Football with JP

I'm sitting in a hospital room at Cincinnati Children's hospital. I arrived yesterday to receive I.V. antibiotics since my CMV numbers have gone up quite a bit:

That's actually higher that it was when I was hospitilized this summer, so it's probably a good thing I am here. Anyway, the plan is for me to receive the medication through Friday and during that time they'll monitor my electrolytes (this stuff can be hard on your kidneys). If everything looks good they'll send me home with the PICC line and I'll continue to get the medicine at home until the CMV is down to zero.

I was texting my brother-in-law Ben yesterday and when I mentioned that I was gaining weight (10 lbs in about a month to be exact), he said “You're gonna be the next all American tackle at OU.” That's actually a really good goal…and JP will be the quarterback..and the field will be our backyard! I started to think about my recent time in the hospital, and then about this looming bone marrow transplant which will land me in a hospital room for at least 3 months, during which time I won't be able to see JP. It would be easy to get discouraged as those thoughts begin to roll in, but now I am replacing them with some others. Football with JP, family devotions by the fire place, watching my son grow, precious time with my wife, teaching JP to play ping pong, the blessing of worshiping with my church family…the list could go on.

Our gracious God has blessed me with so much, and his greatest gift is Jesus Christ. He lived and died and rose and reigns. What shall I fear? And his life, death and resurrection brought salvation which lasts forever; what is this life except for a vapor in the wind? Yet even so, he has chosen give good gifts in this life as well, and I for one too often take those gifts for granted. There is nothing that can happen to me apart from his sovereign, good purposes; and no gift do I receive that is not from his own kindness. I shall not fear and I shall not want.

So…as I enter into this journey in life, my heart is full of joy. Christ is mine, and I am his and there is no safer place than this. Not to mention, no matter what happens I have this little guy waiting for me:

So yes, I will continue to go to the hospital when I need to, consume 4000 calories a day and I will endure this upcoming bone marrow transplant with joy. For at the end of it all I am looking to one very worthy goal indeed: football with JP.

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Tom Schreiner Talks About His Upcoming Book

I blogged a week or so ago about Tom Schreiner‘s new Biblical Theology coming out this year. Below is an interview Dr. Schreiner did with Lindsay Kennedy. This will definitely be on my summer reading list!

Tom Schreiner Interview: The King in His Beauty

Tom Schreiner Interview: The King in His Beauty

The King in His Beauty

I’ve already mentioned my excitement over upcoming release of The King in His Beauty (Jun 2013) and adding fuel to the fire, I had the honour to ask Dr. Thomas Schreiner a few questions about this book. His responses were very thought provoking and have raised my expectations for this book to new heights.

For more information about Tom Schreiner and his books and some free articles and reviews, see his page at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches.

I planned to send Schreiner only 5 questions but had so much to ask that I ended up with 9! He graciously responded to them all. Here’s the interview.

In an interview on your then-upcoming New Testament Theology (released 2008), you said, “I don’t know if I have the energy to write a whole Bible theology”. What changed? What motivated you so much to undertake such an overwhelming task?

After I wrote the NT Theology my energy was depleted for writing on a more cosmic scale. In the meantime I took on my other writing love, i.e., I wrote a commentary on Galatians. After writing Galatians, I felt ready to tackle the whole Bible theology. Right after I wrote my Pauline theology I didn’t have the energy to do a NT theology and wrote a commentary on 1-2 Peter and Jude.

So, I guess I followed the same pattern in writing the whole Bible theology.

From looking at the Table of Contents, it appears that you have tackled each Biblical book individually, rather than taking the thematic approach in your Pauline and New Testament Theologies. What made you favour a canonical approach for this book?

I argue that there is no single right way to write a biblical theology, for the subject matter (God and his relationship with us) transcends our understanding. I believe, then, that a whole Bible theology or a theology of Paul could be written from a number of different angles.

One of my goals in my biblical theology was to guide quite specifically by the contents of the books in question. I think a book by book approach made it easier to follow the story line (especially in narrative books and especially in the OT).

Some scholars (such as Jim Hamilton) find thematic and theological strength in following the Hebrew order of Old Testament books rather than the order we currently have in our English Bibles. Did you consider using this order for your book and if so, why did you choose against it?

Following the Hebrew order can be illuminating, but I agree with Brevard Childs who said that we shouldn’t put too much weight on the order of the books. Childs maintains that we can fruitfully do biblical theology from both the Hebrew and the Greek order, and there are too many “unverified assumptions” on the part of those who insist on the Hebrew order. I followed the order we have in our English Bibles, for that is the Bible most readers actually use.

Baker’s website says you focus on three themes in this book: God as Lord, human beings as image-bearers, and “the land or place in which God’s rule is exercised”. Could you unpack this third theme a little?

God as creator is Lord over the entire world he has made. He put Adam and Eve in the garden as his vice-regents. They were, in dependence upon God, to exercise wise stewardship over the garden. When they sinned, their sin didn’t only affect themselves. Our relationship to the world changed, for the earth fell along with human beings. Now thorns and thistles grew, making labor arduous and boring. The world was subject to futility (Rom 8:18-25).

God promised that he would reclaim the world through the offspring of the woman. The Bible tells us the story of how this was done.

The Lord began with Abraham who was promised the land of Canaan. Through Israel the land of Canaan was to be like the garden, a place where the Lord exercised his rule over his people. Israel recapitulated in a sense the sin of Adam and Eve, and so just as Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, they were exiled from Canaan. Still, God’s promise to bless the whole world through Abraham was not withdrawn.

In the NT we see that the blessing for the world becomes a reality through Jesus Christ. The promise is no longer limited to Canaan, but now embraces the whole world, the entire universe (Rom 4:13). The New Jerusalem is the new heavens and new earth. The whole cosmos is God’s temple in which he dwells.

God’s rule begins in a garden but ends in a city: in a renewed universe over which the Lord reigns.

How did you go about preparing to write this book?Tom Schreiner

I began by studying each book inductively and then I wrote up the entire book. After finishing the rough draft, I revised it. At that point I spent a significant amount of time reading secondary sources and integrated them into the book. I learned so much from what I read, but I am keenly aware that there is so much more that could be done!

Many struggle to find a place for the OT Wisdom Literature in redemptive history. What roles do you see books such as Ecclesiastes and Job playing in the overarching story of the Bible, and how do you treat them in this book?

I think the main theme of Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs is: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Those who live under God’s rule fear him. All three books emphasize that one must fear God and keep his commands.

Job and Ecclesiastes remind us of a very important truth. God’s wise rule over the world isn’t clearly evident in this life. Life is full of frustration. We can’t make sense of it, for many seemingly irrational and absurd things happen. Wisdom acknowledges our inability to formulate an exhaustive answer to the agonizing sufferings and to the blatant unfairness that characterize human existence. We are to fear God and to obey him, but that doesn’t mean we have all the answers. It doesn’t mean that everything in life makes sense now.

Both Job and Ecclesiastes emphasize God’s sovereignty, but they warn us about the danger of thinking that we understand the totality of God’s plan.

What effect has preparing and writing this book had on you?

I saw the greatness of God. His plan for the world is gracious, wise, and just. Perhaps the most important thing, though, was the reminder that our hope and our joy is seeing the king in his beauty. What makes life worth living is seeing God, knowing God, and loving God. My heart was often thrilled as I saw the loveliness and beauty of God in Jesus Christ trough my research and writing.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope the book is accessible to readers who want a grasp of the overarching story. I hope they will see more clearly the whole counsel of God, and they will be helped to read each book in the context of the entire storyline found in the Scriptures.

If I may be cheeky and ask one more: do you have any projects on the horizon that you can tell us about?

I am working on a commentary on Hebrews in a new series coming out from Broadman & Holman, which focuses on biblical theology.

Also, I am co-editing a book with Ben Merkle on church government. The book is similar to the book on baptism (coedited with Shawn Wright) and the Lord’s Supper (coedited with Matt Crawford).

Dr. Thomas Schreiner is James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can read another interview on The King in His Beauty at Credo Mag.

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Reflections of a New Dad

Meet John Paul McMains

Three weeks ago today on Thursday, October 11, 2012 (10/11/12) my whole world changed. One minute I’m sleeping in on a lazy day, getting ready to work on my paper and translate some Josephus, the next minute I’m running around like a mad man throwing random stuff into a bag and speeding off to the hospital. Before I know it I am watching the most miraculous thing I have ever experienced. I am watching the birth of my beautiful son. They say that the realization that you’re a dad doesn’t hit you until they actually put the baby into your arms. It hit me the moment I saw the little guy, and nearly knocked me off my feet. I felt nearer to God in that moment than I had in a very long time, for the miracle of life was unfolding right before my eyes.

Just me and little guy till 4 a.m. while mommy...

Just me and little guy at 4 a.m.

The weeks to follow have been a blur, but as I reflect on what has taken place, a few things are forefront in my mind above all else.

1. I don’t deserve this. It’s true. I don’t. The grace and kindness of God hit me like a freight train when I met my wife, Ashleigh, who I have failed again and again. Now it hits me every time I look into my son’s eyes or watch him sleep. No one deserves God’s gracious kindness…especially this. I can only be thankful and seek to honor God and trust fully in him as I seek to raise my son.

Mommy and JP :)

2.  I have no idea what I’m doing! How can I raise this boy to be a godly young man, when I know my own heart? I am more aware now of my inadequacies as a man, a husband and now a father than I’ve ever been. This is a camel through the needle’s eye kind of task, and on my own, I would surely fail miserably. All I can do is start changing diapers like a madman, and pray that God will give me the grace and strength to be a godly father one more day, and then another, and another. Gratefully, I have the best wife/mother in the world at my side reminding me of God’s love and kindness and providing assurance that JP’s in good hands with her. I also had a wonderful example of fatherhood in my own dad, and my mom taught me what it truly was to sacrificially lay down your life daily for your own children. When all else fails, what would my parents do?!

3.  God, save my son. I am a strong believer in God’s absolute sovereignty in salvation. This gives me great comfort for two reasons. First, God is perfectly just and wise. He surely will do right, and JP is in his hands. There is no greater comfort than this. Second, my son’s salvation is not up to me. Again, very comforting, because if it were then he’d be in trouble! No, our God is mighty to save and he is drawing his people to himself. My role as a father is to pray every day for God to be merciful to my son, and to save him at a young age. And to preach the gospel to him constantly, knowing that God has ordained the means by which he will hear and believe.

Today JP was laying on the couch and I cuddled up next to him to watch him sleep. I will forever be in awe at the wonder of life, and the kindness God has shown to us through this little gift we named John Paul.

I don't deserve this

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Nahum 1:7

If you knew my grandpa, then you knew Nahum 1:7. No two ways about it. He had all his congregations learn it, it was on his answering machine and it was written on every card he sent. He would even say it at the end of a phone conversations, after he prayed with you. This wasn’t, however, only a favorite verse for him. I recall high school FCA, when we would go around and say our favorite verses and why, about 98.7 % of people said “Phil 4:13, cuz we can go out and win this thing!” The problem, of course, was that 98% of the other team had the same verse for the same reason. hmmm. Anyway, this was not like that for my grandpa. The truth of Nahum 1:7 permeated his life. It says, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him” Nahum 1:7.

My granddad knew that the Lord was good. He preached it everywhere he went. He always said he was “better than I deserve,” and he meant that. He was grateful for family, friends, nature, fishing…everything he enjoyed and did he knew was a gift from a good God, and he was thankful. Yet, my granddad experienced physical sickness and pain. He never stopped trusting in God as his stronghold. The fact that he experienced trouble, did not in his mind in any way negate God’s goodness. He knew that God, “works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” My grandpa never stopped relying on Jesus Christ as the anchor for his soul through every difficulty he ever faced unto the very end. My grandpa trusted Christ with his whole heart, and God knew him. He didn’t simply know him in the sense of intellectual knowledge…that’s not what the word means…rather, he set his saving love upon him. He cared for him. He was good to him and was his refuge. By grandfather was faithful to the end, because God is faithful. He knoweth them that trust in Him.

I preached at a nursing home in Louisville this past Sunday. I preached Nahum 1:7. I wanted the residence there to have the same hope in Christ as my granddad did his entire life. I’m posting the message below. You’ll notice I recorded the two hymns we sang as well. I don’t think it was an accident that they were “It is Well” and “Jesus and Me.”

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