Sunday, October 31, 2004

Election Reform

No doubt, there's a lot at stake in Tuesday's election, and much to be worked up about. But oh!, if just a fraction of Christians' election zeal could be directed towards reforming the Church! Sure, we need godly leaders in both the state and the church. But which have we labored for more earnestly? Which have we prayed for more passionately? Which was on the mind of most Christians today--the election or the Reformation? The answer is obvious.

I won't call the election a "grand diversion", but can you imagine if we focused on reformation in the Church like we do the election of a president--what a dramatic impact she would have on our nation and its cultures! Sadly, the Church is in such shambles, it's hard to even visualize what a second Reformation would look like.

Today we've celebrated God's faithfulness to the Church in the Reformation. How timely! Although all eyes will be on Tuesday, we know the need of the hour is not political but theological and cast our eyes on the Day when the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever (Rev 11:5).

Saturday, October 30, 2004


One of the men in my Bible Study is a second lieutenant and has been married for about a year. I like him a lot; he was homeschooled all his life and he's very eager to learn from God's Word. For what it's worth, he's no wimp--this week he won the base's push-up contest by cranking out 140 reps in less than two minutes! But when it comes to his new role as a husband, he's still doing girl push-ups.

His wife, like so many new officers' wives, had to adjust to post-college life. In her mind the alternatives were either sit at home or get a job. Most go the job route--these couples are known as DINKs (Double-Income, No Kids). My friend's wife chose this route, but last week she decided that one job wasn't enough and added a Saturday job down at the Mall.

When I was a lieutenant Kristin worked, too. But since having children, we see now that the options for a newly-wed wife are not limited to sitting at home or sitting in a cubicle. A much better way for a young lady to spend this time is to learn from the young mothers in her congregation by serving them. Offer to help them with the children when the husband is away, and use this time to watch and learn.

I gave this advice to my stout lieutenant friend. But frankly I don't think he yet has what it takes to pull off this feat of strength.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Peace at Any Price

I was talking last night to my wife about the gnawing feeling in my gut at the end of most days that I've been too harsh with my oldest son. I regret that most days I spend too much time either lecturing or discplining him. Kristin correctly pointed out the need for some one-on-one fun time. We're trying out a local chapter of the Christian Service Brigade, where fathers and sons get together once a week and do guy stuff together. Last time we made a marshmallow shooter. Next time we'll go hiking.

But I want to avoid falling into the "peace at any price" trap. In order to reduce the friction between us, it's tempting to negotiate the discipline standard with Eli. But that would be Esau's mistake, trading eternal joy for only a moment of satisfaction.

Rather like the Cat in the Hat who thinks he can bounce on the ball while balancing books, a rake, a boat, a cake, and a cranky fish, it's hard to hold up the rules of my house all day without bouncing off the walls. Often I become too lenient or a tyrant. Thanks be to God for forgiveness and a promise to work in me what is pleasing to Him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Suspicious Sighting on a Military Base

by Kristin...

So I stopped by the base hospital to get my prescriptions since I left in such a hurry yesterday to get Grace to ballet class on time. As I drove up I noticed (as usual) several cars that were illegally parked. One stuck out--it was big and old. Well, lo and behold as we are sitting there waiting for my number to be called, who should walk up to get a prescription filled, but Elvis in complete array. It was so funny to see his presence in a military hospital pharmacy and the various people's reactions. The kids, of course, had no clue who he was, but did notice that he drew a lot of attention to himself. It has kept me laughing to myself all day.

Tim adds: Of course, not even Elvis could shake up the folks behind the counter. They checked his ID card and gave him his meds.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Heaven is a Place on Earth

At the little Bible Study I lead so early on Wednesday mornings I was happy to have the opportunity to remind the folks there that the Promised Land is just that--it's a real land. It's not heaven. As expected, this raised eyebrows.

No doubt that Heaven is an amazing place, but it is the intermediary state. Our real home is the New Heavens and the New Earth. There our glorified body and soul together will reign and rule, albeit in some mysterious way.

This weekend my wife and I have longed a little more for the Final State. I've had some kind of virus that's kept me in bed most of the weekend, and she is having a hard time controlling her diabetes. So neither of us are thinking very straight--but we are prompted to think about Shalom, when everything will be as it ought to be.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Adoption Update

Last night we finished our state-mandated, social-worker led, adoption training. In Ohio the requirement is 12 hours of class. The material covered a host of sociological issues: cultural diversity, discipline, neglect, abuse, various disorders, etc. As you might expect, all was very PC (e.g. pro-homosexual, anti-spanking, etc). Fortunately, we only had to listen, not agree.

With that over there are only a couple of things left outstanding. Part of the requirement for completing a homestudy is to read any two books on adoption. There is a great need for biblically-informed books written to parents considering adoption. This strikes me as strange given the parallels to spiritual adoption and the Pro-Life emphasis on adoption as the alternative to abortion.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Unsung Heroes

Today we read a letter from a missionary family in our denomination who wrote to our church just before returning to a country that is aggressively persecuting Christians.

We want you to be aware of how the situation in XXX is developing. (After our return, our communications will necessarily be very circumspect because they may be scrutinized by the government.) You've been praying for the persecuted brethren in XXX, but it has not pleased our God at this time to end it. In fact, the persecution has reportedly intensified. Two of the three pastors arrested near the end of May (6 a.m. on a Sunday morning), whom we thought would be released on bail, instead were moved to a prison described as a dungeon, at the end of August. No longer can their families bring them food and provisions. Then many, many Christian families were arrested, having been betrayed by neighbors. One rough estimate was that 700 were imprisoned, and that included men, women, and children.

This faithful missionary family strengthened through the Psalms to not shrink back, has since arrived in the land of persecution. They reminded us to use the weapons we have to help our imprisoned brethren. Spiritual weapons, like prayer, are the effective weapons in a war that is basically spiritual.

I praise God for their determination to not shrink back, despite the threat, and their faith that the Gospel is the power of God that no one can thwart. "Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. The body they may kill. God's truth abideth still. His kingdom is forever!"
Broken for Us

The symbolism of the bread stood out today in the Sermon and the Supper.

Our pastor, in his sermon, referred to the brokenness of man. This explains every one of our sins, whether it's the sin of homosexuality or the sin of responding to homosexuality in an insensitive, "God hates fags" kind of way. Covenantally, Adam's unfaithfulness broke my life, and everyone else's.

But thanks be to God, Christ was sent to bind up the broken, to open the prison of those who are bound (Is 61:1). How does He do this? In the Supper we are reminded that our Lord's body was broken for us. He was broken for our brokenness.

Yet the Holy One would not see corruption; He has been raised imperishable. Covenantally, the Second Adam's faithfulness heals and binds up our brokenness even now. And He'll continue until we're raised in glory.

"Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven." (1 Cor 15:49)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Who is that Masked Man?

Eli has been coughing so much we decided to fight for a doctor's appointment (no easy feat under TRICARE). When Kristin and the children arrived and began to describe his symptoms, the doctor's eye 'bout jumped out of his head (pardon the technical, medical language) and he herded them off to an "isolation room". Two REAL doctors (as opposed to a PA or an intern which is common) put him through a 2-hour series of test. The diagnosis..."beats me". One says whooping cough. Another thinks pneumonia. That M.D., instead of prescribing Codeine, recommended beer or strong whiskey (I like him).

When he's not barking like a trained seal, Eli is actually fine and energetic. And he rather likes his mask. So far, the only other family member that sounds like him is the dog, and that's normal. But she has launched several attempts to steal the blue mask.
The Masked Man

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Unselfish is Unlovely

The famous essay of C.S. Lewis, "The Weight of Glory", opens with a Mike Tyson knock-out punch that landed squarely on the jaw of my life and parenting.

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstitenence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself.

The factory setting on my life is set to selfishness. As a Christian, I've sought to live unselfishly, and taught my children to treat each other unselfishly ("Eli, don't hog that ball...Grace don't be selfish about what you want to listen to..."). I needed this corrective. Denying myself pleasure is not the point. Seeking the good of the other person, which often involves denying yourself, is.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Backyard Adventures

Whether it's sliding down the hill in our backyard on top of cardboard boxes, or using the same box to set up a bunny trap, it doesn't take a high-priced theme park to have fun. Children are happy simply frolicking and sporting with their parents. No admission fee required.

At our next assignment we hope to find a house with acreage like my boyhood farm. As they grow, boys need room to bat and shoot and explore. I feel sorry for those who are stuck in a quarter-acre plot in the middle of Suburbia.

Ever since we ordered Little Bear's Outdoor Adventure Guide for the All-American Boy, Eli has anxiously awaited the postman's daily visit. Seeing our son ecstatic over a book pleased us, yet it does seem that Vision Forum's general delivery is slower than most.

Bunny Trap

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Observations on Being Watched

In our parenting experience, there are lots of ups and downs in our children's obedience. Consider my 6-year old son. Recently at a McDonald's Playland he voluntarily decided to help some little children enjoy the climbing and sliding equipment. He held their hand while encouraging them that they could do it. The parents of these children were watching him and after a while called him over. They said that their children had always pitched a fit here because they were too scared to climb and wanted help but no one would. They were so glad that their children were now having a good time that they gave my son $5. This is the most money he has ever made.

And then there's the down side. Through the homeschooling network, we've found a great babysitter here. We've used her several times and have been very impressed with how she prepares activities for the children that don't revolve around videos. This week we used her twice while attending adoption training. At the end of one of the sessions she candidly told my wife that she's doesn't want to watch our children any more if she continues to receive disrespect from my oldest son. He thought her planned activities were "too babyish" and had no scruples about telling her.

Our children are young in their sanctification and it often shows. Yet we are to believe God's promises for our children. He is watching over them, too. And He will not let them go; He will finish the job. He will use the ordinary means of parental discipline to make them holy in heart and conduct.