Thursday, December 31, 2009

I wonder what sort of tale we've fallen into?

"Yes, that's so," said Sam. "And we shouldn't be here at all, if we'd known more about it before we started. But I suppose it's often that way. The brave things in the old tales and song, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on—and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same—like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren't always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we've fallen into?"

—J. R. R. Tolkein, The Two Towers, p. 320

We don't see life as a story with any kind of arc

Christianity is no longer about changing the world. Christianity is no longer about facing the darkness and walking into shadow with souls full of light. We don't see evil as a thing to be conquered, we don't see life as a story with any kind of arc. We don't want our God to be the God of falcons and mole rats and skunk justice.

—N. D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, p. 152

It is the voicings of God

I see craft in the world. I cannot watch dust swirl on the sidewalk without seeing God drag His finger, or listen to spring rain running in the streets without hearing Him roll his Rs. For those who believe in an ex nihilo creation, the world is inevitably art, and it is inevitably art from top to bottom, in every time and in every place. The world cannot exist apart from the voice of God. It is the voicings of God.

—N. D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, p. 98

The best of all possible audiences

Every soul waits in the wings. Every life taken in age, tired and ready, taken in youth, in shock and sorrow, taken in pain or taken in peace, every needle now hidden in shadow waits in eager silence. I see my cousin. My nephew. Many faces, forgotten by those who followed behind, known always by the Author who needs no stone reminders. He is the best of all possible audiences, the only Audience to see every scene, the Author who became a Character and heaped every shadow on Himself.

—N. D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, p. 88

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two Recent Blog Posts about BCS

I work for Bethlehem College and Seminary, and am happy to pour out my life for an institution that seeks to raise up men and women to treasure Christ in every sphere of life. I am also excited to see that others have similar feelings. Here are two recent blog posts:

Thanking God for Bethlehem Seminary
John Piper
Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary
Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church

Why Bethlehem College and Seminary is Important to Disability Ministry
John Knight
Senior Director of Development, Desiring God
Volunteer for Bethlehem's Disability Ministry

Thursday, December 10, 2009

News Flash: CO2 is a pollutant

Okay, so I am going to copy Doug Wilson's post in its entirety, mainly because I laughed out loud.
The EPA, under the adroit leadership of Saruman, has now declared CO2 to be a pollutant. As the Staples Singers taught us so many years ago -- "put your hand on your mouth when you cough, that'll help the solution." And after these Hilaritards have regulated all us CO2 emitters into the ground, they will then turn their attentive ministrations to the real environmental challenge of the century, which is that of battling the plague of salt water.

I just want everybody to stare straight at this for about 120 seconds without blinking. The Greens have successfully won their battle to categorize as a pollutant that element which makes plants grow lush and green. Heh. This would be really funny if it weren't so hilarious.
You can read the whole thing here, but then again, you just did.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Commanches then rushed on Jedediah

Our recent drive to Washington passed through Montana. We talked a lot about what it might have been like to be the first people to walk through that area. Who found the passes through the mountains? What was life like? What did the land look like without fences and farms and McDonalds?

At a rest stop in Montana we read a monument to a man named Jedediah Smith. Wikipedia describes how he died:
According to Dale L. Morgan, Jedediah Smith's biographer, Jedediah was looking for water for the 1831 expedition when he came upon an estimated 15-20 Commanches. There was a brief face to face stand off until the Commanches scared his horse and shot him in the left shoulder. After gasping from the injury, Jedediah wielded his horse around and with one rifle shot was able to kill their chief. The Commanches then rushed on Jedediah, who did not have time to use his pistols, and stabbed him to death with lances. Austin Smith, Jedediah's brother, was able to retreive Jedediah's rifle and pistols that the Indians had taken and traded to the Spanish.
This man, who likely died fighting Commanches in a box canyon somewhere off the Santa Fe Trail, blazed trails through Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and California. He trapped fur and opened up much of the west to those who followed during the Gold Rush. He was only 32 when he died. He likely located passes through the Rockies that 18-wheelers drive today with regularity.

My soul is moved by the courage and bravery and hardiness of men like Smith. Maybe that's why I read everything Louis L'Amour wrote when I was in high school. (Don't fault my love of heroes by the quality of literature, even though I would still read L'Amour at the drop of a hat.)

Friday, December 04, 2009

They are nothing but devil's fools.

“We err in that we judge the work of God according to our own feelings, and regard not His will but our own desire. This is why we are unable to recognize His works, persist in making evil that which is good, and regarding as bitter that which is pleasant. Nothing is so bad, not even death itself, but what it becomes sweet and tolerable if only I know and am certain that it is pleasing to God. Then there follows immediately that of which Solomon speaks, ‘He obtains favor from the Lord.’ (Proverbs 18:22). Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason (which the pagans followed in trying to be most clever), takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, ‘Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labor at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.’ What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, ‘O God, because I am certain that Thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with Thy perfect pleasure. I confess to Thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving Thy creature and Thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised! Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in Thy sight.’ A wife too should regard her duties in the same light, as she suckles the child, rocks and bathes it, and cares for it in other ways; and as she busies herself with other duties and renders help and obedience to her husband. These are truly golden and noble works…Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool, though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith, my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all His angels and creatures, is smiling, not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith. Those who sneer at him and see only the task but not the faith are ridiculing God with all His creatures, as the biggest fool on earth. Indeed, they are only ridiculing themselves; with all their cleverness they are nothing but devil’s fools.”

(Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage,” in Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, Ed. Timothy F. Lull. 2nd Ed. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005), 158-159)

HT: Nowalk

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mess of Me

Switchfoot's new album Hello Hurricane is a lot of fun. It is loud and rowdy and has lots of Jon Foreman screaming. One of their songs, Made a Mess of Me (iTunes link) is an interesting look at total depravity, you know, from a pop/rock lyrical standpoint. The lyrics are below. I know crossing over is important, but it would be great if this song actually supplied the Gospel answer as well as stating the problem. I still really like the song, though.

Mess of Me

I am my own affliction
I am my own disease
There ain´t no drug that they could sell
Ah there ain´t no drugs to make me well

There ain´t no drug
It´s not enough
There ain´t no drug
The sickness is myself

- Chorus -
I made a mess of me I wanna get back the rest of me
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna reverse this tragedy
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my live alive
The rest of my life alive!

We lock our souls in cages
We hide inside our shells
It´s hard to free to the ones you love
Oh when you can´t forgive yourself
Yeah forgive yourself!

There ain´t no drug
There ain´t no drug
There ain´t no drug
The sickness is myself

- Chorus -
I made a mess of me I wanna get back the rest of me
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna reverse this tragedy
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my live alive
The rest of my life alive!


There ain´t no drug
There ain´t no drug
There ain´t no drug
No drugs to make me well
There ain´t no drug
It´s not enough
I´m breaking up
The sickness is myself
The sickness is myself

- Chorus -
I made a mess of me I wanna get back the rest of me
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna reverse this tragedy
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my live alive
The rest of my life alive!!

What I am made for

I often think that I am schizophrenic when it comes to my career. We moved to Minneapolis believing that I was called to teach and preach the Word of God. Over the last five years that calling has been challenged as I struggled with studies and work and family. I really struggled creating new categories in my brain and learning the tools to study God's word well. I sinned by comparing myself to those who had more knowledge or learned faster or better. I am oh so slow and weak.

At times, I doubted my call. I figured that this was all a mistake. Should I go back to engineering?

This morning, as I am finishing my preparation for teaching Thessalonians tonight God gave me an insight, I think. I am inherently lazy. I was accused in college of "flying by the seat of my pants." I will happily do the least amount possible to accomplish a goal. So, when I am at the bottom of a hill looking up at a mountain of work, I would rather not climb the mountain.

But, this morning, after working for two days to climb the mountain of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, I realized that the view from the top of the mountain is glorious. And I don't simply mean glorious, I mean really glorious. Mind-blowingly beautiful. Heart-wrenching, tear-producing, glorious truth. Truth and beauty and glory that must be shared, that must be proclaimed.

At this moment, sitting atop the mountain, I realize, I think, that this is what I am made for. Not simply to stand at the top of the mountain, but to share the view. To help other people see what I see. To proclaim, to plead, to describe, to exalt over, to exult in, and to display the view to the best of my ability.

My problem is the mountain. Tomorrow, after I have shared the view with the few people who will listen, I will come down the mountain. I will be tired and worn out and think, man, that was hard work. I will not want to do the hard work again. I will dread next week when I have to climb again.

Oh, how easily I forget the glorious view at the top. So, on one hand I believe that I am made to proclaim the view. But on the other hand, I do not delight in the hard work necessary to get to the top.

Therefore, I waffle around in the valley, wondering what my career should be and what I was called to Minneapolis for.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Earthy, humble, ministry.

I have thought a lot lately about how I should be ministering better to the non-Christians I have contact with, as well as the Christians that I have the privilege to teach at church. The practical suggestion at the bottom of this quote from Sumpter seems right. I hope that my ministry, whether at BCS or teaching on Wednesday nights, or somewhere else will be characterized by this earthy, humble, reality.
This means that Christian ministry must have Spirit-glorified flesh. So how do we gin up the Spirit? Which songs must we sing, which liturgy should we follow, how do we get the Spirit to incarnate our words, the gospel words we speak to those around us? Part of the answer is that it’s impossible, and that we cannot “get” the Spirit to do anything. The Spirit blows where He wishes, and we do not know His plans or intentions. But we do have the Scriptures, and we know the ways that the Spirit tends to work. The Spirit likes weakness. The Spirit glorifies the humble. The Spirit carves life out of the dirt. One practical suggestion is that Christian ministry needs to embrace the weakness of human flesh. Pastors and elders and parents must learn to hug and kiss and cry and shout and plead. The Word has to sink down into our earth, our bodily earth, into our emotions, our passions, our bodies in order to spring up into newness of human life.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Bible on Friends

A friend speaks face-to-face. (Exo 33:11)
A close friend can be described as one “who is as your own soul.” (Deut 13:6)
A friend is expected to be loyal. (2 Sam 16:17)
A friend is expected to be loyal. (2 Chr 20:7)
Withholding kindness from a friend is as forsaking the fear of the Lord. (Job 6:14)
Bargaining over your friend is a bad thing. (Job 6:27)
Grieving for a friend is like lamenting one’s mother. (Psa 35:14)
A close friend is trusted, one who you eat bread with. (Psa 41:9)
A friend loves at all times. (Prov 17:17)
A friend sticks closer than a brother. (Prov 18:24)
Faithful are the wounds of a friend. (Prov 27:6)
A friend gives earnest counsel. (Prov 27:9)
A friend is not to be forsaken. (Prov 27:10)
A friend is the opposite of an enemy. (James 4:4)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thank you—you know who you are!

This week, someone close enough to know some particulars about our life gave us a gift anonymously. Since we don't know who you are, we are spreading our thanksgiving.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The fact that this person is anonymous does not diminish our thankfulness. Nor does it diminish our knowledge that the gift was given in love, love that first came from our savior Jesus Christ.

Thank you, whoever your are, in Christ.

The Abell Six

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I want my kids to be educated, not trained.

Some people who know us have questioned why we home school our children. Hey, even I have. My first answer is that I want my kids to be able to think for themselves. In order to do that, I think they should be educated in critical thinking, by reading, asking questions, writing, and interacting with other great thinkers. They should learn how to diagram sentences and analyze propositions, and communicate properly whether in writing or speech. They should be able to problem solve.

On a related note, I have noticed that by God's grace, I don't really care what job my kids get when they grow up. Instead, I want them to be able to think and reason and talk and act in such a way that God is glorified and they are happy—whether they become a doctor, lawyer, or short order cook. I want my kids to be educated, not trained.

Here is a quote from Doug Wilson's recent blog post on higher education that inspired me to comment.
This unholy alliance between higher education and industry was successfully accomplished, and the system has become unquestioned, and almost unquestionable. Moreover, it has become a system that many Christian parents insist on maintaining. Even while opposing Obama's proposals for socialistic health care (because they don't want "socialism"), they insist on perpetuating the central engine of socialism (as well as the central example of it) by having their kids go to the very schools that Marx demanded of us, and got. And on top of that, when someone proposes that their older student attend a liberal arts school that is seeking self-consciously to reestablish the old tradition, the parental (and Marxist) objection is often that they "want their kid to be able to get a job." But before we think about getting a job, we need to train the next generation how to get a life.
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fireflies and Songs

I have written about Sara Groves in this space before. She is easily in my top five favorite musicians, if not the top three. Her music never fails to elicit some deep-seated emotion in me.

The two big ones so far are Fireflies and Songs and It's Me.

Her brand new album, Fireflies and Songs, is set to be released on November 17, 2009. For 10 bucks you can have instant gratification and download them now. Please note this link will probably break after November 17.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Maker of Noses

The title of this post is a direct rip-off of Rich Mullins' song, "The Maker of Noses." You can google it to see the fantastic words.

I have been in a meeting all morning and my mind has drifted from the tasks at hand to looking at the noses of people sitting around me.

When you start looking at a person's nose by itself, as an appendage to a face, there seems to be only one conclusion.

Noses are weird.

What does this tell us about the Maker of noses? He has a sense of humor, he is pleased with his creation, we should be thankful for the ability to smell bread. What else?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall in Minnesota

HT: Wendy


Check out this statistical website. If you do, make sure you have the time to dink around, as it is very addicting—and informative.

HT: Chip

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My son and the repentance of God

I am working at home today and my son came down and asked if he could ask me a question. Sure.

"I am reading 1 Samuel 15 for Omnibus today and I read that God regretted that he made Saul king over Israel. Since God ordained everything that takes place, how can this be real regret?"

What does a father say? With a big, thankful gulp, I offered a silent prayer of gratitude to a God who would bless me with a son who thinks while he reads and is not afraid to ask hard questions.

I grabbed my Bible and turned to 1 Sam 15. I then pointed out not only the verse at 1 Sam 15:35, but also 1 Sam 15:29. "Son, how can God not be able to regret and regret six verses later?"

Blank stare. The dawning recognition of a deeper complication. "I don't know."

I would have loved to just tell him what I believe. But I wanted him to go read it somewhere. Maybe that is still telling him, but it would be good for him to read someone other than me.

I sent him here.

Praise God.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Abell 370: Galaxy Cluster Gravitational Lens

Abell 370: Galaxy Cluster Gravitational Lens
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team & ST-ECF

Explanation: What is that strange arc? While imaging the cluster of galaxies Abell 370, astronomers had noted an unusual arc to the right of many cluster galaxies. Although curious, one initial response was to avoid commenting on the arc because nothing like it had ever been noted before. In the mid-1980s, however, better images allowed astronomers to identify the arc as a prototype of a new kind of astrophysical phenomenon -- the gravitational lens effect of entire cluster of galaxies on background galaxies. Today, we know that this arc actually consists of two distorted images of a fairly normal galaxy that happened to lie far behind the huge cluster. Abell 370's gravity caused the background galaxies' light -- and others -- to spread out and come to the observer along multiple paths, not unlike a distant light appears through the stem of a wine glass. In mid-July, astronomers used the just-upgraded Hubble Space Telescope to image Abell 370 and its gravitational lens images in unprecedented detail. Almost all of the yellow images pictured above are galaxies in the Abell 370 cluster. An astute eye can pick up many strange arcs and distorted arclets, however, that are actually images of more distant galaxies. Studying Abell 370 and its images gives astronomers a unique window into the distribution of normal and dark matter in galaxy clusters and the universe.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I miss the PNW

I could not let this picture go by with out referencing it here. From the September 9, 2009 Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Star Trails Over Oregon
Credit & Copyright: Joshua Bury

Explanation: As the Earth spins on its axis, the sky seems to rotate around us. This motion, called diurnal motion, produces the beautiful concentric trails traced by stars during time exposures. Partial-circle star trails are pictured above over Grants Pass, Oregon, USA last month. Near the middle of the circles is the North Celestial Pole (NCP), easily identified as the point in the sky at the center of all the star trail arcs. The star Polaris, commonly known as the North Star, made the very short bright circle near the NCP. About 12,000 years ago, the bright star Vega was the North Star, and in about 14,000 years, as the Earth's spin axis slowly continues to precess, Vega will become the North Star again.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Every Person has a Theology

"The question is not whether you have a theology. Every person has a theology. The question is whether your theology is good or bad."

—Quoted in various forms by lots of people

Thief on the Cross

"The thief on the cross repented at the very last, but as a wise Puritan put it, God gave us one last minute conversion in Scripture so that no one would despair, but only one so that no one would presume."

Douglas Wilson

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sermons on 1 Thessalonians 1:1–2:8

The gracious folks at Oakridge Community Church in Stillwater, MN, invited me back to preach on two Sundays earlier this month. The two sermons are below. Right-click to download:
It was a pure pleasure to exult over this text with an attentive congregation. I thank God for the opportunity.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Regarding Chapters and Verses

Gordon Fee writes regarding the chapter break at 1 Thess 2:1:
While these aid in "finding" things, they are unfortunate in that they cause people to read the Bible differently from the way they would read anything else; and, as here, they often create false divisions of thought. Even the language "chapter and verse" unwittingly advocates a kind of gnomic approach to Scripture that gets in the way of good reading. By taking out the numbers, one can easily see what Paul is concerned with.
—Gordon Fee, The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians, NICNT, 51

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Greatest Story

I grew up escaping life into fiction. I went through a comic book phase, but mostly I read plain old escapist fiction. Starting in 3rd grade I read Narnia over and over. I read all that Jim Kjelgaard wrote in 5th and 6th grade, and The Three Investigators series in 7th and 8th grade. I read everything Louis L'Amour wrote in 9th grade, and then moved into science fiction and fantasy through 10th and 11th grade. The standout during those years were The Amber Chronicles; 1,200 pages of pure bliss (well, at least the first 600, the last half weren't quite as good). I read The Bourne Identity in my senior year, and then moved on to everything Tom Clancy. I was voracious.

My French teacher in High School was exasperated with me for reading escapist fiction rather than good literature. I was okay with that at the time, though now I am trying to catch up and read the good stuff.

I also loved movies. But not any movies, big action flicks where the hero was really good and he saved the girl in the end. My favorite all-time movie is Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have seen most every block-buster since Indianna Jones hit the big screen in 1980 (with the proud exceptions of Dances with Wolves, Forrest Gump, and Titanic).

So? I love stories. I am drawn to stories. I am addicted to stories. Why? That is a good question. I have been thinking about why I in particular, and humans in general, like stories so much. That is why there have been so many posts on literature and story lately.

Yesterday I quoted Andrew Peterson. Here is another quote that I think speaks to what I am talking about:
As I said, I grew up in the church. I went to Sunday school, VBS, church camp, Wednesday night Bible study—the whole shebang. But it wasn’t until my freshman year of Bible college, in an Old Testament survey class, that the light bulb finally went on. It was the first time I realized the Bible is telling one big story, and that story is the one God is telling with history. My love of fiction, of film, even of comic books began to make sense through that lens. What I had always loved about those stories was the Story, seen in glimpses, felt with goosebumps and lumps in the throat that I couldn’t explain. G.K. Chesterton said no man ever entered a brothel who wasn’t looking for God. Well, no one ever walked into a movie theater or read a novel who wasn’t hungry for the Gospel.
I, too, love the greatest story the most.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

That’s hard to do with a dead imagination.

Andrew Peterson:

I remember feeling something when I was a kid. It’s this tickle behind your bellybutton, a sense that you’re brushing up against something magical. I had it all the time when I played with my G.I. Joe toys, when I read Voyage of the Dawn Treader, whenever I drew the first line of a new picture in my sketchbook, when I traipsed through the woods and came upon a rabbit or a snake in the grass. It’s the feeling that you’re being watched, the sudden, awful realization that you’re not alone. I get the feeling sometimes when I’m at Disney with my children, and when I’m at a wedding and we stand as the bride walks the aisle. Sometimes I feel it during communion. That feeling comes less and less the older you get, if you’re not careful to keep it alive. The world is full of surprises. It’s both scarier and more wonderful than you think. All these things prepare the heart for the jarring truth that there is an invisible Other, and He’s watching you. “Believe,” Jesus said, again and again, and that’s hard to do with a dead imagination.

Quoted from his interview on JT's blog.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Lie

Way back in the day when I was in a small church youth group, the youth pastor repeatedly taught on what he called "The Lie." He would quote Romans 1:24-25, "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen." He was a wise man. I remember very little about high school youth group except for this: The Lie is that something or someone other than God can satisfy.

In America, or at least in the world I live in, everything screams at me to find satisfaction in something other than God. I am a huge Apple fan, and to some extent have bought the line that I will be happy if I have the latest iPhone or MacBook Pro. But what about magazine covers, billboards, movie trailers, TV commercials? Do they not all scream the Lie? If you look like me you will be happy. If you own me you will be happy. If you eat here you will be happy. If you watch me you will be happy. If you read me you will be happy.

Now, I know that dressing, eating, watching, and reading are not sins in themselves. The Lie comes in when we believe that dressing, eating, watching, and reading will satisfy more than God does. That is the Lie, that something or someone other than God will satsify. As soon as we believe it, we have exchanged the truth about God for the Lie.

My current pastor has a favorite phrase which teaches a similar truth, in fact it might simply be the flipside of the same coin: God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him. In other words, when we worship God as the most glorious of all beings, then he also shows himself to be the most satisfying. Glorifying God and delighting in God are one thing.

The reality which is opposed to the Lie is that God alone can satisfy. The Psalmist, in Ps 81:11-16, said something very similar to Paul:

11 “But my people did not listen to my voice;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.
13 Oh, that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
14 I would soon subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes.
15 Those who hate the LORD would cringe toward him,
and their fate would last forever.
16 But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

As wonderful as iPhones and MackBook Pros are, as fun as it is to sip a latte on the porch at Starbucks, as exciting as losing yourself in the latest movie, as classy as wearing the latest fashion may be, they will turn sour and false if we think satifsaction lies in them. We must look beyond them to the one true satisfaction, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as revealed in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Make sure that he had plenty of opportunities to disobey you.

There is a good deal to be said for excluding literature from school curricula altogether. I am not sure that the best way to make a boy love the English poets might not be to forbid him to read them and then make sure that he had plenty of opportunities to disobey you.

—C. S. Lewis, "The Parthenon and the Optative," On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, p. 111.

The idea was to find out whether the boy had read his books.

But there is a profound misunderstanding here. These well-meaning educationalists are quite right in thinking that literary appreciation is a delicate thing. What they do not seem to see is that for this very reason elementary examinations on literary subjects ought to confine themselves to just those dry and factual questions which are so often ridiculed. The questions were never supposed to test appreciation; the idea was to find out whether the boy had read his books. It was the reading, not the being examined, which was expected to do him good. And this, so far from being a defect in such examinations is just what renders them useful or even tolerable.

—C. S. Lewis, "The Parthenon and the Optative," On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, p. 110.


Since I began formal theological studies in 2004, I have been using BibleWorks as my preferred Bible software. I have often argued for this software over Accordance and Logos. My main arguments are that BibleWorks is faster and cheaper and provides more bang for the buck than either of the other two contenders. The only downside is that BibleWorks does not run natively on a Mac; instead, one has to use Parallels or VMWare Fusion.

Justin Taylor linked to two reviews by Keith Mathison, one on BibleWorks and one on Accordance. It seems that Keith and I have the same understanding about these software bundles.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The trouble allowing words to slip into the abyss.

To save any word from the eulogistic and dyslogistic abyss is a task worth the efforts of all who love the English language. And I can think of one word—the word Christian—which is at this moment on the brink. When politicians talk of 'Christian moral standards' they are not always thinking of anything which distinguishes Christian morality from Confucian or Stoic or Benthamite morality. One often feels that it is merely one literary variant among the 'adorning epithets' which, in our political style, the expression 'moral standards' is felt to require; civilized (another ruined word) or modern or democratic or enlightened would have done just as well. But it will really be a great nuisance if the word Christian becomes simply a synonym for good. For historians, if no one else, will still sometimes need the word in its proper sense, and what will they do? That is always the trouble allowing words to slip into the abyss. Once turn swine into a mere insult, and you need a new word (pig) when you want to talk about the animal. Once let sadism dwindle into a useless synonym for cruelty, and what do you do when you have to refer to the highly specialized perversion which actually afflicted M. de Sade?

—C. S. Lewis, "The Death of Words," On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, p. 106-107.

As old horses go to the knacker's yard...

The truth is not simply that words originally innocent tend to acquire a bad sense. The vocabulary of flattery and insult is continually enlarged at the expense of the vocabulary of definition. As old horses go to the knacker's yard, or old ships to the breakers, so words in their last decay go to swell the enormous list of synonyms for good and bad. And as long as most people are more anxious to express their likes and dislikes than to describe facts, this must remain a universal truth about language.

—C. S. Lewis, "The Death of Words," On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, p. 106.

Giving Thanks to God for You: Sermon Prep on 1 Thess 1

Is it wrong to motivate a congregation toward holy living by holding up the Thessalonians as an example to imitate? No, I don’t think so, because Paul indicates that the Thessalonians were an example for the Macedonians and Achaians (1 Thess 1:7). Good enough. If they were examples for the people in the surrounding regions, then they can be examples for us. However, we must be careful to make clear who or what the ground of their ability to be an example is. Can this be found in the text? I think so; the ground of their becoming imitators was in the receiving of the word in tribulation and in the Holy Spirit. This is God wrought imitation, isn’t it? (Do 1 Thess 1:6-7 form a bilateral? Only if the hōste acts as a therefore. Otherwise, it might indicate the result of the action previously described.) Also, the content of Paul’s thanksgiving (1 Thess 1:2-3) is all about their work, labor, and perseverance, which are in turn respectively produced by faith, hope, and love. So then, as I am seeing it right now, faith, hope, and love, are central to the Thessalonians ability to live as examples. And their faith, hope, and love are all rooted in Jesus Christ himself (tou kyriou hēmōn Iēsou Christou).

Friday, July 24, 2009


The other night we read Luke 11:1-13 as a family. Now, to be perfectly honest this passage of Scripture has always eluded me. For those of you who get this text right away, forgive my thick-head. Even still, I didn’t get it. Fortunately, I have children who think better than I do. “Daddy, what does impudence mean?” My thought was that it meant being a jerk, or disrespectful, or insubordinate. So much for my vocabulary skills. I grabbed my trusty iPod Touch and ran the Dictionary app. Impudence means “the quality or state of being impudent.” Not so helpful. With a little more searching I found the following definitions: lack of modesty, shamelessness, characterized by impertinence or effrontery, barefaced audacity.

Now we were getting somewhere. So, the friend that came to the door at midnight and knocked was not being insubordinate, or even simply disrespectful. Instead, he was acting with barefaced audacity. He was shameless in his knocking at midnight. He was causing a scene, and seemed willing to risk anger and embarrassment in order to get what he wanted.

Jesus draws the conclusion in Luke 11:9, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” In other words, it seems that Jesus is telling his disciples that they should pray with impudence. They should pray with barefaced audacity.

The implications from this are shocking. We are sinners. We are creatures. God is creator. And we are to pray to our creator with boldfaced audacity. Stunning! Similar passages that come to mind are the persistent woman (Luke 18:1-8) and entering the throne room with boldness (Heb 4:16).

What should the disciples (and by extension us) pray for? Luke 11:13 gives us a clue. The Father will freely give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. Our salvation and intimacy with God himself will be freely given to those who pray with impudence.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Augustin: The Typeface not the Man

I have a friend (here and here) who has introduced me to the world of typography. I am a total neophyte, but hopefully I am learning. I ran across this new typeface today, which I really like. Maybe those with a more discerning eye would disagree, but I like it and would love to print my next exegetical paper in Augustin.

Millennial Views in a Statement of Faith: Sin.

Justin Taylor quotes Mark Dever saying that having a millennial view written into a church's statement of faith is sin. Having experienced this sort of thing first hand, I find Dever's quote refreshing. I agree with Dever and believe that a long-term consequence of this sin is a severe danger to the health of the church, since it breeds an "us vs. them" mentality. It certainly divides more than it unifies.
I think that millennial views need not be among those doctrines that divide us. . . . I am suggesting that what you believe about the millennium—how you interpret these thousand years—is not something that it is necessary for us to agree upon in order to have a congregation together. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed in John 17:21 that we Christians might be one. Of course all true Christians are one in that we have his Spirit, we share his Spirit, we desire to live out that unity. But that unity is supposed to be evident as a testimony to the world around us. Therefore, I conclude that we should end our cooperations together with other Christians (whether near-ly in a congregation, or more at length in working together in missions and church planting and evangelism and building up the ministry) only with the greatest of care, lest we rend the body of Christ for whose unity he’s prayed and given himself. Therefore, I conclude that it is sin to divide the body of Christ—to divide the body that he prayed would be united. Therefore for us to conclude that we must agree upon a certain view of alcohol, or a certain view of schooling, or a certain view of meat sacrificed to idols, or a certain view of the millennium in order to have fellowship together is, I think, not only unnecessary for the body of Christ, but it is therefore both unwarranted and therefore condemned by scripture. So if you’re a pastor and you’re listening to me, you understand me correctly if you think I’m saying you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view. I do not understand why that has to be a matter of uniformity in order to have Christian unity in a local congregation.
Read Justin's entire post to find links to sermons by Mark Dever and Tom Schreiner, as well as an article by Sam Storms on the problems with the Premillennial view.

Monday, July 06, 2009

If sin made sense, it wouldn't be sin.

Douglas Wilson writes,
But people act the way they do because of sin. And if sin made sense, it wouldn't be sin. This is the mystery of lawlessness. A man can engage in behavior that is self-destructive, knowing full well that it is self-destructive, and do it anyway, with his eyes wide open. Wisdom says in Proverbs that all who hate her love death (Prov. 8:36). When you are trying to set the paths of life before a man who loves death, and you are assuming that he is doing what he does because he actually doesn't love death, this is going to result in a very clear, cogent, and impotent teacher. The law can't save.
Read the whole thing if you want, but this paragraph was really all I wanted to post on. In other words, Wilson's original post is well worth reading, but my point is to acknowledge the irrationality of sin, namely that "A man can engage in behavior that is self-destructive, knowing full well that it is self-destructive, and do it anyway, with his eyes wide open."

I know this from first-hand experience, and I expect, with a little honesty, that you do too. So, what is the solution? The gospel, of course. The teacher, whoever that might be, must be able to preach a good-ol' come to Jesus sermon—to the dead.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Anniversary, My Love

Today is the 19th anniversary of being married to my best friend, lover, and partner in everything. She has had to put up with a lot of crap in the last 19 years. She is God's greatest physical embodiment of mercy, grace, forgiveness, love, joy, partnership, and perseverance to me. I can more easily believe that God is real and good by looking at the gift of my wife. I hope I have not turned her into an idol, but have loved her as God's gift to me. I exalt him and thank him for her, all the while striving (not so well) to love her like Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25-33).

Happy Anniversary, my love.

By dipping them in myth we see them more clearly.

The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by 'the veil of familiarity'. The child enjoys his cold meat (otherwise dull to him) by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his own bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savoury for having been dipped in a story; you might say that only then is it the real meat. If you are tired of the real landscape, look at it in a mirror. By putting bread, gold, horse, apple, or the very roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality: we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves. This book [The Lord of the Rings] applies the treatment not only to bread or apple but to good and evil, to our endless perils, our anguish, and our joys. By dipping them in myth we see them more clearly. I do not think he [Tolkien] could have done it any other way.

—C. S. Lewis, "Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings," On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, p. 90.

The wine of life was drawn long since.

But in the Tolkienian world you can hardly put your foot down anywhere from Esgaroth to Forlindon or between Ered Mithrin and Khand, without stirring the dust of history. Our own world, except at certain rare moments, hardly seems so heavy with its past. This is one element in the anguish which the characters bear. But with the anguish there comes also a strange exaltation. They are at once stricken and upheld by the memory of vanished civilisations and lost splendour. They have outlived the second and third Ages; the wine of life was drawn long since. As we read we find ourselves sharing their burden; when we have finished, we return to our own life not relaxed but fortified.

—C. S. Lewis, "Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings," On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, p. 86.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Let there be wicked kings and beheadings...

Since it is so likely that they [children growing up in this world] will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker. Nor do most of us find that violence and bloodshed, in a story, produce any haunting dread in the minds of children. As far as that goes, I side impenitently with the human race against the modern reformer. Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let villains be soundly killed at the end of the book. Nothing will persuade me that this causes an ordinary child any degree of fear beyond what it wants, and needs, to feel. For, of course, it wants to be a little frightened.

—C. S. Lewis, "On Three Ways of Writing for Children," On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, pp. 39-40.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

No apology for good kid's books

It is usual to speak in a playfully apologetic tone about one's adult enjoyment of what are called 'children's books'. I think the convention a silly one. No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty—except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all. A mature palate will probably not much care for creme de methe: but it ought still to enjoy bread and butter and honey.

—C. S. Lewis, "On Stories," On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, p. 14.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A splintered fragment of true light

Until, that is, he came under the altogether benign influence of a fellow don at Oxford, Professor J. R. R. Tolkien. Not only was Tolkien a Christian, but, as Lewis explained in a letter to Greeves, one of the human carriers of the Faith to him. The actual event took place on the evening of the 19th September 1931, when Lewis, Tolkien, and another friend, Hugo Dyson, were up all night discussing 'myth' and its relation to the revelation of God in Christ. Tolkien, like Lewis, had long feasted on ancient myths, particularly those of Norse origin. The difference between them was that while Lewis defined myths as 'lies breathed through silver', Tolkien—already at work on his vast invented world of Middle Earth—believed in the inherent truth of mythology. 'Just as speech is invention about objects and ideas', he said to Lewis that same evening, 'so myth is invention about truth. We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming a "sub-creator" and inventing stories, can Man ascribe to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall.'*

*Humphrey Carpenter, J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography (1977), ch. IV.

—Walter Hooper, Preface, On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, by C. S. Lewis, pp. xiii–xiv

That boy's not all cotton fluff, is he?

"You know," Henry said. He was talking more to himself than the faerie, trying to believe something. "A man once told me that sometimes winning a fight isn't as important as standing in the right place, facing what needs to be faced. And sometimes standing in the right place means you end up dead. And that's better than not standing at all." Henry twisted around and looked into the fat faerie's dark eyes.

"Oh," Frank said. "That's a dark bit of philosophy for a lad. Think that way, and all you'll ever get is your name written on a bit of stone. What I say is, don't go playing unless you can win. Only sit down to chess with idiots, only kick a dog what's dead already, and don't love a lady unless she loves you first. That's Franklin Fat-Faerie's—"

Henry was gone.

Frank puffed out his cheeks and pulled a thread from his pocket. "Well, Franklin, that boy's not all cotton fluff, is he?" He began tying the thread around one of the supporting sticks. "He's got it pretty well figured, and you know it. We're all going to get ourselves dead, and only the gulls will want our after-bits. But," he added, tugging gently on the thread, "I'll do my dying standing on the right spot, beside the son of Mordecai, even if he is a bit of a nunce."

—N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire, pp. 371–375

Because it is right to do so

Ron was silent for a moment. Then he spoke. "Sometimes standing against evil is more important than defeating it. The greatest heroes stand because it is right to do so, not because they believe they will walk away with their lives. Such selfless courage is a victory in itself."

—N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire, pp. 172–173

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Baseball was a Magic He Could Run Around in

Henry successfully kept his mind on the game, which might seem strange for a boy who slept beside a wall of magic. But baseball was as magical to him as a green, mossy mountain covered in ancient trees. What's more, baseball was a magic he could run around in and laugh about. While the magic of the cupboards was not necessarily good, the smell of leather mixed with dusty sweat and spitting and running through sparse grass after a small ball couldn't be anything else.

—N. D. Wilson, 100 Cupboards, pp. 155-156

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Regarding secret, hidden sin...

Douglas Wilson writes,
Three solutions present themselves—two of them false and one true. The first false solution is to continue to hide the sin, on one's own terms, and in one's own way. But Moses' words should follow all who seek this way out—"be sure your sin will find you out." The second seeks to combine biblical truths with pragmatic solutions. "I confessed it to God. What else . . .?" Sometimes there is nothing else but to receive forgiveness. But in other situations, much remains to be done. Stolen goods must still be restored, slandered brothers and sisters must be asked for forgiveness, and broken covenants must be put right. And so the third way, the only effective way, is to want God's mercy so much that you are willing do exactly what He says when you apply to Him for it.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Backhanded Apple Marketing

Windows Secrets, a popular online newsletter for Windows users, had the following lead-in to their top story, written by Woody Leonhard:
If you've ever wondered why it's so difficult to manage and share files in Windows, you'll be delighted with two significant new features in Windows 7.

These new capabilities, called Libraries and Homegroups, make finding files and connecting with resources on other PCs so easy you'll think you're using a Mac!
Hah! Why not just use a Mac and avoid all the MS hassle?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Great game, then dessert!

Chase's team was down 8 to 0. Yes, the big fat zero. Chase was up to bat. Two strikes. One ball. Lined one into the outfield for a double. Stole third. Third baseman let it go between his legs. Stole home. Game hero. Reward below.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

True Freedom

"True freedom before God is the freedom to do what is right as God defines what is right."

This quote is from Doug Wilson when discussing Augustine's definition of freedom and free market systems. It is an excellent quote quite apart from that.

I have an old tape where R.C. Sproul called this Royal Freedom.

I find it very interesting when people argue against the sovereignty of God over the salvation of men by saying that God is somehow restricting their freedom. What kind of freedom do you want, for goodness' sake? Freedom to sin, or true freedom?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lust, Temptation, and Sin

Often times, when men talk about lust, they put the onus on the word lust. I lusted yesterday. While this is true, I think the word has taken on a milder connotation than it should have in these scenarios—almost as if it is a respectable sin. Or, at least, it seems to have lost some of its teeth. The idea really should be I committed adultery yesterday. Ouch. That puts a tougher spin on it, doesn’t it?

Some times, when men are dealing with this sin, they try to draw a line between what constitutes lust and what does not. Making this distinction is important to determine whether sin is really happening or not. For instance, it is sometimes said in evangelical circles, "The first look is free, but if you look again, you have sinned." In other words, one might see an attractive woman and look away, because the first look is not sin, but if he looks again, then that is sin. This, of course, is a rather legalistic way of understanding the problem and can lead to long, lingering, first looks. Talking about lust in this way is really like walking up to a wolf and placing sheep’s clothing around its shoulders.

The important distinction needed is to cut past the soft-talk and deal directly with sin and temptation. The biblical reality is that temptation is going to happen. The issue is not that we look long or twice or at all, the issue is whether we sin. So, what constitutes sin? Does a long look constitute sin? Does a second look constitute sin? Both of these are the wrong question. What constitutes sin is the response in our heart. Do we want what we see? Sin is the wrong response to the temptation.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13). Temptation is going to happen. Beautiful women will walk in front of you. The question is not whether you look long or twice. The issue at hand is how you respond to the temptation. According to Paul, God himself will not let you be tempted more than you are able. That seems to imply that you don’t have to sin, not only in this situation, but in any temptation. You don’t have to respond to the temptation with sin. So, how should we respond? Look to Jesus.

Verse 14 begins with therefore. Since no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man, therefore, flee from idolatry. How to do you flee from idolatry? “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:14-16) We look to Christ. We partake in his blood and in his body. We look to him as the serpent being lifted up. He became a curse for us and was hung on a tree, so that we do not have to sin any more, so that we may find the way of escape from temptation and may be able to endure it.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all men who believe, both Jew and Greek. The gospel of Jesus, crucified and risen, is the power of God unto salvation, both in the eternal sense and from sin. What a glorious truth!

So, it is wise and helpful to make sure you don’t look long and don’t look twice. But, don’t think that these acts save you or keep you from sin, because even a nanosecond look is long enough to sin, for sin is a heart response to the temptation. Instead look to Christ and his gospel. Pray to Christ as your way out of temptation. How you respond to the temptation is a heart issue, not an issue merely of the eyes.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Praying for Salvation?

Years ago I led a Sunday school class through the doctrine of election. I had wonderful Christian friends in that class who really struggled with accepting the doctrine. One of the issues that was very difficult for them to accept is whether God can overcome someone's "free will." This felt very obtrusive to my friends. Yet, I noticed an inconsistency in their belief, because at the same time they did not like the idea of God electing people unto salvation from before the foundation of time, they had no problem praying and asking God to save a particular person now.

Can we hold a position where on one hand we don't want God to choose or elect someone unto salvation, and on the other ask God to save someone presently?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

iLaugh Out Loud

A slight modification from a recent post on TUAW:

Windows Vista

If you play the Windows Vista CD-ROM backwards, you'll hear a satanic message. That's frightening. Even more frightening is that if you play it forward, it installs Windows Vista.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Psalm 25

1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

6 Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!

8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Christian Lover

Ligonier Ministries has published a new book, The Christian Lover. The book is filled with love letters between spouses written by heroes of the faith over the centuries. Maybe some of us guys should get this and read it out loud to our wives on Valentine's Day, or any other day for that matter.

Carl Trueman:
Michael Haykin never ceases to surprise with his gift for producing unusual books on neglected aspects of church history. Here he gives his readers insights into the love lives of some of the great saints of the past, bringing out their humanity in touching and unique ways. An unusual book, certainly, but well worth reading.
Daniel L. Akin
The Christian Lover is both insightful and inspirational. Your heart will be touched as you gain a brief glimpse into the love shared by these heroes of the faith. Be prepared for the unexpected. The passions of these couples will surprise you, but you will not be disappointed.
Excerpt from a letter by Samuel Pearce to Sarah Pearce:
London, September 7, 1795
. . . Every day improves not only my tenderness but my esteem for you. Called as I now am to mingle much with society in all its orders I have daily opportunity of making remarks on human temper and after all I have seen and thought my judgment as well as my affection still approves of you as the best of women for me. We have been too long united by conjugal ties to admit a suspicion of flattery in our correspondence or conversation. . . . I begin to count the days which I hope will bring me to a re-enjoyment of your dear company.

Dublin June 24, 1796
. . . For my part, I compare our present correspondence to a kind of courtship, rendered sweeter than what usually bears that name by a certainty of success and a knowledge of the suitableness of my dear intended. Not less than when I sought your hand, so I now covet your heart, nor doth the security of possessing you at all lessen any pleasure at the prospect of calling you my own, when we meet again the other side of St. George's Channel. . . . O our dear fireside! When shall we sit down toe to toe, and tête-à-tête again. Not a long time I hope will elapse ere I reenjoy that felicity.
Don't you wish you could write like that?

Filled with people muddling through

Our brains have an amazing capacity to be messed up. The mental problems that normal people face can be excruciating. Of course, the mental problems that people consider outside the pale of normalcy is even more so. Simply look at the number of self-help books on the shelves to see the reality of this. The counseling, psychotherapy, and psychology fields have exploded in the last fifty years.

The thought, then, is this: if our brains have such an incredible capacity to be messed up, then how incredible will our brains be on that day when they are fully healed and fully functioning and a person can see himself, his motivations, and his affections clearly?

As I look out my office window this morning on the skyline of Minneapolis, I am awed by the minds that created buildings hundreds of feet tall, girded by glass. I am awed by the minds that devised ways to get water up that high so that faucets run and toilets flush. I am awed by the fact that on -15 degree days, the inside of those buildings is a comfortable 70 degrees. Or on 94 degree days, those buildings are still a comfortable 70 degrees.

Yet, I am saddened and dismayed that those same buildings are filled with people muddling through heartache, guilt, broken relationships, and messed up heads.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

The Eternal Appetite of Infancy

A good friend of mine has a blog. You might want to check it out. Yesterday, he placed a quote from Chesterton that I think is worth repeating and thinking about.
It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 51)
(HT: Remanations)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This Is, After All, God's World

Stephen Nichols continues:
The second teaching moment of apostasy lit concerns the Christian environment. Thankfully, correcting the stifling environment is far less challenging than responding to the sternness problem. This is, after all, God's world. His kingdom does not stop at the gated entrance to the Christian camp or the security detectors at the doors of the Christian bookstore. Can the rest of the radio dial also be tuned in from time to time? Christians, despite there being some good ones out there, aren't always the best writers, painters, and musicians. Beauty, justice, even truth may live in those seemingly dark corners untraversed by the Christian family. Even non-Christian friends may turn out to be not sired by the devil after all. Finding one's way here could, admittedly, be tricky at times. But it's not as treacherous as we think. Even Christian parents may learn a thing or two by getting "out there" from time to time. We might even learn something, even though our hackles may be raised in the process, as we reach to the secular shelf of the secular bookstore and purchase a secular book in the new genre of apostasy lit. We may wince at parts. We may curse, Christian curse of course, at parts. We may cry at parts. And, we may even be led to prayer at parts: Lord, have mercy upon us; Lord, be gracious to us.
From Apostasy Lit: Why Do They Leave? by Stephen Nichols

The Dance Between Grace and Mercy and Justice and Wrath

Raising four children is a difficult thing, especially if you are a Christian and want your children to have a deep and saving faith. There are pitfalls and teaching moments along the way:
Perhaps this harshness and sternness derive from a desire, albeit well-intentioned, to control. Christian parents, and I readily identify with this since I am one, desperately want their children to be at peace with themselves and at peace with their world, and they know that such peace will only come when they are at peace with God. They want to, in the words of Jonathan Edwards to his daughter, meet there at last in heaven as a family. And this desire can be strong, so strong that it morphs into something precariously close to ugliness. I'll drive it into them, and it will be for their own good, becomes the impulse. This inclination towards sternness, towards doling out justice over grace, is inched along as a reaction to the cultural pressures of an acceptance-no-matter-what value. Christian parents should be able to fret over their teenager's sexual activity. Christian parents do believe that actions have consequences and that some actions shouldn't be overlooked. Nevertheless, sometimes the sternness overtakes otherwise good intentions. No doubt, this gets complicated. Only God has mastered the dance between grace and mercy and justice and wrath. All we can do is strive to approximate it.
From Apostasy Lit: Why Do They Leave? by Stephen Nichols