Thursday, January 18, 2007

Comet McNaught

Has anybody had a chance to see Comet McNaught? It is now visible in the Southern Hemisphere. I found the photos on thiscool site.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

My Town

Hey! My town is presented in one of my favorite magazines!

National Geographic Adventure Magazine

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In Which She Edits the Title to a Less Offensive...What She Thinks of Evangelistic Video


There is an interesting brouhaha taking place over at Pyromaniacs, Frank Turk's blog, and Steve Camp's blog about an evangelistic video by Francis Chan. The fuss is whether Francis Chan makes a clear presentation of the gospel in his video. Well, the comments are flying and the guys are coming out with their dukes up, itching for a fight (or actually, continuing the battle of words in true testosterone fashion).

Ahem...I will insert my own thoughts on the matter.

The problem I had with the video was a sort of John Eldredge flashback. Chan states that "God is crazy about you", "God is begging you to accept Him", and "God is screaming for your attention". I think those particular viewpoints of God are popular Arminian hooks and His grandeur and holiness gets diminished into a caracature of a hapless pursuer.

I had no other issues with the video because I believe God can use anything He wants to draw us to Himself. He can use the EBay cheese sandwich with the image of Jesus on it as a tool to change a person's heart and mind. I sobbed when the clown was hanged (or whatever) in Godspell. God is not limited to our understanding of his drawing power.

I do have an issue with what happens from the point of conversion though. If a person does not have an understanding of their state before salvation, then a romance with God can be reduced to a relationship where God is crazy about me and since I chose to be with Him, He should be happy I chose Him over the world. I am reminded of Gomer in the book of Hosea. Hosea continued to be faithful to her, even though she had other lovers, idols, and turned away in faithlessness. Sometimes it is human nature to feel secure enough in a relationship to not put much work in it. I once was told during my divorce years ago, that the person who cares the least in a relationship, wins, because they have the control and the power. The other person in the relationship feels helpless and unable to force love from their uncaring partner. God is sometimes portrayed in contemporary American Christianity in the position of the one who doesn't have the power and the control. We are the primadonnas (at times callous) wife and He is the giver of all good gifts (hoping we keep loving Him), and his love is always positive, no negativity allowed. Chan made a statement that God does not want to take from us, but rather give to us. God DOES want to take from us. He wants to take our selfishness. He wants to take our continual evil thoughts. He wants to take our self-sufficiency from us. How does He accomplish these things? One way He does in my life is by love. Not a hand wringing love. A tough love. A love that doesn't always look like love to me. It looks like hardship. It looks like abandonment. It looks like pain and suffering.

Jonathan Edwards came up in the conversation. Frank Turk made the comment that Edwards preached to a particular culture, so he was able to preach about the wrath of God and people responded with contrite hearts. I shared in a comment that I believe Edwards was able to share about the judgement of God partly due to previous circumstances. A great earthquake shook New England in 1927. A number of after-shocks occurred. Some witnesses even mentioned blue lightning racing along cracks in the earth. Many Christians, including very prominent preachers, believed the earthquakes were from the hand of God, and in fact, judgement on New England. It made for a climate of vulnerability among the populace, ready and eager to hear the gospel and escape the wrath of God.

I once heard a quote, from Bill Cosby I think: "When the earth shakes, everyone looks up."

Edwards believed that one needed to know their own wretchedness before salvation, so that true repentence followed. In contemporary Christianity, there is no emphasis on how wretched we really are, totally undeserving of God's mercy and favor. Instead, we are told how God bends his knee and proposes to us, hoping, just hoping, we will accept Him. I would rather really hear and take to heart the words of Newton:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

If we know how wretched we are, we tend to be grateful that God chose us, and where can there any room for pride in that kind of truth? Since God gives good gifts, it is the gift of his grace in our lives that makes the difference.

Well, I hope the flailing of fists will come to an end with a group hug at the least or a good outing to the coast where the waves are big and we are small.

UPDATE: I wanted to add another point out of Hosea. One of the main points in the whole discussion over at Pyro and And His Ministers is about the love of God. In the book of Hosea, Gomer is taken out in the wilderness and wooed by God. But... she is wooed after she is stripped of all her lovers and idols. She is stripped of everything she depended on for personal affirmation and taken out into the wilderness. of wild animals, thorns, heat, thirst. That is the place God chose to woo her to Himself.

UPDATE! UPDATE!! Here are some words of wisdom from Spurgeon that complement the post above. Especially note the ending where he mentions plowing the ground.

Luke 8:13

My soul, examine yourself this morning by the light of this text. You have received the Word with joy; your feelings have been stirred, and a lively impression has been made. But, remember, to receive the Word in the ear is one thing, and to receive Jesus into your very soul is quite another; superficial feeling is often joined to inward hardness of heart, and a lively impression of the Word is not always a lasting one. In the parable, the seed in one case fell upon ground having a rocky bottom, covered over with a thin layer of earth; when the seed began to take root, its downward growth was hindered by the hard stone, and therefore it spent its strength in pushing its green shoot aloft as high as it could. But having no inward moisture derived from root nourishment, it withered away. Is this my case? Have I been making a fair show in the flesh without having a corresponding inner life? Good growth takes place upward and downward at the same time. Am I rooted in sincere fidelity and love to Jesus? If my heart remains unsoftened and unfertilized by grace, the good seed may germinate for a season, but it must ultimately wither, for it cannot flourish on a rocky, unbroken, unsanctified heart. Let me dread a godliness as rapid in growth and as lacking in endurance as Jonah's vine; let me count the cost of being a follower of Jesus. Above all let me feel the energy of His Holy Spirit, and then I shall possess an abiding and enduring seed in my soul. If my mind remains as stubborn as it was by nature, the sun of trial will scorch, and my hard heart will help cast the heat the more terribly upon the ill-covered seed, and my religion will soon die, and my despair will be terrible. Therefore, O heavenly Sower, plow me first, and then cast the truth into me, and let me yield a bounteous harvest.

Here is an added bonus of a post from The Irish Calvinist on evangelism.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Making a List, Checking It Twice

I think it is a good idea to start a new year with new resolutions. Yeah, we know that as the days go by, it is easy to let resolutions slip by the wayside. If you are looking for a few good questions, or a great list of resolutions, check out Pyromaniacs for a start. I especially appreciate Dan Phillips posting Jonathan Edwards 70 resolutions. Now there is a daunting list! My husband and I had decided a few days ago that we would check out this list from Don Whitney that Dan has also included. Here are the ten questions that I am initially answering but may change as I go over the list with my husband.

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It's so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we're going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
Don Whitney

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

Prayerfully reading his Word and making time with Him a priority.

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

Bring my children to salvation, and restore a marriage as well.

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

Be faithful in our devotional time and encouraging one another in the Lord.

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

I have two. Faithfully reading the Word and be more focused in prayer.

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

The Internet! Cut down on my time on the internet.

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

We are fairly new at our church, and we drive an hour to get there, so it will be helpful if we can be more committed to serve.

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

My children, and my husband's children.

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

I won't waste so much time on trivial things.

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

Believe that God really cares about my prayers.

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Be a testimony of the grace, mercy, sovereignty of God in my life and conversation. Be bold in my witness to the glory of God.