A Night with Raggedy Anne

Here are a few pictures of our family that we made tonight. I think that Amy did a really great job making Alora's "Raggedy Anne" costume.

Biblical Depth

Youth need much more than pizza, ping-pong and a splash of scripture. We must give them real biblical substance. In a recent blog entry, Al Mohler reminds us of this very point. And surprisingly, TIME has noticed this trend too. Read his blog entry here.


Groceries, Grapes, and a World of Learning

A few days ago, as Amy and I were standing in the fresh produce section of the grocery store, a woman came by and plucked a grape from the display and ate the grape. Soon after, the woman's daughter did the exact same thing. Unknowingly, the mother had just given her daughter a lecture in ethics. Unfortunately, I do not think that most parents realize how much they influence their children, for good and bad.

As parents, we are constantly before our children's eyes. As we live, they learn. We are the teachers and they are our students who soak in every lesson. Daily life provides us with the classroom, our words and actions serve as the lecture. Let us pray that our lectures are founded on curriculum of God's word, so that we can lead and exhort them to love and serve the Lord in faith. If our curriculum is based on any other foundation, then we are in the processes of educating fools.

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (ESV): 1 “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
[1] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs

For those of you who heard Jimmy's sermon this morning (and also for those who didn't) I thought that you may be interested in reading the article by Tim Keller that he referenced. The article is titled, "Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs: Leading the Secular to Christ," and it is available here and here (in pdf form). I read this article a few months ago and found it to be very helpful.


My Favorite Price is Free

I recently recieved a free audio cd from American Vision, entitled, The Worldview War. I really enjoyed listening to it, and if you'd like to get a free copy for yourself, go here. Here's a description of the lecture:
The War between Christian and Anti-Christian worldviews is raging all around us. In this CD, you’ll learn that America’s moral and cultural crisis is the result of Christians not applying the Christian worldview to every area of life. Discover why there is no such thing as "neutrality." While Christians stand by and do nothing, the other side is working feverishly to implement their godless, humanistic, destructive worldview. Which worldview will ultimately prevail and how will it affect your family, the Church, and America?
Also, if you don't mind signing up for their email list, they'll also throw in a free copy of Biblical Worldview Magazine. Go here to get both the cd and the magazine.


Full Capacity

Well, Amy has about one more month before Adalyne Faith is due. As you can tell, Amy's belly is getting close to full capacity.

Chocolate Smile

As you can see, Alora really enjoyed the chocolate dessert that Amy made for dinner.


The Lady Has a Watergun

The following is an interview that I did with my wife after we put our daughter to bed. I am not sure why I wanted to do this interview, but it will not be the last. Be ready. You could be next! All questions and answers are spontaneous...considering that I decided to do this about 2 minutes ago.

Eric: What is your full name and occupation?

Amy: Amy Marie Ashley, and my occupation is being a wife and mother. An occupation is something that occupies your time and energy.

Eric: Thanks for the definition.Why do you think that I have asked you to be the first person that I interview?

Amy: Because I am the greatest person in your life and you love me more than anyone else. And because Alora can't talk in full sentences. (Amy is laughing and smiling.)

Eric: Pretend that you walking down a dark alley one night. (I am not sure why you would be doing this, but you are.) A woman with a watergun jumps out and says, "Describe yourself, using ten words, or I will shoot you." (You begin to tremble because it is cold outside and your clothes are made of paper mache' (I am not sure why you would be wearing this, but you are.) What words would you use to describe yourself?

Amy: Christian. Fun. Loving. Passionate. Creative. Wife. Mom. Organized. Servant. Outgoing.

Eric: Even after answering the woman's question I am sure that she would shoot you because of how long it took you to answer her. Good thing I am not a woman with a watergun. Next question. If you had one day in which you could do anything you wanted...what would you do and with whom would you spend it?

Amy: First, my entire family (all of my parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, husband's parents...you get the point), my church body, and friends, would rent a charter plane that would take us to a cruise ship. Then, the cruise ship that would take us to the tip of Florida (after departing from the side of Florida, of course). Then, we would go to a small island where we could snorkle and use ocean kayaks. The island would be decorated for a huge festival where we would listen and dance to reggae music. We would also eat barbeque chicken, sweet corn-on-the-cob, my dad's mashed potatoes,and my mom's lemon poppyseed pound cake. As the sun would begin to set, we would all gather together and listen to Eric preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then all of those who are there who do not know Christ would believe in and worship Jesus. (They would see how much joy all the other Christians have and realize that only true joy is in Christ.) Then Eric and I would retreat into our "love shack" and make "whoopie" until we had two hours left in the day. Then, I would bring my children and place them on my lap, read to them, and tell them how much I love them. Then, as the last five minutes passed, Eric and I would pray with them, and thank the Lord for such a wonderful day.

*Eric: Wow. You sure get a lot done in one day! Thanks for taking time to talk with me.

The Only Stumbling Block

"The most biblical church is the one in which the cross is the only stumbling block for the unchurched. That's because lost people should face no church-culture stumbling blocks that keep them from Christ." --Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches

"but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." --1 Cornithians 1:23-25 (ESV)


50 Potential Christian Bestsellers

If you're in need a good chuckle, check out the list of 50 Potential Christ Bestsellers. Honestly, you should go to Marc Heinrich's blog, Purgatoria anytime you're looking for something humorous. Here are a few that made that list:

*The Power of a Praying Mantis
*I Kissed Bundling Goodbye
*Purple Like Barney - Non-Religious Thoughts on Obnoxious PBS Children’s Programming
*Even Newer Strong’s Exhausting Concordance - Heavier than Ever


Walking on the Road of Biblical Language

The way in which we communicate is highly important. If given the choice between clarity or confusion in communication, I am sure that we would rather walk on the road that is paved with simplicity, truth, beauty, and clarity than to stumble on the path of confusion. Yet, I wonder if it is possible that we have confused and misguided people by some of the pop theological terminology that we have chosen to speak. For example, let's talk about the following phrase: "Have you asked Jesus into your heart?" I am sure that many of us have used this phrase or at least something similar; and likely, most of us know what is meant by this phrase. Yet, if you ask a child this question, you are likely to see a confused look come across his or her face (unless of course we have already programmed him to think and speak the language of pop theology.) I have doubts as to whether this non-biblical language is helpful. (I am inclined to believe that it merely clouds the waters of understanding) Instead of asking if people have "asked Jesus into their heart," why don't we mimic the language of scripture and say something like this: "Have you confessed with your mouth that 'Jesus is Lord'? Do you believe that God raised Him from the dead? Do you trust that His death and resurrection will save you from sin" (Romans 10:9). By speaking this way, we can actually take people to the scriptures. Where in the Bible will you go to show someone that they must "ask Jesus into their heart?" You can't. Why don't we speak as God has spoken to us in the Bible? Why don't we give the language of the bible priority over the language of "churchianity." Does this mean that we should do away with all words and phrases that cannot be found within the text of scripture? Certainly not. Many non-biblical words (such as "trinity") are very helpful because they serve as a sort "short hand" for biblical doctrine. Yet, some words and phrases are not so helpful. Now, I do not currently have a large list of phrases that we should discard from our vocabulary, but I am sure that a list will continue to formulate in my mind.

All in all, I believe my proposal is simple: give the language of scripture priority. As much as is possible and profitable, teach and speak in the words and manner in which God has chosen to speak to us in scripture. Hopefully, if we faithfully follow this pattern we will open the gates of clarity, so that people can walk into the light of God's word.


A Few New Features

I just updated my blog to the new Beta version. Hopefully, you will find some of the new features like the topic index helpful. If not, then just ignore them.

Missional Eating: An Introduction

In almost every town or city, there are certain local restaurants that very well known (and visited) by local patrons. We could call these the staple restaurants of the area. For example, when I was attending North Greenville College (which is now North Greenville University) in Tigerville, SC, the staple restaurant was the Thai and I. Every day at lunch and dinner, the small building was filled with local residents, students, professors, workers, etc. Granted, it was the only restaurant in Tigerville, but the point is that it was a very well known restaurant in the area. I believer that we should seek to find the staple restaurants in our local areas, so that we can meet and engage people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Since moving to Anderson (a.k.a. the Electric City) in order to help plant Redeemer Church, Amy and I have began to make it our practice to try to discover and visit local restaurants in Anderson in order to meet new people. Over the next few months, I hope to be able to blog about our experiences at these restaurants. Hopefully, we will kill two birds with one stone: filling Anderson the good news of Jesus and filling our stomachs with good food.


Put Another Check in the Win Category

The Panthers just improved their record to (4-2) with their 23 to 21 win over the Ravens.


Panthers Beat the Browns

It was another good day for the Panthers as they defeated the Browns today 20-12. Watch the highlights here.

Mission-Minded vs. Missional

"But don't confuse the terms mission-minded and missional. The first refers more to an attitude of caring about missions, particularly oversees. Missional means actually doing mission right where you are. Missional means adopting the posture of a missionary, learning and adapting to the culture around you while remaining biblically sound. Think of it this way: missional means being a missionary without ever leaving your zip code." --Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches, 19.

I like to thing of myself as a "backyard missionary." Why don't we all meet up on the mission field? Just step out of your front door and you're there.


Blooms, Birds, Bugs, and God's Glory on Display

Today, our family spent part of the afternoon at the South Carolina Botanical Gardens in Clemson. As soon as we stepped out of our vehicle, our senses were immediately struck with the sweet smell of blooming flowers, the sounds of singing birds, and the sight of God's sprouting creation. As we walked through the gardens, I loved watching my daughter as she smelled the blooming flowers, waved at the white ducks, and ran her hands through the leaves of plants.

For me, it is impossible to walk away from such an experience and fail to see God's glory displayed in the plants, animals, bugs, etc. that we encountered.

"The heavens declare the glory of God,and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1).


Meals and Maturity

No one expects for a newborn baby to be able to eat solid foods like barbeque ribs or fish. Yet, if thirty years later that same person still doesn't know how to pick out the bones, chew, and digest such foods, then clearly something has gone drastically wrong. Yet, this is the very predicament in which some Christians find themselves. As the Apostle Paul once wrote to the church at Corinth: "I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh" (1 Corinthians 3:2,3). In addition, the writer of Hebrews proclaimed:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you
again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (
Hebrews 5:12-14).
There is a clear connection between maturity and discernment...as one increases so does the other. Those who are immature lack discernment and practice evil; yet, those who are mature have feasted upon solid food (the word of righteousness) and have gained wisdom and discernment through constant practice.

Maturity doesn't happen overnight. If we expect that it will, then we are foolish. Yet, we should not be discouraged by this fact; rather, it should encourage us to pursue the path of wisdom that is found in the Word.

I pray that each of us will take time to wean ourselves away from diets that consist of milk alone and instead feast on the full bounty of Christ and the Word.

So, why not start now? Click here to go to the online ESV Bible.


What Jesus Demands from the World

I have always been blessed, encouraged, and challanged by the writing and speaking of John Piper. Once again, Piper has picked up his pen in order to write a book that will surely challange believers (and unbelievers) to live for God's glory. His newest book, What Jesus Demands from the World, is now available online for purchase ($12.49 instead of $19.99) or for free reading. You can go here in order to hear Piper briefly talk about this new book.

Panthers and the Saints

I just finished watching the Carolina Panthers hand the New Orleans' Saints their first loss of the season. The final score was 21 to 18. It looks like the Panther's are finally building up the momentum that's going to carry them all the way to the Super Bowl! (Well, at least I hope they make it there this year.) Go Panthers!