The Best Story, the True Myth, a poem

Over at Bittersweet Life, Ariel has posted a poem about the choice we make each day in how we see the world. Here’s a snippet:

Every story that has inner beauty,
That strikes a note and holds it
In our hearts and minds,
Is an echo of the one Story—
Wild and frightening and wonderful.

As a writer there can be nothing more depressing than slaving over words and putting them out for the world to see and then hearing nothing in return. So do him this kindness: go there and read the poem and then leave him a comment. It doesn’t have to be long, in fact, it can even be disagreement. You should also bookmark his site while your there. It’s a great read.

Questions about Mega Churches

I’ve always been skeptical of mega churches. It was built into me growing up: the idea that things get unwieldy when they get too big, that the head can no longer know what the whole body is doing. Without really thinking about it, it became a truistic concept, an unquestioned axiom that flavored a great deal of my thinking.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that there are many “truism’s” that are unscriptural, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, all’s well that ends well, etc… And so I’ve reexamined a lot of things that I thought I had down pat. But mega churches still bother me. I think it’s verses like Hebrews 13:17

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

The word used for account there is logos. It suggests that the question posed will be, something like, “Tell me, how did the church come to be in this state. Give me an account for the state of this man’s soul.” Not the pastor will be held accountable for the faults of the people, but he will be asked what he did to prevent them and then to deal with them when they occurred. With that sort of responsibility, I guess I don’t see how someone can give an account for the souls of 1000+ people. So, I’m asking it as a question. What do you think about mega-churches? What do you think about the responsibilities of an elder? Am I putting too much responsibility there?

Marriage, Children, Love, and Responsibility

I’ve always been interested in the nature of responsibility, and in what makes a man or a woman finally pick up its mantle and seriously begin the journey toward true manhood or womanhood. I think for a lot of people, the catalyst is their first child or children. I used to think it was marriage, but after getting married, I realized that it is quite easy to have a pleasant marriage and remain quite selfish. There’s still plenty of time in a day for two reasonable people to basically do what they both want to do. Tonight we’ll eat at your restaurant and tomorrow night we’ll eat at mine; Friday night, the mall, Saturday morning, the golf course; etc…

A child changes that. Free time suddenly dwindles, days and night inexplicably become both longer and shorter, typically expanding or contracting as necessary to most effectively limit your perceived freedom. Everyone becomes more stressed out. Throw a little sickness or depression into the mix and you’ve got a custom designed crash-course entitled The Selfish You: Learning How To Defeat the Me-Monster. For those of you who don’t have children yet, I am not joking.

To be fair, the reason that a child can be so shocking to the system is that the experience challenges our beliefs regarding the purpose of our lives. Someone who is already living a life based on sacrifice, humility, and unselfishness, will notice only the blessings that a child brings: the first smile, the first laugh, the feel of the tiny head resting on their shoulder. To the selfish man, these things seem like such consolation prizes. Look at all that I gave up,” screams the selfish soul, “and all I get is laughs and smiles? I could have rented About a Boy or My Life and saved myself the trouble”.

Where am I going with all this? That’s a fair question. It’s partly a confessional on my part, an admission of my own failures, and an attempt to be more transparent, but it’s also an attempt to frame a question. Does this resonate with other first and second time parents? I have two children now, Gavin will be two near the end of May and Petra is going on eleven weeks. In many ways, the second child was harder than the first, but the first taught us so much that it’s hard to really compare them. God says that the fruit of the womb is his reward, and his blessings tend to be things that go against our nature (Matthew 5:11-12, Isaiah 55:8) How does this thinking compare with what others have experienced? Has God used children or marriage to move you toward responsibility and away from selfishness?

Man + Woman = Good!

As a man and a husband and a father, a lot of the topics on this blog tend to center around the home. As such, from time to time, I will have things to say about marriage and about children. Before I say some of those things, I do want to make one thing clear: it is a pet peeve of mine when people who champion childbirth and the responsibility that we have to multiply and replenish the earth – and make no mistake, I am one of those people – make comments that suggest or imply that a married couple who does not have children is somehow incomplete in the eyes of God.

While it is true that Scripture says that children are an heritage of the Lord, and that the fruit of the womb is his reward, and I am very much of the opinion that someone who is actively trying to prevent God from giving them said heritage/reward needs to reexamine their actions in the light of Scripture, I think it is worth looking at what Genesis 1:26-31 has to say about God, couples, children, and what is good, and then to think about these things in light of Isaiah 5:20.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
(Genesis 1:26-31)

Two things are worth pointing out here:

  1. When God created the man and his wife, he created them without children
  2. God said that they were good

That’s it. End of story. I don’t want to make too big a deal about this, but I’ve met enough couples that are childless and that do not want to be childless and most of them were struggling with the preconception1 that “if God doesn’t give you a child right away or at all, he hates you”, and Scripture doesn’t support that. God withheld children from Abraham and Sarah for years to give Himself glory and to make His own name great. So don’t be discouraged. It’s ok to want a child, in fact, it’s Scriptural to want a child, but because God hasn’t given you one doesn’t mean that he hates you. Enjoy your marriage, enjoy your husband or your wife. Treasure this time together. For whatever reason, God has decided that you need it.

1 pun slightly intended

America, Evangelism, and the State of the Church

Kevin Bauder of Central Baptist Theological Seminary has sounded off on the state of the American church and the sore need for the re-evangelization of America. Here’s an excerpt:

I have some reason to know. In 1990, I moved my family to a city in the Bible Belt (not Atlanta) and commenced the search for a church. Of course, I did not expect to find an ideal church, but I did expect to find a church that shared some understanding of what the ideal should be. I was sorely disappointed. Visiting congregation after congregation led to the amazing conclusion that doctrinal aberration, toleration of sin, and corrupted worship were widespread among the supposedly fundamental churches of that city. In the end, I found myself planting a church in order to provide for the spiritual wellbeing of my own family.

Read the full text here.

Reformed?

From a recent conversation with a Reformed friend:

When people would ask me what sort of church I went to or what sort of religion I was and I would say, “Oh, I’m Reformed”, they would smile and then frown and then look puzzled and ask, “Reformed from what?!?”

Does anyone else have any interesting stories about confusion caused by your faith, or about your own confusion regarding issues of faith?

Books for Boys and Girls

Diary of an Early American Boy
Any boy (or girl) interested in post-colonial American life will love this book. Based on accounts from a diary kept for the year 1805, the book follows the diary’s author, Noah Blake and records the significant events of that year. The author of the book, Eric Sloane, took great pains to embellish these events both with beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and detailed, well-researched descriptions. Themes in the book include: blacksmithing, engineering, bridge building, coopering, early American harvest festivals, carpentry, farming, early-American architecture, religion, and courtship.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Staying in the vein of early American life, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, tells the story of Nathaniel Bowditch, a young man born a few years before the Revolutionary War, who would have a significant impact upon the world. The book follows Nathaniel as he is trained in his father’s cooperage, indentured as a bookkeeping apprentice to a ship chandler, and finally serves as a crew member and later the master of his own ship. Themes covered in this book are: Christian childhood, manhood, mathematics, sailing, navigation, scholarship, courtship, marriage, Christian love, life purpose, and death.

There are more books that I’d like to add to this list, but in the meantime, you can also use this handy form to search my book library. It’s set to search books based on tags, so searching for “boys” will give you books for boys, and “girls”, will give you books for, well, if you can’t see the pattern that’s forming, I sincerely doubt that pages of exposition will make a difference. Here’s the form, give it a try. As always, comments and questions are encouraged.

Antinomianism

Over at Greensboro NC Christian Joel Gillespie has written a couple of interesting posts on Antinomianism[1][2]. Do yourself a favor and check them out, then do me a favor and come back here and leave a comment about it.

Just FYI, I found the second post to be more informative.

The Quality and Expression of Love

Over at Bittersweet Life, my friend Ariel has pointed us all to an article (on the Touchstone magazine blog) that dares to compare modern American pop culture lyrics on love to stuff written by dead people (they probably couldn’t even speak English… Ewww!!). The nerve of some people!!

While there has been a clear decline in quality over the years, you could almost argue that the first poem and the last poem on the page are the same poem minus some measure of intelligence. Are we seeing a decay that should not be, or are we merely seeing the natural decay that occurs when God is “removed” from the mix, when love is made an end unto itself, and pleasure, not obedience, becomes the true measure of love?

Does anyone have thoughts on this? As always lively discussion is encouraged, nay, expected!! Let’s show those dead people a thing or two…