Wednesday, February 28, 2007

3 cheers for swimming pools

The children were so excited about being signed up for swimming lessons yesterday. Lessons begin in 3 weeks, but why should that stop them from getting ready now?

Funny that they weren't as excited when the new spelling curriculum arrived today.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

When you've had a bad day

John Piper was in Phoenix recently for a pastor's conference. I wish I would have attended. His sermon on the centrality of God in the feelings of a pastor is especially helpful to me. Here's a dose of good medicine for remedying a case of the blues:

A pastor whose heart is thrilled with God even when his kid is not walking with the Lord, his marriage is troubled, church is declining, the giving is small, sickness is real, is one of the most powerful testimonies of the value of God in the world. What could show the value of God more than that! But if he goes down with everything else, God must not be sufficient. The message of satisfaction with God through trouble is a loud, clear witness to a weary people that God is enough. "Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also", I've got God!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Know your enemy (part 2)

The first part of this short series pointed out how our nation’s enemies have learned to be lethal yet stealthy. The same tactic, I’m convinced, is being employed against the American church, against us. Rather than lions and gladiators, modern-day foes of the church are largely unrecognized, yet effectively marginalizing us into nominal Christians.

To fight against an enemy, you have to take notice of it, to consider it a deadly foe indeed, and one that is to be destroyed by all means possible. An unexamined life can not fight against sin. Rather you must labor to be acquainted with your particular enemy. What are its ways of attacking? When does it usually prevail?

For instance, one of my enemies is anger (in the form of frustration with my family). This sin is prone to attack on Sunday mornings as we're getting ready for church and time is running out. If I haven't prepared for its attack it will almost certainly prevail and spoil my family's worship that morning.

The point here is you must examine your life. This should be part of your private worship. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you your enemy, its methods and wiles. This is the beginning of the warfare. "If you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body you shall live." Romans 8:13

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Know your enemy (part 1)

I remember as an Air Force cadet, before the end of the cold war, our training classroom had a large poster titled "Know Your Enemy." And on that poster was the emblem of the Soviet Union. Knowing our nation’s enemies was simpler back then.

What was true for Cadet Bailey, also holds true for your life as an American Christian.

For hundreds of years after Christ, Satan brought to bear against the Church obvious enemies: Gladiators. Lions. Crucifixions. Burning stakes. But the blood of the martyrs was seed; seed for the spread of the gospel. And so Satan, like our nation’s enemies, changed his tactics. The enemies to the Christian life in our culture aren’t so plain anymore. They don’t come loudly or visibly; they’re almost undetectable as they marginalize God’s kingdom on earth by lulling us into being nominal Christians. Know your enemy. It’s against this backdrop that I want to speak to you about your zeal for discipleship in a few posts.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Dr. Goodluck's question

Kristin had her physical yesterday, another part of the adoption process. Her physician, Dr. Goodluck, went through the procedure and as he was about to sign the adoption paperwork he asked Kristin if she has any other children. When Kristin responded, he paused, brought his face very close to hers and asked, "why are you doing this?"

Sometimes babies just show up without much planning (or any, like Eli). But in our culture, when you go out of your way to add multiple children to your family, you are being radically counter-cultural. I like what another adoptive father, Pastor John Piper, said recently,

Few things bring me more satisfaction than seeing a culture of adoption flourish at Bethlehem. It means that our people are looking to their heavenly Father for their joy rather than rejecting the stress and cost of children in order to maximize their freedom and comforts. When people embrace the pain and joy of children rather than using abortion or birth control simply to keep children away, the worth of Christ shines more visibly. Adoption is as far as possible from the mindset that rejects children as an intrusion. Praise God for people ready to embrace the suffering—known and unknown.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy"

To encourage one another to be more faithful in our spiritual disciplines, our church recently kicked-off covenant groups. In our first meeting, I read an article by the first Princeton professor, Archibald Alexander, where he points out how making specific plans can help us grow in grace.

Another powerful cause of hindrance in the growth of the life of God in the soul is that we make general resolutions of improvement, but neglect to extend our efforts to particulars. We promise ourselves that in the indefinite future we will do much in the way of reformation, but are found doing nothing each day in cultivating piety. We begin and end a day without aiming or expecting to make any particular advance on that day. Thus our best resolutions evaporate without effect. Is it at all strange that that person who on no day makes it his distinct object to advance in the divine life, at the end of months and years is found stationary?

Each person in our group was to make some specific plans as a beginning in the fight against the flesh. By now those plans have made first contact with the enemy and I wonder how many have survived. The fight against sin is constant, so if your original plan is lost, plan a new one. As Gen Patton has said, "a good plan today is better than a perfect one tomorrow."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Let charity begin at home

A prayer for the family,

"Forbid that I should fail to show to those nearest to me the sympathy and consideration which Thy grace enables me to show to others with whom I have to do. Forbid that I should refuse to my own household the courtesy and politeness which I think proper to show to strangers. Let charity today begin at home."

John Baillie

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pride and Prejudice

Each year at Valentines we set aside a few evenings to enjoy the BBC production of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. First, the disclaimer. This is no girly book or girly movie, although it is a favorite of the girls in my family. As a matter of fact, one of Austen's purposes is to point out the folly of mushy, sentimentality in relationships. Through fascinating characters, some witty, some terribly silly, Austen effectively illustrates the basis for good and poor marriages. This movie (the BBC production!), or better yet, the novel, is a useful tool for teaching singles about marriage.

Monday, February 19, 2007

One millisecond

In order to update our adoption portfolio, we had Kiddie Kandids take some family portraits this morning. The pose and facial expressions lasted about 1 millisecond. Faith was clingy and scared of the camera, the others were wiggly, and Dad was kinda grumpy.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


That's last year's growth of the denomination that my church represents. We failed to keep up with the rate of population growth in this country. Over eighty percent of PCA churches had less than 5 adult baptisms last year--mine was one of them.

In a recent sermon, Richard Pratt of Reformed Theological Seminary gives several reasons for the lack of growth in the PCA. Mainly, it boils down to self-centeredness. It's apathy for others and --although we deny it-- for God, and a desire for our own ease and prosperity.

When we fail to evangelize not only does God's kingdom in our local church not grow, but also God's kingdom around the world suffers. Because we do not evangelize our churches are too small to do much of anything about reaching Muslims, or Russians, or illegal immigrants, etc, etc.

Dr. Pratt thinks the solution is to evangelize our neighbors, co-workers, and family. I think more will be required to make any difference. We ought to evangelize those in our immediate circles, but we also need open eyes to see unreached mission fields in our environment. For instance, today at the base park I noticed many of the on-base dorm residents walking over to the base exchange. It reminded me of a college campus. Would a RUF-type ministry be effective in reaching the on-base, single military population? It's something to pray and think about.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

One Woman at a Time

TIME has an overall favorable article on Crisis Pregnancy Centers, including a focus on Care Net and a PCA pastor. Kristin has been volunteering in one of the Care Net facilities here in Albuquerque for a few months and has brought home some startling stories.

Planned Parenthood is just down the hall from Care Net. Last week a young girl came into Care Net and showed Kristin her pregnancy test results, which was stamped with the Planned Parenthood logo. This young girl's visit to both places illustrates the battle for hearts and minds taking place--one woman at a time.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bringing the Gospel to Covenant Children

In a short space this booklet persuades parents to take up their role in discipling their children and gives practical and specific ways to go about it. I was convinced that I need to make several changes to our way of doing family worship and reminded of the importance of godly models.

Our church plans to provide copies of this booklet to our congregation.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My mission field

I've been in the Mojave desert this week (Edwards AFB, CA) while my wife has bravely tended a sick kiddo and weathered a snowstorm. My desert exile provides a moment for a brief missionary letter.

Several months ago I was involved in frequent conversations with Mark the Mormon; I've written about him before. He's since moved away, so we've shifted to e-mail. Last week I asked him some pointed questions aimed at awakening him to the significance of the eternal deity of Christ. Mormon theology is wacky in this area and I would like to unravel this theological mess for him. He has yet to write-back, but we can pray for understanding.

I've spent the week with a couple of junior officers that work for me, so I'm faced again with how to evangelise in this situation. I will ignore any government direction to keep my faith private, but I think there can be wisdom-reasons for being careful about evangelizing those you supervise. Tonight I was able to talk about the Scriptures a little with one of the officers. Tomorrow we'll spend 3 hours in a car together. This is a great opportunity, I should spend some time tonight praying for what to say.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Adoption Update

We finished a second portion of paperwork this weekend. This consisted of a lengthy questionnaire about our upbringing, parenting, and adoption interests. Kristin is at work on the last portion of our package which is called the portfolio. This document tells and illustrates our family story. Adoption agencies and birthmothers use the portfolio in selecting an adoptive family.

I've also added labels to all of the past posts on this blog that highlight our first adoption journey. The rollercoaster ride begins once the homestudy is done. Ours should be done by April we hope.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Canons and Buoys

Two simple sayings help me blast away at unbelief and, when my ship is sunk, have been bouys to keep me afloat.

These are daily on my mind and steady me. First, "put your feelings behind you and do the responsible thing." This is an effective weapon against man-pleasing and self-centeredness. The second is like it, "what is required is a long obedience in the same direction" (Eugene Peterson). This is particularly effective against spiritual laziness and reminds me to keep my vows.

Do any sayings serve as canons and bouys in your life?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Oh, the books that would be written!

In family worship last night we finished reading through John's Gospel. It closes with an expression of love to Jesus, that if the disciple attempted to record all that Christ has done not even the world itself would be large enough to contain the books that would be written.

After this reading my 7-year old daughter Grace asked me, "Daddy, how can I believe in Jesus?" Is that not a question that every Christian parent loves to hear? It shows a softened heart, good soil for the gospel. I gently reminded her of the great work that Christ has done in rescuing us from the punishment of our sins. I encouraged her to always trust in what her Savior has done for her and to love Him with all her heart.

What is this blog but another disciple's attempt to record a small fraction of the wonderful things that Jesus has done?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Adoption News

Kristin and I have decided to adopt again, as the Lord allows. Today we turned in the lengthy application which represents about one-third of the paperwork required and Kristin met with the agency. They told her that several of our reference letters have come in which is a good start.

Kristin received advice on the current situation with international adoptions. Since we had a good experience with Faith's adoption, we'll probably stick with domestic. The kids are already coming up with names for the new baby Bailey. Isaiah is hoping for a "Butch Bailey." The parents will be deciding on the name, but we're glad they're excited about this process.

Like last time, I'll try to post significant updates here from time to time. We hope to adopt sometime this year.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Global Domination

There's a meme going around the blogs to self-identify weirdness. That in itself is pretty weird, but so far none of the weirdness that I've read comes close to MY weirdness: I actually enjoy Presbytery meetings. I like Robert's Rules of Order. I even tried to use them at work today! How's that for weird!

One of the highlights of the recent Presbytery for me was the testimony of a silver-haired husband and his wife that are raising funds to go to the mission field. His presentation was simple, when he reads Isaiah 6 he says with the prophet, "Here am I. Send me." It's refreshing to see an older couple turn down the self-centered pleasures of an easy retirement and pursue the real joy of the Kingdom. I know it's a difficult decision to leave behind grandchildren, the comforts of home, and good healthcare. May they receive a hundredfold.

I haven't been blogging lately partly because a different kind of global domination has been consuming the time. I don't think we're playing RISK right; our first game has gone on for about 6 hours and there's no end in sight.