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Archive for February, 2009

This is a portion of a personal letter written by my close friend, future-uber-blogger, current college professor, and soon-to-be missionary to Cambodia–Jeremy Farmer. I’ve removed the context of the letter but really wanted you to read his important comments about the theology of children. Please take some time with these thoughts. Chew them up and feel free to leave comments here about what you thoughts. Christie and I are expecting our fifth child and were thankful for the reminders contained here and lessons we learned from these words.

Stop and think upon these things. It will adjust the way you view your role as a parent.

_______________

…I’m coming to see [that the real] starting point for answering every question in life is biblical theology. From the very first page of Scripture, children are everything. No, I don’t think that’s overstatement. Gen. 1:26-28 makes a very tight connection between (1) the image of God; (2) man’s dominion over the earth; (3) and offspring. I think the most natural reading is that dominion is one of the primary means by which man is to image God (at least in the pre-fall state) and multiplying is one of the primary means for exercising this dominion. [Yes, I’m aware that the image of God involves much more than merely dominion and that offspring is not the only means of exercising dominion, but these are the most prominent items in the text.] After the fall, God immediately promises that the one who introduced sin and death would one day be crushed by the woman’s offspring. Thus, children are everything. The rest of the story of the Bible is about this multiplication of children—this is why genealogy is so important throughout the Bible—it’s the record of the offspring God is choosing to be the serpent crusher.

Interestingly too, from the very beginning, God also promises the woman that bearing children will now be painful—a pattern that continues all the way through the end: the victory over the serpent is certain, but it will be difficult and will not come without a fight (ultimately a fight that will cost the very Son of God His life). Anyway, I digress.

So, as Scripture continues to unfold, children are constantly prominent; in fact, if God wants to bless a person throughout Scripture, one of the, if not the, primary ways He does it is by giving him/her children—just do a simple search of how often “bless” and “child/children/son/sons” occur in the same paragraph. The results are quite amazing. On the flip side, one of the most grievous burdens throughout Scripture is barrenness—the absence of children (quite ironic when you consider the present aversion to children among many Christians today). Not only are children prominent throughout the entire storyline of the Bible, even in the poetic commentary of Scripture (such as Psalms, Proverbs), they come in for much attention. Thus, when the psalmist wants to describe children, out of all the things he could say (they’re expensive, tiring, a hassle, etc.), he calls them a “gift” and a “reward” (Ps. 127) designed to be a balm from the weariness of life’s rat race (vv. 1-3). Psalms 127 and 128 are both “wisdom psalms,” part of whose purpose is to describe “the good life” (i.e., what does life look like when lived in the fear of God?) And both of these psalms highlight the role of wife and children. In other words, when God wants to give a man the good life, he gives him a family (obviously, I’m not saying that barren couples or single men are in any way less favored by God necessarily; just that family is indeed always viewed as highly positive).

So, at this point, we have to stop and ask, “Why in the world would I not want children? What higher blessing can I invent than the one God has been using since the beginning?” I think that 1 Tim 2:15 makes most sense when read against this background—the woman was deceived and thus carries a horrible stigma for her role in leading the human race into sin; nevertheless, she will be saved (in the sense of her name being redeemed from this stigma) through the bearing of children. That is, the woman who invoked the curse is actually the instrument for reversing it, as she bears godly children (“if they continue in faith and good works”). Thus, even after the birth of the promised Offspring, the bearing of children is still in some sense redemptive, obviously not in the same sense that the birth of Christ (and the births leading up to his) were redemptive, but at least in the sense that as godly people multiply, God’s plans for the earth come more and more to fruition. This leads me to my next major reason…the Great Commission.

As we study and prepare for ministry, whether missions, pastoring, or whatever, we are constantly longing for more opportunities to minister; sometimes the Lord brings us people who are ripe for our ministry, eager to learn and do anything we tell them. When this happens, we often get quite excited—“what an opportunity for discipleship!” Yet there will never be a discipleship opportunity where I will have even close to the same kind of influence, input, and control in the life of the disciplee as I will in the lives of my children (and spouse too). For good or ill, my children will be like me (something very exciting and very scary). I influence them constantly, whether I am trying to or not—even my absence will influence them. I will never be able to influence the people in my church to this degree. So, if you want to fulfill the great commission, take Christ seriously and start making your own disciples; we’ve made four so far. Something that has come home to me with almost overwhelming weight over the past year has been the unparalleled opportunity I have for preaching the gospel as a father. Every time I discipline one of my girls, I go through the basics of the gospel—what you did was sin; you have a sinful heart; God loves you anyway; because Jesus died and rose, God will forgive you and give you a new heart if you want him too; you need to talk to God. No exaggeration, I get to preach the gospel up to 15 times daily! That’s hard to find even in the most “unreached” pagan village on earth! And the more I preach it to them, the better I’m learning it—the whole thing of God loving me even though I sin…

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A good liberal arts education is designed to equip leaders for life — we need men and women who understand where we came from, where we should be going, and how we ought to behave on the way. With that as a foundation, graduates of such programs generally excel in making their way through life practically, regardless of what vocation they wind up in. So, when times get really tough — that is not the time to quit training young people so that they will understand the times. Now that the Hive is starting to fall apart, now is not the time for Christian parents to redouble their efforts to make sure their kids are trained as worker bees and nothing else.

Douglas Wilson

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Nearly half of all men and one-third of women have lied about what they have read to try to impress friends or potential partners, a survey suggests.

Just because you read the cover in Barnes and Noble, it’s on your bookshelf, sat down in a cozy chair with it, read the Amazon reviews, or want to read it, doesn’t mean you have read it.

Many Lie Over Books to Impress

HT: Challies

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Maybe you’ve seen DVD or audio university courses available in bookstores, but you knew there were coming online–for free. The iTunes Store has a great assortment of FREE classes and even courses available from dozens of universities (called iTunes U) including Cambridge, Cornell, Dallas Theological Seminary, Oxford, Yale and many others. Some classes are on video, most are audio.

In Michigan, while working one cleaning job, I listened my way through most of J.I. Packer teaching the History and Theology of the Puritans available from the iTunes U store of Reformed Theological Seminary.

There is not credit available going this way, but it is an excellent enrichment tool to help you hone and develop the talents God gifted you.

Today I also found this site Academic Earth which seems to offer all video lectures, but is much more limited so far in its offerings. If you dig a few minutes, you will likely find something of great interest and personal enjoyment.

I especially commend iTunes U. And iTunes is a free download.

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Horatius Bonar, writing the preface to John Gillies’ Accounts of Revival, proposes that men useful to the Holy Spirit for revival have been marked in these nine ways:

1. They were in earnest about the great work on which they had entered: “They lived and labored and preached like men on whose lips the immortality of thousands hung.”

2. They were bent on success: “As warriors, they set their hearts on victory and fought with the believing anticipation of triumph, under the guidance of such a Captain as their head.”

3. They were men of faith: “They knew that in due season they should reap, if they fainted not.”

4. They were men of labor: “Their lives are the annals of incessant, unwearied toil of body and soul; time, strength, substance, health, all they were and possessed they freely offered to the Lord, keeping back nothing, grudging nothing.”

5. They were men of patience: “Day after day they pursued what, to the eye of the world, appeared a thankless and fruitless round of toil.”

6. They were men of boldness and determination: “Timidity shuts many a door of usefulness and loses many a precious opportunity; it wins no friends, while it strengthens every enemy. Nothing is lost by boldness, nor gained by fear.”

7. They were men of prayer: “They were much alone with God, replenishing their own souls out of the living fountain, that out of them might flow to their people rivers of living water.”

8. They were men whose doctrines were of the most decided kind: “Their preaching seems to have been of the most masculine and fearless kind, falling on the audience with tremendous power. It was not vehement, it was not fierce, it was not noisy; it was far too solemn to be such; it was massive, weighty, cutting, piercing, sharper than a two-edged sword.”

9. They were men of solemn deportment and deep spirituality of soul: “No frivolity, no flippancy . . . . The world could not point to them as being but slightly dissimilar from itself.”

HT: Ortlund

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The only way in which a state-controlled school can be kept even relatively healthy is through the absolutely free possibility of competition by private schools and church schools; if it once becomes monopolistic, it is the most effective engine of tyranny and intellectual stagnation that has yet been devised period.

J. Gresham Machen (from Desiring God blog)

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AutoFillPDF-Labels

Just found a cool program that takes so much of the hassle out of printing a page of labels.

AutoFillPDF-Labels

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Worldly things are good in themselves and given to sweeten our passage to Heaven.

Worldly Saints, p. 59 by Puritan Richard Sibbes

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Capitalism works. Here is why we have our current housing crisis.

From television specials to newspaper editorials, the media are pushing the idea that current economic problems were caused by the market and that only the government can rescue us.

What was lacking in the housing market, they say, was government regulation of the market’s “greed.” That makes great moral melodrama, but it turns the facts upside down.

It was precisely government intervention which turned a thriving industry into a basket case.

Read the rest by Thomas Sowell: Upside Down Economics

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Thoughtful Presidential read with a historical ending.

Every aspect of this man’s presidency could be seen as nothing short of disastrous. Things were good for most, until he showed up. Things were generally calm and peaceful. Most Americans were comfortable, safe and feasting at the table of a robust economy. By the time he left, we were war-torn, uncertain and trying to make sense of an economy in shambles. Our roads and bridges were in horrible shape and our country’s infrastructure was in complete disrepair. Our currency had been severely de-valued, we were in crippling debt and our standing in the world was damaged.

It is a widely held belief that the election of Barack Obama was a direct result of this man’s controversial policies, his stubbornness and unwillingness to compromise his “principles”. In fact, some say without this man, Mr. Obama would never have even had a chance at the presidency at all.

I get strange looks, on occasion, for saying that I admire this man…

Read more here: President’s Day

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Read and Do

20 Qualities of Good Listeners

HT: Challies

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Welcome to the USSA

Here is a visual showing where that $800 billion is going…supposedly.

Taking Apart the Stimulus Plan

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Whoever passes by what is over his head condemns his head to its present low altitude; for nothing can elevate a mind except what is over its head; and that elevation is not accomplished by capillary attraction, but only by the hard work of climbing up ropes, with sore hands and aching muscles.

Mortimer Ader, from his essay, “Invitation to the Pain of Learning” (1941)

HT: Between Two Worlds

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In October of 1956, Pan Am Flight 943 ditched in the Pacific Ocean. All were saved. Here is the story with all original video.

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Harmonicas don’t get a lot of play on the stage of Carnegie Hall. But when Buddy Green got a chance to go on stage, he made the most of it. This is cool.

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I really like wordles (a sort of word cloud). They show and then emphasize words that are repeated. Here is one of Abraham Lincoln’s February 1861 speech in Independence Hall, Philadelphia. I wonder how it would compare to a modern President’s emphasis.

lincoln-wordle

Here is the original link.

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This might be a different story if there were an epidemic of children chewing books, but, this is full-on inanity. Here is a story of what the government is doing to outlaw the sale of children’s books published before 1985.

I’m subversive enough to leave the books lying around where kids might ‘accidentally’ read them.

The New Book Banning

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It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.

Rene Descartes

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lincoln-flag

Consider Lincoln’s most important speech:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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This is a no-brainer list for some of you, but I need to digest it some more. I was on the wrong track to make hermanuetics a mandatory class in college.

Here is George Grant’s list of basic principles.

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Cause for Alarm

If you find yourself loving any pleasure better than praying, any book better than the Bible, any house better than the house of God, any table better than the Lord’s table, any person better than Christ, any indulgence better than the hope of heaven–take alarm!

Thomas Guthrie (quoted in Overcoming the World by Beeke, p. 37)

HT: Justin Childers

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It’s been almost five years since Chrissy and I were in London. Here are some beautiful pictures of the city from The Big Picture.

london-at-night1

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Don’t Forget

“A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about. Ours is a rich legacy. Rich but lost.”

Woodrow Wilson

HT: GG

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On Heroism

To be a true hero you must be a true Christian. To sum up then, heroism is largely based on two qualities- truthfulness and unselfishness, a readiness to put one’s own pleasures aside for that of others, to be courteous to all, kind to those younger than yourself, helpful to your parents, even if helpfulness demands some slight sacrifice of your own pleasure. . .you must remember that these two qualities are the signs of Christian heroism.

G.A. Henty

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God put the wind to our back and gave us a prime spot to tell our community about our new school. Fox News 17/Nashville called today and then told this story at the 10 p.m. time slot tonight. The story is first about Pioneer and then about JECA.

Big Changes for Pioneer Christian Academy

Thank YOU for continuing to pray for our continued success.

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logo_blkGod did something amazing for JECA in January 2009–He gave us a school building! And it was all obviously Him at work.

In the very best spot on the north side of Nashville we could have imagined, God has given us 25 acres of land in a quiet country setting and a 33,000 square-foot school building full of desks, boards, supplies, a cafeteria, equipment, library, gymnasium, dozens of classrooms, and more!

We are beyond thrilled to have a place to call home–a place of brick and stone and carpet where we can bring this dream to a reality. It is an amazing story and you can read the whole thing here on our website. It was a furious and hectic month, but what a satisfying experience it has been to rest fully upon God and see Him show Himself big, true and good.

I hope that you will take the time to read the whole story, notice the ways listed that you can pray for us, and be encouraged in the God who can be trusted to the end. Also, we welcome you to forward this story to other friends who will delight in His provision with us.

…and here is a bird’s eye picture of the school.

This is the very tip of what God has in store for us all,

Ryan

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