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Saturday, September 29, 2012

What's Your Number?

I believe firmly that as you read Scripture more and more, a certain passage will speak powerfully to you personally. That it will mean something to you in a way that none of the other passages do.

As time goes by, that verse (or verses) may change. And that of course is okay because it speaks to you where you are at, or about where you have been and where you are going. What I'm wondering is what is your favorite Scripture? Or what verse of Scripture speaks to you more strongly than any other?

My favorite verse of Scripture comes from Galatians 2.20: "I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live by Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."

Such a profound truth: Christ lives in me.

What is your favorite verse of Scripture?  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I could have been a Luddite*

Warning: Hypocrisy alert!

Let's get the obvious charge of hypocrisy aside. Yes, I'm using a modern technology and the medium of a blog to pooh-pooh the evils of technology.

That being said...

It is no secret that I view smart phones quite critically. It has been my experience that smart phones, despite their name, usually cause the user to act like an idiot. I once had to slam the brakes of my car to avoid a teenage boy who stepped directly in front of me while texting (or playing a game, or watching a video, who knows and who really cares?). He never flinched--I don't think he knows I almost hit him. Then he tripped on the curb and then he...wait for it...walked into a tree.

Good thing his phone was smart.

If only such idiocy was limited to the youthful, we could chalk it up to youthful enthusiasm. Alas, I see people of all ages, grown adults and card carrying AARP members, mimic such idiotic actions of that young, teenage boy.

Aside from the general rise of stupidity that seems to be directly related to the use of smart phones, I do not care for them because of the disintegration of social interaction that I witness in the world around me. Sometimes I just want to scream, "Is the text or Facebook status update or e-mail you just received really more important than the conversation we were having face to face?"

I realize I'm in the minority, but sometimes I enjoy talking to someone without having them immediately go to wikipedia to look up the topic we are discussing and start reading it, thus effectively killing the conversation.

But I've never considered the ways in which smart phones can cause a disintegration of our relationship with God. Carl Trueman has just posted an excellent essay on just that topic. When I purchased my last phone I told the salesman, "I only want a phone that makes and receives phone calls." He kept trying to offer me complex little fake tricorders until finally my wife spoke up and said, "He isn't kidding. He doesn't want any of that stuff." I have since operated under the false belief that I was, apparently, the only person on the planet who felt that way. But I'm not, and that is refreshing.

Even more refreshing is his perspective on solitude.  Consider what he has to say on the sound and fury--signifying NOTHING--of our age of smart phones:

"I suspect Christians can be among the worst offenders. I hope that no Christians were lining up for the latest Apple iPhone many hours before it was released. It is, after all, just a phone - just a phone! - and not a cure for cancer, AIDS, poverty or the lack of clean drinking water in many parts of the world. But I am confident that my hope on that score is a vain one. Many Christians are as deeply embedded in the sad culture of consumerism as anyone. And even those of us who are not, who have phones that look as if they predate VHS recorders, can still con ourselves that all of our activity, all of that sound and fury in our lives, signifies something worthwhile. Yet how often does it signify nothing but the fact that we strut about on the stages we have made for fear not simply of loneliness but even of solitude; for solitude is the place where we have no alternative but to reflect upon the most serious realities of our existence."

You can read the rest of his essay here

*I realize I'm misappropriating the term Luddite.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tending My Garden

It has turned out to be a much more beautiful day than I anticipated so I took advantage of the weather and took my garden apart. Notice, I didn't say harvest my garden, but took it apart.

In early Spring I decided I wanted to try to garden. So I moved bricks and built a raised bed garden behind the manse. It was a very small garden, which was my intent, just a small garden where we could get some delicious fresh vegetables.

It didn't really work the way I anticipated.

I had great soil brought in from a local farmer's barn. He warned me, "Anything will grow in this stuff." I smiled, envisioning giant tomatoes. I planted my seeds. I watered...occasionally. I watched green shoots sprout up. I marveled at how many little bursts of life were breaking through the soil. I looked closely. They all looked remarkably like grass!

A week went by. I had been right: I had a nice raised, bricked-in patch of grass.

I set about tending it. I pulled the grass. I spent hours pulling grass. And weeds. Weeds had also started to grow. I know so little about gardening that I let the weeds grow to see what fruit they would bear, since those wise words well, are so wise, that we can know something by its fruit. As I weeded I reflected on many such spiritual truths that were evident. Jesus after all practiced his ministry in a predominantly agricultural society. Matthew 13 is a great example of this: there is a parable of the sower, a parable about weeds, even a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven being like a mustard seed

What is truth, Pilate wondered, while Jesus stood silently before him. Jesus is the truth. When we come to know Jesus as Lord, we move our lives into him. And he simultaneously lives within us. Our new existence could be likened to a distorted Venn Diagram. Distorted, because there should be no realm of our life (circle) outside of Christ. When we start to live a life of truly abiding in Jesus then we can realize that God communicates his truth continually to us through creation.

In planting a garden we can learn about being rooted in Christ.

In tending the garden we can learn about the dangers those weeds in life pose to us.

And in taking apart a failed garden (repenting?) we can learn something too.

To disassemble my garden, I removed the bricks stacked 3 high and re-stacked them by the house. I was doing this so that the groundskeeper could mow over the garden. Utterly destroy it. There was nothing there to be harvested. As I re-stacked the bricks I realized that in my entire gardening endeavor I had spent more time building up the brick walls then actually tending to the garden. When I had built the walls, before I had planted a single seed, I stood back and admired my work. I thought it looked pretty good. I was focused entirely on outward appearance and neglected to do the real work of tending to what was planted underneath the soil.

I wonder how often in my walk with Christ I spend too much time cultivating an outward image without tending to the real work of those roots of faith buried in my heart? I wonder how many other believers spend too much time building up walls that look pretty without concentrating on creating ideal situations for the Spirit to produce fruit?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where have all the blog posts gone?

I want to apologize for the lack of posts lately. There are primarily two reasons why I haven't posted much on here. The first is my new daughter. Little babies take up a lot of free time. I realize this is nothing new for many readers, and something I was warned of but the reality is always unexpected, even when you are warned. I'm not complaining, I love it, but she takes up a lot of my free time. I say "free time" because I try to restrict writing blog posts to outside my "working hours." I don't think part of my calling is to write a blog and it seems there are better things I can do during my working hours than write an entry. The result is that when I do have some free time, I rarely feel like sitting down and typing up the sundry topics that bounces about inside my skull.

The other reason escapes me at the moment. But it was secondary anyways, and in our culture only the winner counts.

I do have a list of blog topics I'm keeping so there will be posts forthcoming. And soon!  Until then...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Every Lord's Day I happen to administer the non-sacrament of preaching. (Calvinists will understand what I mean by that statement). If the content of my sermons happen to interest you--you can find them here:

Coincidentally, you can also find out other information about the life of the church where I currently serve God.