8.25.2009

Adjective Robot

We're covering adjectives today, which was met with less than enthusiasm. I agree that classifying sentence after sentence is a drag. My heart went out to the kids and the right side of the brain kicked into gear... may I present to you the Adjective Robot!

Draw your own robot on the tummy of this guy. Write an adjective that describes your robot in each of the numbered spaces. It was hilarious to see the different kinds of robots the kids created!

8.24.2009

Communion Exhortation - 1/25/09

Matthew 4:1-11 - Temptation of Christ

God sets a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Even here at this table Satan tempts us as he tempted Jesus. He distracts us from Christ by focusing on the physical. Is the bread crumbly? Tasty? Am I hungry? No, we pass the bread b/c He told us to, to remember Him. Satan tempts us to seek proof of our adoption by Him somewhere other than His Word. It’s because you haven’t missed church in 3 years that he loves you. It’s because we do weekly communion, with our children, that he loves you. No, He loves you by His free grace and has given Himself for you. Satan tempts you to receive for yourself here. To just store it all up for you and your family. But he means you to love the Giver, not just receive the gift. He means you to give as He has given to you. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Look less to the bread, the wine, the table; love the host above His table. Consider less your pride of position; love the prince Himself. Do not grasp the earthly power or position of His kingdom; love the king.

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Call to confession - 1/25/09

Revelation 5:1-4
"And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it."

One of Satan’s most potent weapons in tempting us is the feeling of defeat. We feel like we’ll never get it right – so why even bother? John’s shoulders slump – no one is found worthy. Every son and daughter of Adam has been defeated by Satan in his life. Why pretend to be different? This is the psychological war of intimidation, to weaken us before the actual tempting. What it leaves out is the victory already won by Jesus. His victory makes ours possible.

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Was Calvin a Federal Vision guy?

"Besides this [general call to all who hear the gospel,] there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness."

(John Calvin, Institutes. III.24.8)

8.23.2009

Baptism as Priests - 1/18/09

Based on Matt 3:13-16 - the Baptism of Jesus

We are a kingdom of priests. We have been washed in our baptism, clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and anointed with the Spirit. The OT priests also were washed, clothed, and anointed. Then they had the sacrificial blood placed on them to set them apart as priests. This goes deeper in the New Covenant, where living water flows from within us. We are clothed with our own acts of righteousness done by the Spirit. And we receive the blood of Christ into ourselves, united with His death, dying in His death to our sin. So we sit as priests, baptized, clothed and anointed by God, a new people.

All this can come to us because Jesus gave it up in His passion and death. He cleans us with water, but was thirsty and dry Himself on the cross. He clothes us, but was naked Himself on the cross. He gives us His life-giving blood, letting Himself bleed on the cross. The cross was the fulfillment of all righteousness, the fulfillment of His baptism.

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For examples to teach us - 1/18/09

Based on 1 Cor 10:1-12.

These things happened to Israel as examples to us, so we might be warned. Is it possible for us who are baptized into Christ and drinking of Him to lust after evil things? Yes. To worship false gods? Yes. To commit sexual immorality. Yes. To complain? Yes. We have done some of these things – maybe all of them – just this past week. But they no longer fit with who we are in Christ, so let us approach Him and confess our sin.

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8.22.2009

Communion Exhortation - 1/11/09

Matt 3:1-12

All our lives must exude our repentance to God, and this supper is not an exception to that. We have been talking about repentance mostly in turning away from our sins. But repentance also means turning to the Lord Jesus in faith. He is the only one through whom we can be forgiven when we repent. His baptism at the cross reconciles us to the Father. Turn to Him in faith by receiving His baptism, His death at the cross, as your own death to sin. Receive His body and His blood, transformed from a sacrificial payment for our sin into life giving food for His chosen people. This receiving is also repentance. We reverse our rejection of Him. We accept what God gives, the Savior we need. God gives by grace. He gives us life by grace; physical sustenance by grace; His Law to live in holy joy, by grace; He gives promises of forgiveness and redemption by grace; He gives His Son to accomplish our redemption, by grace; He gives His Spirit to work salvation IN us, by grace; He gives us His Word and water and wine, His people, by grace; He gives us faith to believe Him, by grace; we receive all this, by faith, as we receive Him.

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Blog revision

I'm moving my Calvin summaries to a new blog, to unclog this one.
I'll spend more time here on church liturgies and Narnia reviews.

calvinreadings.blogspot.com

8.21.2009

Summer Knitting 09

It's never too hot to knit - just crank the AC a bit, right? :) We've been on the road a lot the past couple months which gave me ample time to crank out a few projects:

"Aleita Shell" - Interweave Knits magazine, Elsebeth Lavold "silky wool" 3 skeins
For me; I could've added another 2" to the length... maybe I'll cut it and graft in a section if I'm feeling daring.

Mill End Mittens - these were knit from a ball of "mill end" yarn. The mill uses up their odds and ends of singles to ply very unique skeins with random color changes. I knit from both ends of the ball on these, and am somewhat disappointed in how long the orange/purple section was (but my VT Hokie friends will love me). Not the most stunning pair of mittens, but very functional. And yes, they fit me very well; my fingers ARE that long. :)
This is "Shepherds Wool" yarn by Stonehedge Fiber Mill in Michigan. I have never felt a 100% wool that was so soft and NOT itchy at all! I think there must be something other than just sheep's wool in there. I have enough of this in a solid to make a sweater - I can't wait to snuggle in it!
There won't be anymore knitting updates for awhile - Christmas knitting is starting so we are in top secret mode. I'm also cooking up some crafty gift ideas that the kids can participate in. Fambly fun!

8.20.2009

Giving Communion - 1/4/09

If you hadn’t noticed before, our time of Communion follows immediately after our offering, and there is a connection. Part of the relationship we have with the Lord is one of giving and receiving. He gives us life and all that comes with it, we receive all these gifts that come with life, and thank Him, and sacrifice back some to Him. What we give back to Him, during our offering, He transforms and gives back again. Some of the OT offerings were given back to the worshiper to enjoy and eat before the Lord. So as we bring our offerings forward, our focus turns to the Table, where God gives back. We receive it and thank Him, and go to sacrifice back our lives to Him, as our spiritual act of worship. Melchizedek, God’s priest, gave to Abraham. Abraham gave to his concubines’ children who went east. The magi come back from the east to give to the seed of Abraham. Jesus, the seed of Abraham gave His life for us, symbolizing it with bread and wine. His Father gave Him His life back. He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Jesus gave us the illuminating Spirit and all His gifts along with the Spirit.

We present back to Him what He has given us to steward. Have you been stingy, holding your resources close, or multiplying your investments wisely? May your soul bless the Lord, and all that is within you. This is communion. Sharing what we have with Him.

Of course, OUR sharing is a drop in the ocean the other way, of God’s sharing with us Himself, His Son, and all the benefits of Christ our new covenant head. Standing in Him, His life, obedience, death and resurrection are ours. He has pleased the Father for us, and in Christ, the Father is pleased with us. We are sobered, remembering the sacrifice it took to get to this place. That travail of body and soul is also ours, as we suffer under modern Pharaohs of disease, death, disaster and dysfunctional leaders, who tyrannize, kill and persecute us. But we also rejoice with exceedingly great joy, knowing our salvation draws near, of which we already have a foretaste. This joy was the Father’s intent all along, that our joy may be full. His joy is ours. His satisfaction over His enemies is ours. So we don’t steal your joy at this Table, dwelling on your sin, except to say that the death of Christ paid for them.

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Stinginess - 1/4/09 - Epiphany

Identifying distinctions and differences can lead to stinginess. If I know you are x and I am y, then I automatically think I have less obligation to you as my brother in Christ. I’ll just stick closer with my fellow y’s and we will all be happier. But Christ is all in all, and in Him there is neither Greek nor Jew, slave or free, circumcised or not. Because of this we don’t use such differences as a justification to wrong or shortchange each other.

This is a particular danger among us. We don’t tend to just shrug our shoulders at the issues, and we also as a church accommodate different positions on several issues. It is easy to identify differences between us on some things, and this isn’t a bad thing, in itself. As we are renewed together into the Triune image of our Creator, we remain different persons. But in our differences, we come to one like-minded intent – the glory and enjoyment of God forever.

It is also easy to identify differences between us and the world and even the worldly church, and become stingy toward the world. This would lead to Joseph and Mary slamming the door in the face of the wise men, not wanting to contaminate their home with those eastern philosophies. Such a stinginess leads us to condemn too quickly as wrong, something that is not clearly wrong in Scripture. It is difficult to hold open arms to the world - to receive them as they come to Christ – while also keeping ourselves pure from the world. We either become worldly or close ourselves off from the world. But this is our calling: generosity to the world, and remaining pure from the world.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins. Have we been generous to those outside? Have we kept sin outside?

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8.19.2009

Harry Potter

We touched on Harry Potter in our sermon discussion time at church Sunday, after I preached 1 Samuel 28 - the witch/medium/sorceress of Endor. Here's some of what I said...

Suspension of disbelief makes it possible to read Harry Potter without disobeying God’s Word, regarding magic. You enter a fictional world where magic isn’t forbidden by God, but is a secret, academic subject, to be used for good or evil. I don’t believe it is inherently wrong to enter that fictional world, as long as you keep the magic there, as long as your Biblical worldview of reality isn’t altered because of it. Séances and witchcraft are not cool, fun, much less right, just because Harry Potter did it. Going through 1 Sam 28 would be a good orienting point for your older children who read Potter. I’ve only read the first book, and I did see some moral lessons and Gospel parallels in it. There’s plenty better stuff to read, but it won’t be forbidden to my children when they reach the right age (able to keep the magic in the fantasy world).

Some say we have no business imagining a world that contradicts the Bible. In response, I would agree it would be bad to delight in a storyline where homosexuality is a celebrated norm. The catch is that magic isn’t the same kind of problem, because magic is the perfect literary device to allude to unseen spiritual powers, over which Christ has triumphed. Col 2:15 “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Satan and his minions wage warfare against us with no physical exertion of force whatsoever. In 2 Kings 6, Elisha’s servant could not see the army of fiery chariots protecting them from the Syrians. One way to portray this reality and remove the materialistic, rationalistic blinders we moderns have on today, is stories like Narnia, Potter and Tolkien. Now, compared to Narnia, Potter’s world is further removed from (more opposed to) the biblical worldview. Tolkien is in the middle, and Narnia is closest to the biblical worldview. So it takes greater discernment and filtering to read Potter. But the purpose of a story isn’t to make the imagined world as like Biblical reality as possible. That’s missing the purpose of a fictional story. The purpose of fiction is to advance the values and desires of the hero of the book. And Narnia, Tolkien and Potter all have heroes striving to stop evil through self-sacrifice.

So, it takes a suspension of disbelief. I say if we can’t do this, we disparage the gift of fiction, and we are missing a great deal of rich, Biblical truth to be found in stories like Narnia and Tolkien’s middle earth.

God with us - 12/14/08

Isaiah 59:12-15
We joyfully claim the promise of Immanuel, God with us. But we must also confess with Isaiah that our sins are with us. And so coming into God’s presence to worship Him, we must deal with this right away. We often use that phrase, “truth is fallen in the street” as a complaint against the culture that is losing its Christian moorings, and our culture is doing so. But God’s complaint is against us, His own people. When God and sin collide, one must be driven out because God is holy. With no intercessor, we cannot stand before Him. But God has provided one, in whom we can now pray to God, and He will hear us in spite of our sins.

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Communion Exhortation - 12/14/08

Matthew 1:18-25
We do this to remember Jesus’ death. We also do this to signify and seal our present union with Him through our baptism and faith with Christ. We have a share in Christ’s death and new life. Because God has shown us mercy in giving us a Savior, we have this heavenly table. Because Joseph showed Mary mercy, Mary and Jesus had a table, humanly speaking. God gives to us first, and we respond giving back to God and to others. This is why the offering and the table are close to each other in the service. There is a connection. The fellowship of the saints in Christ provides for those in need. Fellowship with Christ provides for your need for righteousness. You now hold the sign of that righteousness – the life of Jesus. He gave His life for yours. Look about you at the body of Christ and find some small way to return that infinite favor.

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Martyrs. Right now.

THIS is heart-breaking.
How long, O Lord?!

8.03.2009

Bad Cookies

I didn't earn my cookie badge. What you see is the sad, sad outcome of my baking abilities. They might qualify for the world's thinnest cookies: 3mm. And the funny thing is they come out this way EVERY time I bake them.

This is the standard Nestle Toll House back of the chocolate chip package recipe. I followed the directions with scientific precision, experimented with different oven temperatures, double checked that with a thermometer. I've tried butter, margarine, shortening...

I'm slowly getting used to the idea of being a cookie failure. I can knit a mean lace shawl, but the inner workings of a chocolate chip cookie remain a mystery to me.