Nearing the Finish Line!

Progress on the Shetland Tea Shawl is still marching forward. With only 16 edging repeats to go (out of 115), my yarn ran out. Ugh. So one last ball of yarn was purchased to finish this project. I'll have nearly 2/3 of this ball left! I foresee a lacey scarf in the future...

Here's the up-to-the-minute report on my progress: 105 out of 115 repeats complete! Hooray! My goal of getting this done before April doesn't look like it'll be met, unless I burn the midnight oil and knit for the next 1.5 hours. I'm getting pretty sleepy...

Holding the Line

Great article in March Tabletalk: "Holding the Line" by D.G. Hart.
On 20th Century American Protestantism, it clarified for me the RCA's own backstory on its tensions and current issues. Here are some quotes, in italics - my own comments in normal type.

"Not only did Darwin's... natural selection undermine God's role in creation and providence, but new approaches to the study of ancient texts also raised doubt about the divine character of the Bible....

"The modernists attemped to accommodate the new science so that the churches would not look like obstacles to progress and the advance of knowledge.... modernists attempted to naturalize Christianity so that it would not conflict with the new science and the social progress it appeared to beckon. On the other side, fundamentalists dug in their heels (rightly so).... the list of essential doctrines from which fundamentalists took their name, featured the virgin birth, miraculous deeds, vicarious death, and resurrection of Christ, along with affirmations of the inerrancy of the Bible.... the new science drove Protestants into natural and supernatural camps."

"Not until the 1940s, with the formation of the National Association of Evangelicals, would the more conservative side achieve the institutional coherence that characterized the mainline through... the National Council of Churches."

There is a general fit, in the fundamentalist/modernist debates, where the former characterizes the NAE while the latter defines the NCC and mainliners.

"For the sake of greater specificity the case of... the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., will help to illuminate.... In 1922, Harry Emerson Fosdick... accused fundamentalists of intolerance and called theri essential doctrines... minor matters.... The Presbytery in New York also added to the conservative alarm when it ordained two men who would not affirm the virgin birth. Conservatives... tried to discipline the Presbyterians in New York. But in several successive General Assemblies, the denomination showed no willingness to be divisive and chose instead administrative solutions that were designed to lessen the tensions. One of these measures involved a study committee whose report blamed conservatives for the contentiousness in the church.... The drive for unity had supplanted a concern for correct doctrine."

This is ringing bells all over the place.

"The ecumenical drive that had dominated Protestant agencies since 1870 had cultivated an organizational ethos that made theological disagreement anathema....

"Liberalism was a valiant but misguided effort to preserve the influence of Christianity within American culture at a time when science and new scholarship threatened to render the Christian faith implausible. But to maintain Christianity's intellectual respectability, liberals also gutted the faith of what was both most offensive and most essential, namely, the person and work of Christ....

"What was at stake in the fundamentalist-modernist controversy was not the secularization of America but the secularization of the church. During the 1920s and 1930s, Protestants faced a choice between retaining either the status of the church or the message of the Gospel. This is a decision that has confronted the church in every age."


Legalism and sin

This one's about sexual sin, but the negative affect of legalism applies to any sort of sin.

"Put up a sign warning people not to touch the wet paint, and what happens? A lot of fingerprints. In the same way, many men have stumbled into sexual sin because the height of the fence they built "around the law" stirs up in them a desire to climb the fence they built. This is not said in order to justify anything along the lines of "it is okay to lust a little." Rather the point is to show that "extra laws" to keep us away from sin usually do not have the effect of keeping us away from sin.

"Suppose a husband and wife are watching the evening news (the kids are in bed), and the story that comes up is all about salacious material on television elsewhere and asks the question, "Is this kind of thing good for our nation's kids?" The answer is no, of course not, but in pursuit of the inquiry, the newscast helpfully shows us fifteen seconds of some strippers somewhere bumping and grinding away. There are two possible problems here, one of them obvious. If the husband is thinking something along the lines of, "Oh boy, oh boy," then he has obviously got some weeds in his garden to pull up. But the other problem is if the wife throws herself in front of the screen and the husband hides under the afghan. This can create the formal "understanding" between the two of them that "we are mighty pious" and have "high standards," but it can also have the effect of creating an allure for this sort of thing that it would not otherwise have. Then that allure can come back in a bad way later — to just one of them."

Beautiful music

I love music. So I'm listening to Beethoven's 5th piano concerto for the first time in a while, and the 2nd movement nearly brought me to tears, again. So delicate, fragile and beautiful.
Take a listen to the beginning here.


Mommy All Day Long

One of our kids' favorite library books is entitled "Daddy All Day Long" - it's essentially a counting book where little Owen pig starts his day with dad by saying "Daddy, I love you more than chocolate milk." The two go back and forth expressing their love in simple objects from 1 to 10 (I love you more than two pancakes with bananas on top.... I love you more than 4 pushes on the big swing...).

It warms my heart too, and not just because we have our own little [pig] named Owen. I had to remember that book today because it was "mommy all day long" while Steve worked and had a consistory/session meeting this evening. I had to look past my aching pregnant back and my son's pooped-in pants *ugh* to see my children's simple expressions of love.

Like my daughter turning a drawing of a princess and knight I did for her into a super-detailed rendering of every masonry block in the castle walls, completely obliterating everything I had drawn. I saw her love in each misshapen stone.

And Owen eating 3 large bowls of mac-n-cheese at noon (reference book above!) showed his appreciation for my work in the kitchen. OK, mac isn't that much of a culinary challenge, but it's still requires remedial motor and mental skills.

In our busy house it's easy for me to overlook these and expect grand demonstrations of appreciation and love. There's not a lot of kudos given to moms of preschoolers! Let's face it, they're a tough clientele to keep happy some days. And as soon as I think that, the Spirit turns in my heart and I'm reminded of how unappreciative I can be of what my Father has/is doing for me. Often I think I deserve 55-gallon barrel sized blessings dropping from heaven to have evidence of His love. But things like the sun rising every day are simple, oft-overlooked messages of care from Him each morning. So as I look for my kids' expressions of love to me in the little things, I am reminded to search out the little love notes from my Father each day.

Shawl Update - 3/28/06

62 out of 115 edge repeats complete - that's 54%! Over half way! Now to see if I have enough yarn left on the skein to get me to the finish line....


Trust your heart?

"O Lord, grant that I may never trust my heart,
depend upon any past experiences,
magnify any present resolutions,
but be strong in the grace of Jesus;
that I may know how to obtain relief from a guilty conscience
without feeling reconciled to my imperfections."

Valley of Vision, pg 84

Casual worship a Biblical no-no

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." Hebrews 12:28.

"Our responsibility as New Covenant Christians is not to approach Him with a breezy nonchalance. We must serve God acceptably (v. 28) with "reverence and godly fear" (v. 28). The word serve here should be rendered worship. We are to worship God acceptably. This must mean that it is possible to worship Him unacceptably.... And the key note of this acceptable worship is reverence and godly fear. Worship must not be breezy and casual. The Bible says that it ought not to be. And when cultivate breezy and casual worship, we are retarding the growth of the kingdom. One of the fundamental confusions of our era is that which muddles intimacy and informality. The Spirit does cause us to cry out Abba, Father. But the Spirit will never remove godly fear or awe."
- Doug Wilson

And on receiving the Kingdom, also from Hebrews 12:28, same post:

"Jesus taught us to pray, 'Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven . . .' He did not teach us to pray, "Thy kingdom go, Thy will be done in heaven when we get there after we die . . ."


Good resource

Thanks to Jim a bit ago for the link to lots of good downloadable lectures. Here I reciprocate, having just visited an old friend who manages Reformation Heritage books. Check it out.


Well, Sara and I finally got through it all! Ever since we've had this blog, we've had this book on the sidebar, that we've been reading it, and we really were reading it, bit by bit, the whole time. I read it all out loud to Sara. Now it's done, and quite a thought provoker. Here are some thoughts.

1. Relationship between fiction and reality.
The ingenious hidalgo's reading of chivalric romances gets him thinking that he himself is a great knight-errant, ordained by God to right wrongs for the glory of his (made-up) beloved Dulcinea el Toboso. He ends up getting Sancho beat up, he often makes things worse for people, and rarely is he of any use to anyone. But he certainly changes Sancho's life. What we read can have a dramatic affect on our own lives, and the lives of those close to us. Sancho deliberately introduces some fiction of his own, deceiving Quixote about Dulcinea, and later pays for that, too. 2 characters, especially, go about introducing lots of fiction into the story, deceiving and playing tricks on Sancho and Quixote both, all of which they take as reality and incorporate into the annals of their journey. Interestingly, halfway through writing and publishing the story, a counterfeit Quixote book comes out, and Cervantes incorporates THAT work of fiction and deception into the rest of the real book! He mocks its author mercilessly. Anyway, there are stories within stories within stories going on here, but it all comes together and makes sense in the end.

2. Loyalty of a friend.
Sancho sticks with him through it all, in spite of many vicious arguments between them, and several threats to leave. This results in Sancho taking on some of Quixote's delusional characteristics, and in Quixote occasionally seeing things through Sancho's more realistic eyes.

3. The nature of wisdom.
Sancho usually comes off as the wise one, even though he is playing the role of fool/sidekick/jester/comic relief. His simple language, contrasted with Quixote's flowing, elegant, but irrelevant and out of touch, rhetoric usually describes reality better than Quixote does. Sancho even becomes a truly wise governor of a fictional island.

Lots of great themes. Noticed a ton of Monty Python-esque scenes. Obvious lifting going on, on the part of Monty Python. That's all the time I've got for now. Definitely a classic to be read many times for further understanding...


Shawl Update

32 of 115 edging repeats finished - only 14,110 stitches until completion!

The last skein of yarn is purchased and ready to be knit up to finish this bad boy. Oh yeah, I also purchased 3 skeins of a pink cotton blend and ordered 11 more in a dk teal for a shrug for myself... after what hubby purchased recently, I've got a long-term green light for yarn purchases! Hee hee!

And I'm warming up to our 4 year old's idea: Steve buys a few sheep for us to keep in our backyard. Then we can shear, card and spin the wool to make our own yarn. That would cut down on lawn mowing, too.

Mom's a threat?

From Al Mohler's program:
Apparently a feminist Linda Hirschman (sp?) appeared on Good Morning America (yesterday?), claiming that stay-at-home moms are a threat to civilization. "An educated, competent adult’s place is in the office." She challenged the idea that full-time motherhood is hard and fulfilling work, saying she finds most of the online diaries she reads of moms' daily activities "uninteresting."

Mohler responds well, noting that it's a wonderful use of education to pour it into our children, noting the hard work it takes to be a mom, all you need to know and do. I didn't hear the whole program, but I would go further and say that stay-at-home moms are not a threat, but a critical pillar of, civilization.

Hmm. Mohler handles it much better than Dobson did, as I caught the latter's program on the way to the office. He just railed against the devaluing of flag, mom and apple pie, and then he aired Mohler!


When Jesus Prays - John 17

The night before Jesus died on the cross, He spent with His disciples in the Upper Room. He gave the Passover new meaning by starting a “new covenant in My blood,” for the disciples to remember and commemorate the death He was about to undergo for our sin. Then they left and headed for Olive Mountain (John 14:31). But before they get there (John 18:1), Jesus speaks some very important words to His disciples and to His Father, in John 15-17. I’m going to focus on chapter 17 – when Jesus prays to the Father, what does He ask for? He prays for 3 different people.

1. Jesus prays for Himself in verses 1-5, that the Father would glorify Him, as He has promised to do. Jesus wants this glory, so that He can in turn give it back to His Father. This glory is all about giving eternal life to the chosen people of God, which means God revealing Himself to them, so that they know both the Father and the Son. Jesus did this by teaching and living a God-pleasing life before others. He did this so well that those who saw Jesus, saw the Father. When Phillip asks to see the Father in John 14:8-10, Jesus says, “You’ve seen Him. I and the Father are one.” So in praying for His own glory, Jesus is not being selfish; He is asking for something He already knows the Father plans on giving Him. He is asking for the Father to get on with His death and resurrection.

2. Then Jesus prays for the disciples with Him. The Father gave them to Jesus. Since no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him or her, this makes sense (John 6:44). Jesus has been faithful in giving them the Father’s words, and they have believed. Jesus prays for them, since they will remain in the world. He prays for them to be unified and filled with joy. He doesn’t want them taken out of the world, but protected from Satan and made holy by the truth of God’s Word. God wants us to be in the world, but different from the world. That causes some problems, but it also draws out of the world many who are attracted to holiness. If we were isolated from the world, they wouldn’t see the light of Christ shining in us, so Jesus doesn’t want that.

3. Finally, Jesus prays for all who will believe in Him. That’s you and me! The prayer here is striking. He wants us to be one. Unified. Even as Jesus is with the Father, and that’s pretty close! The Trinity is three different persons, but bound so closely in perfect love and unity that there is One Being. This is what a marriage is supposed to be like, too. As Jesus loved the Church, so husbands should love their wives (Eph 5:25). There’s a mysterious analogy between the one-flesh union between a man and woman, and the close relationship between Jesus and His Church (Eph 5:31-32). Obviously the latter is not a sexual relationship, but Jesus prays for such intimacy, love and unity between church members that it rivals the unity of the Trinity Himself!

So how are we doing in living up to Jesus’ prayers? Are we in the world, yet different from it? Are we safe from the evil one? Are we becoming holy by reading the Word and letting it convict and change us? Do we know Jesus? Do we believe He is God’s Son? Are we one, to give a good example to the world?

As we remember Jesus’ resurrected body in this season, may we live up to the glory of Christ we profess to believe – being His Body in a broken world.


The Passion

For my vast readership (!), mostly made up of pastors, it seems, I thought this might come in handy. It's a summary from the 4 Gospels of events from the Upper Room through Jesus' death, for my own study and sermon preparation during Lent and Passion week. I organized it by location (where Jesus was), noting differences between Gospel accounts. Regarding the temple location: there is a tradition that between John 14:31's leaving the Uppper Room and John 18:1's going to Gethsemane, they were praying in the temple, customary to do on Passover night. More on that another time.

This whole thing is kind of rough - you'll have to deal with some grammar and shorthand. And I haven't figured out how to tab yet, so that'll be a bit confusing...

In the Upper Room
Matt 26:20-30
1. Jesus: one of you will betray Me. Judas is it, but no mention of him leaving.
2. Lord’s Supper. Hymn. They go out to Olive Mt.
3. Jesus: you will fall away. Peter: no I won’t
Mark 14:17-31
1. Jesus: one of you will betray Me. No mention of Judas.
2. Lord’s Supper. Out to Olive Mt.
3. Jesus: you will fall away. Peter: no I won’t
Luke 22:14-38
1. Lord’s Supper. One of you will betray Me. No mention of Judas.
2. Dispute over who is greatest.
3. Jesus: you will fall away. Peter: no I won’t
4. Get a purse, bag and sword (??)
John 13-14
1. Washing feet. One of you will betray Me. Judas given bread; he leaves.
2. Teaching: love one another. I go to the Father; I’ll come back for you.
3. I’ll give the Spirit in the mean time.

Temple? - John 15-17
1. Vine and Branches: abide in Me. The world will hate you as it hated Me
2. I’m sending you the Spirit.
3. This will all happen for your own good (15:26-16:16)
4. I come from the Father and go back to Him. Disciples believe.
5. Jesus prays
--for His and Father’s glory
--for disciples’ protection from Satan and sanctification
--for future disciples’ unity to glorify Father.

Matthew 26:36-56
1. Prayer to take cup from Me. Disciples sleeping.
2. Judas kiss, Peter cuts off ear, arrest.
3. Am I leading a rebellion. Disciples flee.
Mark 14:32-52
1. Prayer to take cup from Me. Disciples sleeping
2. Judas kiss, Peter cuts off ear, arrest.
3. Am I leading a rebellion. Disciples flee. One naked.
Luke 22:39-53
1. Prayer to take cup from Me. Sweat drops of blood. Disciples sleeping
2. Judas kiss, Peter cuts off ear, Jesus heals it, arrest.
3. Am I leading rebellion?
John 18:1-11
1. Judas comes with soldiers and officials from priests & Pharisees
2. Jesus says “I am he” and they fall back.
3. Peter cuts off Malchus’ ear (high priest’s servant)

Trials in Jerusalem
Matt 26:57-27:31
1. Caiaphas and false witnesses fail
2. “Are you the Christ?” Yes. Condemned. Beating.
3. Peter denies; Judas returns money and hangs self
4. Pilate: king of Jews? Yes.Barabbas or Jesus?
5. Pilate’s wife warns. What crime? Crucify!
6. Soldiers mock and hit Jesus
Mark 14:53-15:20
1. False witnesses fail; “Are you the Christ?” Yes. Condemned.
2. Peter denies
3. Pilate: king of the Jews? Yes. Barabbas or Jesus?
4. Soldiers mock and hit Jesus
Luke 22:54-71
1. Peter denies; Soldiers mock and hit Jesus
2. Council of Pharisees & priests: tell us if you’re the Christ.
3. I’m Son of God. Condemned
4. Before Pilate, accused of opposing payment of taxes to Caesar;
-- and claims to be Christ.
--a. Are you a king? Yes. I find no basis for a charge.
--b. Galilean? Sends to Herod.
5. Herod: happy to finally meet Jesus. Many questions, no answers.
--a. Herod & soldiers mock
--b. Friends with Pilate again
6. Pilate: no basis for a charge from me or Herod.
--a. No, give us Barabbas!
--b. Pilate appeals for Jesus 2 more times! “No grounds for death”
--c. Gives in to their insistence.
John 18:12
1. Peter denies; Annas questions; taken to Caiaphas
2. From Caiaphas to Pilate (nothing about Caiaphas’ questions)
3. Pilate: are you king of the Jews? What is truth?
--a. I find no basis for a charge…
--b. Flogging; soldiers mock
--c. I find no basis for a charge. Crucify!
--d. I find no basis for a charge (3 times!)
--e. He says He’s the Son of God. Closer questioning.
--f. You’re no friend of Caesar; we have no king but Caesar
--g. Here is your king. We have no king but Caesar.

Matt 27:32
1. Simon carries His cross
2. Offer of wine with gall; refuses
3. Cast lots for clothes
4. Sign: King of the Jews
5. 2 robbers
6. Mockery: said you were going to destroy the temple.
--a. Come down if you’re Son of God
--b. Priests and Pharisees: saved others but can’t Himself.
--c. Robbers mock, too
7. Darkness from noon to 3pm
8. 3pm: My God, My God.
9. Sponge of wine vinegar to drink.
10. Death, temple veil torn, earthquake, tombs opened; resurrections
11. Centurion and those with him: this was the Son of God
12. Women watching
13. Joseph of Arimathea buries
Mark 15:21
1. Simon carries His cross
2. Offer of wine with gall; refuses
3. Cast lots for clothes
4. 9am crucifixion
5. Sign: King of the Jews
6. 2 robbers
7. Mockery: said you were going to destroy the temple.
--a. Come down if you’re Son of God
--b. Priests and Pharisees: saved others but can’t Himself.
8. Darkness from noon to 3pm
9. 3pm: My God, My God.
10. Sponge of wine vinegar to drink.
11. Death, temple veil torn
12. Centurion and those with him: this was the Son of God
13. Women watching
14. Joseph of Arimathea buries; Pilate surprised he’s dead already
Luke 23:26
1. Simon carries His cross; women follow
2. Jesus: don’t weep for Me but for yourselves
3. 2 robbers with him. Crucifixion.
4. “Forgive them”
5. Cast lots for clothes
6. Mockery of priests and Pharisees: saved others but can’t Himself.
7. Soldiers mock and give wine vinegar.
8. 1 robber mocks, other defends & confesses
--a. Today you will be with me in paradise
9. Sign: King of the Jews
10. Darkness from noon to 3pm
11. 3pm: My God, My God.
12. Temple veil torn
13. “Into Your hands, I commit my Spirit.” Death.
14. Centurion: this was a righteous man
15. Women watching
16. Joseph of Arimathea buries
John 19:16-42
1. Carries own cross
2. Crucified with 2 others
3. Sign: King of the Jews, in 3 languages, near the city. Jews’ protest
4. Cast lots for clothes
5. Women watching; Woman, here is your son…
6. “I thirst” – wine vinegar. He drinks.
7. “It is finished” Death.
8. Jews ask for bodies to be taken down. Jesus’ legs not broken.
--a. Side pierced: blood&water
9. Joseph and Nicodemus bury Jesus

Wolves and sheep; unity and discipline

"Have you ever been brought up short by Paul saying, 'A divisive man - warn him once or twice, and then reject him'? How could I reject a divisive man without becoming divisive? How can I cut a cancer out of a person's body without ceasing to be a doctor? This makes no sense at all. When you reject a divisive man you are fighting disunity, you are not perpetuating disunity when you reject someone who is cantankerous and belligerent and fights all the time. You are not sinning against unity when you deal with that sort of problem. So a false irenicism tolerates the cunning craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive, it tolerates the sleight of men. A shepherd who tolerates wolves is a shepherd who hates his own sheep. A shepherd who loves his sheep is one who fights wolves. And the wolves in sheep's clothing don't like this at all, and so they always raise a great cry: 'Unity!'....

"In dealing with this threat, faithful pastors do not declaim from the pulpit about wolves abstractly considered. They name names like Hymenaeus and Alexander [1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Tim 2:17]. And that's why it's treachery to the cause of true unity to refuse to point out obvious departures from the faith. Regardless of the honored position of those departing. As Paul puts it, 'If we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you let him be accursed' [Gal 1:8]. Or God damn that person. God damn the person who tampers with the Gospel."
- Doug Wilson


Shetland Tea Shawl Update

21 out of 115 edging points complete (10 rows per point, 17 stitches per row)

need to buy another (last!) skein of yarn


OT in Luke 1

You'll notice in the sidebar that I found 177 trans-testament references in my Scripture reading today. That's not a mistake.

Over 150 of them are from the 80 verses of Luke 1, which I found during this past Advent, studying for sermons.

Of course, that includes the Magnificat, Zacharias' prophecy, Gabriel, etc., but still, that's an amazing amount of linkage from OT to NT.


Humble Pie

Yup - a big, fat slice of it.

The shawl edging problem has been resolved. I was so excited to finish knitting the body of the shawl that I neglected to fully read to the end of that paragraph in my pattern. Two measly words were all that I skipped: break yarn.

Yup, major lightbulb moment here for Sara. All I had to do was cut my yarn and I could happily cruise on with finishing the shawl! No blonde jokes, please!!

I think I'll help myself to another slice of pie, thank you.


Jesus in 1 Kings 13

I love my Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament for the OT reference section in the back. There are often connections that aren't in your typical cross-referenced Bible. Here's one.

When Joseph comes to ask for the body of Jesus, it references 1 Kings 13:29. At first I couldn't make much out of it, but on closer inspection, and a typological reading of Scripture, here's my thoughts:

Throughout 1 Kings 13, this man of God is a type of Christ.

He prophesies that the temple will fall and rebukes the rulings priests, as did Jesus.

A false prophet deceives the man of God and ends up getting him killed. This is (loosely, I admit!) Judas and Caiaphas together. Of course there was no disobedience on Jesus' part, as there was here (vs 21).

Another member of the same body that condemns Jesus (Joseph of Arimathea maybe; Nicodemus for sure) comes and takes the body, and buries Him in his own tomb, as an expression of his belief in the truth of the Prophet.


Informal poll

Is this a productivity tool, or a time and money-wasting gadget? I'm thinking about getting one, to listen to podcasts, and for more convenient listening of my MP3 and CD library. Is it worth it? I notice accesories are a bit pricey, but it syncs with Outlook, so I can have a portable calendar and contacts again, after having a hard time with Palm software...


It's a (Chicken) Wrap

Finally - the Zeeland Chix logo is officially done and handed off to the administration. That means our blogees get to see the long awaited finished product!

This has been one of the most challenging logos I've ever worked on. Unique subject matter, historical traditions to blend in, and being too close to the project to have a fresh look at it from the beginning (Zeeland was one of the teams my high school competed against). I've wrestled with this one and am very satisfied with the end result. I think it's a good note to end my design career on. I've had the opportunity to design so many different things: Detroit Auto Show displays, high school mascots, race car graphics, t-shirts, church logos, multi-media interactive CDs and more. Four kids and homeschooling will be the focus of my creative efforts from now on....maybe I can design a mascot logo for our Hemmeke homeschool?? I can see it now - the Hemmeke Hedgehogs (maybe).

Against Christianity?

Peter Leithart is controversial and provocative. He wants to be. He wants to change the categories and labels so that we think about what we’re doing. Thus the title of this book.

What’s it all about? Largely, it’s about a “Christianity” that is confined to the head, the pew, and one day of the week. This is contrasted with the Biblical view of the Church as “the Assembly” (Greek: ekklesia). Leithart doesn’t go the usual route with this term – called out of the world, or called as in elect of God. Instead, he notes that this is the same term the Greeks of the day used for their political gatherings which had the purpose of governing the city. Assembly is Parliament. Ekklesia is Congress. The Church is the new governing body of a new City. It is the City of God, already established here on earth, as a challenging alternative to the secular city.

Okay, so now that I’ve got you nervous, let me alleviate that. Leithart does not mean political as you think of political. He does not advocate political activism as it is typically thought of. The Church isn’t supposed to be telling congress what laws to pass. It’s not like that.

Now let me make you nervous again. The Christianity Leithart is against allows the world, and even Christians, to marginalize their faith out of the center of culture. Instead, our faith, if preached and lived out faithfully, will have tangible results beyond the pew and morning devotions. We will act differently at work, with our neighbors, etc., and that will change the culture. This is not a bad thing. We have to rethink what culture is; it is nothing more than the outworking, externalizing, of religion. What we DO is determined by what we BELIEVE.

Many people lament the times in history where whole cultures and their governments have adhered to Christianity, because it makes for nominal Christians. This is misguided. Such nominalism is a real concern, but in a thoroughly Christian culture it can be dealt with through knowing each other well, and subsequent church discipline. We don’t need a godless general culture to produce genuine Christians. Leithart points to Jonah at Nineveh as an example. “You called me to be a prophet against them, not a chaplain for them!” But what’s wrong with being a chaplain aligned with a power that believes?

Along these lines, Leithart’s last chapter is “For Constantine.” Christendom is not an inherently negative thing, where the Church is grasping after power in a sinful way. “Christendom meant not the Church’s seizing alien power, but alien power’s becoming attentive to the Church” (pg 129, quoting Oliver O’Donovan’s “Desire of Nations”).

“The Christian Right made one of the most characteristic of modern political beliefs the foundation of its entire agenda: the assumption that the state has jurisdiction of morals….. A more radically Christian approach would be for the Church to challenge this assumption by reasserting her own jurisdiction of morals…. The Church could begin by accepting responsibility for the conduct of her own members” (pg 118).


“The Church does not agree on, much less enforce, her own ‘thou shalt nots.’ The Church does not even agree that there are ‘thou shalt nots.’ The anti-culture has invaded the Church” (pg 115).

“So long as the Church preaches the gospel and functions as a properly “political” reality, a polity of her own, the kings of the earth have a problem on their hands. Some Haman will notice that there is a people in the empire who do not live according to the laws of the Medes…. As soon as the Church appears, it becomes clear to any alert politician that worldly politics is no longer the only game in town…. This necessarily forces political change, ultimately of constitutional dimensions” (pg 136).

The big questions this book raises, but doesn't really answer or address: how do we go after a distinctively Christian culture OUT THERE, while also affirming religious tolerance in the public square? Was it wrong for Constantine to outlaw pagan religions in favor of Christianity? Why would that be wrong today in America? Do we believe more strongly in the First Amendment or the First Commandment? Ultimately (in the Kingdom of Heaven), the two are incompatible and the former will pass away. But if we’re praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, why are we reluctant about this?

No direct answers from me right now, but this from Steve Forbes during his presidential campaign a few years back: we have to change the culture before we can change the laws. Because the laws are just the outworking of our beliefs. Work on the heart of your neighbor; that’s the way to change things. Neither Leithart nor I am interested in imposing Christian laws on people who don't want it. God will judge them for their rebellion eventually; I don't have to now. But we need to keep in mind our goal in the culture war: to win; to change enough hearts that people want to have a government that explicitly honors the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whether this will actually happen before Christ's return is beside the point; shouldn't we be working towards it now?

Expecting some good discussion on this one...

How to change things

This one's on abortion in South Dakota, but it applies to any issue where you're fighting a political battle. By political I don't mean Washington D.C., but anything where you want your view to win the day in your organization or group.


Return from the Woods

We're back from a great night away with friends. We stayed at the Young Life TimberWolf Lake Camp near Lake City, MI. What a beautiful place - set in Northern Michigan's beautiful forests. We had a bit more snow than the photo shows! The Lumberjack Lodge where we stayed was perfect for an informal get together of life-long friends: big comfy sofas in front of a stone fireplace, spacious kitchen for cooking dinner, and even a hot tub!

I was able to get some knitting in while away - did an entire project start to finish in 24 hrs! I made Zoe Mellor's textured cuff bootee pattern as a baby gift. The pair I knit were made from an unmarked grey wool blend from my stash remnants. It was so much fun that I think I'll make another pair for our baby!


Night away

I redid the sidebar over the last day or two, so I won't be doing a little, daily posts so much as less-frequent, more-substantial posts (hopefully!).

Look to the sidebar for the daily/weekly activity...

You'll notice my life consists largely of reading and preaching, if you didn't catch on to that already!

Now we leave for a night up north with friends, so we're on hiatus, maybe until Monday.


Knitting Help Required - URGENT!!

Any savvy knitters out there? I'm stuck on my Shetland Tea Shawl I've been cruising on lately. Up to the edging and can't quite figure out how to do an invisible cast on (no, this doesn't involve any magic tricks!) and get going on knitting perpendicularly to the shawl body. Every other edging I've seen proceeds counter-clockwise, but this one is the other way around, joining the edge stitch to the shawl on the very first stitch. My problem is the working yarn seems to be on the far end of the needle, away from the shawl, creating a long "floater" (like in Fair Isle) when commencing knitting.

Any suggestions from the knitting world??


Scripture Credenda/Agenda

John 11:47, 57

We follow a Savior who was in trouble with the authorities of his day. They gathered together against Him (Psalm 2:2), and put out a warrant for His arrest (John 11:57). But He overcame all their jealousies and rebellions against God, but He did it by surrendering to their beatings and death, waiting for God's power to vindicate Him. He had the power to do it Himself (see the raising of Lazarus just before, especially 11:11 as it relates to Daniel 12:2), but He let His Father do it.

Calling Jesus a rebel is popular among rebels and those who like to "question authority." But you've got to be in trouble for the right reasons (1 Peter 4:15). No authority is absolute and perfect, so we can find ourselves in this position. But if we're there, we need to be careful about taking matters into our own hands. There is likely a way to handle it without directly flouting the authority, still submitting to it, and in a way that convicts the authority for its injustice, allowing God to be the final judge and avenger.

Everyone together - "Awwww..."

I have a chocolate stain on the front of my (white!) shirt today. It's a mark left by our 1 1/2 year old where he kissed my tummy in order to kiss the "new-new baby." It's a lot like those little perfect handprints you find on glass windows - you almost can't bear to wash them off.

It reminded me of how often our own attempts to express our faith and love to God inadvertantly leave smudges on His holiness. With the love of a parent, He understands our intent. Then He leans down to wipe up our dirty faces.

Conscience or Scripture?

Good stuff on Mohler's blog again. It's about a PCUSA lesbian "evangelist," marrying gays and the church giving her a pass, to make room for her "individual conscience." Much of this applies to people in the RCA and its Room For All group, as well.

"One must question the group's decision to suggest that the heated debate over the interpretation of Scripture on issues of sexuality is found "among Presbyterians who honor the authority of Scripture." Such a statement effectively implies that persons may deny clear teachings of Scripture, while still claiming to honor its authority.... The presbytery of the Redwoods did nothing to require Rev. Spahr to subject her conscience to the constitutional bounds of the church or to the clear teachings of the Bible."

The Presbyterian Lay Committee (PLC): "Some persons who call themselves Christians, including ordained leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), struggle with claims of the authority of Scripture," the group [PLC] argued. "They affirm Scripture as a guide and source of wisdom, but regard it as culturally conditioned and of human origin. Thus they place it alongside, and even, at times, under the judgment of other human authorities. They prefer to say, 'Listen for the Word of God,' rather than 'Listen to the Word of God' when reading the Bible in the context of worship. Persons who hold such beliefs clearly are not talking about the Scriptures that Jesus upheld and fulfilled and that his church has affirmed for more than 2000 years."

Back to Mohler: "Nothing less than the denomination's witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake. If individual conscience is allowed to invalidate the clear teachings of Scripture, the denomination faces an unavoidable disaster."

Morning prayer

"May I be able to take all reproofs from other men as from Thy hands, and glorify Thee for them, from a sense of Thy beneficent love and of my need to have my pride destroyed."

Valley of Vision, pg 82.


A Church Divided

"Divisions in the body of Christ may be noted in two stages. The first is when dividers attempt to rally people to their flag, but with little or no success. Such men must be addressed, but not in the same way as divisions in the second category. The second, and more lamentable condition, is when divisions have settled in and the congregation (or community, or denomination) is in fact divided. Such a condition calls for the highest degree of wisdom. Burroughs again: 'It is a great part of the skill of the minister to divide the Word aright; but this skill of his will be put to the test when he comes to divide the Word among a divided people, to give every part its portion.'" (Irenicum, pp. 16-17).

Adam and Eve, 1.0 and 2.0

Good reading in Tabletalk magazine lately.
The January and February issues have articles by Warren Gage which are EXCELLENT.
In case you're wondering, Adam and Eve 2.0 = Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church. (It's my own idea; Gage isn't as hokey as I am!)
Gage fleshes this out wonderfully, and with lots of Scripture. Check it out if you get it. If you don't get Tabletalk, you're missing out!

The Great Fashioner of hearts

Psalm 33 almost brought me to tears today. An urgent plea to worship the sovereign Lord.

I hadn't noticed verse 15 before, but it's a good one as far as the Calvinist/Arminian debate goes:

"He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works."

God doesn't just react to us based on what we do. He fashions our very hearts, and it is our hearts that decide what we are going to do. Hmmm...

On this day in 203 A.D....

Perpetua, a Christian about 22 years old, her slave, Felicitas, and several others are martyred at the arena in Carthage. They were flogged, attacked by hungry leopards, and finally beheaded.

Scripture Credenda/Agenda

John 9:31

"God does not hear sinners." This one can be distorted to say He doesn't ever forgive sin, but that's not what is meant. It means one stubbornly in sin and not wanting to give it up; wanting to get something from God without living for Him. Still, I was caught off guard by the number of OT echoes of this phrase - at least 13 of them! Here's the list:

Job 27:9; 35:12; Ps 18:41; Prov 1:28; 15:8, 29; 28:9; Isa 1:15; Jer 11:11; 14:12; Ezek 8:18; Micah 3:4; Zech 7:13.

My prayers only reach the Father in heaven through Jesus' righteous filter. If I approach God on my own, I don't have a chance. God provides Christ, and hears us gladly through Him (Matthew 7:7-11).

Chicken vote is in...

Well, since a whopping 2 people voted on the chicken logo, I can hardly claim scientific findings on this little poll. But the two voters agreed with the school admin - the top chicken logo is the winner! But be forewarned, many changes are in store before this bird is fully cooked.


Creative process

I'm up to my eyeballs in the Chix logo - presented first & second drafts, now we're in the "tightening up" phase getting the last nuances hammered out. It's gruelling. Being an artist and being a commissioned artist are very, very different things. When you have a client's satisfaction at stake, personal artistic feelings need to be subordinated to a degree.

I'm discovering (again) how challenging it can be to align my design ideas with the working reality of life. After all, this chicken needs to work for preschoolers, grandparents, AND raise money. Who wants to buy a t-shirt with an ugly chicken on it? Who determines what is a good looking chicken? I guess that's mostly up to me, as long as I meet the requirements of the team I'm working for.

It's not nuclear submarines, but it's sure starting to feel like it!

I'm off to buy some Peeps... marshmallow chickens, whodda thunk it?

On this day in 1475...

Italian artist Michelangelo Buonarroti, famous for his paintings (the Sistine Chapel), sculpture ("David"), and architecture (the rebuilding of St. Peter's Cathedral), is born in Caprese.


It appears I will be a delegate to our denomination's General Synod (that's General Assembly for all my presbyterian friends) this coming June.

I have mixed feelings about it. I want to have the experience, but my heart already sinks at what I may find happening there, based on reports of previous synods. I'm also disgusted, as are others, that our leaders think Brian McLaren was a good choice for speaker. His recent calls for tolerance and mixed answers on the homosexual question are an obvious flag to how we're supposed to be as a denomination. Call me a cup-half-empty kind of guy, I guess...

Scripture Credenda/Agenda

John 6 and 8

Jesus was sent directly from God the Father to do the Father's will.

It's amazing to think of a 30 year old man, just starting his ministry (no Messiah complex on my part, but the parallels do give one pause), confronting all the combined wisdom of the wise and aged sages of His day. His confidence is much greater than ours can ever be, because of Who He is. He calls them all the seed of the serpent, for crying out loud (John 8:44; see Genesis 3:15). But then again, I can be confident, knowing that I am His disciple, I know the truth, and I am free (John 8:31-32).



Very convicting. I've read the sermon on the mount section so far (reading this with a group of pastors, a chunk at a time). Discussion of God's Word, application to others in judgment, and confessions of belief based on God's Word, can all be ways to avoid DOING the Word. Great stuff.

Politics and the Bible

This was a good read, blending fairly libertarian politics with a conservative social ethic. Great critiques of socialism, redistribution of wealth, big government liberalism, inflation, envy-the-rich advocates, etc. Highly recommended!


Is Judas in heaven?

1. Suicide doesn't mean he didn't have faith in Jesus. I don't believe suicide automatically excludes one from heaven.

2. Matt 27:3 says he was "remorseful" and returned the money, but that doesn't mean he believed in Jesus, either.

3. An interesting THEORY I've heard (not saying I believe it, but it's rather convincing:
Judas was a zealot who wanted Jesus to contend militarily with the temple authorities. In betraying Jesus' location to the chief priests, he was forcing Jesus' hand militarily. As he kisses Jesus, he's thinking, "So there; now you've got to DO something instead of just talk. Fight for the Kingdom!" It's only when he realizes Jesus is going to give up instead of fight that he is remorseful.

4. This theory doesn't say whether or not he'll be in heaven: I'm agnostic on it. But it does say he believed Jesus was a **political** Messiah, as many Jews were looking for. I think too many faithful people today still place their hopes overmuch in that political realm, instead of in Jesus.

Scripture Credenda/Agenda

Something different today:
A list of what I highlight, having connections to the other Testament of Scripture.

Reading Exodus 17-18

1. Vs 2: "Why do you tempt Yahweh?" Moses asks as they grumble for water.
---Acts 15:10: "why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples...?"
--- In both cases, soon after God's redemptive act (Exodus and Cross), God's people were agitating out of accord with God's will. In both cases, the leaders stand and warn them not to test God.

2. Vs 4: Moses to God: "They are ready to stone me!"
---John 8:59 - after Jesus' long argument with the Jews about bread to eat in the wilderness, they pick up stones to stone Him...

3. Vs 6: God to Moses: "Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink."
---1 Corinthians 10:4 - "All our fathers... drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ."

4. Vs 7: "So he called the name of that place Massah (rebellion/contention) and Meribah (trial/test)..."
---Hebrews 3:8 and Psalm 95:8: Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness."

5. Vs 11: not quite highlight material, but a connection between Moses lifting up hands over the battle, and 1 Timothy 2:8 and James 5:16. Moses was probably praying to God for victory, not just holding his hands up and automatically or magically producing victory...

6. 18:3 - Jethro brings Zipporah back to Moses, with their two sons.
---Acts 7:29 - Stephen notes Moses' two sons, too.

7. 18:4 - Moses names his second son Elizer because "God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh."
---Acts 12:11 - Peter is released from prison, and when he comes to by himself outside, says, "the Lord... has delivered me from the hand of Herod..."

8. 18:17, 21 - "The thing that you do is not good.... select from all the people able men..."
---Acts 6:2-3 - "It is not desirable.... seek out from among you... men of good reputation..."

9. 18:21, 25 - Moses sets rulers of 1000s, 100s, 50s and 10s, which means there are now "parishes" of that many people, too.
---Mark 6:40 - Jesus feeding the 5000 of Israel has them sit down in 100s and 50s; a symbol of the re-constituting of Israel under His leadership.


"Addicted to Mediocrity" - book review

Ever wonder why art was so great a few hundred years ago - and done mostly by Christians or those operating in the Christian consensus - but today's "christian" art is pretty bland and boring? Franky Schaeffer's book "Addicted to Mediocrity" does a great job explaining how we as Christians have lost our artistic prominence and settled for droll sofa art.

The High Renaissance in Italy and Reformation-era in the Dutch/Flemish/German region had a basic understanding that creativity came from God, was good, and needed no justification. You create because you were created in the image of the Creator. But with time a Platonic understading of spirituality developed, separating it from daily life. It was a religious end in itself. Certain things were seen as either spiritual or secular. That developed alongside of the utilitarian mindset of the Industrial Revolution. People started evaluating themselves and the world around them through a screen of pure utilitarianism. What does this person/talent/object contribute (monetarily/evangelistically/etc)?

As an artist, I see this to be too true today. The church, as an earthly organization, rarely values artists (visual, written, musical, dance, cinematic, etc.) unless they are 1) bringing more cash into the coffers, 2) actively evangelizing through their medium, or 3)contributing in some way to the contemporary christian subculture as seen in the Christian book market and music industry. I've never been asked to do a drawing or artwork for the sake of beauty. But I have been instructed (by a pastor, no less), to make a church logo look something Nieman Marcus-esque to draw the upper-middle class white collar demographic.

Any art you find in your local christian bookstore would bomb in the market at large. The only reason we see so much of it in our bookstores is because we keep buying it! We, as the Christian culture, have settled for less than quality work, most likely because it's been sanctified with a bible verse or Christian symbol.

"Cultural endeavors, the arts, and the media are truly the marketplace of ideas." We have settled for mediocrity in our Christian art, music, writing, even preaching and teaching. When Christians withdraw to their own little ghetto and offer toothbrushes with bible verses to the world, it's no wonder the state of affairs our culture is in! For the millions who profess to be evangelical Christians and all the Christian activity, programs, money spent/raised, bumper stickers and national programs, Schaeffer asks "why then is the culture moving in such a devastating speed in an Anti-Christian direction?"

So what can you do? Schaeffer offers some great advice: First, be addicted to quality and integrity in artwork. Second, those around you in their creative endeavors (this doesn't have to be financially). Lastly, free yourself from the mindset that we must tack on a few Christian slogans at the end to somehow redeem our work. "Christ redeems what we do.... There is no Christian world, no secular world...there is only one world, the one God made."

I would encourage you to look around your home, your church, your garden, your place, whatever that may be. How can you bring beauty and glory to God in that area? For practical ideas on how to do this, I highly recommend Edith Schaeffer's book "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" put out by Tyndale Press.

The voice of Yahweh

This is just cool.
Psalm 29:3-9, contains 7 "the voice of Yahweh" statements, the first one: "The voice of Yahweh is over the waters; the God of glory thunders."

Now, check out Revelation 10:2-3: the mighty angel comes down, lands on the sea and land, and "seven thunders uttered their voices."

Coincidence? I don't think so...

The pastoral payoff: God is big enough and strong enough to handle your situation.

Q&A on homosexual "marriage"

From Coral Ridge Ministries (D. James Kennedy):

Q: Isn't it everyone's right to marry if they so desire?
A: No. Marriage is not a "right" under the law. As columnist Thomas Sowell and others have rightly observed, marriage is actually a restriction. For example, in may states, if a husband buys something, the wife automatically owns half of it. It is a limitation of our freedom. Marriage laws take numerous decisions "out of our hands," Sowell says.

Q: Then why would homosexual activists want their lives restricted by the legalization of same-sex marriage?
A: Because the activists actually want "official social approval of their lifestyle," to quote columnist Sowell. This, however, is the opposite of "equal rights." "If you have a right to someone else's approval," Sowell says, "then they do not have a right to their own opinions and values."

Q: Why shouldn't we be tolerant of homosexual marriage?
A: Princton scholar Robert P. George puts it this way: "To justifiy same-sex marriage on e must abandon the concept of marriage as a one-flesh union of sexually complementary spouses. But if we embrace the idea that marriage is fundamentally an emotional union of people who find their relationship enhanced by mutually agreeable sex acts of any type - we eliminate the rational groudnd for restricting marriage to two people.... People who accept same-sex 'marriage' have no basis of principle for opposing polygamy, group marriage, promiscuity (open marriages), and the like. What then is left of marriage? Nothing."

The Big Questions

From HB London, Focus on the Family's clergy guy, on having others hold you accountable as a man. He's quoting Chuck Colson, who's quoting Chuck Swindoll...

1. Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?
2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?
4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?
5. Have you given priority time to your family?
6. Have you fulfilled the mandate of your calling?
7. Have you just lied to me?

Good stuff.

Steve listens to...

Here's my favorite rock album lately (okay, my only rock album lately!). I had heard they won a Grammy, and didn't get around to checking it out until today. Sure enough. 5 grammys: Album of the Year, Song of the Year for "Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own," Best Rock Perfomance for duo or group vocals, Best Rock Song for "City of Blinding Lights," and Best Rock Album.

Bono commented on their own music: "You have this opportunity to make rage into a chorus or hurt into a verse, (and) sorrow is always so much sweeter when it rhymes."

Larry the drummer stepped in to remind Bono that when you're "finished dealing with the world problems, Third World problems, maybe he should do something about the music industry, because it needs a little help" (from www.u2.com). Right on.

The music is quality (if you're into the genre), and the lyrics are amazing. Bono is an interesting guy when he sings/talks culture and faith. Don't always agree, but usually he's worth pondering. Here are some of the lyrics to the lead song, "Vertigo."

The jungle is your head
Can’t rule your heart
A feeling is so much stronger than
A thought
Your eyes are wide
And though your soul
It can’t be bought
Your mind can wander

We’re at a place called Vertigo
Lights go down and all I know
Is that you give me something

I can feel your love teaching me how
Your love is teaching me how, how to kneel

I think the world seduces us these days by distracting us, or by assuming that our feelings should rule our lives instead of our heads. Bono's on to something in that first verse. And God's love does teach us how to kneel, something we need a lot of learning in.

Scripture Credenda/Agenda

John 2:13-22 - Jesus cleanses the temple

God is a persistent purifier of those who seek to follow Him. Jesus challenged the existing authorities, even of the Temple itself. Reformation and cleansing was needed, even at the heart of true religion. Jesus begins judgment with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17), because zeal for that house consumes Him (Psalm 69:9).

Always listen closely and read carefully when Jesus speaks. The Jews consistently misunderstand Him and reject Him partly due to it. He says they will destroy "this temple," but that He will raise it in 3 days. They think He means the building; He means His body. They're going to completely miss God's work, moving His House from a building to Christ's Body, because they can't break out of the box of their assumptions. Don't let the reigning orthodoxy cramp Jesus. He is Truth. Listen closely to Him. Question your assumptions; make sure you're not reading them into Jesus' words.


Patriarchy on the rise

Here I go again. Great article I’m going to try to summarize. Al Mohler reviews Phillip Longman’s article in Foreign Policy: "Why Men Rule--and Conservatives Will Inherit the Earth." This magazine is at the center of cultural influence, and so this kind of article there is very significant. Quotes below are Longman; the rest is Mohler. I'm giving you snippets to entice you to go there...

"For more than a generation now, well-fed, healthy, peaceful populations around the world have been producing too few children to avoid population decline…. from China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, to Canada, the Caribbean, all of Europe, Russia, and even parts of the Middle East."

The reasons for this… often a loss of social cohesion and confidence and… the erosion of the social structure.

"Among states that voted for President George W. Bush in 2004, fertility rates are 12 percent higher than in states that voted for Senator John Kerry," Longman reports.

“secular and libertarian elements in society fail to reproduce, and as people adhering to more traditional, patriarchal values inherit society by default,"

“Under a true patriarchal system, such as in early Rome or 17th century Protestant Europe, fathers have strong reason to take an active interest in the children their wives bear. That is because, when men come to see themselves, and are seen by others, as upholders of a patriarchal line, how those children turn out directly affects their own rank and honor."

The Bible reveals a form of patriarchy as the norm--with men called to lead within the marital union and the family, as well as the church.

On this day in 1854...

Pioneer missionary Hudson Taylor lands in Shanghai, China. "My feelings on stepping ashore I cannot attempt to describe," he wrote. "My heart felt as though it had not room and must burst its bonds, while tears of gratitude and thankfulness fell from my eyes." Taylor would found the China Inland Mission in 1865, and he popularized the idea that missionaries should live and dress like the people they seek to evangelize.

Source: Christian History magazine

Scripture Credenda/Agenda

Exodus 15

Credenda: after a beautiful, majestic song of praise to our great God who fights for us against our enemies, Israel complains to Moses 3 days later because they have no water. What a roller coaster life can be sometimes, from highs to lows in a matter of days. Life isn't all peaches and cream, even after God redeems us from bondage to our sin.

Agenda: I'm not underestimating the dire need Israel was in. How would YOU do after 3 days with no water, and then you come to some but it's bitter? Yikes! I used Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 27-28 in church Sunday: thanks to God's providence, "we can be patient when things go aginst us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love." This gives us some ballast as we face the curveballs God can throw at us. Are we trusting His wisdom, power and providence?