Monday, October 25, 2010

"An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach" by Bruce Waltke and Charles Yu

Another book that Professor/Pastor Brian Morgan assigned us was Bruce Waltke's Old Testament Theology which was heavier than my laptop backpack.

Waltke is much admired by theologians and scholars and I was very intimidated at the thought of reading the textbook. But Morgan encouraged us to just read and enjoy and absorb the material. We didn't have to take detailed notes, but rather respond to the big picture of the Gospel as it was being laid out by Waltke.

Also, I had to laugh because the first printing of the textbook had a blaring typo on the cover: "Exgetical" instead of "Exegetical". So even theological giants can trip up on the nitty, gritty details, too., we saved some money because the Rabbi (aka Pastor Morgan) bought up all the typo editions and sold 'em to us seminary students at a reduced price.

"Down-to-Earth Spirituality: Encountering God in the Ordinary, Boring Stuff of Life" by R. Paul Stevens

Pastor Brian Morgan, of Peninsula Bible Church - Cupertino, was my Old Testament 1 professor for one semester, his last Old Testament class at Western Seminary. He had a way of making the Old Testament poetry come to life, and he had a real knack for bringing us students into the Old Testament narrative, specifically the story of Jacob.

In fact, one of our assignments was to write a "Jacob Poem". I decided to compose a poem called "My Two Dads" based on Jacob's own father and father-in-law, transposed with my own relationship with my father and father-in-law (copied at the bottom).

One of the required textbooks that Brian Morgan assigned to us was "Down-to-Earth Spirituality" by R. Paul Stevens.

I have to say that "Down-to-Earth Spirituality" surprised me. I've read books on the Spiritual Disciplines before and usually they are pretty formulaic and point-by-point practical. Stevens offered a thematic approach to the disciplines that married the narrative of Jacob's story with such topics as "Birth - the Story of Rebekah", "Courting - the Story of Rachel", "Work - the Story of Laban", "Conversion - the Story of the God-Man" and "Death - the Story of Ephraim".

In "Sex - the Story of Dinah", Stevens writes:

"Males or females by themselves, whether married or single, are not the image of God but only males in relation to females and females in relation to males. We are like God in our need to be people-in-communion without losing our identities. The sexual desire expresses something godlike within us...Intercourse is a powerful symbol of this [communion] - the mutual penetration of persons. I emphasize persons because we do not have sex with bodies but with whole persons." (119).

Chew on that for a while!


and here's my Jacob Poem

My Two Dads: Faith of Our Fathers

If Kiyosaki’s best-seller had its way
I would be a businessman
Not a preacher
I would have real estate of my own
And not dwell under the tents of my in-laws
I would call the shots
And not be slaving for the Man and the Establishment

My inheritance would shine as gold
My eyes would shun poverty
And I would know the tricks of the trade
The tricks…the trade

Nevertheless, I still have two dads
Neither one a rich nor a poor man
Neither one a sage nor a fool

One fathered three sons
This one gave me a home to grow up in
Free from need
Well fed and well bred

The other fathered two daughters
This one gave me his first-born
His precious pearl to call my bride

Both immigrants
Self-made men, strong, sometimes silent
Sacrificial, almost to a fault

In the land of Buddhas and Confucius
They learned to honor ancestors and avoid shame
They learned the importance of family and saving face
They learned to leave home

In the land of Hippies and Capitalism
They learned to speak
They learned to save
They learned to earn
…and they learned to love

Such love is ours, my bride’s and mine

But they were not our chosen tour guides
On this narrow road we’ve sojourned
To the Cross
Yet sovereign grace and divine mercy
Have taken hold of the steering wheel
Now we are the arrows for them

And a little child shall lead them
And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children
And the hearts of the children to their fathers…or else…

Was this dream of theirs for me - for us -
A curse? The deceiver’s kiss?
False skin and hair? A meal we did not prepare? Leading no where?

Or is this lot that I’ve been given - that we’ve been given - a blessing in disguise?
The angel’s touch? A broken hip?
An altered name?
An altar for God’s fame?

So often it’s been sung
About the faith of our fathers

Where is that faith found?
In our accomplishments and glory?
Achieved by merit and prosperity?
Or is the faith of our fathers
Still unraveling in the story
Penned by the Father and Author
The Perfector of faith
Who erases our former names
Even our own fathers’ names
From history’s log
And scrawls our new names into the Lamb’s book of life
(c) 2008 Pira Tritasavit

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Lessons In Leadership: Fifty Respected Evangelical Leaders Share Their Wisdom About Ministry" ed. Randal Roberts

Current President of Western Seminary Randal Roberts gathered 50 of the "Who's Who?" of Evangelical Christianity in 1999 for "Lessons on Leadership: Fifty Respected Evangelical Leaders Share Their Wisdom About Ministry" a compilation of wit and wisdom. I was assigned this book by Dr. Matthew Lea for a class called "Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential" - yes, a long class title, but an important class nonetheless.

Among the contributors to "Lessons In Leadership" were former Western Seminary presidents Earl Radmacher & Bert Downs, alongside other notables like Walt Kaiser, Moishe Rosen [founder of Jews for Jesus] , Bill Bright [founder of Campus Crusade for Christ], Carl Henry, Gerry Breshears, and Luis Palau.

Of particular interest was the late Moishe Rosen's chapter entitled "Learning That There Is No Such Thing as a Comfortable Cross". On p. 259 he writes: "...spiritual stamina only comes from abiding in Christ and His abiding in us. True cross bearing is not merely enduring the pain and unpleasantness. It is the way to enter into the resurrection joy that all believers can have, even while they are just enduring."

As a student and staff member of Western Seminary, I am particularly thankful for the leadership of Randal Roberts, especially as we strive to live out our seminary's motto of "Gospel-Centered Transformation".

Just wondering: Which 50 leaders might you ask to contribute to a book like this in the year 2010?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beginning a Book Blog

With 8 months left before I graduate from seminary, God-willing, I wanted to start a book review blog to capitalize on the opportunity afforded me through the past 3 years to read, discern, be challenged by, and process ideas by some great and famous authors, as well as many not so famous (and some not so great) authors.

From the very first semester when my Hermeneutics professor at Western Seminary, Dr. Gary Tuck, assigned Mortimer J. Adler's book simply titled "How to Read A Book", I've become a voracious reader, a speed reader, a critical reader, an appreciative reader, a discerning reader, and a skeptical reader. I read for main ideas (big pictures). I read for fun facts (quirky details). I read for pleasure. I read for assignments.

Last night, while at Green Apple Bookstore, I picked up a children's book called "It's a Book" by Lane Smith, a commentary on the various forms of technological communication (texting, instant messaging, blogging, etc.) that have overtaken contemporary readership.

I laughed at the very last line (won't give it away) because it was a reminder that even the simplicity of holding an actual book in your hand, flipping page after page, reading line by line, is such a lost art in today's emailing/blogging/texting/tweeting/posting lifestyle.

Since graduation is on the horizon, I figure it would be a good way to revisit some of the books I've read, and to share quotes, zingers, highlights, and big-picture thoughts that have rocked my world for the Glory of God! Maybe you'll even pick 'em up for yourself along the way and join me in remembering the simple joy of reading actual books again.