Archive for February, 2011

Various and sundry irrational parenting assumptions that came to the fore this Saturday morning:
  • Having an extended family time on Friday evening (bowling, dinner-in which Applebys took 45+ minutes to cook 3 hamburgers and 2 plates of what looked like boxed Mac-n-cheese, and playing at McD’s play place) would result in the children sleeping in. 0615 dispelled this fantasy.
  • Saturday mornings are meant to be eased into. Quietly. Preferably after the first cup of coffee is completed.
  • Saturday mornings are to be savored in quiet contemplation of doctrinal theory and the glories of Christ’s character, rather than frantically filling cups with chocolate milk, stirring pancake batter, and then refilling cups with juice while not letting the pancakes burn, all the while settling three squabbles and two arguments.
  • Bedroom doors that are closed after previously described breakfast is consumed, closed I say to contain the noise and mayhem, ought to remain closed for an indefinite period of time. At least 10 minutes perhaps.
  • Saturday mornings should be spent in nourishing or entertaining reading. The Fox and the Hound is not high on my lists of those categories.
  • Sanctification involves spiritual activities such as reading Scripture, meditating, and prayer; and not dying to self for humans who are not yet 42″ tall.

I have a long way to go till I reach rational thought this day. But tomorrow is Sunday and that will make everything and everyone better. Right?


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back to the future

Jill was able to borrow a  Junior Bridesmaid and flower girl dress that a cousin and niece wore in our wedding. She wanted to see if we could get pictures with Emma and Aubrey wearing them, which I thought was a pretty cool idea. As it happens, they fit the girls perfectly.

I pray that they will be blessed with marriages as wonderful as ours.

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iron sharpening iron

Iron Sharpening Iron is an invaluable tool for pastors, Sunday School teachers, and others leading various Bible study efforts among Christians. Orlando Saer’s small manual is packed full of helpful and challenging thoughts and advice.
His description of leaders may be worth investing in this book by itself. Saer provides a perspective that I have never seen.  Too often small group Bible studies are led by those who are popular, talkative, or know the Bible well. But when thinking of the qualifications for this responsibility, says Saer  “skills are not at the top of the list. They are, in fact, way down at the bottom. … scary as it may seem, it is an all-around godliness of life…that is to mark a Christian leader.”  His emphasis on the shepherding role of a small group leader should serve as a needed deterrent to those who look at this as a one-hour-a-week box to be checked off.

Saer provides numerous helpful thoughts, particularly in areas you may not have considered before. For instance, he recommends setting a limited time frame for a small group study. It may seem wonderfully heart-warming to agree to engage in a Bible study with friends, but then life butts in, and suddenly it just seems daunting to have another weekly commitment on the schedule. How much better to agree to study a topic for, say, 6-8 weeks. Then stop and consider starting another study.

He also gives very good advice about refreshing or even winding down those studies that have run out of steam.

The book is extremely well laid out. Text boxes highlight specific details and pieces of advice. Saer’s explanations obviously arise from much personal experience and careful thought, and the book is arranged in such a way as to be a valuable resource long after it is first read.

The chapter titles show how thoroughly ISI covers this topic.

  • Ch 1 – Why small group Bible study?
  • Ch 2 – Preparing for leadership
  • Ch 3 – Managing the Group
  • Ch 4 – Mapping out the study
  • Ch 5 – Leading the meeting
  • Ch 6 – Prayer, care, and personal nurture

I highly recommend this book, especially as a companion to Dig Deeper: tools for understanding God’s word.

The following is a disclaimer required by some agency of our national government intruding once again in areas that are wholly irrelevant to their biblical and common-sense and constitutional responsibilities:

This book was received from Christian Focus Publications, Ltd. as a review copy. CFP does not require a positive review; all opinions are solely those of the reviewer.



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What about our relationships with other believers? Specifically, what about your spouse? Jesus famously said that in heaven there is no marriage nor giving of marriage. (Mtt.22.30) No doubt for some beleaguered souls this will be a great relief, but for those of us who treasure our spouses and that marital communion, this is a bit of downer. Or is it?

Let’s think about the unique relationship of earthly spouses (at least ideally). Your spouse is the one who has chosen you, the one who loves you in spite of your flaws; he one who would choose you again anyway, the one with whom you build a life, ministries, memories of all kinds. Will this end? Will you be oblivious to your spouse?
● Will you know your spouse? YES

● Will you remember that he/she was your spouse? YES. Just because you are in eternity does not mean you forget this life. Your perspective of the events of this life will be transformed, but you won’t have a memory wipe after the Bema of Christ.

● Will your relationship change toward your spouse? YES. It will be better than you ever experienced here or could ever imagine.

● Will your spouse mean nothing more to you than anyone else? NO. Remember even Christ had followers who were closer to Him than others. We will still be finite in eternity and will not be capable of having the same kind of intimate relationship with everyone that an infinite being like God can. So we will have close friends without cliques.

I don’t fully understand this. I have to accept this by faith. But I am looking forward to knowing Jill better than ever and loving her more and more throughout eternal ages.

Finally, what about those Christians we frankly just don’t like? Let’s face it, we all know Christians that are just obnoxious, irritating, bothersome, or in a whole host of ways just plain unlikeable. Let’s examine a few different facets of this truth to understand it.

That obnoxious Christian will be redeemed! He’s going to be changed. … and so will you. You  will be redeemed in our likes, dislikes, emotions, and thoughts. You won’t keep attributing poor motives to that person you just don’t like. You will find them more likeable because you will be different.

You will also be rejoicing together with them in a joint delight. Let’s compare this to being at a sporting event for your favorite team. I love the Browns (pray for me-and them), and I have attended a few games. I can tell you from first hand experience that there are whole hosts of Browns fans that I would cross the street to avoid under normal circumstances. But at the game when (if) the Browns score, I’m high-fiving them and whooping and hollering like we had grown up together. How much greater will be our union in Christ?

This union and harmony and delight in one another will allow for a community of enthusiastic, constant, corporate worship in all its varied expressions that we only occasionally glimpse here and now. Remember that we assign too narrow a definition to the idea of worship. All of life is worship. Playing with your kids can be worship. A heart-to-heart conversation with a friend can be worship. Every part of our relationships in eternity will serve to make God look good, and that’s worship.


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What about our relationship with God? How will this be different? John now builds to the climax of his vision as he explains “They shall see His face, and His name shall be written on their foreheads.” (Rev 22.4)

This is another verse that has lost its breathtaking impact through years of familiarity. Recall the consistent teaching of Scripture since man’s fall: sinful man was not permitted to see God’s face. God went so far as to command the Jews not to attempt to make an image depicting Him. Moses could not see His face and live. Jesus said that no man has seen the Father. God had to be veiled in flesh in order to be seen and even then Jesus’ disciples were struck to babbling incoherence when God allowed them a slightly greater glimpse of His glory.

But in eternity we will see His face, gazing upon His beauty (Ps 27.4) and in His light seeing light. (Ps 36.9)

Many believers have misunderstood 1 Corinthians 13.12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” I want to explain what this verse is not saying and then what it does tell us.

This is not saying that we will know God fully and completely. This is not a knowledge of quantity. We are finite and will remain finite. There are many attributes of God that we will only possess in a limited sense. For instance, God is life. We have life, but He is eternal and we are only everlasting. He had no beginning while we do. In the same way, only God is infinite in knowledge, wisdom and understanding.

So if the verse is not saying we will know everything about God, what does it mean? First, it is a knowledge of proximity; we will go from faith to sight. (By the way, I do not think that this will remove faith from our relationship in eternity. Rather we will have perfect faith without being tainted by misgivings.)

Secondly, 1 Cor 13.12 is speaking of a knowledge of relationship. There is a difference between your ‘knowledge’ of, say, a historical person and your spouse. There are things about Jill’s likes and dislikes that I ‘know’ even though we have never discussed it. I just know her well enough to know. Because we will see Him face to face our relationship-knowledge will grow and deepen and become richer and more intimate and personal for all eternity.

Third, this describes a  quality of knowledge. There will be an openness to our relationship that we have never known before. How much of your relationship-on your part-is closed off by sin? There will be a desire for God that we have only dimly known before. And there is a profoundly intense intimacy reserved for us in eternity. Have you ever meditated on Revelation 2.17 where we are told that each believer will have a name known only to the believer and God. We often give loved ones nicknames that encapsulate your intimate relationship with that person. Imagine this: God has a nickname just for you!

Finally, It is a knowledge that grows. I love this. We will remain finite and subject therefore to change. So for all eternity we will have opportunity to learn more and more of One infinite in every way. We all meet some people who seem to have no depth, and after a 15 minute ‘conversation’ you figure you’ve explored everything there is to know. Imagine getting to know an infinite being and having all eternity to get to know them.

Why would we ever think that an intimate relationship with an infinite being would ever be boring?

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God has made us social creatures. We are made to have relationships with Him and with others. Will that change in eternity? To hear some Christians talk, we will be so enamored with God that nothing else, no one else will matter. Is that true? Will we be like slack-jawed junior highers gazing at God to the exclusion of everyone else?

NOOOO!!!! We are created for multiple relationships. We learn of God through our relationships with others. So what will we be like socially? What will change in our relationships?

Once again we are reminded that there will be no sin and no sinners. (Rev 21) Everyone there has been forgiven. No one there desires sin any longer. Everyone there is being fully sanctified and is being further sanctified.

For the first time there will be a true one world government and this government will actually work! But this government will not be a governance of one. God delegates responsibilities to mankind and that will continue.
(Is 60.10-12) “Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you. [11] Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. [12] For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.”
Rev 21.24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”

So there will be nations and cities and communities, all dwelling together in unity and diversity in perfect harmony. Thabiti Anyabwile said that ”the Church is multi-ethnic, but mono-cultural” (2010 T4G), and this will realize its fulfilment in eternity. The insipid Christmas Coke commercials will come to pass.

Every relationship will be fundamentally changed for the better. No need to wonder about ulterior motives. No distrust of one another. No need for Reagan’s quip about the most dangerous words in the English language, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Imagine a world where each person truly desires the best for others and helps them achieve their God-given purposes.

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When I met Jill, I was impressed with her competitiveness and interest in sports. Since she grew up near St. Louis and I in northern Ohio, we had to divide allegiances to foist upon our children. I chose the Browns – and have been apologizing to the kidlets ever since – and Jill chose the Cardinals.

Every current Cardinals fan has a deep appreciation for Albert Pujols, so when this book became available for review, Jill jumped at the chance to read it and detail her thoughts.

Pujols:  More than the Game by Scott Lamb & Tim Ellsworth

229 pages

“Hero” as defined by Meriam-Webster online includes the following:

1 a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b : an illustrious warrior c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d : one who shows great courage

2 a : the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work b : the central figure in an event, period, or movement 4 : an object of extreme admiration and devotion

Outside of definition #3 (hero as in submarine sandwich), you can pretty much take your pick of the rest in defining Albert Pujols.

A household term in my family (avid Cardinal fans) since he broke onto the scene in St. Louis Cardinal red in 2001, he epitomizes what young and old alike search for (or should) in a role model.  The statistics he has amassed, the accolades that have showered down on him, his reputation precedes him…and for good reason.  No one in the history of the game has put up the same numbers across the board that #5 has.

So what makes him “tick,” for lack of a better term?

His family’s influence on his life (for good and bad) is still obvious today, with his Grandmother América’s strong sense of morality and diligent work ethic at the obvious-to-the-casual-observer’s forefront.  The vivid memories of his father’s drunken stupors serve as constant reminders of the evils of alcohol and its affects on a person and those that love him.

But his personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is his true constant.  It was obvious throughout the biography that while conflicts howl and slumps come and go, Albert’s foundation rests solidly on not who he is or what he has done, but Who has given him these abilities and what the responsibilities and privileges are that come with that gift.

While not perfect, his character reflects one of “true grit.”  Good grief, the man was taken 402nd in the ’99 draft…to most players demoralizing; to Albert, simply an opportunity to grow his game and his ability to adjust.  His burst through the farm system left heads spinning, but even there he was looking for ways not only to develop his talent, but to deepen his testimony and relationship with his Savior.

Nearly every chapter in More than the Game inundates the reader with his seasonal statistics.  Typical for sports biographies.  He expects more of himself than he accomplished the last game or the previous season.  He takes his role as clubhouse leader seriously – loving when necessary, confronting when he must.

Two short sentences follow each other from the close of one chapter to the intro to the next.  They pretty much succinctly summarize the rest of the story:  “Pujols didn’t yet realize that ‘special’ was just beginning.  ‘Every time I go out there, it’s to glorify my God.’” (p. 104-105)

The following is a necessary disclaimer required by some agency of our national government intruding once again in areas that are wholly irrelevant to their biblical and common-sense and constitutional responsibilities:

This book was received from Thomas Nelson, Inc. as a review copy through their books-for-bloggers program. TN,I does not require a positive review; all opinions are solely those of the reviewer.

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