Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Soldier Adopts Iraqi Child

You must read this wonderful story, one of the few, coming out of the conflict in Iraq. It is a great picture of God's grace in adoption- and a most unlikely adoption, the adoption of the least of these (you and me).

HT: Between Two Worlds


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And my favorite...

The Journey of the Magi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

T.S. Eliot


And another...

Christmas (II)

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace
Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Outsing the daylight hours.
Then will we chide the sun for letting night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I find a sun
Shall stay, till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,
As frost-nipped suns look sadly.
Then will we sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another pay:
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till ev'n His beams sing, and my music shine.

George Herbert


A Christmas Poem

Christmas (I)

After all pleasures as I rid one day,
My horse and I, both tired, body and mind,
With full cry of affections, quite astray;
I took up the next inn I could find.

There when I came, whom found I but my dear,
My dearest Lord, expecting till the grief
Of pleasures brought me to Him, ready there
To be all passengers' most sweet relief?

Oh Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light,
Wrapt in night's mantle, stole into a manger;
Since my dark soul and brutish is Thy right,
To man of all beasts be not Thou a stranger:
Furnish and deck my soul, that Thou mayst have
A better lodging, than a rack, or grave.

George Herbert


Thursday, December 20, 2007

On Being Bible-Saturated

We all know that I love John Piper. One of Piper's habits is to make up and string hyphenated terms together: God-besotted, faith-building, joy-inducing, body-edifying, etc. and so forth. One of my favorite Piper hyphenyms (word?) is 'bible-saturated'- I use it often in my prayers for and exhortations to our church family.

What exactly do I (and, I suppose, Piper) mean by 'bible-saturated'? I think it means being so immersed in, so filled with, so consumed by the Word of God that it is always radiating out of you. When you are bible-saturated you can't help but relate all things to the truth of God's Word.

During my vacation I am trying to work through the new edition of John Owen's Communion with the Triune God (edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor ). It is heady and rich stuff, and I can only take about 4 or 5 pages at a time (thankfully, the argumentation and progression of Owen's meditations are helpfully arranged and outlined for just such an approach). As I read this morning I realized that John Owen's work gives us a wonderful picture of bible-saturation. In the first two pages chapter 1 under the heading, "The Saints Have Communion with God" we find 17 scripture references. If you count the footnotes, there are over 30 references to Scripture in just two pages of discussion on our communion with God. Scriptural truth just pours out of this great Puritan theologian. I prayed this morning that this would be the case in my life.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Year's Not Over..., I'll give you my pick for the best film of 2007: "Once"

We just finished watching it, and I was overwhelmed by its power and simplicity. You must check it out. It was incredible...after the first and main 'love song' of the film- 'Falling Slowly' - I looked over to Tori and told her that this movie would be one of my favorites. (others agree)

Also, check out The Frames (the main character of the film is their lead singer).

P.S. Beware, this movie is full of the chief of all naughty words (it starts with an 'f')...I don't condone the language, tho I certainly commend the movie.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I'll be 'off' (though we know a clergyman is ALWAYS about his father's bidness!) for the next two weeks. No big plans, just resting up with the family and enjoying the season. I might blog here and there if a thought grabs me. Don't be surprised if the posts are few and far between!

The Glories of Homeschooling

Yep, this about sums it up- check it out. I don't know who these folks are, but it is pretty classic.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

For the Discerning Ear...

Yes, it is 11:49. And yes, I am staring at my notes for tomorrow morning. With the heaviness of preaching on 1 Corinthians 12 and the 'miraculous gifts'...I just had to give way to the blessed distraction of good music. (Well, according to me of course; and in my solipsistic blog world, it is me that matters, yes?)

I can't stop listening to Jeremy Enigk's (of the late great Sunny Day Real Estate and the Fire Theft) incredible song, "Been Here Before" ('Canons' is sweet as well.) Jeremy has a way of playing familiar pop that keeps surprising and delighting you as you listen.

Check out Grand Archives for great hooks and sweet harmonies. Somewhere between Ryan Adams and Band of Horses. Just easy to listen to. I dig it (hat tip to Hunter).

And, for the ambient and slightly spooky cool and depressing- check out Mar. They remind me of Slowdive from back in the day (and by that I mean '94 or so?) Good sermonating music...though one of their songs is 'The Athiest'. Hmmmm. I think, perhaps it is a critique of athiesm...not sure. If it is in praise of atheism, then I shall renounce them from the mountain tops. As for now, I'm just chillin (wait, no, I'm kickin it...uh, actually, no, you're right- I'm chillin).

I like most of the stuff that I hear from Athlete. Hurricane is a good, sparkly pick you up after a little too much of Mar (above).

I generally try and steer clear of dudes named Homer. But, Homer Hiccolm and the Rocketboys are pretty cool. Though it is hard to listen and enjoy with a vision of some bad toothed, beer swillin, Chevy drivin redneck named Homer Hiccolm.

Ah. That's it for now. All ready to jump back into the life of sweet exegesis!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Certainties that Drive Ministry

I had a few days to study, pray, and prepare this week. I thank God for a church whose leadership values and allows my study and preparation (and believe me, there are many churches that do NOT value such things). I want to commend two messages to you from Desiring God ministries and the ministry of John MacArthur.

Part One and Part Two- you can watch or listen online or download. The insights and biblical truths set forth by Pastor John MacArthur brought me to tears and caused me to applaud several times in the solitude of my car along I-10 and I-75. I hope and pray his messages will cause such responses in the hearts of other Oaksters as well.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Spiritual Gifts: Passages, Lists, Categories

Here are the notes from my sermon on the various gifts of the Spirit distributed through the church.

First, we find these gifts listed in the following passages of Scripture:

To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:28-31

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastor-teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ… Ephesians 4:11-12

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11

Here are the various lists according to each passage:

1 Corinthians 12:8-10: word of wisdom; word of knowledge; faith; healing; miracles; prophecy; distinguishing spirits; kinds of tongues; interpretation of tongues

1 Corinthians 12:28-30: apostles; prophets; teachers; miracles; gifts of healing; helping; administrating; tongues and interpretation of tongues

Romans 12:6-8: prophecy; serving; teaching; exhortation; giving; leadership; acts of mercy

Ephesians 4:11: apostles; prophets; evangelists; pastor-teachers

1 Peter 4:10-11: gifts of speaking; gifts of serving

Here are the four categories of the 20 New Testament gifts as we'll be studying them together:

Gifts of Speech: words of wisdom and knowledge; teaching; evangelism; exhortation; prophecy; tongues and interpretation

Gifts of Faith: faith; healing; miracles

Gifts of Service: helping; administrating; serving; giving; acts of mercy

Gifts of Leadership: apostle; pastor teacher; leading; distinguishing spirits

The Spirit and the Body: Some Ground Rules

Here are the three basic principles that should guide our discussion and understanding of the gifts and their operation in the local church (from my first sermon on Spiritual Gifts in our 'Spirit and the Body' series from 1 Corinthians 12-14):

1. The Gifts are given to glorify God.

2. The Gifts are given to build the body.

3. The Gifts are distributed to each one displaying diversity and harmony
in the body.

Here are the seven 'ground rules' that we are to keep as a foundation and framework for our study of 1 Cor. 12-14:

1. Understand your biases and presuppositions.

2. Avoid reductionistic caricatures on both sides of the ‘charismatic’ debate.

3. Beware of placing experience above Scripture; the gifts and working of the Spirit should never be placed in opposition to the authority and sufficiency of the Word.

4. Beware of neat and tidy explanations and categorization of the gifts.

5. Understand the peculiar and unique contexts in which the gifts are exercised.

6. Beware of spiritual elitism via the emphasis of particular gifts; beware of using particular gifts as evidence of spirituality (or as litmus tests for the Spirit’s presence).

7. Pursue an organic, corporate understanding and exercise of the gifts with accountability and order under godly leadership in the local church.

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Biff is tired of the questions

This is Tom Wilson, known to most of us as 'Biff' from the Back to the Future movies. He is also Coach Fredericks in my favorite show, which lasted only one season: Freaks and Geeks.

Poor Posting on this blog ...

is due to:

a. my incredibly hectic schedule (because I am such an important person)

b. a really bad case of writer's block where the only ideas that come to me are about which late night snack to indulge in (I'm a big fan of cereal in the dark watches of the night)

c. laziness: sheer unadulterated, pathetic, and disgusting slothfulness

d. several keys on my keyboard are not functioning, thu im eding my a ility to ty e out all the glo iou idea , in ight, old oclamation , iveting tale , witty fa le , and ofound a a le. (See what I mean?)

e. one word: pixelaphobia

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