Friday, June 30, 2006

With patience and teaching... the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:2-5). I met again with my Mormon co-worker this week, it was a very good meeting. The more we talk through the Bible and the Book of Mormon, the wider the separation grows between the LDS faith and that of historic, orthodox Christianity.

For instance, the Book of Mormon clearly and strongly rebukes people like me who say that the Bible is God's only special revelation to man. Consider this passage from 2 Nephi 29,

"Many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible." To this God is said to respond, "because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written." (verses 3, 10)

My take-away from our meeting was that the Book of Mormon has taught my friend that there are holes and gaps in the Bible and that some of God's revelation has probably been lost over time. There may even be holes and gaps in the Book of Mormon (although less of them). The result: he has less confidence in both books than I have in the Bible alone.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8).

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Praying with the Psalms

I'm always looking for resources to renew my times of private worship, so last week I was pleased to find Eugene Peterson's Praying with the Psalms.

It provides short daily written prayers centered around the Psalms; yesterday's is especially applicable for me. Reflecting on Psalm 86:11, "give me an undivided heart to revere your name," we respond in prayer:

God, my soul feels scattered and incoherent like that poor wretch Legion ("for we are many"). Gather up my diverse needs, my conflicting desires, my jumbled identity, and make a harmonious whole of me, "give me an undivided heart to revere your name". Amen.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Which would you choose?

One easy way of discipling my wife is to offer her good audio to listen to during work-outs, errand running, chores, etc. Yesterday Kristin listened to John Piper's message, Living to Die, and was struck by the following statement:

If you had a choice of having a healthy baby or one with very special needs, which baby would you choose?

We made that choice several times during the adoption process; each time we picked the healthy baby.

Piper reminds us that the Apostle Paul was never scared off at the possibility of difficulty--suffering wasn't even a factor in what he decided to do. He did not interpret "countless beatings", "sleepless nights", and "daily pressure" as a sign from God to change his ways (see 2 Cor 11:23-28).

But that's why he's the Apostle, right? That can't be normative for you and me! But it is; Paul again, "I urge you, then, be imitators of me." (1 Cor 4:16)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

An Anxious Moment

I can be a nervous person. Certain events have a way of consuming my thoughts, and tomorrow contains one of those events. I shouldn't be anxious, I've prepared as best I can, and if I told you what the event was you'd think I'm being pedantic.

Nonetheless, adrenaline has been flowing for most of today and is likely to worsen as I draw closer to the event tomorrow morning. It's times like this when I have the hardest time believing God. The best I can do is to repeat to myself over and over promises like this,

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. (Psa 138:8)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Living on Aloha Time

Kristin and I arrived back home in Albuquerque today after 5 nights in Hawaii. It was great to have her with me on this TDY, especially since it was our 12th anniversary.

It felt odd having so much time together with nothing really pressing to do. We're not used to living on Aloha time.

Here's the view from our hotel room on the 24th floor overlooking Waikiki beach.

We enjoyed Bishop Museum where several times the role of missionaries was highlighted in abolishing the Hawaiian caste-like system called taboo, specifically and repeatedly calling these missionaries "Calvinists!" There's also a Missions Museum nearby but it was closed during our free time.

We also took the Dole pineapple plantation tour, enjoyed some pineapple ice cream, and I learned that pineapples don't grow on coconut-like trees, which I had previously thought.

On the Lord's Day we worshiped with a classmate of mine from AFIT at a breezy Southern Baptist church where many of the men were sporting Father's Day leis.

He recommended Bellows Air Force Station as a good semi-private beach to visit. It was beautiful; we loved the combination of shore, woods, and mountains.

One of our last stops was a stroll through one of the botanical gardens on O'ahu, as expected it was lush and full of wonder.

We're full of mahalo for our friends at church who did a fantastic job caring for our children while we were away. Isaiah has already asked me when we're heading back to Hawaii so he can have more fun! Alaho time is over for us for a long time, and it was enough. Kristin and I enjoyed the time together, but missed the children. We're pleased to be back where we belong.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Becoming Willing to Suffer

I've been very impressed with the Desiring God podcast; I especially recommend the two-day broadcast called Living to Die that aired last week. Here John Piper preaches on a Biblical truth that American Christians don't believe: the necessity of suffering and God's design in it.

While talking to Kristin tonight I realize that the reason we continue in my present job is because we don't want to suffer financially. We'd have to give up our nice standard of living to pursue seminary or some other work.

Randy Alcorn has a helpful point of view. He says that God prospers me not to increase my standard of living but to increase my standard of giving. The last two Sundays we've heard reports from Missionaries raising support; one for a border ministry south of us and another for Bible translation in a Muslim region of the world. What joy it would be to support both these kingdom works! And we can if we free our money for ministry instead of personal ease. And that's our plan--to be willing to suffer in this small way.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Poor and the Providence of God

One of the criticisms I hear against God's sovereignty over all things is that this message doesn't "sell" well with the poor. This is why, they say, you don't find many reformed churches in inner cities and other hard places--only white-bread yuppies like to believe that God intended for their life to turn out the way it did. The prosperity gospel, on the other hand, allegedly offers real "good news" to the down and out.

Last night in family worship our reading was from James 2. Verse 5 informs us, " has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those that love him?"

Again and again Scripture speaks about God's providence and the poor. And for those that love Him it is good news--not of fat wallets and personal victory, but of rich faith and a kingdom to come.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Anniversary Trip

Less than a week from today Kristin and I will be enjoying four nights in Hawaii! I have a business trip there that also coincides with our 12th wedding anniversary. Thanks to some very loving families in our church who will watch our children for us, Kristin and I will get some time together. We're excited!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

3rd Annual Graduation Celebration

Our third year of homeschooling ended recently, which meant it was time to celebrate the accomplishment of another year "in the books." Since we have several homeschooling neighbors with similar-aged children, we celebrated together at the Officer's Club park. These neighbors have been helpful to us; and I believe it's been mutual. What a beautiful evening for s'mores, playgrounds, and friends.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

No wine during worship, but cheese is okay

Young people tell me that a lot of the high-tech worship is "cheesy". [They] witness some of the cheesy video and computer "art" in worship and see it for what it is: kitsch. Stock clip art: the sun shining on the cross, running streams, baby faces--all of the stereotypical images that say, "Christians are crummy artists and naive sentimentalists."

To them, such kitsch is like handing out illustrated kids' Bibles to high school students and telling them that these images represent the depth of insight and excellence of the Christian faith.

-- Quentin Schultze, by Faith magazine, June 2006

Monday, June 05, 2006

Trying Too Hard

Thesis: no matter how much Scripture and catechism parents teach their children, if the children do not enjoy their homelife, the parents are in great danger of losing them to the world.

We've taught our children Scripture and catechism from their infancy, and in the past I've felt rather good about that. But this weekend a personal testimony, a movie, and the example of our neighbors convinced me that we too often lack joy in our home, and this problem has the power to easily and totally ruin our efforts towards raising godly children.

Parents have a tendency to push upon their children too forcefully the one thing they most want their children to be, and ironically, the children end up hating that particular thing most of all. This can be done with sports, with reading, and also in the teaching of the Christian faith. The answer is not to give up, rather it must be taught appropriately, and always with a measure of joy in the child.

I don't excuse the child in this process, they are often as stubborn and cranky as their parents. But I do see here a lesson that I need to learn--to raise children not just intentionally, but joyfully, too!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Albuquerque Makes Christianity Today

Unaccountable at Calvary Chapel. I saw this on the Reformation 21 blog, which adds some good comments here. I wrote Rev Ryken a short note, accepting his offer to come and teach in Albuquerque.

Bailey Adventure Park

Our home has been known to neighbors as "the Youth Center" because it's a popular place for their kids to hang out. Adventure Park is also a fitting description. Here's a picture of Kristin holding a homing pigeon that's been living with us since yesterday. We entered the number on the bird's legband into the international federation of homing pigeon fanciers website and are waiting for instructions on whether to launch him or wait for a pick up.

Besides the petting zoo, our home is also part water park. Look at the height of the geyser that erupted just outside our back yard this afternoon. Fun for kids of all ages! And admission is free. Who said home is boring!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Don't know a whit

Tomorrow is Whitsunday. "Whit" is short for white, the color of the robes that were worn by those baptized on Easter. Whitsunday is better known in America as Pentecost, the day we remember that the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in power just as Jesus had promised (Acts 2).

There was a time when I didn't know a "whit" about the Holy Ghost. In 1994 I had several charismatic friends who had convinced me of the need to speak in tongues. I joined them for a "tongues" church service, and prayed with tears for this gift.

And a number of Mormons over the years have described to me their personal pentecost experience as the confirming mark of being in the true faith.

Someone has said that the Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood member of the Godhead, and that fits with what I see in the Church today.

What more appropriate prayer could be prayed on this day than for the Holy Spirit to lead the Church into all truth concerning Himself.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

When They Don't Want You To Come

The last post was about my plans for a evangelistic, neighborhood Bible Study; I'd like you to briefly meet my neighbors.

Living in an Air Force neighborhood organized by rank, our neighborhood is very homogeneous--same pay, same age children, etc. But in regards to Christ, it's night and day. Take a look at this icy exchange from our neighborhood e-mail group. (Keep in mind all kinds of neighborly announcements flow over this distribution).

It began with this invitation to the neighborhood from one of the ladies,

Carla Smith is hosting a study called "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. It is a Christian book and is wonderful. The study will go for 5-6 weeks starting Thursday, June 1. Contact me if you're interested.

I've read Chapman's book; I can't think of anything in it that unbelievers need to worry about. But it's clear that anything "Christian" will upset some of our neighbors. Here's the response that came back as "reply to all",

Please do not include us on e-mails to all for these type of messages.

Thank you.

John and Sally Miller

and this then this one,

I second that.

Thank you.


John Piper has said that the Great Commission will not be fulfilled until Christians are willing to go to those who do not want them to come. He was referring to many of the Muslim nations, but the same is true in my own neighborhood, there are many who do not want to hear about Christ. My initial reaction is to say, "fine, we won't bother with you." But the right response is just the opposite. We need to strive to love these people, rather than give up on them, hoping that God will soften their hearts as he has done for me.