Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Special Rare Experience in Life

Audrea and the girls have spent the last 2 weeks in central Wisconsin with Grandma and Grandpa. They've had an incredible time and I'll post a blog photo essay soon... but today I want to share with you an amazing experience.

I came over to celebrate Memorial Day weekend with them and Audrea's brother and sister-in-law. We've had a wonderful time so far... So when we pulled in to the driveway after church today, we saw something furry on the ground. After we saw what it was, we grabbed a smoked almond and tossed it to it. The little thing was so tame and basically unafraid. After I had spent some time snapping some pictures, I crawled under the truck to watch it some more. Audrea snuck up on me and caught this funny picture of me.

What was amazing then was that this little something ran right up to me. And then allowed me to hold it.

If you look a little closer, you may be able to see what it is. It's something very small and cute:

Have you figured out yet what it is?

Yep. It's a baby squirrel! The little guy was so gentle and clearly without his mother and unexperienced with humans. I sat there for several minutes letting him eat the almond and explore.

Here is my favorite picture I took of him:

And finally, click here to see a short video.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Trials for our joy

Audrea and I follow the blogs of some old friends from high school. Their latest posts have really been amazing testimonies to the goodness of God and they encouraged me so much! They have gone through the mire and mud of some really difficult trials in the last year and a half. I mean, really hard trials. It’s so easy to look at the trials that we go through and in the middle of them think, “God, I don’t know what kind of lunatic you are to think that this is not more than I can handle!” And then we come through the trial and begin to see some lightening of the burdens and then have moments like this when we read about others who have come through some recent trials. It’s then that I fall on my face and repent for such thoughts of unbelief that I had. God’s grace is always sufficient and always good and always brings us what we need most. Even though it seems to really suck in the middle of it.

For instance, I remember our move to Minneapolis in 2004 and how much of a trial it was at the time (things like kids swallowing innumerable pills thinking they were candy while mom tries to call dad to get help but dad can’t hear his cell phone, $7000 in credit card fraud, appliances not working, etc., etc.). And then we met our dear friend, Christian, who was here in the US seeking temporary asylum from Liberia. He had escaped the country after getting separated from his wife and not being able to find her. His worst fears were that she was dead just like his son who was shot right in front of him just after the rebels raped his wife and daughter. I met this man, heard his story, and fell on my face thinking what a wretch I am to complain. This is the same man who last night told me that he has determined that no matter whether good things or bad things happen to him, he will praise the Lord. Every time he prays, I hear him say, “Lord, we just wanna thank you for every condition that we find ourselves in.” This dear brother is recovering from prostate cancer surgery and from his attitude that radiates from him, you wouldn’t know it. By the way, his wife wasn’t dead. In fact, a year ago, our little church had the blessing of helping them be reunited here in the US.

The reality is as my friend observed on his blog: God is directing all circumstances for each of us in just the way He planned for His glory and our joy. It’s check-point moments like this in life that remind me that the joy He wants me to have does mean happiness, happiness in Him because nothing else will ever bring that.

(After I posted this, I found it "coincidental" that the verse of the day from the ESV website [which I just added to my blog feeds on the right] was 1 Peter 4:12-13!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

An Age of Accountability?

I've always struggled with the notion of an "Age of Accountability." Biblically I've had a hard time trying to find solid defenses for it. But a thought occurred to me the other day that maybe here is a "behavioral psychological"argument:

So we had a friend of mine from Liberia and his wife over for dinner the other night. After dinner we were sitting out in the living room talking about exciting ministry plans we have for this summer and in comes running a buck-naked Elayna holding her jammies and a pull-up ready for some help getting ready for bed. It occurred to me that though children are born with a sin-nature, fully depraved, they don't come with that built-in sense of shame that Adam and Eve experienced first after the Fall.

True, Elayna, recognizes when she has done something wrong that displeases Daddy or Mommy, but the whole element of awareness of my sinful standing before God and as a sin-scarred human vulnerable in front of others doesn't seem to be innate at the beginning... So here's the question: Since this seems to have an onset gradually and at different ages for different people (especially for the mentally disabled), is this evidence (human-behaviorally) for a so-called Age of Accountability? What do you think?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I Found What I Was Missing!

Psalm 88:2 Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!

We all go through dry spells in the practice of our spiritual disciplines--times when it seems like we're going through the motions and God has not inclined His ear to our cry. It has felt like that recently for me. I was reading and meditating on Scripture, praying, worshipping God throughout my day, but something seemed to be missing.

This morning, I'm all alone in my house (all my girls have been gone for a week at Grandma's). I put a pot of coffee on and thought, "I'm going to play the piano while it brews." I pulled out some chord charts: Blessed Be Your Name, Take My Life (Holiness), Come Thou Fount, and Refiner's Fire were all in the bench in a stack. I pulled those out and went through them each several times.

It was during the playing that I realized the spiritual connection I was missing was music; but not just listening to music (I've been doing way more than normal in that area!). It was making music, singing out to God, and letting myself get caught up in the playing and the singing and the praying that all happens at the same time. There's something that happens when I'm playing that most of my anti-mystical friends would label "mystical experientialism." Well, whatever you call it (I would call it leanings toward pietism), that's what was missing for me.

Since I tend towards intellectualism at times, when I'm studying the Word I have to discipline myself to not get wrapped up in the technical issues, but to let the Holy Spirit use the exegesis of the Word to change me; but for me that doesn't always happen. But when I do what I did this morning--read from the Sermon on the Mount and then worshipped through playing the piano--I find that the Holy Spirit is able to work on my heart at a much deeper level for some reason. Confession, repentance, adoration, thanksgiving, and all of the affections in me get all wrapped up in a beautiful tangled web that draws me so much closer to God.

My prayer for you today is that you will be able to foster a new depth of intimacy with the God of the Universe whose love for you goes deeper than anything you can imagine!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Difficult Days

The last week or so I have been pretty discouraged about many different things. I began wondering (not to the point of worrying, but the thought occurred to me a couple times...) whether in all of the situations in my life right now whether I may not even get accepted to Southern.
Today, I got the following voice mail that shed more light on the situations: Voice Mail

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Are you up to the challenge?

Yesterday a dear friend challenged me to follow him and another close friend in a journey of reading through the Greek New Testament over the next year. I'm up for it and have decided to help keep me accountable I am starting another blog for those who join me in the challenge.

Over the last few weeks I have been meditating on 1 John and when I finished the reading this morning I summarized a few comments about the passage that I thought would be beneficial to share:

John starts the paragraph off with a foundational proposition which seems to be the basis for the propositions that follow: God is light and in him is no darkness at all. Light, I think, is interchangeable with truth, life, and righteousness here. Darkness is the polar opposite. So God is consumed with, defined by, consists of all truth and no deception, all life and no death, all things holy and nothing unclean.

Then John brings in the first proposition that is built off the first but seems to be connected with that of verse 3. John says that if we have fellowship with God but walk in darkness, we are liars and the truth is not in us. This is predicated on the previous truth: God is truth-light and in Him there can be no darkness. So if we have this fellowship with the Son and the Father as verse 3 says, and there can be no darkness in God, then

  1. Fellowship is more than just an identification with God, it is a participation with, a unifying with, a joining to.
  2. We cannot be in darkness--falsity or unrighteousness--and actually be having this active fellowship with God. The two--light and darkness--cannot exist together.

John then brings a positive contrast to walking in the darkness: If we are walking in the light just as He is in the light, we have 2 things:

  1. We have fellowship with one another. Our participation with, unification with, joining together with each other is based on our relationship with God. In other words, our fellowship with each other is predicated on our fellowship with God. I cannot say I am with you if I am not with God. And the only way to maintain that with-ness, i.e. fellowship, is formulated in verse 9.
  2. Jesus blood cleanes us from all darkness--sin. Our fellowship with God is founded upon a pure and holy life--something I sure don't have a grip on. However, Jesus does. His blood atoned for my unrighteousnes. But also His blood gave me His righteousness. And it is in this that I can stand and say that I am forgiven.

John then moves on to explain that his purpose in writing like this is to help us grow out of walking in sin. He does not suggest that we will stop sinning. In fact he points out that when we do sin, we have our attorney at our side who pleads on our behalf, who stands in in our place: Jesus Christ--the only righteous one.

John makes it very clear, though, in the following verses that the fellowship is maintained by living in the light and he defines what that is: it is living in a way that is loving toward each other and not causing each other to stumble in the darkness.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Wrath of God and Your Marriage

Listen to this... my comments will follow soon.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Wait on the Lord

It's been a while since I updated everyone on our life. That really doesn't matter because there really hasn't been any change. Our house still hasn't sold and we're still waiting. Our original plan was that we would be moving this weekend, but now this weekend has come and gone. We had our second open house today and while a few people did come through, none were potential buyers. The competition is getting extremely intense around us and we may have to lower our price which means going in the red for us after all the moving expenses and home purchasing is through. Please pray that we'll have wisdom on this and that God will grant us the patience to wait on Him.

On a more positive note, we worshipped this morning at Eden Baptist in Savage, MN and then my exegesis teacher, Dr. Jon Pratt, and his wife had us over for dinner. They're family was kind to us and all of our girls loved their daughters right off the bat! Of course while my princess Sabrina wanted to watch "The Swan Princess", Savannah was torn with whether to play with Josh's Yoda Light Sabre or to watch the movie. Who needs a boy when you've got a girl like that!?

This week doesn't hold a lot in store for us. The big deal will be going to Central's graduation on Saturday and seeing my friends graduate. And then of course, Sunday--the big day for moms!