Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Some Goals for 2011

  • No more letting vocational stress follow me home where it creates a grumpy, distracted husband & father.
  • More dates with my wife.
  • More one-on-one time spent with individual kids... including a father/son overnight outing with the 13 year old.
  • A return to the wonderful grace & discipline of Scripture memory.  Lead the family in this as well. 
  • My closet will be awesomely organized & kept that way. People will cross state lines just to see this marvel of human orderliness.
  • I will finally move completely out of the boxes that are still embarrassingly stacked up in the corners of my office.
  • Take a few fun, quick family roadtrips.  
  • Bicycle more.  Find a great trail.
  • Know & love the sport of soccer better so that I might be a more useful coach.
  • More diligence in the kids' Bible classes.
  • I'm doing at least 40,000 pushups this year.
  • Outside the pushups, I hope to exercise at least twice a week.  If I hit 3 times a week, I'll seriously impress myself.
  • Repair the backyard fence.
  • Seriously think about getting a puppy.
  • Develop a wider, broader sphere of friendships in Decatur.  
  • Subscribe to the local newspaper & read it.
  • Eat in a more healthy fashion.  Sometimes.  Maybe.
  • Continue to get back into the joy of reading outside of "work."
  • Never let my e-mail inbox # exceed 25.
  • Mature in the "shepherding" aspect of being a pastor. 
  • Visit 2 RUF ministers in the state of Alabama & seek to encourage them in the greatness of their work.
  • Prayerfully see the Lord begin to raise up the next generation of elders & deacons at DPC.
  • Learn how to play poker.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rocket to Narnia!

I love the Chronicles of Narnia... in fact, I regularly check closets for Narnia... just in case I can get in this time. So when the nearby U.S. Space & Rocket Center announced that they were going to have a traveling Narnia exhibit, I was all over it.

However, we probably wouldn't have made it (the admission price for the seven of us was a bit daunting) if it weren't for a kind and generous family in the church who gave us the gift of enjoying the Narnia exhibit as a Christmas present! That was awesome!

And what's also awesome is that the whole of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is still waiting to be explored by my family. We didn't see much more than the Narnia exhibit this time, but I got a small taste of what all is there. What a cool place! Can't wait to visit it again.

100 Great Things About Living in Alabama:

#65... The U.S. Space & Rocket Center




Monday, December 27, 2010

Introducing Leah!

I'm late on this one because the picture was trapped in a computer that was not cooperating. But meet baby Leah, who has been worshipping with us since her arrival into this world not too long ago.

Welcome, Leah! May the grace, peace, and love of the Lord Jesus be yours always!

"'Let the little children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.' And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them."
-- Mark 10.14-16

Parent Me

I'm not a follower of Christian Hip Hop... I'm just not that cool. But a friend recently pointed me to the "Parent Me" video by the artist JSon. This is a faithful & trustworthy saying...

See it here.




Farewell to the Bailey family




Yesterday's worship at DPC had that strange mixture of joy and sadness when you must say farewell to friends, brothers, & sisters in Christ. We'll miss you Rob, Scotty, Robert, Alex, Nikolas, & Cameron (being held by Margie in the last photo above).

May the Lord bless you & keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Cards

I love reading Christmas cards!

But today we received one in the mail from a wonderful friend who happens to be a doctor.

I'm on my way to the pharmacy now to get it translated.

Recommended Christmas Reading with Children

My kids & I love this...


The illustrations, the tales, the characters, the fun, the full-color letters themselves... it's 110 pages of joy! But be sure to get this latest edition.  It contains letters & pictures & other material missing from earlier editions.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Soon"


One of the most disheartening things about the evangelical church these days is how quickly people will divide up & fight over matters of eschatology. The denominational context in which I serve the Lord Jesus vocationally (the Presbyterian Church in America) self-consciously does not divide over matters of eschatology. You'll find all sorts of eschatological views in the PCA, and I think that's very healthy.

But in some recent reading, I was struck by how the book of Revelation -- a book upon which six billion interpretive schemes have been laid -- is bookended with simple declarations that the prophecies within the book refer (mostly) to things on the near horizon for that generation.

Revelation 1.1: The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John...

Revelation 22.6: And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place...

Those words -- in the first & last chapters -- bracket the whole. And there are other such words in the body of the book itself. Interesting. Especially when you connect it with certain statements that Jesus made (see, for example Matthew 23.36 & 24.34) about what "that generation" will witness.

In 70 A.D. the Lord God sovereignly reorganized the whole world around the death & resurrection of Jesus. Jerusalem was destroyed & the 1,000-year age of the Temple (930 BC - 70 AD) was ended.

That's pretty significant.  It seems that much of what Revelation speaks to is the 70 A.D. event.  But, of course, that's just a picture of what the final appearance of the Lord Jesus will be like.  Then the world will indeed be reorganized completely, in a way we can hardly imagine now.  "No longer will there be anything accursed..."  (Revelation 22.3).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Luther on Preaching & Preachers

"A good preacher should have these qualities and virtues: first, to teach systematically; second, he should have a ready wit; third, he should be eloquent; fourth, he should have a good voice; fifth, a good memory; sixth, he should know when to make an end; seventh, he should be sure of his doctrine; eighth, he should venture and engage body and blood, wealth and honour, in the world; ninth, he should suffer himself to be mocked and jeered of everyone."
-- Martin Luther

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader


I haven't seen the movie yet, but I enjoyed this review...



http://www.wnd.com/images2/tbaehr2.gifhttp://www.wnd.com/images/TBaehr.jpg

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Does C.S. Lewis' Christian message come through in 'Dawn Treader'?




Dr. Tom Snyder and Dr. Ted Baehr 

Editor's Note: If you have not read the book or seen the movie, please be aware there are some plot spoilers in the following discussion.


Erudite Christian author and evangelist/philosopher C.S. Lewis was pretty clear about the basic Christian symbolism in the seven books of his children's classic, "The Chronicles of Narnia."

For instance, the author once wrote about the character of Aslan, the Son of the Emperor Beyond the Sea:
"He is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?'" Lewis said.

This is what happens in the first book, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which tells the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through Aslan the lion, its effect on Edward's regeneration, redemption and salvation as well as the healing of Narnia from the curse of the White Witch.

Lewis continues this Christian symbolism in the third book, "Voyage of the Dawn Treader," which 20th Century Fox is releasing as a movie Friday, Dec. 10. Although the movie skips over some of the Christian symbolism from the book and changes the plot to be more dramatic and cohesive, much of the symbolism is still there.
C.S. Lewis writes in such a way that there are layers of meaning in "The Chronicles of Narnia," as explained in the book "Narnia Beckons." Clothes, for instance, have various different meanings. By putting on the robes in the wardrobe, the children are clothing themselves in effect in their future royal robes.

Most of the greatest writers write on several levels. Shakespeare most often wrote on at least three levels: the spiritual – such as when Hamlet ponders "to be or not to be"; the mundane or material – such as when Hamlet deals with Polonius; and the fleshly nature – as when Hamlet deals with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Lewis and Tolkien went way beyond this. Lewis's work dealt with many levels, including a cosmology that brought the spiritual world into the material world, what the Irish like Lewis would call "a thin place."



The church used to look at reality in terms of many different levels, such as the kerygma, or message, which is presented clearly here in this movie; the incarnational, which is the presence of God as manifested in Aslan; and, the sacramental, which is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. In other words, regarding the sacramental, when a married person wears a ring, the ring is not the marriage; it is an outward sign of the spiritual condition of being married. This is missing in the movie to a degree, although the filmmakers have done an incredible job of capturing some allegorical and metaphorical meaning.

Today, Christian evangelicals usually focus on the message, Catholics often focus on the sacramental and others, such as traditional mainline Protestants, focus on the incarnational – and so, the different groups of the church can barely understand each other. C.S. Lewis understood this and was trying to bring it all together.
In one way, both the book and the movie as a whole tell the story of a Christian pilgrimage to a sacred side, the border between Narnia and Aslan's country, i.e. heaven.

That journey begins with a symbolic baptism when Lucy, Edward and their silly, mean cousin, Eustace, suddenly find themselves in the Narnia ocean near the Dawn Treader, on which King Caspian is leading an expedition to find the seven lost lords who were friends of his father.

Both in the book and the movie, the seven lost lords remind us of the seven churches in Revelation and the seven angels associated with those churches, to whom Jesus Christ asks John to write individual letters, as well as the seven deadly, cardinal sins. Some of that symbolism remains, so that it is clear that the lord who fell into the dragon lake and turned into gold succumbed to greed, but much of the other symbolism is sacrificed for the more dramatic plot.

One of the greatest, most moving, episodes in the book and the movie is the special transformation, repentance, rebirth and baptism Eustace undergoes when he is changed into a dragon because of his sinfulness and greed.
The image of the dragon scales covering Eustace remind us visually of his and our grotesque sinful nature.
Eventually, Eustace recognizes his need for salvation and deliverance from his sin. Full of repentance, he tries to scrape the dragon scales off by himself, but he needs Aslan, the symbolic representation of Jesus, to step in and deliver Eustace from his sinful nature and baptize him. This is the regeneration, salvation and baptism of Eustace. In effect, Eustace is "born again" (see John 3:1-21).

Eustace isn't the only character undergoing a spiritual journey in "Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

For example, with Aslan's help, Lucy must avoid the temptation to be more like her sister Susan, who is outwardly beautiful but has drifted away from her belief in Aslan.

There's also the example of Reepicheep the Adventurous Mouse. Reepicheep longs to actually travel to Aslan's "country" beyond the sea, the representation of heaven in the Narnia chronicles. Aslan tells him and the others, however, that, once they go to Aslan's country, they cannot return. Thus, Reepicheep, who sails alone atop a giant blue wave to enter Aslan's country, is like Elijah, the great prophet who didn't die but entered heaven in bodily form.

This scene is probably the emotional high point of the entire book and movie.

At the boundary between Narnia and Aslan's country, Aslan tells Lucy and Edmund that he exists in their world too.

"But there I have another name," he says. "You must learn how to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little while, you may know me better there."
Aslan is, of course, referring to Jesus Christ, the incarnate deity in our human world (in the books, Narnia is depicted as an animal world to where humans from Earth have found their way, which is why Aslan appears like a lion, a reference to Jesus Christ as the "Lion of Judah" in Revelation 5:5).

A succinct summary of who Jesus Christ is, can be found in the beautiful passage in Colossians 1:15-17 (NLT):
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

The good news about the new movie version is that it keeps Aslan's important reference to Jesus Christ in this piece of dialogue.

In the book, during the visit to the Dark Island, Aslan continues this comparison with Jesus by sending an albatross that at first "looked like a cross" to lead them out of the darkness and into the light.

Finally, in the movie and the book, as the Dawn Treader sails nears Aslan's country, the light from the sun gets brighter and brighter, and everyone's vision is improved by the ocean water, which has gotten sweeter and sweeter.

The symbolism of the water and light refers to the light that Jesus Christ brings to men, and the water refers to the power of the Holy Spirit that fills us when we put our faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ.

As Jesus tells the woman at the well in John 4:14, "Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

These are just some of the Christian and biblical references and themes in the Christian worldview reflected by "Voyage of the Dawn Treader." MOVIEGUIDE® encourages people to explore the other Christian symbols and themes in the book and the movie, such as the images of Aslan's banquet table and the theme of overcoming temptation.

As far as the books themselves go, a great place to start is "Narnia Beckons" by MOVIEGUIDE® Founder and Publisher Dr. Ted Baehr and Dr. James Baehr, available at www.movieguide.org.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"'And a Redeemer will come to Zion...

...to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,' declares the LORD."  Isaiah 59.20

My favoritest Advent hymn:


O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.


Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.


Refrain


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.


Refrain


O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.


Refrain


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.


Refrain


O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.


Refrain


O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.


Refrain


O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.


Refrain

made me laugh

Heard this joke today...


Bob:  God, how long is a million years to you?

God:  It is but a second, Bob.

Bob:  God, how much is a million dollars to you?

God:  It is but a penny to me.

Bob:  God, can I have a penny?

God:  Just a second.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Morning Prayer


"The entire day receives order and discipline when it acquires unity. This unity must be sought and found in morning prayer. It is confirmed in work. The morning prayer determines the day. Squandered time of which we are ashamed, temptations to which we succumb, weakness and lack of courage in work, disorganization and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in our conversation with other men,all have their own origin most often in the neglect of morning prayer. Order and distribution of our time become more firm where they originate in prayer. Temptations which accompany the working day will be conquered on the basis of the morning breakthrough to God. Decisions, demanded by work, become easier and simpler where they are made not in the fear of men but only in the sight of God. 'Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men' (Colossians 3:23). Even mechanical work is done in a more patient way if it arises from the recognition of God and his command. The powers to work take hold, therefore, at the place where we have prayed to God. He wants to give us today the power which we need for our work.

"

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from his wonderful book
Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, pp 64-65

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ready

Just got this note about Dr. Roger Nicole, a Christian scholar & author, whose works I've read here & there...

Dr. Roger Nicole... is turning 95 on Dec. 10. He is currently in the hospital. [A friend of Dr. Nicole's] said, "I just returned from a visit with Dr. Nicole. I feel that I have been in the presence of a great saint so eager to meet his Savior." She reports that Dr. Nicole said to her “I’m ready to go, I’m actually quite comfortable, nothing hurts, I’m not hungry. I actually thought dying was going to be a lot harder. I’m thankful to be in the hospital. Whether I die here or at the Village is inconsequential. It’s a lot more important where I lived and how. I’m not afraid of judgment because all my sins have been wiped out completely by the blood of Jesus Christ. All I look forward to is the joy of the life to come.”

May we all be as ready & as welcoming when our appointed day comes.

The Faith of Children


"I will say broadly that I have more confidence in the spiritual life of the children that I have received into this church than I have in the spiritual condition of the adults thus received. I will go even further than that and say that I have usually found a clearer knowledge of the gospel and a warmer love to Christ in the child converts than in the man converts. I will astonish you still more by saying that I have sometimes met a deeper spiritual experience in children of 10 and 12 than I have in certain persons of 50 or 60!"
-- Charles Spurgeon

D.L. Moody once returned from an evangelistic meeting and reported that he had had "two and a half conversions." Someone asked him, "You mean two adults and a child?" Moody responded: "No, two children and an adult!" ... two children who still had their whole lives to give, and an adult who only had half a life left to give

"Jesus Himself received little children, and there can be no ground for supposing they did not there and then in some measure respond to his love. From the earliest days of infancy a child responds to stimuli, and particularly to the loving care of its mother.... If a child responds to his mother's care, may he not respond also to the care of God?"
-- from a study paper commissioned by the Church of Scotland

There is nothing like the heart of a child being brought up to love Jesus from infancy!