Some thoughts on Jeremiah 14

Just struck me in my reading this last week, how we often jump to 31:34 as the new covenant, but fail to note the law’s preparation for that new covenant. Do we sometimes short circuit God’s work in our lives by trying to wiggle out of the condemnation of the law? In the process the law no longer threatens but acts like a car monitor, “Your door is ajar.” Worse the gospel loses it sweetness and freshness.


Consider how God uses Jeremiah to avoid both extremes. In Jeremiah 14:10b we read: [Yahweh says]: 

Therefore the LORD does not accept them; now He will remember their iniquity and call their sins to account.”

What a statement of law! God will remember their iniquity and call their sins to account. Facing the sternness of the law will bring them (and us) to our knees. 

We can’t help but see this law preparation for the people, so that in captivity, the gospel declaration in Jeremiah 31:34 rings with even greater clarity and brings true hope to those suffering. Jeremiah points the people ahead to the new covenant, in Yahweh declares,

“… for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

The law remains to condemn sin. The gospel remains even brighter to remove sin from us – that is what Jesus did. That is what the people of Israel looked forward to; that is what we look back to in its fulfillment.

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Some thoughts on Jeremiah 9

I recently began another read through Jeremiah. So here are a few random thoughts that struck me. In 9:23-26 there is a pivotal text also referenced by Paul (1 Cor. 1:31). In 9:24 we read that Yahweh “practices lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness.”


‏ עֹ֥שֶׂה חֶ֛סֶד מִשְׁפָּ֥ט וּצְדָקָ֖ה


Many years ago in seminary I examined the relationship between justice (מִשְׁפָּ֥ט) and righteousness (וּצְדָקָ֖ה) relative to their occurrences in Isaiah. At the time, it seemed that in particular “justice” carries a dual focus depending on what is happening. I had begun translating the word as a phrase “appropriate justice”; that is, when God acts, for the one in faith, appropriate justice is salvation, but for the one outside faith, appropriate justice is condemnation and judgment.


So in this context of Jeremiah 9, God invites “those who boast in the Lord” to share in that which delights Yahweh (9:23-24). On the other hand, the one who does not boast, the “uncircumcised” (nations or Israel, uncircumcised in heart) will experience “appropriate justice” in the judgment, “in the days which are coming.”


That also seems to fit with Paul’s eschatological understanding in 1 Corinthians, and in particular 1:30-31. “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ ” (NAS 95)

Convention Results

The AALC had its National Convention in June. I was privileged to be the Bible teacher for the convention. I explored the topic of making known God’s love and the implications of that for us as Christians.

  • Luke 15:1-10 Knowing the Father’s Heart
  • Luke 15:11-32 Demonstrating the Father’s Heart
  • Luke 7:36-50 Knowing Those in Need
  • Luke 24:44-49 Revealing the Father’s Heart

The Convention brought two very positive results:

  1. Election of the Rev. Frank Hays as Presiding Pastor, a retired Navy chaplain.
  2. Approved resolution for altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS.

Both signal a bright future to the AALC, endorsing our commitment to confessing the Christian faith as Lutherans and committing ourselves to missions focus in all congregations.

Leon Morris (03/15/1914 – 7/24/2006) Gentleman Scholar

Just read about the death of Leon Morris

Obviously I had never met him, but I am very familiar with his writings, from his doctoral dissertation (Aplostolic Preaching of the Cross in 1951) to his later works on the New Testament. In fact, I have many of his writings especially on John. He was a fine scholar and an excellent writer. While we mourn his passing, we rejoice in his victory over sin, death, and the devil.

“… After God’s Heart”

Mission Focus


Grow Up!

The Great Commission of “making disciples” is a lifelong adventure. Sadly, many have equated confirmation instruction with “graduation,” and then assume that they “learned it all in confirmation.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The end of formal catechism is really the beginning of a lifelong study of God’s Word. Peter wrote: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

So the goal of every Christian is to “grow up”! That means we study God’s Word — publicly in Bible classes and privately by ourselves. For us as Christians we can never grow tired or bored with God’s Word. He is revealing himself and his salvation. Nothing is more important than that!

The challenge lays before each of us: Am I studying God’s Word? If not, why not? Perhaps we feel inadequate — I have often heard this statement: “I don’t know enough to go to Bible class.” Then Bible class is the very place to be! How else can we learn? Take advantage of the Pastor’s background and education and others who have spent years studying God’s Word. Listen and learn. When you go home from Bible class, follow the example of the Berean Christians (“… they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true,” Acts 17:11).
Only as we are growing as Christians can we then be actively involved in Biblical evangelism/mission. Our message is Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). We need to get the message straight — and we do that as we grow up (in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ)!

Grow Out!

Evangelism/Mission cannot be done in a spiritual vacuum. Thus, as we grow up, we also grow out. Our increasing knowledge of God and his grace means that we develop a heart after God’s heart. God is very clear in his Word about what he desires (“…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth,” 1 Timothy 2:4).

As we explore God’s Word we discover that God uses people and events to achieve his saving purpose (Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 7-14; Isaiah 45:1; Luke 1:26-38;1 Timothy 1:15; etc.). The Old Testament is filled with references to God’s desire to reach the farthest ends of the earth with love and mercy (i.e., Isaiah 49:6; Acts 1:6-8). Disciples of Jesus Christ will desire to reach the same.

So where is the “mission field”? For many of us , we imagine that “mission work” involves language study and traveling to far away lands. So “mission” became synonymous with that narrow view. However, are you aware that the countries in Africa send more Christian missionaries to the United States, than the U.S. sends to Africa? That’s right, the U.S. is a mission field!

Should this surprise us? After all, mission work in the Bible always started at home (Acts 1:8). Thus, mission work is an essential part of congregational life. Even without the immigration of millions to the U.S., we have had a great mission field here; many of our neighbors and co-workers do not know Jesus Christ. With immigration increasing, the (home) mission fields are ripe for harvest (Luke 10:2). In greater Kansas City, we face this new reality. In fact, more than 100 native languages are represented in just one school district! And we don’t have to live in a metropolitan area to have contact with this new mission field.

I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 NAS)

My focus for the coming years will be to equip pastors and congregations in three ways: 1) find ways to grow spiritually in Bible study (grow up) 2) explore congregational outreach and growth opportunities (grow out), and 3) equip those congregations that are prepared to start new mission congregations (grow out).

Regaining time

I have not posted much on many boards in the last few months because of a major project. I took my mother’s hand-written 300 page manuscript and transferred it to the computer, then scanned 100+ photos, re-touched them, edited the document (many times), laid it out in a page layout program. I finished making the last PDF yesterday – after spending an additional 15 hours over the weekend to meet my own deadline. Now for a final proof and I can send to the printers for printing/binding. I should have the proof of the whole book in 2-3 weeks, then hope to have all copies printed/bound by late May.

Doesn’t sound like much, but I have a 9 hours/day analyst position plus 2 hour commute; during this same time period I helped start a Bible College and taught half the courses, and I preach/teach 1-2 times per week in addition to that. It took 5 years – sending each section of each chapter to my mother to edit, re-edit, add more material. She has a diary entry for every day back to 1934.

I ended up using Papyrus XI (for Mac OS X, but also available for Windows), purchasing it in December. Originally I was going to use Word, but with auto numbering of photos, chapters, parts, etc. Word can become unstable. And I didn’t need that. It worked very well. And I made the PDFs directly in OS X – and the proof prints of some of the photos are almost as good as the originals.

So, I am relieved, excited, and just trying to regain a sense of time, sleep, etc. Now I begin preparations to teach several Biblical sessions at TAALC Convention in June.

Oh, and this week I am interviewing for a manager of analytics position…

Good thing I haven’t had too much to distract me. 😉