President Bush's Reading List

Well, it seems that President Bush enjoys reading as much as I do (HT: Challies). Though President Bush and I certainly didn't read the same type of books, one book did make it on both of our reading lists: the Bible. Check out this interesting article for more on Bush's reading competition with Karl Rove. I wonder what Obama read this year?

An Unusual Record

I played soccer for a number of years and had the misfortune of getting a red card before, but never quite like this.


A Partial List of 2008 Readings

Well, in a few days we will come to the end of 2008. During the year I've had the opportunity to read a number of interesting books. (Of course, I also read a number of articles and commentaries, but I didn't list those below.) Of the books that I read, I really enjoyed reading a number of them. Of the books I read dealing with the New Testament, my favorites were Contextualization in the New Testament by Dean Flemming and The Canon of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger. In the category of history/historical theology, my favorites were The Lost Soul of American Protestantism by D.G. Hart and Christianity's Dangerous Idea by Alister McGrath. In the category of theology, I enjoyed Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by Bruce A. Ware. In the category of general reading, I liked Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris. Well, here's a longer list of some of the books I read during 2008:

29.Oxford Bible Atlas by Adrian Curtis
An Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond E. Brown
Old Testament Survery by LaSor, Hubbard, and Bush
Introduction to the Reformed Tradition by John H. Leith
Contextualization in the New Testament by Dean Flemming
The World That Shaped the New Testament by Calvin Roetzel
The Making of the New Testament by Arthur G. Patzia
Symphonic Theology by Vern S. Poythress
Living the Resurrection by Eugene Peterson
Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris
Orthodoxy and Heresy by Joel R. Parkinson
The Canon of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger
Fusion by Nelson Searcy
Barth for Armchair Theologians by John R. Franke
New Testament Greek for Beginners by J. Gresham Machen
Christianity's Dangerous Idea by Alister McGrath
The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century by Roland Bainton
Calvin and the Calvinist by Paul Helm
The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll
Natural Theology by Emil Brunner and Karl Barth
Westminster Confession of Faith
Called to Ministry by Edmund P. Clowney
The Religious Life of Theological Students by B.B. Warfield
The Lost Soul of American Protestantism by D.G. Hart
Pierced by the Word by John Piper
A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne
Counseling Children and Adolescents by Ann Vernon
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by Bruce A. Ware
The Crucifixion of Ministry by Andrew Purves

2008 NFC South Title

After last weeks overtime loss to the New York Giants, I was hoping that the Panthers would dominate and win big over the New Orleans Saints. Well, they did dominate during most of the game bu the game was too close for comfort. Although they entered into the fourth quarter with a big lead, the Panthers fell behind the Saints during the fourth quarter. Fortunately, John Kasey's 42-yeard field goal gave the Panthers a 33-31 win over the Saints. With their win over the New Orleans Saints yesterday, the Carolina Panthers clinched the NFC South Division Title. This is the second time that the Panthers have won the NFC South (2003). I'm looking forward to the playoffs. Go Panthers!


Music and Memory

Music is an extremely powerful medium and it can be a great aid when trying to memorize things. I can still remember the words to songs that I haven't heard in years. I'm sure that repetition has an important role in the process, but what is it about music that causes people to retain what they hear?

If you're like me I imagine that you first began learning your ABC's by singing. I am always amazed at how fast my girls can learn things that we sing together. Recently, I began singing the Greek alphabet with Alora ("Alpha, Beta, Delta..."). We probably sang it together three or four times. A few days later I heard Alora singing through the Greek alphabet on her own. Although she missed a few letters, she remembered most of them.

On a slightly different note, it is interesting how we associate certain songs or tunes with events. For example, everytime I hear the hymn "Majesty" I think about playing the saxophone in the Chiquola Baptist Church orchestra with my old friend Malcolm. (And, yes, I played the saxophone for a number of years.)

Can any of you think of memories or events that you associate with music?


Staying Awake

Our family decided to leave for Virginia on Christmas night around midnight. Of course, Amy and I were both pretty tired since we had been awake since 6:00 am. Since I was driving, I knew that I'd have to get creative in order to stay awake while driving. So, here's my story about how we made our way to Virginia.

Well, we began our trip with prayer, which is certainly the best way to begin any activity. Next, I put food and drink into the equation. I knew that caffeine was going to be an essential ingredient, so I started things off with a can of Pepsi. Along with the Pepsi I ate some left-over country ham. About thirty minutes later the saltiness of the ham had to be overcome by another drink: a peppermint double chocolate Starbucks frappacino! I followed this with Chex snack mix and candy. Well, once all of these foods and drinks hit my stomach, I realized that I had made a perfect receipe for a stomach ache.

By 2:30 in the morning I knew that I wasn't going to make it without some sleep, so I pulled over at a rest area and slept until 3:30. After my nap, I had enough energy to finish the trip. We finally arrived at 10am.

Next time, I've decided to lay off all the junk food.


"Merry Christmade"

No matter how many times we've told Alora that the holiday on December 25th is called "Christmas", she still calls it "Christmade" Well, I think that "Christmade" is a perfectly fine name since Christ is the one who makes our celebration possible. So, from the Ashley family we wish you all a merry Christmade. May the good news of Jesus Christ--his birth, death, resurrection and second coming--be on your hearts and minds.

Reflection and Anticipation

For most of us, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a season of hustle and bustle. Our calendars usually filled up with scheduled family visits, parties, special church services, and a host of other seasonal happenings. (Since it is Christmas Day today, you're probably enjoying some of those event now!) Yet, in the midst of all of these activities it is easy for us to get so wrapped up in our calendar appointments that we forget to place sustained focus on the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. This is not to say that there should not be time for family and friends during this season; rather, it is simply a recognition that we can easily become so overwhelmed with our “obligations” that we miss a great opportunity to meditate on one of the most important events in human history: the first coming of God’s Son. Yet, this problem is not unique to our particular stage in world history; Christians have always faced the temptation to focus more on the here-and-now than on the One who transcends all time. In order to combat these temptations and to help focus on the gospel, Christians throughout the history of the Church have chosen to order their time around different seasons, beginning with Advent and ending with Easter and Pentecost. Advent (which means “coming” or “arrival”) marks the beginning of the Christian Year in which we celebrate the first coming of Jesus and look forward to His second coming. As we focus on these two “comings” of Jesus, we are encouraged to participate in both reflection and anticipation.

First, Advent is marked by reflection as we look back upon the progress of redemption. We are encouraged to remember the promise of a righteous “seed” that was given in the garden of Eden after Adam sinned (Genesis 3:15). We remember the covenant made with Abraham in which he was given a promise of an innumerable offspring. We look back to the exodus of God’s people from slavery out of Egypt. We remember Israel’s desire for a King who would reign with righteousness and strength to deliver and sustain His people. We read the prophecies of Isaiah, foretelling the Messiah who would bring peace and justice. And at last, we are able to reflect upon the Messiah—Jesus—who came and dwelt among us. As we reflect upon and celebrate his incarnation, we get to share in the rejoicing of those that saw Him arrive. We share in the joy of the world, the glory of the angels’ message, and the wonder of the shepherds as they heard the good news.

Second, Advent reminds us that our faith is founded on not only what Jesus did in the past, but also what He will do in the future. As Christians, we should forward to Christ’s second coming when we will see our King coming in glory and power. We will finally be able to see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13) and our salvation will be complete! Yet, His second coming will also bring judgment on the world that has rejected Him. So our celebration is mixed with sobriety. Those of us who bear the name of “Christian” should not only praise God
for our salvation, but we must also be His witnesses and pray for a world that has yet to embrace Him.


Getting Ready for O.T.T.

Although I'm out of school for a couple of weeks, that doesn't mean that I've been able to totally take a break. During the upcoming January term I will be taking Old Testament Theology, so I'm trying to get ahead on my reading. I'm almost finished with Gerhard Hasel's Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate. After finishing this book I'll also have to read three others:

Old Testament Theology by Bruce Waltke

Salvation Belongs to Our God by Christopher J.H. Wright

The God of Promise and the Life of Faith by Scott J. Hafemann


"I don't want to be normal."

When I'm with my family, I spend most of my time laughing at the funny things that my girls say and do. Here's a brief conversation that took place during lunch today:

Alora: My eyes are blue. Do you think that they'll change to normal?

Amy: What do you mean?

Alora: I don't want to be normal. I like my blue eyes.

Amy: We like your blue eyes too. I think that your eyes will always be blue.

Alora: Good.

So, everyone with blue eyes please take note: you're abnormal.


Wiping the Dust Off of a Great Resource

While I've had this book on my shelf for a while, I'm just now beginning to read it with any amount of frequency. And I must say that I've really been missing out on this rich resource. If you'd like to better understand the rich images, symbols, motifs, metaphors, figures of speech and literary patterns of the Bible, then order a copy of the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery.


Preaching This Sunday

I'm really looking forward to preaching tomorrow morning on Luke 2:8-20. I'll post the audio early next week.


Writings and Exams

Well, this is my last week of seminary for this semester. Thankfully, I will be able to have a couple of weeks off from school before I have to begin my Old Testament Theology class in January. I still have two exams and an exegetical paper on Mark 1:14-20 to complete. Of the different assignments that I've had over this semester, I especially enjoyed writing a biblical-theological reflection on Genesis 6:9-22. After the semester is over, I'll probably take some time to post various insights that I've gained during this semester.