Monday, October 30, 2006

Reformation Day 2006

Three things to do today to show gratitude to God for the Reformation:

1. Read your own Bible in your own language

2. Pray directly to God without anyone going in between

3. Rediscover the Gospel today and everyday - the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Children and their grandparents

Does it seem like most of the families around you are waiting longer to start having children? I don't mean that to sound like a universally bad thing, sometimes it makes sense. But many of the people my age (35) that I work with and live around are just now thinking about having children, and I wonder what the consequences are if this is a large trend.

Growing up I didn't know my grandparents hardly at all. This was probably due to the age of my parents when I was born and some past family conflict. My frequent moves across the country have only increased the emotional distance with my extended family. I really don't know what I'm missing, but I think it's probably significant.

I wasn't smart enough to know beforehand that having children in my twenties would allow our parents and our children more years to know and enjoy each other, but thankfully it's working out that way pretty well despite the distance. If we were just now having our first child, like so many around us, I think our parents would be too old to enjoy them in the same way they have over the last decade.

While the age you become a parent might not matter, biologically, as much as it used to, it seems that age still matters very much for grandparenting. Family planning affects more than just parent and child, it strengthens or weakens at least three generations of your family.

"May you see your children's children!" Psalm 128:6

Monday, October 23, 2006

Better late than never

My essay on the Transformation of Islamic Mass Culture was published in the Journal of Political Violence and Terrorism this month after 14 months of edits and revisions. The abstract can be read here. This is my first published piece.

Today after way too many weeks I finished Covenant Seminary's course on Church History (from the Reformation to present). David Calhoun gave the lectures. I had the privilege to take a class with him in person a few years back; he's everything you'd want in a seminary professor. I looked at the other courses they have for free on-line; I think I'll go with Jerram Barrs' course on apologetics and outreach. Kristin and I enjoyed sitting through a different class he taught once before. Calhoun and Barrs share a love for Francis Schaeffer's work. The time they spent with him has clearly shaped them and it is my hope that it will form me.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Supremacy of Christ

May Christ reign in all our lives. This powerful short video may help us see that our thoughts of Christ have been too small and may enlarge them.

The audio for the rest of this message and the other speakers who spoke on related topics is available for free here

I've listened to most of the messages; they're helping me know this massive Christ better.

HT: Barb

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Butter fingers

Faith's hair is finally growing back (she pulled a lot out as a newborn). In this dry climate we occasionally rub in a little oil. This leads to a trip to the sink since the oil prefers my hands more than Faith's hair.

As I listened to a great sermon on Sunday about God's grace, I thought that grace must also be slippery stuff; it's so hard for me to hold onto from week to week. As if grace was a greased pig scampering around the pin while I chased hard after it, occasionally touching it but never getting a good hold.

But that's backwards, isn't it? It's me that's greasy, like my hands after I tend to Faith's hair. I realize most Sundays that somehow I've gone and lost my grip on grace again. But the relief comes when I see that it is grace that has a strong hold of me. And I will never slip through His fingers.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Balloon Fiesta Glow-deo

I returned from a business trip yesterday in time to take the family out for our first visit to the famous Albuquerque balloon fiesta. This was the special shape balloon glow. A loveley evening; one I hope the children will remember fondly.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The bad thing about being Presbyterian

Last night I went inside a PCUSA church for a boy scout function. The PCUSA is the large, mainline, liberal denomination; I belong to the PCA which is a much smaller and more conservative Presbyterian denomination. I hate that when people ask me what church I belong to, I can't just say "Presbyterian." To do that may result in an endorsement of the PCUSA church.

I've become familiar with a couple of fine PCUSA churches recently, which had tempered my negative opinion of the PCUSA. But the church I visited last night in Albuquerque rekindled my disdain. The troop met in the sanctuary which gave me an opportunity to peruse their pew Bible and hymnal. Both are of the "inclusive" variety, which means that masculine references about God and man are often replaced with generic terms like Lord and humankind. On the hymnal's page of creeds the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed each come in two versions, traditional and ecumenical. The ecumenical versions are neutered and make other changes that baffle me.

On the way home Eli asked what kind of church that was. I grimaced and told him it was Presbyterian. But that led to a good discussion about Biblical authority.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

100 Years and Counting

My grandfather turned 100 on Friday; here's a kind news article about his 83 years of Gospel ministry.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"Add your little bit, and pray that others will be called to add their little bits until it is enough"

Kristin stumbled across a blog that immediately hooked her and now me. A Presbyterian pastor in Oregon is telling the story (as it unfolds) of his travels to Ethiopia to adopt two children from an orphanage. His words and photos are deeply moving. We've written for info about this orphanage since we've been thinking and feeling that 2007 may be the time to adopt one more time.

If you would benefit from a godly dose of compassion in action, read Pastor's Pensees.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My day in prison

I spent yesterday at Torrance County Detention Facility, a multi-level "correctional institution" receiving training for prison ministry. A man in our church ministers here and this class was required for me to join him.

I'd like to share some observations from my day behind bars and rolls of barbed wire. The prison is a business. All the guards, warden, etc are contractors. Security for visitors wanting into the prison was less than the airport. This may explain why heroin had recently been found in the federal cellblock. The saddest part of the day was watching the young children coming to the prison to visit their fathers.

The class was set up by the prison chaplain and was open to anyone who wanted to be trained to minister in the prison. Of my classmates there were 5 pentacostal/charismatic types, one Jehovah's witness, and one muslim. The chapel bookshelves have an unsound selection of Christian publications that mirrors the type of Christians that come to minister to the inmates. Also many of the prisoners there don't speak English (lots of Mexican nationals) and there were only a couple of Christians books and Bibles in Spanish.

Overall, I learned that there is plenty of need for sound teaching from the body of Christ in this prison. Regrettably, the zeal of the pentacostals -- often zeal without much knowledge I am afraid -- has the largest presence.