Thursday, December 17, 2009


Since I posted a brief about my surgery, thought a follow up would be appropriate. The best description would be tired. My shoulder is doing fine and I suppose a full recovery is hidden in the next week or two. But for now, tired.

Night Riders-Robert Penn Warren**

Just finished Night Riders by Robert Penn Warren. I give it two stars out of four. Robert Penn Warren was the fist Poet Laureate for the United States. He wrote many novels and obviously was a first rate poet. I have yet to read his poetry and this was the first novel of his that I have read. It was also his first novel. I plan to read more and assume that his subsequent novels were much better.

This book follows the fate of Percy Munn, caught in the labyrinth of the tobacco wars. The novel is a dreary tale of Munn's demise. Warren's premise, repeated often, is how things tend to change, almost imperceptibly over time. But the change is real and sometimes drastic. There comes a time when the drastic change is finally noticed and one might even be able to put their finger on when the change started but the change itself is hard to trace.

Munn is a respectable man who finds himself on the side of justice attempting to do what is right by the law and right by nature. Over time, through small compromises, he turns into a compromised criminal, doing wrong for the right reasons. His demise is inevitable and unstopple. He commits adultery and murder almost without a thought only to find his conscience will not sleep. He is plagued by a sleepy remorse but cannot find the place of repentance.

The book is long, almost 500 pages, and I made it to the end, always hoping for hope. But it is faithful to its premise and the hope is unrealized. Percy Munn dies unrepentant and unredeemed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Shoulder Surgery

Had shoulder surgery today. Hurt it when I crashed skiing in March. I wrecked my knee then, too, and had ACL reconstruction and torn meniscus surgery in May. My arm and shoulder is now totally numb do to nerve block to help with post surgery. Typing with one hand.

We'll see how tomorrow goes. Got good pain meds for a few days, lying low and David C. preaching for me Sunday.

I'll appreciate your prayers for a speedy recovery. Lord willing, next year a year of health.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Duck Hunting

Just got back from an Idaho Duck Hunting trip with my son Zachary. Spent time with brother Gary, nephew Jedidiah, my mom (not in the duck blind) and various other family members.

We had a great time. Got some real Idaho experience. We missed our Phoenix connection because the Charlotte to Phoenix flight had a medical emergency. Guy was having diabetic shock. His insulin pump quit working. We had an emergency landing in Oklahoma City. So, we missed our connection and had to wait in Phoenix for 10 hours. Got to Boise at 11:00pm. Got to Twin Falls around 2:00am, then up to go hunting around 4:00am.

It was cold, about 15 degrees. The first day we limited out, 7 ducks each, 21 total, in two hours. Back to cabin, big lunch and nap. That night, beer and brauts around the campfire, 15 degrees and sitting very close to the fire.

Next morning, bitter cold, about 11 degrees, not many ducks flying and a wet foot due to a leaky wader. Cold, lots of walks down the island to stay warm. Built a little fire to keep the cold away. Got a few birds, hunted all day, mixed some Kalua with the coffee to fake out the cold.

Third day, wind is blowing about 40 miles an hour. Brother wants to make the trip out to the island in one pass. Four men, dressed in many layers of clothes, a dog, a ton of gear and large contingent of duck and goose decoys in a sixteen foot aluminum fishing boat. About six inches to the gunnels. Fear. Water splashing over the side from 30 inch breakers. Hoping to live another day. Coat hoods are frozen solid from water splashes and massive winds at 18 degrees. Cold. We are scared and having fun. We survive and make it to the island. Get set up and lay down to take a nap with our back to the winds, in the dark, 45 minutes to shooting time. Cold is trying to penetrate but we think we fake him out, lying down. Birds are flying but we have a hard time hitting them. A snow squall blows in across the dessert, beautiful, cold, lovely. We get our birds, not a limit but a good day. Could have had a bunch more if only we could have shot better. Maybe so many clothes, three days of cold feet, wind, tired but an adventure and a good one.

We make it back to Twin on Saturday and have a huge duck dinner at the Peking Restaurant. Lots of food. It's hot at the restaurant. Is that possible? Outside it is snowing and inside we are comfortable and full. So full. Then home.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Founding Brothers

Founding Brothers, The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis is a good read. The book is primarily about Washington, Adams and Jefferson.

Ellis does a good job of reporting a balanced view of these men. While clearly representing their giant status in the history of the formation of the United States of America, he also portrays them as men and not gods. They were men caught in plots and intrigues that are similar to the same sorts of intrigues we experience in our highly politicized environment today.

Washington seemed to be above much of this. Of the three, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, his was the most exalted presidency and fame. Adams' administration was rife with discord, much of it arising from the presence of his own Vice-President, Jefferson, himself. Jefferson, with Madison, were intent upon undermining the authority and long-term success of Adams.

Jefferson smells the worst in these intrigues. The political 'machine' really got rolling under his and Madison's careful development. They did seem to do this with the real good of America in mind. They sacrificed some of their gentlemanly principles for the 'greater good.' I think they also entrenched a mindset that personal behavior and political behavior operated in two distinct spheres. Bill Clinton did not make this up.

The end of the book is the best part. In it, Ellis recounts the reconciliation of Adams and Jefferson after many years of bitter enmity. In the last 14 years of their lives, they wrote 158 letters to one another. Adams wrote twice as many as Jefferson. This letter writing, in the words of Adams, was so that 'we might explain ourselves to one another." It left Adams a prime opportunity to give his side of the story. By far, Jefferson made the greater concessions of error in these letters but was also able to clearly express his own views and defend them.

Ellis points out that this correspondence had some impact on the views of the country and the great war between the states. Jeffersonian views became the centerpiece of the South. Adams' views of a strong central government became the centerpiece of the North. No surprise.

Jefferson and Adams had been friends, enemies and friends once again. They lived together through glorious days, climaxing on July 4, 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. It is Jefferson's greatest fame. Adams was jealous of this knowing that Jefferson would come out as the shining star of the moment, even though he was mostly merely the penman of the document. Adams went so far as to argue that the most important day had not been July 4, 1776 but May 15, 1776. Alas, for Adams, Jefferson was right.

Both men died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration. Jefferson died about five hours before Adams. Adams, not knowing that Jefferson had already given up the ghost, uttered his famous last words, "Thomas Jefferson still lives."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Evil and the Justice of God- N.T. Wright

N.T. Wright answers the problem of evil in an unexpected, fascinating and glorious way. In the process, he answers why we often feel so empty and unsatisfied at modern Christian funerals. Christians have made peace with death, the enemy.

But death is defeated by the work of Christ on the cross, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, by the promise of bodily resurrection for all of God's people, and finally by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in real time on the earth.

Modernity's promise that the world will simply gradually improve falls short. So does the typical Christian answer of a continual spiritual existence. It is not satisfying that the spirit leaves the body and lives on. If that is all there is, then bodily death still wins. But thanks be to God that that is not all there is. One day our bodies will rise and we will be able to laugh at our defeated enemy, death.

Note, I said, our bodies will rise. We do not merely believe in the immortality of the soul. That is a Platonic belief and of course, is true. The soul is immortal. But those Greeks also believed that the body, bodies, things, were essentially evil. The good thing was to escape this and get off to the world, the perfect world, of ideas. Ideas apart from bodies. That was ultimate.

Not so in Christianity. The ultimate ideal in our religion is the body raised a victor over death. Bodies need redeemed and perfected. The earth groans for this to happen. All creation waits for the glorious resurrection when death, evil and all sin will be made the laughing stock.

And yet, now, we still see sin, ugliness, death, persecution, senseless victimization, exploitation. Basically, we see all the results of sin, the very nature of sin, chaos in the world. And we wonder, what is the answer, NOW.

Wright posits that within the broader promise of eschatological hope in the bodily Resurrection is the present manifestation of Christ to the world. This is the body of Christ, His Church, acting like Jesus. The greatest manifestation of Christ on the earth is forgiveness.

Forgiveness disarms evil. Evil wants to hold God and His people hostage. Evil, sin, death, say that all is not right and cannot be right, as long as they exist. But forgiveness is the antidote.

Forgiveness does not shrug its shoulders hoping for a good time on a cloud. Forgiveness calls evil, evil and then disarms it by granting forgiveness. This brings healing to the forgiven but even greater than this, it releases the forgiver from bitterness that enslaves. Only in Christianity do we see the glory of forgiveness displayed in this way. Only in Christianity does forgiveness answer the demands for justice.

Jesus so gloriously simplified this for us in the Golden Rule, treat others as you would have them treat you.

For some, this book would be immensely disappointing. What? That is your answer to the problem of evil? But those who know the grace of God in Christ in receiving forgiveness will understand, that until the resurrection, this is the only thing that really disarms evil.

Swine Flu

Dr. Gordon Wilson sent me a link for information about the swine flu.

I can summarize it for you. There is a swine flu. You might get it. If you do, go to the doctor. Try not to get it. Wash your hands a lot, especially if you have to go or have gone to a place where swine flu has been reported.

If you get swine flu symptoms, you are contagious for seven days. Stay home. Drink lots of liquids, take some pain relief. You may want to take Tamiflu or Relenza if you are diagnosed early enough.

Also, I might add a couple things. There is a large scare on this and the Executive Branch is helping to push the scare. They like crises. It helps them push an agenda. So, remember to trust the Lord in this and not react to these things as if they were a crisis.

Make sure you love your neighbors. It would be good to have a heightened sense of awareness of sickness over the next several months. If you or your children have flu symptoms, please keep them home from church and school. Pray that the Lord spares us from any dramatic, debilitating effects of this virus. If you think you caught a cold or flu from another person (which you will have if you do), especially another person from your church, then do not hold it against them. It could have been you giving it to them. Love and forgive. Treat them as you would have them treat you.

These sorts of things are a judgment and a scourge but they are also an opportunity for the body of Christ to grow in grace, love and wisdom. It is part of our sanctification.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Josephus-Jewish Wars

Josephus was a Jewish general that was captured by the Romans in the war that led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70.A.D. This is his chronicle of that war.

Of course, Josephus makes himself look better than he should. After all, he was the one who lost his entire army and city. Some 40,000 under his charge were killed by the Romans. Finally, Josephus tried to convince the last 40 soldiers to surrender. They refused, preferring to die. Josephus convinced the men that it would be more honorable to kill one another rather than let the Romans kill them. So, each of the remaining forty men killed each other. Finally, only Josephus was left and promptly surrendered himself to the Romans. No amount of re-writing of that history can bring him into a good light.

That being said, we are immensely thankful Josephus surrendered and then wrote. Furthermore, the wickedness of the rebelling Jews is so stark, that we have some empathy for the Romans and for any Jews that thought it honorable to surrender.

While the Romans were the conquering and domineering power, they were exceedingly provoked by the various factions among the Jews themselves. There were so many factions and such cruelty from Jew to Jew, that a pax Romana ought to have been a welcome sight to the entire Jewish nation. The Romans mostly waited while the Jews wiped each other out.

Even in the final assault on Jerusalem, the Jewish factions had almost completely annihilated one another before the Romans entered the city. According to Josephus, the Romans finally entered the city in an attempt to save the temple. But, alas, a conflagration had begun that burnt it entirely to the ground.

This is an important background in understanding the utter devastation that came upon the Jews as a direct result of rejecting the Lord Jesus as the Messiah. Josephus does not interpret these events in this manner. However, as we look at the dire predictions of Matt.24, Luke 21 and Mark 13, we can see how they come to fruition in this devastating war.

Furthermore, we see that it was not simply the Romans that caused this. The Jews, themselves, repeatedly bring the curse upon themselves by the way that they treated one another. They proved that they did not love God because they did not love one another. In fact, they showed an abject hatred for their own brotherhood. These Jews were descendants of Cain and not Abel. There were dangerous Jewish warlords who repeatedly attacked Jewish cities, killing tens of thousands of fellow covenant members.

In the seige of Jersusalem, there were three main factions seeking the ascendancy, that, even up to the end, hoarded food from a starving populace. The result was that at least one mother even ate her own child. They continued to steal from and kill one another until the very moment when the Romans entered the city. The tens of thousands of dead inside the city were piled high upon the inside of the city walls, long before any Roman ever stood inside the gates.

How could God not punish such wickedness? And how could such wickedness even be perpetrated without God's judgment? God's judgment was to leave them to their own devices and sin since they rejected His remedy for their forgiveness, the Lord Jesus, the rejected Messiah.

My Family and Other Animals-Gerrald Durrell

This book is a fun read. The Durrells were a rather eccentric family that moved from England to the Greek island of Corfu. The family consisted of mother, son, son, daughter and son, the youngest being the author and primary trouble maker, Gerry.

Gerry reminds me much of my friend Gordon Wilson, who told me about the writings of Durrell. Gerry, like Gordon, had two older brothers and an older sister. Gerry, like Gordon, loves all things biological. Gerry had a hey day roaming the island of Corfu along with various interesting characters, including a wife-murderer, always scanning the beautiful countryside and seaside for creatures of interest. He usually ended up bringing something back to the villa and a wild scene would commence.

Gerry and his family had four dogs, turtles, pigeons, a large gull, watersnakes (in the yard and bathtub, too!), lizards, scorpions, and a variety of other bugs and animals. His mother was very tolerant of his scientific endeavors, his eldest brother Larry (the literary type, despised it), his next brother, Leslie the hunter, endured him, his sister Margo, tried to ignore him. Gerry made life with the Durrells exciting.

I recommend this book for those of you who simply like to read and for those of you, like me, who need to learn a little more appreciation for the wonder of God's creation. For those of you who know Gordon, you simply have to read this book to appreciate him even more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

God in America

Newt Gingrich has put together a wonderful little book called Rediscovering God in America. He takes you on a stroll through various Washington monuments, including the Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, Library of Congress, several war memorials and others.

The point in this stroll is to recognize that throughout the history of America, the idea of God and the appeal to God, has been expressed in the public square since the inception of our nation. It is only in extreme modern times, say the last 20 or 30 years, that this public expression of God has been squelched.

Some of us already know this and we are saddened by it. But I think this book does a service to those of us who know this truth in that it creates boldness to stand against the prevailing currents of our time.

One important section talks about the Jefferson letter often referred to as establishing the foundational idea of a wall of separation between church and state. At that same time there were church services being held in the capitol building with full approval of Jefferson. Obviously, what he meant by a separation of church and state, and what our modern ACLU and liberal cranks mean by separation of church and state are dramatically different.

So, I recommend this book to you to give you courage to be a Christian in the public square. Yes, if you are a Christian, you should be a Christian everywhere. But do not be afraid or intimidated into remaining silent about the One true God in public, in a school, while running for mayor, at your place of employment.

God is woven into the fabric of America. It is clear that as our modern civic unbelievers try to unravel that tapestry, America herself will come unraveled.

This would be a good book to read to your children as civics instruction.

Bed and Board

Robert Farrar Capon's, Bed and Board is a must read for all married couples or those individuals who will be. I will be adding this book to my list of required reads for engaged couples. The book is written well and is full of the experience and wisdom that Capon delivers in another great book of his, The Supper of the Lamb. Bed and Board was Capon's first book. It is a delightful walk through the wonder of God's revelation of Himself in a marriage, at the table, and even, perhaps especially, in the marriage bed.

A coherent theme throughout the book is the idea of coinherence. We might call this mutual indwelling. Essentially, it is the life of the Trinity revealed in humanity and the created world around us. Nowhere is this coinherence more easily recognizable than in the marriage union, from the mutual living space, to the shared ideals, to eating of the same food, to producing more mutually coinherent beings called children, to the glories of the marriage bed.

We should love all of these things, not simply as ends in themselves but because they all reveal the great glory of the great coinherence, God with us, in us and through us. They reveal the very nature of God Himself, which is the key to understanding how we must live before Him and with one another.

He has a great chapter on caring. It made me realize that I really don't care very much. Ouch! But true. It is wonderful to learn something like this about yourself while you still have time to do something about it.

Truly a life changing book.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl-A review, sort of

Just finished reading Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson. Wow.

I am not sure what to say about the book, where to start, how to review.

Let's start with the bad news and we'll move on. The book is so good I am not sure that the cover design and the title give it justice. I am sure it will be reprinted often. I hope it gets a face lift. My opinion. I think the old adage, you can't judge a book by its cover, is fitting here.

Now the good news: The rest of the book is unbelievably good. Is it a philosophy book? Theology? Practical Christian living? For adults? Crazy people?

I heard a country song I sort of like. The refrain goes like this, "God is great. Beer is good. And people are crazy." Somehow, I think that would be a fitting review of Nate's book.

You just have to read this book. It's schooled me, got me an education I was lacking. Knowledge? Not so much that, although there are some really cool observations about the working of God's world. Wonder? Yes. Life. That, too. Hope.

The book is an apologetic but not like one you'd expect, so forget I wrote that. I guess the more I look at the cover, it makes me dizzy and the book did, too. Maybe the cover is not so bad afterall?

This book reminds me of Lewis, Tolkein, Chesterton, and Wodehouse but with a gospel hope for the future that all of them were incapable of.

Try swallowing all the reductios of your skeptic friends. Bitter? Nate swallows them with laughter. It's not a bad morsel. You should try it.

I'd say this was one of the best books I've ever read but you wouldn't believe me.

The book left me strangely emotional and still has that effect as I sit here and think about it. There is the sadness of the reality of the roughness of the world but it is mixed with the laughter of God's story. I think we can call that Christian joy.

The main effect the book had on me was to wake me up. I have been feeling a bit dreary and sleepy lately, sleepy about life. But this book has woken me up. Remember the Ents?

I think y'all should get this book and just wake up.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Woe is Me

I've been gone for awhile, both in body and mind. It takes two to tango.

I was put in my place today, again, as if I needed it. I saw an old woman, broken, probably by multiple strokes, pushing her cart past BB&T. I'd hate for her to see me write about her thus but she'll never see this blog anyway. To say she's an inspiration falls short. She does more than inspire. She shames. She humiliates. She scorns. She jests. She scoffs. She jokes and laughs lives.

I've been gone for awhile, in body and mind, because I've a body that doesn't mind.

She has a body that doesn't mind, either. It's way more broken than mine. Her arm doesn't work. Her legs barely do their duty. Part of her mouth looks like it has trouble with it's designed function. But she's there, shuffling along, shaming all the whole bodies, slightly broken. She is not complaining. She lives. I don't know her. Maybe she does complain. Maybe she'd like somebody to drive her somewhere. But she walks through my life, a constant reminder that things can always get worse and when they do, what do we do?, we live.

I know this sounds a bit twisted but I see it as grace. God is watching me and her. He smiles at one and shakes His head at the other. Guess which is which? But His head shaking is not disgust, at least I hope not because I am the recipient of the gesture. It's more like a father shaking his head at his son when he tries to his ride his big sister's bike but is too small and too stupid to get it done. He thinks he's big stuff but he's not even big stuff enough to be like his older, and still stupid, sister. The head shaking will end one day and smiles will follow.

Anyway, I did a bit of reading while I was away. Some good, some not so and giving my goneness in body and mind, not sure if I benefited much. But I do think that I am the better for it all. God as my witness.

I promise I'll try to live better.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Communion Meditation-Sabbath

Sabbath is rest. Christ is Sabbath.
Communion is Christ. Communion is Sabbath.

There are many ways to rest. And there are an equal and even multi-numerous ways to not rest. Of course, one way to rest is sleep. If you sleep and if your sleep is sweet, then sleep is a great picture of Sabbath. No worries. No troubles. At least until tomorrow morning. But some cannot sleep. And some, even if they do sleep, sleep in fits and starts with the worries of the world crashing upon them at each waking moment. That is not rest. That is not Sabbath.

So, how do we Sabbath when awake? How can we Sabbath on this day that seems almost as troublesome as every other day. We have to get up and get to church. We have to put on church clothes and church faces and attend in Sunday best with a fitting Sunday attitude. For some, that is exactly the opposite of rest. The day that ought to be the most restful, turns out to be a day of more frantic rushing about.

Well, it starts here at the Lord’s Table. You have been invited to eat with Jesus. Will you turn down such an invitation by Jesus? Will you not eat with the Lord who created heaven and earth? Will you not dine with the Spirit who hovered over the face of the waters in the beginning? Who would make excuses?

We have to work. We have trouble to deal with. We have kids to raise. We have a job that needs oversight.

Stop all that. Jesus has invited you to eat with Him. What could possibly be more important than that? Are you going to bag out on an invitation to eat food with God?

Stop. Change your priorities. Cancel all your engagements. Clear your brain. Say a prayer. Look around at the guests. You don’t have anything else to do. Just sit here and eat with Jesus. That is rest. That is Sabbath.

Exhortation-Sabbath Rest

Today is the Lord’s Day, Resurrection Day, the day of the Christian Sabbath. What does Sabbath mean to us? Sabbath was one of the central confrontational issues in the New Testament. Jesus was always causing problems on the Sabbath. Or, I should more accurately say that Jesus was pointing out problems on the Sabbath and problems about the Sabbath. Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Jesus fed His disciples on the Sabbath. Jesus walked through the fields and picked grain on the Sabbath. The establishment did not like this.

We need to learn how to rest. We need to learn Sabbath. Now, part of what I mean by this is abstaining from your busy desires on the Lord’s Day. You need to put aside your work, your busy emails, your striving and driving to get ahead in the world. Getting ahead on this day means putting your trust in the Lord. Do you do that?

But even if we don’t work to make money, or do our normal jobs, say of being a student and studying on the Lord’s Day, Sundays still require work. We have to get up and get ready for church. We often have guests over for food and we all know that good food and a fine table is a lot of work. We have all of these kids to take care of and that is work, too. So, where is our Sabbath, among all this hustle and hurry?

Well, that is the point, isn’t it? Stop a minute. Slow down. Take a breath. We should ask, not only, “How do I practice Sabbath, but Who is my Sabbath?” Jesus is Sabbath. Jesus is rest. You need to learn to rest in Jesus all the time. We should have entered a continuing Sabbath but that takes practice.

The Lord’s Day is a good day to practice Sabbath. Stop doing so much. That’s good. But also learn that in any doing that is left, and some of it is necessary, that the rest continues in Jesus.

Sabbath is about peace with God. Sabbath is about thinking God’s thoughts after Him. Sabbath is about forgiveness. Sabbath is about hope. Sabbath is about resurrection. It takes some planning and slowing down to see all of this but you can see this even in the work you do on the Lord’s Day. So, rest in Jesus today. Rest from your labors. Rest from your striving. Rest in God’s promises. Rest in Christ.

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

Luke 23:40-42 40But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

Of course, we have all read and remembered, to some degree, of the faith of the thief on the cross. We have expressly related this story to those who have little hope for their loved ones as they grow old or near death in sickness. We remind them that even at the last hour a vile sinner can repent and be saved. That's all true and amen.

But have you ever noticed the FAITH of the thief on the cross?! Think about it. Even after the resurrection and Jesus's appearance to some, the disciples on the road to Emmaus have a hard time believing. They say, 'but we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel." You see, they thought it WAS he. They HAD faith but the faith was gone. Becuase Jesus died, they no longer believed that Jesus would redeem Israel. Their faith died with Jesus on the cross.

How much more glorious the faith of the thief? He was dying on the cross with Jesus dying on the cross. What does he say? Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom!

For most (all?) of the other disciples, Jesus was loosing every opportunity at coming into His kingdom by dying on the cross. But for thief dying on the cross, Jesus was coming into His kingdom. He embraced Christ and thus, while dying, was made to live. What FAITH!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

SABBATH Rest-The Rest of God

Just finished reading, The Rest of God-Restoring Your Soul by Restoring SABBATH, by Mark Buchanan. I am what you would call a Sabbatarian. That is, I believe the Lord's Day, Sunday, is the Christian Sabbath. Mark Buchanan believes this as well. However, this book is not a theological apologetic for the Lord's Day as Sabbath. It is much more practical and thus, theological, than that. The book is about resting in God, resting in the rest of God. He has a very balanced view. The book itself is restful and enjoyable. It is an invitation to slow down, to breathe, to notice the world that God has made rest.

These are good words for our time.


Ever tried reading an MRI? Have no idea what I am looking at, even after looking at instructional pics on the internet. I'll find out next week but looks like meniscus and maybe ACL tears. I'll need surgery as I cannot straighten my leg. Something is stuck in the joint. If you are over 40 and thinking of doing some big jumps, don't!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible-Mark 5

Mark 5:5-9
5And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. 6But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, 7And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. 8For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. 9And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

Who is worshipping?

I suppose I had always read this that the Gadarene was worshipping Jesus. He was, in fact, worshipping Jesus. It was his body. However, when Jesus speaks to him, the Gadarene is nowhere to be found. He is lost somewhere among a legion of demons. He is so lost that he is not even able to speak to Jesus. The demons who are in control of his body and his speech speak to Jesus.

Here's the part I never noticed. It is weird. The Gadarene was not worshipping Jesus. The demons were. This was a worship of obeisance but not of love. They were afraid of Jesus and so they gave Him homage. But these were not His willing subjects. They did not love the Lord.

Not sure what theological ramifications this has but it must have some. I'll have to think more about that. But suffice to say, demons can worship the Lord.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just a Blog

Since my squirrel scribble I guess I'm in the mood to blog. I don't do straight blogging much and I fear it is somewhat of a disease that needs eradicating. But here goes.

I saw something else today that I am almost embarrassed to relate to you but it effected me so that I want to pass it on. Someone may need to examine my ID, because it is that sort of thing.

Have you heard of Susan Boyle? Try watching this and tell me if you get all choked up. You might think I am joking at first but keep watching. It really is amazing.

I nearly wept. Can't really say why, but there it is. Anybody else?

I'm 44 now and have the boldness to say I cried watching Britain's Got Talent. Who says I'm not sensitive, vulnerable and transparent? There you have it.

Davidbird and Goliath

The world is a strange place. It is more than strange, it is magical beyond our wildest imaginations. In fact, our imaginations are never so wild as reality is. Reality mocks our imaginations as too plain, too simple, too unimaginative. Take the giraffe, for instance.

Now, back to Goliath.

Never before had I thought of a grey squirrel as Goliath but today I did. It was only fleeting, barely noticed and if I hadn't been daydreaming, I might never have noticed, at all. But I saw a blackbird chasing a squirrel today and it struck me as quite preposterous. Little black David chased him down the trunk and out onto a limb, down to the ground and out into the road. I am sure the bird was hoping a truck would zoom by and throw one of five smooth stones at the squirrels head. It probably happened but my light turned green and I hurried away.

Easter Exhortation

There is hardly room for sadness on this day. We can hardly find in ourselves the need to repent for so great is our joy. Jesus is risen and sins are forgiven. But we can confess our unbelief. We can confess that we, like the disciples, cannot comprehend that the God of the universe, in the person, in the man, of Jesus, must suffer, die and rise again. But He has done so.

Let us take joy and in everything that we know, let us learn Christ, suffering, dying, rising, reigning. Let us learn the glories of Resurrection so that we take hope in each of our sufferings and deaths. The Christian life is about life but it is about life through death to life.

We confess that we are prone to death and dying, at times unable to see the glory of the dying bloom because we do not comprehend the seed of life that must spring from that death. But our Lord Jesus died with suffering, shame , sadness and despair. But this day, this day above all days, our hope is rekindled and death, despair, even suffering and sorrow, are mocked for all their supposed strength. For nothing is more powerful than Christ risen.

Book Recommend-What He Must Be

Just finished reading What He Must Be...if he wants to marry my daughter, by Voddie Braucham, Jr.

This is an excellent book. Braucham challenges much of the prevailing evangelical culture surrounding families and especially fathers. In our own circles, we are familiar with these arguments for male headship and for the father participating in his daughter's courtship. So, we are not much surprised by what we find here. However, it is refreshing to hear someone outside of our immediate CRECish circles saying the same things that we are saying.

Furthermore, Braucham is a Reformed Baptist and sounds very covenantal in his thinking. This, too, is refreshing. He has many quotes from Luther and Calvin. Can't go wrong there.

I highly recommend this book to fathers thinking about what to do with daughters, sons and suitors, as your children approach marriagable age. Actually, you need to read this book, even if your children are very small. You need to think very long term in the way you raise your children so that when they grow into teens your way of leading and teachng them towards courtship is the way it has always been. If you wait until they are teenagers and then try to go down this path, you will have a rebellion on your hands.

I would love to see a Douglas Wilson/Voddie Braucham, Jr. courtship and marriage conference.

Easter Poem

Not the dead Jesus but the living, we hold!
The Lord of glory this mystery told.
That those who believe would see greater things.
Jesus the victor, King of all Kings.

Death could not hold Jesus’s breath.
He died, He rose.
And dealt a death blow to death.

Jesus is risen! Hallelujah, Amen.
Jesus is risen, Sing praise unto Him.
Jesus is risen and sin is unseated.
Jesus is risen and death is defeated.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Supper of the Lamb

I just finished Robert Capon's, The Supper of the Lamb, A Culinary Reflection. I gave it four stars of four, only because it would seem dishonest to give it four and one half or five of four. That doesn't quite make sense, does it?

This book is really superb. I think it is a necessary antidote to incessant wrigglings and wigglings about stuff. American Christianity needs a good dose, no a great wallop upside the head, about the goodness of things. Capon does that well.

Why do we have such guilty consciences about participating in all that God calls good? Food to the full, wine by the glassfuls and joy overflowing in the heart of man. If anything is from the devil, it is the insistance that our stuff is not really good after all. And then, we find that we like stuff so much, beautiful things and ugly things alike, that we have to trip over ourselves to make that which we think is not good, somehow good. We analyze, philosphize and symbolize until the good stuff is anything but itself, or good.

But God made it all and called it good. So ought we. Capon says it much better than I do, so I suggest that you go out and buy this book, and after that, some pots and pans, a bottle of wine, a probably a gallon of Sherry (does it come in gallons?), a good batch of cigars, and start to relish in this world that God has made. Until we learn that God's Earth is good, we will never learn what or where Heaven is.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Communion Meditation- Jesus Gives

Of course, the counter to stealing is giving. Thieves break in and steal but the Lord breaks the bread of His body and gives it to us. The Lord could have come to the earth and like other Kings taken us for Himself and used us up to advance His own glory. Instead, He gave Himself for us and gave us His glory in His Holy Spirit.

The nature of thievery is taking. The nature of godliness is giving. The Lord gave Himself for our sins. The Lord gave His Holy Spirit to us. The Lord gave us, who are the meek, the earth to inherit. The Lord gave us the waters of baptism, the bread of His body, the wine of His blood, the Holy Spirit to make it all alive with the fire of God. He gave us the promise of His covenant with us, to be our God and to claim us for His people. He gave us the Church. He gave us each other because it is not good for us to dwell alone. He gave us blessing upon blessing and promises of greater things to come, of eternal life, of perfect bodies, of victory over sin and death.

The Lord gives to us and we should learn to give to Him and to one another. That is what we do here as we break and eat the bread and wine, given for you.

Exhortation-Eighth Commandment

Exodus 20:15 Thou shalt not steal.

There are many ways to steal things. My hope is that you Christians would not outright steal from anybody. You won’t steal money, or anything from a store, or some possession from your employer because you think you are underappreciated or under paid. You children will not take things that don’t belong to you, candy or toys. That is stealing. You should be extremely honest about other people’s property.

But we Christians sometimes steal in other ways that can lead to the destruction of our character and make a thief out of us in the long run. I am thinking of two specific areas where we steal time and money.

The first is the Lord’s Day. God requires that we spend one day in seven at His house in worship and attending to our own rest from our work and seeking after our own desires. We should set aside this day specifically for worship and for gathering with the saints and not pursuing things that keep us away from or distract us from these blessed and restful duties.

Another area where we steal is in tithing. The Lord’s portion is one tenth of our increase. If you do not give one tenth of your increase to the Lord then you are stealing from Him.

Since the Lord is the dispenser of all good gifts, it should not surprise you that if you steal from the Lord on the Lord’s Day in time or money, the tithe or your duty of rest and worship, it should not surprise you, if you are short of time and money.

Furthermore, I warn you that if you take light your duty to the Lord in these areas that you will bear the fruit of your behavior as other sins latch on to these two in your own life or in the lives of your family members.

Judas was a petty thief, pilfering from the money, box but in the end he was the monster that betrayed our Lord.

Communion Meditation- Fidelity

You shall be ever faithful. You shall give all fidelity to Christ and to His Church. As we come before the Lord each Lord’s Day, we affirm our commitment to Christ and renew our vows to Him. This is something akin to a married couple renewing their wedding vows. Or perhaps, on their yearly anniversary, remembering where they have come from and where they are going, together. Or even as they make a regular monthly or weekly date, affirming that they would date no other, seeking love nowhere else. And though I hesitate to say such things at church, this is like those sweet and tender things that lovers say to each other at the most intimate times.

It is in all of these places that love is remembered and rekindled, that prior commitments to one another are embraced and renewed, that the safety of the relationship is established, that jealousies and fears are abolished.

This meal is the meal of the faithful. God is faithful to us in Christ and through His Holy Spirit. We are faithful to Him, coming to Him by no other name except that great name of Jesus Christ, in whom all of our prior sins and prior infidelities are washed away. So, God receives us as faithful and makes us ever more faithful by washing us in the blood of Christ and the renewing and sanctifying work of His Holy Spirit.

Exhortation-Seventh Commandment

Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

All through Scripture, spiritual unfaithfulness is called adultery and idolatry. The two are closely related. It is no wonder that when the hinges have come off of the church regarding basic Christian understandings of Scripture, proper worship and obedience to Christ in the fundamentals of the faith, that the doors of spiritual and physical protection also fall off. We seem to be in such times. The Church does not know the Word of God nor heed that which she knows. When the Church loses her first love, she goes after the second. That is idolatry. That is adultery. And when we speak of such so-called spiritual sins, we must understand that our spirituality always manifests itself in the flesh.

So, we must repent. We must turn to the Word of God. We must seek to walk in the power of the Spirit. We must worship God as if our lives and our marriages depended on it.

If your love grows cold; if your thoughts wander; if your first love waxes old, then you must examine your heart. Are you faithful to Christ? Do you love the Lord by doing what He says? Is your worship robust and sincere? Are you feeding on Christ in the Supper and growing in strength?

If we do this, then we can expect our love for our spouses to be consistent with our love for the Bridegroom of the Church. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. Wives, reverence Your husband, and respect them, even as the Church is to submit to the Lord Jesus.

Do this and you will be faithful in thought, in word and in deed.

Communion Meditation- Brotherly Love

Thou shalt not kill. Anger with your brother has been the problem from the beginning. It started when Cain killed Abel. There was enmity between Isaac and Ishmael, between Jacob and Esau, between Joseph and his brothers, between Moses and Aaron and their sister, too. David had trouble with his brothers and Absolam murdered his own brother. Jesus, Himself, had envious brothers and the Apostles, brothers in the Lord, envied one another and were seeking the places of honor. Judas betrayed his brothers and by his betrayal killed his spiritual elder brother, the Lord of glory.

But we are here at the Lord’s table, gathered as the children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, friends of our elder brother, the Lord Jesus. There is no place for envy here. We do not seek to put ourselves above our brother Jesus, nor above His friends to our left and to our right. We esteem others higher than ourselves, seeking rather to wash their feet than to rise up above them. The old way of enmity between brothers has been killed and therefore, we shall not kill with word or deed, with tongue or thought. But we shall love and serve, for love covers a multitude of sins.

The old ways are gone and behold all things are new in Christ Jesus. We are set free to be one with our brothers and sisters. This is what we declare here in this meal.

Exhortation-Sixth Commandment

Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.

We often tend to think that others commit egregious sins and our sins are small and therefore worthy of grace. But we do not earn grace by being the least of sinners. We receive unmerited grace because we are sinners in great need of that grace. No Christian should be a murderer. We know that murderers do not inherit the kingdom of God. And Jesus reminds us that the murdering mindset is in the heart of all that envy their brothers and harbor hatred in their hearts.

Mathew 5:21-24 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, RacaRaca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

We trust that none of you would be so angry and bitter as to actually kill another person. But remember that the anger and hatred that rages in the heart of the murderer began as a flickering flame in the bosom of an ordinary sinner. Do not feed that flame. Do not give yourself reason to stay angry. Do not hold grudges. Do not refuse forgiveness. Do not envy your brothers and sisters in Christ, comparing yourselves one to another. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.

But rather, bless those who curse you. Bless and curse not. Turn the other cheek. Just as you have been forgiven, so also forgive. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gifts to God.

Money Wisdom From Proverbs

Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

I have titled these entries, Money Wisdom From Proverbs, but like all wisdom it is multi-faceted and applies in many areas of our lives. This one certainly does.

The sluggard wants and is never fulfilled. Part of this wanting is a desire for people and things to serve him. Because he is a sluggard, he thinks that the world exists to give him pleasure, to make him happy, to build his self-esteem, to cater to his every want. We live in a world that is intent on developing more sluggards. Because we have so much excess, even after the recent market declines, we are prone to getting anything we want, and also of giving anything they want to our children. This is a great mistake and will only produce people who are never satisfied.

However, there is another kind of man, the diligent man. He is one who works hard because he does not feel that he is owed a living. He makes a living and more. He works hard to provide for himself and those around him. Such a man is a good husband, a giving father, a neighbor indeed. This diligent man gives of himself and finds that the more he gives, the more he has to give. The sluggard, on the other hand, finds that the more he takes, the less he has to give.

To him who has shall more be given. To him who has not, even what he does have shall be taken from him.

And what of these men’s souls? The giver is fat, the taker is lean. And while it is good for our bodies to be lean, we really ought to have fat souls.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Communion Meditation-Trust in the Lord

We put our trust in the Lord. This is what we do when we come to Him in this meal. We are declaring our allegiance to Him and to His people. He welcomes us, having judged that we are worthy partakers of this meal. We are worthy through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Having said that we are worthy through Jesus, we should be reminded that we are indeed worthy. We do not come to this table as unworthy, vile sinners. We come to this table as cleansed, worthy, righteous saints.

This ought not to make us haughty, as if we deserved His favor. It should make us humble because we know that we have received the unmerited favor of God. But there it is, we are in the favor of God, through Christ and His Spirit. We are here, blessed and favored of God. He takes us for His own and we take Him for our own. He owns us and we own Him. He has not failed us. We are not disappointed but both pleased and blessed because we put our trust in the Lord.

Exhortation-Fifth Commandment

Exodus 20:12 Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee.

This commandment has far reaching implications. I believe that sinning against God in this way is the fountainhead of a multitude of other sins. The sins of the entire second table of the law flow from the failure to honor father and mother.

If we honor our father and mother, then we will not kill, commit adultery, steal, perjure, or covet. Children, and you are all children, you need to do what your parents would have you do. Of course, that is not universal or absolute. Some of your parents might teach you to covet wealth or power or worldliness. But that is the exception in Christian homes, rather than the rule. Every godly Christian parent wants his children to be moral, godly and industrious. So, children, heed God and heed your parents. Or, shall I say, obey God by obeying your parents.

If you submit yourselves to your parents, and desire to please them with honor, you will also be honoring God and your neighbor. If you refuse to honor your parents, it will be impossible for you to honor God and therefore impossible for you to honor your neighbor. And I think it fits to simply replace love for the word honor here. You cannot love God without loving your parents. You cannot love your neighbor without loving God. You cannot love your neighbor without loving your parents.

For you adult children, this may look a little different. Giving honor may not mean strictly obeying them. You have now established your own households. It is okay that you go to a different church and believe some different doctrines and practices. But those doctrines and practices should be fully consistent with honoring your parents. So, do not use your different views as a means to dishonor them. If you think you have a deeper faith and better practices, then that faith and practice should produce more honor, not less. If you are unable to honor your parents, then your understanding of your faith and practice is dramatically misplaced. Confession and repentance are in order.

Communion Meditation-Sabbath Rest

We are told by the Lord to remember the Sabbath Day. It is not merely the day that the Lord wants us to remember. He wants us to remember Him in the day. He wants us to come to Him, stay a while, meditate on His goodness, remember what He has done for us, thank Him, seek His face, honor Him with gifts, receive the Word of God from Him, be absolved of our sins, rejoice in His grace and mercy, see His people, love them as we love Him, gather before Him honestly, humbly and boldly, partake of Christ to the fullest, eat the bread, drink the wine, be filled with His Holy Spirit, overflow with thanksgiving, resting in our Savior, Jesus.

This sets the stage for everything else that we do as God’s people. By serving Him in this way, we see that God is really serving us. This produces more humility, more joy, more love for God and His people. When we remember the Sabbath, God blesses us far beyond our expectations. Who would neglect so great a salvation? Who would neglect so great a blessing? Our God is good, let us remember Him and give Him thanks.

Exhortation-Fourth Commandment

Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

It interesting that in the Ten Commandments there are only two strictly positive commands of things that we should do. Granted, all of the commands are about how we should love God and love our neighbor. But as they are given, only two are things we should do. The rest are things that we should not do.

It is also interesting to me that in the New Covenant era when we ought to be enabled to more fully do what God requires us to do and be able to more fully resist what God tells us not to do, the two most neglected commands are the ones that were positive commands in the Old Covenant, the fourth and fifth commandments.

We are told to Remember the Sabbath and to Honor our father and mother.

Today we are dealing with Remembering the Sabbath. Why do New Testament Christians readily sign up for 9 of the 10 commandments? What is this resistance to honoring the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath?

In the New Covenant, we should desire to serve God more, not less. We should give Him all of our days because all of our days are His. So it should be no problem to set aside one whole day as a Sabbath of rest in the Lord Jesus. It is not just going to church, although that is a most important element. We should cease from our regular labors of making money and striving in the world. We should focus our minds heavenward so that the rest of our week can have the right focus, too. We should prepare ourselves to rest, which is work, and we should learn the glory of what rest in Christ is.

Until we learn to Remember the Lord’s Day as our Christian Sabbath, we should not expect to get along very far in our walk with Christ. This is not the end all of our faith in Christ but it is a basic principle in which all the rest of our growth in grace is strictly dependent.

Money Wisdom From Proverbs

Money Wisdom From Proverbs

Proverbs 12:11 11He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.

This sentiment is uttered many times in the Proverbs, namely, that a diligent man will eat of his diligence. But there is more than that here. A man who sees that tilling and work and patience is God’s way of acquiring wealth, is the sort of man who will enjoy all of it. There is another kind of man that is prone to follow vanity. These men are not few nor far between. They are numerous and the crafty can always catch them. Multi-level organizations recruit thousands of people void of understanding that believe the lie that if they work 10 hours a week for a few years, they will never have to work hard again. Of course, vain persons are recruiting them and the recruitees become vain persons as the promised dollar signs begin to cloud their eyes.

Here is the funny catch. The man who tills his land, and works hard, getting a small and stable return for his efforts is the one who is satisfied with food. It is the fool, constantly seeking the ease of wealth easily, that is without understanding and without bread.

Why is it that those who are always trying to recruit you to do Amway (by any other name) are driving a beat up old K-Car, and the farmer (by any other name tilling and toiling away steadily year after year is driving a new Ford-150?

Those who seek to secure wealth quickly rarely do. And those who seek to secure their bread in the Fall by working hard in the Spring often find an enormous harvest, 30, 60 and 100 fold.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not 18 Anymore

Okay, went skiing and was dramatically reminded that I am not 18 years old. The jumps were tempting me. So, I made a run, nice and slow, got a bit of air, like three feet dude! Then another run on the jumps and catching some real air. Went for a nice big spread eagle and hit it fine. Then, a little dipsy doodle, don't konw what it is called, drop the skis down a bit and back up and hit the landing. Then, I was feeling plucky and a bit crazed. Perhaps it was the sun, or the 65 degree temperatures. Oh, I know, it was all those young bucks going over the same jumps and only catching half the air. I was older but able to outdo them. I know, I know.

So, the next run I try a half daffy, one ski up, one ski back, lots of air and hit it solid. Now I'm flying over the jump, really, not sure how far or high but plenty of time to do simple tricks. Getting enough air to do a back flip but I was always afraid to do that. So, the next time down, and it really was my LAST time down for the day. Well, I had even planned it to be my last time down, even if it hadn't turned out the way it did.

So, on my last run on the last jump, I figured I'd get the most air and do a fairly easy trick. Swing the skis off to one side, the right, and back again for a landing, ski down to the lift, call it day and head down to the golf course for a few holes before heading home.

So, lots of speed, up the jump, and, whoosh, way higher than I expected, and zipped out of balance, skis to the right and "Woohoo!!", I whooped as I was very surprised and thinking things were not right.Down I came with skis still right, not perpendicular, that would have been worse, but about a 45 degree angle, which was bad enough. I had just made fun of a snowboarder attempting a 180, that only did a 90. 90's don't work to well. Guess what? 45's don't either.

Down I came with skis at 45 degrees, left knee buckled and I heard? felt? a lot of yucky sounding crunching noises. I yelled in pain for about 30 seconds and lay in the snow like an old dog too tired to rise to say hello. I figured it was pretty bad. My first thought was that my leg snapped, broken. Then, when the pain subsided a bit, I was thinking torn ligaments. My daughter skiied down to the lift, called the ski patrol and they carted me off the mountain. Oh, and did I mention that the jump was right below the ski lift? Humiliation! Pride goeth before a fall.

I was thinking, very expensive ski trip. As it turns out, may not be too bad. Went to the doc, x-rays, nothing broken. He stress tets the knee, thinks ligaments are intact. Bad sprain, knee imobilizer, pain pills, and ice. Oh, and slightly separated left shoulder. Right knee tweaked, right shoulder tweaked and left elbow bruised. Wondering what other ailments I'll feel today.

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

I'm sure you noticed this before, at least if you are a pastor or an elder. You, probably at least had a seminary prof tell you this, although you have forgotten.

When Israel enters the Promised Land, they are told not to go after the Edomites because that land had been given to Esau. Also, they are told not to mess with the Ammonites and Moabites. If you recall, Lot's daughters got him drunk and slept with him after they had escaped Sodom. The resulting children were Ammon and Moab, the fathers of the Ammonites and Moabites.

So, God honored all of these men and their tribes, Esau who is Edom, Ammon and the Ammonites and Moab and the Moabites. He honored them and gave them ample opportunity and time to declare their allegiance to Yahweh. Alas, they did not do so and were a constant thorn in the flesh to Israel. Eventually, judgment is pronounced against them in Ezekiel 25.

Ezekiel 25 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 2Son of man, set thy face against the Ammonites, and prophesy against them; 3And say unto the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou saidst, Aha, against my sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel, when it was desolate; and against the house of Judah, when they went into captivity; 4Behold, therefore I will deliver thee to the men of the east for a possession, and they shall set their palaces in thee, and make their dwellings in thee: they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy milk. 5And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the Ammonites a couchingplace for flocks: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 6For thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel; 7Behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
8Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the heathen; 9Therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities, from his cities which are on his frontiers, the glory of the country, Bethjeshimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim, 10Unto the men of the east with the Ammonites, and will give them in possession, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among the nations. 11And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD. 12Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them; 13Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. 14And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.

I think all of this speaks of God' great patience and kindness. But also of the nature of covenant, covenant keeping and breaking, election, and many other theological issues. God is always faithful, gives much room for repentance, but in the end judges sin and rebellion. Israel also rebelled repeatedly. But eventually God brings the antidote to all rebellion, the Lord Jesus as Christ, the Messiah and His Holy Spirit. So, the covenant lines receive all of this and those will not covenant with Yahweh, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, eventually are cut off completely.

Friday, February 27, 2009

It's All in Girard, man.

It's true. You ought to try it out.

Proverbs 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

The answer, of course, is that no one is able to stand before envy. This is the chief sin of the brotherhood since there were brothers. Ever since Cain killed Abel, brothers have envied one another producing all sorts of sordid sins. This was true with Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Moses and Aaron, Abimelech and his brothers, and many others, down to Jesus and his brothers,, the brothers James and John and their brothers, the other apostles.

Only in Jesus Christ, who was killed for envy, can envy be killed. And the rest of the epistles are about this very thing, love one another. Do not bite, devour and kill.

Girard helps us understand this in "I See Satan Fall Like Lightning." That is the first and only Girard that I have read. I am told that this is one of his more accessible books. You know what that means, right? It means that people like me can understand it. I did, sort of. But I am gearing up to do a bit more of Girard, cause its all in there, man!

Money Wisdom from Proverbs 27

Prov. 27:23-27 Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. 24For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? 25The hay appeareth, and the tender grass showeth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. 26The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. 27And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

We have made much of ‘be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks.’ A man needs to know what is going on with his finances. I think you could argue for a detailed budget from this verse. But what is the outcome of knowing what is going on? Does the Lord promise riches, wealth and abundance? Not necessarily. Verse 24 tells us that riches are not forever. That is why we should look well to our flocks. So, what is the promise? Food for the flocks and herbs from the mountains, clothing from the lambs, food from the sale of the goats, goats milk enough for the entire family, food for everybody, all your sons and daughters.

God’s promise here is that if you pay attention to what is going in your household, if you work hard and know what is coming in and what is going out, then He will provide all your needs for you.

Remember that the counter of these truths is also true. If you do not know the state of your flocks, if you do not know what is coming in and what is going out, then the promise of provision is not there for you. You may not have food enough and clothing enough for your household. So, look to your flocks. Know your credits and debits; for riches are not forever. But the Lord’s provision for the faithful is forever.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blessed are the Hungry-Peter Leithart****

Peter has great incites into the Lord's Supper. His final essay, The Way Things Really Ought to Be, is simply outstanding. As elsewhere, he emphasizes doing vs. thinking. The glories of the Eucharist are in what God is doing in us as we do the meal. There is glory in the fact that the meal is a meal, that we do it with bread and with wine. He does not emphasize what happens to the bread and the wine or what happens to us as we eat holy bread and wine but more aptly what God is doing with us, His people, as we eat bread and wine. For more, and the really good stuff, you'll have to read the book.


Just in case anyone noticed, I am not rating the New Testament. Any other book I read, I will offer my opinion on how good it is, ranking it from * to ****. However, no human has any right to rank the Scriptures, so they shall go unjudged by me.

Incidentally, sneakily getting in something here I never noticed in the Bible. Rev. 1:20, The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.

I've always liked the idea that stars are angels. It seems that I am free to like the fact.

Money Wisdom from Proverbs

Proverbs 26: 13-14 The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets. 14As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.

More excuses from the sluggard. This answer is similar to the man who says it is too cold to plow in the Spring. That man will go begging at harvest. This is similar but not the same. This man says, “A lion!” It has all the plausibility of real danger. There may indeed be a lion in the streets but this man does not actually know if there is one or not. Why not? Because he is on his bed trying to get comfortable for a few more hours of sleep.

My old pastor, Doug Wilson, was fond of saying that whenever you get to work, you’ve got work problems. If you pastor a church, you’ve got church problems. If you are doing math, you’ve got math problems. Whenever work is embraced, you have problems. Saying that there are problems associated with your work is just another creative (not very) way of saying, “I don’t want to work.”

This sort of thing is commonly used as an excuse. But it ought not to be received as an excuse, either from your workmates or your children. You don’t want to hear about problems, you want to hear solutions.

The slothful man says, “There is a lion in the streets.” But the diligent man says, “We’ve got to get to the worksite. Somebody bring your gun to kill that lion.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Case for Covenant Communion- Gregg Strawbridge- Editor

If you are a PCA elder or minister, (or other Presby denom. that won't give bread to the children), then I highly discourage you from reading this book. It will result in a great deal of misery for you. You will most likely be convinced of both the historical and biblical positions of paedocommunion. Thus, you will be hard pressed to continue in your current ecclesiastical role. Either you will remain in your anti-paedo church with very little hap, or you will be forced to undergo an historic migration. It seems to me that either condition is highly unfavorable to your ongoing future hap. So, best remain ignorant and happy. Really, I am being honest. Don't read this book. You'll really regret it. Unfortunate chains of events are usually started by seemingly innocuous beginnings. Don't order this book.

As regards the book itself. I find it to be a very high quality defense of the historic and biblical practice of paedocommunion. All the articles are well-done and they run the gammut from accessible to scholarly. Robert Rayburn's appendix is on covenant succession and as such, is more directly aimed as a defense of paedobaptism. However, the article is so masterfully crafted, it serves as a thorough defense of both paedobaptism and paedocommunion. It is simply outstanding and ought to be read regularly be every Presbyterian minister.

Kudos to Dr. Strawbridge for putting together such a fine book. I suggest you offer free books to every non-paedocommunion elder or pastor who is willing to read the entire book and write a critical review of it. I'm serious about that, too. Perhaps you could find a donor who would be willing to financially back such a challenge?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wiser Blood

Okay, I am up to three stars for Wise Blood. I know I shall get to four, because it IS a four star book. I have read some on what is going on in the book and have spent some more time thinking about it. I can't say that I am in any hurry to read it again but know that I will do so in the future and also know immediately that it is a three star book. I will only have to work up one more star to get that inner peace in my soul. Then I'll be able to leave it alone.

As I have thought about the book, I realize that Hazel Motes declared himself clean, knowing that he was dirty. Becasue he cannot shake the world that God has made, particularly the redemption purchased by Christ, he eventually is shaken to the ground of his rebellion and agrees with God that he is unclean. His automobile, his cruddy rat-colored automobile is ruined, the engine bouncing out. He did not have the engine to run from God. His self-propelled attempt to rid himself of the reality of Christ, failed. His car failed because he, Hazel Motes, failed.

Enoch Emery, on the other hand, was dirty and knew it. But he still judged others who were dirty because he did not have the ability to consider his own condition. He was really nothing more than a beast, living moment to moment. In the end of the book, he does become a beast and is therefore finally free to be dirty.

Or so I see it. And this is why O'Connor is so great. You think about what she is doing. Her books won't leave you alone.

I'm still not giving her four stars for Wise Blood, at least not today. I suppose it is inevitable and I shall. But not today.

The Prince- Machiavelli

I gave this book three stars. Actually, it is a well-written classic with a good deal of helpful insights. He is giving counsel to a Prince on how he should govern his affairs to gain and secure a kingdom. The advice is mostly good. Mostly, because at times Machiavelli encourages poor or even evil behavior. Although writing as a believer, it seems, he does not give strict Christian advice. His advice is particularly prudent and pragmatic. For the most part, this works as pragmatism and prudence generally fall in line with a Biblical form. However, when the 'right' way and the pragmatic way are in conflict with one another, Machiavelli encourages the Prince to govern in the way that best fits the advancement of his kingdom, even if it means doing things otherwise considered evil.

Thus, while I commend the reading of this book and adherence to many of its precepts, I cannot give it my tacit approval. Three stars is all it will muster.

There is good advice in this book, not only for princes but for all who are in leadership and positions of authority. However, there is also danger in contemplating the Machiavellian advice. One ought to rule well and ruling well means knowing what is going on around you. However, one ought not to rule too cunningly. The danger in thinking like Machiavelli is that you may find yourself leading with a sharp eye, protecting your turf, and making alliances, improperly. All of these can and should be done, if done according to Biblical principles. A leader ought to build bridges, he ought to look out for trouble ahead, he needs to consolidate powers. The danger is when he jettisons set Biblical principles in order to do so. Machiavelli encourages this. I cannot.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rising Stars

Okay, got myself slightly more educated about Wise Blood. I'm certain it's a four but I can only see two at this point but that's up double and not a bad start. Not wise yet but not quite as stupid neither.

Stupid Blood

Just read Wise Blood by Flannery O'connor. On my book list, I give it one star out of four. However, I know that I only gave it one star because I don't understand it. There is a lot going on in the book, of that I'm sure. I was waiting to be able to 'get it' all the way through. I never did but I really don't think it was a lack in the book. I need someone to tell me what was going on so that I can raise my rating to its proper level. One reason I need someone to help me is that I think her other short stories are simply outstanding. I can 'get' them, sort of. But Wise Blood was beyond my generally capable typological abilities.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Money Wisdom from Proverbs

Prov. 20:4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

A sluggard will have nothing in the times of plenty, in the times of harvest. How much more so in times of dearth? In plenteous times, he will beg and have nothing. In times of dearth, He will get nothing for his work of begging and likely loose everything that he does have. Furthermore, there will be no pity on him in his times of calamity. Those who worked hard at seed time will remind him that he did not work hard in the day of work. A worker is worthy of his wages. If man shall not work, neither shall he eat.

There are a host of excuses to keep from work. It is too cold, too rainy, too hot. I’m not ready yet. I need more education. I don’t have the right tools. No one will help me. The boss doesn’t like me. It won’t turn out anyway. I’m tired. I’ve got better things to do right now.

All of this adds up to unfulfilled wants, and even needs, like food, when others are reaping the fruit of their labors.

We must think about this. We live in a world where 41 hours of work is overworked, where leisure time is the goal of work, where a great deal of return for little effort has been the norm. But the times, they are a changin’ and only those who will work hard now will reap later.

So, is it cold? Better get out there and get to work so you can warm up!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homeschool Music-Right Priorities

Players: Mom (44), Dad (43), Anna (14), Calvin (7) and various other chllins who are unimportant to this particular interchange.

Setting-Around the dinner table.

Anna: humming some catchy popular song.

Calvin: Anna, you're more public shool than homeschool.

Anna: Huh?

Mom: Calvin, that's not very nice. That's not true. Say you're....

Calvin: Well, it's true.

Dad: What do you mean, Calvin?

Calvin: Well, she is.

Dad: Why do you think she's more public school than homeschool?

Calvin: Cause she listens to pop.

Dad: Oh, I see, you think public school kids are the ones who listen to pop?

Calvin: Well, they are. And Anna listens to pop so she's public school.

Dad: Well, what do homeschool kids listen to?

Calvin: Rock!

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

3John 1The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Okay, here's one for you. I've decided that I have to do at least 25 push-ups every time I finish a book of the Bible. That's not so bad, right? We don't really finish them that often and 25 push-ups is a fairly small requirement. However, we do a weird thing with some books of the Bible. They aren't really books. Sixty-six books? How about those little tiny letters at the end? Books?

So, I've just been reading James, 1,2Peter, 1,2,3John, Jude. Start counting. Ya, right, 175 push-ups! I'm looking forward to some longer books.

Oh, I almost forgot, things I never noticed. John to Gaius, "May you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers." I always read that 'spiritual health' but that's not what it says. He wants him to be in good physical health just as he is in good spiritual health. I guess all those push-ups made me aware of physical health.

It is good to send a physical blessing along with your spiritual blessing.

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

2John 1The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

I suppose that I noticed this before, but I never did 'notice' this before, if you get my drift. This letter is written to the elect lady, AND HER CHILDREN. We don't know how old they are so we cannot make this another paedobaptist passage. Oh.....yes, we can! We Prebyterians can make almost anything a paedobaptist passage. Really, we can, it is required for our seminary exams.

The Apostle John, like Jesus, cares about the children. It is not so much whether we can prove that there are infants in the home but the fact that the Apostle is talking to a household. It is even more than that, really. It is not just a household he is talking to, as if a household, was a thing, or a somebody. He is talking to a lady AND to her children. He loves them both. He loves them all. I never noticed it before and I thought it was worth paying attention to.

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

This one is really bad. I mean, from the perspective that I never noticed it before but we ARE trying to be honest. I suppose we reformed types are always dealing with the 'faith and works' aspect of this passage instead of the faithful works aspect.

James 2:14-17 14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

The thing I never noticed is verse 15, If a brother or sister, come to you. I had always read that, if a man come to you, or if someone comes to you. We do have an obligation to the broader world, I am not arguing against that. But this passage does not argue FOR it. We are talking about family members here, both immediate family and church family. I think the passage more specifically means those in your local church, your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are required to take care of them giving them food and clothing. But it does not place a universal requirement to take care of every one who needs food and clothing. This is especially important because the 'everyone' view, or the 'anyone' view means we have to take care of those who have no connection to us besides, perhaps, the connection of human. But we ARE given requirements for brothers and sisters, those we are covenantally connected to.

Money Wisdom from Proverbs

Given the continuing doleful news of our economy and the response to it from our elected leaders, it is good for us to listen to the voice of Scripture. We do not want to be like the millions with their hands out and their knees bowed to the golden calves of Washington. We want to bow our knees to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

My intent is to post periodic devotional thoughts on portions of the Proverbs related to money. We have much to learn, much to repent of, and much blessing to receive from such an endeavor.

Here’s the first installment.

Proverbs 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

This chapter sets the integrity of the poor against the deceitfulness of the lying wealthy oppressor. However, it is a very balanced chapter, encouraging hard work and reminding us that we reap what we so.

Verse 17 has much food for thought. We ought to have pity on the poor and lend to him. When we do so, we are lending to Yahweh, Himself. That seems an odd thing to say, as if Yahweh was a bit down on His luck and needed a helping hand. We should understand that God uses us to do His work. When we give to the poor, we give to Him. He holds our gift and keeps an account. He eventually pays us back with interest.

We tend to think of the Lord giving us interest by letting us into heaven when we die. That may be part of it but the Bible is more earthy than that. We should understand and expect that God will bless us in this life. I don’t want us to become namers and claimers, as if God has to respond to us in a particular fashion. At the same time, God wants us to understand the world that He has made. It does operate on certain basic godly principles. When we give in God’s name, God will repay us.

This leads to another issue. How can we give if we have nothing to give? The Proverb warns of laziness in verse 15, 15Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger. So, we should not be lazy. We have to work hard to get an increase. But what do we then do with that increase? In our current way of thinking, we spend it, ALL, on ourselves. This is disobedience because we have nothing left to lend to the poor. Thus, we cannot invest with God nor receive His dividends.

We must learn to live not, within, our means but below our means. We have to reduce our budget, so that we have something to give. Of course, the first and most obvious way to do this is to tithe. If you learn to live on 90% of your income, you are learning how to spend less than you make. And I would like to suggest that as a STARTING point. The fact of the matter is that the tithe is owed to God, so paying a tithe is not really living below your means. As our incomes go up, we should be thinking about living on 89% of our income, then 88% and so forth, so that we have more to give away. You must remember, God adds the increase and gives us a return on what we give to Him. So, giving to God is not throwing money away but rather investing it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

John 9: 3-5 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus says that He is the light of the world. The rest of the chapter is about the blind man being healed by Jesus so that he can see. He says, "I was blind, now I see." This is the prooftext for Jesus being the light of the world. He brings light to the blind. Those whom Jesus touches, see. Those who will not see are not touched by Jesus.

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

John 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

Of course, we all know that Jesus chose His own disciples but I never noticed how striking this verse is. Not only did Jesus choose those disciples that loved and served Him but He also chose the one that betrayed Him.

Furthermore, He here states that Judas is a devil. He doesn't mean that Judas is literally a devil. Judas is a man. But Judas is in the service of the devil. He is a disciple of Jesus because Jesus has chosen him, so he is serving Jesus, in a way. But his service to Jesus is deceitful. His real master is his own flesh and desires after the manner of his father, the devil. So, if Judas is a devil, then Jesus chose the devil.

Another thing that is bothersome about Judas and Jesus. Judas has one of the chief positions among the disciples. He is the treasurer, the keeper of the money box. Does it not seem odd that Jesus let him do this? Woudn't that have been a temptation to Judas to fall further into his own misery and sin? Clearly, the disciples did not suspect Judas's wickedness related to money but Jesus knew about it.

If anything, this means that Jesus had a different set of priorities than we do. Sure, we ought to be good stewards of our stuff and the Lord's stuff. But there are more important things going on than what is going into the money box. Judas didn't know that. Maybe that is why Jesus kept His first faithful disciples away from the money box?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Book Review- The Shack

Just finished The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. I was not overly excited to read this book but have had several family and friends read it and ask my opinion about it. So, I thought I better give it a go.

I don't want to be too overtly critical of the book as I am sure the Lord can and will use this book to encourage many people in Christ. The author does cover some important themes in dealing with God and relational issues that will cause some folks to move forward in their walk with Christ.

However, I do think that the reason this book strikes such a chord in our current Christian culture is because of the huge vacuum at the center of our Christian world. That vacuum is Father hunger. Young is trying to address that very issue. I just don't think he does it all that well.

As I read the book, I found that it did little or nothing to address any lack in my own life. And that is not because my life has been peaches and cream. It hasn't. I had a great degree of father hunger in my own life. The book does reveal a failure on the part of the Church to heal that father hunger. In my opinion, the broad sales of this book also reveal the Church's failure. Young even goes out of his way to say that God is not interested in institutions or rituals. He thinks that those sorts of things are hollow solutions to man's ills.

The problem is that the God of the Bible has indeed created institutions and established rituals in those institutions. Of course, these should not be empty institutions and empty rituals. The Church needs to mean something. Baptism and the Lord's Supper must do something.

My own life has been dramatically healed by God, the Father, Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It has been healed in the Church among God's people and through ritual, baptism and the Lord's Supper, weekly formal worship, and a rather 'ritualistic' family life. All of that ritual is of primary importance in holding together all of the relationships. But relationships without God-inspired ritual produces some of the emotional drivel that Young spouts. Okay, okay, I said I would not be too critical and now here I go. My concern is that the Church is so weak and feeble that a book like The Shack seems so powerful. Wouldn't it be much more lovely if our folks read the book and said, "Wow, I am so thankful that God has already done those good things in me." That is, in fact, my experience and I hope and pray that it would be the norm.

That said, the Church is weak and feeble in many places. There are many Christians on the edge of the Church and in Churches that do not teach well. For them, this book is going forward and I pray that God will use it to draw them closer to Him, to His Church, and even to meaningful ritual.

In the early part of the book, I was actually pleased that Young was teaching doctrine about the person of God. He begins to explain the Trinity and does an okay job of it. But much of the rest of the book is a philosophical and theological jumble. Instead of simply asserting God's exhaustive sovereignty and man's total responsibility, he plays that old card, (over and over and over) that God would never step on man's free choices. Given the nature of his book and the good that he is trying to do in it, I found this very distracting and trite. I would have much preferred him to give us an Ecclesiastes look at trouble in the world than an Armenian apologetic.

One other complaint and then I will try to be positive, I promise. I don't think he understands the actaul process of forgiveness properly and this point can actually do some damage to the Saints of God. He makes the Father out as someone who loves all his children (all men, the good the bad and ugly) equally. This simply is not the Biblical revelation. God does not love everybody the same and he manifestly does not love unrepentant evil doers. How does this do damage to the saints? Well, it appears in the book that Papa loves the murderer just as much as she loves Mack. And only Mack's forgiveness will free the murderer to be redeemed by Papa. And while I agree that every Christian must be willing to forgive anyone that God forgives, having Mack forgive the murderer in the abstract, when the murderer is not seeking forgiveness, is to go beyond the requirements of Scripture.

Perhaps that is niggling but I would not require my congregants to forgive in the abstract. I would ask them to pray for the man that God would bring about justice in judgment or mercy through grace. It is not sinful for us to ask God to judge His and our enemies. The Psalms are full of this sort of thing. After all, are not such men serving the powers of darkness? And God came to destroy the works of the evil one. He does that in two ways, not just one. One is presented in this book. He draws them to light, forgives their sin and heals their brokenness. But there is another way. Jesus also puts all His enemies beneath His feet. He squashes them. You may not like that but it's in the Bible, too.

One thing the book gets right. We have to leave this 'sorting out' to the Lord, trusting Him, and not let ourselves be eaten up with bitterness.

You protest, "But what about us? We were evil doers." Yes, that is true and God, in His grace and love, brought you to repentance and forgiveness. But God has very harsh words and actions for those who will not repent and believe. It is not for us to figure out how this all works. I beleive we are then dealing with the hidden things of God. But to deny it because it does not fit in our pre-conceived doctrines is the very thing Young is arguing against in this book.

Oh darn, I just finished this book and really wanted to say more positive things but the more I sit here and think about it, the more flummoxed I get in trying to do it a good turn. Jesus is a buddy in this book. That always bugs me. Friend, yes. Elder brother, yes. Pal? Come on. Think about his dealings with the Apostles, the closest chance men had of having a buddy in Jesus. He wasn't their buddy.

I suppose my issue (it is growing as I write) is that the character of God in the book is not as Biblical as it should be. He tries to explain some hard doctrinal issues of sovereignty and freedom but does not get the character of God right. It is like a miscast movie. Good story and all but would have been better had the actors fit the character better.

Okay, what is good about the book. Oh no. I'm thinking. Fractal. I liked that.

God does make good in the mess. The book tugs on the heart in the area of dealing with past hurts and helps one to see that those pains are ultimately aimed at God, especially if we have a sense that God is in control. That makes us deal with God as much as with those who have hurt us. I think that is good.

Would I recommend this book? No. But having said that, I think more people will benefit from this book than could be hurt by it. I think it would tend to draw them closer to God and people. And when that happens, they will necessarily be drawn into His Church and the Communion of the Saints.

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

1 Cor. 8:2-3 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. 3But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

This is much like that famous saying of Socrates, paraphrasing, "True wisdom is knowing how little you know." Or, "Wisdon is knowing that you don't know."

Paul says that a man who thinks he knows, doesn't. At least he does not yet know as he ought to know. To know as you ought to know is to know with humility. To know with humility means that you acknowledge your ignorance. This does not mean that you really cannot know things. You can. And, as a Christian, you must. God calls you to Wisdom but the Wisdom that He calls you to is a Wisdom of humility, not hubris.

Furthermore, there is something greater than knowing, even something greater than knowing God. The truly great thing is not to know, but rather, to be known by God. That ought to humble us a bit, too!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

Luke 9:34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.

I never noticed that the Peter, James and John entered into the cloud. They had reason to fear. They were surrounded by the Spirit of God. This seems to be nothing less than the Glory Cloud, Himself.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Things I Never Noticed in the Bible

Romans 5: 3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

We tend to think that trying times make us hard, they steel us, like an athlete that works hard to discipline his body. I think there is some truth to that. God's discipline enables us to endure. He is building endurance in us by training us. But God is not making us hard. He is making us strong by making us soft. Here, patience produces experience and experince produces hope. A hopeful man is a soft man but one who has got there through the hardships of suffering.

Hardships make hard men harder and soft men softer. Experience produces hope because it took patience to wait upon the Lord. Having waited, experience sees what patience could not. And hope springs from knowing that God is faithful, just as He promised. This hopeful heart is a soft heart. It is like a piece of hard leather that is very strong but only useful when patiently oiled and coaxed into a supple state.

So, the thing I never noticed is that hard experience through patient suffering is the mother of hope.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Exhortation- Third Commandment

Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

When we think of this commandment, we tend to think in terms of someone using the word God or Jesus, or Christ, or Jesus Christ as epithets, swear words. Certainly, that is using the Lord’s names in vain. I condemn that kind of usage wholeheartedly. But we err if we think this sort of thing is the main or the worse form of taking the Lord’s name in vain.

I think we often have a psychological need to be able to blame others for committing sins so that we do not notice ourselves committing the same sins, and worse. When unbelievers dishonor the Lord by swearing with His name, it is not nearly so grievous a sin as when Christians use the Lord’s name in vain. This is true because when we take the Lord’s name in vain, it is something far worse than simply saying words that are course or foul; or using good words as foul words; words like God or Jesus.

Taking the Lord’s name in vain has to do with taking the Lord’s name upon us as a covenant member and then breaking the terms of the covenant. Most everyone in this room is a baptized believer. You have had God’s name placed upon you. You have taken His name. So, this commandment tells you not to use it in a vain way. Do not call yourself a Christian and then live as if you were a heathen. Do not use the Lord’s name to gain advantage in business or influence if you are not really living for and honoring the Lord. We see politicians pander to Christians all the time, using Bible words and claiming to be Christians, when their main or only desire is to get votes or get influence. This deceit is taking the Lord’s name in vain.

We also take the Lord’s name in vain when we put on a show of spirituality but are not living as we profess. We are telling a lie, on purpose, in order to be seen as men, women and children in good standing with the Lord, when we know that we are not so. We have a simple name for this, hypocrisy. This is taking the Lord’s name in vain.

The Lord gives us warning. He will not hold us guiltless who take His name in vain. Do not attempt to lie to God. Remember Ananias and Saphira? Do not play the game of trying to look the part when you do not live like a Christian. Do not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.