Monthly Archives: June 2013



Like many I guess, I came to appreciate poetry as an adult.  As this blog develops, I plan to share many of my favorite lines of poetry.

Since I benefit greatly from analogies and illustrations, perhaps the following will help you when it comes to the value of poetry:

Most everyone I know loves turkey stuffing.  And it seems there is never enough.  Good cooks know how to jam as much of the tasty concoction as is possible into a very small space.

Good poetry is like turkey stuffing.  It compresses language to create something tasty intellectually. With few words, a good poet can create big, explosive, wonderful, and yes, even delicious ideas. Ideas that spark the imagination, stimulate the love of virtue, transport us to new worlds, and so much more.

One last thing before you pick up that dusty volume of poetry: read slowly!  Poetry should not be sped read anymore than you should wolf down great stuffing.



Before I started blogging, I made up my mind about certain practices I would try to keep.   I was an avid reader of various blogs for several years, but noticed a few patterns of some writers.  One deals with valid criticisms readers raise.  It bothers me to see a thoughtful push back of an author’s post and no response.  The following is an actual exchange I had with a blogger over this very practice:

Me: I regularly read your blog and gain much from doing so.

One question and this seems to be pervasive in the blogosphere: When one writes or posts a criticism of someone (as in your case with X) it seems incumbent upon the poster to be ready to interact with readers.  I speak from some experience.  Scot McKnight posted some of my Patheos work [e.g. “An Open Letter to Karl Giberson”], so I made myself available to interact with folks.  There were 100+ comments so I interacted with any comments directed my way.  Even though you are directing folks to someone else’s critique, your post by the critic of X makes it evident you agree with his take.

All this leads to me wondering why you are not interacting with your own readers and their legitimate push backs?

Best, Dave

His Response: I don’t necessarily agree. There are some blogs that don’t allow comments at all, so it’s certainly not a necessity. I do try to be available to comment at times, but other times I just have too much going on to dedicate that kind of time.

At this point I’m glad to just point people to [the critic’s] writing as I think it nicely summarizes each of my concerns.

My Response to His Response: Please bear with me…

I will invoke the ghost of Schaeffer on this one: isness does not equal oughtness.  Yes, lots of blogs do all sorts of things, but that is not much of an argument, is it?

The time issue is certainly understandable, but it seems there is a Christian priority to make space when one invites comment which your blog does.  Rerouting folks to the [critic’s] is of course perfectly fine, but neither one of you has answered the important question of whether you are in disagreement with other important leaders.


No response




He is a major character in five chapters of one of the most important books of the Bible: Exodus.

Bezalel and his buddy Oholiab had funny sounding names, but they have much to teach us.

In fact, Bezalel was not only skilled with his hands, but also called to train others (Ex. 35:34).  Talk about the dignity of all work!

R. Paul Stevens mentions in his fine book, The Other Six Days, how the clearest and earliest example of the Holy Spirit falling on someone in the Old Testament is Bezalel (Ex. 31:3).  And he was neither prophet nor priest.  He was a craftsman, skilled and creative so he could make beautiful things…for God!

And here is a shocker.  I dug a bit and found out that the Babylonian Talmud (third to fifth centuries AD) asks how old Bezalel was when called by God to build the tabernacle:

Now, how old was Bezalel when he made the Tabernacle? Thirteen years, for it is written… (Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin 69b)



Unitarian minister, Marilyn Sewell asked renowned atheist, Christopher Hitchens the following question:

Sewell: The religion you cite in your book [god is not Great] is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make any (sic) distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

Hitchens: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

(Posted on, Dec. 17, 2009)

What is fascinating is that Christian scholar, J. Gresham Machen, and Christopher Hitchens agree on this very point.  In his brilliant and beautifully written book, Christianity and Liberalism, Machen said “liberal Christianity” was a contradiction in terms.



What truly makes someone a Calvinist surprised me so it may surprise you.  

Stay tuned for my essay: “Coming Clean…I guess I am not a Calvinist after all.”  

Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog will be posting it.







I recently finished Ravished by Beauty: The Surprising Legacy of Reformed Spirituality.  Belden Lane has written a wonderful book which I include in a piece soon to appear on Scot McKnight’s blog, Jesus Creed.

Lane makes the point that John Calvin wrote commentaries on most books of the Bible, yet steered clear of Revelation.  On the other side of the ledger, Jonathan Edwards did not really write Bible commentaries, but he wrote a lot on the book of Revelation.  It is interesting to note the difference among these two stalwarts of the Reformed faith.

So how about you?  Do you think there ought to be more or less teaching on the book of Revelation?  


J.R. Vasser is the founding pastor of Apostles Church in New York City.  God has used J.R.’s leadership to be a blessing to many.

This past Sunday Vasser mentioned he was leaving Apostles.  Not because of immorality.  Not because of some other ministry.  Not because he is discouraged. 

So why is Pastor Vasser leaving?  He is leaving for his family’s emotional and spiritual well-being.  Read his resignation letter and pray for more men like him!