Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joy to the... Moon?

At the Christmas Eve service I was wondering if my wife had ever sung traditional Christmas songs before when in Joy to the World she sang,

"No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the plow."
The plow?

Or on the ride home, Away in the Manger:
"The cattle are lowing,
The poor Baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus,
No dying He makes."
Well, not until Good Friday at least...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Suffering and Rick Warren

I watched this interview excerpt of Rick Warren on suffering and I am speechless... kind of.

Pastor Rick says that he would ask God why there is so much suffering on Earth; however, as the video demonstrates, Pastor Rick thinks he already knows the answer to the "unanswerable question."

"God's will is not done most of the time on Earth."

Paul warns against this thinking:

As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Suffering, for the Christian, is a calling. We are called to walk as Christ walked; Christ suffered. We are called to suffer.

Those who are not in Christ are not "innocent," as Pastor Rick put it. They are guilty and the wrath of God is upon them. 

It's not "my will" that causes people to suffer; it is the warning that God's wrath is pending in order for God "to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Lay My Hand On My Mouth

Sometimes I feel pretty good about myself.


It really doesn't get me anywhere when I am trying to get my car out of a parking lot in -13 degree weather when I have a battery that has been dead and frozen for three weeks, a thick cover of snow on everything under the hood, a frozen shifter, surrounded by cars on each side, and a AAA membership that can't get me a tow for 18 to 24 hours in Fargo because of the blizzard.

After driving on the sidewalk with another vehicle to attempt a jump, melted jumper cables, battery swaps, tools so cold they feel like they are on fire, extension cords, flashlights, and blow dryers I'm not feeling good about myself anymore.

In fact I feel like an idiot. Whoever said "if you believe you can achieve?" That's pretty stupid.

I guess it's like God told Job:

Has the rain a father,
    or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb did the ice come forth,
    and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
The waters become hard like stone,
    and the face of the deep is frozen.

I should put my hand over my mouth like Job (40:4-5) when God has said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your hand" (1:11). Why? Because God wants me to know that He alone is God:

Will you even put me in the wrong?
    Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
Have you an arm like God,
    and can you thunder with a voice like his?

Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
    clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
    and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
    and tread down the wicked where they stand.
Hide them all in the dust together;
    bind their faces in the world below.
Then will I also acknowledge to you
    that your own right hand can save you.

Feeling good about myself can't save me. That is the direction I begin to travel when I start to trust in my abilities. I can't even get my car out of the parking lot.

Tree of the Week (12.16.08)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Frozen Fargo

It is currently -9 degrees here in Fargo with a wind chill of -39 degrees. It is snowing like crazy and everything in the city is closed for the day. Rebekah and I decided that it would be a good idea to document the event for future generations.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bad Ideas at a High School Choir Concert

Last night my wife and I attended the Christmas choir concert of my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. And although it was an excellent concert I observed a few bad things occurring in the audience. While some of the following are completely tongue-in-cheek, some could be turned into serious suggestions. I will leave you to decide which are which.

  1. Paper Programs: These are the single most disruptive force at a choir concert. People fold them, crinkle them, drop them, and wave them. They are, in short, a terrible idea.
  2. Audience Participation: I like to sing. But being asked to participate in singing a song that no one else knows but the choir, is a little awkward.
  3. No Coat Check: When you live in the frozen tundra of the north, having a place to either check your coat or simply hang it up is imperative. Not providing this leaves people dragging their coat around and turns one person into approximately one and a half people.
  4. Allowing Cameras and Camcorders: Constant flashes get annoying and someone should tell the people with the cameras that the pictures don't even turn out because it is impossible to get close enough for the flash to be effective in the near complete darkness. And no camcorder has the ability to turn off that obnoxious beeping.
  5. Making the Concert Longer Than Four Minutes: Four minutes is apparently the threshold for sitting still at a choir concert.
For a slightly better perspective on choir concerts, check out Josh's blog post "Evangelism."

Do Not Neglect Warning Against Satan

"Certain theologians, nowadays, do not believe in the existence of Satan. It is remarkable when children do not believe in the existence of their own father."
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Friday, December 12, 2008

Resolution 13

Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

The Christian should desire to find worthy causes to give to generously with both his or her time and money. 

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Water and Choice

Here is an article my wife pointed out to me entitled "Too Much Water Nearly Kills Infant."

In short, the article discusses a mother who watered down the formula for her baby causing the child to be malnourished, suffer a seizure, and cease breathing. The baby is recovering after being rushed to the hospital.

In another news (but not in the St. Petersburg Times or any other periodical for that matter), choice kills approximately 1.25 million infants each year in the United States.

Why is it that a mother is ostracized for making the mistake of watering down her baby's formula while another mother is praised for exercising her right to choose? Only one of these results in a dead baby and unfortunately it is the one that is ignored.

Tree of the Week (12.9.08)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Good Investment

I have lots of thoughts in a day. And out of those thoughts quite a few I wish I could remember at the end of the day. Having a simple place to write down my thoughts is always a good idea, but I never want to lug around a full-sized journal or a backpack with a notebook in it. A solution to this conundrum recently presented itself.

While at the Desiring God National Conference in September everyone was given a pack of three Don't Waste Your Life Journals. Perfectly sized, this journal fits nicely in my back pocket and provides a place for me to write down a thought that I don't want to forget.

"Keep a journal and write out your thoughts as you meditate on the Scripture. Writing is a way of seeing that is deeper and sharper than most other ways. We see more when we write than when we just read. You don't have to use the journal every time or every day. But do it sometimes and you will soon see the fruit, so that I won't need to convince you." 

The journals are reasonably priced at $5.99 for a pack of three or $4.99 if you buy ten packs or more. And of course free shipping on all orders over $25 at the Desiring God Store.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Intergalactic Christmas

Here is a great combination of two things rarely coupled: Christmas and space.

The Big Picture has put together an advent calendar, but instead of candy, you get a new photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

It's a call to marvel at the majesty and immensity of the handiwork of God and be grateful for granting us His Son in the most humble of circumstances. It might serve to put things in a little perspective this holiday season...