Together (At Random Times)

I'm a Woman

As Amy was dressing Alora this morning, they had the following conversation:

Amy: Come here my big girl.

Alora: I'm not a big girl.

Amy: You're not? Are you a baby?

Alora: No, I'm not a baby.

Amy: Okay, then I'll call you little girl.

Alora: I'm not a little girl. I'm a woman.


Alora's Prayer

Every night before Alora goes to bed Amy and I kneel down and pray with her. Although our prayers differ slightly each night, we always incorporate the greatest commandment (Mark 12:30) into our prayer time. Usually, I say a few words and Alora repeats after me. In the same way, we pray together before each of our meals.

Well, the other night at dinner time we all joined hands and I asked Alora if she wanted to pray with us. Yet, instead of waiting on me to begin the prayer, Alora began praying on her own: "Jesus, I love you with all of my heart, all my soul, all my mind, all my strength. Amen." Amy and I sat at the table in silence while our eyes filled with tears of joy.

Praise God for His grace! Praise God for our children! With the Psalmist we say, "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward" (Psalm 127:3).

Grace in Rags and Scarlet

"True love values grace in rags as well as in scarlet. A jewel is a jewel, though it lie in the dirt." -Matthew Henry

"Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited" (Romans 12:16).


4 Wonderful Years

Happy Anniversary to...Amy and me! Today is our 4-Year wedding anniversary! And it has been a wonderful 4 years filled with so many things, both difficult and grand, sadness and joy: sex, pregnancy, miscarriages, births, surgery, moving (5 times!), house purchasing, ministry, vacations, laughter, tears and so much more!


The Cross Centered Life

In The Cross Centered Life, C.J. Mahaney asks one simple question: what are you centered on? According to Mahaney (and the Apostle Paul for that matter), the cross of Christ Jesus must be at the center of our life and faith. Mahaney writes,
If there's anything in life that we should be passionate about, it's the gospel. And I don't mean passionate only about sharing it with others. I mean passionate in thinking about it, dwelling on it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world. Only one thing can be of first importance to each of us. And only the gospel ought to be.
I found this book to be wonderful for a number of reasons. First, it is an easy read. You could probably read the book in a hour, but I recommend reading it at a lower pace in order to really think through each chapter. Personally, I read one chapter a day. Second, the book is simple. It doesn't focus on formulas or complicated themes. Rather, Mahaney zeros in on the main thing--the gospel. "I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you...For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sings" (1 Corinthians 15:1,3). Third, the book is highly practical. I found the last chapter to be extremely helpful. In the chapter, Mahaney discusses how the gospel changes the way that we relate to all subjects. He writes,
Name the area of the Christian life you want to learn about or that you want to grow in. The Old Testament? The end times? Do you want to grow in holiness or the practice of prayer? To become a better husband, wife, or parent? None of these can be rightly understood apart from God's grace through Jesus' death. They, and indeed all topics, should be studied through the lens of the gospel.
I couldn't agree more! So, go ahead and buy this book, and refocus your life on the main thing!


The Joys of Potty Training

Alora gets so excited when she uses the potty, and so do Amy and I. We like to show our support by clapping loudly and doing funny dances. Okay, I'm really the only one who dances but that's beside the point. Usually, after Alora pees or poops in the potty, she wants to show us what she's done. So, she will either call us into the bathroom or she will bring the potty to us. Yet, if you aren't expecting to have pee or poop brought to you, it can be quite surprising. (For instance, the other morning I was sleeping in the bed and I was awaken by the smell of a fresh pile of poop. How's that for a wake up call!) Well, today Alora brought a potty full of pee into the living room to show us. Amy was on the couch and I was at the computer. Unfortunately, on her way to show me, Alora tripped over a toy and the pee poured onto the floor....and her! Oh, the joys of potty training!


Reformed Catholicism vs. Reformed Catholicity

"How can one be biblically ecumenical and yet still have legitimate and necessary boundaries?" Even if you have never thought though this question, you should check out these three posts (post1, post2, post3 ) on Sean Michael Lucas' blog. I really enjoyed reading the posts and the various comments, especially those made by Greg Thompson and Tim Keller.


Laughter and Tears

Last week Alora was sick. She had a fever, diarrhea, an ear infection, and a number of other issues. Although Amy and I were concerned about Alora and we wanted her to get better, we didn't ever feel as though her life was in danger. Thankfully, we have abundant access to doctors, water, and medicine. Yet, people in other places of the world are not so fortunate. According to World Vision, "diarrhea accounts for 21 percent of all deaths in children under five in developing countries."

When I was a child I remember singing the "Diarrhea Song" which consisted of verses like...."When you're walking in the rain and you feel something drain, diarrhea, diarrhea. When you're ridin' in your Chevy and you feel something heavy, diarrhea, diarrhea." (I'll spare you from any more verses.) Sadly, the things that we joke about are the very things that bring tears to the eyes of parents around the world.


Strange and Common

"We have made the Church strange and alien to the world, as if she were of a completely different order than the institutions of common social and political life. Paradoxically, the result of this estrangement has been to reshape the Church into the image of the world.

The Church is strange: she is the creation of the Father through the Word and Spirit, the community of those who have been united by the Spirit with the Son, and therefore brought into the eternal community of the Trinity. She is a city whose town square is in heaven. She is a city without walls or boundary lines, a polity without sword or shield. Of no other society can that be said.

But she is ordinary: the Church is made up of human beings, with features that identify her as a culture among the cultures of the world. God did not enter a world of books with blurks; He did not intervene in a world of rituals and meals with spatuals and gleals; He did not call His people to live according to the specific quormal principles or to promote a particular uphos.

Rather, God created a world of stories, symbols, rituals, and community rules. Into this world of stories, God introduced a rival story; into a world of books, God came with His own library; in a world of symbols and rituals and sacrificial meals, the Church was organized by a ritual bath and a feast of bread and wine; in the midst of cultures with their own ethose and moral atmosphere, God gathered a community to produce the aroma of Christ in their life together.

Only by insisting on the Church's ordinariness can we simultaneously grasp her strangeness."

-Peter Leithart, Against Christianity, 17-18.


Calvinist Romance

I thought some of you might get a kick out of this. I laughed out loud when I first saw it on Doug Wilson's blog.


Staring at a Tree

Okay, so here is a not-so-interesting-or-creative-story, but it should bring up a good point of discussion:

A man was walking home one day, when he noticed two women staring at a tree. The man was curious (and a bit nosy too), so he walked over to the ladies.

"Why are you staring at that tree," asked the man.

The short lady said, "we are having a debate over whether this tree was created by God or if it is the product of millions of years of evolution. I think that God created all things, including this tree."

"But I do not believe that God exists and I think that this tree is a product of chance," responded the tall lady.

The man was still puzzled: "Well, if both of you are looking at the same tree, why do you come to such different conclusions? You are both looking at the same tree aren't you?

"Of course we are looking at the same tree!" responded the ladies in unison.

Bewildered by the series of events, the man continued to make his way home, while the women continued to stare at the tree.

So, here is where the discussion comes in. If the women are looking at the same tree (i.e. they are observing the same "facts"), how do you explain their disagreement? What is the source of their differing opinions?

Abortions and Scholarships

This morning, I came across an online article--"Clemson criticizes ESPN story on student-athelete abortions"-- from the Anderson Independent-Mail. The ESPN report focused on student atheletes (some of whom were from Clemson) who fear losing scholarships if they become pregnant. Some of the women say that the school's policy (i.e. “pregnancy resulting in the inability to compete and positively contribute to the program’s success will result in the modification of your grant-in-aid money.”) made them feel like they had no choice. So, some of them had abortions. When one student became pregnant she said:
'How could this happen?' she told ESPN. 'My career was going to end. I’m not going to go to the Olympics or get to finish my four years. I was just like, This is a dead-end road. You’re not going anywhere else.'
I am not really interesting in debating over whether or not the policy was good. But I do want to say this: As the previous quote shows, our society has mixed-up priorities, to say the least. It is a sad indication of the state of our world when we are willing to hold careers, scholarships, or aspirations as move valuable than the life of a child.

But as believers, we cannot be satisfied with merely pointing out the problems of the world. We must also be ready to engage the world with the gospel. Let us point our neighbors, friends, city, state, nation, and world to a new way of living. Let's take them the message of the cross. "But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15).


Christians, Atheists, and a Lot of Warm-Fuzzies

The Good

There has been a lot of discussion between atheists and Christians lately. A lot of this has to do with the highly polemical books written by atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. Of course, some Christians have not allowed those books to go unchallenged. American Vision recently published two books (Letter from a Christian Citizen by Douglas Wilson and The Return of the Village Atheist by Joel McDurmon) in response to Sam Harris' book, Letter to a Christian Nation. In addition to the book, Douglas Wilson has been doing some excellent apologetic work as he responds and challanges men like Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. Be sure to stop by Wilson's blog or visit the online debate between Wilson and Hitchens.

The Bad and The Ugly

Unfortunately, not all the interactions between Chrisitans and atheists have been as helpful as Wilson's. Some Christians are more concerned with get warm and fuzzy with atheist, instead of challanging them to turn to Christ.

Honestly, I knew that this article ("Christians and Atheists Start a Calmer Dialogue") was going to be ridiculous before I even began reading it--but it was far worse than I imagined. Take a few minutes to read the whole article, but here are a few of the interesting--or should I say, sad--quotes. My comments will be in italics.

Mr. Henderson set out to learn how "the unchurched" respond to various kinds of worship services – what it is they find appealing and what leaves them cold. He began to pay nonbelievers $25 to go to a church and tell him what they thought.

This points us to a major problem in the evangelical world. Often, pastors and other leaders place more emphasis on learning from "the unchurched" rather than learning from God's Word. Do we really have to stoop to the level of paying people to tell us what they think about our worship services? The apostle Paul reminds us that "the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). I would be willing to bet that the people Mr. Henderson paid told him something like this: "The coffee and donuts appealed to me, but things got a whole lot colder when that preacher started talking about sin and Jesus dying on the cross. Keep the coffee and donuts, but you better 'warm-up' the message!" Maybe we should have just listened to Paul. Granted, I wish that churches would rid themselves of needless, cultural baggage that unnecessarily pushes people away (i.e. expecting people to wear dressy clothes, take out their body piercings, etc.),but that is a far cry from what some church leaders have in mind.

Henderson also conducts interviews with men and women who are non­believers as an event at church and pastor conferences. Many Evangelicals "are obsessed with conversion," he says, and always speak of non-Christians as "lost."

How else should we speak about non-Christians? There are only two options: saved or lost. Okay, maybe we should just abandon the whole pesky issue of conversion anyway. I'm sure that it comes across as cold.

The Never-Ending Story of Motherhood

Every morning around 6:30 Adalynne wakes up, ready for a bottle. Then, before the feeding is finished Alora has usually crawled out of her bed and made her way to the living room to join her mom and sister. By 7:30 breakfast has been served, and the day doesn't slow down from there. Now, my wife must contend with a "regenerating" pile of laundry, potty training, phone calls, meal preparation, more bottle-feeding, playtimes, naptimes, dishes that need washing, vaccuming, dusting, crying, vomiting, and tons of other tasks. (I'm starting to feel tired just thinking about all the things that Amy does on a daily basis.) And while most of us go to work in the morning and return home in the evening, the work of a mother goes well beyond 9 to 5. I am almost certain that Amy will not sleep through the night tonight. Either Adalynne will wake up around 3:30am, ready for a bottle, or Alora wake her up for some reason or another. The work of a mother never ends.

Yet, in all of these duties and responsibilities, Amy is joyful. Granted, there are days when she is exhausted and needs a break, but she does not give up. She continues on day by day to serve the Lord by serving her family. So, to Amy--my wife, best-friend, partner, lover--Happy Mother's Day! You and all the other mothers who tirelessly serve our families deserve to be praised each day. I love you.


Parents, Education, and Political Parties

Can you name the political party that holds to the following platform regarding education?

All teaching is related to basic assumptions about God and man. Education as a whole, therefore, cannot be separated from religious faith. The law of our Creator assigns the authority and responsibility of educating children to their parents. Education should be free from all federal government subsidies, including vouchers, tax incentives, and loans, except with respect to veterans.

Because the federal government has absolutely no jurisdiction concerning the education of our children, the United States Department of Education should be abolished; all federal legislation related to education should be repealed. No federal laws subsidizing or regulating the education of children should be enacted. Under no circumstances should the federal government be involved in national teacher certification, educational curricula, textbook selection, learning standards, comprehensive sex education, psychological and psychiatric research testing programs, and personnel.

Because control over education is now being relegated to departments other than the Department of Education, we clarify that no federal agency, department, board, or other entity may exercise jurisdiction over any aspect of children's upbringing. Education, training, and discipline of children are properly placed in the domain of their parents.

We support the unimpeded right of parents to provide for the education of their children in the manner they deem best, including home, private or religious. We oppose all legislation from any level of government that would interfere with or restrict that liberty. We support equitable tax relief for families whose children do not attend government schools.

So that parents need not defy the law by refusing to send their children to schools of which they disapprove, compulsory attendance laws should be repealed.

Ron Paul

My friend Emily seems to be a fan of Ron Paul, and I can see why: freedom, lower taxes, and limited government. Sounds good to me too! Check out the following YouTube video from Dr. Paul.

"I'm Roasting, Dad!"

This afternoon I went by my friend Daniel's apartment to drop off a few things. After talking with him for a few minutes I went back down to the car, where Amy and the girls were waiting for me. Unfortunately, the AC in our SUV doesn't always cool very fast, so they were sitting inside the car with the windows down. When I got into the car Alora looked at me and said, "I'm roasting, Dad!" Of course, Amy told her to say it, but I still thought it was hilarious.

Just in case you're wondering, the high was around 93 degrees today.


Reformed News

I came across this Reformed News blog today, and I thought I'd pass the link on to you. (HT: Mark Horne) I'll place it in my sidebar too.


Fertility and Social Influence

Well, if you're looking for another great reason to have a large family consider the following point. In a recent blog entry, Of Babies and Believers, Dr. Al Mohler writes: "An obvious point to observe here is that fertility drives destiny when it comes to societies. Those who do not reproduce become, by default, less influential in the society. Meanwhile, those who do reproduce have the opportunity to inculcate their own worldview within their children." Finish reading the entry here.


Pictures on the Horizon

I realize that it has been a long time since I posted any family pictures, but do not give up because I'll post some soon. I've got to put some new software on my new computer, and then I'll be read to post pictures again.


Criminals and Gun Control

I really enjoyed reading John Stossel's editorial Gun Control isn't Crime Control (HT: Mark Horne). Since the VT shooting this has been an area of hot debate, and I believe that Stossel brings out an important (should we say obvious) point: "Criminals don't obey the law." Here's an excerpt:

After the 1997 shooting of 16 kids in Dunblane, England, the United Kingdom passed one of the strictest gun-control laws in the world, banning its citizens from owning almost all types of handguns. Britain seemed to get safer by the minute, as 162,000 newly-illegal firearms were forked over to British officials by law-abiding citizens.

But this didn't decrease the amount of gun-related crime in the U.K. In fact, gun-related crime has nearly doubled in the U.K. since the ban was enacted.

Might stricter gun laws result in more gun crime? It seems counterintuitive but makes sense if we consider one simple fact: Criminals don't obey the law. Strict gun laws, like the ban in Britain, probably only affect the actions of people who wouldn't commit crimes in the first place.


Haiku and Hospitality

The table is set
Wine is flowing all around
Come and sit with us


Good friends and family
Gather around the table
Holding hands in prayer


A labor of love
Aroma rising to Him
Food fills each stomach


Feasting is so fine
Joy, laughter, and grace mingle
Worry falls away


Now it is your turn. Go to the comments section and add your own haiku about hospitality.


Glory Revealed

On a regular basis I sense that I need to refocus my thoughts and life on Jesus Christ. I can so easily become distracted and sidetracked from what is of first importance: "For what I recieved I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3). C.J. Mahaney puts it this way in The Cross-Centered Life:
The Bible tells us that, while there are many different callings and many possible areas of service in the kingdom of God, one transcendent truth should define our lives. One simple truth should motivate our work and affect every part of who we are. Christ died for our sins.
During times when I lose sight of what should define my life--the cross--I find it helpful to not only read the Word, but to listen to music that is saturated with the Word. Recently, I purchased the album Glory Revealed: The Word of God in Worship, and God has used it to encourage and helpf me keep my primary focus on Christ and the cross. If you'd like to listen to the music and get a free song download, check out the previous link.

Two Quarters, Two Books

As I was leaving the library yesterday I noticed that they were a number of books for $0.25. So, I purchased two books: God and Incarnation in Mid-Nineteenth Century German Theology (which is surely a deposit of faith-less theology, but I'll see) and The Brothers Karamazov. I read about four chapters of The Brothers Karamazov last night, and I really enjoyed Dostoevsky's writing style. Have any of you read this book already? If so, what did you think about it?


Make the Move

People are often willing to move to a new county, state, or nation in order to pursue a better job. Although the move may be tough, they hope that the new job will provide a better situation for their family. So, if people are willing to move for a job, why not move for a new church? So, what is my point? I happen to think that Redeemer Church is an incredible church , and I believe that it would be worth your time and energy to move to Anderson to be a part of this church plant. Seriously. It has been a pleasure and honor for my family to serve and worship with the people of Redeemer. So, if you're looking for a place to grow in your relationship with the Lord, to serve His Body, and to reach out to the lost world, then we'd love to have you here in the Electric City.

Wise Words

Amy and I have been reading Peter Leithart's Wise Words: Family Stories That Bring The Proverbs to Life, and we have really enjoyed the book. The book is a collection of eighteen stores that focus on a biblical proverb. Yet, the stories are much more than simple proverbial tales because they also invoke themes, images, and stories from all of Scripture. I highly recommend the book...but as LaVar Burton would say, "you don't have to take my word for it." Go and read a sample.


Fig Leaves and Garments of Skin

In Genesis 3, directly after Adam and Eve eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, we read that "the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths" (v.7). No longer did Adam and Eve stand before one another naked and unashamed as they had earlier (Genesis 2:25). Now, they are ashamed and, they cover themselves with a few fig leaves and hide from the LORD God. But both of their attempts (i.e. covering themselves and hiding) ultimately fail. First, their attempt to hide failed, because He is the all-present, all-knowing LORD. He knew exactly where they were and He confronted them (and the serpent) with the consequences of their sin. Second, their covering was not adequate. Instead of fig leaves, the LORD God gives them a new covering of His own making: "And the LORD God made for Adam and and for his wife garments of skin and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21). It is in regard to this second point, that I want to make a few observations.

First, just as Adam and Eve's fig leaves were not a proper covering, sinful men and women cannot cover their nakedness and shame (i.e. sins) by means of good works (Romans 4:4).

Second, just as God provided a proper covering for Adam and Eve, it is God alone who can provide the proper covering for man. In the garden, an animal had to be slain--blood had to be spilt-- in order for Adam and Eve to have garments of skin. And God has done the same for us. He has spilt blood and covered us. But this time, it was not the blood of an animal that was spilt, but it was His own blood--his own life--that was given for us (John 3:16). And it was not with a garment of animal skin that He used to cover us, but it was with Himself--with His own rightousness--that He clothed us with.

Of course, what we have been discussing is the doctrine of imputation (foreshadowed in the book of Genesis) in which Christ was counted as having our sin (though He Himself was sinless) and we are counted as having God's righteousness (though we ourselves are not righteous.) "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Let us praise God for taking our sin upon Himself and counting us righteous in Christ. What a gracious and awesome God!