Hill Of Fire

One of the joys of having children is recovering lost memories of your own childhood. I had that today as Grace read the book "Hill of Fire" to the boys and me. I remember reading this one myself as a young girl and enjoying it very much.

It's a story of the birth of a volcano in Mexico while a poor farmer is plowing his field. Our boys sat riveted for half an hour while she read aloud to us.

This is her drawing of "El Monstruo" exploding. She drew me next to the volcano - not sure how I figure into the story (or where that BIG hair came from!). :)


Communion Exhortation - 3/25/07

This feast is set for us by grace; we come through faith. It is not of ourselves so that we cannot boast. This sacrament is not a stone soup fable, where each family contributes what they can, and lo and behold we have a feast if we just coordinate our efforts. Just look what we didn’t know we had within us. No. We know what is within us before the Lord, and it is nothing but filthy rags.

We come to this dinner asking our host, “What can we bring?” and the host replies, “You can’t bring anything but yourselves. And you can’t even bring yourselves if I don’t keep you alive and give you the inclination to come. It is all of grace.”

Grace means God didn’t have to do this, and we don’t deserve it.
“Why was I made to hear your voice, and enter while there’s room, when thousands make a wretched choice, and rather starve than come?”

We don’t know fully, why. But the Father does long to give His Son the nations for an inheritance. He humbled Himself, even to death on a cross. And His Father exalted Him to His right hand, and has given Him the name above all names. From there our Lord calls us and draws us to Himself.

“Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money Come, buy and eat Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price…. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please” (Isaiah 55:1, 10).

Communion Exhortation - 3/18/07

2 qualifiers as we begin, so that what I’m about to say is not misunderstood. 1 This is not a re-sacrificing of Christ, as Rome would have us believe. 2. Christ is not in the bread and wine physically.

We have before us a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice for us. His body was broken, so we break the bread. Blood flowed out of Him, so we pour wine. And the sacrifice did what it was supposed to. We were far from God, but His blood brings us near. Jesus in His flesh has abolished and killed the enmity between us and God. He told us Himself what He was doing: “this is My blood… shed for many for the remission of sins.” As you believe Jesus was sent by God to do this for you, you are one of those many, and you see many more seated around you

Here at the Table of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is where our salvation becomes specifically for you. We proclaim the Gospel to all who will hear, and the words about Jesus Christ float around in the air. Hopefully your ears catch some of them and they get to your mind and heart, and they should. Still, words can be airy, flighty things, escaping us so easily. But now bread and wine are given to put into YOUR mouth. Jesus must come and be present with you, as intimately as the food you eat is present with you. He is your sustenance, your strength, your life. And unless He enters YOUR life, none of this Gospel preaching or theology means a hill of beans. Is your mouth stopped when you consider your sin – that you have no right to be here? Good. So it should be. But go on to believe - that Christ has died so that sin won’t keep Him from you, or you from Him. So after your mouth is stopped, remember to OPEN your mouth, and God will fill it. Commune and fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Poem of the Day

My Shadow
by Robert Louis Stevenson.
From Child's Garden of Verses

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.


Ironclads at Sea

"Monitor & Merrimack" by Grace, age 5
We recently visited the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, VA. The museum just opened their USS Monitor Center, which tells the story of the historic battle of the ironclads during the Civil War. The jewel of the exhibit is the turret off the Monitor, reclaimed from the bottom of the ocean off Cape Hatteras, NC. Our children loved this museum and learned much about this famed battle. Did you know that the Merrimack was the Union's name for the ship? When Virginia seceeded from the Union, the shipyard at Portsmouth housed the mighty USS Merrimack. Rather than these this powerful naval ship to the Confederates, the fleeing shipbuilders burned her down. They did this while she was in the water, so everything below the waterline remained intact, and proved to be just what the Southern shipbuilders needed for their idea of an ironclad warship. They named their rebuilt vessel the CSS Virginia. The Virginia destroyed two Union warships before the historic March 9 battle. Four hours later the battle was a draw, but naval history was forever changed. The Monitor sunk less than a year later in a storm on the Atlantic. Her deck was only 18 inches above sea level; not designed to weather the high waves of the open sea. The CSS Virginia was later destroyed by her own builders to prevent advancing Union forces from seizing her. (In Grace's picture above, the Virginia is on the left and seems to be the less advanced vessel as she's shooting away from the Monitor!)



"Amasaurus" by Owen, age 4
This is a boy amasaurus. It has spikes from it's tail to its nose. Wool covers its legs and belly. He is wearing ornamental riding gear with spots. He's a mean meat-eating bloodthirsty monster, but has rubber bands over his teeth so he won't eat the person who is riding him. Owen is taking him for a ride from Michigan to Texas where he'll eat all the bad cowboys. The three numbered squares on his side are armored plates; the numbers show how much each weighs, in lbs.


Heavy theology

In case you're in the mood for some deep theology, here is a topic that interests me. It is part of the Federal Vision controversy. Was the sin of Adam and Eve one of pure disobedience, or was lack of faith involved in their disobedience? Did they need faith to obey before the Fall? What is the role of grace, faith and works in our lives? Check it out here


Reformation Light

Once in a while, I have the presence of mind to read a book that is already on my shelf, and that relates to my current pastoral work. Imagine that.
So here is one.

There are 10 essays, in honor of RC Sproul, 5 on the 5 points of Calvinism, as summarized in the Canons of Dordt, and 5 on the 5 solas of the Reformation (only Scripture, faith, grace, Christ, glory to God).

This is an excellent introduction to the Reformed understanding of the Christian faith. Check it out.


Communion Exhortation - 3/4/07

We bring nothing in our hands to this table. God provides it all. We even need Him to get us here in the first place. It is all of grace. Where we deserve starvation and dehydration, our Savior Jesus Christ gives His life, spreads a feast, and bids us come. Even on this day, when we think of the depths of our sin, you are commanded now to put away that sin, to put away consideration of it, once it is all confessed, to leave it outside the door, and to come eat and drink with the Lord in close fellowship. Turn your consideration of sin into gratitude and love for the brethren.

Know that you eat with other saints, also saved by grace. Remember that grace we share in common as you fellowship later. Remember that shared grace as you eat and drink now. We are not here in the same way two people watch a movie together, with no interaction between them as they watch. Each thinking and feeling our own thing as we watch the same thing. No, we are not partaking of Communion in that way. We share a common life together. We are eating the same meal at the same table of Christ, with the same fellowship, conversation, laughter. We are part of one body, one family of God. We have been adopted and made partakers of the same Father’s table. So come, enjoy fellowship with the Head of the Feast, and with His adopted brothers and sisters.

Is God Fair?

I'm beginning a 5 part series on Calvinism's "5 points" as summed up in the acronym TULIP, summarized in the Canons of Dordt. It has already led to great discussion at church, as I covered the first, "Total Depravity" yesterday.


If we are born sinners, and cannot help but sin, how can God judge us for sinning?


The answer to this question, I believe, lies in understanding our relationship to Adam and Eve. Adam, as the first specimen of mankind, perfectly represented each and every person. This adverb "perfectly" doesn't mean he was morally perfect, but that he behaved in a manner perfectly in line with what any person who came after would have done in his position.

The objection above assumes this to be untrue. The objection is that if WE had the chance to be in Adam and Eve's position, we would have obeyed. This can hardly be proven or assumed.

After the Fall we could not obey; before the Fall, we would not have obeyed for long. Both situations bring the same punishment and Jesus saves us from both, too (remember the tunics with which God clothes Adam and Eve? remember His promise to crush the serpent's head?).

The objection above asserts that we are not identified with our race. That WE, the individual objector, are different and better than the average bear... I mean, person. I would say the objection can be rejected on these very grounds. Who are you to assume you are better than Adam and Eve?

The objection assumes we must each have a chance, a blank slate from which to keep the law on our own merits. But why insist on this when Jesus Christ has kept the law FOR us? One would only insist on this if one wanted to reject God's Messiah and Son, or if one wanted to keep the credit for obedience (or for believing in Christ) to himself.

The objection assumes that God's story should begin on the day the objector was born. But it does not. We find ourselves aware, looking around and blinking, in chapter 35 of God's story. Much has already happened. Is this not the Author's right, to introduced characters as He sees fit? Do you (the objector) insist on having the star part? on being the hero who overcomes and resolves everything, against all odds? That role has already been cast. Your insistence on the lead role only confirms the idea of total depravity.