3 great podcast episodes on faith and science

White Horse Inn - the historical relationship between faith and science might surprise you

Clear+Vivid - Alan Alda interviews one of the greatest American scientists, Francis Collins, about communicating science and pursuing it in light of his Christian faith

Stand to Reason - the epistemological relationship between science and faith for Christians

Bonus! Belgic Confession:

Article 2: The Means by Which We Know God We know him by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: his eternal power and his divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20. All these things are enough to convict men and to leave them without excuse. Second, he makes himself known to us more openly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for his glory and for the salvation of his own.

What I'm Doing on My Study Leave

This week I began a three-month sabbatical. In another sphere of life, you’d call it a Professional Development Leave. I’m calling it a Study Leave.

Whatever you call it, it’s happening because of the generous love, faithful service, and forward-thinking of the members of Covenant. This is a church-wide investment in my growth as a minister for the benefit of the whole church.1 And we’re excited to see what God is going to do during this time.

So what am I up to? While the lion’s share of my regular duties are being met by our elders and a guest minister, Pastor Kim Kuhfuss—all of whom I couldn’t be more happy about—I am spending focused time on growing in a three key areas: capability, character, and compassion.


One broad goal I have is to improve my ability to think and serve theologically in local church ministry. To do that, I am reading throught he works of Gregory the Theologian. I like to think of this as another pastoral internship. I chose Gregory because he is an interesting and important example of what I’m seeking to grow in. It helps that Gregory wasn’t afraid to share. “Arguably more than any other Father of the Church, Gregory draws attention to the way he thinks, the prayers he makes, the sufferings he endures, the illnesses he bears, the enemies he fights, and the causes he champions.” (Andrew Hofer, “The Stoning of Christ” in Re-Reading Gregory of Nazianzus: Essays on History, Theology, and Culture, 144-145.)

I am also working on learning more Greek with the help of my friend, David Noe, and his amazing Moss Method. Knowing Greek better will help me with my Gregory reading. It will also help me to be more like Gregory and other church fathers (and mothers), who are role models for their deep knowledge of the scriptures and intimacy with God.


As I grow in my abilities as a minister, I want to do so in a way that reinforces my core commitments and values. Pastoral skills, like apps on a computer, are useless without a solid internal operating system. This means that in addition to studying, I’m working on strengthening healthy habits and routines in my personal and family life. I’m talking about spending time with God in scripture-rich prayer and mediation, connecting with family and friends, staying on top of household tasks, and giving sleep, diet, and exercise their due.

Improving my workflow is a big part of this as well. I’m good at generating and drafting ideas, but want to improve my ability to store, retrieve, and share them.

By making some good things more automatic in my life, I can reduce stress, increase integrity, and expand my capacity to serve others.


Building my capabilities and character ultimately serve and flow from the most important area for growth: compassion, or more generally, love. If anything is developed in me during my sabbatical, my prayer is that it would be devotion to the Lord out of a growing faith in and hunger for his devotion to me. I want to grow closer with God and from the overflow, love others more.

Side benefits

Documentation: The temporary transfer of my work to the elders and Pastor Kuhfuss meant I had to document some things so that others could work while I was gone. This will benefit us in several ways even after I return.

Perspective: The study leave helps all of us at Covenant get outside of what’s normal. It gives us opportunities to see things in new ways, of which there can be many benefits.

Encouragement: One member described my study leave as a big hug from the church. It sure feels like that. And it’s very motivating.

  1. David VanDrunen’s article, Sabbaticals for Pastors, helped our church to think about why and how to make this kind of investment from a church perspective. ↩︎

Let’s not separate “going to church” from “being the church”. John Beeson explains why.

Do you know how can I search multiple audio book collections (Librivox, Audible, Kobo, Open Culture, Libby, Gutenberg, etc.) with a single search?

The rhinoceros is an amazing creature. We visited this one at the Tucson Zoo on Tuesday.

A rhinoceros

Alfons Schmid released a major update this week for Notebooks App. It just keeps getting better.

Finished reading: George Washington On Leadership by Richard Brookhiser 📚 Fantastic book. Washington continues to lead and inspire.

Huntington Beach on Independence Day.

the pleasant conditions of creative work

I finished reading: If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. 📚

Ueland says you can’t create anything good out of fear, griding away and trying to satsify the criticis. Instead, you must be childlike: “happy, truthful and free.”

Share things as you really see them. And you can learn to see them by taking a long, carefree walk alone everyday—a good tip, among others.

Interestingly, she talks about stifling imagination and creativity as a sin. “Menial work at the expense of all true, ardent, creative work is a sin against the Holy Ghost.” She admits that she may not be a reliable theologian, but assuming she means imagination guided by virtue, I think she has a point.

The book is about writing, but Ueland addresses all kinds of creative work. Mozart, Van Gogh and others make appearances.

So Della and I have been having fun talking about our work as artists in light of the book: painting, writing, music, etc. This way of working comes more naturally to her, but I’m learning.

How the cross helps you win

Rule 17/22 from Erasmus' Enchiridion via Fred Sanders

The one remedy that is most efficacious against every kind of adversity and temptation is the cross of Christ, which is at one and the same time an example for sinners, a solace for those who are distressed, and an armament for those who are engaged in the fight.

When fighting sin is hard

Rule 15/22 from Erasmus' Enchiridion via Fred Sanders

Do not compare the hardship of the battle with the pleasure of sin, but compare the present bitterness of the battle with the future bitterness of sin that accompanies the defeated; then compare the present sweetness of vice, which allures you, with the future sweetness of victory and tranquillity of mind that accompanies the stalwart fighter.

Finished reading: Geronimo’s Story of His Life by Geronimo. Tough man. Lots to learn from his story. 📚

📚 A couple weeks ago I heard The Life of Saint Macrina by her brother, Gregory of Nyssa, for the first time . It’s not long and worth a listen. She and her family often chose confessing Christ over anything else.

Test your history skills with Wikitrivia. You only get three lives.

🔗 tosdr.org—Terms of Service; Didn’t Read—summarizes what you agreed to when you signed up for __________.

What were the “high places”?

Ellen White:

It may then be easiest to understand high places not as a reference to temporal space, but to a “higher” theological place.

What’s the best app for listening to LibriVox recordings?

🎵 I love this string arrangement of Mock Morris. My dad taught us to play this in Jr. High. So fun!

Ever wonder what to think of “Of David” or “Of Asaph” in the Psalms? And what about the collection as a whole? James M. Hamilton Jr. has an idea I like about who wrote the Psalms.


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Were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in Nineveh? Here’s some evidence.

The Nictone Theological Journal is finally back.