There you have it

My 3 oldest kids are really into mazes, very complicated nearly impossible mazes. I think this love stemmed from the book "Monumental Mazes" by Richard Burnie (which I confess I bought because I thought it was too cool). This maze madness has spilled over into drawing their own monumental, 20x36" size mazes for mom and dad to figure out. They include trap doors, fishing piers, secret passages, caves, and more. Often, they are impossible to complete, but the fun is in the creating.

Right now they're busy making another monumental maze, but my oldest son just told me that I'm in luck today. This maze isn't for me - it's for Dad because he's smarter. Well. Hmm. They sure know how to push mom's competition buttons!

Worship the Lord!

If you're interested in worship services I lead on Sunday mornings, you can usually find the printed bulletin on the web, here.


Preaching, or Meddling?

Wagner, Tongues Aflame, p. 45

"The preacher who stands before his people and roundly denounces the sins of others, and yet fails to confront his hearers with their own greed, lust, hard-heartedness, and pride, is not bold, no matter how loudly he may thunder. It is relatively easy for a preacher to let fly the salvos of Scripture against the communists, the Roman Catholics, the homosexuals, the drunks, or the secular humanists -- most of whom are probably absent from his Sunday services. But how many will clearly and boldly address in relevant and challenging ways the evils of broken relationships between members of the church, poisonous envy among church leaders, generally tolerated compromises with worldliness among the affluent sheep who believe they have earned it, or the chronic laziness of the poor man who likes to think of himself as a victim?"


Recurring patterns

I'm reading a great pre-teen mystery book now called "Chasing Vermeer" - it's all about strange coincidences that have repeating items in them, much like the paintings Vermeer did. My mind is overtaken by this book; it's fun, has secret codes, Vermeer (!)...what's not to love?

So I've noticed some repeating patterns in my own crafting lately. See the socks below that I'm working on? And the tshirt mods in my previous post? After I finished the shirt, I was amazed to realize I used the exact same colors as were in the sock yarn. Subliminal messages from the depths of my mind? A call for an ocean side retreat? Or just favorite colors percolating to the surface of my conscious? You decide.

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Old Shirt, New Shirt

I had two shirts, both quite nice but too short for my tastes. Enter in scissors, DMC floss, and a Dover book of ornaments.

Inspired by the book "Alabama Stitches" I tried my hand at some reverse applique. I added to the hem of the shirt to add length with a line of running stitch broken up with random knots and string ends. I can see this done on skirts, jeans (getting a great frayed edge), napkins, tablecloths, and more.
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Signs of Spring

little girls love to pick flowers
first reading & writing assignment - 4 yrs old
spring knitting & wishing I had tulips!
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Hiding sin

Haven't posted any Doug Wilson in a while. This one applied to my life and ministry on so many levels at once, I posted the whole thing. Happy conviction... er.. reading!


"Sins are like grapes; they come in bunches. This explains two things that often mystify parents or teachers, but allow me to explain.

Often a child gets into a blue funk, bad attitude, the works. Demeanor surly, nothing helps, you know the drill. This can be seen most clearly in little children, who do not yet know how to disguise the condition of their souls. They have not yet matured to the level of the adult hypocrite, who approaches such things a little differently. Then, the child commits some clear infraction, and there is some appropriate discipline, and as if by magic, theentire mess is cleared up. The sin that was disciplined was simply the representative sin -- sort of a covenant head. And when it was cleansed, there was also a cascading cleansing everywhere else. The air is completely cleared.

And this phenomenon explains the second mystery, usually manifested with older children. This occurs when the sinning child is old enough to know about this cascading effect, and is serious about resisting it. When someone has got a backlog of unconfessed sin, true confession of just one sin is often like breaching the dam. The child knows that confession of other sins will follow, and if the cost of confessing those sins is too high, then they will do all in their power to avoid confessing the obvious one -- the one that would breach the dam.

As I said, this is far morely likely with older kids, and when there has been time and opportunity to build some sort of a double life. Say that a child is caught in something, open and shut, nothing ambiguous about it, and yet he stubbornly refuses to deal with it. This is not because extraordindary stubbornness is being embraced for its own sake. In this scenario it is not because of the "humbling" that will occur if he admits, say, that he took five dollars from his brother's dresser. It is because he (and he alone) knows that he has been stealing a lot more than that for years, or that he is deeply involved in pornography, or that he is engaged in homosexual behavior with a teacher at school. If he gives way at this point, the one sin everyone can see, then all hell will break loose. He knows the true costs of this confrontation, and nobody else does. Because of this, and because the human heart is a slippery devil, someone in this position can actually come to believe that he is sacrificing for others by hiding his sin -- that he is protecting the reputation of his family, for example. He is willing to suffer secret torments so that, for example, his father will not have to step down as an elder in the church.

If parents or teachers suspect that something like this is going on, the one thing they should not do is to start speculating, or asserting, or making baseless accusations. I believe that I have mentioned before that one of the verses I memorized very early on as a youngster was Num. 32:23 -- "be sure your sin will find you out." This was not because of spiritual industry at a young age, but rather because my mom quoted it all the time. If parents know this truth, and believe it, and if they understand that they have the authority to ask God to bring hidden things to light, then they can pray with assurance. "God, if there is anything here that we need to know as parents, but which we do not know, we ask You in Jesus' name to reveal it to us." That is a prayer that is in line with Scripture, and within the will of God. The hidden things will be brought to light, and the parents will then be dealing with the real issue."


Happy Birthday!

My nephew's birthday was a couple weeks ago. My sister makes the most amazing cakes for her kids' birthdays. This year was no exception. She outdid herself with this multi-layer racetrack cake! Way to go!


Craft Roundup

A few more crafty items managed to make it to completion this week while the kids fought off the remains of the flu bug.

A knitted bunny requested by a friend a while back. I had to reverse engineer this one. It was a challenge, but I'm 95% happy with the results. My friend was pretty excited too!

A wonky log cabin style baby blanket, approx 45" square. Each block is 10" square. I loved the freedom in this style of sewing. There's no measuring involved! It's a very improvisational approach, picking colors and sizes of pieces as you go. I can see where some people would find this a bit scary. My favorite part is the scrappy pieced binding. I really wanted to try free motion quilting on this project, but I couldn't get the right sewing foot in time. Don't worry, there's another quilt on the back burner. :)

A bit of wonkiness on the back too!
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Law and Gospel

"Let us therefore learn to maintain inviolable this sacred tie between the law and the Gospel, which many improperly attempt to break. For it contributes not a little to confirm the authority of the Gospel, when we learn, that it is nothing else than a fulfillment of the law; so that both, with one consent, declare God to be their Author" - Calvin's commentary on Matthew 5:17.


It's a small world, after all...

In seeking to make contact with a church elder in Europe, I inadvertently stepped into the Instant Messaging, voice and video chat world this morning. 6 of my email contacts are online, ready to connect, including my European, Texan and Idahoan friends/contacts. Amazing.

[Old geezer voice]: what is this world coming to??


Easter like no other

It's Easter today, but I've got a Christmas song running through my head. I've modified it to fit my day:

... 4 nights - no sleep
3 barfing boys
2 knitting needles
and an endless load of laundry...

You can imagine the rest. All these lethargic bodies laying around and napping the days away have actually given me a bit of free time. When Grace and I aren't busy staffing the in-house ER, we've played a lot of Yahtzee together and I was able to finish my knitted blanket.

42" square, US13 circular needles, 6 skeins of Lion Brand wool-ease Thick & Quick.

Two-year olds are the funniest when sick. One moment he's tossing his cookies, then the next he's wearing the barf bucket on this head (clean!), laying upside down on the sofa, or spinning in circles in the living room. That's proof enough that God has a sense of humor.


Spring in Williamsburg VA

We spent a beautiful spring morning in Colonial Williamsburg this week with friends. I managed to take these photos before my camera batteries died. Cumbersome technology contrasted sharply with the simplistic beauty of nature that morning.








Historical evidence

I just noticed Joshua 11:13: "But as for the cities that stood on their mounds, Israel burned none of them, except Hazor only, which Joshua burned."

As I recall, this is a big objection in the archaeological world to an historical conquest by Joshua of Canaan: "but there isn't a mass burning of all the cities of that time!"


Why Don't We Just Win?

Judges 1:19 - "So the Lord was with Judah. And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron."

Why didn't Judah win, if God was with them?

Part of the answer is in Ex 23:29ff. God had more nuanced plans than just whole-sale conquest.
But there are also spiritual lessons...
God confounds his own people some times to get them to meditate on their sin and lack of faith. Consider Israel stymied by Goliath before David shows up. Or our current recession.
We ought to believe and rejoice that the Lord is with us, as we profess faith in Him. But we don't get cocky and presume victory just because of that. On this side of eternity there will always be times when the bad guys win.
God uses technology (iron chariots) as part of his plan to test the faithful who are stymied by it, to judge the wicked for having it and trusting it, or to bless the faithful by having it and using it faithfully.
Israel was not being fully faithful as they began conquering the land, either. Judges 2:1-4.
These aren't black and white categories, where you are either perfectly faithful and completely and successful militarily or rebellious and annihilated by God militarily. God's people are usually in between, hopefully faithful and making progress against their own sin and the darkness around them.

Nuances of Art

Do we have to boycott an artist if they write and perform "dark" songs, but also have other more edifying songs?

I don't think so. We have to filter out bad from good, but it's often an injustice to totally avoid certain artists or works b/c they have a few blind spots. That would result in never being satisfied with a preacher, for instance! It also doesn't take into account common grace. "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas is a great exposition of Ecclesiastes. Tchaikovsky wrote great music, though probably a homosexual. Art shouldn't remain in a 100% no-negative zone if that means avoiding reflecting the reality of the fall and redemption. An example is Beethoven's ninth symphony. The last movement begins with great dissonance, but moves toward beauty and exaltation. Don't have to boycott it because it includes dissonance. But if the dissonance "wins" in the song, it's out of line. And dissonance doesn't necessarily mean an electric guitar sound jarring to the ear of the older generation. I mean musically off and unresolved. Another artistic example would be Edvard Munch's "The Scream." This can be as edifying as a sin-free Kinkade painting, even more so, without violating Phil 4:8ff.


Joy of Christ in Creation, and in you

This is a good follow-up to our men's discussion last night on the indestructible joy of Christ which we are to emulate.

Author: John Piper

"If you look at sunsets and sunrises without knowing that God is painting them then and there, you will miss the point. Sunsets and sunrises do not just happen. God does them.

You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. (Psalms 65:8)

What are they so happy about?

Psalm 19 gives the answer. They are happy because they are showing the glory of God. "The heavens declare the glory of God" (v. 1).

How happy is the rising sun to display the glory of God? Answer: "In them [the heavens] God has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy" (Psalm 19:4-5).

A bridegroom beaming, and an Eric Liddell feeling God's pleasure when he runs. Sunrises and sunsets are like that. They bid us join their joy in putting God on display in the world."

Take up the responsibility of sorrow

"The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the cause of virtually all our adversities." 


Recent Leisure reading

Needing a break from some heavy pastoral stuff, I recently breezed through this one. It was a needed respite, but not terribly edifying.


A newly empty-nest couple decide to skip Christmas and go on a cruise. Neighbors pressure and annoy, but they are resolved. In the end, their daughter returns home at the very last minute, so they scramble to produce a Christmas for her. The neighbors wind up helping pull it together.

The point seemed to be that living in community can bring annoying pressures to conform, but that communities provide things we can't give ourselves.

Overall review: an anemic smile and shrug. I wouldn't recommend it unless your mind needs to unwind. Most people need a kick in the other direction, though, to get their minds in gear...