Friday, October 29, 2010

AKA Halloween

As October 31 approaches, here is an interesting interview with Carl Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History, and Academic Dean, at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, about Martin Luther and his 95 Theses. He knows his facts about Luther having written his dissertation on Luther's Legacy. Check it out.

I found this Q&A very interesting.
Was Luther a “Protestant” at this point (when he nailed the 95 Theses to the door)? Was he a “Lutheran”?

No, on both counts. He himself tells us in 1545 that, in 1517, he was a committed Catholic who would have murdered—or at least been willing to see murder committed—in the name of the Pope. There is some typical Luther hyperbole there, but the theology of the Ninety-Five Theses is not particularly radical, and key Lutheran doctrines, such as justification by grace through faith alone, are not yet present. He was an angry Catholic, hoping that, when the Pope heard about Teztel, he would intervene to stop the abuse.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Family Reading

I've greatly enjoyed reading books to my children. We've gone through several books and checked out fun, smaller books from the library. On our family blog I've written about Chuck Black's, Kingdom Series. I definitely recommend families to read through them together. They are great allegories of Scripture that provide many opportunities for conversation about the Bible and the Gospel. We're reading through The Chronicles of Narnia now which they absolutely love. It helps that after we read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe that we watched the movie together. We'll read The Dawn Treader well before it's out this December. I can't wait to take them out to the movies.
For our nightly devotions we have read The Big Picture Story Bible several times and finished the Jesus Storybook once. There's no doubt for older children that the Jesus Storybook is amazing. It's presentation of the Gospel and constant emphasis on Jesus as the center of the whole Bible directs us to worship together. During our morning routine we are reading through Mighty Acts of God. It is a good book, and it will be a book we use for a long time. It has many great discussion helps at the end of each section. Once again it is a great help to always point us to Jesus Christ throughout every part of history in God's redemption plan.
I write this because I love being with my children. One of the ways we spend precious time together is playing games but also by reading together which creates conversation and teaching opportunities. I love my children, and I look for ways to cultivate our relationship to deepen it and strengthen it in the Gospel. Reading Truth to them is something I cherish and they enjoy as well. It's a special time when we read together. I pray that by God's grace one of the things that will anchor them to a love for God's Word and a thirst for knowledge is our reading together as a family.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Hiddenness of God

I wrote some time ago about the Hidden smile of God. Behind a frowning Providence, He hides a smiling face. We all wrestle with questions about suffering and death regardless of our belief in God or lack thereof. Below is one man's account of how death has impacted him and yet, his trust in God. Frank James's brother was killed on Mount Hood after being trapped in a cave during a horrendous blizzard. I posted the story in part here but you can read the entire article here which provides great counsel on grieving.

Midnight, it is said, is the portal between this world and the next and is somehow in league with chaos, death, and mystery. It is the moment of dark visitations. So it was for me in December 2006. My sleep was interrupted by a phone call, and I was instantly shocked into full consciousness: My younger brother was trapped in a snow cave on Mount Hood, and an unyielding blizzard prevented rescue.
The mountain proved to be Kelly's final adventure. Losing my brother on Mount Hood has been a painful reminder of my own spiritual fragility. None of us is immune to the heartaches and sorrows that inhabit this misbegotten world. Though I am a preacher, a professor of historical theology, and the provost of a theological seminary, I have found it agonizingly difficult to come to terms with my brother's death. It is one thing to talk about death in the abstract. It is entirely another to cope with the death of someone you love very, very much. The truth of the matter is that losing a loved one hurts down to the deepest parts of your soul.
I was the first to learn the news days later. Hearing those words announcing his death was like a blow to the solar plexus knocking the breath out of me, but telling the rest of my family was more dreadful. I had known heartache before, but this transcended every previous emotion I had ever experienced. My vision blurred. My feet were heavy and seemed to resist carrying me to the next room, where my family anxiously awaited the latest news of the rescue mission on Mount Hood. Kelly's wife, Karen, the children, our mother, three brothers and a sister—they took the news hard. I have never heard weeping like I heard that night in the village at the foot of the mountain. The Bible sometimes refers to "wailing" as an especially forlorn kind of weeping. That is what I heard that night—wailing. I hope I never hear that sound again.
Death is ugly, and we cannot—indeed, should not—try to make it palatable or explain it away with pious platitudes. Death is a cruel, brutal, and fearsome trespasser into this world. It is an intruder and a thief. It has severed an irreplaceable relationship with my brother. We shared the same story, and he knew me in a way no other person did. Kelly would no longer return my calls. Never again would I hear him cheerfully mock me as "Frankie Baby." Sometimes I see him in a dream, and I reach out to grasp him—but he is not there.
We are created for life, not death. Kelly had a shameless zest for living life to the fullest. When death strikes suddenly from the shadows or claws at us until the last breath, those left behind experience numbness and disorientation. Somehow we know in our hearts that it is not supposed to be this way.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Order of Creation

I'm not posting to give an answer to the age of the earth or universe. I can tell you the order of creation, but it would be much easier for you to look up Genesis 1 and read it. See The Economist's review of Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow's new release The Grand Design. Hawking has made several "appearances" on The Simpson's but in real life he's a famous physicist well known for A Brief History of Time. If we had a coffee table I'm sure our illustrated copy of A Brief History of Time would be a fun piece of decoration, but we don't have a coffee table. Nonetheless check out The Economist's unimpressed review.

Their conclusion:

Once upon a time it was the province of philosophy to propose ambitious and outlandish theories in advance of any concrete evidence for them. Perhaps science, as Professor Hawking and Mr Mlodinow practice it in their airier moments, has indeed changed places with philosophy, though probably not quite in the way that they think.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Orphan Care is Spiritual Warfare

Here is an article written by Dr. Russell Moore in Christianity Today. It was written a couple of months ago, but is well worth the read today.

We evangelicals often seem to identify more around corporate brands and political parties than with each other in our local churches. But our adoption in Christ makes us not warring partisans but loving siblings, whom the Spirit has taken from the babble of Babel to the oneness of Pentecost. The church's unity attests to the "manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10). Would our gospel be more credible if "church family" wasn't just a slogan, if "brothers and sisters" was more than metaphor? What would happen if the world saw fewer "white churches" and "black churches," fewer "blue-collar churches" and "white-collar churches," and fewer baby boomer and emerging churches, and saw more churches whose members have little in common except being saved by the gospel?
Our churches ought to be showing the families therein how love and belonging transcend categories of the flesh. Instead, though, it seems God is using families who adopt to teach the church. In fact, perhaps we so often wonder whether adopted children can really be brothers and sisters because we so rarely see it displayed in our pews. Some—maybe even you—might wonder how an African American family could love a white Ukrainian baby, how a Haitian teenager could call Swedish parents Mom and Dad. The adoption movement is challenging the impoverished hegemony of our carnal sameness, as more and more families in the church are starting to show fellow believers the meaning of unity in diversity.
That's why adoption and orphan care can ultimately make the church a counterculture. The demonic rulers of the age hate orphans because they hate babies—and have from Pharaoh to Moloch to Herod to the divorce culture to malaria to HIV/AIDS. They hate foster care and orphan advocacy because these actions are icons of the gospel's eternal reality. Our enemies would prefer that we find our identity and inheritance in what we can see and verify as ours—the flesh—rather than according to the veiled rhythms of the Spirit. Orphan care isn't charity; it's spiritual warfare.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Gospel of Wealth

Here is an interesting op-ed piece from David Brooks - The Gospel of Wealth. He highlights the American Dream clash with excess and how certain "groups" are reshaping the restraint that was once present in America.

Here are some of his statements:

People bought bulbous vehicles like Hummers and Suburbans. The rule was, The Smaller the Woman, the Bigger the Car — so you would see a 90-pound lady in tennis whites driving a 4-ton truck with enough headroom to allow her to drive with her doubles partner perched atop her shoulders.

In the coming years of slow growth, people are bound to establish new norms and seek noneconomic ways to find meaning. One of the interesting figures in this recalibration effort is David Platt.

Jesus, Platt notes, made it hard on his followers. He created a minichurch, not a mega one. Today, however, building budgets dwarf charitable budgets, and Jesus is portrayed as a genial suburban dude. “When we gather in our church building to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshipping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead, we may be worshipping ourselves.”

Platt is in the tradition of those who don’t believe these two spheres can be reconciled. The material world is too soul-destroying. “The American dream radically differs from the call of Jesus and the essence of the Gospel,” he argues.

But the Gospel rejects the focus on self: “God actually delights in exalting our inability.” The American dream emphasizes upward mobility, but “success in the kingdom of God involves moving down, not up.”

Saturday, September 04, 2010


I read this blog earlier and have a very hard time categorizing it. When you read it, I'm sure you will find sadness yet peace in God. I can't imagine the sorrow this couple is going through, but I take them at their word when they hoping in the Lord while they suffer. Read it here or below. Please pray for Zach and Jennifer.

The Glory of It All
September 2, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010. Zack and I visited the perinatal clinic for a “just to be sure everything’s o.k.” ultrasound. I had already had two normal ultrasounds and at fourteen weeks thought I was not in danger of losing this baby. From the start of the day, things were off. We got up late, got to the clinic late, there was only one doctor working. And then…Immediately the ultrasound tech knew something was wrong, though she put on a good show for us. She paged the only doctor working at the clinic and he came immediately to let me know in no uncertain terms, that my baby would not live once it was born. He spouted off a lot of medical terms and possibilities, none of which I remembered. I came away from that appointment knowing only that my baby would die and that as the doctor said, “This is much worse than Down Syndrome.”

The doctor left us alone in the room to process the news and as Zack held me while I cried and my heart broke at the thought of carrying this baby for six more months and then losing it, a peace settled over me. I had a sense that this was God’s plan for our lives and we would live it, like we had lived everything else. Like Zack had lived the death of his father when he was only seventeen, or we had lived the two miscarriages prior to the birth of our son John Owen. We’d live it because we wholeheartedly trust that God’s plans are best.

Today we returned to the perinatal clinic so they could try and determine exactly what was wrong with the baby. The answer: anencephaly. I sat staring at the picture of my baby that the ultrasound tech had left up (by mistake probably) as the doctor talked and talked and tried to console us and offer us “early delivery” and reassure us that it wasn’t our fault. I just sat and stared. None of those things he said offered any consolation to me, any hope. For the ten days prior to today, I had believed and known with everything inside of me that God could heal my baby. BUT today as I sat and stared at my baby, something inside of me knew that maybe healing wasn’t God’s best in this situation.

Our desire has been to glorify God in all we do. I fail miserably most days. Especially while we are on this journey though, my heart cries out to glorify God above all else. And maybe God will receive more glory through our suffering than through a miracle. Maybe not. All things are possible with God.

But today…I grieve.

I grieve for my little girl kicking and growing inside of me–Ella Grace.

I grieve for my husband who tries so hard to understand me and wants desperately to make things better.

I grieve for my family, friends, and church family who hurt with us as we travel this road.

At the end of this journey I hope people can say that God received glory.

I hope we suffer well.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The net connecting us all

I'm a big fan of the new developments in gmail. Not only can you chat or video chat with people (not that I chat with people or video chat with people outside of my parents who really just want to see the kids and occasionally with Freddy T.) now you can call cell phones and landlines for free. That's right I said for free.
I'm a big fan of this new development because we use our cell phones for calling and that's it. Now that I have another outlet to use minutes I don't have to sweat at the end of the month and make sure my phone calls end in one minute or calling people after 9 pm.
It's an interesting development in the cell phone world too. It hasn't been a secret that data is the premium sales ticket rather than minutes. Thus, in our Decade of Disconnect we're already avoiding texting and data costs and reaping the benefits of no price calling.
Yes, I identify with Karen's term "Decade of Disconnect". In reality both terms are used lightly, kind of like Made from Scratch Lemonade at O'Charley's which is made with soda water, and lemon flavoring. Yes, we are disconnected without a TV. But we have the internet. No we don't text either, but we have cell phones. As for texting, I'm not opposed to texting in general, but I am opposed to conversational texting. The bottom line is which is most practical - texting or talking?
Nonetheless we're not totally disconnected even if it takes a Newsweek article to let us in on the Jersey Shore phenomenon. Decade is used loosely too since there is no way to know what technology will bring in ten years.
For now, I'll indulge in the latest tech fun with gmail. If you look at your caller id and don't recognize the number go ahead and answer it, it might be me!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Purified or Pornified

I regularly read Justin Taylor's blog at The Gospel Coalition. His blog is a great resource. Many times I want to re-post what he has written or linked as is the case today. Taylor provides a post from a talk Albert Mohler gave several years ago to students at Boyce College. You can read Taylor's summary of it below, read the Dr. Mohler's manuscript here, or listen to it here.

In 2004 Albert Mohler gave a talk to the male students of Boyce College, entitled “The Seduction of Pornography and the Integrity of Christian Marriage”—available in manuscript and audio form.

I encourage young guys in particular to read it and listen to it.

Here is an excerpt, where he talks about two pictures of male sexuality:

The first picture is of a man who has set himself toward a commitment to sexual purity, and is living in sexual integrity with his wife. In order to fulfill his wife’s rightful expectations and to maximize their mutual pleasure in the marriage bed, he is careful to live, to talk, to lead, and to love in such a way that his wife finds her fulfillment in giving herself to him in love. The sex act then becomes a fulfillment of their entire relationship, not an isolated physical act that is merely incidental to their love for each other. Neither uses sex as means of manipulation, neither is inordinately focused merely on self-centered personal pleasure, and both give themselves to each other in unapologetic and unhindered sexual passion. In this picture, there is no shame. Before God, this man can be confident that he is fulfilling his responsibilities both as a male and as a man. He is directing his sexuality, his sex drive, and his physical embodiment toward the one-flesh relationship that is the perfect paradigm of God’s intention in creation.

Mohler then asks us to consider the picture of another man:

This man lives alone, or at least in a context other than holy marriage. Directed inwardly rather than outwardly, his sex drive has become an engine for lust and self-gratification. Pornography is the essence of his sexual interest and arousal. Rather than taking satisfaction in his wife, he looks at dirty pictures in order to be rewarded with sexual arousal that comes without responsibility, expectation, or demand. Arrayed before him are a seemingly endless variety of naked women, sexual images of explicit carnality, and a cornucopia of perversions intended to seduce the imagination and corrupt the soul.

This man need not be concerned with his physical appearance, his personal hygiene, or his moral character in the eyes of a wife. Without this structure an accountability, he is free to take his sexual pleasure without regard for his unshaved face, his slothfulness, his halitosis, his body odor, and his physical appearance. He faces no requirement of personal respect, and no eyes gaze upon him in order to evaluate the seriousness and worthiness of his sexual desire. Instead, his eyes roam across the images of unblinking faces, leering at women who make no demands upon him, who never speak back, and who can never say no. There is no exchange of respect, no exchange of love, and nothing more than the using of women as sex objects for his individual and inverted sexual pleasure.

By logical consequence, he achieves sexual gratification at the expense of women who have been used and abused as commodified sex objects. He may imagine a sex act as he fulfills his physical pleasure, but he almost certainly does not imagine what it would mean to be responsible for this woman as husband and accountable to her as mate. He can sit in his soiled underwear, belching the remnants of last night’s pizza, and engage in a pattern of one-handed sexual satisfaction while he “surfs the net” and forfeits his soul.

Here’s the point:

These two pictures of male sexuality are deliberately intended to drive home the point that every man must decide who he will be, whom he will serve, and how he will love. In the end, a man’s decision about pornography is a decision about his soul, a decision about his marriage, a decision about his wife, and a decision about God.

Pornography is a slander against the goodness of God’s creation and a corruption of this good gift God has given his creatures out of his own self-giving love. To abuse this gift is to weaken, not only the institution of marriage, but the fabric of civilization itself. To choose lust over love is to debase humanity and to worship the false god Priapus in the most brazen form of modern idolatry.

You can read it and listen to it online.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

More Guns More Fun

Am I a gun rights advocate or gun owner advocate? No, not at all. There's a huge force driving Americans need and craving for owning and carrying a gun. I look forward to writing my thoughts, but at this point I thought this Vanity Fair article had more satire than I could pen that really gets to the balderdash at America's outlandish laws permitting unregulated gun purchases and gun toting.
Be sure to read it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Behind a Frowning Providence

William Cowper wrote God Moves in Mysterious Ways. As anyone suffers or grieves questions always loom in one's mind often with few answers. Despite the knowledge of why, everyone can rest in the confidence of God, His goodness, His mercy & His love for us. I cannot explain the problem of evil nor can anyone who does or does not believe in God. What I can do is trust in the loving, mighty God who has promised that nothing can separate His children from His love. These words echo God's promises. May you be encouraged with this song.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.