Saturday, July 31, 2004

French Fries and Beer

Isaiah, like most 2-year olds, loves french fries. Especially McDonald's variety. But he also likes rootbeer, a word a little too big for him to pronounce.

This explains the strange looks we enjoy when we walk into McDonalds and he excitedly calls out for "Beer! Beer! Beer!"

Friday, July 30, 2004

Here I Beg...

We've decided that the local Reformed Episcopal church is not right for us at this time. But among the many things we like about it, I'd like to point out one thing in particular.

Communion is received by beggars alone. Down on my knees, arms stretched upward and hands cupped, I wait for the bread of heaven and the cup of the New Covenant. Body and soul, I acknowledge my righteousness is as filthy rags and so here I beg hungering and thirsting for a righteousness not my own. And then through the Church, Christ feeds me, and I am satisfied.

What a powerful picture of the Gospel!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

The price of doctrine, when is it too high? 
In this town of around 500,000 no church is a perfect fit for us.  So trying to decide on the right church requires trade-offs.  The question is what do you give up?  Liturgy?  Doctrine?  Community? 

Our tendency has been to hold-on to doctrine.  Usually this comes at the expense of community, which explains why we drove 45 minutes to worship in Georgia.  But while there we also discovered liturgy.  The price of doctrine in Dayton seems higher and may require trading-off both community and liturgy.

I'm also re-valuing community.  I'd like my children to have friends close enough that they see each other a lot.  I'd like for my family to be in a church that is able to serve its community.  Is this possible in a church where the people are spread out across several counties? 

If a church has doctrine but its people are not able to serve one another, and outsiders, as a church, is the price of a common doctrine too high?

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Lemonade for Sale

Some neighborhood children we hadn't met yet were selling lemonade down the street.  50 cents a cup.  There sign also says for another half-dollar you can hold a live toad!  We overlooked any sanitary violations and went for the lemonade.

I asked the 4-year old proprietor what his proceeds were going towards.  His assistant, an older sister, told me that he's saving up for a new game for his game boy. 

A game-boy at 4 years old?  Maybe this is why I don't see many boys playing outside anymore. 

Friday, July 23, 2004

Our Baptist Betters?

I first heard this phrase in response to the Southern Baptist petition to remove their children from the government schools.   I commended them for it, too.  After the SBC convention, I asked around and found someone who was there when the issue came up.   According to this person, the general response was that "it was too strong"; however, I think a committee was formed to study it. 

Don't you hate it when you present a topic with thorough Biblical references and your audience doesn't even come up with some Scriptures of their own before dismissing your position as "too strong"?

At school, I've joined some Baptist friends in an informal Bible Study.  One of these friends longs for the resurrection of the Promise Keepers and the other was a very active supporter of the Federal Marriage Amendment.  But during our study the first friend couldn't find Titus on his own, and the other had never heard of the account where God initiated the covenant with Abraham.  Just more proof that we need to focus on the health of the Church before we start fixing things outside. 

Throwing a Party

I was pleased to see WORLD address "third" political parties and especially the Constitution Party (see 17 July issue).  Mr. Veith argued that a vote for the Constitution Party during the presidential election is a vote for the Democrats and will likely lock-in more liberal Supreme Court Justices.  However, he supported the idea of electing stronger Christian statesmen at lower levels in order to build a grassroots movement that some day may be ready for the national election.

I'm still left with a nagging objection to this approach.  If I vote for the party that most closely aligns with my convictions, not only do I vote my conscience, but as more and more voters do this, won't the major parties be led to find out why their base has left them?  And wouldn't this be a strong encouragement to reform? 

But if I vote Republican, only in the hope of defeating the Democrats, how would they get the signal to reform? 

Somedays I think we're raising one. 

We had a friend over who is thinking about homeschooling.  My older son beaned my other children with rocks in the head and narrowly missed our friend's children.  My younger son wouldn't share his toys, was fussy, and lived up to the "Terrible 2" stereotype.

I don't think we'll convince many to homeschool when we make an impression like this.   

Monday, July 19, 2004

A Gospel-Haunted Life  
We're learning the hymn, Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah.  Lyrics like, "open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow", and "be thou still my strength and shield" are full of faith and love. 
Many folks love hymns like this, partly because the tune is familiar, and partly because the language rightly commends faith in God despite adversity.  
But when does our life get beyond the mere enjoyment of these sentiments?  Why don't I live more like God is "my battleshield, sword for my fight", "mine inheritance now and always",  and "his kingdom is forever"?
If I give intellectual assent to the power, love, and faithfulness of God, but live as if I don't really believe it, I'm only letting the Gospel haunt me.  How much better to believe, to trust, to act in faith!      

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Thy Word is a Lamp
I worshipped at a reformed Episcopal church for the first time today.  Much of the liturgy was new to me, but one new part in particular moved me.
I'm accustomed to standing during the reading of the Scripture to be preached, but in this church the reading was handled in even a more reverent and inspiring way.  As the congregation rose and sang Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, the acolyte proceeded from the alter with a cross followed by the rector holding up the Word of God.  They stopped in the middle of the congregation, we turned to face the rector and the singing quieted.  Then, in the midst of the people, the words of Christ from St. Matthew's Gospel were spoken to us. 
This approach presented a vivid reminder that our Lord humbled Himself, dwelt among those He came to save and with Him we have the very Word of God.     

Friday, July 16, 2004

Spending a lot of time in the Pub
I've been listening to the back issues of St. Anne's Pub and enjoying them.  Their critique of evangelical evangelism got me thinking more about what has and is influencing me in this area.  I wouldn't be surprised if many folks coming out of evangelicalism and into a reformed church share the same thoughts.
There seem to be two common American approaches to evangelism to avoid.  First are those that proclaim a very diluted gospel (think "4 Spiritual laws") without living out the consequences of the gospel (i.e. their life has no obvious elements of mercy, compassion, love for their neighbors, etc).  And second are the social gospelers.  These have mercy, service, etc, but proclaim very little gospel.
Seeing the problems with these approaches is not enough.  We must sew back together the proclamation of the Gospel and a life full of the claims of the Gospel.       

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Let Us Welcome The Newly Baptized

I'm delighted to see that my previous church, North Macon Presbyterian has begun to use scripted prayer. I'd love to witness the beauty of this worship service when these two children are baptized on the Lord's Day. Here's an excerpt from the Worship Guide...

Congregational Prayer
ALL: Almighty God, we thank You that by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ You have overcome, sin and death and have brought us to Yourself. We thank You that by the sealing of the Holy Spirit, You have bestowed upon us the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection to newness of life and have bound us to Yourself and to your service. Renew us, O Lord, by the same Holy Spirit, granting us an inquiring mind, an affectionate and discerning heart, and the courage to will and persevere in all that You would call us to, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

PASTOR: Dear Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for Jerry and Stacie, who come with Rachel Morgan and Nicole Elizabeth, to declare publicly their allegiance to your Son our Savior: Deliver them, O Lord, from the way of sin and death. Daily open their hearts to your grace and truth. Fill them with your life-giving Spirit. Keep them in the faith and communion of your holy Church. Enable them to love others in the power of the Spirit. Send them into the world to be a witness to your grace and love. And preserve them until they arrive in their heavenly home to enjoy the fullness of your peace and glory.

PEOPLE: Lord, hear our prayer.

PASTOR: Father, we pray for these two children, Rachel Morgan and Nicole Elizabeth. Deliver them from the way of sin and death; open their hearts to your grace and truth; fill them with your life-giving Spirit; keep them in the faith and communion of your Church; prepare them to witness to your love; and bring them to the fullness of your peace and glory.

PEOPLE: Lord, hear our prayer.

PASTOR: And for these parents, Jerry and Stacie. Grant them grace so to live before their children, teaching them, praying with them and for them, that by their faithful living and through the power of the Gospel, all the promises of the covenant may be fulfilled in their lives.

PEOPLE: Lord, hear our prayer.

PASTOR: And we pray for ourselves, the congregation of North Macon Presbyterian Church: Grant us grace to see Rachel Morgan and Nicole Elizabeth as our own; to love them, pray for them, and assist these parents as duty done to You,
the one true God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

PEOPLE: Lord, hear our prayer. Amen.

The Welcome
PASTOR: Rachel Morgan and Nicole Elizabeth have been received into the one holy catholic and apostolic church through baptism. God has made them members of the household of God, to share with us in the priesthood of Christ. Let us welcome the newly baptized.

ALL: With joy and thanksgiving we welcome you into Christ’s church to share with us in his ministry, for we are all one in Christ.

PASTOR: The peace of Christ be with you.

PEOPLE: And also with you.
I'm Pro-Church

I love this from the Book of Common Prayer:

"O Gracious Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldest be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen".

Sunday, July 04, 2004

What if...

...There was a small town with only two churches. Thanks to creeds, confessions, and a rich history of gifted teachers, one of the churches was blessed to possess nearly all of the Truth. The other church had significantly less, and sadly, was content with that.

Yet, the people of the blessed church, knowing that they had more Truth, became unteachable, and over time came to live out only a fraction of what their church professed.

Regrettably, the other church taught against much of the Truth they lacked; however, they were able to consistently live out what Truth they did have.

If you've just moved into this town, which one would you choose?

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Look What We Got...

With the move out of the apartment and into our rental house, we're up to 11 address changes in 10 years. This may explain why when asked for our mailing address or phone number, we pause a little too long before replying with shaky confidence.

So far the unpacking is going well, thanks in large part to the loving service of the church we've been visiting. They've kept children for several hours, prepared several delicious meals, and helped rearrange several pieces of furniture.

We've also met two homeschooling neighbors--a great praise. Oddly enough, since moving into our house (2 days ago), four people have invited us to a church. I might have thought I was back in the Bible belt, except that none of the invites were to Baptist churches...

Back to unboxing...