I believe; help my unbelief!

Amen and amen.

True faith is always aware how small and inadequate it is. The father becomes a believer not when he amasses a sufficient quantum of faith but when he risks everything on what little faith he has, when he yields his insufficiency to the true sufficiency of Jesus, “ ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’ ” The risk of faith is more costly to the father than bringing his son to Jesus, for he can talk about his son but he must “cry out” (Gk. krazein) for faith. True faith takes no confidence in itself, nor does it judge Jesus by the weakness of his followers. It looks to the More Powerful One (1:7) who stands in the place of God, whose authoritative word restores life from chaos. True faith is unconditional openness to God, a decision in the face of all to the contrary that Jesus is able.1

His belief, however uncertain, was all that was needed, and from this point he plays no further part in the narrative, so that all the attention falls where it should, on the power of Jesus.2

  1. James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002), 280.
  2. R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002), 368.

Unknown, Yet Well Known

2002–2006 are probably some of the fondest years of my early Christian life. The summer after I graduated from high school, a friend called to see if I was interested in a 3rd shift job at Ryobi (now TTi). It was relatively simple. Engineers needed test machines to run nonstop to examine the engine and parts, so someone needed to be there at night time to keep the fuel supplied and hourly measurements recorded. There was the occasional frustration, but there was usually lots of downtime. It was before smartphones, so aimlessly wandering social media on a handheld device was not even a reality. Though I wish I had been a more diligent worker (and even more productive spiritually), it was the perfect scenario.

I had been saved for about 18 months, and I had surrendered to the ministry about six months prior. I was about to enroll in Bible college classes at a small school in Greenville, SC. I had an iPod filled with MP3 sermons, a wide-margin Cambridge Bible, and multiple free hours each night to listen to sermons, work on schoolwork, or sit outside and pray. For most of those four years, I was completely alone for almost the entire shift. There was one person I met there who ended up being evidence of God’s providence.

Phil Coleman was one of the first-shift technicians. The only thing I knew about him was from the friend who initially called me about the job: “You’ll like Phil. He’s a preacher.” He had worked for Ryobi for many years and had also spent time as a pastor. The pastor of the church he attended died, and they asked Phil to become the new pastor. It was his second pastorate, and it was an experience with a “discipl-er” who was able to spend time with me.

The first time I preached at a church besides my own was around 2003 at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Salem, SC. It was a Wednesday night, and there were probably a half-dozen people there. The first time I preached in a revival was at that church, and the first time someone gave me an offering was at that church. Phil Coleman would drive over an hour to lead the services on Sundays, and for much longer than that on Wednesdays as he left Ryobi for Salem, SC. As time passed, I saw the church body grow. When I left Ryobi, we would still meet occasionally for lunch to talk about how things were going. Our youth group has heard him multiple times (at his next pastorate or when he came to our church). When I had a medical episode in 2018 (which initially appeared to be a seizure, but later the doctors said it was stress), Phil met me for lunch, and we talked about the pressure of introverted people in the ministry.

I am sure that Phil knew that Mt. Carmel would never be a mega-church, but I doubt that was his goal. The son of a pastor, Phil set an example for me that pastors should not primarily focus on how many people are at church as long as the pastor is being faithful. Knowing that Phil’s personality was like mine, I am sure he spent many miles on the way to Salem wondering if he was making a difference. Only eternity will tell what difference Phil has made at the churches he has pastored, but as I share this post in 2023, I am filled with thankfulness to God for the difference he made in my life. Because of a perfect job at a perfect time, God initiated a friendship with a pastor who unknowingly took me under his wing and taught me what perseverance looks like, no matter how few are watching.

He would open the word, go through the verses, the “common people heard him gladly,” and he left the results to God. If my appreciation for Phil Coleman is the tiniest glimpse of Timothy’s love for Paul, then I can only hope to one day make such an impact on someone under my ministry.

The Bible & Technology

I’m not ready to post it all yet (I still have to convert footnotes to something that will work for the digital page), but I hope to post soon my most favorite thing I’ve written thus far. It is nowhere as good as what you’d read from Tony Reinke or John Dyer, but I do look forward to sharing here, A Biblical Theology of Technology. Using the heading above, you will soon be able to read the preface, intro, Old Testament, New Testament, Application, and One More Thing.

To get you started, perhaps you can take a look at the preface here.

GTD and the Ministry

Seriously, there should be a semester long class in Bible colleges and seminaries to teach cluttering ministers like me how to develop a physical and electronic organizational system.

Week 1: A theology of productivity

This would be a good introduction from Tim Challies: https://www.challies.com/articles/the-best-tool-for-the-job/

Week 2: Getting and keeping your biblical info organized

Developing a system that stores any text-based information in a 66 folder system arranged from Genesis–Revelation → Then you know where to find that article you read about John 3:16.

Week 3: Getting and keeping your doctrinal info organized

Developing a system that stores any doctrine-based information in a system arranged using the 50–60 topics listed in something like Grudem’s ST or Lexham’s Survey of Theology → Then you know where to find that list of verses in that pamphlet about God’s love seen in redemption.

Week 4: Getting and keeping your ministry info organized

Develop a system that stores information specifically from your current church position. Receipts, permission forms, rosters, etc. When someone calls and asks did so and so go to such and such 18 months ago, you know exactly where to look.

Week 5: Making technology a gift and not a curse

Learning how to develop the habit of putting all content in an information app, all appointments and places to be in a calendar app, and all things to do in a tasks app. Learning how to use grammar tools and shortcut apps while trimming down alerts and distractions.

Week 6: From the scroll to the screen

How to use digital Bibles, books, and Bible software to their fullest potential.

Week 7: Putting it into practice

Pretend you are a 39-year-old who regrets not putting these systems into place on day one. You spend a day dumping every drawer and file into a huge pile. Travel back to your first day on the job and write a paper using what you have learned this semester to describe what tools, procedures, and practices you’ll implement as you begin your ministry.

I Want To Believe?

I’ve yet to have someone understand all (or any) of the layers of this the X-Files meme I made using this poster in my office at church… but I think Les Sillars with his recent show for WORLD’s new DoubleTake would come close 🙂

Good intro for the those interested or curious.

https://wng.org/podcasts/do-you-want-to-believe-1660881164

Mike Heiser, Thank You

”If something in the Bible is weird, it’s probably important.”

Mike Heiser

I’ve always had a fascination for the fringe… and I’m thankful for someone who gave me a biblical worldview that didn’t exclude the unexplainable parts of God’s creation. I have been thinking about Mike Heiser for several days since I read his sobering statement that he only has a few weeks left to live, https://www.facebook.com/mike.heiser.35. I have listened to countless podcasts since 2005ish when the format was created, especially in the years I worked night shift. And though I have probably listened to somewhere around 80–90% of his podcasts from the beginning, I downloaded all 458 tonight for archiving just in case something happens down the road with his site, https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/. These will be added to the library with the 22 Peeranormal shows of his I already had.

I never got the chance to meet him in person, but he did respond to a couple of emails I sent him. Thankfully, I didn’t wait to tell him how much I appreciated his work. After putting it off, I finally wrote him a letter last November stating several specific reasons I was appreciative of his willingness to engage in topics that other Christian ran from. He emailed me stating he got the letter and it “made his day.” That’s the least I could do… many, many times he has made my day with either a printed page, a recorded interview, or an uploaded video.

May the next few days be days of grace for Mike as he is soon to behold the God who is above all gods, the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, the Unseen Realm won’t be unseen to him anymore.

1 𝑥 1 = -1

This line from a book on my Kindle that I take a gander at ever so often brought a smile to my face…

”The eminent linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin of Oxford once gave a lecture in which he asserted that there are many languages in which a double negative makes a positive but none in which a double positive makes a negative to which the Columbia philosopher Sidney Morgenbesser, sitting in the audience, sarcastically replied, ‘Yeah, yeah.'”

The Joy Of X, page 17
Steven H. Strogatz

Will He Never Leave Us?

When Peter, James, and John saw the Transfiguration event, they were in the company of Moses, Elijah, and the glorified Jesus. To experience this, Jesus did not need to take them to some location on the other side of the universe far, far, far, far, far away. He simply opened their eyes right where they were. When the event was over, Moses and Elijah departed (a word used only once in the New Testament). When Paul made his trip to Paradise, he went somewhere but even he was unable to explain the physicality/non-physicality of it all…

The trip to heaven is not gained by a certain number of miles from a location but by a certain relationship with Jesus. Being in God’s presence is not spatial but spiritual, and if we really, really, really believe that (with all the curious implications that arise), then we will not say, “One day I’m going to be with God.” Instead, we will say, “I am with God right now.” And that reality will transform our life. I don’t know how near Moses and Elijah still were to Peter, James, and John when the Transfiguration ended. I don’t know how close the cloud of witnesses are to us presently. I don’t know how it works later in Hebrews 12 that the author says we come into the presence of angels, spirits, and Jesus when we worship (believing that would add reverence to our church services, wouldn’t it?).

But I do know this, Jesus said he is with us and will never leave. So Christian, no matter how lonely you feel in this life, remember the portions of the Bible where Jesus supernaturally transcends time, space, and the physical laws we think run the world. Even if it seems as if no one is watching you run this race, realize you’ve got an audience you can’t see—the Greatest of whom being so close that he isn’t just by your side but he’s in your heart.

Farewell, 2022

Dear Christian,

As you look back over the past year, realize that Jesus is in control. The cries of society as well as the cries of your heart are all heard by him. As he rules this universe, he will exercise the same sovereignty in 2023 that he did in 2022. Though it may appear as if your cries are not heard, you can be confident that he is listening.

Perhaps one thing you can cry out to him about is your desire to live for him in such a way that you begin to say, “My life is not my own. I have been bought with a price. To be with Christ is far better.” Some people will not understand those thoughts, so it’s best to not even tell them. Instead, live as a citizen of heaven. Read Revelation 21–22, take a peek at where Jesus is ruling from, and live as if you have already caught a glimpse of the place that he has already prepared for you.

May that sight encourage you as you go into 2023 by faith.

Hello world!

This is a test for http://www.preachertony.com. More content forthcoming after saying farewell to almost 2 decades of preachertony.com and starting over from scratch. Archiving the the memories of a young Christian who tried to intersect the Bible and technology by using Transmit to download the old site. It’s a strange feeling to say goodbye to something I put a lot of time in (years ago).

😦