Where is Heaven?

This morning while we were eating breakfast Alora asked me, "Where is Heaven?" Of course, Amy and I were a little surprised by her question....that's a pretty big theological question for a young child. But as it turns out, Alora wasn't delving into the depths of Christian theology, but was instead asking about Kelly Hall's new baby, Evans. Instead of calling him Evans, she always refers to him as "Baby Heavens." Oh well, the deeper questions will come in time.


13th Biennial Calvin Colloquium

Erskine Seminary is hosting the 13th Biennial Calvin Colloquium on January 25-26. If you're interesting in knowing more about this event, email me at ericashley@redeemanderson.org and I'll send you a flyer that the Seminary sent to me. I'll be attending on Friday, but I have class on Saturday. You can register here.

A Church History Primer

Earlier in the week I read Mark A. Noll's Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, and I found it to be an excellent introduction to the history of Christianity. Church history is complicated to say the least. When anyone attempts to study the history of Christianity, he or she must obviously deal with the development of doctrine, but as Noll states in the introduction of his book,

historical details remind us that ‘Church History’ is never just the grand sweep through great eons of magisterial Doctrines, clashing Principles, or inevitable Consequences, but is rather the cumulative result of often blurred thoughts, often hesitant actions, and often unforeseen consequences experienced by people more or less like ourselves (14).
Moreover, the challenge of studying the history of Christianity is expanded as the student deals with all of the political and social happenings that swirl around every doctrinal and ecclesiastical development within Christian history. Noll’s book provides an excellent starting point for anyone that desires to gain a general understanding of the Church’s development without overwhelming the reader with too many people, places, or events. So, if you'd like to know more about the history of Christianity, then check out Turning Points.

Upon Their Pages

Oh, how they mold you
Into someone that I have never heard nor seen.
I looked upon their pages
But I did not find You.
Instead I found a mere man,
Speaking in whispers with no double-edged sword in sight.
Where did they take your healing hands and thunderous voice?
Why did they remove Your bloody body and try to hide Your Resurrection?
You would not be held by the grave,
And you will not be held by them.
We will tell them to put away their stones of red, black, and white.
And we will burn their pages day by day
As we proclaim, "Jesus Christ is Lord!"

The Last Days of the $5 Book Store

The $5 Christian bookstore is closing after December 24, so I went in the other day to see if I could pick up a few more books. I purchased a number of books that looked interesting:

*Lying: An Augustinian Theology of Duplicity by Paul J. Griffiths
*Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments by Randy Alcorn
*Changing the World Through Kindness by Steve Sjogen
*Can Man Live Without God? by Ravi Zacharias

One Republic

I just thought that I'd recommend the band One Republic's new album Dreaming Out Loud. One Republic gained a large following via MySpace over a year, but some people (like me) are just now finding out out them. You can watch a video of their hit song "Apologize" here...but this is the remix version, not the original.


In Weakness, Grace Abounds

Just in case some of you haven't noticed, I added a new friend, Ron Click, on my sidebar. Ron and I go to Redeemer together. Be sure to check out his blog In Weakness, Grace Abounds...I'm sure you'll find it a good read. He seems to be more diligent at blogging than I have been lately.


Redeemer Advent Blog

I'm a little behind the times, but you check out the Advent blog from my church here.

Arius and Advent

In a recent post, Peter Leithart writes:
Doctrine matters, and no doctrine matters more than the doctrines concerning Jesus Christ.

One of the earliest and most intense controversies in the early church had to do with Arianism. Arius taught that the Son of God was not equal to the Father, not eternal God, but only a very exalted and powerful creature. He was not always with the Father, but there was when he was not.

So what? What does it matter whether Jesus was the eternal consubstantial Son of God or not?

Continue reading Leithart's post here.

One Semester Down

Today I finished an extra-credit book review for Early/Medieval Church History (Turning Points by Mark A. Noll), bringing an end to my first semester of seminary. As I look back over the last few months of classes I am very pleased with my overall experience. I thoroughly enjoyed both my Church History and my Greek courses, and I am looking forward to the taking classes in 2008. I praise the Lord that by His grace I've been able to balance between family, ministry, school, and work. He has sustained and guided my steps day by day.


The Word Became Flesh

If you are like me, then you probably have a manger scene somewhere in your home, complete with Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, and animals. As we peer into these manger scenes and see a depiction of Jesus as a baby, we are readily reminded of the full humanity of Jesus. Like us, he was born as a man and was dependent on His mother and earthly father for comfort and support. Yet, we must be reminded not only of the full humanity of Jesus but also the full Divinity of Jesus. In the opening chapter of his gospel account, John beautifully brings these two truths together:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1,14).
This is the great mystery and truth that we celebrate during this Advent season—that God Himself came in the Person of His Son! God the Son became flesh and dwelt among us as a man. God did not send an angel or some messenger on His behalf; rather, God the Son came to us. As the writer of Hebrews proclaims, God “in these last days has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:2). The very Creator of the world chose to be born, to dwell among us, to take our sin, to die for us, and to rise on our behalf. So, as we continue to celebrate during this Advent season, let us once again (or maybe for the first time) be grasped by the full humanity and Divinity of Jesus.

As a closing thought, I’ll leave you with the Nicene-Constantinople Creed of 381 and The Definition of Chalcedon of 451, two great documents that arose as the early church defended the truths we’ve been discussing. (Of particular relevance is this section of the creed: "Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man.") Here are the documents in full:

Nicene- Constantinople Creed

I believe in One God,
the Father Almighty,
Maker of Heaven and Earth,
and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Son of God,
the Only-Begotten,
begotten of the Father before all ages;
Light of Light;
True God of True God;
begotten, not made;
of one essence with the Father,
by Whom all things were made;
Who for us men and for our salvation
came down from Heaven,
and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered, and was buried.
And the third day He arose again,
according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into Heaven,
and sits at the right hand of the Father;
and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead;
Whose Kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life,
Who proceeds from the Father;
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
Who spoke by the prophets.

And in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

The Definition of Chalcedon

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.



I know that this is coming a little late, but you can listen to the sermon I preached last Sunday here. The text is Matthew 6:19-24. In this text Jesus contrasts two treasures, two eyes, and two masters.


Making Fiends Episode One

Making Fiends

Check out the online cartoon, Making Fiends, for a few good laughs. I've watched the first few, and I thought they were pretty funny. Since the show was so popular online, it will begin airing on Nickelodeon in 2009.


Augustine on Seeing and Knowing God

If, as Augustine believes, God is the only Thing to be enjoyed, then it is imperative that we cling to Him since He is the true source of all blessedness. After quoting 1 Corinthians 13:12 ("For now we se in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.") Augusine writes,
But unless we now love Him, we shall never see Him. Yet how can one love what one does not know? A reality may be known and not loved; but whether that which is not known can be loved is questionable. If that is impossible, no one can love God before knowing Him. (On the Trinity 8.4.6)

Augustine on Enjoying God

At the beginning of his work On Christian Doctrine, Augustine states that there are three categories of things: 1) things to be enjoyed, 2) things to be used, and 3) things that are to be enjoyed and used. To enjoy something, according to Augustine, is to "cling to it with love for its own sake." Therefore, the only thing that belongs to the first category is God himself. Augustine writes,
The things which are to be enjoyed are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a single Trinity, a certain supreme thing common to all who enjoy it, if indeed, it is a thing and not rather the cause of all things, or both a thing and a cause" (On Christian Doctrine 1.4.4)


Trials for the Millers

In light of my previous post regarding trials, I thought that it would be an opportune time to ask for you all to pray for Patrick and the Miller family. Over a month ago Patrick ruptured his Achilles tendon. When given the option between surgery or casting, Patrick chose to go through six weeks of casting. On this past Tuesday, he went to get the final cast off, but he found out that two blood clots had formed in his leg...so he had to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, over the next day a blog clot formed in his lungs. Somehow though (it can only be attributed to the grace of God) Patrick isn't having to use oxygen.

As I type this, Patrick is still in the hospital. Although he seemed in good spirit tonight, I know that this is a huge trial for the Millers. Here are a number of ways that you can pray regarding this situation:

*Since they do not have insurance, this will be a huge financial burden. Pray that they will be supplied with the resources they need.

*Pray for his wife Julie as she cares for Patrick and their five children.

*Pray for me and the other leaders at Redeemer as we seek to minister and fill in for Patrick. We really aren't sure how long it will be before he'll be able to get back to full swing.

*Pray for healing.

*Pray that God will be glorified in all things.

Trials with a Transmission

About a week ago, while Amy and the girls were driving, our Ford Explorer's transmission decided to blow up. (I think this is why mechanics have affectionately renamed Explorers as "Exploders.") When the car began making a loud noise Alora said, "Oh gracious mom! That noise scared me!" Thankfully, Alora's comment kept Amy from breaking down in tears. Thankfully, Amy's friend Kelly was driving behind them when it happened, so she was able to take them home.

While this grand event was taking place I was enjoying lunch with my friend Daniel. So, when I came home you can imagine how surprised I was to find out that our (supposedly) best vehicle was out of commission. It was at this point that a few of my faithful foes--complaint, worry, anxiety, and frustration--decided to pay me a visit. Thankfully, a few of my friends--faith, grace, and hope--were around to help me throw those enemies off of my property.

But this isn't the end of the story.

When we found out that it was going to cost us over $1700 to fix the car, we felt overwhelmed. Just a couple of months before this time, Amy and I had spent almost $2000 for Amy to get a root canal. So, we knew that we didn't have enought money to cover the cost of the repairs. But Amy and I knew who we could turn to: our God! So, we did the only thing that we knew to do: pray and ask others to do the same.

On the next day, I recieved a call from Patrick (the pastor at Redeemer), and he told me that someone in the church had donated the money to pay for our car to be fixed. I was floored! Once again, God showed His provision for our family. We didn't have to pay a dime! (We barely had a dime anyway.)

I write all of this in hopes that some of you will be encouraged as you see various trials come into your life. Remember: Trust in the Lord because He is always faithful. The many trials that He places in our lives are not purposeless; rather, they are given so that our faith will be tested and strengthened. James reminds us of this when he writes, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (1:2-4).


After Augustine

My blogging will continue to be minimal until I finish writing my church history paper on Augustine. I've been spending most of my "free" time reading some of his works...On Christian Doctrine, On the Trinity, and others. After Tuesday, I should be blogging with more regularity.


The Religious Affections

Every month Christian Audio gives away one free audio book. This month's selection is Jonathan Edward's The Religious Affections. If you'd like to take advantage of this free offer, then go here. Once you set up an account, add the book to your shopping cart, enter the free code (NOV2007), and begin downloading. Enjoy.


The Telos

"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs ." --Hebrews 1:1-3

Our God is a speaking God; He is not silent. This fact alone should make us stand in awe. Who are we to be the recipients of God's speech? Yet, He has chosen to communicate and fellowship with us. In the past He spoke through the prophets, who were His representatives to His people. And as the writer of Hebrews makes clear, God's communication with His people did not stop with the prophets. On the contrary, God chose to speak to us in "in these last days" in the clearest and most personal manner: by His Son. As Donald Hagner remarks:
A fundamental turning point has been reached as God speaks climatically, definitively, and finally through his Son. Any further speaking about what remains to happen in the future is but the elaboration of what has already begun. All that God did previously in a preparatory manner, pointing as a great arrow to the goal of Christ. This is the argument our author so effectively presents throughout the book. Christ is the telos, the goal and ultimate meaning of all that preceded.
Here in these verses the writer points us to the true nature and superiority of the Son. (The fact that He does this by using seven phrases may be yet another way that the author of Hebrews points to the greatness and completeness of the Son of God.)

The Son is...

*The One whom God appointed the heir of all things.
*The One through whom He created the world.
*The One who is the radiance of the glory of God.
*The One who is the exact imprint of His nature.
*The One who upholds the universe by the word of His power.
*The One who made purification for sins.
*The One who sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.


Hairy Legs

Alora: Daddy, you have hair on your legs.

Me: Yes. I have a lot of hair on my legs.

Alora: Why do you have hair all over your legs?

Me: Because God made me to be hairy. Boys like having hair on their legs, but usually girls don't. Mom would have hair on her legs too, but she shaves it off.

Alora: I don't like hair on your legs. I think we need to cut it off.

A Special Dog Treat

This morning Alora was playing outside with our dog while Amy and I did some yard work. At one point we noticed that Alora was feeding something to the dog. It turns out that Alora had pulled up one of Amy's potted plants. Apparently, Spicy really enjoyed the plant because she ate all of the leaves.


Morning Music

I absolutely love Fernando Ortega's cd, The Shadow of Your Wings: Hymns and Sacred Songs. The music is beautiful and the words are filled with scripture. A few of my favorites are "Grace and Peace," "Let the Words of My Mouth," and "Sing to Jesus." I've especially enjoyed listening to this music on my morning drives to Erskine Seminary. There is something wonderful about seeing the beauty of God's creation and listening to music to lifts His Name on high. Go and check out a few music samples here.

Gospel-Faithful Ministry

A couple of months ago I placed a link in the sidebar for The Gospel Coalition. If you haven't taken a chance to visit the site, I'd like to encourage you to listen to the media that is available. Be sure to start with Don Carson's address, What is the Gospel? where he digs into 1 Corinthians 15. The gospel is so rich, deep, and wonderful. I hope that we never grow tired of being reminded of that which is "of first importance." So, listen and be reminded of the greatness and graciousness of God.

If you want to listen or download an mp3 of Carson's address, go to the link above. If you'd rather read a transcript, you'll find that here.


Giving Without Hypocrisy

If you'd like to listen to the sermon I preached on Sunday, Giving Without Hypocrisy, it is available here and here. The text is Matthew 6:2-4 - "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.


The Paradoxes of Self-Love and True Love

"[A Christian] lives not in himself, but in Christ and in his neighbor...He lives in Christ through faith, and in his neighbor through love." --Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian

"The self will lose itself if it simply lives in and for itself. It will seek its own benefits, and the more it seeks it own benefits, the less satisfied it will become. That's the paradox of self-love: The more you fill the self, the more it echoes with the emptiness of unfulfillment. Living in itself and for itself, the self remains mysteriously unsatisfied and insatiable. Since God creates the self to be indwelled by Christ, the self will be fulfilled only if it draws the living water from the wellspring of love's infinity and passes it on to its neighbors. The paradox of true love is exactly the opposite of the paradox of self-love: When loving truly, the self moves outside of itself to dwell with God and neighbor, and only then is it truly at home. When this happens, we have crossed over from self-centeredness to genuine and fulfilling generosity." --Miroslav Volf, commenting on Luther's quote in Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace.

A One-Liner on Hypocrisy

After preaching today about giving without hypocrisy , a member of our church came up to me and told me a great one-liner about hypocrisy: "The hypocrite always complains about all of the sex and violence on his vcr." (He thinks that Lou Holtz said this, but he wasn't sure.)


Proverbs 31 and Lady Wisdom

Most often, Proverbs 31 is seen simply as the paradigm for godly womanhood. Women are told to model their lives after this woman and men are told to look for a wife who exhibits the qualities of the Proverbs 31 women. I do believe that this is a proper way to read and understand the text. We can find many fruitful applications from this particular way of reading the text. Yet, as I've been reading through the book of Proverbs another option came to mind: Is it possible that the Proverbs 31 woman is Lady Wisdom? Meaning, is it possible that the Proverbs 31 woman serves as a visual symbol/summary for the wisdom put forth throughout the book of Proverbs? Thoughts anyone?

Proverbs 1:7 - "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction"

Proverbs 31:30 - "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."


$5 Christian Book Store

The $5 Christian Book Store is back in Anderson until December 31st. Last year it was located in the Anderson Mall, but this year it is beside Mama Penn's. I went there a couple days ago and found a number of great books. They receive new shipments each week, so be sure to stop in often. Also, in addition to the $5 books, they also offer a 50% discount on Bibles and reference books such as commentaries, Bible dictionaries, etc.

Correction (10/14): It has come to my attention that this isn't the same store that was located in the mall. Sorry for the wrong information.


The Right Motive

If you'd like to listen to the sermon I preached this past Sunday, it is available here and here. The title is "The Right Motive" and the text is Matthew 6:1 - “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven."

Test and Visit

Well, today I'll have my first Greek test of the semester. Last night a couple of my classmates and I sipped coffee and studied at E-City. I believe that I'm prepared but we'll have to wait and see if my grade reflects my belief.

Also, my dad is coming to hang out with me at Erskine today. He's coming to chapel, and we're going to eat at DeWitt's. I'm looking forward to hanging out with him.


Marrying the Right Woman

"My son, soon you will leave your mother and I in order to find a wife and start a family of your own."

"Yes father, I look forward to that day."

"As do I. But I must warn you because you must not choose a wife in haste. You must learn what kind of wife she will be. My son, there will be many women looking for your hand in marriage, but they are not all worthy to wed. There is only one that you should seek after."

"But how will I find her?"

"Her name is Wisdom, she will call to you on the street. She will raise her voice so that you will listen and come to her. My son, she is a remarkable woman. She is worth more than silver or gold, yes, more than precious jewels. All of her paths are pleasant and peaceful. She will guide you on the right path as long as you love and listen to her. She works with her hands, she feeds the poor, and you will be a great mother to your children. My beloved son, listen to my words and your mother's teaching: Lady Wisdom is the one whom you should marry."

"I will look for her, father."

"Wait my son. I must warn you about another women: Lady Wisdom is not the only one who will call out to you. There is another who will speak to you with smooth words. Yet, every word from her mouth is a lie. Yes my son, she is beautiful...at first. But if you marry her, I will never see you again because she drags off her lovers and poisons them! None who go to her come back. She has married many times before and all her lovers have met the same fate: destruction. So, you must not listen to her words or look to her fleeting beauty. You must not marry her!"


Ecclesiola in Ecclesia

"That Christians are not to conform to the world is a familiar concept of the New Testament. It is not so well known that Jesus also saw (and foresaw) the worldliness of the church itself and called his followers not to conform to the nominal church either, but rather to be a truly Christian community distinct in its life and practice from the religious establishment, an ecclesiola (little church) in ecclesia." -John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount


"Turn Off Your Brain"

Tonight as I was rubbing Amy's back I began talking about a few thoughts that I'd gathered from Matthew 6:1 (which is the text I'll be preaching from this Sunday). This same type of sceneria plays out quite often between Amy and I: while she lays on her stomach or side, I delve into some heavy discussion. Usually she listens and engages me in the conversation, but tonight she rolled over and said: "I love you but could you just turn off your brain tonight and rub my back quietly." I laughted and continued to rub her back until she fell asleep. Although I did quiet down, I couldn't manage to "turn my brain off." Maybe I need to consider drinking less caffeine.


Fall and Pumpkins

There are a lot of things that I enjoy about the fall season: cool mornings, changing leaves, and corn mazes to name a few. But one of my favorite fall offerings is the pumpkin. So whether I'm carving, eating, or drinking, I like a large dose of pumpkin during the fall. And every year there are so many things to satisfy all of us who are pumpkin lovers: pumpkin picking, pumpkin carving, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice beer, pumpkin candles, and pumpkin smashing for those with a slight destructive streak. I'm curious...how many of you enjoy pumpkins? If you do, tell me about your favorite pumpkin activity, memory, food, or drink. Share a recipe, a memory, or whatever...if it involves a pumpkin, feel free to write about it in the comment section.

Water in the Wilderness, Rivers in the Desert

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise." -Isaiah 43:19-21

God redeems His people and refreshes them as they return from exile. He calls them to take notice of His great acts and guides them to a new place. He raises them from death and breaths new life into them. The prophet Isaiah declares that God will do a mighty work for Israel as He brings them from the hands of the Babylonians (vs.6,14). He will once again set the captives free so that they will sing his praise. Truly, God did this for Israel. His words are true and faithful. Yet, the greatest exile and redemption has come in the person and work of Jesus.

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'" (Luke 4:16-21).

As God's chosen people, let us daily look to Christ our Redeemer. May we respond to Him with songs of praise and adoration and lives that bear witness to the grace that has been given to us. For we have been united with Christ in His death and raised with to life with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places. Therefore, we must also consider ourselves "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11). So, let us go forth today and live for the honor and glory of God our Father. Let us remember the Son Jesus Christ. Let us be guided by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Goodbye Old Friend

After waking up this morning, Amy noticed that my mountain bike was missing. Apparently, my bike was stolen last night or some time yesterday. Thankfully they were not able to get Amy's bike because there is a large travel carriage (that the girls ride in) attached to the back of her bike. I am going to miss having my Gary Fisher Mamba mountain bike. We've made many great memories together, but my sadness is a bit lessoned because I know a couple of things about my bike. First, the front suspension is broken. I broke it a while back after a hard ride down the mountain. Second, the front tire has a slash in it that will not allow it to be pumped up. Granted, the bike is still ridable, but whoever tries to ride/sell it will probably be disappointed. Nevertheless, it really was a great bike and I'm going to miss having it. I think the worst part about the whole incident is knowing that someone came onto our property without our knowing. That certainly makes me uncomfortable.


Grace Proceeds Faith

As most of you know our oldest daughter's name is Alora Grace, and our youngest daughter's name is Adalynne Faith. Of course, Amy and I spent a lot of time thinking about what we would name our children, but it wasn't until recently that I realize that we had affirmed an important theological truth in their names: Grace preceeds Faith.


Now I Know My Alpha, Beta, Gammas

The other night I asked Amy if she wanted to help me study Greek, but she was a bit reluctant because she didn't know any Greek. So, I decided to teach her the alphabet and a few vocabulary words. By the end of the night, she could read all of my vocabulary words back to me and read a few verses from the gospel of John. We had so much fun together. Now I guess it's time for her to start learning the paradigms for verbs and the declensions for nouns. Granted, she probably doesn't have time for all that, but I am thankful for her willingness to help me as I study at Erskine.



I'm excited! Remedy is coming from David Crowder* Band on September 25th. Buy it at the store or preorder here.


Throwing Each Other Out of the Window

In a recent post, Reggie Kidd laments the Churches tendency to engage in civil war instead of going to battle with our common enemies of the faith. Today, we do find ourselves in the midst of conflicts with those who oppose our faith in the Triune God. Whether the attack is coming from militant Islamics, Mormons, or some other group the battle is certainly raging. Yet, instead of placing our time and energy into battling against our common foes we are more concerned with going to battle with our fellow brothers and sisters. Granted, those internal conflicts do need to be addressed, but we shouldn't be throwing our allies out of the window when our mutual enemies have engaged us in battle.

Reggie Kidd writes:

There are times that call for a sense of measure and proportion — times when you need not to be doing a smack down on each other. Fifth century B.C. Greece it figured out. Will we?

On one front, we face militant Islamists who have declared a reverse Crusade on us, demanding we either grovel before a disincarnate cosmic monad, or die.
On another, Mormons, arguably the fastest growing religion on the planet, knock on our doors with their terminal niceness (with, as Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven chillingly recounts, notable exceptions) and their uber-Disney promise that not only can you wish upon a star but you can get your own star where you’ll be a god or goddess.

Then there are the angry atheists who grouch about the immorality and intellectual suicide of faith. And just wait until this Christmas season’s (how deliciously ironic) release of the movie based on Philip Pullman’s vision of anti-Narnia: The Golden Compass.

Meanwhile, mainline Western churches languor under the sway of pre-pagan eros and post-Christian heterodoxy, embodying in a way that couldn’t be more precise Jude’s prescient warning about “ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).
Meanwhile evangelicals headbutt each other … and do everything we can to our nearest neighbors to let them know we’re more against them than against what should be our common enemies.

Read Reggie's entire post here.


Taking Spicy To Church

After I woke Alora from her nap today, she noticed that I had a small icon of a dog on my shirt (the Aeropostale symbol). Then, the following conversation took place:

Alora: I don't like that dog.

Me: Why not?

Alora: Because it's small. I like Spicy cause she's big, and I want her to go to church with me.

Me: Yeah, your dog Spicy is big, but why do you want her to go to church?

Alora: So that she can play with me and read the Bible.

Me: Wow. Is there anything else you want her to do with you at church?

Alora: Eat baby goldfish.

Youth Blog

I recently started a blog for our youth ministry at Redeemer, so check it out from time to time in order to keep up with our current happenings: www.RedeemerYouth.wordpress.com



I just came across a really cool website, pandora.com, that lets you make custom radio stations based on a particular band or song that you like. For instance, I typed in Sufjan Stevens, and they played "We Won't Need Legs to Stand." Then, they followed it with a band I've never heard of called Iron and Wine. I really enjoyed the song so I clicked the "I like it button" so that they will play more songs like it. Anyway, go and have fun listening to some of your favorites or finding a few new favorites.


Back From Enjoying Sand and Sea

Our family had a fun and relaxing time at Myrtle Beach this past week. The weather was beautiful, and the water was refreshing. I did get stung by a jellyfish but that didn't really damper our vacation. I enjoyed being away from cell phone calls, the internet, and the other daily tasks that normally occupy my time. Now that I'm back I guess it's time for me to get back to my "normal" life. Lots of exciting things are coming up during the next week: seminary beings on Tuesday and the church launches on Sunday.


Mr. Harry and Spicy

When I arrived at home today I was greeted by a strange looking ,three-legged-dog named Mr. Harry. (He looked very similar to the dog in the picture.) Yet, Mr. Harry didn't let his strange appearance or his handicap stop him from putting the moves on my dog Spicy. Sadly, for Mr. Harry, he got the cold shoulder. I think the relationship was doomed from the start considering that Spicy is ten times bigger than Mr. Harry. Maybe he'll have better luck with some other dog around the neighborhood.


Slow Start

Well, the NFL preseason is almost over, and the Carolina Panthers are 1-2. Hopefully, they can pull off a win against Pittsburgh before the regular season gets started. It would be awesome to see them get started with a couple of wins. But win or lose, I'll still be cheering them on throughout the season.


The Priority of Work

Last Sunday I preached the latest sermon in our current sermon series, The Big Rocks. In this sermon, Your Work As Ministry, I deal with the priority of work and how it fits in with our other God-given callings. If you haven't been keeping up with the series, I encourage you to download the previous sermons, listen, and enjoy!


Summer Youth Trip Photos

Well, I've finally posted some photos from the summer youth trip. We made our way from SC to NC to TN to KY to OH and back again. We spent most of our time at Big Bone Lick State Park and the Creation Museum. We had an awesome time, so take a few moments to see a few pictures from our trip.


Preparing Rain

"Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love" -Psalm 147:7-11

As Amy and I were driving back from Erskine today, we noticed a corn field that stretched out as far as our eyes could see. Yet, instead of seeing the bright-green-glow of healthy corn, all we saw were brown and brittle leaves. The corn was dry and dead.

It has been weeks since the ground has felt the refreshment of rain. Everything is dry and dying around us. And this should remind us of our utter dependance on God. All creation is dependant on its Creator. If He did not prepare the rain, it would never come. If He did not cause the grass to grow, the hills would be empty. If He did not feed the beasts or the ravens, they would perish. If the Lord did not send us His Spirit, we would never arise from death.


The Lord does prepare rain, cause the grass to grow, and feed the beasts and ravens. And He does breathe life into dry bones. "Thus says the Lord God to these bones: "Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord'” (Ezekiel 37:5,6).

New Student Orientation

Amy and I spent the day in Due West, SC at Erskine Seminary. I was able to register for classes and meet the faculty, staff, and other incoming students. I'm taking a small course load this semester: Early/Medieval Church History and Greek I. I'm really looking forward to being back in school, but I know that it is going to be a real challenge to keep priorities in order. I guess our current sermon series couldn't have come at a better time. (By the way, I'll be preaching this Sunday on the priority of work.)


Play-Doh Creation

While Amy and I did some work this morning, Alora spent her time creating this Play-Doh masterpiece:


Recovering a Reformed Paradigm

In a previous post, From Infancy Onward, my hope was to point toward a different paradigm of how children within the church should be treated. Our children must be taught about the promises of God that belong to them. We must exhort them to believe and follow their gracious God in faith, for all of their lives. Sadly, in most evangelical churches, the children of believers are treated no differently than the children of unbelievers. Instead of trusting that God is at work in our children, we assume that they are in the same position as pagan children. We expect for them to go through some type of gut-wrenching conversion experience before we believe that they can really know the Lord. Yet, we must take into account the words of Peter where he proclaims, "For the promise is for you and for your children" (Acts 2:39). And do not let us forget the Apostle Paul's words in which he says that the children of believers "are holy"(1 Corinthians 7:14).

Of course, I wholeheartedly affirm that all of mankind is sinful and in need of the work of the Spirit. I am certainly a black-coffee Calvinist. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). But I also want to take into account the full scope of the Word.

Apparently, I am not alone in my thoughts. A couple of weeks ago I came across this lengthy quote from John. W. Nevin in this post called, On the Bench and Catechism. Check it out.



Yesterday, I finally received my first shipment from the IVP Book Club. For joining the club they let me choose five free books, and all I had to do was pay $8.97 for shipping! Well, here are the books they sent me:

The Church: Sacraments, Worship, Ministry, Mission by Donald G. Bloesch

Mark: The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture edited by Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery edited by Leland Ryken, James C. Whilhoit and Tremper Longman III

The IVP Dictionary of the New Testament edited by Daniel G. Reid

The Bible Background Commentary, New Testament by Craig S. Keener


From Infancy Onward

"Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust at my mother's breasts. On you I was cast from my birth, and from my mother's womby you have been my God."-Psalm 22:9,10

"For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you." -Psalm 71:5,6

In his book, Paedofaith, Rich Lusk writes:
The Psalter treats infant trust not as a sporadic, occasional, or unpredictable reality, but as the norm in covenant children. God gives us believing children to work with and nurture. In this way, covenant children are a blessing and reward from the Lord. As we help them grow to mature faith, we fulfill the purpose of the cross-generational covenant promises. The psalmist has many remarkably deep, vivid, datable, and narratable experiences of God's grace, but he still maintains he was a believer from infancy; he trusted in God and knew Him from the very beginning of life. In this way, the Psalter norms Christian experience for the child growing up in a Christian environment. The experience of the psalmist should be the experience of our offspring. Our children belong to Christian homes and, like David, should learn to regard themselves as believers from infancy onward, not necessarily on the basis of experience, but as a corollary of the covenant promises.



"Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long...May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you." -Psalm 25:5,21





I like immediate results, quick answers and speedy resolutions. I want to pray, then see God answer without delay. I wanted God to work according to my timetable. So, when I come to a text like the one quoted above, my impatience is tested and my need for repentence is made clear. I am not the sovereign God of the universe!

In his book When I Don't Desire God, John Piper writes,
We are like farmers. They plow the field and plant the seed and cut away weeds and scare away crows, but they do not make the crop grow. God does. He sends rain and sunshine and brings to maturity the hidden life of the seed. We have our part. But it is not coercive or controlling. And there will be times when the crops fail. Even then God has his ways of feeding the farmer and bringing him through a lean season.

We must learn to wait for the Lord. King David gave us an example of this in Psalm 40...Here is a man after God's own heart (1 Sam.13:14), who spent time in the 'pit of destruction and in the 'miry bog'--where there was no song in his mouth. How long was he there? We are not told. What matters is what he did there. He waited for the Lord. He could not make the Lord come. He could wait and hope and trust that he would come. And he did come. He put David's feet on a rock and put a new song in his mouth.

David waited on the Lord because he knew that "all the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies" (v.10). David waited. And I will wait, hope and trust too.


Back from Big Bone Lick

Amy and I return from the youth trip last night. We camped at a place called Big Bone Lick State Park in Union, Kentucky. We had an awesome time, and I'll post pictures and more details about our trip when I have a little more time.


Scratching and Pecking for a Greater Faith

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" -Matthew 5:26

As I was sitting outside this morning I noticed a number of birds in my backyard. I watched them as they scratched and pecked for seeds and worms. I am certain that those birds follow the same routine day by day. They awaken from sleep, and then go to find their first meal for the day. They are totally dependant on the Father's daily provision.

Sadly, as often as I've seen the Lord provide for me and my family, I constantly battle against worry and anxiety. I have to come back to this passage regularly in order to be reminded that God is faithful to provide the things we need day by day. Instead of filling my thoughts and time with worry and anxiety, Jesus calls out: "Seek first kingdom of God and His righteousness."


Poison Ivy, Bloody Knees and Family Fun

Well, I've made my way back to a computer, so here's what's going on with the Ashley family.

*On Saturday we continued to unpack and organize our house. I spent a couple of hours outside trimming weeds/bushes/plants. Unfortunately, I broke out in a rash after coming in contact with poison ivy. We finally went to bed at about 3am on Sunday and left for Virginia around 11.

*On Monday, Amy went with her sister Ashley to downtown Richmond for the day. While they were walking down the sidewalk, Amy tripped and fell into the street. (They were walking near a construction area where the sidewalk was broken.) She bloodied her knees and her foot was swollen. (Her sister laughed...and then helped her.)

*Today we spent the day at Water Country USA. It was awesome...except when we had to get out of the pool because someone pooped in the water. Okay, we're not sure if it was poop, but the PH was messed up. So, we had to go to a different area.

*And in case you wanted to know, my poision ivy is much better. Tomorrow evening we're going to stay with Amy's mom and stepdad for the rest of the week. (Her stepdad is at home from the Army for a few weeks, so we came at a perfect time!)


A Short Break

Well, I've finally made my way to a computer to give everyone a few updates. We moved out of the apartment on Wednesday. We started packing the truck around 10:00am and finished the first load a little after 11:00am. Then, we unload the truck, ate lunch and filled the truck up again. I think we finally got everything to the house by late afternoon. Thankfully, we had a lot of people helping throughout the day.

Our house is still in a bit of a mess but we're making progress day by day. Also, our refrigerator arrived today, but it doesn't fit in the space fully. But that's not really a big deal...we're just thankful that we have somewhere to store our cold food.

I think we're going to have a yard sale in the morning, but we'll see. Then, after church on Sunday, we're traveling to Virginia to visit family and to (hopefully) rest. Amy and I are pretty exhausted from all of the cleaning/packing/moving/unpacking/etc.

And on a slightly unrelated note, Adalynne's first teeth are starting to come in.

I think that's all I have to say for now. I probably will not be posting for a few days because I don't have internet access at the house yet. Check back in a few days.


Packing, Cleaning and Other Moving Activities

Amy and I stayed up to about midnight last night packing up our apartment...and we did take a few minutes to have a food fight with couscous and lentils! We still have a good bit more to pack but we are making some progress. We're getting ready to go back over to the house to finish hanging the blinds and cleaning.


Chris Fortune, Help!

I worked at Rockwell Automation (now Baldor) for over a year, and I have absolutely no idea what this guy is talking about. Maybe my friend Chris Fortune could interpret the video for me.


The Fall of Satan

Here, Jeffrey Meyers points out that Genesis 3 records the fall of man and Satan. This view stands in contrast to the "standard, accepted view" that regards Satan's fall as occuring prior to creation. I think Jeff is onto something. See what you think.


Four Years, Six Moves

In the four years that Amy and I have been married we have already moved five times, and we are preparing to move once again. (We should be packing/moving professionals by now!) Our lease is going to be up at our apartments at the end of this month, and we didn't want to sign up for another year-long lease. So, we are moving to a house here in Anderson. We are really excited because we will once again have a yard that we can use for playing and entertaining.

The house we're moving to has been unoccupied for the last two years, so we spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday cleaning the house and yard. Thankfully, our friends from Redeemer Church have helped us tremendously. Without their help we wouldn't have been able to get everything done. So, I want to extend a big "THANK YOU" to everyone who has assisted us in cleaning, painting, hanging shelves, cutting grass and all the other thing that have taken place. I'll try to post some before/after photographs of the house.

We're planning to move on Wednesday, so pray that we will be able to pack up everything over the next two days. I'll keep you updated.


Celebrating the 4th with Scary Singing

This morning I began the day by singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" to Alora. Yet, about halfway through the song Alora said "I don't like that song!" When I asked her why she said, "It scares me." I don't think that there is anything particularly scary about the "Star-Spangled Banner," so it must have been my singing.


A Green Light

I contacted the Erskine Theological Seminary admissions office today to make sure that they'd recieved my application, $35 application fee, essay and references. They responded and said that I'd be able to begin in the Fall! I guess the next step will be registering for classes in a couple of weeks. I'm excited!


Falling from Grace

See update at bottom of post (9/2/08)

Recently, I've spent a good deal of time reading and pondering over the first few chapters of Genesis. As I've read, a number of questions have come to my mind. Hopefully I'll blog about an number of them sooner or later, but I'll start with this one for now: What was the nature of Adam's relationship with God? Did Adam have to earn God's favor or did He already have the favor of God? Was his relationship based on grace or merit?

In Genesis 2:9 we read: "And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Later in v.16 we learn of the one restriction given to Adam: "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Adam could freely eat of every true except for one. This means that Adam could take and eat of the Tree of Life. Adam did not have to earn access to the Tree of Life. God did not require Adam to perform certain duties in order to earn His favor; rather, God was already favorable, or shall we say, gracious toward Adam. Granted, God did require Adam to be obedient and to live by faith in His Word, but this is a far cry from saying that Adam had to merit or earn God's love and favor. Adam had life, and he had continual access to the Tree of Life.

The reality that Adam's relationship with God was built on grace, magnifies the gravity of Adam's sin against God. The Creator God had given Adam everything. He had freely given the world to Adam's care. Yet, as Adam stood before the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam chose to follow his wife Eve--thereby ignoring and scorning God's graciousness. He chose to eat of forbidden fruit, thereby forfitting life and embracing death--both spiritual and physical. So, in Genesis 3:22-23 we read: "Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever--' therefore, the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken." The Tree of Life that was once freely available was now taken from Adam's reach. Adam had fallen from grace.

UPDATE: 9/2/08

Blogging is interesting to me for a number of reasons. One issue that arises is the issue of progress and growth. As I go back and read some of my previous posts, I can remember the struggles/issues that were on my mind. Sometimes, my thought patterns continue in the same directions, while at other points I change my mind. This post is an example of a time where my mind has changed. While I previously thought that the word "grace" could be applied to Adam's pre-Fall situation, I've come to believe that the terminology of grace should be reserved for the post-Fall situation. It seems to me that "grace" is not simply unmerited favor, but unmerited favor in light of our demerit . Although I don't have the time to discuss what brought about such changes, it will have to suffice for me to say that I believe that the idea of "merit" or "works" was present in the covenant with Adam...and the terminology of "grace" should not be used to describe Adam's situation.


Bible Reading

Here are a couple of links for today:

**When the Bible Is Boring - A few thoughts on why even the obscure details of the Bible are important.

**A Family Worship Experiment - A suggestion to read the full text of Scripture instead of condensed stories. (HT: Mark Horne)


Kind of Perfect

I made some Blue Raspberry Jello, and gave it to Alora. When I asked her if she liked it she said, "It's kind of perfect Dad."


Self-Regard or Self-Sacrifice?

The sermon that I preached on Sunday is available here. The sermon is called Self-Regard or Self-Sacrifice? and it's taken from Matthew 5:38-42. If you think that this passage is addressing issues such as pacifism, self-defence, captital punishment or war, then I think you should listen to this sermon. I believe Jesus words taken us in a different direction than those concerns. Here's the outline:

I. Introduction

II. Original Intent of the Law of Retribution
A. The law was restrictive
B. The law was corporate.

III. Distorting the Law

IV. Jesus Response
A. A call for pacifism?
B. Do not have a hostile heart

V. Four Examples
A. Dignity
B. Comfort
C. Time
D. Possessions

VI. Conclusion


2 Days, 5 Dollars

On June 27 and 28, Desiring God Ministries will be offering all of their books for $5 each. Sweet! So, be sure to take advantage of this great online offer.


There Was a Day When I Died...

"There was a day when I died, utterly died to George Muller and his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame of even my brethren and family and friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God"

- George Muller as quoted by D. Martn Llyod-Jones in Studies in the Sermon on the Mount


You Can Do It

This morning Alora woke me up by pulling the sheet and blanket off of me and saying, "You can do it. Get up, please." Apparently, she knows that I always need a little encouragement to wake up in the morning. I'll take a wake-up-call from my daughter over an alarm clock anytime.


Discipline and the Father's Love

The sermon I preached on Sunday is now available here. The sermon is called Discipline and the Father's Love and it's taken from Hebrews 12:5-11. And here is the sermon outline:

I. Introduction

II. Defining the Father's Discipline

III. Responding to the Father's Discipline
A. Do not regard lightly
B. Do not be weary

IV. Testimony of the Father's Discipline
A. We are loved
B. We are true sons

V. Manner of the Father's Discipline
A. Perfect
B. Painful

VI. Design of the Father's Discipline
A. Share in His holiness
B. Yield fruit

VII. Conclusion

Rubbing Shoulders

"If we refuse to interact with others, we will learn neither our faults nor our virtues. So many dead churches believe themselves to be unified and full of love for the brethren, but it is only because they never see each other. It is easy to "love," in a vague, abstract kind of way, someone you do not know. It is easy to be at peace with humanity in general, as long as you never have to reconcile with a real person. There is peace and unity in a graveyard; there are no arguments and no divisions. But it is not the peace of the living; it is the emptiness of the dead. In a real, living church, growing under the blessing of God, members are rubbing shoulders constantly, and so there are constant outbreaks of conflict that require forgiveness, forbearance, and patience--growth in sanctification becomes a necessity; it is sink or swim."

-Steve Wilkins, Face to Face: Meditations on Friendship and Hospitality


Since moving to Anderson, our family has eaten at a lot of pizza places: Cici's, Frodo's, Famous, Family, Domino's, Wedgy's, Little Caesar's and Papa John's. Of all of these in Anderson, our favorite has been Famous Pizza with Family Pizza coming in at a close second. Of course, our favorite in the Upstate is Bertolo's Pizza, but after last night Bertolo's will have to share its crown with Peppino's Pizza. The pizza is handtossed and excellent. I enjoyed the pizza so much, I'm eating it for breakfast this morning.

UPDATE (3/13/08) - Strangely enough, this blog post is the number one entry on Google for people searching for Peppino's in Anderson. I assume that most people are looking for the phone number, so I wanted to help out by placing Peppino's phone number here:
(864) 224-3650

And as a shameless plug, if you live in Anderson...be sure to come and worship with us at Redeemer Church!


Oh My God

Patrick recently posted a John Piper video that contains one of my favorite songs from Jars of Clay's latest release, Good Monsters. The song is "Oh My God." You can read an (old) interview where the band talks about the song, here. And now for the lyrics:

Oh my God, look around this place
Your fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain
All fools say, "Oh my God"

Oh my God, Why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don't bleed
There is no cure for our disease
Turn a phrase, and rise again
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friend
Oh my God.

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief
And graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away, and a mother cries

Liars and fools; sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found; ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels; men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken hearted; separated
Orphans always say
War creators; racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers; fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
Users always say
Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days, mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be,
Maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we're better,
Scales were gone and faces light
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes,
And all the fear that keeps me silent
Falls below my heavy breathing,
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the thunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip,
I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat
All the wounds that money causes,
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children
This is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers
This is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God

Father's Day #2

This morning I was greeted at the table with smell of bacon and blueberry muffins, a happy Father's Day song, and a new book: The Truth's We Confess by R.C. Sproul. Since this is my second time celebrating Father's Day, Amy put a giant #2 candle on top of one of my muffins.

Happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there!

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

"Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged" (Colossians 3:21).


Website Construction and Sermons

We are in the process of redoing our church website, but if you are interested in downloading any sermons from our church, they will still be available here for a while longer. I'll let you know when the new site and podcasting is available for your viewing and listening pleasure.


Preaching and Prayer

Patrick will be preaching (and I'll be teaching children's church) from Matthew 5:33-37 this Sunday. Be sure to lift us up in prayer. Also, I would appreciate if you all would pray for me as I prepare to preach later on this month. I'll be preaching on the last two Sunday's of the month (17th and 24th). We'll be continuing in our Sermon on the Mount series (Matthew 5:38-48). You can check out the previous sermons here or use the link on my sidebar.


A Few Random Updates

*BUSY WEEK: Amy and I have been pretty busy this week. She's been teaching art (mixed media) to children for a couple of hours each morning this week. I've been spending my afternoons meeting people and doing other ministry work. We had dinner with my parents last night, which was a lot of fun. This afternoon I'm going to be moving furniture all day, which probably will not be a barrel of fun.

*GROWING GIRLS: Adalynne is at the verge of crawling. Alora has almost finished potty training.

*DEATH: Alora's fish, Roxy, died this week. We had a burial service at the potty, and flushed Roxy down the toilet. Alora waved goodbye and then huged the toilet. A bit unsanitary but cute none the less.

*SEMINARY: I may be able to start seminary work in the Fall at Erskine. I talked to a lady from Admissions today, and she said that I still have time to apply. I can't really express how excited I am to think about going back to schoo to work on an M.Div. (Excited and hopeful enough to add "Seminary" as one of my blog labels.) Of course, I know that my life will be extremely busy as I balance family time, church ministry, and seminary but the Lord will be my strength!


Late Night Drinking

I'm not sure about some of you, but there are times when I just have to drink coffee. Well, tonight was one of those times. I finished drinking my second (large) cup of coffee a few minutes ago, and now I'm getting ready to go to bed. Strangely, I feel more tired now than I did before I had the coffee. Is it possible to build up a tolerance to caffeine? I guess so. Maybe this is just proof that I consume too much caffeine each day.



I really like this last picture. Alora was tired of taking pictures, so she got up and said, "I'm getting up. Bye Sissy."


Adventures in Camping

Last weekend our family went camping, and we had a wonderful time. For Alora and Adalynne, this was their first camping experience. Thankfully, we didn't have any major problems while we were camping (i.e. no one was bitten by a snake, etc.) Granted, I did run over Alora's potty and a box of supplies with the SUV within five minutes of arriving at our campsite...but the potty and the supplies survived. Well, here are some pictures from our trip:

Getting ready for the fire!

My beautiful girls sharing a beverage

Since we forgot the can opener, Amy had to stab a hole in the beans.

Roasting hotdogs and/or marshmallows

Alora stuffing her face with a marshmallow

Good morning Adalynne.

Alora hanging out in the tent.

Breakfast time.