Monday, October 31, 2005

Reformation Day 2005

Our family watched this film (from the '50s) over the weekend. The version that came out a couple of years ago is more gripping, but this one emphasized more the importance of sola fide. Our church had a nice Reformation party on Friday, although next year we hope to incorporate some of the great ideas for children we enjoyed at Covenant OPC in Dayton, Ohio.

It's almost impossible to skip Halloween in our close-knit military neighborhood; but we joined a couple of other families tonight at a deserted Chuck E. Cheese. The children had a great time with their friends. Other blogs criticize Christians for the un-neighborliness of forgoing trick-or-treat, but in my situation I have plenty of other ways to spend time with my neighbors that don't have the baggage of Halloween.

Today I was asked about our position on Halloween. I tried to avoid pietism in my brief response; see what you think.

Our family tradition is to celebrate a different holiday on Oct 31. We celebrate Reformation Day. Today is the date, back in 1517, God used Martin Luther to begin a very important reformation in the Church. We enjoy celebrating this holiday because we can use it to teach our children about the gospel.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Blemish on the Bright Future of Blogs

Numerous publications and even more web sites foresee blogs "spreading the gospel" to great numbers. Just a few weeks ago there was a conference on Christian Blogging, GodBlogCon with enough press coverage to get an AP article even in New Mexico's newspapers.

And maybe blogs will connect with people in ways that other forms of outreach never could. But what can be done to ensure the right gospel is getting out? The following quote was written long before the advent of computer networks, but the relevance to blogging is there nonetheless.

Tendencies, which had found no room to unfold themselves in other lands, wrought here without restraint...Every theological vagabond and peddler may drive here his bungling trade, without passport or license, and sell his false ware at pleasure. What is to come of such confusion is not now to be seen." Philip Schaff, The Principle of Protestantism, 1844

Friday, October 28, 2005

Pop Culture's Mandatory Fun

We have a "ghost sign" on our front door, despite our dislike for Halloween. If I didn't hang it up neighbors would keep dropping off bags of candy and cookies and dashing off before I can identify them. It happened twice before we decided it's un-neighborly of us to accept their goodies but not put up their silly sign. Our neighbors mean well, they just can't imagine we'd rather celebrate something else on 31 October. So that explains the mandatory fun we're now part of.

One of Kristin's friends was recently invited to two baby showers. Both were for unwed mothers. This put her in somewhat of a dilemma. Even though she didn't want to congratulate an impenitent person on fruitful fornication, if she didn't go, she'd come across as insensitive. She's glad the mother didn't abort. But does this mean an unwed mother, who has no designs of marriage, should receive the same kind of celebratory shower as the bride who waited? Well, we really have no choice. Popular culture says she does and so we concede to more mandatory fun.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Time for a Picture

Faith is a wonderful baby. And I'm pleased that the number of rude questions we receive from strangers has been very low. Kristin has received the worst one so far; someone she had never met before came up and asked her, "so how much did she cost?". This question is fine during a good conversation about adoption, but it's not a good opening question. Our skin is fairly thick anyways. For the most part, the people we've met here are very accepting and kind, especially at church and in our neighborhood.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

From Pride and Prejudice to Sex in the City

Since my last post my family has gone through a birthday (#34 for me), a double ear infection (Isaiah), and strep throat (Kristin). Plus I was TDY to California for a few days.

On the trip I listened to the MARS HILL Audio report, Wandering toward the Altar: The Decline of American Courtship. It is very well done and chronicles how cultural conventions of choosing a mate have regressed from the "calling" system evidenced in Austen's novels to the dating of the post-WWII era to the "hook-ups" of today.

Besides being fascinating history, the series will be a useful teaching tool in my family for exposing the problems with dating and sketching out a better approach.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Today's Agenda

So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day" (Ps 61:8)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Secularizing the Military

Air Force Chaplains have recently been forbidden to evangelize service members of different faith groups. That, in itself, is a loss for religious liberty and evangelical witness. Now the Air Force is considering a gag order that would forbid its chaplains from evangelizing the unchurched, or those that claim no faith. The new policies were enacted due to threats of litigation from a previous Air Force Officer who says the Academy discriminates against non-evangelicals.

Also, until recently, we used to be able to offer prayers for service members upon their promotion, retirement, or other military ceremony. That has also come under fire. Public prayer is now only permitted rarely, "to add solemnity to an event." Compare that to in the past when prayer was an invocation, asking for God's favor upon the person being recognized.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Giving You An Earful

For whatever reason, while I love reading books, I can't read them fast enough to keep up with all the topics I'm interested in covering. I should probably switch to reading more articles, an idea from Barb, but I've found that there's tons of good, free audio available now a days. I try to listen more broadly than I believe; I think it's healthy to hear different views from within the pale of orthodoxy. Here are my favorite FREE audio places in no particular order:

St Anne's Pub -- down-to-earth reformed topics, mostly cultural
9 Marks Interviews -- reformed Baptist-led interviews and speeches
Covenant Seminary Audio Library -- recordings of chapel speakers, conferences, etc
White Horse Inn-- broadly-reformed topical discussions
Issues, Etc -- Confessional Lutheran broadcasts, mostly on cultural matters
I've also downloaded several great MP3s thanks to links I find in various blogs. This is a great way to spread a good message.

For audio for a fee, I especailly like,
Mars Hill Audio Journal -- first-rate cultural commentary from a Christian perspective
WordMP3 -- MP3s of sermons and lectures, mainly from reformed pastors and theologians
I usually also order the audio for the Desiring God conferences and from other ministries such as the Basement Tapes

Any other recommendations?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Cruise of Mr. Christopher Columbus

I just read my children the book titled above about Columbus, published in 1932. I had hoped that it would be old enough to present the Christian elements of Columbus' character and mission. But no, according to this story, it was all about gold and proving that the world isn't flat.

According to Columbus' diaries recorded during his voyage, he and the crew regularly prayed, even bursting out with the Te Deum, laudamusat the sight of land! Columbus understood, to some degree, that his voyage was in obedience to the Great Commission.

Generations of school children never heard about this, but mine will. And I hope yours will, too.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Worn Out and Learning to Pray

The Psalms indicate that God won't give us more than we can handle, but He may push the envelope from time to time. Today was a envelope-pushing day.

My family has been laid low by an intense stomach virus for almost a week. Thankfully, Kristin didn't catch the virus, so she has been able to care for me and the children. We took precautions to keep the bug from spreading to our 2 month old daughter Faith, but last night she caught it. She (and Kristin) are spending tonight in the hospital regaining fluids.

As bad as it sounds, I was too tired to pray for Faith on my own this morning when things were at their worst. But I remembered the Book of Common Prayer and found that it expressed our feelings and desires superbly with supplications like these,

O Father of mercies, and God of all comforts, our only help in time of need; We flee unto you for relief. We humbly ask you to behold, visit, and comfort Faith. Give strength and skill to thy ministers of healing; bless the means of cure; and in view of how frail her life is, look upon her with the eyes of thy mercy, deliver her from bodily pain, and prolong her days here on earth, that she may live to thee, and be an instrument of thy glory. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the love of thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Relying On An Intercessor

Today I took a private request from one of my subordinates to my boss. It was a "closed door" kind of meeting. I don't know what my boss thinks of me, and I didn't do a great job in addressing my team member's need. This isn't the best boss I've ever had, and there are issues he's not going to share with me. But in the end, he listened and was fair. Why bring this up here?

Consider how much better an intercessor you have on your side. If my subordinate's need was fairly heard by my boss today, although he's not the greatest and neither am I, rejoice that you have God the Father hearing your needs and His completely-trustworthy Son bringing them forward!

Our requests to God are delivered by the beloved Son to His perfect, loving, omnipotent Father. Rest assured in His intercession on your behalf!

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Heb 7:25

Sunday, October 02, 2005

We're Not Scalp-Hunting

I've mentioned before what a great opportunity for ministry we have in our new neighborhood. This week that opportunity became more elusive.

Another Christian couple that we had partnered with in starting a Bible study has reportedly gotten into several quarrels with neighbors over the behavior of their children. We've been told, "if Christians behave this way, we don't want any part of Christianity", and other disappointing statements.

Part of the problem is a different understanding of "ministry" between my family and our partner. I've come to understand the importance of knowing, loving, enjoying, and serving your neighbors as the foundation for discipleship. I'm led to believe that our partners' focus could be described as "let's convert the Catholics".

We're caught in the middle of the tension. We are to love our partnering family, and not distance ourselves from them for the sake of getting to know the other families. We will try to be a peacemaker in this situation.

In the meantime, today I began a neighborhood sports league for the dads and children. I had 12 children and several parents come out for a game of touch football. We'll do this each week. My intention is to build trust with the families, to show them that I'm not just interested in spiritual-scalp-hunting; we simply want to be good neighbors. And, I hope, God will honor this desire by allowing us to disciple others when and how He sees fit.

The place to put Faith when we want a one hour nap. Guaranteed results!