7.31.2012

The Glory of Unity


Jesus calls us to this Table, to break, bless, pass and eat this bread and wine. And He tells us that doing so proclaims His death until He comes again, until His next advent. Now proclaiming Christ’s death is glorifying Him. We are not only singing His praises we are eating and drinking to His praise. We tell of His great deeds from one generation to another. Our children watch and imitate their parents as we partake, proclaim and praise God.
But we are not the first to give glory to Jesus. In John 17:22 Jesus says His Father gave Him glory, and Jesus has given us glory. The Spirit gives the Son glory, too. And we are called to glorify God in response. But Jesus defines this glory for us in John 17: that they may be one as We, the Father and Son, are one. That the love with which the Father loves the Son is in us, as we love one another. That we behold His glory and see Him as He is. “Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, almighty, victorious, His great name we praise.”

12/18/11

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Undone


When God reveals His glory to Isaiah, he knows the gig is up. He is undone. He knows he is unfit for God’s presence. His lips are unclean, as ours are. James tells us that no man can tame the tongue. Who among us has not sinned with our tongue? Isaiah personally is unclean, and he also knows the guilt of his people. We know the guilt of our culture quite well, too. We live in a dark house, trying to shine our lamp on a stand, not hidden under a basket. But our lamp is nothing compared to the sun outside in the sky. Our eyes have seen the king. Our world is spiritually dark and blind, but what God has given us grace to see doesn’t do us much credit, either. We have been blessed to see our sinfulness for what it is.

12/18/11

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7.30.2012

A Table of Preparation


When God gives us commands, He also provides the means to obey. God calls us to watch for the return of Christ, His second advent. And this table is one way we do that. This table of watching points back to the dawn of time, when God promised to crush the serpent. It points to the cross where he was crushed. It reveals our present union with Christ. And it points to the end of time, when Christ will come for His bride and throw a wedding feast to celebrate the completion of His kingdom. Consider the coming consummation, in this communion. You were saved at the cross, yes. You are saved and justified right now. And yet, you have yet to be saved from lingering sin and suffering. We yearn to be free and complete, and so we watch and work and serve. That begins with God’s grace working in us, communicated to us in this bread and wine, by the Spirit’s working and by true faith. Return to the Savior, and watch for His return.

12/11/11

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Get Ready


Jesus knew it was time for His advent, time to come on stage and begin His public ministry, when John was put in prison. Sin always leaves a hole in life, it sucks the oxygen out of the room. Sin requires a response, or the darkness deepens. So Jesus calls for repentance, as John did. His intention in coming is to deal with our darkness, with our sin. So, on this 3rd Sunday of Advent, we remember again, that we have to focus on our king’s agenda. He intends to deal with your sin when He comes, so you deal with it now. When the king’s messenger announces the king will be with you for dinner tomorrow night, there are preparations to make. There is much to do.

12/11/11

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Witness the President's Executive Power in Action

This short article shows the evidence for President Obama's antipathy toward Christianity.

Read it, then weep, pray, and vote.

7.25.2012

Saul's Conversion - musically

A compelling modern choral interpretation of Acts 9, 1-5, which I am preaching Sunday.

For you


Isaiah 9:3-7
    You have multiplied the nation 
          And increased its joy; 
          They rejoice before You 
          According to the joy of harvest, 
          As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 
    4      For You have broken the yoke of his burden 
          And the staff of his shoulder, 
          The rod of his oppressor, 
          As in the day of Midian. 
    5      For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, 
          And garments rolled in blood, 
          Will be used for burning and fuel of fire. 
    6      For unto us a Child is born, 
          Unto us a Son is given; 
          And the government will be upon His shoulder. 
          And His name will be called 
          Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, 
          Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
    7      Of the increase of His government and peace 
          There will be no end, 
          Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, 
          To order it and establish it with judgment and justice 
          From that time forward, even forever. 
          The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. 


God has increased our joy in the Incarnation of Christ. We now have a great high priest able to sympathize with our weaknesses, and able to fully bear our sins and completely forgive us. He has broken the yoke of sin oppressing us, and will break every burden in His good time. The precious words in Isa 9 are “unto us.” The Christ child is born to us. The Son is given to us. Jesus Himself wants us to get that, so He offers us bread and wine every week and tells us to say, it is His body and blood. Here is the Son, given to you. Look past your own zeal for Him for a moment, and consider His zeal for You. Zeal sealed in a blood stained cross. Take this gift by faith with thanks.

12/4/11

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Rend the Heavens


Heavenly Father, we come before You once again, joyful and triumphant. We pray that you would rend the heavens and come down. Without Your presence this is a hollow ritual. But You promise to visit Your people with favor. You have done awesome things we didn’t look for. Sinai shook at Your presence, as did the hearts of Israel. Forgive us for reducing Christmas to good feelings, when Your presence shakes as well as comforts us. We pray You would shake our hearts here today. You act for the one who waits for You. We are the clay and You are the potter, and we place our hearts in Your hands. We know You will not crush us, but cleanse and comfort us.

We come to you through Jesus Christ, by the power of Your Holy Spirit who lives and reigns with You, one God without beginning or end. Amen.

12/4/11

7.24.2012

Take up your cross, daily, in your marriage

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 105-106.


"The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the Church—read on—and give his life for her (Eph. 5:25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is—in her own mere nature—least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bride-groom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely."

7.23.2012

Things I Missed in Scripture

In 2 Kings 18, Hezekiah is beseiged by Assyria, whose rulers defy God and speak of Him as on par with other "gods" they have conquered in other nations. Hezekiah prays and God answers his prayer and sends Assyria packing, via a plague that kills 185,000 of their soldiers.

What I had missed was that before all these hostilities, but after the siege started, Hezekiah submitted to Assyria and paid a huge amount of gold and silver to get Assyria to leave them in peace (2 Kings 18:14-16).

Liberal scholars probably have a field day with this, saying that the plague wasn't real, that the buying off is what got Assyria to leave.

I have a different take.

God judges cultures corporately, besides judging individuals. Judah had for generations worshiped the bronze serpent Moses had made. They worshiped (God or pagan gods?) on high places instead of only at Jerusalem (18:4). God judges them for this, even if he spares them destruction and deportation at this point. God is judging Judah here, without total destruction. I believe the mainstream culture of Judah lamented Hezekiah's destruction of the high places and of Nehushtan. And God spanks them for it, to the tune of 22,500 pounds of silver, and 2250 pounds (not ounces) of gold.

When a culture is in spiritual decline, as ours is, God is patient and gives many opportunities to see how He is warning and penalizing us, so we will repent and turn back to Him. Apart from a miraculous revival, that culture does not turn around, but continues in its stubborn ways, richly deserving its demise eventually designed by the Lord.

Review: Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families


Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families
Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families by Douglas Wilson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Really good book.

Wilson surveys the damage fatherlessness has done in several aspects of our culture. I don't know if it was intentional, but it paralleled Schlossberg's "Idols for Destruction," taking a chapter on markets, another on education, another on politics, etc. Nice blend of cultural critique and personal conviction for fathers.

A weakness of the book is that you have to be familiar with how Wilson thinks to track with him at some points. He covers so much ground that he doesn't always connect the dots for the less initiated. Some parts were a bit disconnected, maybe linking blog posts together with less than smooth transitions. Might lose some people.

This is not a how-to, but gives background of why and what a father must BE, for families and societies to prosper.

I'll leave you with a gem, from pg 176.
"When a child is disciplined, one of the ways you can tell if the home environment is what it ought to be is by whether or not the first instinct of the child is to turn back to his father for a restoration of fellowship. If he does, then this means the general climate is one of fellowship, which the sin and discipline disrupted, and which the child want to have restored. But if the response to the discipline is anger, sullenness, and so forth, this is an indication that the discipline was acute pain that interrupted a larger pattern of chronic pain. The child does not try to restore fellowship because he does not have a good idea of what that might be."



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7.20.2012

Review: Gilgamesh the Hero


Gilgamesh the Hero
Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



One of the greatest pagan stories, about what it means to be human.
Gilgamesh discovers Ecclesiastical wisdom:
1. Two are better than one, for if one falls, the other can help him up.
2. To enjoy life with its limitations is better than pursuing immortality.
3. You can leave your mark in life, but the future is up to others.

This rendition is a little mature for young readers at a couple spots. Going to save it for the next go-round of history with my 12-14 year olds, instead of springing it on my 8-10 year olds. It is quite intense and compelling. My favorite line: "What you ought to do is get married. Children. That's the shape of happiness. A little hand inside yours." Made me think of my youngest, still reaching his hand into mine in the grocery store earlier tonight.

Of course, there is pagan stuff to filter out. Multiple gods, creating man to serve them, instead of (Biblically) to image and rule for them. But there are some redemptive themes in there, too. Man IS to leave his mark in life - to take dominion of creation. And yet to know his limits as a creature, too.

The flood account is fascinating. Much like Noah, but with pagan distortions added in. Noah deceives his neighbors about what's coming. He is given immortality by the gods. One of them sneaks the message to the "Noah" so he can escape, instead of it being deliberate, Divine mercy.

The literary quality is quite good. One word sentences at some climaxes stand out. You can tell the author sought to imitate the original, though I know nothing about Sumerian.



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7.19.2012

Savior and Sustainer


In the tabernacle, God set up 2 things within His house. One was a table with bread on it. The other was a lampstand. God needs neither food nor lamps, but He has shaped His house to our needs so that we can live with Him according to our frame. He has provided His Son, bread from heaven, and so we eat bread. Jesus is also the light of the world. He is the dawn. We need light to eat by, to be able to tell if the food is cooked and clean. We can trust Jesus to give good light and good food both. He not only saves, He sustains. One thing about food and light, we need both moment by moment. Without the sun we will freeze within minutes. Without food we will starve within days. Jesus sustains our needy souls with fresh supplies of light and bread.

11/27/11

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Hypothetically speaking, of course...

Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families

"We do not know in the abstract that America, like all nations, is headed for judgment IF..... Suppose there was a nation awash in consumer goods, a nation that gained the world but lost its own soul (Matt 16:26). Suppose that nation cut off its future by slaughtering more than forty million of her own citizens. Suppose further that this was urged as a noble and constitutional thing to do. Suppose that nation began to sanctify sodomite marriages and laughed at every form of righteousness. And suppose there were millions of Christians in this country who falsely longed for the nation to deliver herself by returning to her noble, true self, instead of longing for Christ to save her from her corrupted, wicked self." (162)


Father Hunger, by Douglas Wilson

Defending Marriage

Tim Keller engages in excellent cultural (as opposed to political) defense of marriage, at Google's NY office.

Check it out!

It struck me listening, how much of cultural defense (apologetics) is simply explanation of the truth.

Some highlights:
13:00 - there's no one out there perfect for you
20:50 - sanctification in marriage, toward glory
25:30 - the secret: loving when you aren't getting love
54:00 - what sex does in a marriage
56:30 - on gay marriage

What is Job all about?

If the book of Job is a mystery to you, or the common explanations seem too trite, then I'm pretty sure this article by Peter Leithart and Toby Sumpter will help.

Review: John Calvin


John Calvin
John Calvin by Simonetta Carr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Wonderful introduction to John Calvin's life and work, for young readers.
Covers not just his theology, but fascinating personal anecdotes.
Highly recommended series!



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Review: John Owen


John Owen
John Owen by Simonetta Carr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I didn't know much about John Owen before, honestly. This was a well-rounded biography that could have just focused on his theology, but captured many different facets of his life.

Again, excellent writing and artwork for drawing young readers in. Hardcover, 60 pages, short chapters, timeline at the end.

Many thanks to Reformation Heritage Books for publishing this series.
http://www.heritagebooks.org



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Review: Athanasius


Athanasius
Athanasius by Simonetta Carr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Outstanding biography in writing and artwork for ages 7-12.
Captures the political back and forth of changing emperors and how they dealt with Christian bishops, post-Constantine.
Does a decent job explaining the Arian heresy for young readers.



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7.18.2012

Hearty Thanks


The Lord’s Supper is a thanksgiving table. The word the ancient church used most for this sacrament was eucharist. Eucharist did not come from Roman Catholic superstition. It’s a perfectly decent Greek word, a verb, meaning, “I thank.” For centuries the church celebrated the Lord’s Supper by simply saying, let us give thanks.

Why does this matter? Because when the Lord calls us to this table, it is not for us to show off our table manners or piety. It is not a reward for being good this week. No, this table sets the pattern for the rest of our life, and the pattern is this: God has given you this gift, this grace, Jesus Christ crucified for you. And it is an opportunity to return thanks to Him. So enjoy deeply God’s gift of salvation, forgiveness and grace here at this table. And then go and give thanks to others for their goodness to you. Do not celebrate Thanksgiving anemically, as you do not celebrate this Eucharist anemically.

11/20/11 

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Wisdom bears fruit


Proverbs 2:10-22

Wisdom delivers from wickedness. It keeps you on the path, in the light, loyal to godly friends, remembering the covenant, in the path of life, dwelling in the land. The devious and the debauched do not prosper in the end, but are uprooted. This is because the farmer has a plan to grow and harvest certain plants. Let us be content to come to Him as the harvest of righteousness He seeks, instead of listening to the perverse and immoral.

11/20/11

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Review: The Merchant of Venice


The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Mercy and Music

Giving The Merchant of Venice a quick read before going to see the play tonight, these two themes emerged.

First mercy. Shylock the Jew demands justice from the court, refusing to extend mercy to his debtor. He will not forgive but wants revenge. "If you prick us, do we not bleed?... if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" The wise woman Portia warns him to extend mercy, "In the course of justice none of us should see salvation: we do pray for mercy." But Shylock says he has no need of mercy for he has never done wrong. Fortune quickly turns against him when wise Portia, disguised as the lawyer grants him his "pound of flesh," but not a drop of blood. This takes away his revenge, but wisdom (Portia) goes on to prosecute the merciless and mercenary prosecutor. He has sought the life of his debtor without cause, the penalty of which is death. By justice, he must die. But Shylock receives mercy. He loses half his wealth to his debtor, instead of his life. Had he not pursued revenge his loss would have been far less. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. TO the shrewd, God shows Himself shrewd. The last act continues the theme: the wives point out the fault in their new husbands, giving away their rings, and hold the power to judge or extend mercy.

Music makes a couple appearances in this play, and old Billy hails "the sweet power of music" with one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes:

"The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;...
Let no such man be trusted. - Mark the music."


Shakespeare's treatment of "the Jew" is intriguing. He is generally considered an agent of the devil, and a mercenary lover of money more than family. In the middle his daughter leaves him and becomes a Christian, and in the end Shylock himself converts to Christianity as an alternative to death. The culture had no qualms ascribing negative vices to individuals because of their race. There may be a theological point in it all, that Judaism appeals to the law of Moses, while Christianity is based upon mercy.



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7.17.2012

Receiving God's Wisdom, or Grabbing our own?


Back in the Garden of Eden, God made Adam and Eve in His image. The serpent then came along tempting Eve with the promise of being like God if she ate the fruit. Notice, they were already like God, in His image, but the temptation was to have more. This is usually how temptation works. God has already given, but we want more. So it is with wisdom. Prov 2:6 says that Yahweh gives wisdom, yet we often scrabble after understanding ourselves. We wind up with a worldly wisdom that does not bring godliness.  So God describes His wisdom more for us in these verses. Wisdom is understanding righteousness, justice, equity, and every good path. Wisdom isn’t an encyclopedic recall of the past, or insight into the future. Wisdom is understanding how to love your neighbor. And what does this wisdom do? It guards our way, preserves us, shields us. Holy wisdom is the only safe path, in the end.

11/13/11

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Caught up every Sunday


Heavenly Father, You have called us up to Your presence. We are in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, standing before Your throne. Your Word tells us that Your Spirit is before Your throne as well, and this is no accident, since we know He dwells within us. We call upon You, Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to reveal Yourself to us today. In Your majesty let us adore You. In your holiness let us confess to you. In Your truth, let us hear and be taught by you. In your Spirit let us enjoy and commune with you. In your zeal for your name may we go forth to glorify and serve you in the world. We thank you that as Peter wrote, we are elect by the Father’s foreknowledge, sanctified by the Spirit, and sprinkled clean for obedience in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We come to you through Jesus Christ, by the power of Your Holy Spirit who lives and reigns with You, one God without beginning or end. Amen.

11/13/11

Review: Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer


Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I read this at 3 different points in the last year, so my thoughts are a bit scattered.

Lewis delves into the psychology, theology and practice of prayer. He is honest about its "irksome"ness. He deals not only with personal prayer but our interaction with the supernatural, generally. How do we take delight in God, in the sunshine? How do we do good things (like prayer) when sin weighs us down and they feel like duty, instead?

This book is famous for Lewis' purgatory error. He says it's a necessity if we are to be fit for heaven upon death. This assumes (wrongly, I think) that such a change of our nature takes God time to accomplish.

He has a passage on Communion that is quite good. “Here is big medicine and strong magic....
“I should define magic in this sense as ‘objective efficacy which cannot be further analysed.’…. Admittedly, the ‘magical’ element in such truths can be got rid of by explanation…. But no scientist, I suppose, believes that the process could ever reach completion. At the very least, there must always remain the utterly ‘brute’ fact… that a universe… exists…. Enlightened people want to get rid of this magical element in favour of what they would call the ‘spiritual’ element. But the spiritual, conceived as something thus antithetical to ‘magical,’ seems to become merely the psychological or ethical…. It [the magical element] can never be reduced to zero. If it is, what remains is only morality, or culture, or philosophy…

“The command after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand. Particularly, I hope I need not be tormented by the question ‘What is this?’ – this wafer, this sip of wine. That has a dreadful effect on me.” (103-105)

"If that other world [the supernatural] is once admitted, how can it, except by sensual or bustling pre-occupations, be kept in the background of our minds?" 120

He tends to wax philosophical, too:
"Matter enters our experience only by becoming sensation (when we perceive it) or conception (when we understand it). That is, by becoming soul." 123


So, not a practical book in the way we think of it today. But Lewis does deal closely with the practice and problems of piety and prayer.



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Renewing covenant - Joshua 8


After Achan, Israel needed encouragement to know God was with them, so we get a lengthy account of the victorious battle of Ai.

Deuteronomy 27-28 is key to understanding Joshua 8:30-35. This is a renewal of the covenant, reconfirming that God gave the victory and that Israel resolves to keep covenant with God. Schaeffer spends a lot of time discussing Ebal and Gerazim. Ebal was the mount of curses, and the altar is built on it, as if to show Israel that they will sin, and they will have a means of atonement. We come to God through the altar, eventually through Christ, not through keeping the law.

It's a little surprising but not impossible for Israel to go to Shechem from Ai unopposed. We don't need to assume Joshua 8:30-35 happen later in the story. Israel was zealous to renew covenant as soon as possible, and God protected them from any possible enemies around Shechem that they hadn't defeated yet.

That said, verses 30-35 could be out of order. The "Now," or "At that time" particle can be chronological or used for emphasis without reference to time. NKJV "Now" is better than ESV's "At that time", in my view, as ESV requires a chronological reading of the particle, while NKJV "Now" allows for either, and gives the emphasis element.

The main point is to connect 30-35 with 1-29 logically (and theologically). Because of the victory God gave, Israel returned thanks and renewed covenant with God. Military victory is connected with the covenant blessings/curses God promised Israel. But the victory is a result of God's blessing; the victory doesn't bring God's blessing. The sacrifice on the cursed mountain does that.

Galatians 3:13-14: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."

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Persecution or picking petty fights?

RC Sproul, Jr.:


"A pastor in Arizona will soon begin serving six months in jail, and paying his $12,000 fine. For what? Well, based on the slander many Christians are spreading, his crime is holding Bible studies. But what he is actually charged with is he violated local zoning laws....


"We should be beseeching the Spirit for the courage to believe we are blessed when we are persecuted for His name’s sake. And we should be asking Him for the wisdom to discern the difference between being persecuted for righteousness’ sake and being persecuted for picking a fight over silly, annoying zoning laws."

7.11.2012

Acting offended to get your way


What I Learned in Narnia
CS Lewis, in The Last Battle
“’Really Puzzle,’ said Shift, ‘I didn’t think you’d ever say a thing like that. I didn’t think it of you, really.’
‘Why, what have I said wrong?’ said the Ass, speaking in a rather humble voice, for he saw that Shift was very deeply offended.”

Douglas Wilson, in What I Learned in Narnia
Now what is Shift doing in this passage by acting offended? He is manipulating Puzzle by creating false guilt. Have you ever seen someone moping around, waiting for others to feel sorry for him? (Maybe you have even done this yourself.) Perhaps this type of person wants pity, or perhaps they want to instill a false sense of guilt in someone, but the goal is always the same – somehow they want to get their way. There is something they want – maybe they just want to feel some kind of power over others – and they manipulate others’ feelings in order to get it.” (19)

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

The Merry Adventures of Robin HoodThe Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A rollicking good time. This long version by traditional storyteller Howard Pyle hums with the merriment of Robin's band of brothers. Their adventures involve bringing justice to folks in need, at the expense of the apathetic or oppressive rich and powerful passing near Sherwood forest.

It struck me that Robin Hood presents some lessons from the 1200s on masculinity, which we might not learn in our culture. The typical reference to Robin's merry men today tends to be an off color homosexual reference, which only shows how little we understand true masculinity.
1. Good men are quick to laugh, not because they are fools but because they pursue a life of joy.
2. True men can laugh at themselves. They are not so caught up in their ego, pride or machismo that they don't see when they have BEEN the joke.
3. Real men aren't afraid of others of superior ability, but invite them to join them in common cause. This strengthens them in a community that depends on others. It is amazing how many times Robin loses a fight, then asks the winner to join him.
4. Men trust other friends with their lives. We need friends to share our fight, walk our road, and tell our stories with us.
Be a real man like Robin Hood.

I'm not sure it was intended originally, but the premise presents a powerful parallel with David, outlawed from Saul in 1 Samuel. Both David and Robin gather those indebted or out of favor or outlawed to the king. Both are really in the right and will be vindicated in the future. Both work for the good of the kingdom (and themselves) before that time comes, by plundering God's enemies. Both are pursued by the oppressive authorities (Saul, the Sheriff), but are vindicated by higher authorities (God, King Richard).



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7.06.2012

Modern Medicine

Thanking the Lord for anti-biotics today. High fever for 4 straight days, and a painful tight cough that kept me up two nights. Got meds last night around 10. This morning my cough was productive and not painful and the fever is gone.

Sara was shaking her head at my ignorance of science and anatomy on the way home from urgent care, and it's pretty true. Perhaps some study would be an appropriate response of gratitude to the Great Physician. Knowing why this stuff works, instead of considering it the magic pill I currently do!

Psalm 6 and 63 was good reading with a high fever - I recommend it for anyone sick.

7.05.2012

What I Learned in Narnia

What I Learned In NarniaWhat I Learned In Narnia by Douglas Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Lovely little book, pastorally targeted at younger readers who have read Narnia. This will give lots of edifying "mileage" out of having read Narnia, without spoiling the books by moralizing them.

Wilson progresses from the lesser to the greatest topics, starting with authority and confession and climaxing with grace and love. Reading this in just a day or two, this had a wonderful cumulative effect. Yet the book really makes for great out loud reading to children, with short sections. The best thing about the book is Wilson's warm pastoral tone speaking to children and young people about important and spiritual things, without condescension, scolding or moralizing. We need more examples of this kind of teaching and training of our children.

The frustrating things about this one: Wilson says he is writing to those who have read the Narnia books, but he ends up summarizing almost every story he refers to. This takes up about half the book. Also, he repeats several passages, using them in different places. The reader would have been better served with less summary, and more references and chapters. (Susan not fighting, Rabadash's stubborn pride, the Dufflepuds, etc. are not included). Not than an encyclopedia is needed, but more substance and less summary.



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The Pilgrim's Regress

PILGRIM'S REGRESSPILGRIM'S REGRESS by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


One of Lewis's first books after his conversion, he uses Bunyan's trope to do what we now call a "worldview apologetic," as only a Cambridge literature don could. This work is quite obscure and hard to follow, at least for my small brain (though he admits the obscurity himself in a later preface in this edition.)

Lewis begins with hypocritical Puritan Christianity, and is merciless in his critique, replete with masks, badly told stories, and pious cliches. John, the Pilgrim, quickly leaves it, and regresses on from fornication, to Thrill, the spirit of the age, every modern form of philosophy you can imagine. He does what Van Til 20 years later called Christians to do: tear down every argument and philosophy opposed to Christ. The difficulty is that I didn't recognize much of it, 60 years later and through Lewis' prism. He writes that he didn't mean it to be autobiographical, but I think as one of his earlier works it very much was.

Some parts were clear and great.
1. Mother Kirk must carry us across the chasm, but most refuse her way and go the harder way around.
2. We suppress the truth about God, but wind up praying to Him, and pursued by Him, anyway.
3. We substitute cheaper, quicker and shallower desires for the true Desired One.
4. There are as many sins of the mind as there are of the flesh: Lewis catalogs many of the former.
5. Temptation is hard to resist, even when we see the devastating results right in front of us.
5. Neither reason, feeling, nor virtue alone will carry us to glory, but we do need all three.

If you take it up, be ready for some tough sledding. But there is reward along the way.



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