Thursday, March 29, 2007

When we don't have it all together

Kristin had a remarkable visit at Care Net tonight. A young woman, pregnant and abortion minded, came in for an ultrasound appointment. I won't go into specifics here, but her life is in shambles. She stayed for 2 hours, and Kristin had plenty of time to console her through tears and encouragement. It was a wonderful ministry experience for Kristin.

But the young woman is reluctant about going to church. Church is viewed as a place for good people who have their life together. Hurting people, like this woman, are too embarrassed to go there because they can no longer hide what's really true about everyone--we don't have it all together. We don't want to admit to ourselves, and especially to others, that there are major problems in our life. When those problems can no longer be hidden we tend to hide ourselves.

How refreshing it is when those that are hurting swallow their pride and come to God--and his people--for help. How satisfying it is when God's people can swallow their pride and show Christ's love for the broken and contrite.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's the Very Esteemed Bailey to you! (or should it be Apostle of Humility?)

I heard about the Universal Life Church yesterday. They've ordained over 20 million "ministers" since 1959. Ordination is free and anyone can be ordained no matter what you believe or even if you believe nothing. This sounds like a silly, almost humorous, idea, so where's the harm? Sadly, there are many needy people who respect and are willing to follow someone with these credentials not knowing that it's easier to be ordained in the Universal Life Church than to get a prize from a box of Cracker Jacks. This is especially a problem among inmates.

Here are the titles currently "available":
Abbe , Abbess, Abbot, Ananda, Angel, Apostle of Humility, Apostolic Scribe, Arch Deacon, Arch Priest, Archbishop, Arch cardinal, Ascetic Gnostic, Bible Historian, Bishop, Brahman, Brother, Canon, Cantor, Cardinal, Channel, Chaplain, Colonel, Cure', Deacon, Dervish, Directress, Disciple, Druid, Elder, Emissary, Evangelist, Faith Healer, Father, Field Missionary, Flying Missionary, Free Thinker, Friar, Goddess, Guru, Hadji, Healing Minister, High Priest, High Priestess, Imam, Lama, Lay Sister, Magus, Martyr, Messenger, Matriarch, Metropolitan, Minister of Music, Minister of Peace, Missionary, Missionary Doctor , Missionary Healer, Missionary of Music, Missionary Priest, Monk, Monsignor, Most Reverend, Christian Mother Superior, Mystical Philosopher, Orthodox Monk, Parochial Educator, Pastor General, Pastoral Counselor, Patriarch, Peace Counselor, Preacher, Preceptor, Priest, Priestess, Prophet, Psychic Healer, Rabbi, Rector, Religious Preacher, Revelator, Reverend, Reverend Father, Reverend Mother, Right Reverend, Saintly Healer, Scribe, Seer, Shaman, Sister, Soul Therapist, Spiritual Counselor, Spiritual Healer, Spiritual Warrior, Starets, Swami, Teller, Thanatologist, The Very Esteemed, Universal Rabbi, Universal Philosopher of Absolute Reality, Universal Religious Philosopher, Vicar, Wizard.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Seeing Double

The agency in Alabama that placed Faith with us called today. They asked how soon we could be ready to adopt again. They have two sets of twins and one other baby all due in the next couple of months. And there are no families to place these children with! How can that be?

One major reason is race. These babies are all either bi-racial or full African-American. While adoption-minded families wait for years for a Caucasian or Chinese baby, very few families are open to children of darker races. It would be great if Christian families would get beyond race issues and take these children into their homes and thus into the Church.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Home visit done

Today we passed a significant milestone towards our next adoption. Our adoption agency performed what's called a home visit with us. This consists of completing a checklist to ensure your home is safe for a child. It also gives the social worker an opportunity to observe the quality of the family life.

I've heard of home visits where there was broken glass strewn throughout the yard and dog droppings all over the carpet--not a place for a child! Our visit today went smoothly. The next step occurs on Monday when the social worker will interview Kristin and me. After that she should complete our homestudy within a couple of weeks and then the fun begins!

An approved homestudy is the "admission ticket" to get our family portfolio in the hands of birthmothers across the country. So it looks like by May our next adoption will really heat up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Thinking biblically about physical fitness

Spring is starting here in Albuquerque, and despite the allergies I think it's wonderful. This time of year we often think more about our bodies and what kind of shape they're in. For many this can be a consuming thought. One Bible teacher I heard recently (I can't remember who) made a point along these lines worth sharing.

For Christians, our physical fitness goal is to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). We are not to be fit as an end in itself, or to impress others sensually. We are to be fit so that we can serve our neighbor for Christ's sake. Physical fitness is of some value (1 Tim 4:8); it enables us to work hard in caring for others. A father needs energy to labor honorably at the office and then come home and teach the children and love his wife. A mother needs to be in shape so she can keep up with the children and still be enthusiastic when her husband arrives. A single person is to be in shape so he can serve others in need while meeting his other responsibilities. You get the idea.

We are to be living sacrificies. May this principle become the next workout craze!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ear Gate Update

I spent another week in the Mojave desert last week. I was cut off from the Internet but kept my iPod charged and got through some notable audio material.

For those interested in a Forrest Gump view of the last 50 years or so of struggles to restore a faithful Presbyterian witness to the South, Mickey Schneider's lectures offer an insightful first-hand account.

If the recent movie Amazing Grace piqued a desire to know more about William Wilberforce, Ken Myers reads a definitive essay by John Pollock on how this man literally changed his times.

Converse with Scholars interviewed the editors of the recent reprint of three of John Owen's works, demonstrating that Owen is a physician of the soul that Christians should schedule an appointment with.

9Marks interviewed Joshua Harris on his ministry within the Sovereign Grace movement and explained why he should be read by more than 13 year old girls.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Parent Perks

You have to know what to look for, but if you do there are lots of perks to parenting. Two from today stand out.

First was hearing my youngest daughter (18 months old) wake up in her crib singing Holy, Holy, Holy in baby-talk. The second was taking my youngest son (4 years old) up to the large sports field/track on base, taking off his bike's training wheels and telling him that all he has to do is "go fast and straight." He hit a tree head-on, crashed into a sprinkler that popped off his shoe which landed on the sprinkler head and sprayed us all over. But within 30 minutes he was able to bike home without his training wheels and proudly tell his mom! He has been beaming since.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The difference 3Ps make

The respected Scottish pastor, John Murray, once asked a new charge the difference between a lecture and a sermon. The new pastor smartly deferred to his senior for the answer. Murray said that 3Ps make all the difference: a personal, passionate, plea.

These 3Ps are also what turns our testimony into evangelism, our Bible reading into devotion, and our thoughts into prayer. Don't forget the 3Ps.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Optimistic parenting

Al Mohler wisely says, "optimism may be naive, but pessimism is atheistic." When it comes to parenting, optimism is called for.

Kristin and I were talking last night that our evening was pleasant because there was less bickering among the children. We thought, could it be that Eli is growing out of that? How wonderful that would be! And if he does outgrow it, then that means the other kids can, too!

Today showed us that none of our children have matured past the point of selfish conflict yet, but there is no reason to think that they won't. God is able to change their hearts, as he has ours, and so we pray with confidence and look forward to a day of peace to come.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Evangelizing next-door neighbors

I was given an opportunity just a few minutes ago to proclaim the gospel to my next-door neighbor. We have known each other for a few years but have never been close. I find it harder to evangelize people that live close to me (e.g. family, neighbors, co-workers) because of the consequences that sharing the gospel can bring to relationships that you have to live with after you share the gospel.

Admittedly, I was reluctant in turning the conversation with my neighbor back to the gospel again this afternoon. I was able to say more today than I have ever said to him, touching on the holiness of God, my sin, the perfect sacrifice of Christ, and how that changed my life.

His response was essentially "I will stay how I was raised." He mentioned that other faiths have tried to convert him, but he finds it best to stay with the views of his parents.

I feel that our conversation was pretty natural and that it may continue in the future. I will pray for what to say and boldness to say it.

Bloglist updates

I added some new links to some friends and other good ministry blogs. The Overbeeks are friends, church-family, and neighbors. Titus 2 Talk (on womanhood), Unashamed Workman (on pastoring), and Desiring God blog are all favorite sites. You can find the links on the right-hand side of your screen.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Amazing Grace

Kristin and I watched this movie last night. Here's what I enjoyed most about it:

Christian faith should lead to action carried out consistent with that faith (compare the abolitionist leaders of Britain to those of the U.S.) .

Young adults (under 30) can be principled and mature, and when they are, they effect powerful change in the life of others much older.

A pastor can have a life-long effect on the youth that he pastors (John Newton was William Wilberforce's pastor as a boy)

The actor who played John Newton was very powerful

There were a couple of things I didn't like:

From what I understand of Wilberforce's life, the movie should have had even more of an emphasis on Christianity as the cause for ending the slave trade in Britain.

Hollywood continues the myth that immodest dress is required for a woman to be attractive.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


The last two Wednesday evening services have been especially powerful. As we work our way verse-by-verse through Hosea, we've come to this arresting passage (Hos 13:4-6):

But I am the Lord your God
from the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
and besides me there is no savior.

It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought;
but when they had grazed, they became full,
they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
therefore they forgot me.

Pastor pointed out that without God we are without hope and marveled at how God suspended the laws of nature for over a generation to bring his people through the wilderness (water from a rock, bread from heaven). But once redeemed, his people extinguished the memory of their redemption. God's people couldn't abide the blessing of prosperity, and went from blessing to apathy. Those blessed by God are always at risk of forgetting Him and being satisfied with the blessings. Not that there's anything wrong with the blessings themselves, the issue is a sinful, deceived heart. A heart that turns from the only source of all that's good, the only source of true delight, to craving things that can not satisfy.

You make the application.

(the messages can be dowloaded here)