Archive for May, 2006

karupcloseChrissy and I have not been planning on addressing the issue of salvation with our sons in their early years.  When a child is taught to be obedient, it would be easy for a parent to talk his child into the act of saying a prayer of salvation before the child has a heart tender to his need or before his ability to understand the issues.

On Memorial Day afternoon, while Karsten and Haddon and I were heading home from the hardware store, Kartsen asked, “Can we talk about God?”  I remember hesitating because I was listening to the first Tiger’s game I had listened to since high school.  But I turned the radio off and just started talking…started listing attributes of God:  God is glorious and splendid, radiant, merciful, omnipotent, wise, loving, gracious, magnanimous, holy, omnipresent, greatest of Captains, etc.  It might seem like a hard list for a little boy who just turned 4 this month, but 1) we have high expectations of him and don’t try to dumb him down, 2) Karsten is really good about asking us to explain when he doesn’t understand, 3) he might not have understood every term, but he did get the gist that I was very impressed with God and thought Him incomparable above all others and 4) I don’t think I actually used the word magnanimous, but I did think it.

When I finished my long list, it was quiet in the car.  He may have been letting it sink in.  After a little while I asked him if he had any questions.  He started asking questions about hell and what was there.  He asked how he could keep from going there.  I tried to answer everything factually and not to bring my “you need to do this” tone into the conversation.  There were a lot of long, quiet pauses between topics before I finally heard these words from the back seat…”I want God to save me from my sin.”

When we got home, there was one of the most tender and precious little prayers put forth from his little mouth as he and I and were on our knees in his bedroom.  I think God probably saved Karsten in the car, and I am so thankful to Him for fulfilling His promises of preserving faith as my son became my brother.

God help Chrissy and me to lead Karsten gently and in faith toward his eventual meeting with his God.

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Never known to coddle words, Theodore Roosevelt had this to say about those who called themselves Irish-American or African-American or similar descriptors…

"A hyphenated American in not an American at all…  There is no such thing as a hyphenated American.  The only man who is a good American is a man who is an American and nothing else."

Read the context of TR's speech.

Here's what John Wayne had to say on the same topic (authority that he is).

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Yesterday and today "I" am putting a new roof on the Boomershine homestead (built 1870).  Some of the shakes up there may have been there since the very beginning (or so it appears).  We are starting to cover everything back up again, and I didn't find one thing in the rafters that could be sold on eBay.  Ergh.

For a very limited time (perhaps until Friday afternoon), you can purchase single shakes from the soon-to-be (God-willing) former Boomershine Homestead for a mere $15 per shake.  This price includes Priority shipping, but must be taken advantage of before the disposal company comes for their 10 yard dumpster.  Boomershine Shakes make great Christian History Awareness presents.

Late last night I did do some work on my Resources page.  It's probably going to be a work in progress for some time, but I did add quite a bit yesterday.  Check it out, and I would be happy to take recommendations for things to add (I don't need any ideas about boring sites though).

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Yesterday, I didn't hear the snap, but I felt it.  Fortunately it wasn't me.  Unfortunately, it was Karsten (4 years old).  In a hurried moment, when he was very sad and wanted to be carried, I picked him up by his little hands.  I've done it lots of times before, but this time I felt something happen in his little left hand.

For nearly the next 10 minutes, he was unconsoleable.  I felt horrible and made preparations for someone to do my duties at the evening service so we could go to the ER.  Karsten didn't move his left hand.  He held it tenderly with his right hand.  He made screams at the slightest jostle that were terrribly out his character, and we knew something was really wrong.

While everyone was loaded in the car, and I was carrying him chair-style out to the car (to his much grief), we stopped to pray on the porch.  I quickly prayed that he would be comfortable again soon and that God would show him grace.

We turned and went to car where I carefully put Karsten into Chrissy's lap…at which point he reached out and gave Chrissy a hug with both hands.  From that point on, he admits that it stopped hurting, and he started using it again.  At the end of the church service, I found him in his classroom crawling.

There are a lot of things this could have been.  It could have been an overreaction on my part, but generally I am too low key.  But if it were a healing directly and instantly from God, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my greatfulness at His greatness and my amazement at His provisions.

 "I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.  Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he…"  Psalm 135:5-6a

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I wish I had time today to make a better review, but I just finished this biography of William Bradford that I just loved. 

The last two Aprils I have led the senior trip through Massachusetts and stopped at Plimoth Planation.  It's my favorite stop in the whole two weeks.  Before I got home this year, I ordered this book to be waiting for me.  I finished it yesterday, and it stirred me and helped me understand Bradford much more fully.

I commend it to the history buffs in the readership, but especially to those men in full-time ministry.  Bradford was a wise and careful and godly man.  This book is intended for teen readers (it's part of a Young Readers Series), but adults will not be offended by it.  While it doesn't probe Bradford's theology very far, it gives a fantastic beginning to end history of the man, and it had all the essentials that I was needing.

I'm thankful that I found it.  Here's where you can find it.

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Quote of the Day

Henry Smith on the rewards of humility…

"As Christ ceased not to be a King because He was like a servant, nor to be a lion because He was like a lamb, nor to be God because He was made man, nor to be a judge because He was judged; so a man doth not lose his honour by humility, but he shall be honoured for his humility."

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Pastor Dave Mallinak of Ogden, UT runs one of the only fundamental, classical schools in the world (we would love to know of more).  He runs the Sharper Irony blog and has this to say about the topic of rhetoric in a recent post (copied with permission)…

Is Rhetoric Christian?

Should Christians be studying rhetoric? After all, most of the books about rhetoric were written by idolatrous pagans, like Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintillian. Why would we study such men? Shouldn’t we just be reading our Bibles? Is the Bible not good enough for us?

This is a legitimate question, and deserves consideration. If we can’t give a biblical defense, then we shouldn’t do it, no matter how scholarly or noble it sounds. We live by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth, and we must submit to the authority of Scripture in everything. So, we should be asking whether we should study rhetoric or not. Should we follow the advice of pagans in our approach to discourse? Is rhetoric Christian or pagan?

First, we should note that not all rhetoric is Christian. In fact, much of the rhetoric of our day is very pagan. That includes much of the rhetoric of modern Christianity, which amounts to nothing more than relativistic drivel. The modern Christian should stop and listen to himself talk from time to time. Does he find himself saying things like, “who’s to say that we are right and they are wrong?” Does he chafe at the “absolutism” of Christianity? Does he assume neutrality when he deals with the world and seeks to persuade men of Christ? Then he has joined up with the pagans in his use of rhetoric.

Rhetoric, you see, is inescapable. All men use rhetoric. The question is not whether you should use rhetoric, but rather, how should we use rhetoric. Should it be Christian or should it be pagan? But we have no choice about whether or not we will use rhetoric. Imagine someone arguing that we shouldn’t use rhetoric. How would he explain it? How would he persuade us? Would he avoid using rhetoric in his arguments? All men use rhetoric. The rhetoric we use must be Christian. And in order for our rhetoric to be Christian, in order to speak like Christians, we must first think like Christians, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.

When did rhetoric begin? Did Aristotle or Socrates or the Sophists “invent” rhetoric? They discovered it, they observed it, they structured it, they organized it, but they did not invent it. Rhetoric has been around since the foundations of the world. Adam spoke artfully, even poetically, when God brought him Eve and he said, This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.

But Adam did not invent Rhetoric either. God created the world with rhetoric. We see the power of words in the story of Creation. God spoke, and it was done. He spoke the universe into existence. He spoke and the flowers appeared. He spoke and the mountains were fashioned. He spoke and birds flew, fish swam, and stars sang. But Creation is not the beginning of rhetoric.

Before God formed the earth, in eternity past, the Godhead took counsel together. Before time began, God decreed all that would happen, all that would be. Long before Creation, there was rhetoric.

Is rhetoric Christian? God used rhetoric, uses rhetoric, and demands that we his people use rhetoric. The gift of speech must not be taken lightly. God gave us speech, and promised to empower it. The preaching of the cross is the power of God to us that are saved. It pleases God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. How shall they hear without a preacher? God manifests his word through preaching. And God sends us to persuade men.

For rhetoric to be Christian, Christians must reclaim it. It is theirs by divine right. Christians must study it, learn it, subdue it and have dominion over it, to the glory of God. When we learn to submit our words to the Lord, and when we seek his glory in everything, including our speech, then rhetoric can once again be truly Christian. Rhetoric must be to the glory of God.

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It's been raining for almost two weeks here in my part of the world and the grass has been getting deep enough to lose a toddler in it. I don't own a lawn mower — even though my lot is the length of a city block (and since our house is so small, there's a lot to mow).

It's kind of overkill, but I borrow my father-in-law's riding, zero radius, 60" deck, contraption au extraordinaire. It's burly and it gets the job done. Either way, I'm not interested in sitting in the rain to mow the lawn, and everyone's lawn looks like mine right now (except those who mowed on the one non-rainy Sunday…tsk…tsk). But it's a hassle getting the borrowed mower over here…so when the neighbor boy stopped me as I was getting out of the truck yesterday and asked to mow my lawn…I just smiled. I am a sucker for capitalistic ventures [my eBay company is called Capitalism Works] especially by the kids. I always drink their rotten lemonade at garage sales.

At the same time that I love the offer, I don't jump on an offer until I let it process in my brain, so when he offered to do the whole thing for $10, I just took my 3/4 of a second to let that process how great a deal I was getting when he lowered his price to a "well, maybe $5." I was stunned and told him it was a deal. I walked him through the lot and told him not to knock down my sweet-smelling lilacs, my limp and awkward rose bush (which has yet to bloom in the three years I've lived here, or my whatever-it-is bush that should be flowering already but isn't but it looks really awkward because it comes up in the middle of the yard where the garden of the previous owner used to be – but I keep it around because it is definitely worth looking at.

I went inside and told Chrissy that we had a manservant now and that if he didn't break any glass I would gladly pay him $15.

Over the course of time, Zach and his chubby cousin Shawn (actually Shawn was promised $5 for helping, but I don't think he lasted very long) plodded and persevered and push-walked my whole lawn in a record X number of hours for anyone his age and skill level. I came home right after he had finished, and his mom called my cell phone (to make sure I was really me and that I was a nice sounding man apparently and sounded like the principal of the Christian school like I told Zach I was) and then handed the phone to Zach. I told him I was home and he zoomed on over on one of those new "luxury" bicycles shaped like the long Harleys (I'm sure there's a name to them that I'll learn someday soon).

Since he's paying for his own gas and he had to fill up twice, he said it needed to be at least $20, even though he couldn't get his trimmer started and it always needs to be trimmed. I smiled at his little orphan boy face and said, "Get off my land!" No. I told him I thought that fair for the amount of time and effort and ran inside to further rob Karsten's piggy bank (as I try to live in a fairly cashless society…for multiple reasons) because Zach just doesn't take debit cards at this point.

While it's not the prettiest mowing job I've seen (in fact, Zach and I are going to have a talk about how lonely the uncut strips of grass must have felt standing there all alone all over the yard) and while I ended up doing all the trimming and blowing myself last night (all alone in the rain which had started again) I went to bed so happy that I got the chance to meet Zach and will have a chance to minister to him this summer, that he has ambition, that I didn't have to mow my really long grass by myself, and several other thoughts that made me smile as I drifted off to dream.

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I took this picture in April inside the Memorial Church in Harvard Yard at Harvard University. The sign offers the attendant the option of two flights of stairs. If you can't read the subtitle at the bottom, it is "Helpful Tips for Avoiding Hell." Clicking on the picture will help you to be able to read the whole sign.

While it's besmirking, the Mathers would be devestated at the depths to which the University has sunk.

It's a beautiful building.

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It's been about four years since I've done Quote of the Day on a regular basis, but those first four years in the ministry, I sent a quotation out by email to several dozens of people on an almost daily basis.

I'm not going to commit to that sort of ministry again in the near future, though I get a couple requests every couple of months to start it again, but I will put them out there in this blog format. Perhaps in this more permanent form, you'll be able to chew on them a bit better.

Puritan Thomas Brooks on sin…

It is your duty and glory to do that every day that you would willingly do upon a dying day. Ah, how would you live and love upon a dying day? How would you admire God, rest upon God, delight in God, long for God, and walk with God, upon a dying day? How would you hate, loathe, and abhor your bosom sins upon a dying day?…. Thrice happy is that soul that labours with all his might to do that at first that he would give a thousands worlds to do on a dying day."

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One man’s trash…

This is a time sensitive posting.

At BJU two weekends ago, my family and I were waiting outside FMA for my sister to be released from one of her mandatory whatever-it-was. The boys were behaving appropriately (though they sometimes felt inclined to meander ONTO THE GRASS!) and having a grand ol' time. I was carrying Lincoln around, waiting my turn to see Danielle for the first time since January.

Under God's prompting, while the baby-bouncing was underway, my eyes glanced into a nearby trash receptacle, and I noticed a book that I had just seen a gentleman (an angel no doubt) carrying past us several minutes earlier. I hadn't noticed him throw it away. It was technical aeronautics textbook.

To make the short story longer…I posted the book on eBay when we got home. It's currently selling for $49 and has 17 1/2 hours left. You can follow it here.

Praise to the God who loves to delight His children in large and small ways.

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It's kind of surreal how similiar the American author Stephen Crane looks to my chiropractor Stephen Hoard.

I've no real connection to Crane or his writings, but one of the most profound [profoundly what? I don't know] moments in my life came as I was reading The Open Boat as a requirement for an American literature class at BJU. As I came across this quotation, I knew it must be memorized. It's inspirational! It's profound! It's fairly useless under most conditions [though my happy band of compatriots were considering a rousing rendering of it should circumstances dictate during commencement rehearsal at BJU (I just got my Masters) last weekend — fortunately circumstances did not dictate].

The short story is of four men lost at sea in a boat. Here's the quotation…

"If I am going to be drowned–if I am going to be drowned–if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees? Was I brought here merely to have my nose dragged away as I was about to nibble the sacred cheese of life?"

I won't offer a commentary, but I do apologize for including entries so eclectic. I tend to meander.

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My youngest future man is Lincoln. Last month he traveled with Christie and me and the three girls in our school's senior class (I'm the principal) across New England, New York City and Philadelphia.

He was a valiant little traveler with narry a fuss…though there were some hard times as he started to teethe while we were away.

Traveling with an infant is a good way to get a lot better personal service from those in service positions. Waitresses, cashiers, managers, maids, and others put on their happy face and offer higher levels of service than when dealing with adults. We noticed this especially in Paris two years ago when Haddon went with us on the senior trip. There was a big difference when he was in my arms and when he wasn't. It kind of makes up for the difficulties of lugging an infant across the country/world…maybe I should borrow some infant TWINS next time.

I'll explain our theorums of child-naming rationale in an upcoming post.

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"It's about time, Boomershine." — Augustine

"Prithee, do it well and soundly, Master Boomershine." — William Bradford

"I wish I could write as well as you." Charles Dickens

"I'd give my other hand to be as smart as you." — Captain Hook

"I've heard so much about your blog…if I could only get to a computer!" — Ernest Shackleton

"And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting still is sitting on the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door straining his eyes and neck in the dim light to read your blog on my computer screen from just over my shoulder." — E.A. Poe

"Bravo!" — Shakespeare

"I'm so glad you quoted Mr. Bunyan. Keep up the good work." — Spurgeon

"Wahoo!" — Tom Cruise

"I'd prefer not to read any blogs but yours." — Bartelby the Scrivener

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This triumphant and hopeful hymn was written by John Bunyan from his English prison cell in the late 1680s. Rather than kowtow to the powers of unrighteousness, he sat in bonds for 12 years of his life.

He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.

Who so beset him round with dismal stories
Do but themselves confound—his strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight,
He will make good his right to be a pilgrim.

Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,
We know we at the end, shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say,
I’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.

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