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Archive for April, 2011

Ask any of my former students and you will learn that my favorite Bible book is Ruth. I have studied it and taught it at least a dozen times over the years and still find new, fascinating, and even richer truths each time I look at it.

I have read numerous commentaries on Ruth, and frankly, most of the them are as shallow as much of the preaching about the book. More along the lines of commentary on a Harlequin romance (do they still print those things?), than any serious study of inspired literature.

So it has been a real treat to read Sinclair Ferguson’s Faithful God: an exposition of the book of Ruth. This little commentary is based on four talks that he gave fifteen years ago in Wales; you can find the audio of the sessions here. This commentary is far and away the best commentary on Ruth I have read.

Since the book is based on sermons, much of it is written for the ear more than the eye. And it is richly pastoral rather than simply technical. However, Ferguson masterfully undergirds his wise applications with excellent exegesis.

Unlike many other commentators and pastors, he doesn’t read western and modern romantic contrivances into the drama. He places it into its proper historic context. He also draws out the streams of theology that Ruth points to. From conversion to redemption to Christology and more, Ferguson unlocks truths on which to feast in meditation.

I have a few quibbles, mostly over his treatment of Naomi. I think he is too kind to her, seeing her ‘conversion’ at the end of chapter 1 as she returns to Bethlehem. I believe her expression of bitterness is a true reflection of her heart’s attitude. He is also a little too generous to her in chapter 3. He rightly identifies her scheme as ‘risky’, but I believe it is downright wicked.

However, Ferguson shines in his understanding of the character of Ruth and Boaz. He rightly identifies Boaz’s actions in chapter 2 as motivated by godliness rather than some pathetic attempt to impress a single woman he just saw across the field.

He also draws out the richness of the greater theology of the book. Listen to how he ends his final chapter:

The story that began for Naomi at a time when there was no king in Israel, became a day when there was no bread in Bethlehem, and then a dark night in which there were no children in her family.”

But God.

But her covenant-keeping, grace-bestowing God drew her with cords of love and unto her a Child was born, unto her a Son was given. A Son who would be the Bread of Life. A Son who would be crowned King, not with a crown of gold but a crown of thorns.

And that is why  the book of Ruth is a wonderful meditation for this Easter season.

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Russell Moore has been posting podcasts called “The Cross and the Jukebox: Roots, Music, and Religion” and it has been interesting to listen to his take on various themes in popular music.

Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, so his deep affection for country music is, at the surface, odd. But he grew up in Mississippi, so you have to cut him some slack.

Last week he analyzed Don Maclean’s iconic anthem American Pie. At the end he played a parody of American Pie which had me laughing aloud.

Turns out the parody is one of Weird Al Yankovic’s classics, and it is older than dirt. So I’m behind the times musically; that’s not news. Anyway, Weird Al masterfully spoofs both American Pie and Star Wars  in one fell swoop.

And I just had to share it with you.

By the way, Moore’s podcast is well worth listening to.

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the character of Boaz

Character like [Boaz demonstrates] never appears on the spur of the moment, instantaneously. These are habits of the heart that have deep roots in our past, and are present as marks of general godliness before they ever come to expression in a specific crisis.”

Sinclair Ferguson in Faithful God, p. 83.

Boaz is, in my never-to-be-humble-opinion, the great biblical pattern of godliness that every boy should study, just as Ruth is for girls.

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Ralph Moody was eight in 1906 when his family moved from New Englandto Colorado. Little Britches tells the story of the next few years of their lives as they try to make a go of ranching. It is a heart-warming story wonderfully told. Think of Little House on the Prairie from a boy’s point of view.

But LB transcends Little House in several powerful ways. Laura Ingalls reveals her affection for her father, but Moody’s magnificent reverence for his father shines throughout his book. As he recounts numerous occasions in which his father earned great respect from fellow ranchers and his family. Ralph’s father lived a life of integrity that remained the lasting memory of his son.

Little Britches also shines brightly as Ralph Moody recounts the life and character lessons that his father imparted.

After Ralph has lied to his parents: “Son, there is no question but what the thing you have done today deserves severe punishment. You might have killed yourself or the horse, but much worse than that, you have injured your own character. A man’s character is like his house. If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin. If he tells lies to be able to do the things he should do but wants to, his character will soon become a ruin. A man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth.” 

Little Britches is a book that every boy should read, and every dad should read with his boy. I am sure that girls would enjoy LB, but it strikes me as particularly good for boys.

Reading this book makes this dad want to live an exemplary life so that he can achieve the same kind of legacy with his children. The life lessons from Ralph’s father provide a wealth of opportunities to discuss with children.

Two cautions though. It would be wise to read a chapter ahead so you can consider how to discuss certain events with you son/children. In particular, be advised that Ralph’s dad dies of pneumonia in the last chapter, so I would not recommend this book for younger children.

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I do, that’s who!

I liked rice. It was kind of like culinary elevator music: present, but overlooked. Growing up, we used Minute Rice, so there wasn’t much to get excited about. Believe it or not, the dining common at dear ol’ BobbyJ alerted me to decent rice, and I began enjoying it as much as good mashed taters.

At the grocery stores in Charlotte we were able to find  rice that we enjoyed, and I guess I figured that all rice brands were created equal.  Silly me.

After moving here to Nashville, we could not find our preferred brand and we just snatched up what was available. Oh blah! Sticky, gloppy, gummy. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Surely it was my technique?! I played with things. Rinsed the rice to get rid of extra starch. No appreciable difference. Tried oven-baking the rice. Ditto. Different rice/water ratios. Bad bad, all bad.

I finally emailed the headquarters of the our previous brand with this plaintive and exceedingly polite cry, “Is Blue Ribbon rice sold anywhere near Joelton, TN (37080)? We have used it before while living near Charlotte, NC, but cannot find it here. The rice we have had to buy is pretty nasty stuff, and we would like to use Blue Ribbon again!”

And I received this wonderful reply,

Hello David – Thanks for writing us.  You can find it @ the Dollar General stores.  stocks BR 1.5lb LG and 5lb BR Golden.


Have a great afternoon.

Mary !

So last night we had our Blue Ribbon rice back. Fluffy every time. Grains nicely separate. Buttery and ricey. Hurrah for Blue Ribbon Rice!!
And the other brand? Well, I won’t give you their name, but the initials are M.A.H.A.T.M.A. What is it good for? I guess, sushi. Or making snowballs in July.

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