1 Paul,a slave of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect  and the knowledge of the truth that leads  to godliness,  2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,  3 and has in His own time revealed His message  in the proclamation that I was entrusted with by the command  of God our Savior:

4 To Titus,  my true child  in our common faith.

Titus 1:1-4

Dear Sam, Ben and Tyler,

I want to write you and let you know that I am not perfect. I think it is important for you to know that upfront. I am your Dad and sometimes you can only see the sides of me that I want you to see. But I am not the man I always seem to be. Sometimes when I look the most together, I am actually falling apart inside. Other times when I appear calm on the exterior, fear and shame are gripping coldly to my soul.

I want to write you and let you know that I am not perfect. I can not sing, I can not speak eloquently, I most likely will never hold an important office, I will not be rich and famous, I can not play basketball, softball or baseball as good as the other dads do. I am not the athlete type. I do not always work with enthusiam and at times I am downright lazy and wallow in procrastination. My brain can be scattered in one hundred directions or so finely focused that I forget the other things in my life.

I want to write you and let you know that I am not perfect. This may seem like a weird thing to say. No one likes to admit their weaknesses, especially to their own children. Just like any other Dad, I want to be your hero. I want to be the guy that you can count on and that you always know will be there for you no matter what. I want you to know that my love is unconditional and flawless for you. I want you to see home as the place that love becomes a reality and fear, failure and regrets are left on the front doormat along with the mud from your shoes.

I want to write you and let you know that I am not perfect. And even though I am not perfect, I know the One who is. He is my heavenly father. All my faults find perfection in him. My weaknesses show His strength. My stubborness shows His patience. My tiredness shows His strength and power. My frustrations shows His perfect plans. My damaging actions show His healing responses.

So I want you to know up front that I am not perfect and never will be. I want you to know that I am a mere reflection of the heavenly Father. I am here to be your guide and mentor but ultimately He is the one who will best call you child, son or daughter. You are His, just as I am. It pains me somewhat to say that. To come to the realization that you belong more to Him than to me. Yet you are His.

Dear Sam, Ben and Tyler know that my prayers for you are groanings to Him. He hears them and will answer them according to His will. I pray day and night for you and I realize that between all the things we have going on, life can get in the way sometimes. Know that I love you and cherish you more than the breath that enters my lungs and blood that pumps through my veins. May He take you and mold you. May His plan always trump yours and may your heart always be more in line with His than with any other man, woman or thing.

I love you and I am proud of you…

Love, Dad


I saw a strange sight. I stumbled upon a story most strange, like nothing my life, my street sense, my sly tongue had ever prepared me for. Hush, child. Hush, now and I will tell it to you. Even before the dawn one Friday morning I noticed a young man, handsome and strong, walking the alleys of our City. He was pulling an old cart-filled with clothes both bright and new, and he was calling in a clear, tenor voice: “Rags” (Ah, the air was foul and the first light filthy to-be crossed by such sweet music.) “Rags! New rags for old! I take your tired rags! Rags! “Now, this is a wonder, “I thought to myself, for the man stood six-foot-four, and his arms were like tree limbs, hard and muscular, and his eyes flashed intelligence. Could he find no better job that this, to be a ragman in the inner city? I followed him. My curiosity drove me. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Soon the Ragman saw a woman sitting on her back porch. She was sobbing into a handkerchief, sighing, and shedding a thousand tears. Her knees and elbows made a sad x. Her shoulders shook. Her heart was breaking. The Ragman stopped his cart. quietly, he walked to the woman, stepping round tin cans, dead toys, and Pampers. “Give me your rag.”he said so gently, “and I’ll give you another.” He slipped the handkerchief from her eyes. She looked up, and he laid across her palm a linen cloth so clean and new that it shined. She blinked from the gift to the giver. Then, as he began to pull his cart again, the Ragman did a strange thing, he put her stained hankerchief to his own face, and then HE began to weep, to sob as grievously as she had done, his shoulders shaking. Yet she was left without a tear. “This IS a wonder, “I breathed to myself, and I followed the sobbing Ragman like a child who cannot turn away from mystery.

“Rags! Rags! New rags for old!” In a little while, when the sky showed grey behind the rooftops and I could see the shredded curtains hanging out black windows. The Ragman came upon a girl whose whose head was wrapped in a bandage, whose eyes were empty. Blood soaked her bandage. A single line of blood ran down her cheek. Now the tall Ragman looked upon this child with pity, and he drew a lovely yellow bonnet from his cart. “Give me your rag,” he said, tracing his own line on her cheek, “and I’ll give you mine.” The child could only gaze at him while he loosened the bandage, removed it, and tied it to his own head. The bonnet he set on hers. And I gasped at what I saw: for with the bandage went the wound! Against his brow it ran a darker, more substantial blood – his own!

“Rags! Rags! I take old rags!” cried the sobbing, bleeding, strong, intelligent Ragman. The sun hurt both the sky, now, and my eyes, the Ragman seemed more and more to hurry. “Are you going to work?” he asked a man who leaned against a telephone pole. The man shook his head, the Ragman pressed him, “Do you have a job?” “Are you crazy?” sneered the other. He pulled away from the pole, revealing the right sleeve of his jacket – flat, the cuff stuffed into the pocket. He had no arm. “So,” said the Ragman. “Give me your jacket, and I’ll give you mine.” Such quiet authority in his voice! The one-armed man took off his jacket. So did the Ragman and I trembled at what I saw: for the Ragman’s arm stayed in its sleeve, and when the other put it on he had two good arms, thick as tree limbs, but the Ragman had only one. “Go to work,” he said.

After that he found a drunk, lying unconscious beneath an army blanket, an old man, hunched, wizened and sick. He took that blanket and wrapped it round himsef, but for the drunk he left new clothes. And now I had to run to keep up with the Ragman. Though he was weeping uncontrollably, and bleeding freely at the forehead, pulling his cart with one arm, stumbling for drunkenness, falling again and again, exhausted, old, old, and sick, yet he went with terrible speed.

On spider’s legs he skittered through the alleys of the City, this mile and the next, until he came to its limits, and then he rushed beyond. I wept to see the change in this man, I hurt to see his sorrow. And yet I needed to see where he was going in such haste, perhaps to know what drove him so.

The little old Ragman – he came to a landfill. He came to the garbage pits. And then I wanted to help him in what he did, but I hung back, hiding. He climbed a hill with tormented labor he cleared a little space on that hill. Then he sighed. He lay down. He pillowed his head on a handkerchief and a jacket. He covered his bones with an army blanket. And he died. Oh, how I cried to witness that death! I slumped in a junked car and wailed and mourned as one who-has-no-hope- because I had come to love the Ragman. Every other face had faded in the wonder of this man, but he died. I sobbed myself to sleep. I did not know – how could I know? that I slept through Friday night and Saturday and its night, too. But then, on Sunday morning, I was wakened by a violence.

Light – pure, hard, demanding light – slammed against my sour face, and I blinked, and I looked, and I saw the last and the first wonder of all. There was the Ragman, folding the blanket most carefully, a scar on his forehead, but alive! And, besides that, healthy! There was no sign of sorrow nor of age, and all the rags that he had gathered shined for cleanliness. Well, then I lowered my head and trembling for all that I had seen, I myself walked up to the Ragman. I told him my name with shame, for I was a sorry figure next to him.

Then I took off all my clothes in that place, and I said to him with dear yearning in my voice: “Dress me, LORD”. HE dressed me. My LORD, HE put new rags on me, and now I to, follow HIM.

The Ragman, the Ragman,


by Walter Wangerin,Jr.

My son, Ben, stutters. Not all the time but enough to where it is noticeable and affects his speech when he is trying to get something out. He stutters mainly over the letter ” I “. I can not think of a greater grace than this.

It is funny how God can disguise blessings in things that bring us pain and hurt feelings. I have seen others make fun of him when he stutters and had him stare at me embarrassed because of it. Being his Dad, I suffer in his stuttering as much as he does. I have often wished I could stutter just a little to make him feel better.

As bad as the stuttering may be at times, I am amazed that God did not cause his stuttering to affect all his speech just mainly the letter “I”. It is as though God has caused Ben to stutter over himself. He has made Ben have to slow down and think about himself whenever he gets the chance to talk to others about who he is.

I think that would not be such a bad thing for all of us to stutter over. Maybe God should afflict all people, especially His children, with a stutter when it comes to themselves. Maybe the stutter would make us more aware of our incessant need to talk about ourselves. Maybe we would begin to see how many times we make the conversation about us, instead of others. Maybe we would see how much we relate everything back to our own lives, when those around us are suffering so loudly. But most of us don’t stutter. We have no problem talking about ourselves, boasting over who we are, talking about what we have done. All the while lips and mouth that are to drip God’s message like honey (Ps 51:15), end up spewing it out so that we can speak more about ourselves.

I pray God will be gracious and make me stutter over myself and trip me up everytime I place my life over His or others. I pray that my life will be marked uncommon, because I chose to live for someone other than myself. I pray that God will be gracious enough to make me stutter.

I saw this post and had to reprint it here for those that actually read this blog. Being in seminary, I often find myself slipping into a few dozen or so of these habits every day. Thanks to Derek  for bringing me back to center on my need to not waste my education.

How to Waste Your Theological Education

Posted on May 14, 2008 by Derek

1. Cultivate pride by writing only to impress your professors instead of writing to better understand and more clearly communicate truth.

2. Perfect the fine art of corner-cutting by not really researching for a paper but instead writing your uneducated and unsubstantiated opinions and filling them in with strategically placed footnotes.

3. Mistake the amount of education you receive with the actual knowledge you obtain. Keep telling yourself, “I’ll really start learning this stuff when I do my Th.M or my Ph.D.”

4. Nurture an attitude of superiority, competition, and condescension toward fellow seminary students. Secretly speak ill of them with friends and with your spouse.

5. Regularly question the wisdom and competency of your professors. Find ways to disrespect your professors by questioning them publicly in class and by trying to make them look foolish.

6. Neglect personal worship, Bible reading and prayer.

7. Don’t evangelize your neighbors.

8. Practice misquoting and misrepresenting positions and ideas you don’t agree with. Be lazy and don’t attempt to understand opposing views; instead, nurse your prejudices and exalt your opinions by superficial reading and listening.

9. Give your opinion as often as possible – especially in class. Ask questions that show off your knowledge instead of questions that demonstrate a genuine inquiry.

10. Speak of heretical movements, teachers, and doctrine with an air of disdain and levity.

11. Find better things to do than serve in your local church.

12. Fill your life with questionable movies, television, internet, and music.

13. Set aside fellowship and accountability with fellow brothers in Christ.

14. Let your study of divine things become dull, boring, lifeless, and mundane.

15. Chip away at your integrity by signing your school’s covenant and then breaking it under the delusion that, “Those rules are legalistic anyway.”

16. Don’t read to learn; read only to refute what you believe is wrong.

17. Convince yourself that you already know all this stuff.

18. Just study. Don’t exercise, spend time with your family, or work.

19. Save major papers for the last possible moment so that you can ensure that you don’t really learn anything by writing them.

20. Don’t waste your time forming friendships with your professors and those older and wiser than you.

21. Make the mistake of thinking that your education guarantees your success in ministry.

22. Don’t study devotionally. You’ll never make it as a big time scholar if you do that. Scholars need to be cool, detached, and unbiased – certainly not Jesus freaks.

23. Day dream about future opportunities to the point that you get nothing out of your current opportunity to learn God’s Word.

24. Do other things while in class instead of listening – like homework, scheduling, letter-writing, and email.

25. Spend more time blogging than studying.

26. Avoid chapel and other opportunities for corporate worship.

27. Argue angrily with those who don’t see things your way. Whatever you do, don’t read and meditate on II Timothy 2:24-26 and James 3:13-18 as you prepare for ministry.

28. Set your hopes on an easy, cushy pastorate for when you graduate. Determine now not to obey God when he calls you to serve in a difficult church.

29. Look forward to the day when you won’t have to concern yourself with all this theology and when you will be able to just “preach Jesus.”

30. Forget that your primary responsibility is care for your family through provision, shepherding, and leadership.

31. Master Calvin, Owen, and Edwards, but not the Law, Prophets, and Apostles.

32. Gain knowledge in order to merely teach others. Don’t expend the effort it takes to deal with your own heart.

33. Pick apart your pastor’s sermons every week. Only point out his mistakes and his poor theological reasoning so you don’t have to be convicted by anything he says.

34. Protect yourself from real fellowship by only talking about theology and never about your personal spiritual issues, sin, and struggles.

35. Comfort yourself with the delusion that you will start seriously dealing with sin as soon as you become a pastor; right now it’s not really that big a deal.

36. Don’t serve the poor, visit the sick, or care for widows and orphans – save that stuff for the uneducated, non-seminary trained, lay Christians.

37. Keep telling yourself that you want to preach, but don’t ever seek opportunities to preach, especially at local rescue missions and nursing homes. Wait until your church candidacy to preach your first sermon.

38. Let envy keep you from profiting from sermons preached by fellow students.

39. Resent behind-the-scenes, unrecognized service. Only serve in areas where you are sure you will receive praise and accolades.

40. Appear spiritual and knowledgeable at all costs. Don’t let others see your imperfections and ignorance, even if it means you have to lie.

41. Love books and theology and ministry more than the Lord Jesus Christ.

42. Let your passion for the gospel be replaced by passion for complex doctrinal speculation.

43. Become angry, resentful and devastated when you receive something less than an A.

44. Let your excitement for ministry increase or decrease in direct proportion to the accolades or criticisms you receive from your professors.

45. Don’t really try to learn the languages – let Bible Works do all the work for you.

Not really a life changing post here, just wanted to tell about a steal I got on an ESV bible yesterday. I was at Mardel’s (Christian Booksupplies store) and cruising the bargain bin when what do my wandering eyes peruse upon but an ESV Black Genuine Leather Wide Margin Reference Bible. Of Course, I thought “oh on sale, it will still be like $50 bucks”. So, I pick it up and it has a blue sticker on it which means ….(drum roll)…$15.00!!!

That’s right this Bible that normally resales for $70, I got for $15.00! I rejoiced with great rejoicing at finding such a great deal.

You cannot be Christ’s servant if you are not willing to follow him, cross and all. What do you crave? A crown? Then it must be a crown of thorns if you are to be like him. Do you want to be lifted up? So you shall, but it will be upon a cross.

All the flowers of the field, and many of the beasts of the plain, and now the very orbs of heaven, are turned into metaphors and symbols by which the glory of Jesus may be manifested to us. Where God takes such pains to teach, we ought to be at pains to learn.

He cannot be a disciple who does not learn, but invents.

Conversion , to me, simply involves the turning from one way to another. In general terms this could mean within my mundane, everyday life. For example, changing my mind on whether I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches one day and then simply appalling them the next. In effect, I have had a conversion of thought and belief on my stance of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What I used to like, now no longer has any meaning to me and is actually something I do not want in my life at all.

In regards to my faith, conversion may follow the same line of thinking. Conversion is the process whereby I exchange my own ideas of living for those of God’s. In a sense, one could say conversion involves a change of appetite to what one desires to feed the soul on.

Conversion for me also involves the idea of reform. When I converted to Christianity, I instantly experienced the grace of God and received salvation. However, the process of being fully converted to Christian beliefs and practices was not fully ripe. I had growing to do “in Christ” and “with Christ”.  This growing or coming to fruition in Christ is the reform/reformation part of conversion. It is during this conversion phase that Christians begin and cultivate the spiritual life. Henri Nouwen says that “Such a conversion may be marked by a sudden inner change, or it can take place through a long, quiet process of transformation.” The important message of that statement by Nouwen is that a reformation of the mind, heart and soul is a key factor or indicator in conversion. While one person may do this instantly and dramatically, for others (like myself), it is something that must be molded and shaped and grafted into us by God Himself.

So, for me conversion is both instantaneous and progressively reformational. It is instantaneous at the moment of salvation. In that one decision, we decide to throw off the old self and become a new man in Christ. It is progressively reformational in the fact that when we become that new man, we must relearn who we are. This is done in the cultivation and renewing of the spiritual life.

I am a follower of Tony Reinke’s blog, Miscellanies. Reinke is CJ Mahaney’s assistant and fellow traveler along the journey of faith. His site is very edifying not only in content but also in the fact that he is just a regular guy like you and me trying to live out his faith in the most genuine and God glorifying way.

I ran across one post of his from April 19, 2007 where he speaks about Mark Dever’s yearly reading schedule. Dever has termed it his “Canon of Theologians”. Basically these are the theologians he reads throughout the year. Each month he reads someone different and then repeats the cycle yearly.

I was intrigued and decided to develop my own “Canon”. I think following this schedule will keep me in the company of Godly men. Below is my personal version. What will yours look like?

September Francis Schaeffer
October B.B. Warfield
November Martin Lloyd-Jones
December C.S. Lewis/ George Ladd
January Francis Turretin
February John Piper
March Jonathan Edwards
April Thomas Goodwin
May William Perkins
June C.H. Spurgeon
July Augustine
August John Owen

What I’m Reading

The Jesus Way: Conversations on the way that Jesus is the Way ~~Eugene Peterson _________________________________________ Let the Nations be Glad ~~John Piper _________________________________________

In the “Q”

Francis Schaeffer - True Spiritually ______________________________________

Bible Study / Devotional

Romans 1 ___________________________________________