keeping an eye on the tree and the forest

Dave's Exegesis is my eclectic site of exegesis on pretty much everything I can think of, whether biblical studies, theology, music, movies, culture, food, drink, sports, or the internet. Free Book: Tim Keller’s Ministries of Mercy


This month’s free book at is Tim Keller’s book Ministries of Mercy: the Call of the Jericho Road (coupon code AUG2010).  Tim Keller is the renowned pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.  Ministries of Mercy is the published edition of Tim’s doctoral dissertation (D.Min.) which he did at Westminster Theological Seminary.  Here is the blurb:

Why would someone risk his safety, destroy his schedule, and become dirty and bloody to help a needy person of another race and social class? And why would Jesus tell us “Go and do likewise”? Like the wounded man on the Jericho road, there are needy people in our path- the widow next door, the family strapped with medical bills, the homeless man outside our place of worship. God call us to be ministers of mercy to people in need of shelter, assistance, medical care, or just friendship.

Other deacon resources from Tim Keller

Deep Church


Jim Belcher was at Gordon College (his alma mater) on Monday from 7-9 PM to talk about his book Deep Church (  I boot-legged the audio from  midway up the lecture hall.  Audio is below.

Here is the blurb:

WENHAM, MA—Jim Belcher graduated from Gordon College in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in political studies. Today, he is an experienced pastor and scholar whose wisdom has been widely recognized through his award-winning book, Deep Church.

Belcher, the founding pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California, will return to campus, Monday, July 19, from 7–9 p.m. for, “A Conversation with Rev. Dr. Jim Belcher.” His talk will take place in the Jenks Library, room 237 with a reception immediately following. Sponsored by the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations, the event will be free and open to the public.

Chosen as one of Christianity Today magazine’s Top 12 Books of 2010, Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional explores the emerging movement in evangelical churches as well as traditional models and offers insights of all sides to forge a third way between the two. Deep Church is a term taken from a letter C.S. Lewis wrote in 1952 to the Church Times to describe the body of believers committed to mere Christianity.

“This book is written for those on the outside who want to understand the debate,” Belcher writes in his book’s introduction. “But this book is also written for . . . those who are attempting to work out their ecclesiology—their theological view of the church, its purpose, structure and goals.”

Belcher, who earned his M.A. from Fuller Seminary and his Ph.D. from Georgetown University, is also the co-founder of the Restoring Community Conference: Integrating Social Interaction, Sacred Space and Beauty in the 21st Century, an annual conference for city officials, planners, builders and architects. He previously led the Twenty-Something Fellowship and co-founded The Warehouse Service at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena. He has been published several articles, and until recently, he and his wife and four children live in Costa Mesa, California. Next year, Belcher and his family will live in Oxford, England, while he researches a new book.

“As an alumnus, Jim has given Christians good help and perspective on understanding and making decisions about their church connection,” said Nancy Mering, director of alumni and parent relations and organizer of the event. “I’m very excited he can speak to folk in the Gordon community and neighborhood. It’s great to have him back.”

Kids before Marriage


For sure, the trend of the last 20 years has been to have children and then think about marriage in the future. With the divorce rate what it is, it’s no wonder. This is a good profile piece on the issue. At the end of the day, to me it seems like marriage is becoming like circumcision – a covenantal idea of the past that people have a hard time justifying for the future. Here is the link:

All Things Considered

Kids First, Marriage Later — If Ever

By Katia Riddle
July 4, 2010 12:00 AM

Federal data from 2007 says 40 percent of births in America are to unwed mothers, a trend experts say is especially common in middle-class America. In one St. Louis community, the notion of getting married and having children — in that order — seems quaint.

For most of their relationship, Nathan Garland and Brianne Zimmerman have marked their anniversary by New Year’s Eve, 2001. They say that was the day they both knew they had found the one.

“It seemed obvious to me the first time we kissed,” Garland says. “Just kind of connected, right then. It really was that obvious.”

They moved in together shortly afterward. They decided to have a baby a few years later, but had no interest in getting married.

“We didn’t feel we were ready for it at that time,” Zimmerman says. “We just thought it was a piece of paper and it wasn’t that big a deal to us. We lived like we were married already. So we split bills and took care of each other.”

Neither of them can exactly articulate why marriage didn’t seem right at the time; they both just say emotionally, they weren’t ready. Although their grandparents dropped a few hints, they didn’t feel pressure to get married.

“Just because you have a child, why do you have to get married, too?” Garland says. “They’re almost two different questions.”

Then came Christmas 2008. Almost eight years after they got together, they say, they were finally ready to answer that second question. Garland wrapped up an engagement ring for Zimmerman and put it under the tree. Christmas morning, he had their son Noah hand her the ring. They were married last October.

Today, the newlyweds are hosting their son’s birthday party at a bowling alley in St. Louis. Garland helps Noah put on his bowling shoes. More than two dozen of his 6-year-old friends and their parents have come. Among these parents, the gap between marriage and family seems normal.

An Overrated Institution?

Colleen Segbers stands with her daughter, Gwen. She confesses that she didn’t mean to get pregnant six years ago.

“It was an afternoon of Budweiser beer and the hot sun,” she laughs. “It happened. It was OK.”

After her daughter was born, Segbers did marry Gwen’s father. She loves her husband, she says, but they didn’t get married because they had a baby together or even because they were in love. They did it so she could have insurance. A friend of theirs got ordained online and married them in his living room.

“We didn’t have a wedding. I don’t have a ring, I don’t have a dress. We just signed the paper and I was like, ‘OK, cool.'”

Although she and her husband and daughter live together, Segbers says she doesn’t really think of herself as married. She thinks marriage as an institution is overrated. But some of these parents say they do believe in marriage.

Once Is Enough

“People who say that they don’t want to get married, I think they’re lying to themselves,” Lexi Campburn says as she chases her son Zane around the bowling alley.

“Everyone wants to, you know, fall in love and have the fairy tale,” she says. “Of course, I want to get married someday. But it has to be the right person, the right time. Everything has to be right.”

Campburn says she didn’t mean to get pregnant when she was 26. She considered marrying Zane’s father, then decided against it. Her reason is echoed by many parents at the party:

“I don’t want to get married and then divorced. I’m only going to do it once,” she says.

Many of these parents are children of divorce — born in the early ’80s when divorce rates peaked. Today, these parents say they’d rather raise a child alone or with multiple partners than risk putting that child through a divorce. In general, divorce rates are at their lowest level in more than 35 years right now.

“If we’re 50 and still together I told her I’d put a ring on her finger,” says Rich Catlet. “But until then, probably not.”

His girlfriend, Melissa Schutte, is pregnant and due in just a few weeks. They’re so adamant about not getting married, they decided to register at City Hall as domestic partners instead. It’s a license that gives them nearly the same legal benefits as being married. It’s a slight difference but a big relief to the couple.

“Marriage is like the big commitment thing,” Catlet says. “Who knows? It’s good right now; it’s great right now. We’ve got a kid we’re going to love for the rest of our lives. So why mess with a good thing?”

Kids Today

Back at the birthday party, Noah tears open his presents. Becky and Brooks Garland, Noah’s grandparents on his father’s side, have been married for 42 years. Becky says young people are hesitant to get married because they expect too much out of marriage and their partners.

“What I see today is too much instant gratification,” she says. “That is, if it doesn’t work immediately then you put it down and go to something else.”

The Garlands agree on another point: They say children aside, marriage is worth it.

“I can’t even imagine not having Becky there,” Brooks says. “I can’t even imagine it.”

The Garlands say they’ve made it through some very rough times — so rough, in fact, that they actually split up for a few years. But Becky says getting back together and sticking it out was the right decision. She says there are tremendous benefits to being married for 42 years.

“I think the biggest thing is not being alone,” she says, “in the sense of having somebody whose mind and soul, I guess, touches yours.”

When the parents at this birthday party get to be Brooks’ and Becky’s age, it’s unlikely they’ll have a story like this. What’s more likely is that they’ll have had a number of serious partners, and possibly some children. And they may have eventually been married.

As to what kind of consequences this new concept of marriage will have for the next generation — a group of children who may grow up with several parental figures instead of just two — Becky says she worries about it. Experts say it’s too soon to say what the effects will be. We’ll have to ask these children in 20 years.

Preaching Christ in All the Scriptures


The July 1st edition of the White Horse Inn features Dennis Johnson and his book Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ in All the Scriptures. Here is the blurb:

If the main focus of a sermon is to preach Christ, what do we do with the book of Proverbs and a host of other Biblical texts that seem to focus on wisdom for life, or our own personal growth in holiness, etc? That’s the focus of this edition of the White Horse Inn as Michael Horton talks with Dennis Johnson about his new book, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ in All the Scriptures.

This is interview is a great primer on what it means to preach/teach a passage in it’s historical-redemptive context. Josh has been focusing on this book and this topic over at his blog as he has been studying with some friends at his church. This book is a bit on the lengthy side for most people, but in it Johnson clearly lays out the issues, options, and methods of historical-redemptive biblical theology. Even if you are on interested in his book, his interview at the White Horse Inn is worth your time.

The only deficiency I observed in the interview was the lack of discussion on the nature of typology and how it should be distinguished from allegory. The book makes up for that lack, however, so I do not hold it against Johnson; the interview was only 25 minutes after all.

Here is the link to the audio.