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Archive for the ‘Pilgrimesque’ Category

Backstory:

A year and a half ago, this happened. Last month, there was a three day trial where the defendant was found guilty of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, etc., etc. [Admittedly, the actions of the men involved did not constitute what we traditionally think of as kidnapping, but they did fit the legal definition of the term and thus they were charged with it.] The trial was quite a bit harder to process and manage than I was expecting. It was dramatic, and I am appreciative of those who came and sat with us during those days.

Today there was a sentencing hearing in which the defendant could have been sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison (with no chance of parole) up to 25 years–just for the kidnapping charge. Other sentences could have been stacked consecutively on top of that, leading essentially to life in prison.

In the end, the defendant was sentenced to 16 years. It will be a hard road for this man, and my family will faithfully remember him in prayer.

Below is what I asked of the court today. During sentencing, the judge said he had only heard three other Victim Impact Statements in this vein in his career. My purpose sharing this is a desire to edify the saints, including those facing life as victims of crimes. My purpose in court was to prop open a door to show forth Christ, now and later I hope.

Letter:

Your Honor,

My name is Ryan Boomershine. I am the headmaster of a private school here in Nashville. I am the father of Karsten Boomershine who was the most direct victim of the crime that is being punished here this morning.

Mr. Vaughn led his friends into my home and committed these crimes. It was my son’s head that gun was directed toward. It was my wife and four other children (ages 3-9) who played and worked innocently steps away from this crime.

Uncharacteristically of me, I was pretty emotional while the verdict was read to the courtroom at the conclusion of this trial. I wept. But I don’t believe that my tears were for my family. They were for Mr. Vaughn. He gave up a lot of good things when he made the decision to right wrongs on his own. He lost access to his son (born a couple of days after this crime), to his family, to the freedom to come and go. The four men implicated in this crime have altered my family’s life a little bit. They have altered their own lives substantially. They have married themselves to solitude and darkness and captivity.

I am glad Mr. Vaughn was caught. I am glad he was tried. I am glad he was found guilty. Truth was made plain during the trial.

Generals Housel and McGregor [the Assistant District Attorneys prosecuting the case] have my highest commendations for their work seeking truth. Ms. Simmons has relentlessly pursued my family’s comfort in many ways in her role as an advocate for victims. Their work was a great comfort to us.

My compassion for Mr. Vaughn is very strong and has been since the day this happened. I said so the following day in a TV interview and meant it strongly then. I mean it strongly now.

I am for the punishment. The crime was egregious and should be punished. But I am also very much for the opportunity for Mr. Vaughn to have the opportunity after the punishment to pursue peace and productivity in this community.

For the last year-and-a-half, my intent has been to ask the court for the lightest possible punishment. My understanding is that the law says that the minimum punishment is 15 years. My family is comfortable with that. I call upon the Court to extend mercy to Mr. Vaughn in giving him the lightest sentence possible, almost.

I am grieved that Mr. Vaughn is not repentant. The story that he told on the witness stand was fable. It is presumptuous for me to assert, but I don’t believe one person in this courtroom believed his testimony, even himself. His willingness to lie under oath is a mockery to absolute truth. I don’t know why Mr. Vaughn conjured this story, but God is not mocked. Nor was this jury of his peers mocked by his lies.

Your Honor, I forgive Mr. Vaughn. I forgive his kidnapping, his assault, his burglary, his lies. Not only do I forgive him, I welcome him. He is welcome in my family’s home. He may pass into my home, eat in my home, be safe in my home.

Your Honor, it is my family’s preference that you sentence Mr. Vaughn to a minimum sentence plus 1 or 2 years–the extra years being added for the blatant lies he told. I believe a maximum or consecutive sentence would be crushing. My hope is that he would receive this correction humbly, that he would hear in me an earnest desire for his good, that he would commit his prison term to pursuing righteousness that is found only in Christ. I would welcome the opportunity to assist him, get to know him, and aid him in this.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” [Titus 2]

May Jesus Christ be praised.

Now:

There are three more defendants whose fate needs to be determined by trial(s) or plea bargains. Pray that this season would end soon and that due process would be speedy.

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Rowdy Catechising

Well this video is rough. It’s a little more loose than normal at our table, because sometimes an open mic causes silliness to notch up. We started wearing this little catechism book out when Karsten was 3 or 4, used it for a year or two and just picked it up again a few months ago. We are plugging along further than we have ever been and with room to keep learning. Memorization leads to understanding which leads to wise living.

Catechism is a boon to the soul. It’s a formal instruction in the faith that over time allows truth to be rooted into the heart. Wrong answers aren’t harmful unless they go uncorrected.

With a big gulp, we welcome you to our after-dinner table…

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David said it. Augustine said it. Jim Elliot said it. Now MacArthur is saying the same thing about Psalm 37:4.

If you meet the conditions, you can do whatever you want, confident your wants are from God. I’ve long loved the safety this verse affords.

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Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many, yea in some sort to our whole nation;  let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise. – William Bradford

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[Read Part One Here]

The Stabilizing Force of Eternity

Our previous look at our eternal home revealed a fascinating truth: there is a direct continuity between this universe and the New Heavens and Earth. But many Christians regard this and other information about eternity as esoteric or fantastic, and not really “practical.” It is instructive, however, to see that the Bible consistently links a proper understanding of eternity to the way we must think and live today.

The New Testament has six major passages that explain various aspects of the new creation (1 Cor. 15, 2 Cor. 5, 1 Th. 4-5, 2 Th. 2, 2 Pt. 3, Rev. 21-22), and five of them provide detailed applications of these truths to our lives. We are to abound in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15.58) stiving to please Him (2 Cor. 5.9). We are to encourage one another (1 Th. 4.18, 5.11), while remaining alert, calm, and self controlled (1 Th. 4.6,8). Peter reminds us to live spotless, blameless, and peaceful lives (2 Pt. 3.14).

These admonitions are familiar and anticipated, yet one application is noteworthy for the number of times that it occurs, and that it is somewhat unexpected.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable”(1 Cor. 15.58). “So then, brothers, stand firm…and establish [your hearts]” (2 Th. 2.15, 17). “take care that you [do not] lose your own stability” (2 Ptr. 3.17).

Looking forward to our eternal home ought to stabilize us now.

At first glance this seems a bit odd. How would information about what will happen in the SEEMING far distant future enable me to stand firm in the turmoil of sin-corrupted living? What is the connection between the promises of eternity and our struggles with anxious thoughts, shifting relationships, and unexpected bills? Let’s think this through.

What do we normally consider to be stabilizing influences? A reliable job, stable income, strong relationships, sufficient food, good leadership in government. Yet aren’t we quite often reminded just how shaky these can be?

This life is inherently unsteady, because we are finite-life is bigger than any of us, and sin is fatally unreliable. All too often we compound our problems by attempting to control the vicissitudes of life with sinful responses, the very thing that creates instability. Shouldn’t there be something better for us to pin our hopes on, to build our lives on?

By meditating on the way we will live for eternity we are better able to handle, even overcome, the uncertainties and instabilities of this pilgrim life. Here are three key applications of these truths.

Eternity stabilizes us in both prosperity and unexpected calamity, for eternity moves the best and worst case scenarios out of the extreme category. We can live without being controlled by fear and sorrow, or pleasures and gain. Viewing life from an eternal perspective smooths out both the highs and lows.

Eternity stabilizes us in our hopes and ambitions, for we begin to realize that we don’t have to fill our bucket list, we don’t have to chase the possessions, relationships, and power that dominate so many in this present age. God has those things for us in eternity! Why settle for temporal, fading dreams and goals when God has lasting and substantial realities laid up in store for us?

Finally, just as there is a direct continuity between this earth and the redeemed New Earth, so there is a direct continuity between your present life and your redeemed eternal life. You pick up in eternity where you left off in existence…but you leave sin behind! So you are building for eternity in what you learn and how you live today. This encourages me to “reverse engineer” life. Think about it: we will live for all eternity employing virtues and activities and promises that are so strong and stable that they will last forever! If they are that reliable, should we not begin to live that way now? Won’t those fixed values help us to navigate the turbulence of this present life?

God intends the promises of our eternal home to stabilize us in a topsy-turvy world. These truths are not distracting wastes of time; they are practical as potatoes. We on a trajectory into eternity and, as A.W. Tozer said “we do well to think of the long tomorrow.”

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Recommended Resources

Heaven by Randy Alcorn. This is a comprehensive explanation of the biblical truths of our eternal home. The first half of the book explains the biblical theology of eternity, and the second half answers all the questions we have wondered, but are afraid to ask.

Randy is the director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries, and he has put a tremendous amount of thought into how eternity ought to impact our lives. He has written several other smaller books that highlight and expand on specific aspects of eternity. Among them are The Treasure Principle and The Law of Rewards.

Joni Earekson Tada also wrote a very beneficial book, Heaven, Your Real Home. As with all her books, this is deeply thought-provoking and incredibly vivid. Her devotional based on this book is also worth reading.

Erwin Lutzer’s Your Eternal Reward: Triumph and Tears at the Judgment Seat of Christ and One Minute After You Die are also helpful, as is John MacArthur’s The Glory of Heaven.

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Today’s post is the second of two installments on Heaven for TBAP by David King of Joelton, TN. I wrote a small bit of background to this earlier, and think it fits beautifully with the concept of the forward-thinking, pilgrimesque-living sponsored on this site. Here is part 1.

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Ask most Christians of their idea of heaven and you will typically hear something about pearly gates, streets of gold, reuniting with loved ones, and singing praises before God’s throne. So the essential picture is something like this: Heaven is one loooong church service in a place that is beautiful, even ornate, but rather cold and austere. We are mindlessly singing songs, while secretly looking forward to snatching a couple moments to talk with mom during the breaks. We don’t really do anything (heaven is, after all, a place of rest, isn’t it?), so we just exist for all eternity dreadfully bored by the monotony of singing the same worn out hymns and praise songs. But at least it’s not the alternative.

What if our picture is all wrong? What if we have swallowed a cheap imitation served up by silly songs, verses wrenched out of context, and an incomplete understanding of our God?

What if God’s eternity is located in a lush, verdant creation unsullied by the effects of sin? What if you got to explore a new material universe, learning more and ever more of God’s creative abilities, and in so doing, more of Him? What would you do and how would you live if you could let down your guard against yourself? What if you could spend all eternity pursuing your most fervent desires without your own sin weaknesses warping them into something wicked? What if these comprise major elements of eternally worshiping our sovereign Father? Is this too good to be true? Surely the Bible doesn’t teach this. Or does it?

As we look more carefully at the Scriptures, it becomes clear that there is a direct continuity between the present creation and the New Heavens and New Earth. God will purge away sin and all its effects, but the New Creation will be made of the same material as this current universe (2 Peter 3). But God doesn’t just deal with the negative and return creation to some moral tipping point. In His renovated creation righteousness will dwell supremely, permanently, and without any rivals (2 Peter 3.13).

Now just this one facet in the jewel of eternity deserves some contemplation. If God purges away all effects of sin, what does that mean? With no apologies to John Lennon, imagine a world that has no sickness, or injury, or death, so there are no hospitals, dentists, nor cemeteries. No need to fear assault, rape, or theft, so there are no police, armies, or lawyers. On New Earth the only sirens will be at hockey games!

How would things change if righteousness dwelt as an unrivaled virtue? Imagine being completely free to pursue all of your righteous desires with unfettered abandon. Imagine fervently loving God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind without being tripped up by sin, ever. Imagine always learning more and more of God and His creation, and in that growth, your love for and delight in God grows and deepens and flourishes. Imagine that growth continuing forever.

Peter tells us repeatedly that we are to be looking forward to this time. Our future home ought to be a regular source of meditation, and if we do contemplate these things it will change how we live now. That change is our next conversation.

In the meantime, stop to consider how much we have become used to sin and its effects on our lives. What will change? What else will be our “new normal” in eternity?

This is certain: for the foundation of the saints’ love to each other will be their love to the image of God which they see in them. Now most certainly the holier a man is, the more he loves the same degree of the image, so that the holiest in heaven will love that image of God they see in the least holy more than those do that are less holy, and that which makes it beyond any doubt that this superior happiness will be no damp to them is this: that their superior happiness consists in their great humility, and in their greater love to them, and to God, and Christ, whom the saints look upon as themselves. — Jonathan Edwards

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Today’s post is the first of two installments on Heaven for TBAP by David King of Joelton, TN. I wrote a small bit of background to this yesterday, and think it fits beautifully with the concept of the forward-thinking, pilgrimesque-living sponsored on this site.

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What’s Coming Up

Gustave Dore

Through the summer months at Charity Baptist, David King taught an extensive set of Sunday School lessons on the topic of Heaven. His zeal was unrivaled on a topic that I had scarcely considered past the very basics.

One of the important lessons I learned was that all Christians should be studying the concept of Heaven, because it changes the way we live here. It adds depth, color, perspective and richness to even our most mundane days. You get that? Read it again.

Well I’ve asked David to steal some snatches and do some encapsulating, and he has written two posts that will be posted here this week, the first will be Tuesday morning.

I hope that you will ready your heart for the lesson.

You can catch David on his blog, Cook in the Books, while you are waiting.

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