Blessed with Nothing: The Rich Young Man in Matthew 19:16-30

  The story of the rich young man in Matthew 19 has often been appropriated for the church in a moralistic way. It generally goes something like this: We each have our own thing—something that has become, perhaps, an idol. The thing for this rich young man that blocked him from eternal life was his material wealth. This got in the way of truly loving his neighbor. What is that thing for you, which you need to give up? Mine is coffee and Oreos (not at the same time). There, I said it. That’s not a terrible application. It is certainly something worth reflecting upon. But I think there is more to this story than … [Read more...]

What are we to do with the Baptist?

  For reasons that I hope will be clear shortly, I have titled my words as “What are we to do with the Baptist?”  John the Baptist, that is. Having been at it for a while, I can say that preaching in the church is both the easiest and most difficult thing I’ve done.   … [Read more...]

Bearing Witness Through Biblical Preaching

In The Witness of Preaching, Thomas Long describes biblical preaching in the following way, “Biblical preaching happens when a preacher prayerfully goes to listen to the Bible on behalf of the people and then speaks on Christ’s behalf what the preacher hears there.”   The goal of The Ministry of Preaching Course (MIN 6302) at Austin Grad is to equip students with the homiletical skills needed to bear faithful witness to Christ’s gospel through the event of preaching.  Utilizing the works of Thomas Long, Fred Craddock, and Barbara Brown Taylor students will develop their own theology of preaching. Throughout the semester, we will … [Read more...]

I am with you always, to the end of the age

The Gospel according to Matthew, where we’ll be spending our time in chapel devotionals this semester, begins with an indication that the story of Jesus is the story of one who stands in a heritage of faith and divine promise extending back to David and beyond him to Abraham (Matthew 1:1).  … [Read more...]

The Gospel According to Paul

  James Thompson, recently retired from Abilene Christian University, has been known to comment that if you make your living as a biblical scholar, “you don’t know your work from your play.” And it’s indeed true that as a New Testament prof, you frequently find yourself dealing with the topics you regard as most important, the questions you think most merit reflection, and the texts you most value reading. That’s how the middle weeks of my summer went, thanks to a course I taught on “The Gospel According to Paul.” Photo: Rembrandt, The Apostle Paul (1657), National Gallery of Art … [Read more...]

Praying the Lord’s Prayer

  Our Father which art in heaven,    We belong to You. We are not alone. You are our God and we are Your people.    You have given us life and taught us how to live. Your love is beyond our knowing.   You provide for us. You discipline us.  You protect us. You are transcendent and exalted.   You rule on high and dwell in our hearts.   “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be calledchildren of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). … [Read more...]

You’re invited to campus Tuesday to hear Professor of New Testament & Jewish Studies

  I'm flying Rabbi Dr. David Rudolph in next Tuesday April 4th to speak in my Christian Encounters with other Cultures class. Since I'm bringing him from a distance, I'd like to open the class to a bit broader audience. Please consider joining us. Read on for the details. … [Read more...]

“The Trust of Jesus Christ”

In Galatians 2:11–21, the apostle Paul presents us with one of the most significant passages in the New Testament for those concerned with the faith and history of the early church. Paul recounts the dramatic conflict that occurred in Antioch when “some people from James” in Jerusalem (cf. Gal. 1:18–19; 2:7–9; Acts 12:17; 15:13–21; 21:18–25) came to visit the mixed church of Jews and Gentiles in Antioch, and “Cephas” (Aramaic for “Peter”) reacted by leading his fellow Jewish Christians in a withdrawal from meals with Gentile Christians. Almost certainly these meals included the Lord’s Supper, which in these early years was observed in … [Read more...]

The Uncommon Truth about Work Today

When I was in grad school, I preached Sundays at a little church in Truby, Texas. One of my predecessors was one of my professors (i.e., my present teacher John Willis used to preach there) whom a member from those days quoted: “To work, to have, to give.” In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul addresses a problem about working—members were acting irresponsibly, failing to work. In his prior letter, Paul had urged the young Christians “to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands, as we charged you; so that you may command the respect of outsiders, and be dependent on no one” (1 Thess. 4:11-12). … [Read more...]

How to Embrace God’s Judgment

David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, recently went on the Charlie Rose Show to promote his new book that deals with character and sin. After the show, he received an email from an editor in New York who wrote, “I loved the way you were talking about your book, but I didn’t like the way you used that word sin. It’s a downer. Use the word insensitive instead.” Sadly, this is the world we live in today. We have gone from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” to “Your Best Life Now.” Sin and judgment are dirty words.  … [Read more...]