Truth in Beauty and Picture

"Modernists... [and] postmodernists... agree on something essential to both positions, which is that absolute truth is not conveyed through metaphor. But this flies in the face of the Bible’s teaching. God is a Rock and His work is perfect, even though rocks don’t work. We may not like this means of communicating absolute truth, but if we are Christians, we need to learn to deal with it. An inability to learn truth from beauty is not beauty's problem. Until we learn this, our understanding of revelation will continue to be truncated, and will remain that way until we give ourselves to the recovery of poetry."

Douglas Wilson


Marzipan, Marzipan!

I've shown you some pretty crazy knitted items, but how about knitting you can actually EAT?

Truly, these are too cute. Do you see the detail?? There's actually a cast-on row! Notice the toothpick knitting needle! I think this will be my birthday cake this year!! Click here to see more!


Out of the mouths of babes

I highly recommend this short article calling for little children to be present in the worship of the Lord. It was written by the moderator of our denomination, and gives you a good sense of our life together.

Poem of the Day

As always, these are meant as thought-provokers, not than I agree with every word or line in a poem.

The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at laSt,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


Poems of the Day

To the Snake
Denise Levertov

Green Snake, when I hung you round my neck
and stroked your cold, pulsing throat
as you hissed to me, glinting
arrowy gold scales, and I felt
the weight of you on my shoulders,
and the whispering silver of your dryness
sounded close at my ears---

Green Snake---I swore to my companions that certainly
you were harmless! But truly
I had no certainty, and no hope, only desiring
to hold you, for that joy,
which left
a long wake of pleasure, as the leaves moved
and you faded into the pattern
of grass and shadows, and I returned
smiling and haunted, to a dark morning.

A Word to Husbands
Ogden Nash

To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it
Whenever you’re right, shut up


Life is a Highway

This photo is not of our area, but could well describe the joys of travelling on I-64 here on the penninsula. If you want to get somewhere quickly, DON'T take the freeway!


Christ the Husband; Church the Bride

I find deep meaning in this Biblical comparison (Ephesians 5:23, 25, 29-32), and love discovering new texts that hint at it. Here is one from Hosea 2.

19 “I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
20 I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the Lord.


The big news these days is that we bought a house out here in Virginia. Here are some pictures and some of the agent's sales copy. "Come enjoy this beautiful 3 Bedroom (could be 4th BR) 2.5 bath gem. Large kitchen with lots of cabinets, large breakfast area with new skylights, nice sized deck with patio, fenced backyard with storage shed."

We close end of this month - move in first couple weeks in August.

Isaiah 27

2 In that day sing to her,

“A vineyard of red wine!
3 I, the Lord, keep it,
I water it every moment;
Lest any hurt it,
I keep it night and day.
4 Fury is not in Me.
Who would set briers and thorns
Against Me in battle?
I would go through them,
I would burn them together.
5 Or let him take hold of My strength,
That he may make peace with Me;
And he shall make peace with Me.”

6 Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob;
Israel shall blossom and bud,
And fill the face of the world with fruit.

Compare John 15:1-6!

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned."

These kinds of comparisons really get my theological ticker going. It combines, across testaments, our abiding with Christ, the Father providentially tending His vines, the goal of filling the earth with His fruit... our works, and the warning not to be a thorn in His way.


Invocation - 7/22/07

You have called us, heavenly Father, to worship You in the beauty of holiness. We fear that our feeble attempt, mixed with distraction, annoyances, or apathy, may not live up to your call. But we worship You in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ, and so we draw near with confidence, as You expect. Keep us focused this morning on You – Your glory, Your Word, Your forgiveness, Your Table, Your commission. Let us not be distracted by how others are worshiping, how others are receiving Your words, which we are so sure they need. Strengthen us to submit to Your glories, Your pleasures, Your majesty, Your Gospel, in our worship now, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end, Amen.

Invocation - 7/15/07

Heavenly Father, we are in Your presence now, in response to Your call, and You promise to give us rest and gladness in Your Son Jesus Christ. We approach You through Him, claiming no other way to please You. Make this time central to our lives, as You transform our families into Your family. You have adopted us as Your children, and so we go up to Your house with gladness, to give thanks, to repent of our sins, to hear You speak, to eat at Your Table. We enter this Your House, knowing that its foundation was laid at the cost of Your firstborn Son. May our worship transform and shape each of us as we come to Jesus the living stone, as we are fit together perfectly into Your temple, every part each one of us contributing to our corporately declaring Your glory among the nations, Your wonders and Your works among the peoples.


Another house

Check this out to see the zeal in one of our church families, who are building a home in the inner city in which to host adopted and perhaps community children.

The construction pictures really show the progress well!

Communion exhortation 7/15/07

Text - 1 Samuel 25, when Abigail goes out to David with food and humility

Wisdom prepares a table for all who will come. Just as Abigail prepared and brought food for David and his men. Just as Christ’s disciples asked Him where they should prepare the Passover. Just as the Spirit enables the Church to prepare a Table for disciples of Jesus here.

The Church has been spoken for as Christ’s Bride. She is meant to have her blemishes removed. We are meant to grow up to look and act like Lady Wisdom of Proverbs. And so we set tables. We serve one another. We go all out to make peace between those at war.

First on the list of food that Abigail brought was bread and wine. As we come to this bread and wine now, we pray that it does what it did for David. We pray that it brings us up short in our sin, keeping us from future sin. We pray that the humble, servant posture of those preparing and presenting this meal may add to that conviction of sin. We pray that those setting tables in their families may have a similar effect, spurring the rest of the body on to holiness.

The bread and wine don’t do this on their own; it is the Spirit of Wisdom, sent by the Father and Son into our hearts, producing faith in Christ, faith in His righteousness and His death to pay the wages of our sin.

We proclaim that death now.

Communion exhortation - 7/8/07

Text - 1 Samuel 24, when David cuts a corner of Saul's robe in the cave

David’s conscience bothered him afterward. Does your conscience bother you as you approach this Table?

In one sense, that is good. We ought to keep in mind our unworthiness to receive an invitation to this fellowship with Christ. In another sense, this is the meal that symbolizes our peace with God. When you go to a fellow church member’s home this noon, you can’t be constantly fretting, thinking “I really don’t deserve to be here. How can I possibly enjoy this, considering who I am?” Put that away. It’s been taken care of. Jesus Christ has died, and we proclaim that here, not our own unworthiness.

So even if you know you are in sin, and it isn’t all totally resolved, as long as you are grieved by it, come now to receive strength to resolve it. Communion drives us to reconcile. Imperfect relationships need not keep us from communion. Partaking here is a source of strength to put away sin, not a sign to those around that you /have/ put it away. Partaking here is not a profession of our spiritual integrity, we do not proclaim ourselves here; partaking is a means toward that integrity. None of us have put away sin to an extent that makes us really worthy to commune with our Lord. Jesus Christ has made us worthy.

As long as your conscience bothers you, you are in good company. When it stops bugging you, then you need to really get concerned. If you are in sin and don’t care, you are eating and drinking judgment on yourself. It will be better for you to refrain from this Table. If you are in sin and have repented, come and receive strength and mercy.

Communion exhortation - 7/1/07

Text - 1 Samuel 23, when Jonathan comes out to meet David, and Saul pursues David

This is our En Gedi, our oasis in the wilderness. We are pursued hotly by our enemy the devil. But God is faithful. He provides a way of escape – a spring to run to and be fed and protected.

Just as Jonathan came out to David in the wilderness, so the Holy Spirit of Jesus comes forth from our heavenly home, out to us in this desert, and He is with us. The roles are reversed now – the Son of David is on the throne in Zion, and we as Jonathan are in the desert. But it is the same picture. We claim Jesus as our king, and declare that we will stand next to him, reflecting His image as a copy.

And the Spirit with us now, strengthens us, joining us with our King Jesus, helping us renew covenant with God, pledge loyalty to His Son, profess faith that He is the One through whom God protects and saves us.

We are not just reminded of all this. David did not simply call Jonathan to mind in the desert. Our sin is not just in our heads; we sin with our hands, our tongues, our bodies, and so our salvation too is not just mental but tangible and public. David and Jonathan really met there, and were strengthened. And so you too truly meet with Jesus here – having confessed Your sin, having heard His Word, and now reaffirming your union with Him in this sacrament.


Preschool Crafts

My sister asked me for ideas of projects that will help her 3 year old develop her scissors skills. Here are a few ideas I came up with, also good for general "we want to do a craft" sorts of days.

1) cut out pictures of foods she likes from magazines (or around a theme, like veggies) and glue them onto a paper plate

2) Noah's Ark: cut out animals from National Geographic, etc. and glue onto a big ark cut from a grocery bag. Don't forget to make a flap for the door! :)

3) Make your own person: cut out body parts from mag pictures and reassemble to make your own funny person

4) hunt for shapes: find squares, circles, etc in mags and cut out, glue onto a paper

5) Foot prints: trace foot and cut out, put two together backwards (like how kids usually wear their shoes!) and use the feet as wings to a butterfly

6) ABC's - look for each letter of the alphabet and cut out. Cut a bunch of 8.5x11's in half the short ways and stack the papers to make a little book. Glue each letter onto it's own page. Later on you can find pictures that start with each letter, cut those out and glue them onto the appropriate pages. Good long-term, work on it a little at a time project.

7) Paper quilt - find "The Quiltmaker's Gift" or other kids quilt-themed story at the library. After reading it, cut out squares and triangles and glue into a rectangle on a grocery bag to make your own "quilt" designs. You could get fancy and add fringe trim around the outside edge.

Libraries often give away really old magazines - what a great resource of images for little fingers to cut! Don't forget to get a plastic tote in which to keep the magazines and "precious" clippings!


The Importance of the Church

Great article in Modern Reformation, by Jason Stellman, "Where Grace is Found."

He contrasts the evangelical view of the Church with a proper confessionally Reformed one.

Evangelicals get religion in daily quiet times, Christian music, retreats.
It ought to be found in corporate worship where the Word is preached and the Sacraments are celebrated.

Evangelicals pass on the faith, as a rule, via dramatic conversion experience.
This is a legit option, but ought to be the exception to the rule of parents baptizing and discipling their children in the Church.

"Rather than the litmus test being one's devotional life, voting record, or collection of Left Behind novels, it should be sought in the fact that those who confess Christ gather together each Lord's Day around Word and sacrament, confessing their sins, singing His praises, and hearing, eating, and drinking the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Referring to 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 where the unrepenant sinner is "handed over to Satan," Stellman asks: "if expulsion from the means of grace is so precarious, then participation in the means of grace should be considered equally beneficial... belonging to the church ought to be thought of as being every bit a blessing as being thrown out of it is a curse."


Do a Little Dance...

Question: David may have danced "before the LORD" but what does this imply for dancing in worship services today - even in indecent clothing?

Answer: Good question. I don't know what to think about this one, exactly. I don't want to be a gnostic, who denigrates the physical and spritualizes everything. I tend to think that dancing is good as an expression of worship, but to do so in an audience/performative worship context is not beneficial. Much as CS Lewis talks of posture in worship being whatever the worshipper is led to, without regard to how it looks or what others will think. That's hard to do when it's done as it is these days. Although you'd assume all eyes were on David the king as he danced before the Lord...


Grateful for it; not worshiping it

So we were at the Yorktown Victory Center today for the Fourth (got to see the muskets and cannons fire - the real fireworks!), and I came across an interesting exhibit, just off on its own. It was a headless statue of the goddess Nike, along with some explanation that Europe - and the Founding Fathers along with it - was in the throes of a neo-classical movement at the time of independence. Greco-Roman mythology, architecture and literature were all the rage, as we can tell today with a look at any governement building in DC.

What I didn't expect was a print of an artwork done in the 1770s, in which George Washington stands before an altar of Liberty, with several goddesses standing around him, one with her foot stamping down the English shield, and one kneeling and sacrificing at the altar, complete with cherubs flying through the smoke. The caption said, "America Presents at the Altar of Liberty."

I couldn't believe it. As one who has been known to preach against the idolatrous tendency to worship our nation or our political freedom, there was the very idol itself, staring me in the face. The caption didn't fool me. America wasn't just "presenting," at that altar of freedom; she was worshiping liberty.

I realize many godly patriots back then would also be alarmed and distance themselves from such a thing, but this gives us a picture of the more deistic or neo-pagan populous at our nation's birthday, lo these 231 years ago.

Grateful to God for His blessings to our nation, in spite of our waywardness...


Republican Jehoshaphat?

Question for all you 3rd party voters out there.
(I may be one of you, so don't go too crazy):

How could Jehoshaphat be doing what was right in God's sight, according to the Chronicler (2 Chronicles 20:32-33), but not tear down the idolatrous high places because of the people?

Is it possible George Bush has been doing right regarding abortion, for instance, even if he hasn't been able personally to overturn Roe v Wade? What judges would we have gotten, what court decisions would have come re partial birth abortion, if 1 million more Republicans voted 3rd party against Bush and Gore?

It seems God does not consider a ruler guilty if the majority forces sin on the nation, and the ruler cannot politically stop it. Better to stay in office and hope for a more favorable day, than to have them run you out of office when you try and fail to impose the ideal thing on an unwilling populace.

But how does the godly ruler abstain from complicity in the people's sin?