Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sloughs of Grace

(Ecclesiastes 11:1-2) Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.

Most merciful God, as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are Your ways higher than ours. You are perfect, but You are no perfectionist; You are just and merciful and neither at the expense of the other; You demand everything of us, and everything You demand You are pleased to give us freely as a gift. Forgive us dear Lord…

For unlike You we are the very picture of miserliness, stinginess and greed. The love, blessing and joy that You share within the holy Trinity is continually spilling out onto others. You are the ultimate “cheerful giver” and are always and only too glad to give, even at great cost to Yourself. But unlike You, we have not “cast our bread upon the waters.” Fearing want and deprivation, we have hoarded divine blessings to ourselves. And doubting the inexhaustible abundance of Your supply we have determined to stockpile and accumulate, rather than pass-on and allocate the mercies, gifts and provisions that You daily pour into our lives. Lord have mercy upon us…

And hear us now as we confess our particular sins to You...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted

My favorite Good Friday song is an old hymn entitled Stricken, Smitten and Afficted. You can listen to my version of it here. Alleluia, what a Savior!

Unto the Hills...

Good news: The road at the top of Number 2 Canyon is rideable to the second gate. And if the warm weather holds, the road past the second gate (which accesses some of the most beautiful hill-country in all of Washington) could be rideable in a couple of weeks.

For the record, my longing for the hills is entirely biblical. As the psalmist pined and then penned, "Unto the hills I lift my longing eyes..." (Psalm 121:1).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pedal Driven (a Bike-umentary)

The Shadow of the Cross

Several years ago, during family worship, we read through Elisabeth Elliot's biography of Amy Carmichael entitled, A Chance to Die. Shortly afterward I wrote and recorded this chorus entitled, The Shadow of the Cross, which you can listen to here.

(HT: Brittany Johnson)

No, Mr. President...

The "we wept for joy at your inauguration Mr. President" excepted, this is a powerful and sobering video. May God have mercy on our blood-stained nation.

(HT: Josh McPherson)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Prophet One of Your Own...

Here is the well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens' scathing statement regarding the Roman Catholic Church's refusal to deal adequately with it's awful and ongoing child-abuse problem:

"The happiness and the health of countless children was systematically destroyed by men who could count on their clerical bosses to shield them from legal retribution and, it seems, even from moral condemnation. A bit of 'therapy' or a swift change of locale was the worst that most of them had to fear.

Almost every week, I go and debate with spokesmen of religious faith. Invariably and without exception, they inform me that without a belief in supernatural authority I would have no basis for my morality. Yet here is an ancient Christian church that deals in awful certainties when it comes to outright condemnation of sins like divorce, abortion, contraception, and homosexuality between consenting adults. For these offenses there is no forgiveness, and moral absolutism is invoked. Yet let the subject be the rape and torture of defenseless children, and at once every kind of wiggle room and excuse-making is invoked. What can one say of a church that finds so much latitude for a crime so ghastly that no morally normal person can even think of it without shuddering?"

Here are three thoughts regarding Hitchens' statement:

1) Hitchens is absolutely right regarding both the horrific nature of child abuse and the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholics' handling of the matter.

2) Regardless of what the RC hierarchy does to bring these sins into the light, take responsibility for them and make restitution to the victims, these sexual sins will continue in some form or another until the RC Church allows its priests God's provision for coping with sexual desire: marriage.

3) In typical Hitchens fashion, he is railing with all the certitude and righteous indignation of someone who actually has an authoritative and universally binding standard of morality, when in fact he has nothing of the kind. "Hypocrisy", you say Mr. Hitchens? As always, "It takes one to know one."

Please join me in praying that Mr. Hitchens will someday find the same divine forgiveness for his hypocrisy that we Christian hypocrites found (and find daily) at the foot of Jesus' cross.

Some Day, One Helmet

I've been bugging my pastor-friend, Josh, to "get out of the study and into the woods." It looks like he finally took my advice.

Friday, March 19, 2010

All "Do" and No "Done"

“There’s a danger our Christianity becomes all imperative and no indicative, all about what we need to do with God and little about what God’s done for us. There’s a danger that when people get disinterested in the gospel, they get disinterested in the church. And once they leave the church, they’ve left the only institution whose mission aims for eternity and whose gospel is truly good news.” (Why We Love the Church, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck)

Decorpulated Christianity

“If decapitation, from the Latin word caput, means to cut off the head, then it stands to reason that decorpulation, from the Latin word corpus, should refer to cutting off the body. It’s the perfect word to describe the content of this book. If our editors had been asleep at the wheel, we would have called it Recent Trends in Decorpulation. There is a growing movement among self-proclaimed evangelicals and in the broader culture to get spirituality without religion, to find a relationship without rules, and have God without the church. More and more, people are looking for a decorpulated Christianity.” (Why We Love the Church, Keving DeYoung and Ted Kluck)

Irish A2G

"The best way to lead someone to Jesus is not to bring them to a sermon but to adopt them into your family." - Jeff Vanderstelt


Our church (Trinity Church) recently formed and began meeting as community groups called "Acts Two Gatherings" (or A2Gs for short.) The purpose of these gatherings is twofold: 1) To foster strong community within our church, and 2) To provide relational settings into which we can (and soon will) invite unbelieving friends, relatives and neighbors. The A2Gs were strongly encouraged to meet at least four times before inviting any "outsiders" in.

This month our second A2G happened to fall on Saint Patrick's Day so we were treated to a sea-o'-green decor at the Aumells', feasted on delicious food and drink, discussed the previous week's sermon, prayed with and for one another, and to top off the evening, were treated to some Celtic music courtesy of Bret Stewart (who plays both the guitar and the Irish Bouzouki.) All this and Christ too.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This Far, But No Farther

The good news is that the dirt roads/trails in the foothills are drying out much earlier than last year. The bad news is that access to the best places at the top of Number Two Canyon is still a few weeks away. C'mon sunshine!

The Rage Against God

Last January we hosted a showing of the movie, "Collision" which chronicled a recent series of debates between Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson. The video below is a teaser for a new book by Christopher Hitchens' brother, Peter, entitled "The Rage Against God." This book looks like it will provide some very helpful insights into the Church's ongoing ministry to those currently mired in "the New Atheism."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thankless in the Midst of Abundance

(Ecclesiastes 10:19) Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.

Jehovah God, truly one day in Your courts is better than a thousand in the tents of the wicked, or, for that matter, any place else in the universe. You are good, and so very good to those who call upon You in Jesus’ name. Forgive us now dear Lord…

For in the midst of unprecedented ease, blessing and prosperity we have been the very picture of grumbling ingratitude. Our pantries are full and our tables heavy with good food. Our conversations bubble with laughter. Delicious wines please our palates and gladden our gatherings. And wealth heretofore unheard of is entrusted to our stewardship and enables us purchase things needful, useful and enjoyable, for ourselves, and even for others. But still we have grumbled, whined, carped and complained as if exiled, abandoned and poverty-stricken. Lord have mercy upon us…

And hear us now as we confess our particular sins to you...

The Whole Truth

In most parts of this country, before you are allowed give testimony in a court of law, you must first take an oath to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." This oath recognizes that it is possible to obscure the truth by telling only part of the truth. For example, if President Lincoln's body guard was asked "Who was in President Lincoln's box at Ford Theater the night he was assassinated?" And the body guard replied, "Mrs. Lincoln." His statement would be technically correct, but ultimately misleading and unhelpful.

If asked, "When do we need to trust Jesus Christ for forgiveness?" you replied, "At salvation", you would be technically correct, but ultimately misleading and unhelpful. The "whole truth" is that we need to keep trusting Christ for forgiveness, keep resting on Christ by faith and keep believing that it is his death and merits alone that commend us to God our heavenly Father, from the moment of salvation until we see him face to face.

B.B. Warfield put it this way:

“We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only “when we believe.” It is just as true after we have believed.

It will continue to be true as long as we live.

Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be.

It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest.

There is never anything that we are, or have, or do, that can take His place, or that can take a place along with Him.

We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace.”

The Gospel in Four Lines

When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within
I look up and see him there who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died, my guilty soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied to look on him and pardon me

(From the hymn, Behold the Throne of God)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The River Academy 1998-99

Going to the TRA Benefit Dinner tonight. Here is a photo of the entire TRA Board, teaching and administrative staff for our first year (1998-99.) Josiah Helsel, our Latin instructor, turned 16 the second day of school.

L to R: Joshua Appel, Doug Milner, Laurie Greer, Josiah Helsel, Merrill Miller, A. Strange Pearson.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rube Goldberg Lives!

As my old pastor used to exclaim, "Who has more fun than people?"

(HT: Leah Koshiyama)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

One Day, Two Helmets (part deux)

As Spurgeon put it so well, being outdoors is "a tonic for the soul." When the sky is blue and the runs are freshly groomed at Mission Ridge this is doubly true. And when the snow recedes on the dirt trails in the foothills lining the Wenatchee Valley then it's trebly true.

Iffin' your interested, here is a short slide show you might call "Up and Down the Liberator Express in 105 Seconds." Enjoy.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Confessing Sloth and Indolence

(Ecclesiastes 10:18) Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.

Jehovah God our Creator and Redeemer, all praise, honor and glory be to You. You are ever-creating, ever-refining, ever-transforming and ever-overseeing the works of Your hands, and sovereignly guiding the course of history to a grand and glorious climax of love and redemption. Forgive us dear Lord…

For unlike You, we have been slothful and indolent. In spite of the fact that You have given us every reason to be active and energetic in Your glad service, we have simply chosen to be inactive, lifeless and uncaring. We have chosen the self-serving leisure of computers and television over the selfless hard-labor of service; and the inglorious ease of isolation to the glorious messiness of community. Lord have mercy upon us…

For we find ourselves the victims of our own idleness, inactivity and apathy. The roof of Your house (the Church) sags, sinks-in and leaks. Through laziness and inattention, sloth and distracting recreations, we have failed to build, repair, renovate, protect and preserve Your house (the Church.) Lord have mercy upon us…

For neither have we sought out new “living stones” for You to fit together with us in the building of Your house (the Church.) We have preferred the tidiness of our holy huddles to the disarray of evangelism and new-believer discipleship. We have spent countless hours refining our understanding of truth, but failed to take it to those in our community who are entrapped by falsehood. We have spent countless hours honing our grasp of goodness, but failed to share it with those who live in the clutches of evil. We have spent countless hours perfecting beauty and yet failed horribly to redemptively address the ugliness of sin in our valley: poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, gross sexual sin and addiction, fatherlessness, homelessness and hopelessness. For our sloth and indolence, Lord have mercy upon us…

And hear us now as we confess our particular sins to you….

Friday, March 05, 2010

List or Lung?

Eureka! Sometimes the the truth is just right in front of you, and has been all along. Think for a moment about the etymology of the word "membership." When I think of myself as a "member" of the local YMCA (and I am) I think of my name in their computer system and my access to the exercise rooms, racquetball courts, rock-climbing wall and gymnasium. But that was not at all Paul's conception of the word "member." To Paul, "member" meant "bodily organ"; an irreplacable component of the body that only made sense in context, and working in concert with, the other "members."

So here's the question Christian: When you think of your "membership" at your local church, do you think "list" or "lung", "roster" or "renal gland"? If the question intrigues you, then listen to the sermon clip below.

Sermon Excerpt - True Members from Daniel Foucachon on Vimeo.


Too funny (but only if you watch 'til the end.)

(HT: Kevyn Vinson)