Wednesday, September 29, 2010

There's only one thing better than owning a boat yourself...

"Rivers are roads which move, and which carry us whither we desire to go."

-Blaise Pascal

Since we've lived in the River City, two friends with boats have graciously invited us to share in their adventures.  Pure awesomeness.

100 Great Things About Living in Alabama:

#32... The Tennessee River

Sunday, September 26, 2010

One of my favorite quotes about Christ

I love the part about other peoples' pigs...

"The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore -- on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him 'meek and mild,' and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. To those who knew him, however, he in no way suggests a milk-and-water person; they objected to him as a dangerous firebrand. True, he was tender to the unfortunate, patient with honest inquirers, and humble before heaven; but he insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites. He referred to King Herod as 'that fox'; he went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as a 'gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners'; he assaulted indignant tradesmen and threw them and their belongings out of the temple; he drove a coach-and-horses through a number of sacrosanct and hoary regulations; he cured diseases by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the matter of other people's pigs and property; he showed no proper deference for wealth or social position; when confronted with neat dialectical traps, he displayed a paradoxical humor that affronted serious-minded people, and he retorted by asking disagreeably searching questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb. He was emphatically not a dull man in his human lifetime, and if he was God, there could be nothing dull about God either. But he had 'a daily beauty in his life that made us ugly,' and officialdom felt the established order of things would be more secure without him. So, they did away with God in the name of peace and quiteness."

~Dorothy Sayers

Saturday, September 25, 2010

“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

Today is my wife's birthday.  Have I told you about my wife?  I really couldn't even start to do justice to all the ways she is a beautiful blessing to me, to her children, and to all the people who benefit from her love and gifts -- often without even knowing it.

One of her friends who knows her well wrote this about Elizabeth the other day:  "You are... a complete giver.  I was just thinking about how you offer to help someone before you think through how it will affect your time (& energy).  What a testimony of true sacrifice."

The friend got it exactly right.  But she somehow got it right without knowing half the ways in which she got it right.

The Proverbs 31 poem may be more about wisdom personified ("Lady Wisdom," as opposed to "Lady Folly" -- see Proverbs 8 & 9) than it is about an actual woman... but still.  Every line applies.

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth.  I love you.

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Differences of Opinion within the Church

"Christian fellowships are often at their worst when dealing with differences of opinion. In some ways biblically-based churches find it easier to deal with false teaching. But personal differences can be almost as deadly, dividing the fellowship, sowing seeds of bitterness, diverting attention from central issues to sometimes petty, peripheral concerns, sucking energy that should be employed in building up believers and in reaching out to the community. How effectively we handle these differences may say more about the biblical character of our church life than how we handle heresy."

-Sinclair Ferguson

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We Celebrate the Number Eight

Eight years ago today a doctor in St. Louis insisted on having us meet this brown-eyed little guy four-to-five weeks earlier than scheduled because the silly boy was having too much fun with his umbilical cord.  I'll never forget watching the doctor unwind two loops of it from around Jaden's neck.  He's been a monkey ever since God first knit him together.

Today this gregarious, energetic little boy who always makes you smile & has never yet met a stranger enjoys playing music (on the piano or on his trumpet)...

...playing outside (trampoline, baseball, soccer, basketball, badmiton, laser-tag, sword-fighting, perilously climbing on top of playground equipment, bike-riding, etc.)...

...and doing his school-work.  (His teacher finds that he'll sit still longer balancing on a ball than sitting on a chair.)

Jaden, my prayer for you on this birthday is that you will be renewed in the Lord's steadfast love and faithfulness every single morning, always seeking your God... and always finding that He is your portion, your hope, your good, & your salvation.  I pray that you will marvel and revel in the mercies of Jesus, which never come to an end.

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.  The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."
~Lamentations 3.22-26

"'Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.'  And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled."
~Mark 5.19,20

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Good Things Running Wild

Yes, God has given his people laws & rules to guide their lives... Chesterton highlights one of the purposes of God's gracious laws in the quote below...

"And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild."

-- G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Words of the Wise are like Goads

The Iron Men of DPC have begun a Tuesday morning Breakfast & Bible Study, working our way through the book of Ecclesiastes...

The wisdom literature of the Bible is so fascinating... it's not like studying the law or a letter or a narrative or a poem or a prayer or even a prophet... it's wisdom.  It's going to take sustained effort and time and reflection and repeated readings (even better:  repeated readings in a community of students) to really "get" what it's saying.

It's going to take much more than just a surface reading & a superficial "jab" at the point being made.  But the rewards of having matured through many reflections on the wisdom literature of the Bible are deep and rich.

Consider how Ecclesiastes ends:  "Besides being wise, the Teacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care.  The Teacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.  The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.  My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with  every secret thing, whether good or evil."

Prepare to be goaded...

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Unthinkable Solution to the Problem of Forgiveness

An important question from John Stott:

"How then could God express simultaneously his holiness in judgment and his love in pardon?  Only in providing a divine substitute for the sinner, so that the substitute would receive the judgment and the sinner the pardon.  We sinners still of course have to suffer some of the personal, psychological, and social consequences of our sins, but the penal consequence, the deserved penalty of alienation from God, has been borne by Another in our place, so that we may be spared it."

Consider C.E.B. Cranfield's comments on Romans 3.25...

"God, because in his mercy he willed to forgive sinful men, and, being truly merciful, willed to forgive them righteously, that is, without in any way condoning their sin, purposed to direct against his own very self in the person of his Son the full weight of that righteous wrath which they deserved."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

regarding opportunities...

"A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds."  -- Francis Bacon

"As the Wind blows, you must set your Sail."  -- Thomas Fuller

"Strike while the iron is hot."  -- James Howell

"Timid men are more likely to be moved to trepidation than daring in the face of great opportunities."  -- Henry Kissinger

"In affairs of importance a man should concentrate not so much on making opportunities as on taking advantage of those that arise."  -- La Rochefoucauld

"A missed opportunity is worse than a defeat."  -- anonymous

Every time a new semester of Adult Christian Education Classes begins, it is the arrival of another opportunity for your faith to grow and mature in new directions.  Be bold.  Seize the day.  

Adult Christian Education Classes, Fall 2010... Come join us!
Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History - the Grace Awakening Class
Romans: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith - the LAFF Class
Each for the Other: Marriage as It's Meant to Be - the FaceBook Class (for young adults)

Remember also the great words of William Wallace:  "Aye, come to Adult CE Classes and you may be challenged or confronted or boldly encouraged.  Stay home with your newspapers or TV's and you'll remain comfortably unchanged... at least a while.  And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our newspapers and TV's that they may take our weekday mornings, but they'll never take...   OUR GROWTH IN THE THINGS OF CHRIST!!!"  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Who's this "Rick" guy?

Not long ago on a trip out of town, the family was listening to "The Rick & Bubba" show on the radio.  If you've ever heard their bumper music ("Rick&Bubba, Rick&Bubba... pass the gravy please... Rick&Bubba, Rick&Bubba"...etc.) you know that it's pretty catchy.

Most of us were singing it the rest of the day.  But the five-year-old had a slight misunderstanding.

He kept singing "Rick&Mama, Rick&Mama..."

100 Great Things About Living in Alabama:

#73...  The Rick & Bubba Show

Friday, September 3, 2010

Armchair Christians... it ain't real

"A salty pagan, full of the juices of life, is a hundred times dearer to God, and also far more attractive to man, than a scribe who knows his Bible... in whom none of this results in repentance, action, and above all, death of the self. A terrible curse hangs over the know-it-all who does nothing."

-- Helmut Thielicke

You'll find the genuine players out on the field.

"Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest."

-- The Lord Christ

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thinking Through Fads

“You can find all the new ideas in the old books; only there you will find them balanced, kept in their place, and sometimes contradicted and overcome by other and better ideas. The great writers did not neglect a fad because they had not thought of it, but because they had thought of it and of all the answers to it as well.”

-- G.K. Chesterton