Foiled Plans for a “Leapling”

29 02 2008

With the “procedure” our doctor did yesterday to try to help Anna’s arrival along, I was really hoping we’d have our little girl born today, on “leap day.”  However, it is after 2pm, and my wife sits pain free (read “contraction free”) next to me on the couch.  As each minute ticks by, my hope and plans for my “leapling” daughter are going out the window.  What plans, you ask?  Well, with a birthday every 4 years…

1) Think of all the money I would save on presents!

2) I could tell her she could date when she is 16 (which would be 64 years after she was born!)

3) I’d graciously let her drive even earlier (say at age 10 0r 12).

4) I’d never have to worry about forgetting her birthday.

5) I could always brag about how advanced she was for her age (talking before the age of 1, reading before she’s two, graduating college when she’s 6!).

Oh well… it look likes God might have a different agenda.  Anybody think having Amy do some jumping-jacks might help?


Why Would God Let Us Suffer? (part 2)

28 02 2008

I think I need a Band-Aid!Do you remember the last time you had a sliver?  The entire experience of removing a sliver has changed greatly as an adult, hasn’t it?  Now, when I have a sliver in my finger or in my hand, I get out the pocket knife or tweezers and dig it out.  But as a child, when my father attempted the same approach, I thought I might die!  I would scream and cry and beg my dad to just “leave it alone!”  However, he couldn’t.  With a sliver comes the possibility of infection and, if left alone, that little sliver could become a big problem.  The pain of removing that sliver isn’t pleasant, but it is necessary to deal with the corruption present and to avoid an even more painful situation.  Which brings me to Thomas Watson and the discussion of a far more serious form of corruption. 

Last week, we began looking at Thomas Watson’s answers to the question: “Why does God let his people be in the house of bondage or in an afflicted state?”  Watson raised this question and answered it as he worked through Exodus 20 and the Ten Commandments.  You will remember that God reminds His people of their redemption (“I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” Exodus 20:2) before He sets forth the model for their obedience.  However, that phrase “house of bondage” does raise the question of why God would allow His own, His chosen, His children to undergo pain and suffering.  Here is Watson’s second answer: 

For purgation; to purge our corruption. ‘And this is all the fruit, to take away his sin'(Isaiah 27:9).  The eye, though a tender part, yet when sore, we put sharp powders and waters into it to eat out the pearl; so though the people of God are dear to him, yet, when corruption begins to grow in them, he will apply the sharp powder of affliction, to eat out the pearl in the eye. Affliction is God’s flail to thresh off our husks; it is a means God uses to purge out sloth, luxury, pride, and love of the world. God’s furnace is in Zion. (Isaiah 31:9). This is not to consume, but to refine. What if we have more affliction, if by this means we have less sin!

When I read through this second answer, it reminds me of my duties as a father.  I love my daughter and I try to always have that love be my motive for disciplining her.  I don’t want sin to run unchecked in her life because I know that it will only grow and, eventually, seriously harm her.  Although the discipline is uncomfortable for her (and me too!), it is so much better than the alternative.  And the same is true for us.  God will use the “house of bondage” to make us holy, as He uses the affliction to drive us to Him and away from sin.  The trials are His way to remove the slivers of corruption and make His people -His children- healthy, sound, and more like Him.   

The Gospel and ER?

27 02 2008

Check out this fascinating clip from ER 

and then read the insightful reaction to it posted over at Pyromaniacs.   

From the Margin of…Galatians 5:16

26 02 2008

From the Margin of…One of the things we men are especially good at is compartmentalizing.  Like the bowels of a ship or the chambers in a submarine, we can often close off one aspect of life from another and not allow “crisis spill over.”  We become good at separating our job “world” from our family “world” and often those “worlds” from other aspects of life.  This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. 

If we have a bad day at work, it is a nice skill to be able to set that day aside once we get into the car and not let our job stress “spill over” into our family time.  However, one of the ways we fool ourselves with this skill (one of the ways this becomes a “bad thing”) is when we think we can compartmentalize sin.  No matter how hard we might try, there is no way to close off sin and have it not affect the rest of our life.  We can’t simply quarantine sin, believing that we can entertain it in one area of our life without it contaminating the rest.  Why?

Listen to the following counsel from John Owen, one of the most profound writers on the doctrine of sin. 

The indulgence of sin [leads to] further sins.  The indulgence of one sin diverts the soul from the use of the means by which all other sins should be resisted.

Read that last line again. 

I wrote this quote in the margin of my Bible, next to Galatians 5:16.  I chose Galatians 5:16 because it is here that Paul reminds us of our power for resisting the flesh.  If we “walk by the Spirit” we “will not carry out the desires of the flesh.”  However, if we try to harbor sin in one area of our life (if we try to compartmentalize it) then we are not walking in the Spirit and we will find no strength in our daily battle against the flesh.  That harbored sin opens the door for more sin and invites it to run loose in our life.  That is why the author of Hebrews admonishes “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1).

Owen’s words remind me that if I half-heatedly pursue holiness, I will not find it.       

When the Light Dawns…

25 02 2008

Yesterday was full of emptiness, with waves that crashed and broke me down;
I felt like I felt nothing
but my charlatan heart played out sincerity.
I knew You were there (how could I forget?)
but everything seemed to distance me, to wash You out.
There was so much noise inside I couldn’t hear my heart,
or even feel the ebb and flow of my soul.
But then came light- glorious, sorrowful, liberating, painful light!
It showed me what I didn’t want to see
but what I knew was already there.
It showed me the truth of my façade,
It tore away my grotesque mask to remind me of the beauty You have placed within.
Oh, Christ my Conqueror, destroy the walls of my hypocrisy!
Change my heart so that it pumps Your virtue through my soul
and Your character radiates through the walls of this mortality.
Forgive me for a backwards Christianity.

Care to Accept a Challenge?

24 02 2008

Last week, I came across a “challenge” at Timmy Brister’s blog Provocations and Pantings.  He is encouraging others to get acquainted with the Puritans by taking a “Puritan Reading Challenge.”  On his blog, he has laid out a monthly reading list that serves as a great and diverse introduction to Puritan thought and writing.  Several bloggers have accepted the challenge (over 100!) and are conversing in the blogosphere about what they are reading.

After reading through Timmy’s list, I decided to accept the challenge (although I’m almost two months late).  Why did I accept?

First, as I have been growing in my love for Puritan teaching and preaching I have acquired a number of Puritan titles.  However, I haven’t really had any set “plan” about how to approach them.  The Puritan Challenge reading list, being balanced among a variety of authors and topics, sets out a great plan to follow and I really thank Tim for taking the time to share it.  I’m looking forward to walking down this monthly path to a better acquaintance with a number of Puritan authors.   

Second, because the Challenge is built around the Puritan Paperback collection, each month’s title is very affordable (most books are around $6, with the most expensive title being $8).  Reformation Heritage Books even put together a package deal, where you can purchase all 12 books for only $65.00!  This makes it easy to add a new book each month and not feel like I am doing damage to the family budget (with a new baby on the way, this is important!).

And, lastly, I accepted the challenge because it is always more enjoyable to read through a book with others.  I’m looking forward to reading what others have to say about each month’s book and for engaging in some intra-blogosphere discussion.  

So, what about you?  Interested in joining the challenge?  Don’t worry if you don’t have a blog, you can always come here to discuss what you’re reading!

My plan is to begin with the March title, which happens to be Thomas Watson’s A Godly Man’s Picture.  (When I saw that it was next on the list, I got really excited since it was sitting on my “to-be-read” shelf!)  The book is affordable ($ 6.50 at Monergism), easy to read, and short (only 250 small pages).   Throughout the month I’ll put up a few posts with some of my thoughts on the book, some quotes, and maybe a topic or two for discussion.  I’d love to have you join me in reading the book and then weigh in on what you think.

So, what do you say?  Are you up for a challenge?

For more information on the “Challenge” or to see the full reading list, click on the link below. 

Puritan Reading Challenge

The Testimony of Two More

23 02 2008

How are you doing in your commitment to pray during these 40 days (Feb. 6th- March 16th) for an end to abortion?  I hope you have made the decision to join us in prayer and that this issue weighs heavy on your heart.  I praise God that this week, as I again gathered with others to pray outside of the local Planned Parenthood, I was joined by my friends Jenaya and Becky who stood with me and prayed for 2 hours!  My heart was so encouraged by their presence and to be part of a group of believers filling the sidewalk in front of that evil place with the sounds of scripture, song, and prayer.  At one point we had a lovely choir of eight singing “Amazing Grace” and joining together in reading Psalm 103:1-2!

I asked Jenaya and Becky if they would share with you some of their thoughts on our time at the prayer vigil and they graciously agreed (and wonderfully exceeded my expectations!).  I hope their “testimony” of our time together in prayer will encourage others to join with us during these 40 days, and not just pray with us from home but make your presence known publicly by joining a prayer vigil in your area.  Again, if you’d like to join me this week, just drop me a note and let me know.  Now to the testimonies… 

Jenaya writes:
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