My Computer is Burning a Hole in the Ozone Layer

As I am typing this message, I am sure that my computer is putting off evil, ozone-destroying death rays. I can visualize the polar icecaps melting away as I try to place a few of my thoughts on the world-wide-web.

Is it just me or is this whole "global warming" thing seem like another attempt for the government to take more control over our lives.? Next thing you know we'll all be required to drive grease-powered cars that go zero to sixty in about 10 minutes or trim our lawns with scissors.


My Father and an Echocardiogram

Please pray for my father, Earle Ashley, because he is going for an echocardiogram tomorrow morning at 8:00.

Earlier in the month, he found out that the lining of part of his heart was enlarged, so they have to run a few tests to see what is wrong. Heart trouble runs in my family, so you can imagine that this could be very serious.

Thank you for praying. I'll give an update as soon as I know more.


Wise Friends and Holy Conversation

"As iron sharpens irons, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

"When a man isolates himself, he begins to lose the edge of his thinking, the sharpness of his analysis, and everything becomes blunt and blurry for him. Wise friends and holy conversation are precious things because they save us from this sort of bondage." -Steve Wilkins, Face to Face: Meditations on Friendship and Hospitality


Crane vs. David

In his poem, "A Man Said to the Universe" Stephen Crane writes:

A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."

Yet, this worldview (naturalist) stands in stark contrast to the Christian worldview. For instance, read God's inspired Word as it comes to use from his servant David in Psalm 8:

"O Lord, our Lord,how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants,you have established strength because of your foes,to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him,and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,whatever passes along the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord,how majestic is your name in all the earth!"


Christ and Culture Revisited

Well according to Mark Dever , Don Carson is at it again. Carson has just finished the manuscript for an upcoming book called Christ and Culture Revisited, and it should be out later this year. Dever writes:

In this book, Don interacts with everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Stanley Hauerwas. He has a great section on the central story-line of the Bible. As he says at one point in the manuscript: "much of the rest of this book can be read as a meditation on how a robust biblical theology tends to safeguard Christians against the most egregious reductionisms." Don has read not only widely, but carefully and with understanding. He expresses himself carefully, in a nuanced fashion, and yet clearly. Unlike some other academic popularizers today, Don shares his rich bibliography in a way that enables the reader to do further research if he or she wants to.
My own understanding has been sharpened. I've been introduced to some helpful ways to think. I've even found some good things for our church newsletter in this book!! Don Carson's new book promises to be helpful in a number of different ways.

In case you didn't know, Don wrote one of my favorite books, The Cross and Christian Ministry, as well as lots of other great books that I don't have time to name. So, I am sure that you can imagine my excitement.


Hospitality. Brokenness.

Hospitality and the Early Church - Peter Leithart discusses the demanding,radical, self-sacrificing ministry of hospitality as it took place in the early church.

Brokenness and Buddies- Mark Driscoll discusses the struggles that come from life and ministry and how others have ministered to him. From his post:
A naturopath said I had overextended myself and worn out my adrenal glands (which regulate my sympathetic nervous system). The result of basically a decade of perpetual stress and a final taxing season was that I was exhausted all day—I literally had blurred vision and would fall asleep quickly only to wake up a few hours later, unable to sleep again. So, I have been conserving energy for my family and church, but some Sundays are brutal. I find myself nodding off on the side of the stage before one of the four services I preach live.


Eating Humble Pie Served Fresh From Little Jerry's Kitchen

On Wednesday evening, as Amy and I drove into our apartment complex, we noticed a vacuum cleaner sitting beside the dumpster. Of course, I had no intentions of paying any more attention to the vacuum because I assumed that it was broken since it was next to the garbage. Yet, Amy had different plans. Our conversation went something like this:

Amy: Wow! Look at that nice vacuum cleaner.
Eric: It must not be that nice considering that someone threw it away.
Amy: I'm going to go see if it's broken.
Eric: Of course it is broken...it's next to the garbage.
Amy: I bet that I can fix it. It's probably just a broken belt or something.
Eric: Then, why would someone throw it out?
Amy: I don't know. Maybe they don't know how to change a belt.
Eric: You're not really going to go over there are you?
Amy: Yes.
Eric: Well, if you're going over there at least throw this trash in the garbage. That way people won't know what you're really doing. [Just in case you missed it, I am being quite prideful at this point]

So, Amy goes over to the vacuum, grabs it, and begins to take it to our apartment. At this point, I'm thinking, "I hope no one saw us take this vacuum from the dumpster...especially the person who put it out here."

Well, we go into the house and I take Alora into the back room to get her ready for bed. A few moments later, I heard the sound of a vacuum. So, I came into the living room and what did I see? Amy happily vacuuming the floor with the "broken" vacuum cleaner. She smiled at me and said, "I knew I could fix it." Jerry, if you're reading this, you taught her well. [In case you don't know, Jerry is Amy's dad, and he has the amazing gift of fixing broken things and making them work/look like new.] My wife truly is amazing. Doesn't Proverbs 31 say something about the excellent wife being able to save her family money by fixing stuff that seemed to be trash? Okay, I know it doesn't say that, but Amy is certainly excellent.
The thing that makes this story so great is the fact that our vacuum cleaner needed replacing. So, the Lord provided a "new" vacuum cleaner from a very unlikely source.

And in case you're wondering, the vacuum is a Eureka Altima SpinDuster Bagless Upright Vacuum and it retails at $129.99.


Better Whipped than Damned

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." -Proverbs 22:6
In the book of Proverbs, the issue of training a child focuses on two areas: wisdom and discipline. Regarding wisdom, we learn in Proverbs 1:7 that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." Parents are to train their children to be wise by "fearing the Lord." Throughout the Proverbs, we read the call for the "son" to hear and head the instruction and teaching of his father and mother (1:8; 2:1; 3:1; 4:1; etc.). If the child follows the path of wisdom he will be shown "length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you" (Proverbs 3:2).

Unfortunately, due to sin, our children do not naturally desire to follow the path of wisdom. So, what must parents do in order to push their children away from foolishness and toward wisdom? In Proverbs 22:15 we read: "folly is found up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him." Discipline drives folly from the child, so that wisdom can take its place.

We must never seperate what God has joined together. If we give only wisdom, but no discipline, then we do not love our child: "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him" (Proverbs 13:24). And if we have only discipline, but no wisdom, then we are simply hitting our child with no proper goal in view.

If we desire for our children to fear the Lord and follow Him in faith, then let us train them with both wisdom and discipline. Let us hold fast to the words of Proverbs 23:13,14 -"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol." Or as Cotton Mather once put it: "Better whipped than damned."


Green Shirt

Well, it's St. Patrick's day, so I thought that it would be good to wear green. So, I put on my green shirt and said to Amy, "No one's going to pinch me because I'm wearing green." She kindly looked at me and said, "Eric, that shirt is brown."


Car + Tree = Bad News

Yesterday, Amy and I went to Greenville to hangout with some our friends from Roper Mt. Baptist. After getting some coffee at Starbucks, we were standing around and talking outside the coffee shop when we saw a girl hit a tree with her car. Now, I know that wrecks happen all the time. Certainly, there have been many wrecks involving cars and trees, but this particular wreck was a little strange because it happened in the drive-through lane of Burger King. Yes, as strange as it may sound, instead of turning left, the driver drove over the curb and ran into a tree.

Since we saw the wreck happen, Jonathan and I went to go see if we could help. When we got over to the car the girl started screaming, "You've got to help me. I have to get my car off of the tree!" So, we thought we'd help. (Granted, I was a little wary of helping push her car off of the tree considering she just had hit a tree, and her driving skills seemed to be a bit....well....lacking. I was worried that she might run over me next.) But I pushed my fear aside and went to go help her. But when we asked her to put her car in neutral, she said, "I don't know where neutral is!" Then, I thought to myself, "If she doesn't know where neutral is, this might explain how she managed to have a wreck in a drive-through lane."

A few seconds later, the girl began yelling, "I'm going to jail! I don't even have a license." At this point, I looked at Jonathan and said, "Yes, she is." And then we walked away.

Fortunately for her, some other people didn't care that she was a law-breaker or a bad driver. So, they helped her push her car off of the tree. Sadly, I don't think that she ever picked up her order. I know I always hate driving on an empty stomach.


With the Eyes of My Child

I walked across the yard
But I did not notice
The orchestra of crunching and crackling leaves
That played beneath my feet.

And I did not stop to admire
The patch of cloves that quietly gathered
Beside the blooming Bradford Pear

I walked without notice or regard
For the beauty that called out to me
Until she grabbed me by the leg
And held the flower to my face.

I could see amazement sparkling in her eyes
And hear joy singing in her voice.

So, I stopped and looked out
Into a world that spoke of its Maker.
Yet, I did not see with my own eyes.
Rather, I watched the world with the eyes of my child.


The Tick and a Few Friends from the Past

Cartoons are not what they used to be. Where are the classic cartoons that were actually creative and funny? They are certainly not available on Saturday mornings anymore. (How do shows like Brats actually pass as good cartoons anyway?) Fortunately, many great cartoons from the past are now available on DVD. (I'm sure that they are available on some cable station, but we still don't have cable or the Dish.)

Anyway, I'd like to know what cartoons some of you enjoy. So, use the comment section to list a few of your favorites.
Here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order):


A Heavy Heart

If any of you have been reading the comments on the previous post, you probably noticed that Jonathan talked about a girl named Jordan. She was a girl that Amy and I met while I was a youth pastor in Greenville. While we were there, we had a really close relationship to her. Soon after meeting Jordan, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with her, and she professed faith in Christ. Later,she was baptized, and continued to be a part of our church. After Amy and I left Greenville we lost contact with Jordan. On a number of occasions Amy and I have tried to contact her by phone and email, but she never responded. Honestly, we wondered why we never heard from her. Sadly, as Jonathan mentioned, Jordan as since renounced her faith. She now identifies herself as an atheist.

Please pray for her. Feel free to post a prayer in the comment section.

My heart is heavy, and I do not really have the words to express my deep sadness. So, I cry out to the Lord:

Lord, we know that the scriptures are true: "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). So, we pray for You to do the work that only You can accomplish in Jordan. Bring her back to You and Your church. Show her the folly of her ways. Let her see the cross as true wisdom and power. "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are persishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18). Amen.


Juice Cake

This afternoon Amy and I were talking about making a cheesecake. Alora overheard our conversation, and began saying, "I want juice cake. Mama. Daddy. I want juice cake." I tried to expain that I had said "cheesecake," but her mind was made up. "Juice cake please."


The Supremacy of God in Preaching

Over the years, I have been blessed, encouraged, and challenged by the preaching and writing of John Piper. He is a man who passionately wants to see God glorified. So, it was with great expectation that I began reading The Supremacy of God in Preaching. And I was not disappointed. This book is not about preaching techniques or how to use good illustrations. Instead, as J.I. Packer comments, this is a "book that digs deep into the theology; stategy; and spirituality of pulpit ministry."

In the introduction, Piper writes:
The greatness and glory of God are relevant. It does not matter if surveys turn up a list of perceived needs that does not include the supreme greatness of the sovereign God of grace. That is the deepest need. Our people are starving for God....So I am persuaded that the vision of a great God is the linchpin in the life of the church, both in pastoral care and missionary outreach.
If you are involved in preaching and teaching God's Word, you should read this book. I highly recommend it.

Bitter Honey?

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him for He dwells with you and will be with you." John 14:15-17

In commenting on this passage, Spurgeon writes:
So the worldlings say there is no Holy Ghost, because he cannot see it. Well, but we feel it. You say that is fanaticism, and that we never felt it. Suppose you tell me that honey is bitter, I reply 'No, I am sure you cannot have tasted it; taste it and try.' So with the Holy Ghost; if you did but feel his influence, you would no longer say there is no Holy Spirit, because you cannot see it."