Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Evangelism and the Greatest Commandments

We're going to start a neighborhood Bible study this fall. A neighbor (who also attends the same church) and I are making the plans; it'll be geared for unchurched and unbelievers.

As I think through why we're doing this it better be because we have a love for God. We want to see his renown grow, his name loved more, his worship flow. We're motivated by the greatest commandment--to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul; but that isn't enough.

We must also be motivated by the second greatest commandment--to love our neighbors as ourselves. This means that we better genuinely enjoy spending time with our neighbors, count them as true friends, and sincerely want the best for them.

If we neglect the greatest commandment in our Bible study, we are nothing but man-pleasers. But if we neglect the other great commandment, we are worse--we love neither God nor man.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Audio Recommendations

I have two new recommendations for you.

First is the audio from the Together for the Gospel conference. I really like the idea behind this ministry. For too long, evangelical congregations haven't been willing to work together to bear witness to the unity of the Church. Instead, loyalty to a denomination or fellowship of churches has too often taken precedence over the claims of truth and faithfulness to the Gospel. Conference speakers: R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, John Piper, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, and Lig Duncan.

Second, I enjoy projects that re-introduce forgotten hymns by setting them to better music. Some hymns have great theology and great music -- I don't think those should be messed with -- but plenty of other hymns really need to be set to more suitable tunes. Indelible Grace paved the way, and this week I discovered Red Mountain Music out of Birmingham, AL. These projects help private worship and theologically-rich meditation.

Friday, May 26, 2006

No more "I don't knows"

My Mormon co-worker, Mark, came back to work after a long time away from the office. We had lunch together this week and, again, it's cause for some reflection.

LDS theology is quite the self-licking ice cream cone. Whenever they are forced to acknowledge an unrecoverable error in their belief system, new revelation has a funny way of coming along and clearing up the matter. This happened with polygamy when, coincidentally, new revelation officially ended the practice the same timeframe that Utah was admitted into the Union.

And it was revealed that blacks were no longer the cowardly, cursed sons of Cain as earlier Mormon leaders had taught; they could even obtain the Mormon priesthood. This prophetic word didn't come until 1978--strangely similar to the timing of the civil rights movement.

The same goes for theology proper. Christians who embrace the orthodox, historic faith may have to say "I don't know" from time to time. I, for one, don't know how Adam and Eve could fall, or what that passage about baptizing the dead is supposed to mean, etc. But Mormons have no qualms about going beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6) to clear things up. This has resulted in some fanciful constructions about spirit worlds, men becoming gods, etc. When you can get away with making things up by calling it continued revelation, you seldom have to say "I don't know."

Here's hoping that someday soon, a new LDS revelation will come along that not only declares "no more revelations" but clears away all the earlier ones!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Ascension of the King

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Clap your hands, all peoples!
God has gone up with a shout.
The great King reigns over the nations,
He sits on his holy throne.

The Lord dwells on high,
He has passed through the heavens,
putting everything in subjection
under his feet.

He is not ashamed to call us brothers
so, let us hold fast our confession.

Our eyes will behold the king in his beauty;
we will see a land that stretches afar.
Behold Zion, the city of our
appointed feasts!

Ascension Day, 2006
Psalms 24, 47
Isaiah 33
Hebrews 2, 4

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Turning back on the day of battle

The way I see the world, every Christian has a place in an epic battle fought on many fronts. For some the battle is waged on the border of Kenya and Somalia, urging Muslims to be reconciled to God. It is fought in the inner cities of America, pouring out your life for the "undeserving." For others the battle is at home, raising up the next generation of warriors. Every Christian is to fight the old man, putting to death what is worldly in them.

So am I meanspirited if I get frustrated by believers who stand on the sidelines of the battle, not taking part in it but instead securing more and more "personal peace and affluence" for themselves? Not everyone will fight the same way, nor with the same devotion, so I am careful not to judge those I do not know. But when I look up from my battle, even this pathetic fighter can feel like he's the champion on the field only because so few are fighting.

In ancient times, the enemies of the Christian were loud and obvious--gladiators, lions, burning stakes. Today's enemies are much more dangerous--apathy and affluence--they lull the believer into nominal Christianity that attempts nothing for God.

The Ephraimites, armed with the bow, turned back on the day of battle
Psalm 78:9

Monday, May 22, 2006

Want an Instant Family?
by Kristin

Have you ever wished you never answered the phone? I knew who it was—Unknown from area code 317. She had called three times last week. I spoke with her in December, November, and last summer before we adopted Faith. I knew it would tug at my heartstrings, but I took the call today just to see….

While talking to her I kept thinking about Psalm 9 that I had read earlier today.

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

I was ready to spout out how happy and complete our family is. We may adopt later, but not now.

If you haven’t guessed the call was from a Miss L at an adoption agency. We networked with several. We still get about one or two emails a month to see if we have adopted yet as they ran across our file. Yet I had talked to Miss L in December and explained that we adopted and wanted to wait until the new baby was at least a year old.

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Miss L explained that she knew we had adopted already, but wondered if we could provide a home for a Black American 3 year old boy. He would be turning 4 later this month. She went on to say that the agency never, hardly ever, placed older kids, but Miss L explained that they had 5 placed already this year and it was only May! Since we had a Black American baby girl, would we be interested in considering a brother for her?

Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
For...he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

She then went on to mention that the boy had a sister that was 4 and turning 5 next month. It would be preferable to keep the sibling group together, but understandable if we could not.

I can not say no. I told her I did not think we were the right family. Tim and I have always talked of 4 to 6 kids, but lately 4 to 5 seems to be feeling like the max we could handle. I then reminded her that we have 4 kids now. She had overlooked that on our application, noted it, and was still hopeful that we would send our portfolio.

Miss L mentioned the price—total cost of the adoption for both kids. It was less than what we spent in August. She then went on to mention that the Mom of the children is pregnant with a 3rd child due next month, different father, this child would be bi-racial. It would be so easy to have an instant family of 7 in just under a month.

For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

Surely there are other Christian families who would open their homes to these precious kids. My heart strings are tugging and my engineering brain is calculating. Miss L was so hopeful we would be able to provide a home for these kids. We pray for a home for them to be found soon.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Double your money!

My 8 year old son Eli has been pretty diligent to save the money he earns from various family chores. He can get pretty excited about this and earlier this week boasted to Isaiah, my 3 year old son, by showing his stash.

Isaiah saddened that he had only a single dollar bill in his plastic piggy, was determined to catch up to his older brother quick. He said to Eli, well I can make money, too. And then quickly ripped his dollar in half, and said, "See, now I have two monies!"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bunny Tales

Back in December my car wouldn't start. I popped the hood and a large rabbit leapt out at me and scampered off. The varmit had a taste for my plug wires, the remains of which are shown below.

I had the car towed to the shop; the service department entered my car into their database with this discrepancy, "Evil Bunny Ate Wires."

This morning Eli took our dog out of the room she sleeps in at night and put her outback. As he was doing his chores back there he noticed that Glory darted off after a rabbit and then suddenly froze in place. Here is what Eli saw.

Apparently the rabbit was running at full speed when he tried to escape through the crevice between our house and the wall around our backyard. He died on impact. I came home at lunch, pried him out, and disposed of him. Could this be divine retribution? Was this the same rabbit that disabled my car? I like to think so.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hear C.S. Lewis

Hear the only surviving audio recording of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity talks as broadcast on BBC in 1944.

Thanks to Mars Hill Audio for the link. They add, "hearing Lewis's voice offers a feeling for his personality. But the recording is also a reminder of how much public culture in the West has changed in 60 years: try to imagine any country in which government-sponsored broadcasts could contain this kind of content."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Defining and Defeating Worldliness

Here's a great, short definition of worldliness from David Wells, "Every thing in a culture that makes sin look normal and righteousness look odd." Easy to remember, and helpful in that it reminds us of the coercive power of sin to make unrighteousness look right.

I'm also thankful for an old Scottish sermon entitled "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection." Here I've learned that you don't defeat worldliness in your life with a list of don'ts, but with a new affection--a love for God.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Today's Christian Youth

Our children's piano teacher, who I believe is 16, was in our home this evening while we were out. She has been raised in a Christian home and attends the largest church in New Mexico, a Calvary Chapel.

When we returned home, she told me she liked this book a lot, holding up our Trinity Hymnal. I told her it was our church's hymnal. I'm not sure, but the look on her face told me this may have been the first time she has seen a hymnal.

She turned to the back and said, "it has the Apostles' Creed in it. I thought that was Catholic. I've never read it before, except when I went to mass with my friend. I loved going to mass. I gotta go. Bye!"

Is such an utter lack of Christian knowledge peculiar to this one young lady, or is it representative of most of today's Christian youth?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

It is a Kindness

Today my boss told all his people how exceptionally good we all are. It doesn't matter who wins the awards, we're all the cream-of-the-crop, the best-of-the-best. He says these kinds of things often--it is a kindness--but it can not be true.

Today my God told all his people how exceptionally stiff all our necks are. It doesn't matter who wins the award, we're all among the chief of sinners, the hardest of heart. He says these kinds of things often--it is a kindness--and it can not be untrue.

Let a righteous man strike me--it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me--it is oil for my head;
let not my head refuse it.
Psalm 141:5

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Reminder to Myself

Now that I'm teaching adult Sunday School again, besides having less time for the blog, I'm reminded again of the extra temptations that accompany teaching. The following quote is heavy on my mind lately,

Luther said, "The ministers of the Gospel should be men who are not too easily affected by praise or criticism, but simply speak of the benefit and the glory of Christ and seek the salvation of souls...you will not flatter yourself on the one hand and on the other hand you will not resign from the ministry when you are insulted, reproached, or persecuted."

I fall very short of this qualification for a minister, and so constant reminders are necessary.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Look Dan and Haley!

The Wachdorf and the Steele families have given selflessly of their time and effort in teaching our children in Pioneer club at church. Kristin and I thought Dan and Haley would like to see the petunias they sent home a while back--and posting pictures is safer than putting them in the van.

I find the photo with both Grace and Isaiah in it especially humorous. Grace is intentionally "smiling" in such a way to show that she recently lost her first tooth.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Fragment of a Poem

The Penitentiary

Israel spent 40 years en route to the promised land,
the Church has hit 2,000.
In old age we sojourn,
singing the Lord's song in a strange land.

Inmates of the one holy, catholic, apostolic penitentiary,
we the penitent, convicted of sin, declare God's judgment just.

Dwelling in this house of reformation,
till the length of our sentence is through,
and our house of correction becomes a mansion in glory.