Creativity outburst

This month has been an outpouring of creativity in our house. What better opportunity to try out my new camera, as well? Enjoy & be inspired!

G, perfecting her stitches

knit cardigan in progress; yarn: Noro Silk Garden

pencil drawing; done as an example for my drawing students

skirt/petticoat; I conquered pintucks!!

Zinnias we grew from seed (currently 4 feet tall) - this photo inspired by Val's beautiful photography

From Leithart.com

"NT Wright suggests that Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ complaint about his disciples “harvesting” on the Sabbath puts them in the role of Doeg the Edomite, who watched David get showbread from the priests at Nob (end of Mark 2). A student points out that the Edomite theme is still there in the Sabbath incident in Mark 3:1-6: After all the Pharisees go out from the synagogue to plot against Jesus with the Herodians, supporters of the Idumean/Edomite Herod Antipas."


Sermon excerpts

Christian education – obeying Deuteronomy 6:4-7

The world tells us to give our children space to discover the world themselves and to come to their own conclusions about things. Let the society and the state socialize them so they are normal, well-adjusted people. Children and teens increasingly find their identity, meaning and purpose outside of the home, while the house becomes just a home base between activities.
But Scripture tells us to teach our children diligently. Literally to carve or cut God’s word into them. Parents are primarily responsible for the Christian nurture of their children. Eph 6:4 directs fathers to raise up children in God’s ways. The goal is more than just mental or academic understanding; it is godly living. We are to engage in this often – many times a day. When you rise up, when you lie down, when you drive down the road. Talk with your children, about Jesus Christ and how to serve him, all the time.

Now, remember always, that our task is to teach, disciple and shepherd the hearts of your children. We do not react to the lack of restraint among children in the world, by focusing on outward restraint. Children, the main thing isn’t that you are orderly and well-behaved, but that you know and love the Lord. Your good behavior is the fruit of that love. Your cheerful obedience is a beautiful testimony to the goodness and saving power of the Lord Jesus. Parents, the obedience of your children is not a merit badge for you to wear, showing others how spiritual you are. It is not the goal, to justify yourself before God or before the world. By faith, God already reckons us righteous, with the obedience of Christ. We don’t have to prove our own righteousness to Him or to others. The parenting solution is not an automatic, external one, but comes from faithful obedience to the Lord.

But we ought to be eager to work out our salvation, and to bear fruit for His kingdom. So do a heart check this morning on your motivation for discipling your children the way you do. Is it out of disgust for the world, or out of love and service to Christ? Is it because you need to prove to God or to yourself that you are a true believer? Or is it because you want to cheerfully obey your Lord in His Word here in Deut 6:6-7?

Once we have clear the goal – shepherding childrens’ hearts – and our motivation – not to attain or keep righteousness before God, but to work out our salvation, we can start talking about how we disciple and educate our children.

Deut 6 does not require that every believer home-school their children. Some argue this, that you can’t teach your children when you rise up and lay down and driving down the road, which basically means “all the time,” if they are in school all day. This has some merit, but isn’t air-tight enough to make us require home-schooling. Others argue that you deprive your children of the varied experiences, backgrounds and expertise of teachers, if they only have parents to teach them. There may be something to this, and one can home-school badly in a variety of ways. We must be willing to be self-critical of home-schooling, if we are going to effectively serve the Lord through it. We shouldn’t assume we are doing well spiritually, just because we are home-schooling. At the same time, when we see home-schoolers, we are prone to celebrate, and not narrow our eyes in suspicion, because it usually means families are taking initiative, and taking seriously their calling to disciple their children. But even as we say that, we may not doubt or even judge the spirituality of parents who put their children in a good Christian school.

We are more sensitive to the dangers of age-segregated schools than to the dangers of home-schooling, but we do not judge day-schoolers as less spiritual or wise for their choice, as long as the school is intentional about keeping the parents’ responsibility for their children primary.

These are tricky waters to navigate. They call for an immense amount of forbearance and grace with one another. But look at the way your Lord Jesus Christ served you, when you had greatly offended Him. Can we not do the same for one another, serving each other in smaller ways, ignoring much smaller offenses and differences?

Whatever you do, remember the main point of Deut 6: parents, teach your children the Bible. Teach them how to think about God, about annual holidays, about their redemption in Christ. When your son asks you time to come, then say to your son: ‘we were slaves of the devil in sin, and the Lord brought us out of that with a mighty hand by the Lord Jesus Christ, he showed signs and wonders before our eyes. Then He brought us out from that sin, to bring us in to the good land He promised to me, and to you, and to all who are far off. If you obey, me, you will possess the land and multiply greatly.’

Communion exhortation - 7/27/08

Sermon text: Hebrews 8
Sermon theme: God appointed His Son Jesus to be our prophet, priest and king, mediating the newer and better covenant of grace, whereby He will be our God and we will be His people, whereby our sins are forgiven by Him.

God insists on your redemption; he insists on your blessing; He insists on your coming to this table. Isa 55 says come to the waters; Rev 22, the Spirit and Bride both call us to come to Christ. Do we continue in sin? Yes. But God keeps inviting you to His house for dinner, every week. He insists that you come. Don’t bother offering to bring something for the meal, you can’t. You need what He has, and only He can serve it.

The only requirement as you come is to be grieved over your sin, to seek to turn away from it, and to trust Christ to have paid for it at the cross. This is the new covenant in His blood, and we re-enact His institution of this glorious covenant every week as I hold the cup high. Don’t let the every-week occurrence dull into routine. Realize the shock of the words. For centuries, Israel celebrated God’s act of redemption from Egypt with a cup of redemption. He made them His people this way. But now there is a new covenant; a new redemption coming. “This is His blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Jesus makes us His covenantal people as He sheds His blood for us.

Jesus redeemed us; He paid the price with legal tender. The legal tender was His life of perfect obedience to God. You have eaten the sign of it – His body, offered up to God, a pleasing sacrifice. The price was His blood, which was poured out by the altar, by the cross, showing He really died for sin. You hold the symbol of that blood in your hand. In the OT, the blood was sprinkled on us, or thrown against the altar. Now, more richly, more intimately, we drink in our Savior, Jesus Christ.


Communion exhortation - 7/20/08

Text: Nehemiah 8:1-12

We find the Word and the Table in every covenant chapter of God’s book. God gave the Word to Adam: permission and command regarding trees allowed and forbidden. Abraham: covenant promises and the divided sacrifices in Genesis 15. Moses: commands at Sinai; eating on the mountain in Ex 24. David: promise of eternal Davidic king; temple as place of sacrifice and fellowship with God. Ezra: Word read, then they went to eat of the sacrifices. Jesus: living Word speaks the words of life at the table – this bread is His body; this wine is His blood of the covenant, shed for many for the remission of sins. So we in the church chapter of God’s history continue reading the word and coming to the table.

Be at peace and be reconciled to all those you see here. As far as it depends on you, be at peace with all. And that is farther than you think it is. Work at this. Set the bricks in the wall with good mortar. Set them straight, true, and strong. Because too often when an offense remains, it solidifies, and the wall is unfit, and has to be redone. As you partake of the benefits of the house of God as one stone or one room within it, remember that the cornerstone was set at the cross, with sacrificial love and care for the rest of the stones. Resolve again to live yourself in the same pattern, with regard for the whole body, with your stone, in your room, whether you have a dining room, a beautiful foyer, or a humble back bathroom.

Sermon excerpts

Scripture teaches the headship and leadership of husbands and fathers in families. Some derisively call this patriarchal - This word is a hot button today, so let’s defuse it with a definition. It is from Greek and simply means father rule. If father decides something regarding the family, that decision should be respected and carried out. This is not derived from Ozzie and Harriet, but from Scripture.

We see from Numbers 30 that the husband and father is spiritually responsible for the wife and children in his house. He has the right to overrule their intentions and decisions. Children, God gives you a father and a mother to lead you into joy and obedience. This won’t happen if you just do what you want to do. This household identity does not go away in the NT. Rather, we see Cornelius and Lydia’s households both following them spiritually in all being baptized when the head of the house converts to Christ.

Now, we have to qualify all of this, of course, but not in a way that undoes what we just said. 3 quick qualifications: 1. Fathers should not make decisions arbitrarily, quickly, rashly, without taking each individual into account, without seeking counsel from his wife and other men, depending on the issue. They should lead like Jesus does, gently, as we read in Isa 40. Just because dad is leading does not mean he is leading well.

2. Also, a father’s rule is not absolute. There are times the state or the church need to intervene. Just b/c the state today intervenes too quickly and wrongly, doesn’t mean we can say the state may never intervene. Men, for your wife and children to willingly submit to you, they need to see you submitting willingly, without complaining, to the state and to the church in their respective roles. [Example of this from Scripture] Cornelius and Lydia were heads of their households, but they submitted to baptism by the church. You don’t baptize yourself; you don’t administer the Lord’s Supper as a father. As your children see you seeking counsel from others in the church, they will imitate you, and start seeking counsel from you.

3. A widow or divorcee is a head of her own household, we see in Num 30:9 – her vows stand on their own. A widow or divorcee has the same household authority as her husband had, we see in Acts 16, where Lydia is converted and her whole household is baptized. This is why we welcome widows to our head of household meetings. They are not men-only meetings, though most household heads are men. We do not follow the ancient, secular practice of doubting or second-guessing a woman’s testimony or mental abilities. Man is not the head b/c he is innately superior, but b/c God made him first, and made her to be his helper.

These qualifications aside, father’s authority and office is real. You are to give definition and leadership to your family. “We are going to do this. We are not going to do that.” Leave details to your wife, where much is delegated to her. But don’t delegate everything automatically so that you are abdicating the burden to her. You are not just a figurehead. You are also not to dictate every last detail. You are a shepherd of your flock.

We are keen to apply this to heads of households in a variety of ways. Fathers, we are prone to just wander through life and let things happen. We must more intentionally lead our families into the Word, into prayer, into godliness. How are you doing this at your home? Our church calendar is meant to reinforce your responsibilities. We seek to train you in this role as head of your house at Kephale. We hold meetings later at night, so you have time to lead your family in devotions and be with them, before you come out. We try to keep the quantity of meetings per month to a minimum, as we don’t want to usurp your role of discipling your family.

A Bit of Fun, Contra Starbucks

"I understand, to return to an earlier example, why people would come to the point where they would be willing to drop five bucks on a cup of coffee. Okay, I think. It's a free country and you obviously have a lot of money. And if you don't have a lot of money, or you haven't bought into the aesthetic coffee imperative, I understand staying with the older drop coffee. Great. Still a free country. But what I don't get is the idea of someone spending five dollars on a cup of coffee as a way of expressing solidarity with peasants the world over. Look, you're rich. Come to terms with it."

Doug Wilson


Sea Turtle Life

I finally got around to organizing and filing away LAST YEAR'S school work and projects. While digging through the piles of paper, I discovered this game I created. My children loved learning about sea creatures last school year, and they really got into the whole life cycle of sea turtles. Who could blame them - rooting for those cute little hatchlings as they race for the sea while hovering gulls and lurking fiddler crabs enjoy the buffet on flippers will get anyone's adrenaline pumping. So I made up this game to reinforce all the aspects of a sea turtle's life. Hope it inspires your own family!

Click on the image to see it larger. Someday I'll learn how to convert these into pdfs for easier sharing...



I'm listening to Solzhenitsyn's famous speech at Harvard in 1975. It is really something, though hard to get it all as he speaks in Russian and the translation was simultaneous. The following quotes are not exact, but the gist. You can listen here.
"The West is legally and politically free, but socially conditioned to follow the fashion of the day."
"You might think in response to my criticism of the west, I would suggest to you the alternative of socialism." [At this point he stops until the translator finishes, and then says emphatically,] "Nyet."
I haven't cracked his "Cancer Ward" and "August, 1914," yet, but they just moved up the reading list...


Citizens of Heaven

Just finished this tonight - quite good. Wright is controversial when it comes to justification, but fairly tame on the resurrection. His main point: the future hope that Scripture emphasizes is not life after death in heaven; it is life on earth, after life after death in heaven. The intermediate state when our souls are with Jesus are not the end goal, but a rest stop on the way to a renewed heaven and earth. Our present labor is not in vain, because it will be renewed on the new earth.

As usual, he accurately hits the flaws of liberalism (denying the physical resurrection) and fundamentalism (dividing reality into physical and spiritual). A bit disconcerting that he treats these as twin evils, when the former is far more deadly, but still helpful to sift through fundamentalist critiques.

No time now to pull out the zingers on baptism, purgatory, and the like. One disappointing section taking the liberal view on 3rd world debt, but it only lasted about 5 pages.

One illustration of his really worked: when Paul says we are citizens of heaven, he isn't saying that it is our final destination. He was writing to Philippians, a Roman colony made of Roman citizens, who weren't living in Rome. Their purpose was to instill Roman culture in Philippi - to bring the roman worldview to Philippi. This is what a citizen does. In the same way, we are to bring the lifestyle and worldview of heaven to our world. It doesn't mean we can or should withdraw from the world, but that we are to engage and evangelize the world with heaven's way of life.

Great stuff.


Found this over at leithart.com just now:

"Eugene Peterson writes that the Sabbath 'erects a weekly bastion against the commodification of time, against reducing time to money, reducing time to what we can get out of it, against leaving no time for God or beauty or anything that cannot be used or purchased. It is a defense against the hurry that desecrates time.'”

Scripture of the day

Proverbs 29:27
"An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked."

Couldn't state the antithesis much more strongly than that.


Dish Rag Champions!

The "Yarnhooligans" rocked the dishrag world yesterday by coming in first place with a record time of 5 days to knit 4 dishrags!
Team "Knit like Jehu" came 2nd 24 hours later. They should stick to chariot driving.
We haven't heard from the "Dishrag Divas" and think they might be lost at the salon.

Congrats to all the participating knitters & crocheters.


CHRF Dish Rag Tag

Our congregation is participating in the Olympic spirit of competition by holding a Dish Rag Tag relay. We're knitting (or crocheting) dish rags then sending them to the next team member, "tagging" them to knit another dish rag as fast as possible. Four people per team spread out from Ivor to Williamsburg, VA.

Monday was the opening day of knitting. The first leg of the relay is still in progress with three ladies in one home fiercely competing against each other! Who will come out first? Follow the action here and root for your favorite team!

Team 1 - Yarnhooligans
Team 2 - Dishrag Divas
Team 3 - Team "knit like Jehu"


10 Blissful Years...

...of marriage to my wife, today.

"Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves... You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you hav captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes" (Song of Solomon 1:15; 4:9).

Balanced Life

Listened to Ligon Duncan's presentation at the PCA General Assembly, telling us all the things the sacraments don't do. I was all set to write a little rant here about it, but that's all you're going to get, because moments later a pastoral situation injected some healthy balance into my theological wonkish life.

Thank you, Lord.


Peach Peel Jelly (aka Peach Pit Jelly)

I searched the net for a peach peel jelly recipe that didn't require 4 quarts of peels. That would require a bushel of peaches, something that wasn't going to find it's way into our home anytime soon. So I improvised and came up with this lovely dark pink jelly instead. The flavor is delicious, like a peach Jolly Rancher! Wish I had a digital camera to show you how it sparkles.

1.5 quarts peach peels and pits
5 c. water

Boil the above together, then cover tightly and simmer 45 min. Strain juice through cheesecloth. Discard pits and peels.

4 c. juice
5 c. sugar
1 package pectin (such as SureJell or Ball - NOT the sugar free kind)

Follow the directions in the pectin for cooked jelly. Enjoy!

Currently reading/listening

PCA General Assembly colloquium on the efficacy of the sacraments
Will Barker - solid on historical Reformed view, but barely touched efficacy, except to reiterate the very basics.

Far as the Curse is Found (sidebar) - good overview in chpt 13 of the church and her mission. This is sermon prep.

Surprised by Hope (sidebar) - also sermon prep. Wright is a compelling author. Main point so far is that resurrection is inherently this-worldly; it doesn't just mean continuing consciousness after death. Resurrection gives hope for redemption of this world.

Scripture of the day

Job 5-7
Job complains against his friends (6:14-15), pleads his vindication (6:28-30), and asks God why he hasn't forgiven his sins (7:21). How do these last two fit together? It seems they fit because Job assumed God provided forgiveness in his faithfulness - by his sacrifices? (1:5). Unsure of how, but Job knows Who (19:25). So the question is, why has God singled me out for such suffering? (7:20).



I was wondering how to respond to the latest World cover article. At first, I was just confused at World's impartial covering of the casual, emergent worship trend. Then George Grant pointed me to this article. Please read it, and tell me if you think the author is right on, or just whining. (I switched from the former to the latter about 80% of the way through.)

Scripture of the Day

Job 4:12-21
12 “Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it.
13 In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men,
14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake.
15 Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up.
16 It stood still, But I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; There was silence; Then I heard a voice saying:
17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?
18 If He puts no trust in His servants, If He charges His angels with error,
19 How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, Whose foundation is in the dust, Who are crushed before a moth?
20 They are broken in pieces from morning till evening; They perish forever, with no one regarding.
21 Does not their own excellence go away? They die, even without wisdom.’

It appears to me, while not all that well-read on Job, that Satan's testing and persecution of Job continues beyond chapters 1-2, changing and taking on the form of pseudo-wisdom in Job's counselors. It is especially poignant in these verses. The spirit of vs 15 is Satan, and he speaks words of despair, mixed, as usual, with half-truth: "You can't be righteous before God! You'll always be a sinner. So just give up, curse God, and die." Many give in to temptation by listening to these words. In the press of tempting sin, the straw that breaks the camel's back is often despair: I'll give in eventually, so why not now? It is Job's resistance to this, his stubborn yet godly insistence on meeting with God, that vindicates him, in the end. He continues to turn TO the Lord, instead of turning from Him, even when he crosses the line and accuses God of wronging him.


God is Central

This is a GREAT book. It is balanced, and grounded in the character of God, as the following quotes show.

Quoting AW Tozer: "The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us" (pg 153).

"It's not that we have denied God. We just don't pay much attention to Him.... [but] 'Actual behavior infallibly betrays the real object of a man's worship.'.... We must repent, therefore, not only of our sin, but of perhaps the greatest sin of all: trivializing Him, which is idolatry" (pg 154-155).