27 May


Are boys set up to fail in the current educational environment?


I recently came across the following video about the problems with the educational system as it relates to boys and school.

Christina Hoff Sommers, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, suggests that boys in schools are routinely punished for being active, competitive, and restless — that is, for just being boys. She explains how we can change this in three ways:

  1. Turn boys into readers. Even here there is a warning. Boys want to read more action-oriented things rather than poetic, fictional stuff, overall. A useful point for getting boys to read.
  2. Inspire the male imagination. Again, action-focused imagination is a boy’s mental playground, whereas emotional, self-disclosing narratives are not, typically. We ought not assume that a boy is a potential sociopath simply because he likes to write or draw things that have blood, guts, fights, monsters, etc.
  3. Zero out zero tolerance. Boys are going to get into trouble, simply because they are restless, rambunctious, competitive, etc. And they love bathroom humor by default. Context and content are important; however, boys might need a little latitude when it comes to acting idiotic or saying something stupid. Talk to boys and find out what is going on before laying down a sentence of judgment for (alleged) wrongdoing.

There’s more worth talking about, so take 5 minutes for this video to provoke your own thinking on this issue. We might disagree on some points, but I think the core issue about setting up boys to fail by expecting them to think/act like girls is pretty astute. Let’s understand what makes boy’s tick, and then release them to learn and to grow into men!

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23 Nov


Yet I Sin


The Valley of Vision is a treasure trove of prayers and devotional meditations from the Puritans. These prayers are searching and profound, even if the language is dated and difficult at times. I recently pulled this book off the shelf and read the following entry, entitled “Yet I Sin.” Maybe it will be as spiritually helpful for you as it was for me.


Eternal Father,
Thou art good beyond all thought,
But I am vile, wretched, miserable, blind;
My lips are ready to confess, but my heart is slow to feel,
and my ways reluctant to amend.

I bring my soul to thee:
break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.

Unmask to me sin’s deformity,
that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it.
My faculties have been a weapon of revolt against thee;
as a rebel I have misused my strength,
and served the foul adversary of thy kingdom.

Give me grace to bewail my insensate folly,
Grant me to know that the way of transgressors is hard,
that evil paths are wretched paths,
that to depart from thee is to lose all good.

I have seen the purity and beauty of thy perfect law,
the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns,
the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls,
yet I daily violate and contemn its precepts.

Thy loving Spirit strives within me,
brings me Scripture warnings,
speaks in startling providences,
allures by secret whispers,
yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt,
impiously resent, grieve,
and provoke him to abandon me.

All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them cry pardon.
Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;
Give me the fullness of godly grief that trembles and fears,
yet ever trusts and loves,
which is ever powerful, and ever confident;
Grant that through the tears of repentance I may see more clearly
the brightness and glories of the saving cross.

26 Sep


How Thomas Jefferson Constructed His Own Bible


I have the opportunity to teach a class on hermeneutics, or the art and science of biblical interpretation, for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. We cover issues ranging from principles for understanding different genres in the Bible to the history of the development of the English Bible.

In one class session, we discussed the formation of the canon — the collection of books we know as the Old and New Testaments. Theologically speaking, Protestant Christians believe that the canon is not an “authorized” collection of writings upon which a/the church conferred its authority or approval. Rather, the canon is a “collection” of writings recognized as authoritative. So, “canonization is the process of recognizing that inherent authority, not bestowing it from an outside source.”[1]

Historically, many have offered their own critique on the books of the Bible, or at least questioned the inclusion (or exclusion) of some writings. For example, Roman Catholics include the Apocrypha (an additional 15 books) in their Bible. Some, like author Dan Brown, insist that writings such as the Gnostic Gospels have unjustly been excluded from canonical status. Interestingly, even the great Church Reformer Martin Luther made disparaging remarks about the book of James, calling a “strawy epistle” that doesn’t measure up doctrinally to the book of Romans.

Others have taken matters of judgment into their own hands and created Bibles to their own liking. Marcion (AD 85-160), for example, created his own “canon” consisting of 10 letters from Paul and an edited Gospel of Luke, rejecting all the rest. Following Marcion’s lead, but for different reasons, Thomas Jefferson basically did the same thing.

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 8.12.35 AMJefferson produced a work entitled “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” “The Jefferson Bible” is actually a misnomer, but that label stuck after the manuscript became public by the efforts of Cyrus Adler in the late 1800s.

At age 77, Jefferson constructed his book by cutting excerpts from six printed volumes published in English, Latin, French, and Greek from the four Gospels of the New Testament.

He arranged them to tell a chronological and edited story of Jesus’s life, parables, and moral teaching. Left behind in the source material were those elements that he could not support through reason or that he believed were later embellishments, such as the miracles and the Resurrection.

Jefferson held that no tradition was so sacred as to escape reconsideration in view of new discoveries and the progress of knowledge brought about through the Enlightenment, a revolutionary movement of scientific experiment and rational enquiry.

Even more, Jefferson insisted that religious beliefs were purely of personal and private concern, also a conclusion of Enlightenment thinking. Since He grew up in a world where political rulers established a single faith as the official orthodoxy, and as a promoter of religious freedom in the dawning of the American experiment, the “cut and paste” approach to the life and teachings of Jesus found in the “Church’s Bible” (KJV) makes perfect sense as another, very practical, revolutionary act of defiance.

The story of Jefferson’s Bible is important historically and fascinating theologically. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has given us an incredible resource to dig deeper, including the opportunity to see and read the actual manuscript that Jefferson produced. Take some time and visit the Smithsonian’s website dedicated to the Jefferson Bible.

[1] Robert L. Plummer, 40 Questions about Interpreting the Bible (Kregel, 2010), 57.

24 Aug


One of the best books on Bible translation: Dave Brunn


If you’re at all interested in Bible translation, you must add this book to your library. I’ve read it twice now and continue to be challenged and instructed on this important topic.

D. A. Carson sums it up well in his endorsement, “This book will diffuse some of the polarizations that characterize many of the disputes [between formal and dynamic equivalence models]. It will also encourage us to recognize we are not as far apart as some of us have supposed, and remind us of how difficult good Bible translation is and how grateful we should be for the wonderful and even complementary choices we have in English Bibles.”

Here’s an easy way to find it and buy it.

Tolle lege!

23 Aug


9-Point Battle Plan for Temptation



Temptation. We all face it in a variety of ways. The problem is, we don’t view temptation as a war-time activity, which it is. As Christians, we have an enemy tirelessly working against us for our downfall. In response, we ought to be as trained and prepared as possible to know what we’re up against, in order to defend ourselves victoriously.

Here are 9 tactics to add to your battle plan for dealing with temptation. (more…)

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15 Aug

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Today marks my 15th wedding anniversary to the love of my life, Meredith Roten Carter.



As I woke this morning, Proverbs 18:22 was running through my mind: A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. Oh, how I can verify the truths in this verse! God’s favor upon me, through Meredith, has been astounding.

She is one of the most godly people I know — a Spirit-filled, Jesus-loving, God-centered friend, Mother, and wife. My life would be profoundly different, in all the wrong ways, without her presence and companionship. I have obtained favor, indeed. And through fifteen years, I’ve found many good things by finding Meredith Roten.

Her love has given me an unwavering depth of peace and security and happiness — this is a good thing.

Her faithfulness has shown me the grace and patience of the Lord through thick and thin — this is a good thing.

Her laughter and irrepressible joy have sustained me through seasons of darkness, stress, disappointment, and doubt — this is a good thing.

Her encouragement and support has strengthened me and pushed me beyond my fears — and this is a good thing.

Her wisdom has kept me safe from significant blunders and mistakes — this is a good thing.

Her forgiveness has surprised me time and again — this is a good thing.

Her prayers for me have been ceaseless — this is a good thing.

Her correction, rebuke, and reproof have made me a better man, husband, father, and disciple of Jesus — this is a good thing.

Her devotion to Jesus Christ has inspired me and continues to provoke me to deeper faith and obedience — this is a good thing.

Much more can be said, but I’ll cherish those things privately. I simply had to brag on this amazing woman and the grace she has poured out upon me over the last fifteen years!

Meredith, you are of inestimable worth to me. I am overjoyed to share my life with you! Thank you for entrusting yourself to me and running with endurance the race that Jesus has set before you. My prayer is that over the next 15 years, should the Lord allow it, I will reflect more of Ephesians 5:25-32.

I love you more than life itself!

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17 Jun


Simple Discipleship



I recently heard this simple description of discipleship. It’s worth pondering, passing along, and putting into practice.

I do, you watch.
I do, you help.
You do, I help.
You do, I watch.
You do, others watch …

I’m not sure where this is from, since the original source was not mentioned (if you know, please tell me in the comments).

So, how are you doing as a disciple? As a disciple-maker?

Filed under: Blog, Pastoral


01 Jan

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One aim he hath


Here’s a wise word for those called to Christian ministry on the lifelong (and complex) nature of spiritual warfare. Our enemy is great, indeed. But be courageous and resolute, my brothers!

Then said Sir Constant heavily: “That Black Knight is indeed a doughty champion. I fear that I have not yet done with him and his magic.”

“Nay,” said the Keeper of the King’s rest-house. “Not yet, nor for many days. I called him a sorcerer and subtle, but no words of mine may tell his power and guile. One aim he hath, to win thee from the Royal Service; and though he be conquered many times, yet will he come again in other guise, pitiless and unrelenting, so great is his hatred for the Lord of the Splendid Way and His pure Service. Many will be his snares and disguises, many are the helpers who serve him; but what danger can be greater than this, that he can bear the semblance of thy very self and speak with thy very voice in the inner chambers of thy heart? Nay, Sir Knight, there is but one way of meeting this unresting foe. It is by the Vision of the Face and by that alone. So shalt thou win through to do the King’s Will, and honour His Service, and reach at last His City.”

W.E. Cule, Sir Knight of the Splendid Way (1899)

04 Dec


Thinking about Advent



I didn’t grow up in a religious tradition that emphasized Advent. In fact, only until recent years have I noticed that many in my denominational family (Baptist) have begun celebrating Advent with their families and churches. As a pastor, the church I served did celebrate (once or twice) this season by the lighting of the purple, pink, and white candles. It was a memorable and special time to prepare our hearts and minds for the gift of God’s Son and the salvation he came to bring!

This year, my family and I are taking the time to celebrate Advent in family worship — not just on the Sundays leading up to Christmas day, but everyday until then. I want to help my young sons (and myself!) grow in anticipation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, so each night we’re reading through a free resource from Desiring God Ministries called Good News of Great Joy. You can download a copy here, in a variety of different formats. So far, it’s been excellent. I highly recommend it to you. (more…)

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