Saturday, March 29, 2008

5 More Reasons Why I Love Megan

1) She loves to learn new things.

2) She's fun to play games with!

3) She now has a stamp from every National Park and National Monument in the State of Colorado.

4) She's a great mom.

5) Even though she couldn't ski with me this Spring Break (because she's pregnant!), she still likes to go on hikes with me.

I love you, Megan!

More Spring Break Photos

No wonder those Mormons settled in Utah! It's beautiful!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fisher Towers Sunset Hike

Fisher Towers, about an hour before sunset, with the LaSal mountains in the background. The desert brush was green and the breezes were warm. A great hike.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Break Day 1

I wish I had a better wireless connection, because we got some incredible photos today. But things are sketchy here at the Holiday Inn Express in Moab, Utah.

Anyway, after a morning of packing, we left home after lunch and made it to Fisher Towers by sunset. After a hike and a little bouldering we made it to Zax Pizza in Moab by 9pm and the kids were asleep at the hotel just after 10pm.

The pictures are awesome, but the internet connection is not. Maybe in a few days.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Resurrection Egg Hunt

This is my friend Maren. She found a LOT of eggs today at our Resurrection Egg Hunt. What is a "Resurrection Egg Hunt" you say? It's like an Easter Egg Hunt, only better. In addition to over 150 candy-filled eggs, we also had 12 special numbered eggs hidden in the park. Each of these numbered eggs contained a special item that helps us tell the Easter story about Jesus to little kids. One included silver coins (because Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver). One included a strip of linen cloth (because Jesus' body was wrapped in a linen cloth and laid in the tomb). You get the idea. Lots of fun.
Note my egg-hiding skills.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Baptist Hymnal Favorites

Lifeway recently released the list of songs to be included in the new 2008 Baptist Hymnal.

(They publish a new hymnal about ever 15 years or so.)

My top 10 favorites are:

Agnus Dei
And Can it Be (preferably with Indelible Grace's latest retuning)
Be Thou My Vision
God Moves in a Mysterious Way
Grace Greater Than Our Sin (This is perhaps my very favorite.)
How Deep the Father's Love for Us
It is Well with My Soul
Speak, O Lord
To God Be the Glory (with Andre Crouse leading it, of course)
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Songs on my "What where they thinking?" list include:
O Canada!
The Star Spangled Banner
My Country, 'Tis of Thee
In the Garden
In This Very Room
I've Got Peace Like a River
Morning Has Broken (Am I the only one to think of Cat Stevens on this one?)

I can't imagine an occasion to sing songs on this second list in Christian worship gatherings. But there are hundreds of other great songs and hymns included in the new Baptist Hymnal. I look forward to singing many of these 674 songs in worship to our great God. Thanks to all those who wrote the songs and to all those who helped compile this new Hymnal. It is a fine gift to the Lord's church.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Book Review: Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Now this is a man versus nature story.  Bear Grylls' Man v. Wild on the Discovery Channel is pathetic by comparison. (We all know that the safety crew is there, just beyond the field of view of the cameras.)

In 1959, Alfred Lansing wrote this well researched account of Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated attempt to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent.  Shortly after departing South Georgia Island in December 1914, the Endurance found itself stuck fast in pack ice, due to a freak summer storm.  For the next 11 months, Shackleton and his men lived on the ice-bound ship, until it was finally crushed by the pressure of moving pack ice.  
Shackleton and his men then survived by camping on ice floes for more than 5 months, killing seals for food and fuel, until the ice floes they were camping on split and melted.  Tenaciously clinging to life and hope, they navigated through icebergs and stormy seas until they reached Elephant Island.  There 22 men were marooned while Shackleton and a small crew attempted to sail across the deadly Drake Passage back to South Georgia Island in a 22 foot life boat named the James Caird.  And this is where the story starts getting good! Amazingly, none of the men aboard the Endurance perish during their long ordeal.

I am astonished and inspired by this true story of human endurance.  Sometimes I get tired in my ministry and I get tempted to slow down or quit.  Shackleton's example of leadership and endurance is one that I want to follow.  

Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, New York: Carroll & Graf (1959), 282 pages, paperback.

Pray for Snow!

My girls are going to be disappointed when they wake up this morning.  It was snowing when they went to bed, and the weatherman said it would likely snow all night, with a total of 5-10 inches by morning.  But now there is only about an inch of snow in my yard.  And what little snow we do have is only on the grass.  They say more snow is on the way this morning.  Pray for snow!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Favorite Verses from Isaiah 46-52

Later this morning I will be preaching at Christchurch. My sermon text is Isaiah 46-52. Here are a few of my favorite verses in this long passage.

Speaking of Jesus and his body, the church, God says through the prophet Isaiah that "It is too small a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation my reach to the end of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6 ESV)

Speaking comfort to his sometimes doubting people through the prophet Isaiah, the LORD says: "Behold, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands." (Isaiah 49:16 ESV)

"Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them up like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations." (Isaiah 51:7-8 ESV)

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news..." (Isaiah 52:7 ESV)

"The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." (Isaiah 52:10 ESV)

"...for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard." (Isaiah 52:12 ESV)

Have a great Lord's Day!

Friday, March 14, 2008

2 US Skiers are World Cup Skiing Overall Champs!

Congratulations to Lindsey Vonn & Bode Miller for winning the overall alpine skiing championship this year. Visit

Book Review: Archaeology & the New Testament

Bible students who want to know more about the backgrounds of the New Testament will find John McRay's Archaeology & the New Testament to be a great reference. This book gives readers a broad and accessible survey of cities mentioned in the New Testament and the archaeological digs in those sites. Even though literary sources provide the most detailed information about culture and daily life in the 1st century, archaeological sources also provide material evidence that Bible students can correlate with the literary sources.

Here are a number of items that will affect my understanding of the New Testament.

1. The discovery of a Latin inscription referencing Pontius Pilate in the steps of the theater in Caesaria Maritima has strengthened my confidence in the historical reliability of the New Testament’s record of Pilate being procurator during the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.

2. McRay’s argument for Khirbet Kana being the site of Jesus ministry & miracles recorded in John 2 (rather than Kefr Kenna) has increased my awareness of my need for careful research when teaching others the historical and geographical context of the New Testament (as well as to be careful about what tour guides I might hire if ever I visit Israel).

3. The chapters on Jesus life and ministry, which discuss both the burial tomb of Jesus and the Shroud of Turin has reminded me how easily the line between exegetical historical study of New Testament backgrounds can be crossed and quickly turn into the improper adoration of religious relics.

4. The background study of Antioch has increased my awareness of the importance of the early church in that city. “...with the exception of Jerusalem, Antioch in Syria played a larger part in the life and fortunes of the early Church than any other single city of the Greco-Roman Empire.”

5. The archeological evidence for the self-financed rebuilding of Laodicea after the earthquake in A.D. 60 helps me to understand the context of Revealtion 3:17 better. “Such a proud, self-sufficient attitude is indicated in the Book of Revelation, where the Laodicean church is depicted as saying, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’” (McRay, p246)

6. Again my confidence in the historicity of the New Testament has grown through the background study of inscriptions at Thessalonica that prove the rule of politarchs there. “Critics of the New Testament asserted for many years that Luke was mistaken in his use of the term ‘politarchs’ for the officials of Thessalonica before whom Paul was taken (Acts 17:6). An inscription using this term, however, was found on the Vardar Arch at the west end of the modern Odos Egnatia Street (once known as Vardar Street). The first-century A.D. arch was torn down in 1867 to be used in the repair of the city’s walls. The inscription from the arch, which was subsequently found and is now in the British Museum, begins ‘In the time of the Politarchs...’” (McRay, 295)

John McRay, Archaeology & the New Testament, 1991, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 432 pages, paperback.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Click here to be taken to

"Baptist Creation Care" aka Genesis 1:28-30

This morning I signed my name to a Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative. Read it and you'll see that the declaration stops short of giving specific directions to SBC Christians as to how we should now act on these issues. I think the following short list outlines a minimal number of prudent actions Denver/Boulder-Area Christians should now take:
  1. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as much as you can.
  2. Take steps to reduce home energy use (turn off lights & appliances, get a programmable thermostat, purchase high-efficiency furnaces, water heaters, etc.)
  3. Combine car trips to reduce how much driving you do.
  4. Walk, Bike, & use public transportation when possible.
  5. Keep studying the issues and talking about them with your Christian friends.
There may be other steps we need to take to act morally and obey God's cultural mandate in Genesis 1:28-30. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Book Review: Backgrounds of Early Christianity

This will be a short review of a long book.

In over 682 pages, Everett Ferguson goes a long way toward his stated purpose of illuminating the historical setting of the 1st century in as many of its ramifications as feasible so as better to understand the real world in which people lived in the days of Jesus and the apostles. And he makes it readable too. Ferguson surveys political history, society & culture, Hellenistic (Greek) & Roman religions, Hellenistic & Roman Philosophies, Judaism, and many references to early Christianity found in literary evidence outside the Bible and in archaeology.

Here are 6 items from Ferguson's work that will affect my understanding of the New Testament:

1. My teaching on the kingdom has been affected by gaining a more thorough knowledge of the political context of the Gospels and its use of words such as “King of the Jews”. As I more accurately understand the political overtones of such words, I hope to more accurately teach these texts to people today.

2. A more detailed understanding of the Roman practice of adoption has strengthened my understanding of the New Testament doctrine of adoption. It also leads me to connect my teaching on adoption in passages like Galatians 4:1-7 with the broader New Testament doctrine of the lordship of Christ.

3. Greater awareness of Plato’s philosophical emphases (such as nonmaterial reality, a deathless soul distinct from the body, the idea of cosmic religion, and a just society) has impacted the way I evaluate the biblical faithfulness of American Evangelical Popular Religion, which has too often uncritically accepted much extra-biblical philosophy.

4. I was surprised to learn that the biblical injunctions concerning the units of society (Eph. 5:21-6:9; Col. 3:18-4:1; I Pet 2:13-3:7; etc.) show Stoic influence in both form and content. That Paul was familiar with philosophical, especially Stoic, idioms and assumptions and used these to express his own arguments has motivated me to deepen my understanding of Stoic philosophy as I seek to interpret and apply and teach passages like Romans 1-2 and Acts 17.

5. The historical background of synagogue worship, with its emphasis on hearing the Word of God, has strengthened my conviction that reformed worship, with its emphasis on the centrality of preaching, is the way God wants His gathered people to worship Him under the New Covenant.

6. The significance of the Gallio inscription for dating the life and ministry of Paul in Corinth in early A.D. 50 has awakened me to the importance of archaeology for background studies in the New Testament.

Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 3rd edition, 2003, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 682 pages, paperback.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

History of Hymns

St. Ambrose, Jan Hus, Martin Luther, Isaac Watts, Anne Steele, Charles Wesley, Augustus Toplady, Joseph Hart, John Newton, William Cowper, Horatius Bonar, Charlotte Elliott, George Matheson, Charles Albert Tindley and so many others...

These hymn writers have given a great gift to God's people in both songs and devotional poetry. Today, I'm enjoying learning from Rev. Kevin Twit, RUF campus minister at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a leader of indelible grace music.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Four Words Artistically Portrayed

When I spoke during my grandma's funeral earlier this week, I summarized the Biblical storyline in 4 words: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation. Think of the story of the Bible as a great play with 4 acts. In God's world today, we still experience echoes of the goodness of creation from Act 1. But the fall in Act 2 explains why our world is now not they way it was supposed to be. We now find ourselves in Act 3, the historical age of Jesus' redemption. And we wait for Act 4 to begin, the great reunion of God with his people in a new heavens and new earth, especially when we go to funerals.

Here is another way to illustrate these four words that help us make sense of the world we find ourselves in. Thanks to Jason Mirikitani for forwarding me this artistic portrayal of the Biblical storyline earlier today.
This work of art is called God's Story. The artist's name is David Arms.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Dude, wanna buy an iPod?

Leave it to a CU Freshman to steal $30,000 in electronics from the campus bookstore and try to get away with it.

I imagine a conversation may have gone like this...

Gullible Freshman #1: "Dude, where did you get all this stuff?"
Brandon Michael Reuter: "Dude, like my uncle's a rep for Apple."

This does not help maintain Boulder's reputation of being the smartest city in the US.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Snow in St. Louis

My grandma's funeral was yesterday. It was good to worship God, honor her life and reconnect with so many aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins. I delivered my first funeral sermon from John 13-14 and I Corinthians 15:50-56. We enjoyed dinner at my folks house last night, and then we stayed at Meg's folks place. Today, we attempted to visit some of our favorite museums in St. Louis, but IT SNOWED! We were only able to make brief stops at the St. Louis Art Museum and Washington University (our undergraduate alma mater). The girls are at the airport now, waiting for their flight back to St. Louis. I'm back to studying now, trying to catch up for my class tomorrow. I'm excited about my studies here this week, but part of me would rather be sledding, like this kid.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Grandma Kelly's Funeral

Tomorrow I preach my first funeral sermon and give my first eulogy. My grandma, Virginia Kelly, died on Wednesday night. She was 96 years old and had 8 kids. Those 8 kids all had kids. And all those kids had more kids. And even some of those kids had kids. Please pray for me and my relatives as we grieve and as we reconnect tomorrow. Pray also for God to give my non-believing relatives a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). Pray for me to as I tell the story of God's redemption through Jesus and of the hope of the resurrection during the funeral tomorrow.