Dr. Jim Hamilton has no idea who I am. And yet, I daily find myself greatly indebted to him. As I teach 11/12th grade Biblical Theology, I am reminded daily how dependent I am upon the faithful men who have poured themselves out to minister to me. Since being married, I’ve realized that I also owe a great debt to their wives, who sacrifice in order for their husbands to be able to minister in such ways.
So, though you do not know who I am, thank you, Dr. Hamilton. Thank you for writing God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment. It’s a weekly companion as I prepare my own lectures. Thank you for introducing me to Andrew Peterson, who reminds me that truth ought to be beautiful. And thank you for building in me a love for the Harry Potter books, which demonstrate excellence in storytelling and typology. Most of all, thank you for your passion and zeal to know the text that you might know God. More than anything, that is your greatest legacy to this former student of yours.
I just launched a website for my school’s theology department. What it lacks in sizzle it makes up for in functionality. From this site students can download the necessary documents for their classes. If you’re ever looking for resources, please feel free to use the syllabi posted. The most helpful material would probably be found in the Church History and Biblical Theology courses. The Church History course has about 20 documents posted of the greatest literature in Christian History, complete with study guides. The study guides focus on comprehension of the document, comparison with the Scriptures, and application to the present day. The Biblical Theology course will have study guides throughout the entire Bible, focusing on interpretation and application. The website may be found at nccstheology.wordpress.com
In your kindness, for your glory, through the power of the Spirit of Christ, I ask that you would make the students, staff, and faculty of North County Christian School people who. . .
- Gaze up upon the cross and see the result of their sin
- Stand at the empty tomb and know the greater power of God
- Are filled with the Fruit of the Spirit, because the Spirit is in them
- Remember their creator in the days of their youth, that when they are old they might not depart from your Holy Word
- Live lives that make unbelievers stand back in wonder about the power of the gospel
- Confess their sin to you and to the brothers and sisters they have sinned against
- Experience and hold forth the fullness of forgiveness
- Gladly suffer ridicule for righteousness’ sake, knowing they are being treated the same way as their master
- Are sowing small seeds of faithfulness to inherit large fields of harvest
- Find Truth to be unalterable, though all else may ebb and flow
- Love honesty, even though it might be injurious to their circumstances
- Yearn for holiness rather than worldly honor
- Saturate their minds with Scripture, not Spotify
- Care more for compassion than cleverness
- Are known for respect, not rebellion
- Desire diligence, not dissipation
- Love maturity more than movies
- Would rather be educated than entertained
- Live to make much of Christ and not themselves
- Endure to the end
You are the God who is worthy of all honor and praise and glory. Transform our hearts that we may magnify you. Amen.
Tomorrow I turn 27. Robert Murray M’Cheyne died at 29. M’Cheyne’s impact has been tremendous on the church though most people touched by his work know it not. M’Cheyne developed the most commonly used through the Bible in a year reading program, continuing in use through avenues such as D.A. Carson’s For the Love of God series and the ESV Study Bible.
As I take a break from work to write this, I’m surrounded by piles of books on inspiration and biblical theology to be used in the slow process of writing curriculum for my new classes. The house is coated with a light covering of dust from a half-sanded 1940s maple coffee table that will be reincarnated as beautiful rather than as the final resting place for leaking glitter bottles. Throughout the halls are boxes full of wedding presents from generous friends, some to be stored and saved and others to be used.
As I think of M’Cheyne’s life and legacy, the temptation arises to grow discouraged about my own. “I must do more for the kingdom,” says the siren voice of the success syndrome. ”If I die at 29, I’ll have done nothing noteworthy and die forgotten.”
But the purpose of faithful service in the kingdom of God isn’t for me to be remembered. It’s that Christ may not be forgotten in this generation and the one to come. The world must pant for justification, not my journals. And so if I were to know that I only had two years left, I’d do exactly what I plan on doing for the next two years: I will teach, that my students might know God. I will love my wife, seeking to bring joy into her life. I will actively serve my church, that I might be a blessing to my fellow believers.
This is what M’Cheyne sought to do. He did not set out to be famous. He was a man who faithfully lived his 29 years. He preached God’s word to God’s people, he wrote letters, he studied theology, he sought to order his life to know God more fully, and then he succumbed to typhus. We do not need men who are consumed by grand visions for the kingdom of God that have themselves as the thumbtack which holds it all together. We need men who will be content to put one foot in front of another day in and day out until they finish the course. May God crucify our ambitions of celebrity.
I haven’t thought about my blog for months. It once was a passion; to be truly honest I must say it was often a consuming passion. The articles written for this site span three major seasons of my life: college, seminary, and now teaching theology at a Christian school. Along the way my ministries have radically changed. My communities have radically changed. My marital status is about to change. (In the good way, not the bad way.)
But through it all, the gospel has stayed the same. I was shot through full of weaknesses seven years ago when I began to write. I still am. But that’s the point of the gospel. I am not perfect. I struggle with sin over and over again. New contexts and new ministries do not change my heart; God does. Slowly but surely he is shaping me into his image. That’s the point of life. More than blogs or ministry footprints or name-dropping, I just want to be faithful. Whatever the context, whoever the people, whatever the mission, I just want to be faithful.
John MacDougal was the one
Whom no one could abide
For he ever loved to show
The lashes on his side.
Over cigarettes and beer
His tongue would rise and wander
Far and wide and deep and long
And tear his heart asunder.
John MacDougal drank and spoke
And drank and spoke afresh
Ne’er to see the other lads
Bore lashes on their chests.
My heart far more does pound
For want of being thought profound
Than care for lack of grace.
Displays the eyes of one
Who’d rather be a slave than son
So long as I was praised.
I am at these truths twain:
I sin and you forgive again.