Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Anything for ice cream

My boys will do anything for ice cream. What else could cause them to attend tonight's dress rehearsal for Grace's ballet recital but Baskin Robbins 31 cent night? The thought of these two all-American boys watching 2 hours of little girls prancing around in frilly outfits just for one ice cream cone is pretty funny.

Curse words

I want to recommend something for you to listen to; I know it's hard to make time for sitting and listening to something so I wouldn't suggest you do this unless it was really that good.

R.C. Sproul's message at the recent Together for the Gospel conference stood out from the rest. His message is titled “The Curse Motif of the Atonement”. He arrested my attention as he spoke as a man gripped by the realization that God's curse had been removed from him and put upon another able to bear it. His powerful doctrinal exposition and discerning pastoral application of the truth combined to produce a deep spiritual impression on my soul.

This is one of the best sermons I have ever heard, and I am grateful to my Lord for what He has done for me, and for allowing Dr. Sproul to preach about it with excellence.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Haunted no more

Flannery O'Connor famously remarked that the South is Christ-haunted. There is a regard for the Bible, an assumption of Christian faith, and a consensus on morals that you don't find to the same degree in other parts of the country. To be Christ-haunted on a regional level, you would expect that many Southern individuals could also be described this way, and for me that is certainly true. Christ-haunted is the best description of my life in the South.

So that's why my mom was so offended when I told her that it wasn't until after college that I became a Christian! We grew up going to church most weeks. We were raised with a set of morals based on Christianity. I didn't even touch alcohol through college! Isn't all this Christian?

I certainly thought it was, until one day when I was changed. For the first time I had a real desire to know God. I dusted off my Bible that had sat unopened on my nightstand throughout college. For the first time I understood what I had said I believed all along. There is a holy God. I am a terrible sinner (even if I could dress up my external actions to look Christian, I suddenly realized my heart was clearly wretched). Christ is a mighty Savior. For the first time I loved the Cross of Christ where the penalty for my sins was paid.

Haunted no more! His death brought me to life!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Getting to know someone that is suffering terribly

Can you remember feeling like you want to help someone but you don't know how?

Several times a week we spend a little time with a young woman whose son is on Eli's baseball team. She has liver cancer and by all indications is without Christ in her life. She is going through a very intense chemotherapy (as a last chance effort) and can barely make it to her son's games. Whenever I see her hobbling up the stands with a bandanna covering her bare head I feel godly sorrow for her situation. Then something usually happens that brings out feelings of righteous anger.

Instead of going into that here I will only say that this woman is in a very troubled marital situation.

Pray for us and our interactions with this family! Kristin is very heavy of heart about it and is trying to help as the woman allows.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Friendliest Place On Earth

Alamogordo (in southeastern New Mexico) is my current location; it styles itself as "The Friendliest Place On Earth". I drove down this morning to attend Presbytery and in this post I will attempt to convince you that Presbytery is of interest.

Three times a year the leaders from the churches in our region (NM, AZ, and a part of TX) meet together as a court of the church (based on the connectionalism we find in Acts). We call this meeting Presbytery--i.e. a gathering of elders from different churches. Today was a good example of the work we do. We joyfully started two young men down the road to becoming pastors and solemnly disciplined and sadly removed one of our own number from the pastorate.

In a sense the nations gather at these meetings; we welcomed a pastor from Bethlehem (Palestine) to learn about the plight of the only Presbyterian church left there and the sermon today was from a Mexican pastor laboring across the border for the gospel.

There is much prayer as we labor to plant new churches and provide campus ministries across our region. Fellowship was enjoyed when we took a dinner break and heard an impressive lecture on postmodernism and the pulpit from one of the pastors who recently received a PhD.

While I was enjoying this conference-like atmosphere--eating well, fellowshipping, meeting new people--Kristin was sacrificing at home so that I could attend. She's awesome, and Deacon Mike at church gets big thanks for taking Isaiah out to the East Mountains today to frolic in the snow that surprisingly is still there in abundance!

Alamogordo may strive to be the friendliest place on Earth, but as Spurgeon has noticed, the Church is the dearest place on Earth.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Li'l Miss Contrary

When children are very young, like our little Faith, it's amusing (and at times worrisome) to see the child's personality begin to express itself. Faith has demonstrated that she will probably be the contratrian of our children. Her first reaction to her parents' direction is usually to be solidly against it.

One humorous example as a case in point: Kristin was singing Jesus Loves Me to the little children and Faith interrupted her with a sassy look to assert, "Jesus DON'T love me!". She said this because she wanted to hear the B-I-B-L-E song and was going to reject anything else. It's funny for now, but bodes of difficult days ahead.

We're going to have lots of stories to share, if these kiddos don't kill us first.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Off the charts

Zeke had his 1 year old check up today. He was in the 95th percentile for weight and off the chart in height. The doctor said we could stop feeding him whole hams now and probably lay off the whole milk, too.

Zeke at one week

And at one year

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Music Review--You and You Alone

I received a CD titled You and You Alone recently from Sovereign Grace music for agreeing to mention it on this blog. Since the songs on the CD were written by a father and son, I've asked my daughter Grace to help me review it.

She liked the music and the words because they were about God. Her favorite song is I Surrender All (Reprise) because she likes the tune and there were more people singing together on it. Grace and I would describe this music as folk rock music; the songs earlier were more heavy rock and the ones in the later part of the CD were more folk.

I'm always thankful for the work of Sovereign Grace music, and enjoyed receiving this CD, although I prefer less rock and more folk in music.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Let the Little League Madness Begin

Eli's Little League coach was belly bumpin' the ump before he was ejected. His assistant coach, having been thrown out of the game innings earlier, was in his truck yelling and heckling the ump from behind the outfield fence. The parents in the stands were stomping mad with much arm flailing and snide remarks. Mercifully, the game ended soon after. What does a Christian father say to his 10 year old son on the way home?

This post on sportsmanship from CJ Mahaney came to mind. I asked Eli this question, "Which is more important, that the ump calls the game the way we want or that we show respect for his authority, even if we don't agree with him?" We discussed how a coach should handle a situation like this with evidences of godliness.

As fathers, we should want our sons to grow in godliness, not simply athletic ability. This means that we will celebrate when he or other players handle a difficult situation with character and we should prepare our sons before the game with biblical priorities (humbly receive correction, do not complain or disagree, encourage the players, apologize if you hurt someone, play aggressively but selflessly, etc).

Here's a humorous video example of what a coach shouldn't do.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Coming soon!

I'm excited about this conference which will bring two of today's finest reformed teachers to my town. I'm really hoping to attend, and I hope my local readers will try and make it, too.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


"How many sins do I commit a day, every day!?! And on one hand can I count the times someone has rebuked me."

I heard this remark today; it's an interesting statement. Now no one should read this and overcorrect. Don't be the person with the "gift of rebuke" that goes around looking for someone, somewhere, doing something wrong somehow. But the Proverbs do speak of the wounds of a friend being better than the kisses of an enemy. For my part, I think most correction should come from within the marriage relationship. For a good post on how to properly do this read this from pastor C.J. Mahaney and his wife.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Zeke's birthday celebration

Since I was out of town on his birthday, we postponed the celebration to this week.

After the cake's suger rush kicked in it was time to put on some gospel music and dance!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The answer to my question

Why aren't Christians in our country persecuted and how do we reconcile that with Scripture's expectation of persecution? When living in the South, the answer given to me was that almost everyone is a Christian. Certainly that is not true in the West.

I now know the actual answer lies in the difference between Paul and me. Wherever he went he knew the people around him needed a Savior and he told them about Jesus. This is why he was persecuted. I am sinfully unlike Paul and that is the answer to my question.

Proverb: Testing harder than they teach

My children, beware of easy teachers.
For they often test harder than they teach
A teacher who doesn't work hard at teaching
only makes more work for the student.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Personality or Character, which do we seek?

I heard recently that people form their impression of you within 4 minutes. So in our sound-byte, entertainment-driven culture it shouldn't surprise us that a funny or cool personality will win out over character which takes time and trial to prove.

Clearly Christians should break from the world's ways and strive after character rather than personality. That's not to say that we should have no personality--joy, faith, and integrity should define us and grow out of the unchanging bedrock of a godly character.

We must remember to "imitate" Paul (something he repeatedly urges us to) and not the world. Appreciate a winsome personality in others but guard your heart until character can be assessed. This goes for finding a pastor, a friend, or a spouse.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Happy Birthday, Zeke!

The big guy is 1 today! His brothers and sisters keep singing the birthday song to him. He has no clue why they insist on doing this. He just gives them his stoic look, something he excels at. Kristin and I usually don't have a problem getting him to smile (as this great photo attests), but when most other folks try to get him to smile he just gives them his serious, just-the-facts, ma'am, kind of look. Methinks he has a future as a Buckingham palace guard!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Lost in L.A.

As I continue my time away from home, here's a journal entry summarizing the experience so far.

The course I'm in is an all-boys club. Twenty-five men away from home for over a week with a good deal of free time (and per diem) on their hands. Not a recipe for righteousness. I wonder if anyone in the class other than me is disgusted with the character of these men and concerned for their souls? I fight to feel compassion for them and all to easily would let them wine & dine themselves to eternal destruction without saying a word. Colossians 4 reminds me to pray that a door for the Word may be opened and to speak boldly as I am supposed to do.

Meanwhile I'm treating this as a "final's week", meaning my goal is to use my free time to work hard on church and job responsibilities so that when I return home I will be able to enjoy my family. I hope to get several weeks ahead on Sunday school preparation and other elder work. I am reminded of Strauch's exhortation that a non-vocational elder should spend his leisure time serving Christ and his church and am enjoying the extra study and prayer time and, so far, making good use of it. But the urge to relax and enjoy some entertainment hasn't flagged and at times is quite strong. At these times I've found reviving in listening to hymns (Jesus, I my cross have taken, Psalm 73, etc) and thinking of Piper's address on "Don't Waste Your Life". But even hearing a snatch of a secular song in a fast food restaurant has a frightening worldly effect on me.

Kristin is an amazing woman and continues caring for the children gracefully in my absence. God is merciful, which is my continuing prayer for myself and my family too far away.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Revamped church website now up

My thanks goes to Erika and team for updating our church's website! Check it out.