Did You Get it?

The Super Bowl He Gets Us foot washing video versus the He Saves Us response video.

The He Gets Us campaign ran a Super Bowl ad that prompted Pastor Jamie Bambrick to produce a video titled He Saves Us. I’d like to compare the two videos in four areas:

Audio and Typesetting

Since Bambrick was responding to He Gets Us (HGU), he used the same music, font, and letter color in He Saves Us (HSU). Tie.


HSU used photos of people who have given their lives to Christ. The pictures are black and white and are very relatable. HGU, however, seems to have used AI image generation for their foot washing scenes. At this stage of AI development, the images feel kind of like the pictures in Jehovah’s Witness literature. Slightly offHSU.

Reaching Intended Audience

HSU is for Christians who felt something was missing from HGU. It is for people who already believe it’s better to be a former witch, atheist, transgender, lesbian activist, etc. And it delivered! HGU, on the other hand is for the unchurched so foot washing seemed an odd choice to me. We get it but would they get it? The news site SFGate ran a story the next day titled, “Super Bowl viewers baffled by ‘foot fetish’ commercial” though I don’t know how widespread or serious the confusion was. In the end, I’m not sure that the foot washing story was appropriate. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. HSU.

Achieving Intended Goal

Here’s where it gets complicated. All the push back against HGU I’ve seen from Christians has not been about the production values, or the theology of foot washing. It’s been missiological. When Bambrick posted HSU he said that HGU “whilst perhaps well intentioned, failed to convey anything of the gospel to the hundreds of millions who saw it.” But HGU didn’t intended to preach the gospel, it is pre-evangelism. That’s part of missiology that many Christians either don’t agree with, don’t like, or just don’t understand.

Think of it this way. If you’re a drag queen and you see the words FORMER DRAG QUEEN on the screen over an image of a smiling man in a button up shirt, you’ll probably only connect with it if you already feel something’s wrong with drag. But if drag feels like it’s the only way for you to be happy, the message would come across as condemning. Imagine a Muslim version of HSU with the words FORMER CHRISTIAN PASTOR over a picture of a smiling, bearded man in a white thawb.

Pre-evangelism is an attempt to open the conversation about Jesus. Bambrick’s introduction to HSU said, “Here’s my take on what they should have done.” While I really like HSU, I don’t think it is an ad that could have taken HGU’s place as pre-evangelism. Therefore, I’d say it failed to meet its intended goal. Why? The list of ‘formers’ in HSU ended with Rosaria Butterfield and I know her testimony. Plenty of Christians tried the HSU approach with her. She just put those letter in the ‘hate mail’ stack. But one pastor wrote to her not with answers but with questions. That was the pre-evangelism that got her attention. It wasn’t the gospel but that letter led Rosaria to a relationship with Pastor Ken Smith and that relationship led her to a relationship with and faith in Jesus. That’s how pre-evangelism is supposed to work.

At the same time, because of the problems listed above, I’m not sure that the HGU foot washing video achieved its intended purpose either. So I’m giving this category to neither.


In the end He Saves Us wins as the better video. In the past He Gets Us has done other, better videos; the foot washing one wasn’t their best. But I do appreciate what they’re trying to do, and I understand that some Christians don’t get it.

Even Cooler Music

A Pyle PFA200 amp connected to an Apple AirPort Express

It was time to update my patio music set up. Volumio is the best software to run on a Raspberry Pi and HifiBerry has some pretty good DAC/AMP hat hardware but my house is entirely Apple ecosphere. I can AirPlay to Volumio but it isn’t AirPlay 2 compatible so it just isn’t the same. I bought a used second generation Apple Airport Express (model number A1392) and a new PYLE PFA200 power amp to replace the old setup. The PFA200 actually has some really good midrange and bass.

Configuring the Airport Express is pretty easy.

  1. Boot up the Airport Express
  2. On an iPhone or iPad connect to the Wi-Fi net it creates
  3. Launch the Airport Utility on your device (you may need to install it)
  4. The Airport Express firmware needs to be at least 7.8 so if an update is available, do it
  5. Once the Airport Express reboots, go to the Wi-Fi settings on your iOS device and select “Setup New Airport Base Station”
  6. Select “Add to an Existing Network”
  7. Connect it to you existing home network
  8. Set a name that makes sense
  9. I found a nice short 3.5mm headphone cable to connect the Airport Express to the PFA200
    NOTE: While I was waiting for the Airport Express to arrive, I got a bit nervous about the sound quality coming out of an earphone jack. Don’t worry, it is excellent.
  10. Connect your speaker wires to the PFA200 and power it up
  11. Launch the Home app on your iOS device and add an accessory
  12. I turned the PFA200 all the way down and streamed some music to the new set up setting the volume in the Home app to mid range
  13. Slowly turn up on the volume on the PFA200 till it sounds about right; you may have to fiddle with it a bit
  14. I pushed the TONE/DIRECT button so I could adjust the tone and found that I could actually overdrive the bass in my Klipsh AW-400s but I found a nice balance

So now I can tell Siri “Play Fleetwood Mac Rumors everywhere in the house” and it is seamless from the living room to the patio. My concern is that the operating temperature for the Airport Express is to 95º F and here in the desert it gets over 100º during the summer quite often. Since the Airport Express is in the garage, I’m sure it will get hotter than that. I bought a outlet strip with some USB ports on it so I could reuse my USB-powered fan and hopefully keep it cool. I won’t be able to control the fan like I did with the Raspberry Pi but I’m working on some possibilities to do that. Might employ the old Raspberry Pi for that since I already know how to control it.

How to be Truly Good

The be good, do what Jesus taught rules: love your neighbor, treat others as you want to be treated, don’t judge unless you know that you too will be judged. These are good, generally agreeable moral and social principles. But they were not the only things he taught.

Let Jesus’ claims sink in: he claimed to have power to raise the dead (John 5:21), authority to judge all humanity (v. 22), power to grant people eternal life (v. 24), and the same self-sustaining life that the Father has (v. 26). The leaders were not misunderstanding him. Jesus was, in fact, claiming equality with God (v. 18)–equality that, he said, the Father had given him. And he claimed that he deserved the same honor that was due to God the Father (v. 23). These claims are breathtaking and unnerving!

Jon Bloom, Daily Strength, September 12th

So love your neighbor, treat others well, don’t be judgmental but when you fail in those things (and you surely will), return to the man who not only taught you them to you but perfectly did them, and find the God who will save you from the guilt of your failure. He will heal your blindness and lead you to walk in greater faithfulness. He’ll relieve you of the burden of finding your goodness in the law by making his goodness yours too. Then you can take up your cross, haltingly follow him with a desire not to be seen as good, but to be with and like someone who loves you and truly is good.

Birdbrained Thoughts of Saddleback

The SBC recently voted to disfellowship Saddleback Church, their second largest congregation, because they have a woman on staff with the title ‘pastor’. The denomination affirmed their commitment to complentarianism and many of the hot takes on Twitter from both the left and right have been weak. Here are some thoughts on the topic:

  1. A woman doesn’t have to hold the office of elder/bishop/overseer/pastor to participate in the work of the Great Commission. Claiming that forbidding a woman to hold that office silences or sidelines them is demeaning to the many great woman who have worked to advanced the kingdom without having that title.
  2. Pastor, elder, overseer, and bishop are all the same office and therefore have the same duties, authority, and qualifications. Trying to make ‘pastor’ to be something other than an elder is not helpful.
  3. Complementarianism does not hang on one word in 1 Tim. 2:12 which only appears once in the Bible. It is a theme throughout the course of redemptive history.
  4. Paul’s prohibition in 1 Timothy 2 is not rooted to a situation unique to Ephesus. He grounds his argument in creation in 1 Timothy 2:13-14.
  5. Though Miriam and Deborah and Esther and Mary Magdalene and Priscilla and Junia and Phoebe had important roles in redemptive history, there is not a single woman called an elder/bishop/overseer/pastor in the Bible.
  6. Junia was “outstanding among the apostles” or “well known to the apostles” but that does not make her an apostle on par with The Twelve. “Apostle” could have been what they called missionaries in the first century or she and her husband Andronicus could have been disciples known to the apostles.
  7. You can be a born-again, Bible-believing, inerrancy-affirming Christian and an egalitarian. Claiming that inerrancy is on the line in ordaining women is a bad take. It equates your interpretation with inerrancy.
  8. There is more said about women’s behavior in church than just 1 Tim. 2:11 and 1 Cor. 14:34-35. They prophecy (1 Cor. 11:5) and pray (1 Cor. 11:13). Therefore, they can speak in church.
  9. Contra some Puritans, “prophecy” in the New Testament is not just preaching a Sunday morning sermon.
  10. Contra some charismatics, “prophecy” is not an authoritative word from the Lord.
  11. “Sunday school” is not a category of teaching detailed in the Bible. There is no Biblical authority given to an adult Sunday school teacher who is not an elder. When we get squeamish about a woman teaching an adult Sunday school class with men and women, know that our squeamishness comes from an inference, not a command. That doesn’t make it right or wrong.

Tim’s Positive, Lasting Impact

Rest in Peace Timothy Keller.

I first heard Tim Keller on a cassette tape in 2001 or so. He was part of a panel discussion on preaching at Westminster Seminary in California with Jay Adams. I’d never heard of the guy before this and his church that was in New York City of all places! Tim’s simple message has stuck with me ever since: Christ is the application of every sermon. It was profound and simple and biblical.

In 2003 I was engaged in a discussion on someone’s blog (blogs were a pretty new thing back then) about church planting. The blogger was critical of Keller’s church planting method and I was concerned. I don’t remember what I said, but Tim emailed me personally. He said, in part, “I noticed your objections seemed substantial and therefore merited some response. I hope this helps a bit. I may be wrong about some of all this but you may be too! That’s why I wrote.” His response to me was a serious, decently long email. He corrected me, a stranger from the internet, with gentleness, clarity, charity, and humility. Another important lesson learned from Tim’s example.

I was at the very first Gospel Coalition conference in 2007 at the Trinity International University chapel. Tim and D. A. Carson started TGC and then wisely turned it over to younger pastors, theologians, and seminary professors. I saw Tim at numerous Desiring God and TGC National Conferences. I’ve always benefited from his talks. I have and have read most of his books.

Somewhere around 2009 I got Tim’s notes from a D. Min. class on preaching that he and Ed Clowney taught at Reformed Theological Seminary. I found the audio in iTunes U and “attended” the class remotely, on my own time. What a blessing to hear Tim and his mentor wrestle though the question: How do you present Jesus from the text? I learned to avoid clumsy metaphors and over-wrought types and instead look for the trajectory of the text. What problem does this text present and how is Jesus the resolution? I remember him saying that that can be especially hard in the Gospels. I learned a lot.

Tim passed way today after a long battle with cancer. Though I’ve never met him personally, Tim Keller has been a huge influence in my life and my ministry and I will miss him dearly. I think the single most important lesson I learned from Dr. Keller was his singular focus on Jesus. I know today he was welcomed into Jesus’ arms, hearing “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter your master’s joy.”

Laughing at Raging and Plotting

The heavens declare the glory of the LORD and they do so with a constellation of ideas, a sea of words, and thoughts piled mountain high. Memes from social media and sound bites from the 24-hour news cycle can never capture the expansive truth of the glory God has revealed in creation therefore don’t trust them. God is doing many things in the world that we can’t see or understand. When the talking heads on TV have to find something to have an opinion on every night, they can, at best only scratch the surface of the complex events taking place in the world and a scratched surface is a marred one. Not very attractive.

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision. (Psa. 2:1,4)

The nations rage, the people plot in vain, yet our Father in heaven laughs. Maybe we should join him in that. After all, he knows the end from the beginning so if he finds all this raging and plotting funny, perhaps it truly is. Not that what the nations and people do is not real, that it will not have repercussions, for it surely is and will. People will lose jobs or gain them. They will lose health insurance or finally get some. They will pay more taxes or less taxes or continue to not pay taxes at all. Freedoms will be expanded and curtailed. Lives will be saved and taken. But the laughing Lord ridicules them for all their efforts to control all of these possible outcomes.

Our problem from our perspective is that the talking heads act as if all this plotting and raging were of eternal import and try to persuade us it is. Perhaps they don’t care to persuade, maybe they’re content to anger us or thrill us or intrigue us over things that will, more often than not, not have any direct impact on us personally or, even for those things that will, we have actually little control over. Is it worth getting angry or should we laugh with heaven knowing that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will? Can we trust that God does according to his will in the heavens and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand? Rage on! Plot in vain! With these sure promises, you may discomfort us, you may dispossess us, you may even kill us but you, O nations, O peoples, you cannot disquiet us. Our God rules in the affairs of men. Whether you believe or acknowledge it or not.

This fixed faith in Christ’s current reign means that we are free to be better citizens of the earth. Our fortunes are not tied to the success of any one party, person, or ideology so we can applaud when any of them get something right and critique when they most often don’t. Just don’t take it personally.

Who Shatters What When?

 Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.

Revelation 2:25–27

Not Now

What an amazing promise. Jesus will extend to us the blessing promised to him in Psalm 2. It doesn’t seem like we’re currently experiencing it; the church is not ruling the nations “with a rod of iron” nor are we dashing them like earthen pots. We are making disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19) through preaching, baptizing, and teaching. While we do that, we’re commanded to submit to governing authorities (Rom. 13:1, Titus 3:1, 1 Pet. 2:13), not hit them with iron sticks. And as we submit, we’re also persecuted and oppressed. Daniel prophesied that this would be how things would go back when he was in Babylon thousands of years ago (Dan. 7:21, 25, 8:24). No, we haven’t received this promise yet (1 Cor. 4:8). If you want an example of what ruling as dashing earthen pots looks like, look at Jeremiah 19:1-13. To say we’re currently participating in that sort of rule would gut the metaphor of its most potent imagery.

When we do get to rule this way, we’ll rule with Jesus not instead of him (see 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 3:21, 20:4, 6). If Jesus is currently reigning with a rod of iron, his rule doesn’t look very different than it did before his ascension. Nebuchadnezzar learned that “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Dan. 4:17, 25, 32, 5:21). The way God is ruling the nations today looks very much like how he’s always done it, but the “rod of iron” metaphor seems to be something different, something more strident.

So when will we rule with Jesus in this manner? The answer is in the verses quoted above. Jesus’ command is to “hold fast till I come” and the promise of ruling is given to the one “who keeps my works until the end.” If that rule started at Jesus’ ascension, then his words here don’t make that much sense. Rather, that rule begins when Jesus comes. Daniel was shown that the saints would be persecuted and oppressed (as the church has been) till one like a son of man comes in the clouds (Dan. 7:13) to judge their foes and give them the kingdom (Dan. 7:27).1Jesus’ allusion to Daniel 7:13 in Matthew 24:30 could be seen as fulfilling Daniel’s vision. In a way it does but it does not exhaust it. What Jesus is immediately referring to in Matthew is the judgement and destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus began this prophecy with the statement “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Matt. 24:28) The word for ‘vulture’ can also mean ‘eagle’ and I think Jesus intended the double meaning. The Roman standards that the armies carried as they surrounded Jerusalem in 70 A.D. had an eagle on top of them. The eagles did gather. But the destruction of Jerusalem can’t be the total fulfillment of Daniel’s vision. There are other things Daniel sees that haven’t taken place yet and in Jesus’ description of those days he blends the destruction of Jerusalem with end times prophecies. So, the rule didn’t begin when Jesus’ ascended to his Father’s right side, it will begin when he returns.

Not Then Either

“The end” that we’re to keep Jesus’ works till can’t be the inauguration of the new heavens and new earth. The “rod of iron” type of rule that follows can’t take place then because the wicked will have been judged and condemned to hell (Rev. 20:13-14); there’ll be no one in need of being ruled that way.

Between the Two

So, if it isn’t happening now and it has no place then, perhaps there’s a time in between the two when it would be appropriate for Jesus to rule with a rod of iron, dashing earthenware pots and us with him. And there is. We will receive this promise during Jesus’ millennial reign promised in Revelation 20:4. In the first resurrection, those who died in Christ “came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Believers who are still alive at the time of Jesus’ return “will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). There will still be nations on the earth and Jesus will rule them with perfect justice and we will rule with him until the general resurrection (Rev. 20:5). Only hold fast till he comes.

1 Jesus’ allusion to Daniel 7:13 in Matthew 24:30 could be seen as fulfilling Daniel’s vision. In a way it does but it does not exhaust it. What Jesus is immediately referring to in Matthew is the judgement and destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus began this prophecy with the statement “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Matt. 24:28) The word for ‘vulture’ can also mean ‘eagle’ and I think Jesus intended the double meaning. The Roman standards that the armies carried as they surrounded Jerusalem in 70 A.D. had an eagle on top of them. The eagles did gather. But the destruction of Jerusalem can’t be the total fulfillment of Daniel’s vision. There are other things Daniel sees that haven’t taken place yet and in Jesus’ description of those days he blends the destruction of Jerusalem with end times prophecies.

Seven Spirits

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

Revelation 3:1

Does God have one Holy Spirit or does he have seven spirits? This verse clearly says “the seven spirits of God” and we can’t just say “yeah but we know he only has one.” So how do we understand this verse?

We have to consider the context it is in. This is part of the opening of the book of Revelation, the letters to the seven churches. Each letter’s introduction follows the same format: “To the angel of the church in [city] write: ‘The words of [descriptor]. I know [your works/where you dwell]‘” and then the letter. The ‘seven spirits’ is in the descriptor and we know where those descriptors come from. They are each part of John’s initial vision of Jesus in 1:4-20:

  • To the church in Ephesus the descriptor is “him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands” which is from 1:20.
  • To the church in Smyrna the descriptor is “the first and the last, who died and came to life” from 1:17-18.
  • To the church in Pergamum the descriptor is “him who has the sharp two-edged sword” from 1:16.
  • To the church in Thyatira the descriptor is “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze” from 1:14-15.
  • To the church in Sardis the descriptor is “him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars” from 1:4.
  • To the church in Philadelphia the descriptor is “the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens” from 1:18.
  • To the church in Laodicea the descriptor is “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation” 1:5-6.

When we look back to what John is quoting in 3:1, he’s not saying that God consists of seven spirits but that, per 1:4, there are seven spirits before his throne. He owns these spirits. For example, if I said “the three cars of Tim” that doesn’t mean I consist of three cars but that I own them or I have charge of them.

God is spirit (John 4:24) and the third person of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). God does not consist of seven spirits. He has seven spirits before his throne. In this context, these seven spirits are probably the seven churches because ‘seven’ figures so prominently in the first three chapters and it is clear that in every other reference it is referring to the churches.

We didn’t have to “yeah but” the text, just take a moment to look at it.

No Rush

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.

The Gospel According to John 20:6-7 (ESV)

The face cloth was not with the other grave clothes but was folded up and laid aside. What an odd detail to include. None of the other gospels include it. Why might John?

John was the last gospel written and there had been growing opposition to the emerging Christian sect. There are rabbinic writings from the first century claiming that Jesus didn’t rise from death but that his disciples took and hid his body. Since then, other theories about the missing corpse have included things like dogs raiding the tomb, dragging the body off and eating it.

The head cloth contradicts those sorts of explanations. If the disciples stole the body at night with Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, why take time to fold the face cloth? Moreover, why strip the body at all? Grab Jesus and run! And can you picture a pack of ravenous feral dogs managing to take the body and leave the grave clothes, let alone fold the face cloth?

No, this glimpse inside the tomb gives us a picture of the resurrection of Jesus that was not panicked or chaotic but serene. On the first day of the week, Jesus sat up, removed the cloth from his face, folded it, and laid it aside. Perhaps angels brought him a change of clothes since he was crucified naked and his clothing divided as he died. He removed the grave clothes, donned his new robe and stepped out of the tomb as death’s conqueror. No rush. No panic. No fear. Just the dignity of a triumphant king coming to deliver to his people the news of his unimaginable victory. Victory over the grave, over death, over sin, over hell itself.

Finding Election Beautiful

Theology can be dangerous. Bad theology can be damning but even good theology has its own risks. I was reminded of this when reading in The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers:

I thank you for showing me the vast difference
between knowing things by reason,
and knowing them by the spirit of faith.
By reason I see a thing is so; by faith I know it as it is.
I have seen you by reason and have not been amazed,
I have seen you as you are in your Son
and have been ravished to behold you. – The Valley of Vision, 57

Now this is just the penned prayer of some old, dead white guy which doesn’t make it right. But it is. It is because the Puritans soaked themselves in scripture and the Bible says we have to have both reason and faith:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists [reason: that he is] and that he rewards those who seek him [faith, as he is, he is gracious].

Hebrews 11:6

We need both the head and the heart engaged in our theological understanding or we could trivialize God by knowing him only as a logical fact and not loving him, or its twin error, by loving a god “as we like to think of him” rather than as he is. Both head and heart are parts of faith.

This danger of apprehending God only by reason is really present when we talk about God’s foreknowledge and his predestination. Why? Because he did these things well apart from us. God foreknew us and predestined us before we existed. He did them in a form of existence we can’t even imagine; in a time before time and in a place before space. He did them in thought process very unlike ours; in the eternal, omniscient council of his own triune will. We can only grasp these things in the abstract and so there is a danger that we might abstract them.

But that’s not why Paul taught us that “those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… And those he predestined he also called, and those he called he also justified, and those he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29–30). Paul taught us this not in the abstract as an interesting intellectual exercise, but that God’s purpose according to election might stand (Rom. 9:11). And God’s purpose for election is the praise of the glory of his grace (Eph. 1:11–14). Paul taught us (reason) so that God’s glory (delighting in him) would be the result.

Take care with your theology my friends. Beware that you might find it more enthralling than the God it is supposed to lead you to.