Monday, June 29, 2009

Song (s) of the Week

Just a little timewarp this week. Twenty years ago, I was 14, weighed 80lbs less, didn't shave, and was strongly discouraged from listening to secular music (unless it was country western music or oldies - somehow that was ok?!). My music library consisted of Petra, Degarmo and Key, Bloodgood, Stryper, REZ, and a few more...Here's three of my favorite songs from Petra!

It Is Finished (Beat The System Album Version) - Petra

Grave Robber - Petra

Coloring Song, The - Petra

Family Worship Recap, week 2

After the first week's focus on the story of creation, we moved on this week to the story of the fall. We read together Genesis 3:1-7, Gen 3:8-13, and then Gen 3:14-24. After the first section we spoke of how Adam and Eve's is really a lack of trust in God - they didn't trust he was being good to them and believed the lie that he was holding out. When we prayed that night I spoke of 'our rebellion' and 'our lack of trust' and 'our disobedience'. I was hoping the kids would pick up on that, and Caleb didn't disappoint. He immediately asked, 'why did you say we/us/our when it was Adam who sinned?' I didn't answer that question but put him off for a few days. After the second section (Tues) we talked a lot about how we try to blame other people or things for our sin. This was a really good discussion. The third section led to Christ and how in the midst of God pronouncing judgment, he also offers good news - the seed of Eve will crush the head of the serpent. I showed them the beginning clip to the Passion of Christ (found it on YouTube) and we discussed how Christ was wounded but crushed the work and person of Satan on the cross.

We also looked at Psalm 51:1-12 and talked about how our sins are ultimately against God and that he is the one who must forgive (even when it's your brother you punched in the eye). Friday we looked at Romans 5:12-21 and that is when we came back to Caleb's question. I explained, as best I could, that Adam rebelled against God and as our representative through us all into rebellion. I tried to explain the idea of 'federal headship' by talking about the 'war on terror'. I pointed out that they had not declared war, yet the President had. When he declared war, he committed the whole country to war. Adam, in a way, was our President (our representative) and he disobeyed and rebelled (declared war) on God. Even though we weren't there, we are committed. Moreover, we might not be able to make peace, but the President can sign a treaty. That is what Christ did for all those who trust him - who choose Him as their representative (who are 'in Him'). Not a perfect illustration but the best I could come up with.

Saturday and Sunday we looked at Romans 3:9-20 and talked about how we all are sinners, not just Adam. We also looked at Romans 6:23ff and spoke of the just consequences for our sin and God's free gift of life in Jesus - focusing on the idea that we don't work for gifts, they are given because someone loves us. Lastly, we looked at Isaiah 64:4-7 and tried to enlarge they kids understanding of what sin is. Even the goods thing we do, if we do them with impure motives (they're always a mixed bag). We sat down and looked at some of the books we had picked up from the library: a couple on WW2, one on the Civil War, a Pirate Book, one on Jonas Salk, a Spider man book and a couple more. We thought about where sin showed up in each of the books (we didn't read each one right then). We did read a Bernstein Bear's book and talked about all the ways sin showed up in the story - not just in actions but in attitudes also.

I have to admit utter failure when it comes to creativity this week. The book thing was my best effort. I had thought about playing 'pin the tail on the donkey' as a way of communicating sin is 'missing the mark', but the whole being blindfolded thing seemed to communicate we don't know what God wants. As far as songs we sung, we stuck with two: Come Ye Sinners and Amazing Grace.

This week we move on from Adam and Eve to Noah. Shouldn't be hard to be creative here!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Clarification (s) on Cultural Mandate and Environmentalism

The two comments made on my last post spurred me on to clarify Frame's position. I have no interest in defending him, just clarifying what he actually says. Many of the 'objections' to Frame will be cleared up, I think, with clarification.

First, the section I quoted comes as Frame is discussing the cultural mandate as it comes to Adam in Genesis 1:28. In this discussion, Frame traces the historical development of the cultural mandate. He reminds us that "The first human experience recorded in Scripture is the experience of hearing this command...It defines the purpose of human life". The section I quoted comes in this context - the context of prefall man. Consequently, when Frame speaks of using creation to 'serve their own purposes', it is still in the context of man in right relationship with God. He makes that explicit in the paragraph that follows the quote I provided. He writes, "God gave this command to Adam and Eve for the same reason, ultimately, that he does everything else: for his own glory... Adam was not to rule merely for himself, but for God, glorifying God in all he did."

Frame moves on from this discussion of the cultural mandate in the prefall context to discuss, briefly, what it means after the fall. As sinner, he asserts, we seek our own glory instead of God's. Here Frame chooses to talk more about what is still good in culture rather than what is bad, clearly righting against those who would reject culture as all bad. If he had chosen to write about what sin has done to man and their ability to fulfill the cultural mandate, he would, I think, say we are incredible failures. We have exploited. We have failed to master what we should (though I don't think he would say we need to develop every square inch of the world - I'm guessing he'd be opposed to a mini-mall in the Grand Canyon National Park - but I am only guessing). Nations have horded and are greedy, unjust and often cruel in how they use up resources. Yet, and this is where Frame focuses, even in sinful cultures common grace can be found. Even in evil cultures, there is some good.

Moving from a discussion of the fall and it's impact on culture, and God's common grace and it's impact on the same cultures, Frame moves to discuss God's special saving grace and asks "Does God's saving grace make an impact on culture?" Here I think a definition of culture (long overdue) will help. Basically, Frame distinguishes creation (what God does directly) from culture. Culture is everything man does (God does through man since God is ultimately sovereign in all things), including: what we make with our hands (tools, houses, cities, art), what we make with our minds (language, systems of thought, philosophy, science, politics), our institutions (families, churches, governments, corporations), as well as our values, customs, games, sports, music, literature, cuisine, etc. Obviously, his definition is comprehensive - he's not just speaking of high culture, or 'culchah' as he describes it. Going back to the question, Frame argue that God's saving grace certainly has an impact on culture. He writes, "When you believe in Jesus, your whole life changes direction: your thoughts, words, and deeds. Whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, you seek to do it for God' s glory... You'll fail, because you won't be perfect until glory. But you'll try. And sometimes trying can make a huge difference. You can influence your culture, as many Christians have." Frame actually sees the cultural mandate as not only coming from God's command to humanity through Adam (and Noah), but also coming specifically to Christians in the Great Commission. Again, I'll let Frame speak for himself, "The Great Commission tells us not only to tell people the gospel and get them baptized, but also to teach them to obey everything Jesus has commanded us. Everything. The gospel creates new people, who are committed to Christ in every area of their lives. People like these will change the world. They will plant churches and establish godly families, and they will also establish hospitals, schools, arts, and sciences. That is what has happened by God's grace. And this is what will continue to happen until Jesus comes."

I think there is still plenty to critique here, but just wanted to make sure I represented Frame's position well.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Cultural Mandate and Environmentalism

One of the things I'm most excited about in relation to the change in roles here at ECC is leading an ACG with Lynn in the fall (Lynn doing most of the social/community building stuff and me doing most, though not all, of the teaching). We're thinking about starting off with a series on Christ and Culture, so I've started reading up on the topic. Today, reading Frame (The Doctrine of the Christian Life) I read this and thought I'd share it and solicit feedback.

"There are two elements [to the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28]: filling and ruling...As they fill the world, they are to rule it. They are not to be terrified by the natural world...Rather, they are to march through the world as kings and queens, taking possession of everything. They are to harness the animals, the heat and cold, the electricity and seismic energy, to serve their own purposes. That means development. Adam and Eve are not to leave the world untouched, as some radical environmentalists would prefer. Rather, they are to use the resources of God's creation, to bring out the potential of the heavens and the earth, to facilitate their rule under God. They are to turn the creation into a culture, into a home for human society.

Of course, use is one thing, and exploitation is something else...Just as Adam was to take care of the garden (Gen. 2:15), so Adam's family was to take care of the earth. God wanted them to use it and also to preserve it - to use, but not to use up. So God later told Israel to rest the land after six years of cultivation. Man is to rule the earth, but also to serve it. He is to be a servant-king. That is the basis of biblical environmentalism.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

CBN Interview with Horton

This may be the only time I've ever, or will ever, link to CBN, but they interviewed Michael Horton on his book Christless Christianity, which I'm reading and have commented on.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Puritan Prayer

Tim Challies posted this beautiful prayer on his website yesterday:

Great God,
in public and private, in sanctuary and home,
may my life be steeped in prayer,
filled with the spirit of grace and supplication,
each prayer perfumed with the incense of atoning blood.
Help me, defend me, until from praying ground
I pass to the realm of unceasing praise.
Urged by my need, invited by Thy promises,
called by Thy Spirit,
I enter Thy presence, worshipping Thee with godly fear,
awed by Thy majesty, greatness, glory,
but encouraged by Thy love.

I am all poverty as well as all guilt,
having nothing of my own with which to repay Thee,
but I bring Jesus to Thee in the arms of faith,
pleading His righteousness to offset my iniquities,
rejoicing that He will weigh down the scales for me,
and satisfy thy justice.
I bless Thee that great sin draws out great grace,
that, although the lest sin deserves infinite punishment
because done against an infinite God,
yet there is mercy for me, for where guilt is most terrible,
there Thy mercy in Christ is most free and deep.
Bless me by revealing to me more of His saving merits,
by causing Thy goodness to pass before me,
by speaking peace to my contrite heart;
strengthen me to give Thee no rest
untiI Christ shall reign supreme within me
in every thought, word, and deed,
in a faith that purifies the heart, overcomes the world,
works by love, fastens me to Thee, and ever clings to the cross.

God and Human Language

I've altered my reading list dramatically for the summer, partly due to my shifting role at the church and some classes I hope to be teaching in the fall. One of the books I've picked up is The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John Frame. Philosophy and Epistemology aren't strong areas for me, so this is good and hard at the same time.

Frame discusses the question 'can human language be used to describe God adequately?' (Adequately meaning something like 'truly' or 'accurately', not 'extensively'] The issue is a hot one both at the scholarly level and a popular level too. I've heard it more than once from a student that the Bible is just men trying to describe what can't be described by human language.

Frame argues convincingly (though with qualifications) that human words have the same meaning for man as for God. If we deny this, divine-human communication would be impossible. 'Thou shalt not kill' might actually mean to God 'Thou shalt plant radishes'.

Frame builds his case by reminding us that God is the ultimate Creator of human language. This hit me yesterday as I was reading. I'm not sure I had ever considered that before and it has profound implications. First, God's authority extends over language and the meaning of words just as it does over every other area of his creation. Thus, a word 'means' what God has authorized it to mean and we should use language as God would expect us too, that is to say 'truly, clearly, and lovingly'.

Second, if God created language, he did so for a purpose - namely, communicating with his creatures. To deny that language can be used as a tool to know God is to say that God has failed in this aspect of his creation. Yes, language has it's ambiguities and nuances, but God knows these better than we do. Frame writes, "God, of course, knows the meanings of all words, phrases, and statements exhaustively. He knows all of their uses, both actual and potential: He can uses our language better than any of us can. and of course, at a deeper level, we must say that God's knowledge of our language is different from our own knowledge of it because His is the knowledge of the Creator, the Lord of language."

On the other hand, that God is the Creator and Lord of language should remind us that there is always more to learn from a text and more mystery there than we can currently comprehend. Van Til (one of my favorites) reminds us that even after we've properly exegeted a passage correctly we still don't 'fully' understand it. While Scripture is clear enough to leave everyone without excuse, there is still a lot even the best Bible scholars can learn. Again, Frame writes, "But because human language is so rich and because God's knowledge of it is so comprehensive, Scripture will always contain depths of meaning beyond our understanding. Are these depths of meaning irrelevant to us because they are beyond our understanding? No. Nothing is more important in Scripture than the sense of mystery that it conveys, the attitude of awe that it evokes from its readers."

Frame's argument reminds me of a quote from Augustine: "Such is the depth of the Christian Scriptures that even if I were attempting to study them and nothing else from early boyhood to decrepit old age, with the utmost leisure, the most unwearied zeal, and talents greater than I have, I would still daily be making progress in discovering their treasures."

Also, Edwards: "There are no things so worthy to be known as these things. They are as much above those things that are treated of in other sciences as the heavens are above the earth...Growing in knowledge should be the business of believers, and the very reason God has given us the faculties of reason and understanding...God has gone to great lengths to give us this body of knowledge."

Praying I continue to grow in my knowledge and appreciation of God's Word!

Song of the Week

Ignore the gnostic lyrics and enjoy the song.

The Distance - Live

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Family Worship, recap

This past week we began in earnest our summer long project of making sure our kids have a firm understanding of the Biblical storyline - not just individual stories of the Bible. We started, of course, in the beginning with Creation. We are trying to make the learning multifaceted, including the reading of Scripture together, crafts/projects, and even worship tied to the theme (which we do every night before tucking the kids in). This week we read as a family Genesis 1, Psalm 148, Psalm 33:1-9, John 1:1-18, Colossians 1:15-20, and Genesis 2. We tried to emphasize the power of God, the sovereignty/authority of God as Creator King, the beauty of God's creation, the Trinity, being made uniquely in the image of God, and the idea that even Adam and Eve had to work. Having a focus to the week has enabled us to capitalize on things in our daily routine and use them as teaching opportunities also. For example, we always go the library. This week, we picked up books on stars and planets, cool plant from North America, sea life, mammals, reptiles, etc. The books, filled with Darwinism helped me talk to Caleb. Jake and Luke liked the pictures and that even gave us the opportunity to talk about how awesome creation is. During the day, the boys drew pictures representing the different days of creation, did sculptures with modeling clay and hopefull, today, we'll take a walk to enjoy God's creation. The only song I was able to come up with (here I was kinda lazy, I'll admit) was All Creatures of our God and King. The kids already knew the first verse, but we were able to look at some of the other as well.

Week one was easy. We were all motivated and it was faily easy to be creative. Actually, more than easy, it was a joy. Next week, talking about the fall, will be more challenging. Good ideas for activities are welcome!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Osteen's Alternative Gospel

Yesterday I finished up chapter 3 of Horton's book Christless Christianity. The chapter, "Smooth talking and Christless Christianity", is a detailed expose/refutation of Joel Osteen's theology - if you can really call it that. It wasn't what I expected when I picked up the book, but it was a good reminder of how unbiblical, pervasive, and dangerous the 'health & wealth'/'name it and claim it' brand of Christianity is.

It's the 'dangerous' element that struck me with a new weight as I read Horton yesterday. This is true at the corporate level (we celebrate the explosion of the church in the 2/3rds world, yet Horton points out that much of this explosion is of this 'health and wealth' variety where no real gospel is preached at all) and at the individual level. We laugh at Osteen and those who drink in his sweet drivel. The message Osteen preaches leaves people feeling good about themselves and their relationship with God. Osteen is never condemning, always positive, ready to encourage and tell people to live up to their potential as 'children of the Most High God'. While he seems like a nice guy, this message is utterly cruel on several levels.

First, as there is no preaching of sin and God's just condemnation of sinners, there is no sense in which Christ is offered (even needed) as one's mediator and atoning sacrifice. Horton writes, "There is no condemnation in Osteen's message for failing to fulfill God's righteous law. On the other hand, there is no justification. Instead of either message, there is an upbeat moralism that is somewhere in the middle: Do your best, follow the instructions I give you, and God will make your life successful." He continues, "...there is a determination to assimilate the gospel to law, an announcement of victory to a call to be victorious, indicatives to imperatives, Good News to good advice. The bad news may not be as bad as it used to be, but the Good News is just a softer version of the bad news: Do more. But this time, it's easy! and if you fail, don't worry. God just wants you to do your best. He'll take care of the rest." Horton does an excellent job detailing the various ways sin has been trivialized in Osteen's (and other like him) preaching and writing. It has lost it's vertical element (it's not sin against God). It's even lost its horizontal element (it's not against a neighbor). Essentially sin is against self - not living up to potential, robbing oneself of God's best for our lives, etc. In this climate, salvation isn't legal, it's therapaudic. The question is, 'how do I feel better about myself and get more out of life', not 'how can a sinner be right with God'. No one is being urged to repent of sin and throw themselves at the feet of Jesus pleading for mercy before a just judge. There at thousand, tens of thousands, of people who have heard Osteen preach and think they are ok with God because they're doing their best, or at least close to it, most of the time.

Essentially, the Gospel has been turned into a salvation by working (doing your best, obeying the instructions, etc.). This is also incredibly cruel. Horton comments, "to those who are burned out on trying to merit God's favor, Osteen's only answer - though said with a smile - is to do more. 'Believe more for your miracle and God will turn it around.' Is this the kinder, gentler God or a more than slightly sinister tyrant who keeps raising the hoops for us to jump through before he gives us what we want."

Moreover, it's cruel because it teaches people that all their problems are because they don't believe enough - even genetic problems. Horton quotes a sermon by Osteen (hard to believe he wasn't sued by the diabetes foundation): "you need to put your foot down and say, 'Grandmother may have had it [diabetes]. Mother may have had it. But as for me and my house, we're redeemed from diabetes. I'm going to live under the blessing and not the curse...This type of blessing is for believers, not doubters." Osteen's theology is utterly unable to deal with pain and loss in life, simply adding more to it by pointing the finger at the suffering individual telling them it's their fault - they should have more faith and stop being the doubting Thomas.

Finally, it's cruel because it robs people of the ultimately glory we have been promised and offers them instead cheap substitutes that tarnish, rust and get moth eathen. Instead of offering deliverance from God's eternal wrath and everlasting life free from pain, sin and death, Osteen offers salvation from feeling bad about ourselves and unhappiness. Horton quotes CS Lewis, "I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle fo Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity."

A fair chunk of this chapter is a reproduction of an essay Horton wrote a couple of years ago (Oct. 2007) after being interviewed on 60 minutes about Osteen. Looking ahead at the next chapter I don't see Osteen's name anywhere...but I do see McLaren. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Song of the Week

I already posted about the free download of the Rain City Hymnal CD, but here's a great song to entice you!

What Wondrous Love - Ex Nihilo

two links worth checking out

Here's a few things from around the web worth checking out:

- Rain City Hymnal: some one sent me a link for a free download. Thanks whoever did it! This is an awesome, eclectic cd of some of my favorite hymns. I especially love "What Wondrous Love is This" and "Oh the Deep Deep Love" (sing this at my funeral when I kick it).

- An Edwards book by Doug Sweeney. Sweeney was one of my favorite profs at Trinity, is an Edwards expert - so I'll have to add one more Edwards book to my collection. Here's a link to Justin Taylors description of the book.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Calvin: the good, the bad, the ugly

I finished Godfrey's short bio of Calvin last week before leaving for Chicago, but wanted to wrap a few thoughts on the book before thinking out loud about any others. Reading his bio was encouraging, but there was also several cautionary aspects.

The good first (things that struck me as I read the bio). Though many modern Calvinists have been accused of being more philosophical than Biblical (an accusation that can legitimately be aimed at Arminians as well - where does our concept of 'free will' come from?), that accusation certainly cannot be leveled against Calvin. Calvin certainly taught predestination, election, reprobation, and sovereign grace - he viewed those doctrines as foundational for understanding man's relationship with God. Whereas modern Calvinists have often tried to pry into the God's mind, Calvin himself cautioned against going beyond what the Bible taught. He wrote, "We should neither scrutinize those things which the Lord has left concealed, nor neglect those which he has openly exhibited, lest we be condemned for excessive curiosity on the one hand, or for ingratitude on the other." Calvin taught predestination because he believed it was Biblical and profitable for the Christian, being a source of great comfort. Christians can know they are saved and know that this salvation will be final and eternal. Godfrey commends Calvin for the "balance that he maintained between his insistence on faithfulness in the real struggles of the battle and the assurance of victory."

Related to Calvin's teaching regarding predestination is his understanding of God's providence. (Predestination is simply the outworking of God's providence in the area of salvation.) Calvin, always the pastor, did not write or preach in a vacuum. He wrote of God's sovereign control of all things in a city that had it's share of sickness, in letters to those suffering persecution and in those facing martyrdom for their faith. He writes, "God regulates all things in such a manner that nothing happens except according to his counsel", and again "there can be no such ting as a fortuitous chance," and "not a drop of rain falls except at the express command of God."

Calvin's willingness to compromise on things nonessential is also admirable. He was more than willing to work with the Lutheran Melancthon. He compromised with the civil authorities on several issues related to church governance. In a letter to Reformed brothers living in Lutheran areas he argued that they should partake of the Lord's Supper even though it was administered in a way that was not entirely biblical. Thus he makes a distinction between issues that affect 'the substance of the faith' and those that do not. He wrote, "it is perfectly lawful for the children of God to submit to many things of which they do not approve", also "we ought to make mutual concessions in all ceremonies, that do not involve any prejudice to the confession of our faith, and for this end that tue unity of the church not be destroyed by our excessive rigour or moroseness." He urges another church that was struggling with internal division not to be "overly scrupulous in details of church order."

Yet, to get to the bad, it doesn't seem that Calvin always practiced what he preached in that regard. Calvin was certainly a man of his times, that is to say a medieval man. As such, he fell into many of the same traps regarding the use of force and political power to manipulate/coerce right living. He was under no illusion that the use of such force could change someone's heart, yet he was as committed to the task of a Christian civilization as every other medieval theologian. I'll quote Godfrey at some length,

"For Calvin the ideal o a Christian society remained strong in Geneva. Calvin participated with the other ministers and the elders in the work of the Consistory to reform the moral life of the city. In cooperation with the city council, the Consistory tackled problems of drinking, dancing, and sexual immorality in the city. The council outlawed card playing and dancing in the city. (Calvin was not absolutely opposed to dancing but rejected the lascivious forms it had taken in Geneva.) Laws sought to reduce the amount of drinking in taverns and required a Bible to be place in every tavern [I do my best theologizing with a Sam Adams in hand]. Laws also restricted the wearing of extravagantly expensive clothing. Punishment could take a number of different forms depending on the seriousness of the offense and the sincerity of the offender's penitence."

To me, this goes against Calvin's inclination on theological issues not to go beyond what the Bible says. Show me where Scripture is commands us not to play cards or dance. Moreover, where does the church get the authority to tell someone what dress is too expensive. In these issues Calvin and the Geneva church seem to have grossly overstepped it's bounds. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for proper church discipline, yet it is not practiced much today in large part because the biblical practice is so often abused! The church has seemingly had a hard time drawing a line between properly exercising it's authority in church discipline and overstepping and meddling. That's the bad...

Now the ugly. Again, to makes some excuses for Calvin, he was a man of his age. The use of force to protect the purity of church and doctrine was the norm - and Geneva seems to have used force less often than other cities. Yet, Geneva did, and Calvin approved. In 1547 Gruet publicly criticized Calvin and the other pastors of Geneva. He was arrested, his home searched and heretical writings found. Gruet was tortured by the civil authorities and forced to confess and sentenced him to death by beheading. Calvin was not directly involved but, as Godfrey admits, he would have approved. Godfrey summarizes the spirit of the age, "Serious heresy was seen as a spiritual plague threatening the whole society and had to be quickly eradicated to prevent it from spreading." In 1551 Jerome Bolsec publicly disagreed with Calvin on predestination and called Calvin a false interpreter of the Bible. He was arrested and eventually exiled from Geneva. The execution of Servetus (1553), the heretic who had been condemned to death by the Roman Church but escaped, is another embarrassing example. In this case, Calvin had sought the council of other pastors from other cities and the counsel was unanimous - he must be tried and executed if he clung to his heresy (a denial of the Trinity and deity of Christ). Calvin had tried over a period of twenty years to meet with Servetus and to dissuade him of his heresy. When he was condemned to burn at the stake, Calvin pleaded for a merciful beheading instead (he did not win this appeal).

This serves as a reminder that we are all deeply effected by our time and culture, no matter how brilliant a scholar or how caring a pastor. We must be aware of our cultural blind spots and pray for God's grace to save us from such sinful blunders.

Tiller's murder and Bonhoeffer

Al Mohler recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Chicago Tribune about the murder of Dr. Tiller. Those who would liken Tiller's murderer to the heroic efforts of Bonhoeffer should read this piece carefully (not hard, it's short).

"America is not Nazi Germany. George Tiller, though bearing the blood of thousands of unborn children on his hands, was not Adolf Hitler. The murderer of Dr. George Tiller is no Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Dr. Tiller’s murderer did not serve the cause of life; he assaulted that cause at its moral core."

I also found this article by Greg Koukl (author of Tactics) somewhat helpful, though the writing isn't very good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chicago Trip Review

We just got home from a 2 1/2 day trip to Chicago. It was great...and exhausting! Here's a quick review:

- morning: drive to Chicago
- noon: Rock N Roll McDonalds
- Dan remembers he hates driving in the city!
- check into Homewood suites on Grand Ave, 2 blocks off Michigan Ave.

- walk across town (2.7 miles) to Field Museum.
- have a ball checking out the Museum

- begin the long walk back to the hotel
- detour to Buckingham Fountain!

- dinner at the hotel
- dinner part 2 at Portillo's (the pepper steak didn't go over so well with the boys, so the best hotdogs in town, maybe the world, made up for it)
- check out a few sports shops around the hotel
- crash in the hotel!

- walk down to Michigan Ave and check it out
- walk down to Navy Pier: ride the Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and buy some souvenirs

- lunch at McD's (again!)
- catch the trolley back to the hotel to recharge
- walk to Lego Store - wow, amazing!

- more sports stores! great stuff for the kids room
- walk to Sears Tower (waste of time and exhausting!)
- dinner at Lou Malnati's Pizza - the best in Chicago (and don't forget the chocolate chip pizza for dessert!)

- swimming in the pool (jake - "that was fun, except when I almost drowned")

- pack up and drive to north suburbs
- Dan really hates driving in Chicago
- check out our old apartment

- walk around Highland Park (we used to hang out there a lot - though we could never afford anything but coffee)
- head over to Trinity and remember what an awesome experience seminary was. I love that place.
- drive home.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

When I Hate Michael Horton

Ok, I don't hate the guy. In fact, I love him and love what he writes. It is, however, hard to swallow sometimes - you just don't want it to be true. But it probably is (he's kinda like David Wells that way). Yesterday I started his newest book Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. The title says it all. Let me give you a taste and then I'll let you know what he has spurred me on to this summer.

"I think that the church in America today is so obsessed with being practical, relevant, helpful, successful, and perhaps even well liked tht it nearly mirrors the world itself. Aside from the packaging, there is nothing that cannot be found in most churches today that could not be satisfied by any number of secular programs and self help groups."

"My concern is that we are getting dangerously close to the place in everyday American church life where the Bible is mined for 'relevant' quotes but is largely irrelevant on its own terms; God is used as a personal resource rather than known, worshiped, and trusted; Jesus Christ is a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a Savior who has already achieved it for us; salvation is more a matter of having our best life now than being saved from God's judgment by God himself; and the Holy Spirit is an electrical outlet we can plug into for the power we need to be all that we can be."

" I do not question the sincerity of those who say that we have the correct doctrine but are not living it out. Rather, I simply do not agree with their assessment. I think our doctrine has been forgotten, assumed, ignored, and even misshaped and distorted by the habits and rituals of daily life in a narcissistic culture."

Ok, last quote - one that spurred me on to action! " In the following chapters I offer statistics supporting the remarkable conclusion that those who are raised in 'Bible believing' churches know as little of the Bible's actual content as their unchurched neighbors." When Caleb was 2-3 years old, we were telling him Bible stories all the time. He could tell you what city Jonah was running away from and where he ran too. We were diligent. Unfortunately, when Jake came, we got busier and less diligent. Then there came Luke. This past school year we read Mark and Acts with the boys before school, but we haven't been good helping them learn the stories and the main plotline of the Bible. So, this summer is a summer of stories with the boys.

Here's what we want to try and do: each week we're picking an event/character in the Bible. During that week we'll read/tell the great stories. Lynn is actually thinking about things she can do with the boys to reinforce what were talking about. My project for Friday is to outline the summer. I'll let you know what I come up with (and would love your suggestions!).

Touch a Truck

This morning, despite the light rain, we took the boys to 'Touch a Truck'. It's a really cool event for boys - not too many girls present though. They loved the motorcylce and the army trucks.

lovin the power!

what do you mean I can't take it home with me?!

the speedometer goes to 140mph. I wonder, could a cop catch me if I was going that fast?

this may be mom's worst nightmare - her boys in an army troop transport!