Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dogs and Cats, . . and Kids can smell fear

Last week must have broken some un-official record for great parenting posts on the internet. There were quite a few. I linked to one last week here. But, this one from Kevin DeYoung is really close to my heart.

I find that so many parents, most notably myself, are sometimes absolutely blind to the behaviors that they, themselves, are bringing out in their kids. As parents, we can take a situation that is a 5 on the stress scale, and make it an 8 very quickly.

One of the main ways we do this is by re-directing our own "stuff" towards our kids. If we had a bad day, they're about to have a bad day. Ain't Momma happy, . . ain't nobody happy. . as the wise saying goes.

Well, if Dad ain't happy, Mom ain't happy, and the spiral spins downward. Thanks to Kevin DeYoung for the confession, and the encouragement here. This is worth 5 minutes . . .if you're a parent, you should read it.

The Wrong Person

Challenging article from Tim Challies. . . . but I'm fully on board with the way he thinks about this. Most of my difficulties in marriage don't come from actual differences and conflicts, but from my lamenting the differences, and blowing the conflicts out of proportion. Hopefully this article is a kind of antidote to that. God is using your spouse in your life for something much greater than immediate happiness; namely, becoming more like Himself. Oh, and the myth that some other couple has everything together, never fights, and are "better" for each other. . . .it's just that; A Myth. Great Wisdom here.

So did you marry the wrong person? Yes you did. Embrace it and thank God for it. Her wrongness is just right in God’s eyes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


“Faith . . . unites the soul with Christ, as a bride is united with her bridegroom. From such a marriage, as St. Paul says, it follows that Christ and the soul become one body, so that they hold all things in common, whether for better or worse. This means that what Christ possesses belongs to the believing soul, and what the soul possesses belongs to Christ. Thus Christ possesses all good things and holiness; these now belong to the soul. The soul possesses lots of vices and sin; these now belong to Christ. . . . Now is not this a happy business? Christ, the rich, noble and holy bridegroom, takes in marriage this poor, contemptible and sinful little prostitute, takes away all her evil and bestows all his goodness upon her! It is no longer possible for sin to overwhelm her, for she is now found in Christ.”

Martin Luther, quoted in Alister E. McGrath, Christian Spirituality: An Introduction (Oxford, 1999), pages 158-159.

HT: Ray Ortlund

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mouth. . . meet foot.

After a few fairly serious posts. . . . I thought I'd leave you with this clip. Over at the Gospel Coalition they're talking about sermon flubs, so after you listen to that discussion, check this one out:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Presence of God and Worship under the New Covenant

There's alot of great worship music out there today. . . I get many requests to do songs. . some of them good, and some of them not so much.

Some of them have lyrical issues, and I'm kind of a stickler for lyrics and for us to know what we're singing about. Recently there's been a trend in alot of corporate worship music to ask, plead, welcome, and be desperate for the presence of God. Sometimes you can tell what the author is trying to say, but other times, it's not so clear.

The problem, as I see it, with these lyrics is that they are not recognizing the glorious reality of the new covenant we have in Christ. Here are some passages of scripture that speak of the new covenant:

Jeremiah 31:31-35
"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

Ezekiel 11:19-20
19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Colossians 1:26-28

26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Acts 17:24-25
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.


Suffice it to say. . in these and other examples, I believe scripture teaches that Christ is now here, among us, in our hearts, speaking through his Word, and active by the Holy Spirit.

Old Covenant worship was built around the Tabernacle/Temple system, and the Children of Israel could actually locate the presence of God on earth (over there in the temple). To be sure, there was an awareness of God's omnipresence:

Psalm 139:7-8

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

But, there was a definite sense of the place they had to go to worship God, where He would "show up", and seeking his immediate presence.

In the New Covenant, as Christians, the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts, and Jesus, who is the Emmanuel "God with us" is our advocate before God.

So, when I see songs that say, "waiting here for You. . . . desperate for You. . . come and fill this place. . . .rend the heavens and come down. . . . we welcome You with praise, etc. . . " It's hard for me to use alot of them when we sing together as the church. Because, among other things. . God is here. He is among us. We are not desperate for His presence. (if we define desperate properly. . as being in need of something). We might be desperate to recognize His Presence. . but we should say it that way, then :).

Some of these songs are quoting Old Testament Scriptures. And, that's great. . but we have to remember which covenant we're living in, and if that reality is being reflected in the lyrics.

Now, I know in most of these cases the author of the song is trying to get across the idea of asking God to "show up" in a special way, . .speak in a fresh way. . . "arrive" so that we all recognize His work, etc. . .

And, that's fine. . but we should say it that way. We should recognize that the problem is not with God being there or not being there (because He is there), but that we are not recognizing His presence and/or we are not concentrating on prayer, or on His Word, by which He speaks to us.

So, how about "Help us to hear your word today" or "We know that You're here" "thank You for your presence among us".

I know the heart behind longing for God's presence. And, to be sure, we "wait on Him" for many things and for many reasons. We do not ever "wait" for Him to arrive, though(unless we're singing about His second coming at the end of the age). And, I think, unless you take some time to explain those lyrics in the service. . it would be hard to understand them any other way. There's a sense where those songs connote "You're not here, . . please come. . . You're here now, You weren't here before". Many people have told me "I never think those things when we're singing". So, I don't want to be a stick in the mud. But, perhaps our thoughts can be as simple as "I need to hear something new from God that I can't hear until we're singing this song". That's not good either.

So, let's declare His Presence, celebrate, and wait on the Lord. . . in the context of the New Covenant; whereby He has given us His Spirit, and in Him we "live and move and have our being".

ps. a straw poll of the 5 readers of this blog. . . .would you rather me get back to blogging about silly things, or sports things. . or shall I continue to dive into technical theological matters which perhaps no one but myself is even thinking about. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Not Impressed

I live in Boulder, CO. . . basically, the mecca for "I meet with God in the mountains" spirituality. That's why this piece was so good for me. Yes, the writer is a little negative and pointed. But, frankly I think this sort of religion deserves the satire. Here's a taste:

Like people who go to church don't see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. . . .

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Some good stuff on the interwebs today. . .

1) I love and respect many who home school their kids. Hey, I was homeschooled for a while. But, this article shows many of the reasons I choose not to do so with my kids. This is an amazing article of wisdom for all parents, though, . .and even though it's super long, print it out and take 10 minutes to read it. It's that good. Here's a quote to get you started.

I am convinced that the most contagious parenting is living a heartfelt faith before your children.

Lots of wisdom for parents making all kinds of choices.

2) Pastor Mark Driscoll has finally launched his own site so that you have access to tons of sermons, articles, and interviews all in one site. I know Pastor Mark is a lightning rod of controversy, . . in fact that's part of the reason why they launched this site. . . so he can fully flesh out his thoughts, and not do dumb tweets and offensive blogs that other folks can do what they want with. People will be linking to his website now, and that should give some context to what he says. I think anyone would be helped by this site,. . . even if Pastor Mark is not your cup of tea. And, if you're wondering who the lovely woman is who has to put up with Mark. . . Grace Driscoll writes here too. . . an invaluable resource for the ladies. Check out her first piece on identity. Awesome.

3) If you ever went through the Experiencing God bible study. . I'd read this article. . . . a little negative, yes, but needed.

4) Oh Yeah, it's football season.

Disagreeing with the Puritans

I know, pretentious, right? The Puritans put us all to shame with their scholarship, their piety, and their seriousness about the scriptures. But, that doesn't mean they were without flaws, (who is). . and so I offer this critique:

I get the daily John Owen blast in my email. It's usually a great John Owen quote from his masterpiece, "On the Mortification of Sin in the Believer", a foundational work that was life-changing for me a few years ago. (no, Mortification is not just a questionable Christian band from the 80's).

Here's the quote from a few days ago:

Let us be in an expectation of such changes of providence, that they may not be great surprises unto us. When we are in peace, let us look for trouble; when we are at liberty, let us look for restraint; and when our children are about us, let us look for the removal of them; and be content to see all our comforts in their winding-sheet every day. It is impossible but our hearts will be too much upon them, unless we keep them in this frame.--John Owen

I used to subscribe to this philosophy, because I had a season with many "changes of providence" (i.e. crappy stuff. . come on puritans!!! :) ) .

And, there is wisdom here, of lowering the bar of expectation, and "not to be surprised" by various trials, as the book of James tells us.

But, this is not the way the whole of scripture tells us to interact with the various situations and relationships in our lives. I don't think it is helpful or biblical to walk around with a Chicken Little view on things like these. . like "it's going to go wrong. . better not get used to this good thing". My dad used to rebuke me for being sort of melancholy about things going well in life. I'd say things like "well, better get ready for something bad to happen". He was right to call that out.

I feel like Owen is encouraging us to look at life like this. We've been going through Ecclesiastes in our Young Adults Bible Study, and that book is full of encouragement to enjoy life, and enjoy the things God has given us. (pretty hard to do if when we're at peace we should be "looking for trouble", or "when our children are about us, let us look for the removal of them", yikes).

For sure, in America we are too attached to our stuff. No argument there. But, the solution to that is not to always expect the worst. We should hold loosely to things, and not worship/idolize them. But, that's different than expecting your children to be taken from you. We need a more fully-fleshed-out theology of Joy for the Christian today. It seems the only guys that are talking about Joy in God's gifts are spouting heresy about prosperity theology and wearing a shiny blue suit. Please.

We can and should enjoy God's good gifts, while enjoying the Giver most of all. We should not walk in fear or despair at possible struggles, but take them as also gifts from God's hand. We can enjoy our car while not expecting God to give us a new one if we have enough faith.

We shouldn't stare at our navel during the guitar solo!!! Know what I mean? Enjoy the guitar solo, . . jump off the riser! (sorry musician nerd reference)

Here's some encouragement from Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 8:15b. . . ". . for man has no good thing under the sun bot to eat and drink and be joyful. . . "

Ecclesiastes 9:7 "Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, . . . "

Ecclesiastes 9:9 "Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of our vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun".

(that's all from one page of the bible. . . )

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

. . .And Hopefully They'll all "die"

What a great, engaging, and yet brutally honest piece from Ted Kluck.

I used to spend quite a bit of time in this "scene" and resonate with all of his observations. Here's hoping we have alot more amazing worship leaders that get why they do what they do. . .

Great Observations.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Losing the Battle and Winning the War

Well, we have a big change of plans with our trip to Uganda. It's been very discouraging . . .it's frustrating, and kind of exhausting, really.

Alot of people are trying to be kind and caring, and I so appreciate that. However, between some of those folks and the battles going on inside my own head, there's been some poor theology thrown around.

Now, I'm not ungrateful for caring people trying to help and getting some theological points wrong. I'm really not. . I hate the tendency to attack the care-giver in times like this when folks are really just trying to be nice.

But, one thing that I've noticed in American christianity, . . and in my own inner-monologue. . .is that we have a big problem with (enter guiding metaphor) God "losing" some battles while still winning the war. We don't have good categories for disappointment, or for plans not going like we think they obviously should. I am a big schedule guy, and so I raise my hand here.

When we're praying for details like "Let this phone call happen, . . . Help this package to go through. . help this schedule to get worked out". . . when those things are part of a larger issue like "help this adoption to be completed". . . we have to be prepared for the fact that God might have a different plan for how to "win the war" (i.e. complete the adoption) that involve different details (i.e. "losing" some battles)

It may sometimes seem like the enemy is "winning" while all of our details are getting fouled up. But, don't get it twisted. .God is working is plan out. God is at the wheel. God is currently kicking the enemy's butt all over Africa. The war is over. . it's won.

To stretch the metaphor towards football. This weekend was the classic cupcake Saturday in College Football. For instance, Ohio State played mighty Akron University. This game wasn't close. . . OSU dominated. There wasn't ever any doubt. Did Akron get some first downs? yes. Did they make a few tackles? yes. Did anyone for a second think they were winning? no.

In the same way. . the enemy got some first downs this week when all of our details got messed up. But, don't think for a second that God's sovereign will for our soon-to-be daughter's life can be thwarted. . . it can't. This game is OVER. And, God wasn't nervous. It didn't make SportsCenter.

Now, we shouldn't avoid praying for details. . we shouldn't be fatalists. But, let's just remember that God is working these things out in the ways that will be best. Romans 8:28 is not a cliche. It's the truth.

So, Let's remember

Isaiah 14:24

24The LORD of hosts has sworn: "As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand,

Psalm 115:3
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases

It's true. The will of God is irresistible. His will will be accomplished in her life and in yours. Let's submit to Him, and get ok with "losing" (he never loses. . part of the plan. .and it helps with my metaphor) some battles while God is winning the War.