Thursday, April 29, 2004

A Call to Be a Computer Geek?

Dumbfounded by the Air Force's decision to send me to school for a computer science degree, something alien to my background, perhaps God is now letting me in on a little of His plan...

This week I heard that missionary-candidates in the '70s and '80s were trained in agriculture so they could sow the gospel seed with unreached people while also teaching them to farm. That's now passe, in part because the big food conglomerates, like ADF, have moved in. And a small missionary team can't compete with something that big.

These days more and more candidates are brushing up on their calculus and computer skills. Many of the unreached people groups need and want these skills in order to move to a city and find steady work. So perhaps the missionary spark that God has lit in our hearts will be fanned into flame through something as mundane as differential equations and Java.

After all, it is His math.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

God Bless You

"Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!"
(Gen 27: 29)

One of the themes my pastor has traced through Genesis is the passing of the "blessing-bearer" torch from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob. God dealt with others based on how they dealt with his blessing-bearer. For instance, when Pharaoh took Sarai, all the wombs of his household were closed. Lot parts from Abraham and ends up in Sodom.

Ultimately the blessing-bearer torch belongs to Abraham's seed, Jesus. It stops with him. Whoever blesses him will be blessed; whoever doesn't will be cursed.

People want their house to be blessed, their children to be blessed, their job to be blessed. But they don't bless Christ, meaning they don't live in a way that honors Him. If we want the blessing of God we must bless Jesus, the blessing-bearer.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Every Idle Word

A collage of interesting things I heard throughout the day...

Farewell Speech from a Captain
My friend's farewell luncheon was today; it was well attended. He's a PCA guy and has done well at work. His farewell remarks were polished and moving. But I was a little disappointed that he didn't work any gospel into his remarks. That does take some guts and more discretion.

I'll have my chance in a couple of weeks. I've been told that when God gives you a canon, you fire it. That's what I plan to do.

Commander's Call
The new General on base remarked, "My priorities are faith, family, Air Force. You might be surprised to hear a General Officer put service to his nation in third place. But if my top two priorities aren't right, then #3 can't be done well."

"I make tough choices on these priorities every day. Friday I had to choose between going to my son's baseball game or attending a gathering of 600 volunteers on our base. This time I chose to be with my son. He says I don't do that enough."

[I liked his point. Saying you have priorities is easy, but they're proven through tough choices that pit one priority against the others. But, I wished he would have proven that faith is his first priority with an example of it bumping everything else.]

Two Men on a Bus
Man 1: "Now that we have super churches there's a lot more offered. There are courses on Finances, many things the small churches haven't had."
Man 2: "What do the big churches use?"
Man 1: "They buy the books for you. The little churches can't do that. They just teach from the Bible."
Man 2: "I guess there's a place for that, too."
Man 1: "Yeah, there is a time for that. But the books have direct quotes from the Bible. Plus they also have really helpful thoughts on all kinds of topics, too."

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Urban Legends of Evangelicalism

17. One way to share the Gospel is to say, "ask Jesus into your heart".
This is a sub-Christian euphemism, foreign to the Scriptures. Better would be: "today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."

18. God's love is unconditional
Unconditional love is a farce. God's love is completely conditioned upon Christ.

19. God loves you just the way you are
God loves you the way Christ is. We please God by relying on His grace to make us like His Son.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Graduation Celebration

In recognition of Eli finishing kindergarten in a couple of weeks, I'm planning his first camping trip. We'll spend one night deep in the woods of Georgia with some other fathers and sons from the church. The next day we'll catch a Ranger (as in US Army Ranger) demonstration.

The Ranger demo sounds exciting: patrol insertion from a Blackhawk, rappelling, climbing, mountain rescue, hand-to-hand combat, and free-fall parachute jumping. Static displays include helicopters, night-vision devices, weapons, and parachutes.

Tents, campfires, and handgrenades; what could be more exciting?

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Stranger in a Strange Land

It's no surprise that we swim against the tide of pop culture. We are the "called out" ones. However, it is startling to look up from your swim-lane and find you're on a dramatically different course than most of the church around you.

Let's face it, just affirming covenant baptism and rejecting Left Behind puts you in a statistically-insignificant group. Then throw in worship convictions, education convictions, etc. That's one more reason why I like blogs--they help connect me to others in some meaningful way.

Although the path of sanctification has taken some surprising turns over the last year, I feel good about it. In my less-reformed past the teaching was milky, so much so it was easy to become somewhat of an expert milkman. Now I see so much to be learned I don't feel qualified to teach on much at all. Before, my leisure time largely mirrored the world's; now much richer things captivate me. Before, the gospel seemed like the ABCs; now it's the A-Z.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

What Do I Do Now?

My colonel retired Friday. His charisma was unmatchable; think "most popular guy in high school" and that's him at 40-something. He'd motivate you from a top the conference room table during staff meeting. He'd cut a flip on the way to the podium just to "set the stage". His wit and charm earned him the tite, "Mr. Hollywood". He's a powerful leader. But he's also honestly mistaken. During officer calls he'd boldly and repeatedly state that family (his wife and two kids) has not been first; the Air Force is. It wasn't a confession but a proclamation. He echoed this during his retirement reception, with his wife sitting in the front row.

At least he's honest, many men say that family is first but their life proves otherwise. For my colonel, now that he's retired, it'd be interesting to know how his family adjusts to his re-entry after 26 years. But, like most "successful" men, it probably won't take long for him to find something else to make first.

Speaking of "what do I do now", after a cram-packed year I finished my last Air Command and Staff College exam today! My evenings are free again! Well, that is, until I become a full-time student in June for a year.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

I, like Jacob in Esau's Garment

After a powerful sermon today from Genesis 27:1-29, where Jacob deceives his father and receives the blessing intended for Esau, I think a highly unusual foray into poetry may be in order.

I, like Jacob in Esau's garment
went into my Father's room.

He smelled the smell of my elder brother
that covered my stench of doom.

Dressed in the garb of Father's favorite
I receive what I am not due.

O rightful Son of the Father,
blessed be everyone who blesses you!

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Mrs. Wrestling Mat Goes to the Laundry Mat
By Kristin, earlier this week

Of all the things to do today I dreaded having to do laundry! Did I forget to mention that the man came to repair the washer on Monday and ended up taking it back to the shop with him? Worse than he thought--Thursday is the projected date of return. I drove by a run down laundry mat on the way to library story hour and cringed. UGH! No way did I want to do that!

At the library, Hope, my new friend that homeschools and has kids in gymnastics class with us at the YMCA, mentioned that she saw a new laundry mat by Hwy 96 when I was bemoaning that I didn't want to, but after 5 days, I had to do laundry.

You would have thought it was CHUCK E CHEESE or something. All 3 of the kiddos had a blast. The laundry place was nice, clean, It had regular washers, washers for double loads, and giant washers for doing a triple sized load!

We did a double load of whites and a (OH BOY!) triple load of darks. The kids had a blast loading the washers with clothes and then QUARTERs! Eli did not want to leave to get lunch! But I loaded the kids back into the car, went through the golden arches drive thru, returned to finish watching the clothes spin (Isaiah reported if there were bubbles or just water), and urged the kids to please eat their lunch so we could go home. Then I buckled the younger two in the van and had Eli be my door holder. He asked if we could come back again. I said hopefully not as the washer will be back on Thursday. Both he and Grace said they thought their clothes would really need washing as they really wanted to come back.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Out of Egypt

My favorite summation of the gospel was: God's sovereignty, Man's sinfulness, Christ's sufficiency. Nothing wrong with that, but I've been won over to the way my pastor preaches the gospel to believers, it goes something like this:

We're all born in Egypt, not the place, but the condition--in slavery to sin. God intervened and delivered us from that bondage and oppression. He's taking us to the Promised Land, which is the New Heavens and New Earth. But for now we're in the wilderness. It's a hard place. The temptation is to go back to Egypt, or to stay and gut it out here in the wilderness. But we're called to believe God's promises. He's proactively out for our good. He won't count our sins against us. He'll defeat all His and our enemies. He will finish the job.

No surprise that this pastor is most at home preaching from the "Older Testament", as he calls it. You can't swing a dead cat in there without hitting the gospel.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Me and My Bible

So many important things that I've never heard before come from my pastor these days. I hope to record a few here in upcoming posts.

He says we properly understand Scripture through three lenses: the text, historical understanding of the text (e.g. creeds, catechisms), and our present community (e.g. our particular church, the era and culture we live in, etc). If we minimize historical understanding, as so many do these days, we're bound to goof up the meaning of the text.

I've been part of churches that strived to be "Sola Scriptura", but in actuality I think were closer to "me and my Bible". There's a big difference between the two. These churches (and I) failed to account for the affect that our cultural presuppositions have on our comprehension of the text. This is why historical understanding is so important. We need 2,000 years worth of Christian thought to properly balance and guide our understanding of Scripture safely through our own time and culture.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Why I Write

Today is the first anniversary of this blog. Seems like a good time to think through why I write.

I write for myself. Blogging is a good forcing function for meditating on the Scriptures and life "under the sun". It helps me capture a fleeting thought. Writing forces the thought to take shape. My 6-year old son isn't content to watch butterflies flitter across our yard. Net in hand, he runs off intent to catch and understand them. Likewise, the Scriptures shouldn't just "walk by" me during a morning devotion, it's better that I wrestle them throughout the day. A morning devotion starts the match, the evening blog entry ends the bout.

I write for others. We're called to edify, and I see a need for this in the blogosphere. Most blogs about discipling a family belong to the ladies (and my wife and I profit greatly from them). As far as I can find, the majority of blogging men focus on theological, cultural, or political hot buttons. There's a place for that, but we could use more manly blogs that reflect a father's heart turned towards his family. I try to contribute to that need.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Humbled by Adversity, We Learn the Deception

At work I have my cross to bear--difficult people, broken processes, broken people, and difficult processes. At home, my wife bears a heavier cross--difficult neighbors, broken appliances, a broken body, and difficult children. And some days they all misfire at once.

Yet the heaviest cross is mine, and it's that I cannot take Kristin's cross from her. But what I should do, and a good head of home will do, is ensure that she is bearing only the cross God gives. Neither I, nor anyone else, should add to it. But I must call her to take up her cross and follow Christ.

Calvin is especially strong here. Here are powerful reasons for bearing your cross, excerpted from his Institutes (Book 3).

REASON 1: Our Cross Conforms Us to Christ
"Though the Son was dear to the Father above all others, the Son in whom he was "well pleased," yet we see, that far from being treated gently and indulgently, we may say his whole life was nothing else than a kind of perpetual cross. Why then should we exempt ourselves from that condition to which Christ our Head behoved to submit? It affords us great consolation in hard and difficult circumstances, which men deem evil and adverse, to think that we are holding fellowship with the sufferings of Christ; that as he passed to celestial glory through a labyrinth of many woes, so we too are conducted thither through various tribulations.

REASON 2: Our Cross Rids Us of Self-Confidence
"Since we indulge a stupid and empty confidence in the flesh, God visits us with disgrace, or poverty, or bereavement, or disease, or other afflictions. Feeling altogether unable to support them, we forthwith, in so far as regards ourselves, give way, and thus humbled learn to invoke his strength, which alone can enable us to bear up under a weight of affliction. Humbled by adversity, we learn the deception. It is surely plain how necessary it is for us to bear the cross. It is of no little importance to be rid of your self-love, and made fully conscious of your weakness; so impressed with a sense of your weakness as to learn to distrust yourself so as to transfer your confidence to God, reclining on him with such heartfelt confidence as to trust in his aid, and continue invincible to the end, standing by his grace so as to perceive that he is true to his promises, and so assured of the certainty of his promises as to be strong in hope.

REASON 3: Our Cross Frees Us From Half-Hearted Joy
"God well knows how strongly we are inclined by nature to a slavish love of this world, in order to prevent us from clinging too strongly to it, he employs the fittest reason for calling us back, and shaking off our lethargy. Our stupidity! Our minds are so dazzled with the glare of wealth, power, and honours, that they can see no farther. The heart also, engrossed with avarice, ambition, and lust, is weighed down and cannot rise above them. In short, the whole soul,
ensnared by the allurements of the flesh, seeks its happiness on the earth. To meet this disease, the Lord makes his people sensible of the vanity of the present life, by a constant proof of its miseries."

We have a tendancy to want to throw-off our cross, thinking we'll then enjoy a better life. But, how useful and beneficial our crosses are to the good life! "We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 24:22)

Sunday, April 11, 2004


To Our Children at Sunrise (joyfully): "He is risen. He is risen indeed!!!!"

To Our Children at Sunset (sternly): "Pick out your [chocolate] bunny NOW!@#!"

The "already and not yet" of the Gospel...I need it today as much as any other.
Easter Presents

- Justification! (Rom 4:25)
- Our faith is not in vain (1 Cor 15:17)
- Preaching is not in vain (1 Cor 15:14)
- The power of sin is DEAD! (Rom 6:11)
- Born again to a living hope... (1 Pet 1:3-5)
-- to an inheritance that is unfading!
-- kept for us in heaven, guarded by God
- Seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph 2:6)
- Promised to appear with Him in glory! (Col 3:4)
- Those who fall asleep in Christ have not perished! (1 Cor 15:18)
- Our lowly bodies will be transformed like His glorious body! (Phil 3:20)

(based on Heidelberg Catechism #45, "How does Christ's resurrection benefit us?")

Friday, April 09, 2004

The City That is to Come

We're back from the Dayton house-hunting trip. The highlight of the week was clearly the Lord's Day. We enjoyed worship at Covenant OPC, met many new folks, and had dinner & family worship with some new friends. I hope our kind hosts won't mind me recounting a little event that particularly impressed Kristin and me. We're gathered around the piano singing Psalm 4. The wife is playing and singing. The husband is singing in harmony. (Kristin and I are trying to hit a note here and there as we're able). I understand little about music, but I believe the wife wrote the tune that we sang, which to me is an inscrutable skill. But what really impressed us was her ability while playing her own tune on the piano and singing harmony with her husband, to also make quick yet subtle use of her elbows, effectively keeping her littlest children's fingers from sneaking onto the keyboard. That's real mommy-talent.

The house-hunting was hectic--200+ Majors all reporting on the same day, combing the few available rentals. But God was kind to us, and in the end we signed a lease on a fine house in Fairborn, very close to the base. Interestingly, there's 2 other homeschooling families on our street.

To ease our nerves after the first day of fruitless searching, we found this, "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come" (Heb 13:14). The magazines from Dayton's department of tourism make the town look like a great place, yet we're reminded that the closest we can be to our true home is the visible church. And we can rest assured that God will richly provide this for us.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

We're Off to See the

Tomorrow we'll start our house-hunting trip to Dayton, Ohio. First stop will be Birmingham, AL to drop off the children with Kristin's parents! This will be the first time in six years that Kristin and I have been together without our little ones. What an awkward feeling this will be! No interstate exit-hunts for a McDonalds with a playland! No crowded hotel-room! No hours of kiddie-music!

Lord willing (...and we remember to change the clock!) we'll worship at Covenant OPC this Lord's Day. We also look forward to meeting Barb and making some new friends.