Archive for the ‘pepperdine’ Category

I’m not a Chicken Little type when it comes to the changing demographics of the world and the current state of the Christian church. I believe Jesus when he tells Peter that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. If they do, then Jesus was wrong and we should all go about doing something else anyway. But as my latent concern for evangelism grows and my heart becomes more missional (not to grow larger churches, but so that people will come to know Jesus), videos like the one below concern me.

While I may not vocalize my concern as demonstrably as the narrator does, the facts are the facts and they are indicative of the churches increasing malaise when it comes to boldly proclaiming our confession that Jesus is Lord. While more and more Christians are rightly becoming more focused on justice issues around the world (I’ll be teaching a class on it next week at Pepperdine University), we cannot lose sight of Jesus’ warning to be less concerned with what can destroy the body in relation to what can destroy the soul.

So here are our options as Christians: 1. Have more kids or 2. Get busy being the church in the world. I’m a both/and kinda guy.


I need to mention that one of my church members sent me this video. He said he didn’t know if the stats/facts are/were true and neither do I. At any rate, except for the Southern Hemisphere, the Christian church ain’t doing that great. That’s my point! Not to scare folks — which might be the intent of the film makers.

Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today, by Edward Fudge (Leafwood Publishers, 262 pages, Expected Release: April/May 2009).

Mention the Book of Hebrews and many Christians start to yawn or even to nod. Mention commentaries, and they practically begin to snore. One would think, therefore, that a commentary on Hebrews would leave them out cold on the floor. In fact, this new book (due out for Pepperdine Bible Lectures in May) by Edward Fudge, my friend and former elder in Houston, is certain to waken the whole lot, and set their feet to dancing with joy! For at least three reasons.

First, it is all about Jesus. Edward sees the Book (it is really not an “Epistle”) of Hebrews as a sermon of encouragement to a group of unknown believers (who might or might not have been “Hebrews”) who, for a whole bunch of reasons were worn out, disheartened, and ready to walk away from their faith. To revive their spirits and renew their commitment, the unknown author re-tells the Story – the story of the Son of God who became a man, to make human men and women children of God. The whole book is focused on Jesus. We can never go wrong doing that.

Second, this is a “narrative” style commentary. Although the author covers every verse, the layout of the book is so arranged that it reads more like a novel than like a traditional commentary. There are 48 chapters, each covering a portion of the Scripture text. (The text is another story of its own! Rather than use a particular modern version and risk losing those who prefer a different one, Edward has created a new version of Hebrews just for this book which sounds almost like every modern standard English text but is exactly like none.) After the text portion at the top, each chapter has an intro section called “Why & Wherefore,” which relates this section to the big picture of the whole book. That is followed by “Unpacking the Text,” which goes into detail, but in narrative style with subheads to further enhance ease of reading.

Third, this is a “bridge” book. It bridges the gap that too often exists between the ivory-tower scholars and the Christian on the street, or even the preacher or teacher in the church. Edward worked from the Greek text of Hebrews but his book doesn’t have a single Greek word in it. He has about eight pages of bibliography including 80+ scholarly articles from theological journals, but talks in everyday language. For example, Hebrews 1 includes a cluster of Old Testament passages which the technical commentators call a “catena” or a “florilegium.” Edward refers to them as a “bouquet of Scriptures,” which is what that second word really means to begin with. With such bridges linking scholarship and simplicity, the reader gets the best of both worlds.

Although this book has not yet been released, the publisher already has 36 impressive endorsements from Bible scholars and church leaders in five countries and across the theological spectrum. This is particularly impressive, since Hebrews is highly controversial and different Christian “tribes” have strongly differing views about its meaning. Yet somehow, this book has gained endorsements from all over the map.

Methodist Bishop and author Will Willimon, for example, calls this “a strong, theologically-informed exposition that will be of especial help to preachers seeking to encourage contemporary believers.” Yet Simon Kistemaker, retired New Testament professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, says: “I heartily recommend this commentary which, written by a scholar for lay people, is balanced, clear and transparent.” The back cover includes seven endorsements (all 36 are found on the front pages) which, besides these two, include churches of Christ professor and well-known preacher David Fleer, Baptist professor and author David B. Capes, Pentecostal theologian Sarah Sumner, mainline Protestant scholar and former professor at Yale Divinity School David Bartlett, and my friend the well-known and much-read Brian McLaren. Talk about covering the waterfront!

Although the author sent me a copy of the manuscript, I am eager to get the book itself. Keep informed on its progress and grand arrival at Edward’s website, .

I was away teaching and enjoying the Pepperdine Bible Lectures last week, so I am remiss that I missed a special occasion. Last Friday, Mildred Loving, 68, passed away. Mildred Loving, born Mildred Jeter, began dating her husband, Richard Loving, when she was just 11 years old and Richard was 17. In the early years of their marriage, Mildred and Richard were arrested several times together. The reason? Mildred was black and Richard was white. And in 1958 it was illegal for them to be married in the state of Virginia. Apparently, Virginia has not always been for lovers.

Threatened with years of imprisonment, the Loving’s changed history when they challenged the Constitutionality of Virginia’s marriage laws and in 1967 won the day when the Supreme Court upheld their right to marry. From that day forward, every state, including those in the south which had laws forbidding it, were required to recognize interracial marriage.

Mildred has lived a quiet life since Richard’s death in a car wreck in 1975. Not one for the spotlight, Mildred said of her life, “I never wanted to be a hero, just a bride. It wasn’t my doing, it was God’s work.”

Each June 12th, couples across America celebrate “Loving Day” which celebrates the legalization of interracial marriage.

So for marriages like mine and kids with mocha colored skin and long, curly hair I say to Mildred and Richard, “Thank you for Loving.”


One Day Done

Posted: May 2, 2007 in pepperdine

I woke up this morning in beautiful Malibu, CA. The only problem was aI woke up at 4am to the cries of my 11-week old daughter and the the snores of my 3 year-old daughter. Nevertheless, 2 hours later when I arose for good, it was to brisk, clean air and sights of the moutains rising over the Pacific ocean. Each year I come to the Pepperdine Bible Lectures, I ask myself how any students or facutly ever get anything done. I went to Abilene Christian, in the dust bowl of Abilene, TX and barely got anything done while there, so Malibu would have been a diaster for me. This is truly one of God’s more beautiful places on earth.

So Proud

Posted: November 14, 2006 in family, pepperdine, speaking

I’m incredibly excited about another “first” in my life. Though both my wife and I have made our livings using words–both written and spoken–there have been precious few times when we’ve been able to use words together. Even though when one of us speaks in public, the audience is probably hearing us both, we have never shared the same lectern, podium, or stage.

Well, all that’s about to change.

This May, Rochelle and I will be speaking and teaching together at the Pepperdine University Bible Lectures. Though I’ve been blessed to teach at the lectures several times before, speaking alongside my beautiful wife will be something completely new. And yes, I have joked with Ro about riding on my coattails, but the truth is that she is and excellent presenter and an extraordinarily thoughtful person. In fact, if she had been raised in another faith tradition she likely would have been a preacher and a brilliant one too–just like her father.

At present, we’re still kicking around topics for Pepperdine, but we will settle on something by Wednesday I’m sure. The reason I’m sure is because we have to. Dr. Jerry Rushford and his crew at Pepperdine need to print the program soon. So if you have any suggestions, we’re more than welcome to hearing them. And if you think I should just sit quietly in the background and let Rochelle teach our classes, well, that’s probably a good idea, too.