Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Birthday Blessings

The last few days have been a wonderful celebration of my birthday. My mother made a delicious birthday lunch for Sunday: grilled salmon with capers sauce and some of my favorite side dishes along with a family favorite, orange-pineapple cake. (Sorrry, we didn't have the camera.)

Mr. Edwards also made a birthday cake and last night we enjoyed it with our family of six. (Mr. Edwards took all the pictures and isn't in any of them! Oops.)



The cake had to be stored on top of our kitchen cabinets all day long because Toby wanted to eat it so badly. I know he was more thrilled to light the candles than I was. At least we lacked the right number of candles! The kids asked me, "Why are there only six candles, Mom?"



The boys gave me a bouquet of carnations and the girls gave me a sweet charm for my necklace. It is engraved with "Mom."



After all the kids were tucked in, our friends and neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. B. came over for cake. (Yes, I had another slice!) Mrs. B. gave me the book Desiring God, which, if you can believe it, I hadn't read yet! Last night I couldn't resist starting in on reading it. It turns out that The Weight of Glory was one of the things that influenced John Piper to encapsulate his understanding of the Christian life in this way: "God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him."

The Bible reading plan I use has me reading Colossians every year around my birthday (along with the end of Proverbs and portions of 2 Chronicles about Asa, Jehoshaphat, and the prophet Micaiah). Nearly every line in Colossians is underlined in my Bible. Listen to this:
"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:...In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth...Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience...Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..." (Col. 3:2-4, 5a, 8, 12a, 16a)
But don't settle for this cut-and-paste version of Colossians 3! Read the whole thing. (It also goes along very well with the account of Micaiah, who had his mind set on things above and lived as one already dead to the world.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cap and Trade Sing-a-Long


Hat Tip: NRO's The Corner. Sorry to go political after The Weight of Glory! Warning; If you play this video you risk your kids running around singing "Cap and Trade!" which may not make your day very joyful!

The Weight of Glory

From C. S. Lewis's The Weight of Glory:
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. Bur our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner--no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.
After seeing a tweet from @JohnPiper this morning directing me to the first paragraph of Lewis's sermon The Weight of Glory, I pulled my C. S. Lewis collection off the shelf and read the whole thing. Hopefully you have one around and you can do the same. If not, you may read it online here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Humility and the LORD's Righteousness

Meditating on my morning devotions:
Humility is knowing that the LORD is righteous and right in what He does. It is saying, "Lord, you are right to do this to me," rather than, "Lord, why are you doing this to me?" or "Lord, this isn't fair."

God sent the Egyptian king Shishak as a conqueror over King Rehoboam, in response to Judah's disobedience.
"Thus says the LORD, 'You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.' " Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, "The LORD is righteous."
(2 Chron. 12:6) ESV
Finally humbled, the people saw that God was right to send Shishak. They deserved nothing better and agreed with God.

Before I can beg for God's mercy, I must humbly declare He is righteous in what He does. I don't deserve a Redeemer. There is nothing good in me. But Christ is my Redeemer and I boast only in the cross.

What happened to Rehoboam? Read 2 Chronicles 12:7ff.

It All Comes Back to Jesus!

All four kids had a super time last week at Vacation Bible School. So often VBS week can be overwhelmed by a cool theme, fun music and crafts, with little attention given to the Gospel, other than a quick invitation on last day. However, their week on the "Boomerang Express" was, as nearly as I can tell, very centered on the Gospel.


The picture below shows Toby and his class around the "campfire" (look for the orange tissue paper) hearing about Jesus.



All the kids made didgeridoos, and below you see Toby blowing his enthusiastically.



Daily Applications:
  • Because Jesus loves and chooses me, I can follow Him.
  • Because Jesus is the Son of God, I can worship Him.
  • Because Jesus died for me, I can confess Him as my Savior.
  • Because Jesus forgives me, I can still serve Him.
  • Because Jesus helps me, I can follow God's plan for me.
I often find VBS curricula sorely lacking in depth, but Lifeway's Boomerang Express seems theologically rich and centered on the Gospel. Thanks so much to all the leaders who put hours of work into obeying God through serving in VBS.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sovereign over the Search

I was startled to notice in my SiteMeter stats that someone found my blog, in the wee hours of the morning, after entering the following words into her search engine:
disabled and have lost everything husband out of work lost home, treasured dog of 11 years , friends, and family. why do i go on.
I can't understand what about this collection of words called up my blog, except perhaps the sovereignty of God over all things, even Internet searches. But did this woman find the only comfort that really matters, the only words of hope that ring true when you've hit bottom, the powerful words of God?

It worries me that she didn't. I'm imagining that she clicked this blog and then hit "back." That she "bounced" right off because she didn't find what she was looking for.

If only I could scream out to her, "Wait! Come back! I added some Scriptures to my sidebar! There is hope! There is a reason! This disappointing, miserable, everyone-lets-me-down existence isn't all there is! There is Christ! He loves you, He died for You! If see your sin and repent and believe in Him He will SATISFY! You will find joy that is nonsensical. That overcomes your suffering. Please come back and read about Jesus!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Freedom from Unrelenting Triviality

John Piper writes about life without television and movies:
All Christ-exalting transformation comes from “beholding the glory of Christ.” “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Whatever dulls the eyes of our mind from seeing Christ powerfully and purely is destroying us. There is not one man in a thousand whose spiritual eyes are more readily moved by the beauty of Christ because he has just seen a bare breast with his buddies.

But leave sex aside (as if that were possible for fifteen minutes on TV). It’s the unremitting triviality that makes television so deadly. What we desperately need is help to enlarge our capacities to be moved by the immeasurable glories of Christ. Television takes us almost constantly in the opposite direction, lowering, shrinking, and deadening our capacities for worshiping Christ.
Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gallery

If you're looking for Lane, you can find him at his desk with colored pencil in hand. Yes, he loves to run around outside, play army, cowboys, and Battleship with his friends Matthew and Jotham. But he squeezes in drawing whenever he can. He dashes downstairs first thing in the morning, hoping I won't notice him sneak past in his jammies, and heads for his desk. Here are some recent drawings (Lane is six, nearly seven):

Lane loves to draw sailing ships. He gets ideas from Richard Scarry's books and other illustrated books around out house. After we noticed that he drew his sails quite small, he was frustrated by the feedback. Then he explained it was hard to draw the sails big and still leave room for the flags. Mr. Edwards showed him photographs and drawings of real sailing ships from the internet and helped him see the overlap of sails and mast. After that, he began changing the way he drew his sails.

Lane is careful to draw the flags blowing the same direction in which the sails are billowing. Notice the Union Jack. He is listening lately to "The Spirit of the Stars and Stripes" from The Story Hour and imagines sea battles.

In this picture he drew a cutaway view of a submarine.

He experimented with drawing the ship's ends, bow and stern.

An earlier attempt at drawing a ship's bow with a submarine ramming the side. As you can see, he lost interest in this one.


In this one the sails are much bigger. Notice the cannons on deck. I see some signs of Lane trying to draw them in perspective.

This war battle scene is an earlier drawing he made of the scene that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner."

This ship is docked. The rectangle shapes on the side are the cannon doors, shut since the ship is docked.
A pirate ship.

Cowboys herding cattle. I noticed that Lane did a nice job of drawing the cow behind the fence, near the barn, and the black horse running with two cows running along side. Lane drew the barb wire fence sagging down to the ground because he often sees something like it on our drive to the lake.

Monday, June 22, 2009

We Love You, Daddy



David Michael writes in "A Father's Guide to Blessing His Children," a booklet available from Children Desiring God:
Although blessing his wife and children will not make a man a godly leader, I have found it to be a place where many men can begin. The discipline of blessing his children at bedtime can begin to give a man a sense that he is doing something spiritually significant for his children. It helps him to feel more like a leader and thus more likely to embrace the wider responsibility for the spiritual encouragement of his wife and children. It helps build confidence when he sees God work through such a simple thing...(p. 13)

...Since I first began blessing my daughters I have had a vision of a night, 160 years from now. I imagine a young man kneeling beside his child's bed, pronouncing the same blessing that his great great great gandfather Michael pronounced over his great great grandma. This is more than a sentimental desire. it is rooted in an earnest prayer that a river of faith will flow through my descendents and that all of them will fear the Lord. (p. 17)
The booklet comes with two sets of blessing cards (12 per set) which have Scripture verses written in the form of spoken blessings.

Lost Locks



Need I say more? We have a donation to Locks of Love ready to go!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!


A few pictures from our recent trip to visit my grandfather:

He's in the hospital right now, but was feeling pretty good and seemed very glad to see us. I know we were glad to see him!

While we were in town, we took the kids over to Great-Grandpa's house to see all his model boats. Lane has lately been drawing sailing ships and I knew he would enjoy seeing Great-Grandpa's boats. He has made models of the Bounty, the three Columbus ships, a Phoenician sailboat, the Mayflower, and others. The kids are pictured below standing next to the model of the Bounty.


Lane drew a picture of one of the model boats which he then gave to Great-Grandpa.

I'm so thankful for all the fathers in our family: my dad, my grandfather, my husband, and his dad.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rebels with a Cause

The Tweeting-for-Iran phenomenon is nothing short of amazing. But one wonders if all the green tweeters really know what they are fighting for. Naturally, I'd prefer a different president in Iran--we'd all like to see that nation have freedom, but do we really know much about the opposition cause?
"A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." (Proverbs 18:2) ESV
A quick look at all the #IranElection tweets reveals dozens of tweeters--hundreds even--each minute posting something about supporting the Iranians. "Turn your picture green; here's how." "Change your location to Tehran to confuse the Iranian government." "Support Democracy in Iran!" "Help Iranians foil the government with internet proxy addresses." And on and on.

A friend asked me, "So did you go green?"

"No," I replied, "I can't make gestures of support for a movement whose slogan is 'Allah is Great!'" My friend agreed.

Some analysis suggests that the opposition is not rebelling against the Islamic theocracy as much as they are the personality of their president. One wonders if they are truly fighting for the freedoms that American tweeters imagine that they are.

And what about those American tweeters who suddenly love to say, "We're all Iranians now!" Mr. Edwards hit the nail on the head:

"It's just rebellion. Everyone likes to rebel."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rescued, Part 2

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Galatians 1:3-5 (ESV)
I was so taken with this passage from Galatians that I looked up to see if Charles Spurgeon had a sermon on it. Indeed he did, sermon number 2483, "The Object of Christ's Death" dated 1896. I offer a few quotes in the hope that you will read the whole thing:
"The apostle Paul, in his writings, is notable for the fact that he scarcely ever mentions the name of the Lord Jesus Christ without pausing to praise and bless him...Brethren, let us all try to keep a heart like the apostle's, so full of love to Christ that we have only to come across his track, and we shall at once fall down, and worship and adore him, or upon the wings of holy love mount up nearer to his throne."

"This, then, is the great object of Christ's death, to deliver us from the world's condemnation[*], and to deliver us from the world's condition...Yet once more, he will do this by delivering us from all fear of this world...O brothers and sisters, were the martyrs as brave as this, and are we going to yield to whatever laws and rules the world lives to lay down for us? Do we mean to believe its current theology, or philosophy, and do or not do as it may dictate? For my part, "I would as lief not be as live to be in awe of such a thing as I myself." Since Christ has given me my liberty, I am his servant; and whether I am in the fashion or out of the fashion, is no concern of mine so long as I please him. Dear friends, let it be so with you, I pray you, and may the Lord daily divide you more and more from the world, so that, at home or abroad, everybody can see that you are not of the world! Love men, seek their good, and in the highest and best sense be far more loving to the world than the world is to itself; but still, fear it not. Why should you? It is "the present evil world" which "lieth in the wicked one." It is for you bravely to bear your protest against the world every day you live, for to this end did he come to this earth, "that he might deliver us from this present evil world."
* That is, the condemnation of God's judgment on the world for its (our) sin. So Spurgeon is saying that when we believe in Christ we are saved from eternal condemnation and we are saved from the condition of the world, which is enslaved to sin. It is a bit unfair to strip these quotes out of the sermon. I hope you will enjoy it in full here. (All bold emphasis mine.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Come Running to You

Aren't you thankful that God doesn't evaluate our problems, our crises, our pain and grief, and then say, "This one you can handle without Me?" As I was thanking God this morning for His ever-present comfort, it occurred to me how prideful I was to think that some of the things I face are manageable on my own.

I think it is a constant temptation for me to cling to the doctrine of justification by faith but then live out a doctrine of sanctification by my own effort, not the Spirit in me. And this morning God said to me,
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?...Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith--just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"? (Galatians 3:3,5-6) ESV

As I wrote out my prayers this morning, I found myself writing, "And I come running to You! Forgive me for trying to do it alone." What a blessing the Sovereign Grace song "I Come Running" has been to me! Listening to the Valley of Vision album makes my whole day one of ceaseless prayer! An excerpt:
Jesus, I am blind, be my light
Darkened in my mind, be my wisdom
Bend my stubborn will to Your own
Open up my ears to hear Your Spirit
Melt my conscience once again
Help me hate the slightest sin
And when Satan comes to tempt me

Chorus
I come running to You, when I fear, when I ’m tried
I come running to You, to Your blood, to Your side
And there my soul finds rest
There my soul finds rest in You
By Mark Altrooge © Sovereign Grace Praise 2005
Click here to listen to tracks from the Valley of Vision album.
Sharon, thanks for recommending this music!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

That's the Gospel




Last week we hosted a 5-Day Club and had from 12-18 kids, depending on the day, in our basement family room. Three teens presented the club, after they attended a week of training through the Christian Youth in Action program. For them, it is the second week of a two-week camp-like discipleship and training program. For us, it provided an opportunity to host a 5-Day Club, reach out to our neighborhood with the Gospel, and show our children the possibilities ahead of them for serving Christ.

The team of teachers took turns presenting the Wordless book story, the songs, and the missionary story. Each day after the Bible lesson (Wordless book story) that teacher left the room to wait in case any of the kids wanted to talk with them about believing in Jesus.

Jessica, Hannah, Tony, and Cory came each day to serve our family and our neighbors and friends. Tony, a CEF staff member, drove the crew each day to and from the club.

After club I served cookies to everyone and on one afternoon the kids went outside to run through the sprinklers and cool off.


It doesn't seem possible to hear the Gospel too many times, does it? Hope and Sydney, at nine years old, are beginning to think more deeply about what Christ means to their lives. Meanwhile, Lane is on the brink of turning seven and Toby is just three. They are all in different stages of development and understanding of the impact that the Gospel has on themselves. I found it very valuable for them to hear the lessons as they sat near their neighborhood friends, some who may not have heard about Jesus.

Hosting a 5-Day Club was just one more way of teaching my children, through actions, that the truth of Jesus Christ changes everything about the way we live our life. It is my hope that hosting a summer neighborhood Bible club outreach is one more way of showing our kids that "normal" life includes standing strong for the Gospel of Christ and proclaiming His Name, for His glory, to everyone!

And what is the Gospel? "That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." (I Corinthians 15:3-4) NIV

Friday, June 12, 2009

Resist the Royalty Act

Are you allowing your daughters to be manipulated by marketers? Shopping for 'tween daughters isn't just a fun Saturday afternoon pastime. It is an exercise in godly discernment. Are you ready? Is your daughter? Can she recognize the evil that lurks in the 'tween "princess" products? This article by Megan Basham will cause you to sit up and take notice. Here's an excerpt:
Take the popular tween retailer Justice. At malls nationwide, it carries multiple "Princess" tops and accessories that look a lot more like Paris Hilton's attire than Snow White's. No surprise that part of its marketing slogan is "Love yourself."

...Sadly, even believing Christians are participating in the princess push. Christian retail outlets like A Different Direction carry "God's Girlz," glamour dolls dressed in princess shirts and spandex with sparkling tiaras on their heads. St. Paul may have exhorted women to be modest in their dress, but many church-going girls proudly wear Christian-marketed clothing imprinted with messages like "Yes, I am a Princess." The small print underneath -- "I'm a daughter of the King" -- is supposed to differentiate the sentiment from secular princess gear (never mind that the King's firstborn declared himself not a prince but a servant of all.)

Rescued

I read Galatians 1 this morning and meditated on the chapter with Eric Liddell's devotional questions, especially

2. What have I specially to thank God for this morning? and
5. What bearing does this morning’s Bible passage have on my life, and what does He want me to do about it?

Heavenly Father,
I thank you for the grace and peace you've given me through Your Son Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for my sins to deliver me from this present evil age, according to Your will. You, who set me apart before I was born, who called me by Your grace, who revealed Your Son to me, in order that I might glorify You forever! (verses 3-5, 15)

Am I seeking the approval of man? Or of You, my Creator God? Am I trying to please man? For if I am, I am not a servant of Christ! (verse 10)

I plead for the work of Christ in me to change my whole heart. Let me not give into what my own evil culture demands of me. Let me not be confused by a distorted gospel. Let me instead be so saturated by Your Word that I am unshaken by false gospels, undeterred by doubt, and confident even when surrounded by unbelief. (verses 6-9)


It is interesting to me that Paul says, "...who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age..." (v. 4) It isn't only a deliverance from a future, eternal condemnation, but a deliverance from the present evil age. Consider:

1 John 5: 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Ephesians 2:1-8
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mysterious Treasure

"...that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:2-3)
Essential reading:
"Finally, GOD is the goal of the Gospel. Heaven is not the ultimate goal. Sin forgiven is not the ultimate goal. Our happiness is not the ultimate goal of the Gospel. God is the goal: that His greatness and worth would be treasured most of all (Philippians 3:7-8, 1 Peter 2:9). The Gospel exists to bring us near to God so that we might trust, love, treasure, enjoy, and worship Him forever. And yes, that God-centered and God-exalting goal does result in our ultimate and everlasting joy! (Psalm 16:11)."From Helping Children to Understand the Gospel, by Sally Michael, Jill Nelson, and Bud Burk, page 31

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reading with Abandon

My friend Sharon recently blazed through the Twilight book series. She described her Twilight week as follows:
"So possibly only my mother will be unsurprised to hear that I finished reading the entire series on Saturday, four and a half days later. You might have wondered why there was a complete dearth of posting on this blog between Monday and Saturday. Well, now you know! "

I know exactly what she means. Our daughter Hope has been lost to me this week as she is blazing through another, older book series: The Borrowers. So at 9:30 this morning when she sat in her nightgown at the breakfast table reading Borrowers Aloft, her bagels on the plate with only two bites gone, I was conflicted. Of course I should be reprimanding her for neglecting her morning--get dressed! eat! start your chores!--but all I could do was sympathize. She only had a few more pages left!

Despair into Hope

Back in April my father took a short-term missions team to Nairobi for about a fortnight. For dad it was a return to a city he and mom called home for about four years, over a decade ago. Dad and the team were partnering with missionaries there, helping with a project to instill skylights in the Mathare slum. As others cut the roofs and installed the skylights, Dad shared the gospel with the Kenyans that live in Mathare. There are roughly 800,000 people in Mathare, one of Nairobi's largest slums, and yet the area is less than one square mile. 

Here is a poem Dad wrote about his experience (first posted online by the missionaries that hosted the team, here).
As an act of obedience, to Mathare we came
And now our lives will never be the same.
For we witnessed a rescue that was epic in scope,
As we watched God move people from depair into hope.
It’s hard to imagine a place more full of depair.
One may exist, but I sure don’t know where.
The surroundings are filthy, the homes are all dark.
You’d never go there on a whim or a lark.
With walls of mud and roofs of rusty tin,
It seems like everything but light can get in.
If ever you hear me gripe, complain or grouse,
Remind me my closet’s as big as their house.
The sun beats down hot and there’s seldom a breeze,
And the use of flying toilets spreads their disease.
With no sewer and few toilets, it smells like a sty,
Cause people put waste in a bag and then let it fly.
This is the setting in which we saw God’s might,
As we shared the gospel and gave out the light.
We opened a window in the roof and in came the sun,
And some of the people opened their hearts to God’s Son.
This is the devil’s territory and it’s caught in his grip,
But with power from the Lord, some gave him the slip.
Now there is hope where once was despair,
As some have discovered that God really does care.
By Jim Shimer © 2009

Dad mentioned to me after returning that when we think eternally, we realize that the residents of Mathare who have Christ are far better off than residents of our city who have big houses, plenty of toilets, but darkened hearts blinded to truth. If only we can start thinking eternally, realizing that our life on earth is fleeting.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

5-Day Club


For my local readers: We are hosting a 5-Day Club next week (June 8-12) each day from 2:00 to 3:00 at our home. There will be a Bible story, a missionary story, songs, games, and snacks. We've invited a lot of neighbors, but would love to have any of our other friends as well. 

If you have questions, feel free to email.

Incongruencies

A few rambling observations about the recent murder of an infamous late-term abortion provider, and the ensuing national discussion:

It Happened in a Church
Before last week's murder, most national discussion characterized the debate as one in which the religious were pro-life and the secular pro-choice. So it struck me as completely odd that a prominent personality of the pro-abortion movement would meet his terrible end while serving at his Protestant church. National Catholic figures have been pressed on their contradictions in this regard. Speaker Pelosi and others have been forced to address the in-congruency of their profession of Catholic faith and their commitment to abortion rights. But here we have not just an advocate of abortion rights, but a provider of them, that didn't just attend a Lutheran church, but even served as an usher there. Perhaps the liberalization of mainline Protestant denominations makes this unsurprising.

According to media accounts, people find this assassination particularly shocking because it took place at a church, "a place of peace." Leaving aside the horror of murder, consider the cultural perception of church as "a place of peace." I wonder if this is the same sort of peace that Jesus brought?
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him..." (Colossians 1:19-22)
I think that many people consider church to be a place of peace or refuge. Indeed, God is our refuge. But a refuge is not the same as a resort. Church isn't a place to go for rest and relaxation. It is a place of worship. And worship means encountering the Holy God. When we truly do that, we can only collapse in woe as did Isaiah:
"Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:5)
It is then we see that the peace we need is peace between our wicked selves and God--a reconciliation provided only in Christ.

Murder in the name of life
Much has been made of the contradiction of a murder being committed for a pro-life cause. Of course this is a true contradiction and it was a wicked deed. Pro-abortion apologists, however, are taking the opportunity to ridicule the inconsistencies of pro-life beliefs. Consider this excerpt from Jeff Schweitzer, on the Huffington Post: 
Let us look at the rationale for many of those who oppose abortion. A primary argument rests on the notion that life is sacred. Indeed, the very term "sanctity of life" is code for opposition to abortion, supposedly indicating a pious regard for all things living. But nothing could be further from the truth. Cows, pigs, goats and sheep are alive, but killing them for food is not questioned. Hunting big game for sport is just fine. But since cows and big game are alive, the unctuous appeal to the "sanctity of life" is absurd. Plants are alive, but I suspect the "sanctity" part only applies to animals. What abortion opponents mean is that some forms of life, that only they have the right to define, are sacred, while others can be disregarded as long as they give the okay.
(emphasis added; full article here)
At first I found this laughable, but it is no laughing matter for Mr. Schweitzer. He is disgusted, and convinced he has discovered the Achilles heel of our pro-life position.

If it were true that only the forms of life "that they have the right to define" are sacred, than he would be correct. It is absurd. Why should we mind the authority of a "movement"? But we appeal to a higher standard. Genesis 1:27:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

The implications of this are far-reaching. Understanding that we are made in the image of God and yet sinners in rebellion against God changes how you understand the world around you. It is vital that we teach this principle to our kids.

Anecdotally, I find that kids from Christian homes routinely miss this answer. I've asked kids in Sunday School and in homeschool groups "What is the difference between us and animals?" Almost always I hear answers like "We walk and talk" or "We read." I asked a group recently "What is the difference between penguins (who do not seek their own glory) and people (who do)?" The kids launched into a list of the differences between mammals and birds. Our culture programs kids to think only biologically and materially about these issues. We must work overtime to get them thinking first about the spiritual truths.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ponder the path

Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
(Proverbs 4:23-27)
The other night after our kids were tucked in for the night, Mr. Edwards put a movie on for us to watch as we wound down from the day. It was a witty comedy that we loved when we saw it in the theaters nearly ten years ago. We hadn't seen it in quite a while. I settled in next to Mr. Edwards to watch, but soon I was wondering what I ever enjoyed about the film. A few scenes still made me laugh, but the profane sarcasm of the wit was nauseating. I didn't remember it being that way.

Parenting has left us little time for keeping up with whatever Hollywood serves up, but before we had kids we were regular movie viewers. I faithfully read the Friday movie reviews and it wasn't unusual for us to go to the theaters nearly every weekend. We never decided to quit watching movies or quit reading all the Hollywood reviews and news, but over time we've had little opportunity to do such things. We committed early on in our parenting to keep the television off when our kids are awake (except for occasional sporting events), so there isn't much time for media. (Funny that we instinctively knew our kids shouldn't see television, but assumed that we could watch and be unaffected.)

Here's the point: Although I didn't decide that movies were corrupting my thinking and I needed to stop filling my mind with so much media, that is exactly what happened. And along the way I discovered that while I believed I was immune to the corrupting influence of movies and television,  I wasn't immune at all. It had influenced me and corrupted my thinking.

All of this has me remembering Thomas Chalmer's sermon "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection." It is very difficult to determine to cut sinful or corrupting desires out of our lives, as much as we must do so. Replacing those sinful desires with a desire for something better is far more effective. We can't just stop pursuing the world. We must start pursuing God. Chalmers wrote:
"You never will be able to arrest any of its leading pursuits by a naked demonstration of their vanity. It is quite in vain to think of stopping one of these pursuits in any way else but by stimulating to another...But what can not be thus destroyed, may be dispossest—and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind."
I've been thinking about contentedness this week and examining my heart. Am I content? Or am I craving things of the world? What is the most effective way to become content? Is it by determining to turn my back on the things I crave and practice self-denial? Or will a more lasting cure be found in directing my cravings after what deeply satisfies: Christ.
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35-36)
What will it take for me to crave the only sustenance that fills instead of the empty calories of the world? Jesus tells me I need to ask for this everyday. I need to remind myself everyday that He is the bread of life.
"But he answered, "It is written,
"'Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
(Matthew 4:4)

"Give us this day our daily bread."
(Matthew 6:11)
Contentedness comes from God. We cannot attain it apart from Him. We cannot aim for it, or any other virtue. But we can daily feed on the Word and be filled with the Spirit and then discover that contentedness has settled upon us gently and completely.
(I've mentioned Chalmers before here.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer

Last summer I attempted early on to establish a schedule. Although it ended up evolving significantly over the course of the summer, it helped to start from somewhere. I also tried a "zone defense" on chores that was somewhat successful. Right now we have a notecard system and the chores rotate between siblings. The important thing is that we are actually doing them each morning.

Looking forward to this summer, I have a to-do list forming:

  • Prime and re-paint the old metal patio chairs.
  • Paint the basement bathroom.
  • Clean the school book shelves and consider parting with some of the less-important selections (such as "Bob the Builder and Colors"). If you've seen our bookshelves you know I'm not into chucking children's books. For better or worse, a childhood experience is to blame here. I loved the book Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter as a child. One of my favorite pastimes was looking at each bear's decorated tree (Swedish painted furniture for this bear, Modern for that bear, Chinese decor here, Medieval look there). My mother got rid of the book after I grew out of picture books and we moved to a different place. When I looked for it as an adult, it was out of print and used copies were selling for about $1,000. When the book was re-released a few years back I bought a copy for each of my daughters. Now I see it is out of print again! And selling for $159.00 as of this posting. Hmm. If you want to borrow ours I suppose we'll need a security deposit!  
  • Empty kitchen cabinets, clean the shelves.
  • Clean some closets, particularly the school closet and the basement storage room.
Not to mention reading with the kids, swimming, going to the lake whenever we can, Vacation Bible School week, the 5-Day Club we are hosting, neighborhood walks, fishing, and so on.

Summer Devotions
By the grace of God my daily devotional time is such an ingrained habit that I didn't even need to make plans to be sure I stayed faithful over the summer (after the conclusion of BSF). I'm carrying on with daily reading following the Victory Bible Reading Plan. Actually, since January I haven't used the VBRP each day, but spent several months focusing on Paul's letters as well as the second semester of BSF's Life of Moses in my daily readings. Without BSF, however, I switched back to the reading plan's schedule.

Yesterday in my final 3rd grade Sunday School lesson for the year, I taught the kids about Eric Liddell. As I read about Liddell in preparation, I came across his daily devotional questions:
1. Have I surrendered this new day to God, and will I seek and obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout its hours?
2. What have I specially to thank God for this morning?
3. Is there any sin in my life for which I should seek Christ’s forgiveness and cleansing? Is there any apology or restitution to make?
4. For whom does God want me to pray this morning?
5. What bearing does this morning’s Bible passage have on my life, and what does He want me to do about it?
6. What does God want me to do today and how does He want me to do it?
(Found at urbana.org)
I gave each student a copy of these questions to tuck in their Bibles and challenged them to begin reading their Bibles each day and use Eric Liddell's questions to help them worship God. Since my own daughters are in the class, I reminded them this morning of the challenge I gave Sunday. They eagerly ran off for their Bibles and journals and began reading. Sydney is reading Ephesians and Hope chose Job. I sat on the front porch, as I often do on summer mornings, reading my Bible and the girls sat on the step nearby reading theirs. It was so exciting to see Sydney journalling her prayers. Hope chose to bow her head in prayer and later came to me to apologize for something (see #3, above). Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!
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