In Case You Missed It

At The Peoples Next Door, Meredith Cook shared an article discussing how we should serve our churches. Meredith writes:

Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory? I have, and I assume many who are reading this blog have as well. Spiritual gift inventories, while a bit simplistic and overgeneralizing, can be helpful if you don’t know how you are gifted. However, they do not address the underlying purpose of spiritual gifts, nor do they accurately tell us what to do with the gifts once we know what they are. We need to understand what the Bible says about them, and let it tell us how to use them.

 

There are several passages that discuss giftings, but I will mainly focus on 1 Corinthians 12.

 

Art Rainer posted at his personal blog discussing why we should stop multitasking.

How often to you attempt to multitask to become more productive?

I often find myself doing this. Even as I write this, my phone sits next to me. I’m tempted to stop writing and check a few emails.

 

But I shouldn’t.

 

I don’t multitask well. And neither do you. This is what research about our brains and our attempts to juggle several tasks at once tells us. Studies consistently show us that God did not create most of our brains to do multiple tasks at the same time. We are at our best when we focus on a single task. So what does happen when you multitask? It’s probably not increasing productivity. Let’s look at what you are really doing when you “multitask.”

 

At his personal blog, Matt Emerson posted a touching tribute to Dr. John Sailhamer who passed away earlier this week.

I learned on Twitter earlier that John Sailhamer has passed away.  Due to his failing health over the last decade, his last major project – The Meaning of the Pentateuchwas published way back in 2009. In our consumer-driven, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately American culture, that may as well have been a century ago. But Sailhamer’s influence has always been more about his positive impact on students than his publishing per se. If you read his books – The Pentateuch as Narrative, Introduction to Old Testament Theology,The Meaning of the Pentateuch, even Genesis Unbound, as well as his commentaries – it seems obvious that these arise directly out of his teaching. And if you talk to his students, they’ll confirm that this is in fact the case.

 

Bruce Ashford posted an article at the Intersect Project  website discussing three authors who changed his life. Dr. Ashford writes:

In the space of two years in Russia, I began to realize even more fully the deep and resonant effects of religion upon culture, and vice versa. I was living in a social and cultural context that had been almost entirely devoid of evangelical gospel influence for generations. Conversations with many of my students revealed a deep skepticism about whether God existed, whether life had any meaning, and whether there are any moral absolutes. The institutions of this country — including its government, businesses, marriages and schools — reflected this deep sense of loss, this sense that its people could no longer believe in a God who endowed their lives with meaning and purpose or who gave moral law by which all people and institutions should abide.

 

During this time, I began to read books by Christian thinkers such as Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis. (On my journey to Russia, I carried one suitcase of clothes and four suitcases of books.) What I read changed my life.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Tony Merida shared six ways to stir your affections for weekly preaching.

Foundational instruction in expository preaching tends to focus on theology and methodology. This makes sense. Expository preaching is a theologically driven approach to preaching. We don’t commend this approach because we think it’s a great church growth idea, but primarily because of our theological convictions. Our convictions about God, humanity, the gospel, the nature of the Bible, the work of the Spirit, the centrality of Christ, the church, the role of pastors, the coming judgment, and more should lead us to embrace a high view of biblical preaching.

 

After theology, we then talk methodology. How do you prepare Bible-saturated sermons? How do you preach systematically through books of the Bible? Here we often discuss matters like studying the text in detail, considering the redemptive-historical context (how the text points to Jesus), identifying a dominant theme, constructing an outline, explaining and applying the text, and adding an introduction and conclusion.

 

But theology and methodology shouldn’t be all we emphasize. We can become skilled at crafting sermons, but not be affected by the Savior. If we don’t guard our hearts, sermon preparation can become mechanical. We must avoid becoming what I call “the Sermonator”—the pastor who mechanically cranks out sermons devoid of heartfelt passion.

 

Good exposition isn’t merely theological and methodological; it’s also affectional. It includes both light and heat, intellect and affections, seeing and savoring. It involves preaching the text from your own heart to your people’s hearts.

 

For those committed to exposition who have a sermon preparation routine, a vital question is this: How can we stir our affections for Sunday? Here are six ways.

 

Dr. Alvin Reid posted an article at The Center for Great Commission Studies discussing the tension of Evangelism.

Tension.

 

What does this word conjure up in your mind?

 

I asked a class this week whether their immediate response to the word “tension” was positive or negative. Almost all said negative. We see tension as something bad, something that’s a nuisance at best or a hindrance at worst.  I would beg to differ. Our world would not function without tension. Try building a bridge without it. Try walking upright without it. I know; for a while I could not walk upright because of lumbar spine issues. My body simply could not maintain the appropriate tension to stand up straight without pain.

In Memoriam: John Sailhamer, Christian Biblical Academician (1946-2017)

By: Dr. Tracy McKenzie

John Sailhamer (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary, M.A. and Ph.D., UCLA) passed away Monday, January 9th after a protracted bout with a form of Parkinson-Plus. Sailhamer served as Professor of Old Testament at numerous institutions during his career, most recently at Gateway Baptist Theological Seminary, formerly Golden Gate Seminary, but also at such places as Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Seminary. He also served as President of ETS in 2000.

Much could be said of Sailhamer’s career in teaching and publishing. He was beloved by his students, whom he inspired to a close reading of the Hebrew Bible. The numbers of his students who now serve in the academy—both inside and outside of evangelicalism—not to mention the pulpit, attest to his profound influence in the field through teaching and supervising PhD students. Besides several other books and articles, Sailhamer authored noteworthy books such as the NIV Compact Bible Commentary, Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach, and Genesis in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary series. Some of his works reached a popular level; others were aimed at the academy.

Among the halls of his former institutions, Sailhamer was best known for his reticence to use sociocultural, geographical, and archaeological information, et al. in the service of understanding the biblical text. Students naively popularized this reticence as an unwillingness to use “history” when interpreting the Bible. For Sailhamer, it was not this simple; all matters of philology come into play in interpretation. But for those who thought each narrative, legal code, or prophecy—any Old Testament text in reality—validly conveyed meaning when understood against a putative setting external to the book given by an author, Sailhamer’s writings argue otherwise.

I had the opportunity to sit under Sailhamer’s teaching and influence in the classroom, in Sunday School, as a TA, and as a PhD student. Unlike storied situations about arguments with colleagues at former institutions, Sailhamer was like a patient, gracious grandfather with MDiv students and members of his Sunday School class. Even when questioned about his hermeneutic, Sailhamer’s eruditeness and years of classroom experience gave him the ability to persuade students graciously to his point of view.

Among the many experiences that might honor his memory and encourage readers to delve into his works, two quite contrary anecdotes come to mind. I won’t soon forget an experience I had with Sailhamer as a PhD student while also serving as his TA. I could knock on his door unannounced since I regularly picked up papers to grade. His secretary trusted me and would make copies when necessary. Of course, Sailhamer’s library was the envy of quite literally everyone I know. During my own research, I had come across a book unavailable in our library. After a careful search, there were only a few copies on the East Coast: one in William and Mary’s library; the other in Sailhamer’s office. He actually had two copies! One was a Xeroxed copy that had seen many years. The second was a hardback edition. Quite adroitly, I must say, I explained to him what I needed and why. I thought it was a slam-dunk. I explained that I could grab his duplicate and quickly have his secretary copy the needed pages. It would never be more than twenty steps away from its spot on his shelf and never out of the eyesight of his secretary. His hardback edition did not need to leave its sacred space. Without a hint of quibbling, he flatly said, “No. Your job is to find the books. Mine is to have them.” Sailhamer loved his books and his rule was that none of them ever left his office. My point? Sailhamer guarded his library because it was his fellowship with academicians and scholars in the distant past and from various cultures. It is quite ironic that now SEBTS houses the Sailhamer Library, which contains his many rare and scholarly books. I still cannot take books out of “his” library but I no longer have to knock. Later, that afternoon of the incident, he passed me in the parking lot and with half a smirk said, “Are we still friends?”

The second anecdote involves the inclusion of one of his articles in an edited edition. I happened to come into his office shortly after he received a request to include the article in a volume and he was excited in a way that I had not seen before. After reading the article many times since that day, I am beginning to understand his excitement because it, more than any other of his works, offers a revealing snapshot into what he was trying to accomplish in his scholarly pursuits. The article was his contribution to Ben Ollenburger’s Old Testament Theology: Flowering and Future. He had actually written that article pre-2000 for the Wheaton Theology Conference in April, 2000.[1] Interestingly enough, I attended that conference as my very first foray into the academic study of the Bible. It is in this article that Sailhamer attempts to deal with what is now arguably turning into a consensus in Old Testament studies: the way in which the Old Testament comments upon itself. To put the matter another way, scribes (and prophets?) continued to comment upon, expand, and clarify biblical texts until these texts, along with the scribal expansions, congealed into the books and sequence that we now call the Hebrew Bible or TaNaK. No other evangelical was trying to handle Scripture’s complexities while still maintaining a robust view of its inspiration. Other giants in the field of Old Testament Studies such as Michael Fishbane and I.L. Seligmann had already proposed such notions. In fact, an early conversation partner in Sailhamer’s pursuit was Abraham Geiger, a nineteenth century German Rabbi. His interaction with Geiger is yet another example of how his bookishness extended far beyond that of his own tradition and language. Books were his way of standing on the shoulders of giants. Perhaps it is time we stand on his.

[1] The article, “Biblical Theology and the Composition of the Hebrew Bible” was first published in Scott Hafemann’s edited volume from the conference, Biblical Theology: Retrospect and Prospect (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2002), 25–37.

 

Dr. Tracy McKenzie is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern.