Job, Grief, and the Cross of Christ

28 06 2008

A week ago last Thursday, my wife and I found out we were expecting our third child.  We were both stunned as our youngest is just three months and were a bit overwhelmed by the thought of such a quick “turn-a-round.”  However, after the shock wore off, we both grew in our excitement over the thought of a new baby on the way.  We told our parents and friends and many in our church family.  We scheduled our first doctor’s appointment and began talking with both of our girls about their new sibling.

A week after finding out we were expecting, we sat in the doctor’s office watching the ultrasound screen and tried to take in the what we were seeing.  On the screen there was what looked like our child’s tiny little body, but there was no heartbeat and no movement.  The doctor silently and intently stared at the monitor.  Amy and I did the same.  Our delight was turning to concern and, after a gracious explanation from the doctor, it turned to mourning.  Although our child’s little body remained, its life was gone and so were our expectations.

Emotions have come like waves.  At one moment, I feel nothing- ready to move on.  The next I’m so overcome, I feel like sobs are going to explode out of me.  Telling Rylie (our 3 year old) and watching the waves continue to crash upon my wife have all been moments of piercing rawness- moments that expose vulnerability and frailness in me I’d rather not discover.  My heart hurts for my family and for thoughts of what would have been.

And through all of this, this last week of extreme emotional highs and lows, I have been walking through life with Job. Read the rest of this entry »


Kung Fu Christian – Lesson 1: There Are No Accidents!

27 06 2008

Join me, my friend, in the spiritual disciplines of becoming a Kung Fu Christian.  Today’s lesson – the Sovereignty of God in all things.

Hi-ya!  Watcha! Here we go!

Prepare for AwesomenessAs a loving father of a 3 year old I had the duty of taking my son to see the recently released Dreamworks animated movie “Kung Fu Panda”. (Of course as an animator and artist I wanted to see it anyway!) As a whole, the movie was very enjoyable (actually better than I imagined) with more than a few good gut laughs at the Panda’s expense in learning Kung-Fu. All cool fight scenes aside, however, there were some statements made during the movie that were worth exploring further. Let us test them to see if they hold up to the truth of God’s word and what it means in our lives as Kung Fu Christians!

There were, of course, the few obligatory zen-like references in being one with nature and the universe. However, the movie stayed away from religious discussions for the most part. The exception was a single statement that is repeated several times (and the movie even made fun of itself for doing this). In doing so, I would expect that this statement was the primary point the movie was trying to present as its core belief.

The line I want to discuss today is simply this: “There are no accidents.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Planned Parenthood: “The LensCrafters of Family Planning”?

26 06 2008

Dr. Albert Mohler has posted a disturbing article on the new strategy of Planned Parenthood.  The organization is seeking to take its “product” to a mall near you.  The post does a good job at exposing what is really driving these centers for “social services” and it is not care for the needy, but a desire to make a profit off of the helpless.  Pray that God would thwart this new effort and please continue to support those who truly are caring for the needy and the helpless.

Pagan Accountability (is sometimes the best kind)

25 06 2008

One of the reasons Ryan asked me to become a contributor on this blog is that multiple authors bring multiple viewpoints and realms of experience.  Most notably, Ryan is not exposed to the secular work environment most of us know so well (lucky dog!).

When considering what wisdom I can offer to fellow Christians from my unique career path, one observation comes immediately to mind.  When you enter a new job or position, make an immediate effort to let everyone know you are a Christian.  I offer myself as a case study:

My first job out of high school was a pretty sweet gig for a teenager.  I was a call center representative for a video game company.  I actually had a 13″ TV and a game console on my desk next to my computer to play between calls.  Like I said… pretty sweet.  I had no spiritual agenda when I started that job; I aimed to get to know the people, do my job, collect a paycheck, and start college.  It all started out fine, but I noticed a problem as time went on.  With each interaction with my coworkers, I pushed my “moral line” back a little bit.  I laughed at the wrong jokes, I entertained gossip, etc…  After about a year went by, I realized I had an image with my friends at work that was perfectly acceptable to them, but was not honoring to God.  I felt ashamed of myself and I tried to keep my faith secret for fear of associating Christ with the unwholesome talk and attitudes I had been displaying.

My misery ended when I was laid off from the job.  After four months of unemployment (and getting married!), I landed an exciting job in the dining industry.  I flipped burgers for the local campus burger joint.  Actually, I should clarify that I had to work my tail off to get promoted to the position of flipping burgers.  While my surrounding were not nearly as comfortable, I reflect on the two years I spent serving food much more favorably than when I got to play “Mario” at work.  Why?

The first thing I did was to make as many subtle, yet clear remarks about my faith.  I would talk about my involvment in Church, read my Bible during breaks, and sing hymns to myself while working.  While this did make me a target for jokes and jeers, it had an amazing benefit.  Almost everyone at that place was an unbeliever and they watched me like a hawk.  I knew that I was under intense scrutiny from them because they knew I was a believer.  This kept me honest, cheerful, encouraging, and almost everything I wanted to be for Christ because I knew I couldn’t erase their first impression of who I was.  It was wonderful.

Even more exciting was that after a while, I became the guy everyone came to when they had a question about God.  I was the Bible guru!  Many good conversations were had during 15 minute breaks and seeds were sown for salvation.  I wrote about my favorite example (concerning homosexuality) on my old blog here.

If you need accountability at work, look no further than your unsaved colleagues.  Tell them you’re a child of God and the mere knowledge that they are watching your every move will help keep you clean as a whistle.  And if you have a saved coworker, latch on to them like glue.  I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to have a fellow saint at work to talk to.  God wants us to be light and salt, and sometimes the watchful eyes of pagans are just the thing to keep us bright and tasty… figuratively speaking.

More Muddy Feet?

23 06 2008

I am very excited to announce that two of my good friends will be joining me as contributors to Out of the Miry Clay. Dave and Chris have both been writing their own blogs for a while (Dave has two blogs of his own and Chris has at least three the last time I checked).  However, when I approached them with the idea of adding some new voices and fresh perspective here at the Miry Clay, they were eager to join.  Let me tell you why I’m so excited about their partnership.

Dave was one of the Sr. High students at our church when I first started here 11 years ago.  We began a relationship together years ago through discipleship and that grew into a friendship that has been a tremendous blessing and encouragement to me.  Over these years, I’ve seen Dave grow from a teenager struggling to understand and apply his faith into a husband, father, and passionate evangelist who delights in our Savior and won’t back down from sharing Him with anyone and everyone.

Although, Dave comes from a long line of missionaries, pastors, and church planters, God lead him into the secular work force.  But don’t think for a moment that by his secular vocation Dave was running from ministry- he was embracing it!  Dave is continually sharing his faith with his co-workers, whether they be atheists, Mormons, Catholics, or just struggling fellow believers who need some scriptural exhortation.  This is one of the reasons I am so excited about Dave joining the blog.  I’m hoping his perspective on and experience of sharing Christ in the secular workplace will be a challenge and encouragement to those of you with the same calling.

In addition to being a workplace evangelist, Dave is also a godly husband and father who takes very seriously his role and is continually thinking through and working out how his faith is applied in his home.  Here also, I am eager to glean wisdom from my brother.

Dave’s voice is a welcomed one here at the Miry Clay and I’m praising the Lord for this new step in our relationship.

Chris is a newer addition to our church, who, although I’ve only known him for a few years, feels like we’ve been friends for decades.  Chris’ calling to ministry and mine are similar, although God took us in almost the exact opposite directions.  Chris is musically gifted and grew up with the desire to go into pastoral ministry as a worship leader.  However, God has also given Chris (and his brother Allan) wonderful artistic talent.  Through events that hopefully Chris will share about, God led him from the direction of ministry through music into Christian service through art. Chris and his brother Allan are now writers and illustrators of two published Christian children’s books and their first novel is coming out this August!  When hearing Chris tell us about his call, I had to laugh as God had called me out of a passion for art and desire to work in that field into pastoral ministry.  I tease Chris that I’m surprised we didn’t meet each other as we were passing by!

I love talking with Chris and watching his intense and creative mind work out and apply his faith.  He is a deep thinker who is continually challenging himself to grow deeper into the knowledge of our God.  Like Dave, Chris is also a bold evangelist who loves the Lord and is passionate for His kingdom.  His life echoes Paul’s passion expressed in Romans 1:16 and the testimony of his gracious boldness is wonderful challenge to me.

As a gifted writer and thoughtful Christian father and husband, I am delighted to have Chris sharing his reflections here.  I promise you, he will make you laugh and make you think.  I’m eager for you to be as challenged and inspired by him as I continually am.

Do We Really Need Theology?

21 06 2008

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who was feeling a bit burned out by the study of doctrine.  He explained that he didn’t see the point in it and had never really liked “theoretical stuff” but just wanted to “do ministry.”  We had a good discussion and the point that I tried to stress with him was that we all have a theology that drives our practice- the question is if our theology is any good or not.  Later that day, I came across this quote in some reading I was doing and thought it really hit the nail on the head.  I hope it encourages us all to persevere in the pursuit of knowing our glorious God!

Every Christian is a theologian.  We are always engaged in the activity of learning about the things of God.  We are not all theologians in the professional or academic sense, but theologians we are, for better or worse.  The ‘for worse’ is no small matter. Second Peter warns that heresies are destructive to the people of God and are blasphemies committed against God.  They are destructive because theology touches every dimension of our lives.

The Bible declares that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he… those ideas that do grasp us in our innermost parts, are the ideas that shape our lives.  We are what we think.  When, however, our thoughts are corrupted, our lives will follow suit.

We all know that people can recite the creeds flawlessly and make A’s in theology courses while living godless lives.  We can affirm a sound theology and live an unsound life.  Sound theology is not enough to live a godly life.  But it is still a requisite for godly living.  How can we do the truth without first understanding what the truth is?

No Christian can avoid theology.  Every Christian has a theology.  The issue, then, is not, do we want to have a theology?  That’s a given.  The real issue is, do we have a sound theology?
(R. C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith)

Broken Pieces and the Providence of God

19 06 2008

Have you ever asked the question, “What in the world is God doing?!”  I’m sure we’ve all had moments when the circumstances in our lives suggest that God has lost His sovereign grip on the universe.  The next time you bump into one of those, remember this important reminder from our dear brother, Thomas Watson:

God is to be trusted when his providences seem to run contrary to his promises.  God promised to give David the crown, to make him king; but providence ran contrary to his promise.  David was pursued by Saul, and was in danger of his life, but all this while it was David’s duty to trust God.  Pray observe, that the Lord by cross providences often brings to pass his promise. God promised Paul the lives of all that were with him in the ship; but the providence of God seemed to run quite contrary to his promise, for the winds blew, the ship split and broke in peices.  Thus God fulfilled his promise; upon the broken pieces of the ship they all came safe to shore.  Trust God when providences seem to run quite contrary to promises. ( “The Providence of God” from A Body of Divinity)