Sunday, June 29, 2008

Isaiah's 6th

Isaiah celebrated his 6th birthday this weekend with his traditional blue-icing cake.

He was fearless at Cliff's Amusement Park here in Albuquerque.

He was the only one of our children daring enough to ride the cliffhanger. And the speedy Rattler was no match for him.

After Cliff's Isaiah went on his first overnight camping trip at Cedro Peak in the mountains east of town.

His grandfather treated him and the rest of us to the restaurant of his choice (so long as it wasn't Chuck-E-Cheese). We were pleasantly surprised to dine at Olive Garden last night; this kid has good taste, too.

Of course no day would be complete for him without a good wrestling match and some Uno.

What a delight it is to be Isaiah's daddy!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I was able to join Kristin and the children for the last couple of days of fun in the lovely mountain-town of Ruidoso, NM and its vicinity.

From the visit to Capitan, NM; the birthplace of Smokey Bear (I've now been educated that it's not Smokey THE Bear, just like it's not Easter THE Bunny).

We're really glad we planned a trip to White Sands. In the cool of the day its a breath-taking and fun place to visit. Three hundred square miles of pure white dunes.

It doesn't take very much to fascinate children. Cheap fun was had by the hours in the shady waters of the Carrizo creek.

Kristin and Isaiah leading the pack, with Grace in 2nd, and Aunt Lynn and Cousin Parker coming up fast. As expected, the race track was a big hit with everyone.

We celebrated our 14th anniversary a little late and with 5 tag-a-longs.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Happy Juneteenth!

Remember and celebrate freedom from bondage to sin! Can't hardly think of a better day to do that than the old Texan holday, Juneteenth, something that I learned about when we lived in Texas. Read on with thanks from The Evangelical Outpost.

The Gospel of Juneteenth
"Although bad news travels fast, good news often takes the scenic route. That appears to have been especially true during the Civil War. Although Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation became official on the first day of January 1863, word didn't arrive in Texas until June 19, 1865. On that day Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed in Galveston with news that the war had ended and that those who were once enslaved were now free.

One of Granger's first acts upon landing in the Lone Star state was to read Texas General Order #3, which stated,

The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.

Although we can't begin to fathom the jubilation these new citizens must have felt, we Texans set aside the third Saturday in the month of June to honor the event, an annual tradition known as Juneteenth.

Like Thanksgiving (which also originated in Texas), Juneteenth is a day when families gather to pray, count their blessings, and gorge themselves on great quantities of food. Barbeque mostly. Lots and lots of barbeque. And strawberry soda.

But, for me, the day has come to represent more than just spending time my friends in the black community, sharing food and laughs. It has become a reminder of another kind of emancipation; the day I first heard that other good news.

For I too was once enslaved -- shackled by chains of sin and death. Long before I was even born, though, the Greatest Emancipator paid the price to set me free. This good news was transported across time, carried across continents so that I would know: I had been set free.

True freedom becomes a most precious gift. And every day becomes Juneteenth."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nineteen hundred and ninety-four

Fourteen years ago I had the great honor of marrying Kristin. Since that day of joy and gladness, she has been true to her word, performing her wedding vow to me with love regardless of circumstance. I am firmly convinced that God brought Kristin into my life to save and sanctify me. She is truly a remarkable woman, a help-meet, completing me in very significant ways on a daily basis. "A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD" (Proverbs 18:22).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

EGG hunt everyday

In this enjoyable audio from Ken Sande (author of The Peacemaker) on humility in marriage he describes his family's EGG hunt, where EGG is short for Evidences of God's Grace. Every day each member of his family is actively looking out for evidences of God's grace in one another's life. This would fit well in a daily family worship routine, where Dad would take the lead with remarks such as, "How patient you all were today when I came home late from work", or "How kind my boys were today to the girls", etc.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A design for your happiness

I've known too many sincere Christians that have been less than convinced that God really loved them. They thought, well he tolerates me, or he is always frustrated with me, and they've never been able to rest in the Father’s abiding, deep love for them.

Yet redemption starts with God’s nature, his absolute and unquenchable love for his people. God made us for this very reason—so that in Christ we can be his beloved children.

The study we are going through in Sunday School has been helpful and thanks to Google documents I can at least share the slides with you.

Sources cited (besides Peterson's book): Heirs with Christ (Beeke), Communion with the Triune God (Owen), Communion with God (Kapic)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I once was blind, but now I see

"If you once considered Christianity boring, uninteresting, stupid, irrelevant, scary, and you didn't want anything to do with it...And then something happened. And now when you look at the Cross you just want to SING because there is so much wisdom, and so much love, and so much justice, and so much power because of what happened there. What happened in your life is that the eyes of your heart were opened. That's the vocabulary of the New Testament." John Piper, Fighting for Faith with God's Word

This bit of Piper's sermon struck me; I can remember clearly when Christianity was uninteresting and I just wanted to get away from it. And then something happened to me and in a moment there were desires in my heart that had never been there before. A desire for God. A desire to humble myself. A desire for worship. A desire for church.

I once was blind--Christ was uninteresting--but then he opened my eyes, revealed himself to me and I see, I see!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The good life and the easy life

The current of our culture flows towards the easy life. Leisure, entertainment, prolonged adolescence, early retirement and the like are thought to be the good life. In this old video clip Francis Schaeffer laments that such thinking leaves only two horrendous values: affluence and personal peace. But someone has now said that "fun" has become the only value; if something is not fun then it must not be right or either not worth doing.

Does living the good life have anything to do with a life of fun or prosperous ease? This article in a recent WORLD magazine resonated deeply with Kristin and led her to conclude that no, the good life is not the easy life. "Christ does not call us to a prudent life, but to a God-centered, Christ-exalting, justice-advancing, counter-cultural, risk-taking life of love and courage."

Let's go honey, I'm game!

Understanding 2 year olds

Faith loves to "help" around the house. One of her favorite chores is folding laundry, which for her means balling up the garment and then placing it in a pile of other crumpled clothes belonging to one of her siblings or parents. The curious part is that she hums just like her momma does when she folds the wash. What's going on here?

When Faith tries to clear the table, or buckle her little brother in the high chair, or clean the bathroom mirror with her licked hand, or any number of other assists, what I think we're really seeing is not some mess-making, mischievous toddler, but a sprout that one day will flower into a very helpful big sister.

My oldest daughter, Grace, is an invaluable help around the house. And if I recall correctly back when she was knee-high to a grasshopper she made her fair share of messes, all the while thinking that she was helping.

So go on Faith and get to work. I can't wait to see the result.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Daddy Adam, mommy Eve

I really have to video Faith doing her catechism, it's a hoot, but I doubt that she'll "perform" for the camera. The question we've been working on lately is "Who were our first parents?", which is to be answered with "Adam and Eve."

Faith is clearly puzzled by this one. She knows that I'm her daddy and Kristin is her mommy so why this talk about some couple named Adam and Eve? The expression on her face when she parrots the answer makes me want to know what she's thinking. "Is Adam a different name for Dah Dah (her grandfather)?"

I wonder what she'll do when she meets someone named Adam or Eve!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Are they all in your group?

by Kristin

I like to read and hope that all the kiddos will grow up loving to escape with a good book as much as I do. Albuquerque has a wonderful summer reading program. This is our 3rd summer, and today was our favorite show of the summer (Mr Stinky Feet). We did not get to go to our favorite library (Ernie Pyle) to see the show, but all the same I think the kids liked that the show was inside. They got to—were even encouraged to—yell UNDERPANTS as loud as they could along with the song inside the library! Isaiah is still laughing about that--it was a rare treat.

We baffled yet another adult, though. The library-lady trying to make sure each child got adequate rewards for time reading wondered aloud if the kids were “all in your group?”. My response, "Yes, I'm the mom." (I’ve never thought of myself and the kids as a group before.)

And I think Faith should get the line light again today. She said, “Shadow licked me”. I replied in the affirmative. Faith then comments, “I no licks cats”.

I didn’t look if she had a mouthful of hair; some things a two-year old says you just take their word for it.

Troubling news from Dallas

Our denomination's General Assembly (our largest gathering of elders from across the nation) is occuring in Dallas this week. One of the issues they're wrestling with is whether the office of deacon is for men only. Scripture at its most clearest point (1 Tim 3) indicates 'yes'. Our Book of Church Order for hundreds of years (I believe) has clearly stated 'yes'.

Granted, there is an inference from Scripture (Rom 16) that many use to argue for deaconesses, but the real fear among some in the PCA is that we're starting down the path again towards liberalism. It may begin with deaconesses, but it tends toward female elders and pastors, and ends with a rejection of Scriptural authority.

Here's the situation, two high-profile PCA leaders are in strategic positions to take the first denominational step towards this direction. Both these men are godly and respected and have done much good for the PCA. For that I am very thankful and have personally profited. However, it appears that these men aren't fully in step with complementarianism, what many in the PCA believe is a biblical view of manhood and womanhood for the home and church.

A lively debate among the elders is expected tomorrow; let's be in prayer for truth and peace.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

2-for-1 "Line of the Day"

I missed my chance to blog last night so here are two "Line of the Day" entries.

At the sprayground recently, Little Chole asked Kristin if boys could have babies. She was satisfied with Kristin's answer and added, "it just looks like Zeke has a baby in his tummy."

Kristin asked if anybody wanted anything from Walmart yesterday. Isaiah blurted out that he "doesn't want pictures of people and things on [his] underwear." Apparently, he's become a boxer man.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Oh no, not again!

There are so many notable sayings (most funny, some really great) by loved ones in my life that I think there's enough to post something in this category (Line of the Day) almost everyday. That's if I remember and the internet connection works.

Today's Line of the Day goes to Grace for making this remark while holding baby Jonah at church today:

"Mom, can we please get another baby, I don't even care if it's another boy!"

Saturday, June 07, 2008

And then there was one

It looks like we're down to just one child in diapers now! That's a great Father's Day present. For the last couple of weeks Faith has been doing very well, even at night. She's definitely earned the special bedding that her Nana made for her when she reached this milestone.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Time for summer camps

Grace did very well in school this year and so earned her way to camp. She chose Colonial Camp which took place this week at a tea house in the Nob Hill section of town. This is clearly not a place for guys, although I was warmly greeted by the ladies of the house when I came for today's show. The dresses have names (Grace's was Abigail) and the young ladies spent the week making soap, candles, dolls, and learning about colonial life. She had a great time and would love to go back.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

My walking partner sounds like a broken record

My walking partner and I get together almost every day. In the early morning before my family is up we'll spend about an hour together.

He does most of the talking--man, does he sound like a broken record! I want to talk about all the things I'm doing, mix in a little subtle boasting, and then hear some sympathy for the undeserved crosses I bear.

But he gets the first word in and, as a genteel Southerner, once he starts I don't interrupt. He talks a lot about himself, what he's done and his plans for the future. He's determined to change the world and goes on and on about it. Even when he's talking about others, it's still about himself--what they thought of him, what they said of him, and what he's going to do for people like this.

He's always saying stuff like this, "the way of holiness belongs to those that walk in the way; even if they are fools (is he referring to me?), they shall not go astray. Everlasting joy, shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

Sometimes it can be hard to just keep listening; can't we talk about what I'm thinking about for a while? But by the end of the walk, if I've paid attention to him, I find that his words are much more helpful than mine.

("For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Presumption -- children and church membership

"Presumption is as iniquity and idolatry" 1 Samuel 15:23

Many adult Christians have never known a time when they didn't believe; they have grown up in the church from their earliest years. My wife is one of those; however, what she said recently serves as a warning to Christian parents against presuming the spiritual state of their young children.

She cannot identify a time when she didn't believe, yet she speaks of being converted as a teenager. Is this doublespeak? I don't think so. She grew up in a Christian family and learned all about the fundamentals of the Christian faith (think Apostles' Creed) and rejected none of it; she believed this was true. However, there came a time years later when she embraced Jesus Christ as crucified for her sins, as taking her penalty upon himself and freely offering his righteousness to her. She points to this as her moment of conversion.

I write about this tonight for two reasons. First, my two older children have begun church membership class at the tender ages of 10 and 8. They have a fairly good intellectual understanding of the Christian faith (thanks to diligence in memorizing much of theWSC), and they believe it to be true. But as a parent great discernment is now asked of me. If they complete the class do I allow them to go forward in joining the church? This would imply that I consider them to be regenerated. The seriousness of this decision causes many Christian parents to postpone their children's membership until the end of high school. This makes sense to me, but how should I respond to my children's wonderful desire to join the church now?

A second cause for this post is that there are many today that were raised in the church, like my wife, that continue in it into adulthood, yet cannot recall what I described above as a conversion. This is foreign to me and I am puzzled by it. I don't doubt that many of these people are Christians--that somehow God converted them very early, even before their earliest memories. But I am curious to know whether they would say that they have always had more than an intellectual belief in the Christian faith, that they have always had the marks of saving faith in their life (a hatred of their own sin, a dependence upon Christ to save them).

This issue is wrapped up in a person's view of covenant theology, but even as an advocate of that, I see reason to be on guard against presumption. Because the stakes are so high (we're talking about your children's eternity afterall), it seems to me that Christian parents should view their children as "children of promise" without going so far as to consider them saved and ready to become full members of the church. Membership may best be saved until they reach a point in their maturity when their profession of faith reveals more than an intellectual belief.