Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Brief Review of Vision Forum's Women in Military Articles

Some Christian leaders, realizing silence is consent, are beating the drum about women in the military. They're dismayed that America (and the church) is largely silent about the presence of female soldiers in hostile enemy territory. Caught up in the emotions of Jessica Lynch's quick rescue, America didn't have time to be outraged that she was there. Christians didn't raise an outcry that young mothers were off fighting a war while able-bodied men stayed home.

Their point is not that women can't meet the demands of military life (although they provide the standard rationale for why they can't), but whether or not they belong in the military at all. Their argument is based on Biblical gender roles; women are to be busy at home and men are to protect women.

"Women in the military" is a timely platform for these leaders to voice their more wide-ranging complaint; our culture has neglected motherhood. Sure, with women fighting the wars our military will have more casualties, but the much larger loss is the institution of the family. The raising of godly seed, the building of the kingdom of God, is all tied up with the health of the family. When the majority of women choose career over child rearing, a very weak family and church result. For the unbelieving culture this may not be a concern, but for the servants of Christ it must be.

For my part, their arguments resonate. Regrettably, apart from God's grace Biblical arguments won't convince our apathetic culture about a woman's valuable role. But for Christians it's a call for faithfulness to God's decrees for men, women, and children.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Overreaction? Many of us have seen through the plastic, spineless, unbearable "niceness" that evangelicalism seems to produce. It's as fake as it is revolting. But I'm concerned with how we 'Authentics' react. There's a danger of overcompensating; while attempting to be strong and courageous, we become just plain mean-spirited and rude.
It's so hard to remember that only God will be a consistent source of delight. Promising friendships will prove half-hearted, new vehicles lose their fragrance, new houses soon appear shoddy. Without grace to "delight yourself in the Lord" (Ps 37:4), the let-downs of life result in either depression or cynicism.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Under the Influence: When looking for a new church, I've always optimistically assumed that I can change them and so haven't concerned myself too much with even the obvious spiritual problems present there. I've thought too highly of myself--a hero for the struggling-church, a champion for the underdog assembly. But when I look back, I find that I'm not so influential; actually without fail, the church changes me into what it is. Its weaknesses become mine; its doctrines, passion, too. So now I'm trying to choose between two churches--one that fits doctrinally, but appears to lack passion; and the other that may be passionate but is more baptistic than me. Which do I give up--covenantal doctrine, or passion for God's glory?

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Ear Gate Update. Sinclair Ferguson exhorts those without easy access to a good-fitting church, "Learn to be taught by the whole church of Jesus Christ. Learn that you belong to the church catholic. Learn that God has used more than the teachers alive today to instruct the church."

Friday, April 25, 2003

Friends for Money? In today's careerist culture stay-at-home moms (that label is unsatisfactory but it communicates) have a difficult time finding and developing meaningful friendships with other like-minded ladies. This is why I dislike the trend of women becoming proselytizers among their friends for a "home-based" business like Discovery Toys, et al. Marketing your wares to your friends should be only done with great discretion and an appreciation for the sanctity of friendship. I'm not saying all home-based business women develop friendships with personal profit in mind, but there are those that do and it complicates a much-needed relationship.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

After a 10 year absence from the South I had forgotten the importance of identifying poison ivy before doing yard work. I expect to be continually reminded of it for the next couple of weeks. A half-conscious scratch caused it to spread like wildfire. This illustrates the power of sin. A policy of containment will require constant discipline, since the urge is strong, but is the only way to health.

This reminds me of a couple more "sin to body" analogies.

"Sin is like a man's beard. You can shave it today, but it'll be back again tomorrow." - Martin Luther

"The feeling of wearing a hat continues after the hat is removed. This is like the feeling of still being in our sins." - John Bunyan
Routed by the Cubs. My T-Ball team suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Cubbies Tuesday night; one little boy struck out and wept. It was chaos in the infield, and kids who forgot to bring their glove in the outfield. But besides being funny and cute for non-coaching adults to witness; T-ball also teaches children to be responsible. They learn to pay attention lest they get whacked by a ball; they remember to run the bases in a certain way or face the public humiliation of going back to the dug-out; they feel pressure to hit the ball hard and learn how to focus when they're down to a final strike.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

As an able-bodied military man sitting here in middle Georgia, this comment from Mrs. Chastain hits hard. "Something is terribly wrong when the most powerful country on earth is assigning women service members to units where they are subject to capture, rape, torture and death, while able-bodied men are stationed out of harm's way or, worse still, at home in the comfort of their living rooms". In the next week, I hope to provide a review of the series of articles on Women in the Military currently available at the Vision Forum website.
Persecution. This week's WORLD magazine uncovered this startling potentiality,

"Time has been working on a sensational cover piece: the inside story of evangelical "special ops," missionaries working undercover in the Muslim world. Mission agencies don't want the story told: The risk of imprisonment, torture, or death for Christian workers in the Middle East is the reason.

Time editors have sent a four-page e-mail to their reporters worldwide explaining what they want: "We are planning a major piece on the flood of Christian missionaries, most of them evangelical, to Muslim countries. We will touch on all kinds of missionary work ... but we will eventually narrow our focus to a more radical crew of proselytizers: those who proclaim the Gospel of Christ, even if that means risking deportation, imprisonment, or death."

Of special interest to Time: "Often, to avoid detection by authorities, this new breed employs a tactic called 'tentmaking' or 'tunneling.' Essentially, this means doing some kind of other work as a cover or pretext, when [the] real goal is preaching.... How exactly do they get away with preaching in such a hostile climate? (We are fascinated by this secret-agent aspect and would like to hear about it in great detail.)"

Jim Kelly, Time's managing editor, told WORLD he is "sensitive to the consequences that any story has" and that his magazine is "a responsible publication that weighs carefully anything that goes into the pages of the magazine."

This reminds me of John Piper's sentiment that it is God's design to spread the gospel through the persecution of the church. We must plan to be persecuted, but woe to him through whom the persecution comes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

There is a felt "Christian consensus" (Schaeffer's term, I think) in smalltown, Georgia. During the opening ceremonies for the base's baseball season, two prayers were shamelessly offered in Jesus' name. And when Kristin and I attended a passion play at the city civic center it was obviously a major cultural event, performed before a crowd of thousands and requiring traffic police. One humorous line--the actor Jesus proclaiming center-stage, "And if I go and prepare a place I will come back and take ya'll to be with me." (John 14:3, Southern version).

And more importantly, with the Christian consensus there does seem to be a salt-effect. The town and culture is "clean" in general and the assumption is that you go to church. It will be interesting to see the extent of the saltiness--my skeptical nature doubts that it's very deep.
Is it okay to read a scholarly book of theology while eating a corn-dog? Something about it didn't feel right; but it was good. The dog, that is.

Monday, April 21, 2003

The hill, Difficulty. The fog and friction of the move to Georgia is starting to clear a little; I can look around at the hill that we Baileys are climbing. I've had a deep fear building within for sometime now that we are failing at raising godly seed. Our stated desire is to serve the Lord with gladness as we raise our children. But we lack consistency, and see little evidence in our children of any godly heritage. And at the end of the day what little Spirit-fruit I find exercised in my life. My wife, who also seems to feel the same, has a repentant heart and through our prayer-time together I too start to feel the need for more and more genuine confession and dependence.

I'm reminded of Russell Kelfer's statement, roughly, "We want change overnight. But God is not in the business of selling canned fruit. He grows trees."

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Jesus Christ, Superstar. Despite the great canon of Presbyterian teaching, the pastor of a local PCA church here chose to open up Holy Week with the soundtrack of this play. He did give a caveat that some don't care for the way the Lord is referred to as "J.C.", but it didn't seem to bug him. If you're cool, this may be the church for you. We'll keep looking.
Shock and Awe describes the effect my DiamondBack T-ball starting line-up had on their opposers, the Cubs. As coach I took pride in every 12 inch hit, not just my own son's. And God was merciful; for many of the children this was their very first taste of baseball, and none struck out at the T today. D-Backs 7, Cubbies-6.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Drink like a Believer. I just enjoyed a nice Killian's Irish Red. As an unbeliever I would not drink alcohol at all (basically for moral reasons) but as a believer I recently began to enjoy beer. Kinda backwards from most. I guess I finally realized how to drink like a believer and still be different from the world. Find joy in what God has made and freely given.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Ear Gate Update: On the drive down from Illinois I finished up R.C. Sproul Jr.'s When You Rise Up: Biblical Education. It's not as hard-hitting as their first basement tape on homeschooling, but it fleshes out the objective of homeschooling. It should be seen as discipling your children--this will drive your curriculum choices and emphasis on character vs. academics. The three guiding questions of the homeschool are, "Who is God?, What has He done?, What does He require of me?"

Eye Gate Update: Just finished Future Men by Douglas Wilson, which far surpasses Dobson's Bringing up Boys. Wilson defines Biblical masculinity as the objective for boys and emphasizes the need to instill toughness and manners. I especially liked his reasoning on the importance of manners. They teach boys to respect and protect women and are "constant reminders to males--whose lusts when unmortified always degrade women".

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Strange Things about Middle Georgia #1: Kamikaze gnats! Like the dirt-poor orphans of Africa who seemingly don't notice the flies walking about their skin, residents of Middle Georgia acclimate to gnat-hordes persistently air-assaulting the eyes and ears.
Baptism. The Church has made too much out of who, when, and how to baptize. As a church we should yearn for the inner, effectual baptism of the Holy Spirit and allow Christian Liberty in how our families apply the external sign. Encourage a family to study the issue, examine the patterns of Scripture, and follow their prayer-formed conscience.

At one church here in Warner Robins, and I'm convinced this is a faithful church, people with a man-centered gospel can "join" their church, even though the church affirms the doctrines of grace, but if you've never been immersed then you can't be part of the members-only club. Isn't the gospel more deserving of unity than whether one was dunked or sprinkled?

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

We're still looking for a church in our new assignment. Did you know there are 70 churches in Warner Robins, GA. Why? But more importantly, why do churches define themselves to newcomers by their programs? Is this a biblical way to advertise a church?

And why is it that churches who historically affirmed a God-centered view of salvation seem so apathetic about it? I applaud that rare church, which has been historically man-centered, but has made the move to a God-centered view. This takes great courage; and courage when followed through gives birth to joy. And I need more courage-based joy myself.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Stepping onto the wrestling mat for the first time--it feels kinda squishy; that's about right since I'm not sure what this blog will hold. Why open up my musings for the world to see? Am I a heavyweight in Christ? Not in the least. Wrestling alone with the questions of faith wearies me; so I seek other wrestlers that are willing to question everything, not with fallen reason but with infallible revelation. Feel free to step into the circle whenever you're ready.