Someone you need to meet....

At seminary, much like at other institutions of higher learning, some courses stink; some courses are okay; some classes are good; and a very few classes change your life.

I've only had three classes that I would place in the last category without hesitation. The first was a class by Dr. Bill Lawrence called "The Spiritual Life." Basically, the class was an exposition of Romans 5-8, and I'll never be the same. He's now teaching some of the same material with an organization he founded called "Leadership Formation International."

The other two classes were both taught by Dr. Jay Quine. One was "The Gospels," and the other was "Old Testament Prophets." You've heard me talk about him before, but DTS just decided to run a profile of him on their main page. I've copied the text below, but you can find it here too. I particularly love the last paragraph, and the last sentence.

Dr. Jay Quine

Dr. Jay Quine’s purple socks give him away. He is not a typical professor, nor is he a typical lawyer. Born in Washington State, Dr. Quine married at the age of 21 and became a municipal court judge at the age of 24. He was a prosecutor, and is now a pastor, professor, and parent—and the discipline it took to become a lawyer and the faith he came to know personally in college have taught him to persevere through the toughest of trials.

A Rocky Start
After one year of marriage, Dr. Quine and his wife moved to Idaho to be close to the law school in which he was enrolled. “We lived on a wheat farm up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains,” he says. The four-bedroom farmhouse had no television and barely any radio reception. No neighbors were in sight. “So it was just the two of us,” he says. “It was a really wonderful way to start a marriage.”

Twenty-seven years, five states, and two sets of twins later, Dr. Quine and his wife have come a long way from simple wheat farm living. Their twin boys, Preston and Skyler, are nine, and their twin girls, Madison and McKamie, are six. Their days are filled with everything from ballet and swim lessons, to basketball and baseball games.

So much activity, Dr. Quine admits with characteristic honesty, can strain a marriage. “You become more partners in a project than husband and wife. We just don’t get time together. We went to Israel this year as a couple without the kids and had two weeks together. It was just so wonderful to talk with my wife.”

But the joys of children outweigh the hectic schedule. He says his kids also keep him honest. “They will smell a fraud,” he says. “So [being a parent] forces you to be genuine, which is what we all need. You can’t just say you love them; you’ve got to love them. You forgive them. You accept them. You don’t hold grudges. You have to give of yourself all the time.”

One way he gives of himself is to read to his children. “When the boys were six I read through the Old Testament with them every single night. And I read from the New King James. Any question went,” including the inevitable question, “‘What does circumcision mean?’” he says. “Now I’ve decided to read the New Testament with the girls.”

Are You the Waiter?
Honesty is a valuable trait in a judge, but Dr. Quine’s foray into law began so early that no one believed he was one. At 24 he began working as a municipal court judge in Washington. “I was the youngest judge in the state,” he says. “I went to these judge conventions and I looked like the waiter. It was really funny.”

And Dr. Quine’s judicial practices were as unconventional as his age. “Fridays were traffic and small claims court. The people don’t have lawyers, so I’d come out and say, ‘One of you is going to lose and one of you is going to win. I’m not one of these guys who cuts the baby in half. You have ten minutes to see if you can resolve [your problem] without me, or the power of the law comes down on you.’ Then I would leave and come back,” he says. “Eighty percent of the time they would have figured it out.”

Although he loved practicing law and felt he was contributing to society, Dr. Quine was disturbed by a sense that he was “prostituting” his gifts. When the time came for him to petition for superior court judge, he and his wife decided instead to relocate to Dallas. He finished his Th.M. in three and a half years, something he attributes to learning how to read in law school. What are his secrets? “Focus, concentrate, know what to look for, know what to not look for, get past the fluff, zero in on the important stuff, highlight, take notes.”

From Dallas and Back
After taking all those notes Dr. Quine and his wife, moved to Lincoln Park, New Jersey, so that he could work as a singles pastor. Beginning with a small group of 17, it slowly began to grow. Soon, a few single musicians began to attend and with Quine formed a band called Just Three Things. Before they knew it the singles group was steadily increasing in attendance and the band was touring up and down the East Coast. They played venues that varied from spots in Manhattan to the rooftop of Patterson Prison. “It was absolutely incredible work,” Dr. Quine says of working with the singles group and seeing the band take shape. “So many people came to Christ because of it.”

After four years Dr. Quine went to pastor another church in central New Jersey. “They wanted to grow and build, so we started a building project seven months later.” While he was helping the church to expand, Dr. Quine was also expanding his horizons. He began teaching at Philadelphia Biblical University (PBU) and eventually became the chairman of the Bible program. Nearly three years later he was spearheading the effort to create a Master of Divinity program from scratch.

Because of that involvement, he and his wife moved their family to Yardley, Pennsylvania, to be closer to the campus. And because he’s also a pastor at heart, Dr. Quine took over pastoral roles at a little church two blocks from their new home. “We lived this idyllic life,” he says. His children walked to school and to church and could ride their bikes everywhere. The draw to Texas again was all in the timing. With the Master of Divinity program up and running at PBU, Dr. Quine felt led to return to full-time teaching at Dallas Seminary. And although the transition has been as tough as law school, he still says that “everyday is an amazing day in our house.”

And each day he earns the respect of his colleagues such as Dr. Thomas Constable, chair and senior professor of Bible Exposition. “Dr. Quine combines excellent scholarship with many years of effective pastoral and academic experience,” Dr. Constable says. “He understands well how the Scriptures bear on the situations our students and graduates face in ministry.”

He understands because he has been in each situation—whether he’s behind a judge’s bench, a podium, a pulpit, or a dinner table. And in every situation he seems to know what the music group’s name indicated: just three things matter in life—faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13:13). So when he is behind a dinner table with his family, Dr. Quine will occasionally raise his glass to signal the family’s traditional toast: “Jesus is coming back!” they chorus and clink glasses. What does that mean for a father who has worn everything from a judge’s robe to a professor’s purple socks? Well, in the words of one of his children: “It means the mosquitoes won’t sting anymore.”

Farewell to an Old Friend

Well, this morning I said "farewell" to an old friend. No, nobody died. Nobody moved away. Relatives, don't worry... Kari and I are still on good terms. But the separation anxiety I feel today is almost as intense as a death, departure, or divorce.

Yesterday was my last day of Summer vacation, ever.

I thought Summer and me had bid our goodbyes once before, in 2002 when I graduated from Oklahoma State University and moved to Dallas to work full-time while attending Dallas Seminary.

But I became reacquainted with my old friend when we decided to move to Plano last year so that I could serve at Fellowship Bible Church North and ramp-up my class load. I had forgotten how much I missed him.

It's a good thing though. Nine months from now, I'll be a seminary graduate - armed and dangerous. I'll have to work a "real job" at "real hours" for "real money," and summer vacation and I won't be able to be friends any more.

I'm sure gonna miss that guy.

If it wasn't for the sad goodbye to my friend summer vacation, today would be a great day. I love the first day of the fall semester at DTS because the campus is flooded with a new class of first-year students pursuing their dream of a Masters-level education in theology and the Bible. Many of them have stories you wouldn't believe, and are making sacrifices to be here that would give you a lump in your throat.

Too many seminary students lose that dream somewhere around third semester Greek, and it's a shame. Somewhere along the way too many of us learn to argue but forget how to love others. We learn how to be right but forget how to serve. We learn to be accurate but forget how to apply. And we learn how to write but forget how to dream. We begin to serve the god of knowledge above the God of the Bible.

There's hope on the campus today. Today I see a few hundred students with desire, passion, intensity, and a genuine love for Christ who haven't yet learned to forget that seminary can be an unbelievable extension of our worship, if we let it.

Starbucks Sabatoge

Top secret menu items at Starbucks? Sabatoge in the supermarket? Check out this article from the BBC.

This just proves what we've all known for some time: Starbucks is a covert operation run by Satan attempting to bust the budget of millions of pastors who have no place better to meet.

(Thanks to Seth Godin for the link)

Female Sunday School Teacher Fired

Check out this story on CNN. Apparently, the First Baptist Church of Watertown, NY has a little media crisis on their hands.

I've said for a long time that one of these days I'm going to write a book of stories including some of the things I've experienced in ministry in just my short number of years serving full-time as a pastor. I've hesitated to begin the manuscript because nobody would believe it. But the more I read the news, the more I realize there are some pretty crazy things that happen in churches.

To make a long story short, the Watertown FBC sent Mary Lambert a letter in the mail from the pastor's wife telling her she would no longer be allowed to teach her Sunday School class based on 1 Timothy 1:43, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." She's now gone to local and national news sources with her story.

There are so many things wrong with this story that it's not even funny. Here are the top three:

1. The deacons/elders/pastors at this church handled the situation very poorly. Even if the lady is an old bag, you owe her the honor of a face-to-face conversation prior to a letter delivered by the postal carrier. The issue for me isn't the application of 1 Timothy 1:43, but the failure to apply wisdom in their delivery. It's one thing to deliver truth and another thing to do it with love. If the deacons/elders/pastors had elected to have the hard conversation with this lady, and to do it in love, the issue never gets wings.

2. A lot has been said against the pastor and elders in this situation, but this "sweet elderly lady" certainly isn't innocent. Surely after teaching Sunday School for 54 years she ran across a passage or two concerning how to deal with disputes inside the church. 1 Corinthians 6 comes to mind, Matthew 18... In every case, the dispute is to be handled within the church, not in the court of public opinion. When this lady called her local news to gripe, she demonstrated spiritual immaturity that should disqualify her from teaching even if her gender does not.

3. The pastor is also a city council member. That always makes me cringe. For one, I'm not sure how he finds time to shepherd his flock and lead a city at the same time. My golf game would take a serious boost from that type of ministry schedule. Additionally, I'm not sure the best place for clergy is in dictating public polity. I'm all for Christians in secular politics, don't get me wrong, but can't imagine how it would be a great thing for paid clergy to occupy those positions. I'm not worried about his Christianity infiltrating his politics, but have serious doubts about whether or not he would be able to keep his politics out of the pulpit. And that's a problem.

The Church is supposed to be salt and light in the world. That would be a lot easier if we stopped doing stupid things.

Dog Days

This is the most excruciating couple of weeks in the whole summer. It's hot in Texas (I can't remember the last time the high temperature dipped below triple-digits). I also can't remember the last time it rained.

It's a little too early to get excited about the Major League Baseball playoff hunt, and my Texas Rangers are well entrenched in their customary late-summer choke anyway. The countdown clock I've been using to gauge the time until the college football begins is below two weeks now, but watching it is like watching grass grow.

Meanwhile, the majority of the ministries at the church are ramping up toward kickoff but aren't there yet. Summer classes are over, and the Fall Session doesn't begin until the last week of August. Although this is officially my last summer ever as a full-time student, I'm ready to get cranking again.

These are truly the dog days of Summer.

The Type-A voice inside of me hates this time of year. (Admit it - you hear those voices too). I'm a visionary guy who loves to create. I love to strategize, plan, implement, and be active in the development of new things. And I'm addicted to the adrenaline rush that's attached to coming up with a new idea, implementing it, and watching it work. So these two weeks to me are like quitting crack cold-turkey.

But I also find that my Type-A voice doesn't do a very good job of governing my levels of emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Picture him as the cheerleader dressed in red sitting on my left shoulder shoulder screaming, "Go! Go! Go!"

I've got another cheerleader on my left shoulder who doesn't get much attention. She's the cheerleader sitting on my right shoulder screaming, "Rest! Rest! Rest!" I don't listen to her very often because, frankly, her constant nagging gets bothersome. How am I supposed to create, plan, and strategize with all of her screaming on my shoulder?

The Dog Days of summer let the "Rest!" cheerleader have her way. And it's probably a good thing.

I used to have a choir director who had a great philosophy I've tried to adopt. He would constantly tell us, "Let's practice hard now, have our crisis early, and we'll coast into the concert." That's wise advice.

So, I'm thinking of these two weeks as having my "crisis" early. I'm recharging, taking advantage of the chance to read some things I've been wanting to read, and trying to catch up on some of the projects I've been wanting to do.

This way, I get to rest on my own terms. If I listen to the "Go!" cheerleader for too long, I'll end up resting on someone else's terms after I've sacrificed my physical, emotional, or spiritual health, and I don't want to go there.

For today, picture me as the cheerleader on the right. "Rest!" Kick back. Read a good book. Reconnect with your family. Watch the Little League World Series. And have your crisis now. September will be here before we know it.


Quick. What do the JonBenet Ramsay murder and the demise of the Oklahoma University football program have in common?

Stumped? I'll show you.

In case you've been lounging around under a rock for the past few days, you know that a man has confessed to the murder of JonBenet that took place almost exactly ten years ago. Although there are some serious questions as to whether John Mark Karr actually murdered JonBenet, or just needed a way to bust out of Thailand's prison system, the self-professed pedophile is being extradited to the U.S. for further questioning.

Karr's confession included these words "I was with JonBenet when she died. It's very important for me that everyone knows that I love her very much and that her death was a mistake."

Let's shift gears to the other situation, a situation you might not know about, Oklahoma University has been embroiled in a controversy that has seen its start quarterback kicked off the team after receiving thousands of dollars from a car dealership. Rhett Bomar, a star quarterback from Grand Prairie, TX was on the payroll of the car dealership but rarely, if ever, clocked in. While you're not going to see me crying about the demise of Zero-U football, I did find Bomar's press conference following his dismissal from the team extremely interesting. "I'm not a bad kid. I made a mistake and I'm disappointed that it happened that way, because I enjoyed my time at O.U. and I wanted to continue my career there. I made a mistake and I have live with it."

What do the JonBenet Ramsay murder and the demise of the Oklahoma University football program have in common? In both cases, the alleged perpetrators claim the crime was committed by mistake.

Those aren't mistakes. Boneheaded? Yes. But not mistakes.

I made a mistake when I typed "shift" above and missed the "f" with my finger (Thank God for spell check). My sister-in-law made a mistake when she forgot to fill up her car with gas before heading home from our house last week (Now everyone knows, Sara). You make a mistake when you're swinging for a fastball and the pitcher throws a curveball.

Duct taping a six-year-old while you strangle her with a cord is not a mistake. It's premeditated, heinous, first-degree murder.

Taking paychecks from a car dealership where you don't work is not a mistake. It's also premeditated, a violation of known rules, dishonest and selfish.

Somewhere over the past several years, we've lost the ability to call evil what it is. Particularly when we're at fault. We talk about "mistakes," "accidents," "mishaps," and "inadvertent errors," but we've lost the ability to look our evil in the eye and call it what it is. And what suffers as a result?


Think about it: rightly or wrongly, we expect forgiveness for mistakes. That's why we call them mistakes. Mistakes happen. Everyone makes mistakes. This could have happened to anyone. Mistakes deny ownership of the thing that has been done, blaming it instead on chance or bad luck. "I'm not a bad kid," says the former Oklahoma University quarterback."

Wrong Rhett. You are a bad kid. And so am I. And so is everyone else who will read this blog entry. You know what they say, "the first step is admitting you have a problem." And failing to understand that we have the problem - we are the problem - prevents us from understanding the depths of God's grace.

When I think that Christ died for my mistakes/accidents, I'm non-plussed. But to think that He paid for my evil... I don't deserve that.

You Can't Handle the Truth

I had lunch today with Jack Warren, the Executive Pastor at Fellowship. Among other things, his duties include developing and implementing strategy to help the church reach it's goal, and overseeing staff.

Jack's an extremely relational individual, and self-proclaimedly borders on ADD. We have a lot in common.

The topic of conversation was sweet-spots. If you're not familiar with the terminology, picture a golf club. Although you can advance the ball by hitting it anywhere on the club face of your nine-iron, the club was designed to produce maximum effectiveness when hit in a specific place: the sweet spot.

The theory is that all of us have sweet spots as well. We can each do life and ministry a lot of different ways. From a human standpoint we could participate in many activities and "advance the ball." But we've each been designed with a specific gift-mix and certain abilities to allow us to be maximumly effective in certain areas.

My sweet spot seems to be preaching. Jack's is helping staff members and others through the really tough situations in ministry. Often that includes hard conversations and difficult decisions, sometimes in which a staff member needs to be reassigned or terminated. Jack thrives in those situations.

I don't.

How can you be highly relational and still enjoy those conversations? Most of the people I've known in the best who were direct and confident in hard conversations were not the type of people you'd play golf with. But Jack is. And for the life of me I couldn't figure out how he balanced the two.

So I asked him.

What he said is worth repeating. He said, "Chris, when you're highly relational and analytical, you realize that the hard conversations are often the very best way to love a person, and they're almost always best for the overall health of the church. What it comes down to is this: people crave someone who will tell them the truth. I see it as a privilege to be able to be honest with people that I care about, even when that honesty means a little discomfort for me on the front end. If we aren't willing to tell them the truth, who will?"


If you didn't believe it before, here is conclusive evidence that some people will believe absolutely anything.

The First Church of Tiger Woods is up and running. Actually it's been around for several years, but just came across my radar.

Is this a joke? Not really. The self-proclaimed "pastor" of the church has an article on the site called "what is this really all about?" He's serious about his disillusionment with the Christian Church, a disbelief in the Bible, and his agnostic view of God. But if God does exist, Tiger Woods is probably him.

Even if the site contains a large amount of hyperbole, and it does, the sentiment is still sad. Check it out for yourself. Don't miss the comparisons between Jesus and Tiger. And while you're reading the site, consider this: Does the Church bear any responsibility for websites like this? Obviously they're the result of fallen human people behaving as such, but is there something else there?

I'm convinced that if the Church did its job of truly worshipping God for Who He is, the rest of the world would be scared to death to make such off-the-cuff jokes about Him.

Quote Me

"[ours is the age of simulation] For just as shopping malls simulate the great outdoors, replacing sun and trees with fluorescent lights and green plastic "plants," we simulate danger with amusement park rides, friends or enemies with talk-radio hosts, rebellion with torn jeans and black boots, sex with lewd phone conversations, revolution with improved fabric softeners, and freedom with the newest panty liner. We simulate real life by eliminating risk and commitment, and end up mistaking what is real for what is only artificial. We exist, that is, encased in a giant cultural condom.”

- Joey Earl Horstman

Edit: I've received two or three emails from people saying that they don't get the quote. One said, "I think I'm not a deep enough thinker. It could be that I can't get past the panty liners and condoms!"

It could be. It could be that you have to understand the context of the quote. It's in a chapter about the way we as a culture relate to God and others.

The idea is that most people don't know how to relate to others or to God any more because we've grown accustomed to a life of simulation. Nothing's real - everything's virtual reality. We're so used to things being fake that we don't notice when they are. Amusement park rides aren't really dangerous. Neither are talk-show hosts our "buddies." But we call in to their shows and pretend they are. Panty liners don't give girls true freedom, but the commercials on TV advertise that they do.

As a result, we're mixed up, and living lives that are sheltered from reality. We'd rather simulate real relationships with God and others because "real" relations are dangerous. (Hence the condom metaphor).


I just finished a summer class this morning that attempted to present a theology of worship. Much of the required reading for the course was by modern theologians with an ultra-traditional bent towards things. In contrast, the majority of my summer reading has been books by people with an ultra-contemporary bent towards theology and the church.

The experience of reading ultra-traditional theologians back-to-back with ultra-contemporary theologians has been something like taking a cold shower after you run. The initial shock is almost unbearable, but ultimately you even out somewhere in the middle and are thankful for the event once you've recovered from the shock.

I've noticed something about the authors I've been reading that is subtle, but awfully telling about the great divide that exists in theological (and church) circles today.

(As a side note, I realize the terms "traditional" and "contemporary" are loaded to the hilt with baggage, but chose them because they're decidedly less loaded with baggage than the others I could have chosen)

The majority of the authors I've read with a more traditional bent tend to write of the second Person of the Trinity as "Christ." They emphasize the "Life of Christ," the "Words of Christ," and the "Person of Christ" among other things. For the most part, what they say about "Christ" is accurate and biblical.

On the other hand, many of the authors I've read with a more contemporary flavor to their theology tend to emphasize the second Person of the Trinity as "Jesus." They emphasize "Loving Jesus," "Coming to Jesus," and "Believing in Jesus." Like their traditional counterparts, many of the things they say about "Jesus" are accurate and biblical.

What's the difference? Emphasis.

I told you it was subtle.

The term "Christ" typically points to the Deity of the second Person of the Trinity. It is a title that means "anointed," and usually speaks of His exalted state above the Universe as a unique Person of the Godhead.

The name "Jesus" is exactly that: Jesus' name. It's the name the second Person of the Trinity was called by Mary and Joseph when He was born a Man. Most clearly, the name "Jesus" reminds us of Jesus' humanity.

Is it right to call the second Person of the Trinity "Jesus?" Sure. Is it okay to call Him "Christ?" Sure. The writers of Scripture use both.

So what's in a name? More than you might think. The names and titles people use to refer to the second Person of the Trinity are awfully telling. Many of the ultra-traditional theologians emphasize Christ's deity to the detriment of His humanity. As a result, they present a "Christ" who is impersonal, cold, uncaring, and surreal. In contrast, many of the ultra-contemporary theologians emphasize the humanity of "Jesus" to the detriment of His deity. In their books, we find a personal, forgiving, "Jesus-is-my-homeboy" man, but miss His holiness, perfection, and complete sovereignty.

Both extremes are a tragedy. Jesus Christ is 100% God, and 100% man. Talking about Him as anything less is blasphemy and idolatry. It's hard to balance the two. It's impossible to understand the two.

It's a tricky business to accurately picture the Person of Jesus Christ with our words, thoughts, and ideas. But we must take great care to not speak less of Jesus Christ than is true of Him... even in the subtleties.


My boss/mentor/friend Drew Leaver has a post today about the importance of proximity in leadership. It's certainly worth reading.

Back in July, Tony Morgan posted a top-ten list of reasons he was glad his friend Tim Stevens was blogging. I don't have a top ten list for Drew, but his blog is certainly worth checking out. Drew has a way of putting things profoundly and succinctly at the same time and will be a great blogger. I'm excited to be able to point you his way.

Look Ma, I'm Famous!

I'd like to take this moment to thank my mom for not naming me Keisha, Jamal, or Deshawn. If she had, the national weather service wouldn't be able to bestow the honor on me that I'm currently receiving. (At least, that's what one of my state representatives said a few years ago)

As tropical storm "Chris" sets his sights on the Caribbean en route to the United States, my name is being heard on newscasts all over the world. I'd like to thank all the little people who made this honor possible.

People keep telling me that there's no way this storm is actually named after me - after all, there were four kids named "Chris" in my third grade class. If it were named after me, they say, it would be "Chris F.," the name by which everyone from my childhood knew me. Have you ever noticed that in your moment of glory, people seem to line up to shoot you down?

So what am I doing now that I'm famous? Well, mostly sitting by the phone waiting for Pat Robertson to call. The 700 club will surely want to interview me about God's latest display of wrath. That's good, I've got some stuff I want to tell them.

Meanwhile, since today is the first day of the month, I get to start a new book of the Bible on my devotional plan. Last month was Lamentations, and I'm sure glad to move on. Sure, Lamentations was good. There were some good surprises throughout the month - like discovering that the book is about hope more than it is about lamentation.

If you count how many times the book refers to God's promises either directly or indirectly, you see that Jeremiah (I'm assuming he wrote the book) was convinced that even the current situation - as awful as it was - was a reflection of God's faithfulness to His promises. And throughout the book you see hope shining through that God's faithfulness in judgment was evidence that He would be faithful in restoring His people.

But beyond that, Lamentations was a whipping for me. So I'm excited to move on.

If you're taking the devotional plan journey with me, you should know that I'm going to depart from my plan this month. I've had some recent thoughts about the Sermon on the Mount, and am going to spend this month in it instead of going to 1 Peter. I'll get back on track with 1 Kings in September.

That's all for now. Watch for my namesake on television tonight, and stay tuned for updates on exactly when I'll appear on the 700 club. I'm thinking about growing a mullet so I fit in with some of the previous guests.