd Amendment Rights’ Jesus is very American and Neo-Conservative like. But that doesn’t even begin to describe the type of justice-driven Messiah we as Orthodox Christians believe.

For starters, we believe in a Messiah that is ascended to the right hand of the Father, and from that place of kingship rules and reigns over us and creation. He is not an unmoved Mover. Further, Jesus did not have the Romans in mind when He judged, He had the corrupt and idolatrous first century Jewish generation in mind. Upon them, He brought a profound tribulation (Mt. 24). The Gospel Lesson this Sunday is Luke 13:31-35 where Jesus laments over Jerusalem. He sought her with love, but she continued to kill and murder the prophets sent with a message of salvation and deliverance. The vengeful Jesus portrayed by SNL has no interest in context, but it should well observe that the Messiah who destroys is first the Messiah who shows mercy.

How Can we Learn from SNL?

First, Saturday Night Live is not a theology show. Its humor is devoid of accuracy, and frankly, that is not their interest. They have been on the air for 37 years because of their exaggerated (especially in the last ten years) view of current events. This is important to keep in mind.

Secondly, use these opportunities to correct false information. Bill Maher, the well-known HBO atheist host, does this better than anyone I know. He takes a portion of Scriptures and twists its meaning in a fashion that would make even the devil jealous. This is a good time for Christians to be hermeneutically savvy. In fact, go ahead and make a t-shirt with that slogan “I am hermeneutically savvy.”

Thirdly, do not allow an exclusively New Covenant narrative to shape your theology. As James Jordan observes: “The division of the Bible into “Old Testament” and “New Testament” is merely for convenience, for the Scriptures are one narrative from beginning to end.” It is important to note also that this one narrative portrays God as a God of justice who says all vengeance belongs to Him. The modern Marcionites have failed us just as much as SNL has.

Finally, remember that the life of Jesus–especially as we meditate upon it in this Lenten Season–is a life of cross before glory; suffering before resurrection. The Jesus that came out of the grave was first a Jesus that came riding on a donkey as the Prince of Peace. But that same Jesus has promised to come again riding a horse of judgment upon Jerusalem and upon all those who despise His Name.

Trinity Talk Episode: Steve Jeffery on Penal Substitution

icon for podpress  In Defense of Penal Substitution with Steve Jeffery [28:45m]: Play Now | Download

We are glad to announce that Trinity Talk is back with new weekly episodes. In this interview, Jarrod and I spoke to Pastor Steve Jeffery of Emmanuel Evangelical Church in London. He is one of the authors of Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution.

A Culture of Resurrection

Rob Molls writes:

We live in a culture that has forgotten how to help people measure their days. Through medicine and science, we know more about death and how to forestall it than ever before. Yet we know little about how to prepare people for the inevitable. The church is a community that teaches people how to live well by teaching them how to measure their days. Put another way, when the church incarnates a culture of resurrection—one that recognizes the inevitability of death but not its triumph—it teaches people how to die well.

Having preached my very first memorial service homily in my young pastorate a few weeks ago, I became aware– if only for a brief moment– of the theology of death. In my homily I stressed the sadness of death; even Jesus wept for his friend and so should we mourn in death and not celebrate it. Yet, for us, death is dead at the resurrection. It is our deepest hope for our loved ones and the unbeliever’s deepest despair. After the memorial service, a Presbyterian minister approached me and thanked me for not perpetuating the “death is celebration” theme, which, as  I understand it, is quite common in the evangelical culture. “Let us celebrate the life of ___________.” But wait, have we mourned his life yet? Death is still here. It is big and strong and it touches everyone. Life is short; a vapor, St. James says, and the more I ponder the question of death, the greater sense I have that few people know how to die, because few people are prepared to die.  The Psalmist tells us that Yahweh loves the death of His saints. Perhaps the first step to preparing for death is to know that God knows when we will die. This is no cosmic surprise to the Triune God. If God knows, then I should know that He knows, and that may begin to inculcate in us all a culture of resurrection in preparing for death.

Memorial Service Homily

The Death of Death in the Resurrection

A Memorial Service Homily

Friends, in the beginning of time, God sang the world into existence. When there was chaos, darkness, and void, the Spirit of God hovered over creation, the Word came forth as light, and creation began to breathe for the first time. Creation’s first breath was a breath of praise to Yahweh her Creator. Yahweh looked at everything He had created and He said with great delight: “It is Very Good!”

When God created mankind, He knew that His image-bearers were made for glory and honor, and beauty for they would be His holy representatives on earth. They would articulate and express praise, the very thing they were designed to do. Man was created in God’s image not for self-exaltation, but to declare the praises of His Creator. But that loud song of praise in the garden began to fade in Genesis 3. Man became mute. Creation began to revert to its incomplete beginning. But God said: “This will not be!” And He promised that the Great Seed of the woman would become the Great Crusher of evil. He promised that the Word would become flesh and that He would dwell among mankind. To this end the Creator becomes a part of creation; the upholder of the entire universe takes on the grief of humanity.  He now weeps and mourns over death, even the death of a friend named Lazarus. Like Jesus, we do not celebrate death, we mourn in death. We grieve over death, as Jesus grieved. Death is the sting that leaves an indelible mark in the human soul. We grieve today because death overcame a righteous saint who was united to Christ.

And yet…even in the midst of death, Jesus declares: “I am the resurrection and the life!” Death is not the center piece of the furniture of creation. Death lies as a visible piece, but not the central piece. Death, the last enemy exists by God’s command, but it is there in the great house of creation, that death is overcome by the brightness of the King of Life. All things are under His sovereign control. He commands the first breath and the last breath.  He directs and guides the steps of a righteous man, so in the end the Psalmist declares, “Precious in the sight of Yahweh is the death of his saints.” It was Yahweh who brought life and it is Yahweh who concludes life. But for the saint of God, in Christ, death is not a portal to more death. In Christ, death is a portal to more life.

The promise of redemption, victory, restoration and life is fulfilled when the Son of God stepped on death and crushed it. Helplessly, death looked up only to see the mighty and powerful Son of God come crashing down upon it, and to hear Him declaring with a victory chant, “Where is now your sting; and where is now your victory?” The good news of the Gospel is that this promise of the victorious Christ and His resurrection is our promise if we believe in the eternal Son of God.

For the saint, death is not pointless or fruitless. The life of the saint is a witness and evidence that living is only true living in Christ and dying is only true dying in Christ. The death of the saint is the sure proclamation of the gospel to those who do not believe, because dying in Christ is salvation, but apart from trusting in the risen Lord, death is condemnation. The death of a saint becomes a sure sign that death is dead in the resurrection because Christ has conquered death by overcoming the grave; but it is also a sure sign that at the end of human history, the world will know that death has sung its last refrain, and life will sing a new song forever. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him; may the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead. Amen.