Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Vote?

There is another vision for how to lead a country. There is a kind of greatness that is possible among fallen men who know the weight of the world and how fragile humanity is. There is a seriousness that mingles humility and strength. There is a greatness that combines complexity and decisiveness. There is a moral bearing that embraces the limitations of fallibility without abdicating the responsibility of life-and-death decisions. There is a public submission to the Creator and Governor of the universe that produces a pervasive and public spirit that no mere man has the last word.

There is a statesmanship that expresses deep and humble hope that one may, under God, be of great use to one’s country. And this earnest hope, and readiness to lay down one’s life to pursue it, would inspire more confidence than the groundless assertions that the future will be as one says it will be. The promise of fallible sacrifice in the pursuit of a (merely) possible dream is more noble than the self-confident assertions of fallible fortune tellers. There is a diffidence in the face of the magnitude of leadership that signifies wisdom not weakness. In other words, there is another way for statesmen to think and to speak than we are hearing in these days.

If you would like to hear a taste of what I mean, listen to this excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address from Saturday, March 4, 1865. The horrific war had dragged on longer than anyone dreamed or feared. Compare the demeanor of Lincoln with the self-assured demeanor of either of our presidential candidates.

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Why Isn't Romans Relevant?

Mark Vance and I are faced with the challenge of teaching through Romans for our next cycle of adult modules. On the surface of it the challenge is to first understand the book ourselves. We tackle questions like to what extent is Paul talking about Jew/Gentile relationships in the first eleven chapters or how does Paul use the term "law" in chapters six, seven, and eight (or the whole book). So it's clearly important to understand the book before we teach it. But more important in my opinion is how we can help people to care about it. I found myself really riveted by reading through Romans today and reading Mark Dever's summary of it. But who else is riveted by it? Dever tells a story about a friend of his who had questions about God who read through Romans with him with great interest. But how many of our church people will have great interest? It doesn't help us with our marriage does it? Can it help me raise my kids or balance my checkbook? Will it get me that perfect sexual relationship I crave? In other words, why isn't Romans more relevant?

I think the answer is, Romans is relevant to me because I think it answers my problems. It sets to right my relationship with God. Except I fear I don't worship the same God as the vast majority of America. America worships the gods of sex, money, fame, relationships, etc. We would care more about Romans if we cared more about God. And don't get me wrong I'm sure I have academic interests in the book which vie for my worship; so I'm not innocent of illicit worship myself. But I do think Romans becomes more interesting only after we all catch a glimpse of the fact that worship of God was what we were designed for and brings ultimate joy to ourselves and glory to God. And when it's glory and joy we seek, Romans becomes very relevant!

(Romans 11:33-36)
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

Saturday, December 22, 2007

At Christmas

What overwhelms me about the birth of Christ is the strange mixture of emotion. One one hand it's as if the tiny child is the first glimmer of a dawning star which is the glory of God shown marvelous in Christ's humility. On one hand the angels rejoice as they see God's power and wisdom at its greatest triumph. Yet, strangely as our eyes would shine to see new life and glorious wisdom they instead well up with tears. For we know those soft grasping hands will ultimately take a nail, his precious tender brow will at his last earthly breath be ripped and torn. So with the angels we lift our voices, yet with tears streaming, to praise with our pride laid low.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests!"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Continuous Worship: Idolatry

I've been trying to finish this for a few days. But I thought I'd just come out and post it (so you're warned I've only been 3/4 of the way through it). But what I've heard so far, it is very good. His point is, worship is not a peripheral issue, it is the issue. Failure to keep God's moral commands are symptoms of a worship problem. I think it's worth everyone's time to download and listen to this.
Click to Listen

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fiction Recommendation: Brave New World

Neil Postman was right, and Huxley is more interesting. This book is very very good.

The idea Huxley presents is a totalitarian government who rules by maintaining their highest priority, to make everyone "happy." They do this through genetic engineering, conditioning, sexual freedom, and diversion. The thing I think the book illustrates so well is how easy it is to see that American culture is slavishly dominated by triviality. It's also easy to see how the troubles and difficulties of living as a Christian witness can attain a far greater joy. I would recommend the book.

Monday, December 10, 2007

C.S. Lewis on the Condecension of God in Revelation

"The same divine humility which decreed that God should become a baby at a peasant woman's breat, and later an arrested field preacher in the hands of the Roman police, decreed also that he should be preached [and, we may add, written about] in a vulgar, prosaic and unliterary language."

C.S. Lewis

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Warfield on Inerrancy

"This is a rather serious arraignment of the common sense of the whole series of preceding generations. What! Are we to believe that no man until our wonderful nineteenth century, ever had acumen enough to detect a printer's error or to realize the liability of hand-copied manuscripts to occasional corruption? Are we really to believe that the happy possessors of 'the Wicked Bible' held 'thou shalt commit adultery' to be divinely 'inerrant' as the genuine text of the seventh commandment--on the ground that the 'inerrancy of the original autographs of the Holy Scriptures' must not be asserted 'as distinguished from the Holy Scriptures which we now possess'? ... Of course, every man of common sense from the beginning of the world has recognized the difference between the genuine text and the errors of transmission, and has attached his confidence to the former in rejection of the latter."

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Living Nativity

These are Matt's nieces and nephews: Ella, Zeke, Kaisa, Tad

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"Invictus": Unconquerable

(ht: Desiring God)

"Invictus" by William Henley (who lived under the shadow of Nietzsche), the only thing left behind by Timothy McVeigh after his execution.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

If McVeigh, Henley, and Nietzsche had only known the beauty in being ruled by he who is worthy to rule. "Conquered" by Dorothea Day:

Out of the light that dazzles me,

Bright as the sun from pole to pole,

I thank the God I know to be,

For Christ - the Conqueror of my soul.

Since His the sway of circumstance,

I would not wince nor cry aloud.

Under the rule which men call chance,

My head, with joy, is humbly bowed.

Beyond this place of sin and tears,

That Life with Him and His the Aid,

That, spite the menace of the years,

Keeps, and will keep me unafraid.

I have no fear though straight the gate:

He cleared from punishment the scroll.

Christ is the Master of my fate!

Christ is the Captain of my soul!

Five Points on Criticism

These are really good. Go to the LINK and read the descriptions.

1. Directly, not indirectly
2. Seriously, not humorously
3. As if it's important, not casually
4. Privately, not publically
5. Out of love for them, not to express a feeling of frustration

A little taste:
1. Directly, not indirectly. If you're anything like me, you might have a temptation to imply something, to presume something, to do anything to avoid a direct confrontation. Be very careful, however, before adopting this pattern, especially in criticism. If you're not careful, you'll have people regularly looking at your words and asking themselves what you "really mean."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

When Satan Hurts Christ's People

When huge pain comes into your life—like divorce, or the loss of a precious family member, or the dream of wholeness shattered—it is good to have a few things settled with God ahead of time. The reason for this is not because it makes grieving easy, but because it gives focus and boundaries for the pain.

Being confident in God does not make the pain less deep, but less broad. If some things are settled with God, there are boundaries around the field of pain.

Link to the article

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Our gold-star world

It's easy to see why defeatism and depression reign supreme. Every day the headlines announce how far behind we've fallen. Preschoolers in South Korea can recite the square root of pi to the 300th place. Chinese kids know the periodic tables even before the umbilical cord is cut. A half-naked Sri Lankan child just built the first fully functioning perpetual motion machine. The fact that his school has no electricity, desks, or even a roof drives home that infrastructure investments aren't the answer. Even if we repaired every leaky schoolhouse roof in the country — the central plank in the Democrats' education program — it's doubtful our first-graders would be able to discuss quantum physics the way Japanese tykes can.

But why be pessimistic when we can just pretend that America's can-do spirit will overcome all?

This was the brilliant insight of America's educational industrial complex, which has worked tirelessly to make our kids think the most of themselves regardless of their accomplishments.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Money Well Spent

Admittedly, there are portions I struggle with. But what's refreshing about Piper is that how his doxalogical center works out with regard to sanctification. This is worth your money, and a steal right now. $5

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Amy's Blog:
My daughter is just starting to put letters together to make words. Recently she wrote "SRE" (sorry) on a piece of paper. She also spelled her friend Kaden's name "KADN" without any help at all. I was impressed until I found "NO WRTN" (no writing) written on the wall in the living room.