Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mr. Etiquette-Person

Dear Mr. Etiquette-Person, When someone informs you that they are "courting", what is the proper response?

Wondering in Wenatchee

Dear Wondering, Before I suggest what you should say, let me begin by indicating what you should not say: "Congratulations!" Given that the commencement of courtship is merely the beginning of a process, it's a bit premature to congratulate someone for doing so. It's kind of like congratulating a race-car driver for starting his engine before the big race ("Hey Jimmie Johnson, good job!!!") Better to say something like, "Thanks for letting us know, we'll be praying for you" and save the congratulations for the the announcement of the engagement.


Dear Mr. Etiquette-Person, Then why did you "congratulate" a couple last evening when you heard that they were courting?

Still Wondering in Wenatchee

Dear SWiW, Because I am, as the Monty Python troupers were fond of saying, "a silly person."


Monday, November 22, 2010

Especially Eternal Suffering

From John Piper’s address to the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization:

"One truth is that when the gospel takes root in our souls it impels us out toward the alleviation of all unjust suffering in this age. That’s what love does!

The other truth is that when the gospel takes root in our souls it awakens us to the horrible reality of eternal suffering in hell, under the wrath of a just and omnipotent God. And it impels us to rescue the perishing, and to warn people to flee from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10).

I plead with you. Don’t choose between those two truths. Embrace them both. It doesn’t mean we all spend our time in the same way. God forbid. But it means we let the Bible define reality and define love.

Could Lausanne say—could the evangelical church say—we Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering? I hope we can say that. But if we feel resistant to saying “especially eternal suffering,” or if we feel resistant to saying “we care about all suffering in this age,” then either we have a defective view of hell or a defective heart.

I pray that Lausanne would have neither."

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

International Security Threat Levels

•The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats, and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved”. Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross”. The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940, when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance”. The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

•The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards”. They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

•The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide”. The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender”. The rise as precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

•Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing”. Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides”.

•The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs”. They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbor” and “Lose”.

•Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

•The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

•Canada doesn’t have any alert levels.

•New Zealand has raised its security levels – from “baaa” to “BAAAA”. Because of continuing defense cutbacks, New Zealand has only one more level of escalation, which is “I hope Australia will come and rescue us”.

•Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, mate”. Three more escalation levels remain: “Crikey!”, “I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend” and “The barbie is cancelled”. So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.
(From the website The Whole Garden Will Bow)

HT: Samuel Stephen Thomas

Way Back Home

Here is a new short film featuring the skills of the amazing Danny MacAskill. Sit back an enjoy the beautiful Scottish vistas, stirring Celtic music and plenty of "How the heck does he do that?"-street-biking-meets-scenic-Scotland. Amazing. Really.

(HT: Ken Johnson)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What God is Up to When Life is Hard

In Knowing God (p. 97, my emphases) J. I. Packer writes about how to understand the “unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things” that happen to us. What do they mean?

"Simply that God in his wisdom means to make something of us which we have not attained yet, and he is dealing with us accordingly."

Then Packer ponders the possible purposes God might have in mind for you:

"Perhaps he means to strengthen us in patience, good humor, compassion, humility, or meekness, by giving us some extra practice in exercising these graces under especially difficult conditions.

Perhaps he has new lessons in self-denial and self-distrust to teach us.

Perhaps he wishes to break us of complacency, or unreality, or undetected forms of pride and conceit.

Perhaps his purpose is simply to draw us closer to himself in conscious communion with him; for it is often the case, as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest. . . .

Or perhaps God is preparing us for forms of service of which at present we have no inkling."

He goes on:

"We may be frankly bewildered at things that happen to us, but God knows exactly what he is doing, and what he is after, in his handling of our affairs.

Always, and in everything, he is wise: we shall see that hereafter, even where we never saw it here. . . .

Meanwhile, we ought not to hesitate to trust his wisdom, even when he leaves us in the dark."

But how should we respond to baffling and trying situations when cannot now see God’s purpose in them?

"First, by taking them as from God, and asking ourselves what reactions to them, and in them, the gospel of God requires of us;

second, by seeking God’s face specifically about them."

“If we do these two things,” Packer writes, “we shall never find ourselves wholly in the dark as to God’s purpose in our troubles.”

(Justin Taylor)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Mark of Unction

"When the unction of God is upon the preacher of Word, people will go away saying, not "What a great preacher!" but rather, "Truly God is in this place! How great and glorious He is!" (Eric Alexander in What is Biblical Preaching?)

Grace is Wild

"In this congregation, you have heard much about the grace of God. But when you hear much of anything, it is easy for that word to become a theological buzz word—the grace of God is just one of those Bible phrases, right? And since we all think we know what the Bible is about, we just drop into our moralistic groove and go.

But grace is wild. Grace unsettles everything. Grace overflows the banks. Grace messes up your hair. Grace is not tame. Grace makes the pious begin to fear the evils of antinomianism. And this is an ungrounded fear, but unless we are making the devout nervous, we are not preaching grace as we ought.

Grace liberates us from guilt, and enables us to live before God as we ought to, in accordance with His law, simply because we want to. The law is inscribed on our hearts, and not on the tablets of stone, over there. More than that, grace liberates us from false guilt, from the lying standards of the devil, concocted to provide you with perpetual torment. Let me give just one example.

An American woman who is happy about her weight is as rare as a comet. If she lives guilt-free concerning what she eats, she is a rare specimen. If that one woman is here this morning, she can ignore the rest of this . . . but for the rest of you, listen to the grace of God. Hear these words from God. God the Father doesn’t care that you weigh that extra 15 pounds. Neither does the Holy Spirit. Jesus doesn’t care about that ten pounds either. Not even a little bit. If God cared about this, He would have put something about it in the Bible. Well, if He doesn’t care, who does? Well, the devil does. He loves to accuse. All those boney women in the clothes catalogs care—they wouldn’t be sneering that way at you if they didn’t care. All those women’s magazine at the supermarket care—why can’t you be made out of bones and silicon? What could be more natural?

If we fear the Lord, we will listen to His Word. And when we listen, we hear words of grace." (Douglas Wilson)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Maia the Mountain Dog II

I took Maia the Mountain Dog out to explore a new trail today. The trail is a part of the Sage Hills trail system and is a wonderful addition to an already great place to ride. Here are some pics if you are interested.


We just had to give it one more try, but instead of mountain-biking, we wound up snomobiking. Have a nice winter Horselake Mountain Road. So-long Stairway to Heaven. Bye-bye Bermuda Triangle. See-ya Suspendend in Paradise. It's been real, Road Rage. See y'all next spring!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Pansy Pastors

If we persist in feminizing the qualifications for ministers (empathetic, emotion-driven, sweet, caring, nurturing, etc.) we will very soon find ourselves in the awkward situation where women (according to our unbiblical definition of the office) are more qualified than men to serve as ministers. The ranks of the weepy, cardigan-wearing empaths do seem to be waxing even as the "Sons of Thunder" are waning. Too bad. So how do we get out of this mess? Douglas Wilson opines:

"If we recognize that the Word of God not only excludes women from becoming women ministers, but also excludes men from becoming women ministers as well, we will be on the road to recovery." (Why Ministers Must Be Men, p. 43)

Must Ministers Be Men?

Athanasius Press has an excellent little series of books called "Answers in an Hour." In their latest offering in the series, Douglas Wilson tackles the thorny issue of women in ordained ministry in his book entitled, Why Ministers Must Be Men.

Wilson notes that Paul, following the tradition of the Old Testament, fully sanctioned women "prophesying" while firmly denying them the prerogative to sit in judgment (diakrino) of the prophesies spoken in the first century worship services. And from this concludes:

"The issue is prophecy, not women. The thing that Scripture so plainly describes women doing (declaring inspired words of God) is something that we don't find men doing today either. Women are not excluded from this while men keep right on going. The Scriptures are now complete, and what only men could do in the first century is what only men can do now." (WMMBM, p. 32)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Maia the Mountain Dog

Taking Mondays off works well for my weekly routine, but it usually means that I'm riding alone in the foothills of Wenatchee. But, it looks like I might have a new mountain-bike-buddy: Maia the Mountain Dog.

The first time I took her with me, she waited for me as I chugged uphill and I waited for her as we zoomed downhill. Maia's FTFPD (Full-Time-Four-Paw-Drive) is much more efficient than my OMOWD (Old-Man-One-Wheel-Drive.)

But today, Maia led both uphill and downhill. Even at the very end of the three-hour ride she still had enough energy to chase "squirrels" off trail, bounding through the brush like an antelope . Here are a few pics if you're interested.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Kevin Bacon at New St. Andrews

Okay, admittedly I'm some sort of NSA "insider-geek." I knew personally the first four graduates of NSA, I have 2 1/4 children who graduated from this college, and I sat on the NSA board of trustees for 3 years. So I cannot gage whether or not anyone else will enjoy this short film. But I chortled and laughed my way through the whole enchilada. More, more, more!.........

Friday, November 05, 2010

True Gospel Preaching

"The Reformation was a revival of true gospel preaching, and such gospel preaching always comes down to the point of decision. Good preaching is aimed at the will; all good preaching aims at conversion. If the people are not converted, they need to be. If they are, then a message aiming at true conversion will encourage them, not beat them up. As Luther put it, we are called to a lifetime of repentance.

Good preaching reminds every Christian soul that we live before the God who sees and knows the heart, and who will sift those hearts in the great day of judgment. The problem arises when the need for true conversion is moved from the declaration of the gospel to the membership interview. The former declares the truth with the understanding that only God can see the heart. The latter, in the name of God seeing the heart, pretends that the minister and elders can see the heart." (Douglas Wilson)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Center of True Preaching

"If we are truly to understand Christian preaching, we must see Jesus Christ as its center. First we must see Jesus as the fulfillment of generations of preaching and teaching that went before him, and second we must see Jesus as the type, or perhaps prototype, of generations of preaching that have followed him. He is both the pattern of preaching and the gospel to be preached" (Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures, Vol. 1, p. 8)

HT: Doug Wilson

Our Crafty Adversary

"Of course Satan can attack but never ultimately destroy true Christian faith, because we are preserved by grace. Therefore he seeks to destroy our enjoyment of the grace of God. In this, sadly, he frequently succeeds." (Sinclair Ferguson, By Grace Alone)