Archive for October, 2012

We rightly grow weary of the dismissive verbal wave of the hand that claims, ‘These modern worship songs can’t compare to the old hymns. They just repeat the same words over and over again’.

Our generation’s artists, who dare the challenge of providing us with words and song for worship, need our encouragement rather than our blanket condemnation. The established hymnody of the church, after all, tosses at us some sickly-sweet laughers that would make the apostle Paul wince. And this is to say nothing of the richness that is to be found in corners of the contemporary worship repertoire. (more…)


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The best hymnody leaves little else for comment. When a writer of music intended to lead the people of God into worship manages to assemble, meaningfully and memorably, the great truths in a way that brings the simple and the wise together into adoration, he has accomplished a very great thing.

Recently, at the Christian community that my wife and call home—Indianapolis’ Church at the Crossing—these words came into our mouths. What more can one say?

Children of the Heavenly Father
Safely in His bosom gather
Nestling bird nor star in heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given (more…)

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A prophet like Jeremiah—and so many others who bore with similar reluctance the mantle of YHWH’s spokesperson—needed to be dragged kicking and screaming to the duty. Rarely were those prophets whom the biblical canon endorses as true prophets, the genuine article, eager with careerist zeal for the task to which YHWH had summoned them.

They dragged their feet.

Declare among the nations and proclaim, set up a banner and proclaim, conceal it not, and say … (Jeremiah 50:2 ESV)

There is a reason for the insistent repetition in the order. (more…)

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There are a million reasons to stay on the couch.

Passive resignation before the unyielding hardness of life and leadership can easily become a lifestyle. Passivity has a lot going for it, starting with the fact that it’s so much easier than getting up, walking out the door, and facing the music. You can even spin it in acceptable directions: living a ‘balanced life’ springs to mind and—apparently—to the pens and keyboards of a thousand suburban Christian writers, for whom balance and peace have become the twin goblet handles of the Holy Grail. (more…)

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An address delivered by David Baer (President, Overseas Council/USA) to the 2012 ICETE Doctoral Consultation in Nairobi, Kenya.


 I have been asked to sound the notes of celebration and achievement this evening, a task I hasten to undertake. I will add to these a personal word of congratulation.

I have given to the modest thoughts that I will place before you this evening a title of just two words: Studying Love. (more…)

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To be a prophet is not simply to declare what’s coming.

Contrary to what is often assumed, the language of the biblical prophets is rarely deterministic. To the contrary, the lines of this literature are relationally rich. The emotion of love and embrace, as of love unrequited, is a frequent visitor to these pages.

The Lord is not only the subject of the famous words, ‘Thus says …’. He is also the one who woos his often recalcitrant Israel. He pleads with her, suffers with her, is stunned by her, returns to her. He both desolates and is desolated by his beloved people. (more…)

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I am, today, a statistical outlier in the most unlikely of ways: I may be the only father in this country with two sons in the U.S. Army’s Ranger School at the same time.

I stress the word unlikely.

My sons are warriors. I am not. They wear a uniform I did not at their age choose to wear and have now lived too many years to put on. For these reasons and others, I take no credit for what they are surviving and conquering in Georgia’s mountains and Florida’s swamps. I look on in wonder, admiration, and paternal concern, asking myself ‘How did this happen?’ (more…)

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James Scott Wheeler’s workmanlike narrative of the First Division’s storied legacy begins with the unit’s July 4, 1917 parade through Paris en route to bloodier encounters along the line that would soon yield to the American bolstering of the Anglo-French defenses. It ends with the Division’s performance in the First Gulf War.

In between, Wheeler chronicles engagement after engagement with phenomenal precision. One thinks with gratitude of the after-engagement reports that became the dull but immensely valuable stock-in-trade of American infantry and the relentless effort required of historians like Wheeler in processing these and other sources. (more…)

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