Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Westminster Boy

Eli finished memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism today. He has an impressive memory and I trust that the years we spent working through the 107 questions of the WSC will be formative for the rest of his life.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Remedy for Wandering Thoughts in the Worship of God

After moving to Utah and starting a new job I quickly began to have terrible times of private and public worship. In private worship my mind would dart all over the place, mostly back to work. In public worship my heart would easily harden and forfeit the grace available in assembled worship.

Through a bookstore sale I picked up a copy of A Remedy for Wandering Thoughts in the Worship of God. This old puritan work lives up to its title. It's not lengthy by puritan standards but brims with remarkable analogies and pointed statements that deeply convict and then comfort.

If you struggle to keep focused during worship, seek out the remedy here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Family Vacation and Faith's Birthday

We hit the road last week enjoying Utah's summer adventure town, Moab, and then down to the Jemez mountains near Santa Fe for a couple days of camping with friends. Along the way, Faith turned five!

Just north of Moab is the Arches National Park; the shaded Sand Dune arch is tucked away inside a slot canyon and was the favorite place in the park to play.

The balanced rocks have inspired countless Road Runner cartoons.

They've also inspired some man-made rock-balancing.

I took the older children on a half-day white water rafting trip down the Colorado River. Here's Eli and Grace embarking.

Isaiah enters the river with a little more flair.

After Moab, we continued heading south for some camping; along the way we stopped at Four Corners for the traditional photo.

That evening we ascended into the Jemez Mountains (about 8,000 ft) and enjoyed friendship and fellowship with our church family from Albuquerque.

They even remembered Faith's birthday and presented her with a cake; but she's still a bit shy and tried to hide from the attention in my shirt.

Birthday presents have a way of drawing her out though.

It was a great trip and wonderful to see our friends in New Mexico again.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our first Pioneer Day

Utah's state holiday was officially celebrated yesterday but kicked off for us last week with a neighborhood parade complete with bag pipes and tractors. Since then there's been nightly rodeos, fireworks, and other small town festivities.

Pioneer Day marks the entrance of settlers into the Salt Lake basin. The overwhelming majority of those were Mormons but it is possible to enjoy many of the fun events without being LDS; kind of like more than Christians celebrate Christmas.

When you dig a little deeper though this state holiday is a little unusual. I can't imagine the state of New Mexico, for instance, celebrating the arrival of Anglos. Pioneer day is only possible in Utah because the culture here is so monolithic. The "Taste of the Town" event in our city last night was attended by at least a thousand, with very few exceptions all of those were the same ethnicity.

The history of the man who led the Mormons into Utah is also not something many would hold up as worthy of celebrating. Brigham Young had as many as 55 wives, held a number of uncouth views, and by some accounts attempted to start his own country called Deseret in the western region of America.

But this state holiday, like others, appears to be largely a secular event and so even interracial, non-LDS families like mine can enjoy it.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Sketches of the LDS

Donald Barnhouse could have been describing our quaint LDS community when he hinted at what a town could look like if Satan took it over,

All of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, "Yes, sir" and "No, ma'am," and churches would be full every Sunday...where Christ is not preached.

Many of the Mormons I've met here are genuinely moral people who are trying to conform to the LDS' expectations. The fourth of July celebrations were today (the 5th) to allow for Sabbath-keeping on the 4th. Grandparents start "mission funds" so their grandchildren can travel for two years as evangelists after high school. Utah has the highest birth rate in the nation and the youngest average age of marriage. Cute little children are everywhere.

But the pressure to conform may be behind Utah's high suicide rate, and the mass of extra-biblical theology that drives their moral behavior covers up the gospel of grace.

For instance, marriage is required to be eligible for exaltation after death. Doing their best throughout their life on earth is believed to be required to reach higher attainments in the life to come.

From what I observe living among the LDS, they affirm what sounds like the Gospel of grace. But what they don't see is that it has been so covered over by man-centered duties (along with a fundamentally un-Christian view of God) that the true Gospel is in effect lost and, as Barnhouse suggests, they are a moral people without Christ.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Eight is Great, Isaiah!

Some fun at the amusement park. Isaiah relishes an early lead over Grace and Eli.

Add your own Star Wars blaster sound effects.

Now let's learn how to blow-out a birthday cake, Isaiah-style.

Get set.

Cherish the moment.

Inhale calmly.

Let it rip!

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Be moved by prayer again

Matthew Henry (1662-1714) is most famous for his commentary on the whole Bible. But his book of prayers, A Method for Prayer, has proven to me to be an equally valuable resource. If you've worn out your copy of The Valley of Vision (another much loved book of Puritan prayers) here is a fresh spring in which to refresh your soul.

I first heard of the book throuh this website which I used regularly for at least a year.

But the book has much more content and can more easily be made part of your devotion time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Church is like eating at home

Church is like eating at home with your family. But many think it's like eating at a restaurant, and that's why they can't be satisfied...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Utah beauty

This evening's view from the deck.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Southern Utah

We spent the long weekend making good memories at Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Some pictures, in no particular order.

Zion National Park
"The Narrows" of Zion where the Virgin River has carved out a slot canyon
Bryce Canyon's HooDoos
This tunnel was one of Zeke's favorite features of the vacation. Constructed in the 1930s, it was quite the engineering marvel of the day. It stretches over a mile long with several galleries (large "windows") that present stunning views of Zion's peaks.

Fishing at Duck Creek Pond
Some more pictures at Bryce

Campfire at the cabin in Duck Creek Village

Sunday, May 23, 2010

She took the kingdom by storm

I like John Bunyan's take on what it means to take the kingdom by force (ref. Matthew 11:12) in Part II of Pilgrim's Progress.

The scene is Christiana has reached the Wicket Gate (which represents Christ), knocked and was ushered in with fanfare and joy. Her companion, the young maiden named Mercy, is still outside the Gate and full of doubt about her reception since, unlike Christiana, she lacks a direct invitation from the King.


"Now Mercy began to be very impatient, and each minute was as long to her as an hour; wherefore she prevented Christiana from a fuller interceding for her, by knocking at the gate herself. And she knocked then so loud that she made Christiana to start. Then said the keeper of the gate, Who is there? And Christiana said, It is my friend.

So he opened the gate, and looked out, but Mercy was fallen down without in a swoon, for she fainted, and was afraid that no gate should be opened to her.

Then he took her by the hand, and said, Damsel, I bid thee arise.

Mercy: I am come for that unto which I was never invited, as my friend Christiana was. Hers was from the King, and mine was but from her. Wherefore I fear I presume.

Keep: Did she desire thee to come with her to this place?

Mercy: Yes; and, as my Lord sees, I am come. And if there is any grace and forgiveness of sins to spare, I beseech that thy poor handmaid may be a partaker thereof.

Then he took her again by the hand, and led her gently in, and said, I pray for all them that believe on me, by what means soever they come unto me.

So he left them awhile in a summer parlor below, where they entered into talk by themselves; and thus Christiana began. O how glad am I that we are got in hither.

Mercy: So you well may; but I, of all, have cause to leap for joy.

Christiana: I thought one time, as I stood at the gate, because I had knocked and none did answer, that all our labor had been lost, especially when that ugly cur made such a heavy barking against us.

Mercy: But my worst fear was after I saw that you was taken into his favor, and that I was left behind. And afraid I was to knock any more; but when I looked up to what was written over the gate, I took courage. I also thought that I must either knock again, or die; so I knocked, but I cannot tell how, for my spirit now struggled between life and death.

Christiana: Can you not tell how you knocked? I am sure your knocks were so earnest that the very sound of them made me start; I thought I never heard such knocking in all my life; I thought you would come in by a violent hand, or take the kingdom by storm. Matt. 11:12.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Our first family hike in Utah

The temps broke into the 70s this weekend so we enjoyed some of the nearby Rocky Mountain scenery. After an easy hike around the lake we got to the real reason for the expedition--dinner at The Oaks. Nestled along the bank of the Ogden River, this is a delightful place for a casual dinner and dessert.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Homeschool Helps

A wonderful surprise came in the mail for Isaiah, and it just so happened to go right along with his science lessons!


Monday, May 03, 2010

$.31 scoop night at Baskin Robbins

A tradition for the Baileys.

It seemed very cold to be eating ice cream, but it was enjoyed by all.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A visit to Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake has no outlet and so the mountain water that finds it way to the lake eventually evaporates leaving the shallow lake water that remains two to five times as salty as the ocean.

One prominent sign in the Visitors Center declares, "Not everything is dead", which wins the prize for most morbid welcome center banner. Brine shrimp the size of a grain of rice thrive and provide a rich meal for the Utah state bird, which surprisingly, is the seagull.

The state park is a large, mountainous, high desert island in the middle of the lake. It has become a preserve for bison, antelope, and people on bikes. But the first thing you notice is the powerful salty odor of the dried out marshes that line the receding lake this year.

But once you drive onto the causeway and out to the island it's a more pleasant and scenic environment.

We found our way to the "beach" which was a little chilly today but will probably make for a popular summer spot for the kids.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Gospel-Powered Parenting

This parenting book stands above the rest.

There are two things that Farley does particularly well that I'd like to draw attention to.

First, he distances himself from those that insist we must remove our children from the world (e.g. public schooling, Halloween, etc) in order to protect them from the world. He acknowledges that parenting always involves some protection, but he righly points out that an isolationist mentality often ends up with legalism. Farley recommends parents raise up their children not by changing and controlling their environment (things external to their children), but by going after their hearts.

Second, he picks up a theme from a great parenting book from the 1970s, How to Really Love Your Children, and emphasizes the importance of affection and different ways to show it to your children.

In places Farley sounds a lot like Tripp's Shephering a Child's Heart, but I think Farley is clearer in his main point of going after heart issues. Gospel-Powered Parenting may be the best parenting book I've read.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Good Hair

After a trip to the local beauty shop; check out Faith's new look.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Saturday, April 03, 2010


"The great Master Gardener, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, with his own hand, planted me here, where by his grace, in this part of his vineyard, I grow; and here I will abide till the great Master of the vineyard think fit to transplant me again."

Adapted from The Loveliness of Christ, page 1

Thursday, April 01, 2010

April in Utah

That's Eli in our backyard. He's on Spring break, snow-sledding! 4 inches and still falling.