Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Drinking the Cup of the Wine of Wrath

The Old Testament prophets often spoke of a cup in the Lord's hand. It was "the cup of the wine of wrath" (Jer.25.15).

See Jeremiah 25.15-29. See Isaiah 51.17 & 22. And there are many other examples as well. Very strong language.

The picture here is that when the One True God -- grieving over the awful wickedness of this world -- at last steps in to set this world to rights, evil will receive its final reward.

And it will be as though God's holy anger against all the sin in this depraved world will have been turned into wine. A sour, dark wine of judgment. And those who remain in their sins will be forced to drink the cup. And they'll have to drain it "to the dregs" (Is.51.17). They'll drain to the dregs the cup of the wrath of God.

The shocking part of the Bible's story is this:

Guess who also drinks of this "cup of his wrath"? (Is.51.17)

Who also "drinks of the wrath of the Almighty"? (Job 21.20)

  • Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” (Matthew 20.22)
  • And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14.36)
  • And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”... Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Matthew 26.39, 42)
  • So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18.11)

"What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul, what wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!"

American folk hymn... #261 in the Red Trinity Hymnal

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Week of Rest, Part V

We were wrong about Nephew #1's next capture. It wasn't the giant squid.

It was a scorpion. A venomous scorpion.

And here's the best part: before the seven-year-old nephew threw a book on the scorpion to kill it (actually it was only stunned), he was playing with it.

"He poked me on my finger with his tail."

Apparently no venom was delivered. I guess it really was just a poke. This kid is hilarious.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Week of Rest, Part IV


  • So... Nephew #1 & Nephew #2 are walking around the beach house & they see a snake. If you think these two young boys cautiously backed away from the snake & alerted a responsible adult, you haven't been paying attention. Nephew #1 grabs a net & traps the snake. He plays with the snake for a while (through the net) & then places some rocks on different parts of the net to keep the snake trapped. Then he goes for a swim in the pool with the other kids. Later Nephew #2 (just a little guy) shows my 3-year-old daughter & me the snake -- trapped & apparently forgotten. The diamond-shaped head & the instinct to lift its tail & "rattle" it -- while assuming a striking position -- cause me a bit of concern... even though the tail didn't really have a full "rattle" as far as I could tell. With my father-in-law holding the snake while I look up a snakes-in-Florida-identification website, we identify it as a Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake. Quite venomous. If you're keeping track, this means that in the last few days Nephew #1 has caught...

two man-eating lemon sharks...

several ghost crabs...

& now a venomous rattlesnake.

I can't wait to see what this kid grows up to be. He makes the Crocodile Hunter look predictable & boring.

At lunch we were discussing what his next catch might be. A couple of us are rooting for the giant squid.

  • another enjoyable view into wildlife is all treefrogs this place has at night. If you study them very carefully when they're hunting bugs, you can actually see the tongues come out & grab the bugs. Cool.

  • Son #2 was using some floaty "noodles" today to return to the shore from being out in the ocean, well beyond his ability to "touch." As he came into the breakers, he was starting to worry a bit because the waves were pretty big (from his eight-year-old perspective). After shouting some encouraging words of instruction to him, & enjoying watching how he was handling it, I finally told him: "Now stand up!" The water only came up to just above his knees. The expression on his face was beyond my powers of description. Kids are awesome.

Week of Rest, Part III

More splendid moments and wonderful memories of this week of rest:

  • four members of the family went fishing in the bay. That night we ate trout like kings -- trout that had been heedlessly enjoying themselves mere hours before. In addition to the trout, Son #1 caught a spanish mackerel (illustrated above), & Nephew #1 caught two lemon sharks (one of which was bigger than he is). Also caught were some blue fish & lady fish. All told 26 fish died at their hands that day. They were delicious.
  • taking all the kids on a night-time golf cart ride down the beach & finding a bajillion ghost crabs everywhere. The kids would all leap out of the golf cart at first & surround the crab (if he stayed above ground). Then the crab would nervously start moving around, inevitably heading towards three or four of the kids. Of course, they would freak out & go leaping & falling over each other to get out of the way. Except for Nephew #1 (the shark-catcher). He would jump towards the crab in hopes of catching it... & I presume eating it raw. He's that kind of kid. Weird. He did catch a couple of the smaller ones. And got pinched by a larger one. But -- undeterred -- he dove at the next crab too. He's got courage!
  • the glories of sandcastles. The kind of sandcastles kids labor over for hours.
  • scrapping a net deeply into the sand beneath the waves & seeing what comes up -- hermit crabs & shells of every size & shape & color.
  • taking kids way out from the shore on an inflatable boat & letting the tides bring us back. Trying to keep Nephew #1 from jumping into the ocean to see if he can wrestle up another shark.
  • sleeping under the starry night sky with Son #1. So many stars. I was reminded of Yahweh's boast to his friend Abraham: “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” And the moon. And the sunrise. Reminded of Psalm 8.1: "You have set your glory above the heavens."
  • is any nap so sweet as a dozing nap on a comfortable lounge chair, on the beach, in the sun, having read & played yourself into a state of delightful drowsiness?
  • campfire on the beach

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Week of Rest, Part II

Some favorite things, continued:

  • discovering -- through a conversation with my sister-in-law -- that the old lady in the church that I mentioned in the post below was actually well into her 90's. Wow.
  • finding myself seriously planning ways to make one last doomed effort (at 41 years of age) to get my body back in shape.
  • wondering if maybe Harold Camping was right after all... maybe I have been in heaven since 6:00 pm on Saturday.
  • hearing and having conversations with little ones all day long. Like these, for instance: a three-year old toots, I look over at her, she sheepishly says, "My booty did that." ... or the six-year old who calls those hateful horseflies that swoop down to bite you at the pool, "horsebugs" ... or the group of siblings & cousins who were pretending to be a band when one of my kids (thinking of the praise band at church) takes control: "Okay, we need one drummer, 2 guitars, a fluter, a trumpet, and a singer..."
  • the jacuzzi attached to the swimming pool attached to the beach house attached to the beach attached to the ocean. Great Scott. I am not worthy.
  • reading an awesome book in the glorious Florida sunshine by the pool. 100 pages into The Prince of Tides & it's phenomenal. Love the story of how the Wingo family became Roman Catholics. Not that I would recommend that path to anyone, but whatastory. When the story gets too good to keep reading -- because one needs to think about what he just read -- one just jumps into the pool & joins the game of Marco Polo.
  • walking on the beach in the daytime: the fine sand, the waves, the shells, the kids exploring the beauty & wonder of creation... the fact that apparently we are THE ONLY PEOPLE at this beech this week! It's not just that it's uncrowded -- it's that there is no crowd. We basically have this entire beach to ourselves. No commercialization at all. They call this "The Forgotten Beach"... & it's true!
  • A visit from the owner of the beach house & her three seven-week-old Weimaraner puppies. I need one of these.
  • Playing Uno with my daughter & nieces. I always cheat at Uno. It's the only way to keep the game interesting. But I tell everyone I'm going to cheat & they can too... so it's fair. But if you're caught cheating, you have to draw three cards.
  • closing out the Lord's Day with the whole family out on the deck, singing hymns -- while watching the waves crash into the shore. Oh, the undiminishable wonder of our God... and the kicker is that his wonder will still be undiminishable 100,000,000 years into eternity.

Week of Rest, Part I

Enjoying an awesome week of rest in Port St. Joe, Florida. Favorite things so far:

  • the drive down, listening to a Dave Ramsey audio book The Total Money Makeover. Good stuff. Not always workable in every detail if one has a quiver full of five, but very good stuff overall. And there are absolutely no regrets. I'd rather have the kids than the fully-funded this fund or that fund. Kids are awesome. Psalm 127.3-5.
  • the company: 1 wife, 5 children, 2 parents-in-law, 1 brother-in law, 1 sister-in-law, 2 nieces, 2 nephews
  • the beach house: the aforementioned parents-in-law rented a place on the beach. I mean ON. THE. BEACH.
  • the food: the aforementioned wife & sister-in-law have planned & prepared all the meals. Feastilicious.
  • the pool: attached to the aforementioned beach house
  • the late evening stroll on the beach: Beautiful.
  • falling asleep to the sound of the breakers coming in through the screen door. Son #1 & I are talking about sleeping on the deck tonight to enjoy both the sound of the breakers and the ocean breeze. I imagine others will join us.
  • watching the dolphins swim by in the early morning
  • daily Bible readings & hymn-singings with 3 generations of sinners who've been redeemed by the mighty hand of our covenant-keeping God
  • worshipping with an older company of God's people this morning at a local church. Best moment was when this aged, elderly, advanced in age, old, ancient, along in years, debilitated, seasoned, senior, over the hill, past her prime, enfeebled, white-haired, painted-on-eyebrowed, getting on, geriatric, decrepit lady was introduced to perform a solo for the "special music." I must admit that as she hobbled up to the front I inwardly groaned. She seemed too old (by about 20 or 30 years) to be doing public solos. But I checked myself and sat up and paid attention. Honestly I have no idea what most of the lyrics were. Couldn't understand them. But three times she broke out into the refrain & it was absolutely beautiful: "My voice will silence never; I'll worship him forever; And praise him for his glorious love!" I submitted myself to the Lord's rebuke, as tears filled my eyes. Reminded me of Psalm 92.14,15: "They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."
  • enjoying my new Bible. More about that later. Great layout. Never had one like this before.
  • getting into my beach book, Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides -- loaned to me by a friend well over a year ago.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Impact of a Widespread Acceptance of Homosexuality on Men & Friendships

This is a fascinating article... once you get about four paragraphs in & understand where the author's going & what he's saying. Until then, the article feels a bit icky. But it's worth your perseverance.

The idea is that today's widespread acceptance of homosexuality has all but destroyed the ability of normal male friends to show casual, natural affection for one another. A homosexual man (not the author of the article in the link above) discovered this when he began collecting old, old photographs of male friends. At first he mistook the men in the photographs to be homosexuals.

But, no. What he came to realize was that in the days before "Jennifer has Two Daddies," this was common. Two male friends could show natural, completely non-sexual affection for one another... in ways that would just weird us out today.

Here's an excerpt:
"... Thus, in the earlier photographs, ''We're looking at men who didn't think in terms of 'gay' or 'straight' and who weren't worried about what people would think if they put their arms around their buddy, whether that was going to say something to the world that would be threatening,'' he says. But the Freudian male was worried. That's shown in the chapter in ''Picturing Men'' dealing with the evolution of sports' team photos -- one that Rotundo counts as among his favorites.

''What you see is in the late-19th century team photos, the team members are completely comfortable and draped all over each other. By the time you get to the 1930s, that's completely gone,'' Rotundo says. ''You see a precursor to the modern team photos where everyone is rigid and each guy has his hands on his own knees. They're separate, kind of like ice cubes in an ice cube tray. It shows the change in an intriguing and visually compelling way.''

Reminds me of when I was a seminary student in St. Louis. For some extra cash, I frequently volunteered to be in on those consumer focus group things where they would pay a dozen men (age 18-25) to sit in a room & evaluate commercials for this & for that (candy bars, batteries, etc.) to see which commercials "grabbed" us most.

None of us knew each other; they recruited men from all over the city. And the lobby area where we would always meet (before they took us back to the focus-group room) had about a dozen chairs around the walls.

I would usually arrive early, book in hand, ready to catch up on my reading before the meeting started. I'd sit down. Then as the next six or seven or so guys showed up, we sat there in silence, around the room, with a chair in between each of us.

No one's saying a word to each other.

Then, when the next guy shows up, he looks around the room... observes that if he takes a chair, he'll have to seat himself in between two guys... endures a moment of indecision... then decides to stand in the middle of the room in utter silence, staring at the wall. All the other guys in the room breathe a sigh of relief. Situation normal. Crisis resolved.

As the remaining guys show up, they all stood there in the middle, in utter silence. Six or more perfectly good chairs going unused. But that's the way we all liked it.

This article helps me understand our weirdness a bit better. It apparently wasn't always like that.

April's Fury

No, this isn't a photograph of one of the April tornados (tornadoes?) that hit Alabama last month. This is actually a picture of a tornado that hit Iowa in 2008, but the picture helps me understand the complete devastation that we've seen in some of the rural communities around Decatur. It's just indescribable. Whole houses gone. Nothing in one piece. Huge trees reduced to splinters.

But Decatur itself was spared. And it was spared for a reason: so that we might serve our neighbors (in nearby communities) who had their houses ripped to shreds. And it's been encouraging to see that kind of neighbor-service spring to life! DPC has sent out a number of teams.

We were actually supposed to be hosting a Local Mission Conference ("Missions Right Here At Home") with special speaker Jim Hatch on the weekend after the fury. But with the widespread power outage, we decided to postpone.

Meanwhile, the Local Missions Conference came to us. As we were going through the rubble & debris of what use to be someone's house, a member of the church family turned & asked me, "So, how do you like this Local Missions Conference?"


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Easter Beauty

This is a few weeks old now, but still quite relevant... the beauty & glory of little girls in Easter dresses.

A dear "mother" in the church was taking this picture of the four sisters, when the picture-crasher ran over.