November 30, 2009

What is love?


ords mean things,” says Rush Limbaugh. And, at least on this topic, however simple that phrase may seem, he has it dead right. Words mean things. And when, for whatever the reason, we purposely change the meaning of a word, we do a disservice to those we are communicating with.

I recently had a conversation with Mary about the definition of the word joy and the definition of the word happiness. I believe those two words mean essentially the same thing, but Evangelical Christianity has waged a multi-generational campaign to shift the definitions of those words in order to make an excuse for God, who promises us joy. Folks have rightly determined that most of us are not particularly happy most of the time. So well-meaning Christians have redefined the terms. Happiness now means the surface bubbly, giggly giddiness that comes from experiencing something you really enjoy. And joy (be sure to add the reverb in your mind since this is a very serious theological term now) is that unique deep down state that a Christian has for some mystical reason that causes him to be joyful even though everything in his life is heading down the tubes. That way we can assuage our consciences by saying to our friends, “I’m really, really sad and greatly depressed, but I have the joy of the Lord."


We don’t need to give God an out. If he says we will experience joy in Him, and we are not experiencing happiness (which means the same thing), the fault is ours—it’s not a definitional breakdown.

That’s not, however, the topic of this post. That was to set the foundation for the definition of the term love. Mary and I are still having an ongoing discussion about happiness and joy, and we still disagree on those definitions. But I think we both agree with John Piper on the definition of love found in the following excerpt from his book, Don’t Waste Your Life. I am posting this because our friend Tim brought up an interesting question about how God could be a loving God if he has created some people who are destined for hell. Hopefully this excerpt will explain, more eloquently than I ever could, the true definition of the term love and what that love should look like.


e waste our lives when we do not pray and think and dream and plan and work toward magnifying God in all spheres of life. God created us for this: to live our lives in a way that makes him look more like the greatness and the beauty and the infinite worth that he really is. In the night sky of this world God appears to most people, if at all, like a pinprick of light in a heaven of darkness. But he created us and called us to make him look like what he really is. This is what it means to be created in the image of God. We are meant to image forth in the world what he is really like.

Does Being Loved Mean Being Made Much Of?

For many people, this is not obviously an act of love. They do not feel loved when they are told that God created them for his glory. They feel used. This is understandable given the way love has been almost completely distorted in our world. For most people, to be loved is to be made much of. Almost everything in our Western culture serves this distortion of love. We are taught in a thousand ways that love means increasing someone’s self-esteem. Love is helping someone feel good about themselves. Love is giving someone a mirror and helping him like what he sees. This is not what the Bible means by the love of God. Love is doing what is best for someone. But making self the object of our highest affections is not best for us. It is, in fact, a lethal distraction. We were made to see and savor God—and savoring him, to be supremely satisfied, and thus spread in all the world the worth of his presence. Not to show people the all-satisfying God is not to love them. To make them feel good about themselves when they were made to feel good about seeing God is like taking someone to the Alps and locking them in a room full of mirrors.

Pathological at the Grand Canyon

The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves. And each of these rare and precious moments in life—beside the Canyon, before the Alps, under the stars—is an echo of a far greater excellence, namely, the glory of God. That is why the Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

Sometimes people say that they cannot believe that, if there is a God, he would take interest in such a tiny speck of reality called humanity on Planet Earth. The universe, they say, is so vast, it makes man utterly insignificant. Why would God have bothered to create such a microscopic speck called the earth and humanity and then get involved with us?

Beneath this question is a fundamental failure to see what the universe is about. It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about himself. And he says it for us to learn and enjoy—namely, that he is infinitely great and powerful and wise and beautiful. The more the Hubble Telescope sends back to us about the unfathomable depths of space, the more we should stand in awe of God. The disproportion between us and the universe is a parable about the disproportion between us and God. And it is an understatement. But the point is not to nullify us but to glorify him.

Loving People Means Pointing Them to the
All-Satisfying God

Now back to what it means to be loved. The idea has been almost totally distorted. Love has to do with showing a dying soul the life-giving beauty of the glory of God, especially his grace. Yes, as we will see, we show God’s glory in a hundred practical ways that include care about food and clothes and shelter and health. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Every good work should be a revelation of the glory of God. What makes the good deed an act of love is not the raw act, but the passion and the sacrifice to make God himself known as glorious. Not to aim to show God is not to love, because God is what we need most deeply. And to have all else without him is to perish in the end. The Bible says that you can give away all that you have and deliver your body to be burned and have not love (1 Corinthians 13:3). If you don’t point people to God for everlasting joy, you don’t love. You waste your life.

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life


November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Matthias Claudius (1740–1815)

I thank thee, God, and like a child
Rejoice as for a Christmas gift,
That I am living—just alive—
Just for this human face I wear,
That I can see the sun, the sea,
The hills and grass and leafy trees,
And walk beneath the host of stars
And watch the lovely moon above.


hanksgiving is the holiday intended for me. I tend to build up momentum, rushing from here to there and back again. Busy with work. Busy with personal chores. Busy, busy, busy. All that busy-ness tends to distract my mind from the things I need so much to focus on.

I begin to pay more attention to the things that get in the way of my efforts at accomplishment. I pay attention to the traffic, the weather, the little aches and pains of life. I pay attention to the difficulties with getting personal affairs in order and I pay attention to the struggles of work and dealing with others. And I forget to pay attention to the wonderful blessings of our God, who shows his great love to us every single day.

Paul Stromberg Rees

If thankfulness arises through prosperity, well and good. But what are you going to do when the prosperity fails? If thankfulness springs up through health, well and good. But what will you do when disease makes you bedridden? Must you then become glum or bitter? But now, supposing it is through our dear Lord Christ that you cultivate the fine art of thanksgiving, then what? Then money in the bank, however useful, does not have me at its mercy: if I lose it, I can still offer thanks.

When the Puritans brought their unique culture to the shores of early America, they brought attitudes and philosophies that would be a great benefit to us all if we were to grasp a hold on them again. Humility was a characteristic of those early Puritans. Humility and dependence on God for their lot in life formed the foundation of the Puritan's thought processes and way of living.

The touted “Puritan work ethic” spread through early America and allowed our nation to build into a strong and independent force that eventually worked its way to the top of the heap, becoming the world’s “superpower.” And as the Puritans worked hard each day, dealt honestly with their neighbors and with their customers, and kept honesty and openness at the forefront of their business dealings, God prospered our nation.

John Henry Jowett

Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.

Although they recognized the benefits of their labors and their way of business, they did not take personal credit for the products of their labors. After long and hard hours and realizing the fruits of their labors, they turned to God in thankfulness. This was their way because they recognized that they could do nothing without God’s favor.

This Puritan thankfulness for God’s blessing eventually worked its way into a national holiday. Yes, they were grateful to the natives of this land who helped them through long cold hard winters. They were grateful to the Indians for teaching them about corn. But their primary thankfulness was not directed to the Indians any more than it was directed to themselves for their hard work and honest labor. Those early Americans recognized God’s hand in all of the blessings around them. Their thankfulness was to God and it was intended to make the statement to their children and to their newfound native friends that they recognized their reliance on God’s providence.

Erwin W. Lutzer

It’s only when we choose to give praise for the rough spots in life that we will begin to see them from God’s perspective. If we don’t give thanks in all things, we are living in unbelief, for we are assuming that our circumstances are not controlled by a God who loves us! I’m not saying that you should give thanks for sin, but you can thank God for how he will use that sin to teach, to rebuke, or to challenge you.

Today our nation celebrates Thanksgiving. It is the one holiday that is directed to God’s bounty. It doesn’t typically involve parties (well, maybe football parties in the afternoon) or revelry. It typically involves families and friends gathering around the table spread with God’s bounty. Many of those families will begin their meal with something they don’t do the rest of the year. They will turn to God in a prayer of thankfulness.

Today I thank God for his blessings. Today I thank God for his care. Today I thank God for his protection and provision.

Today I thank God for Thanksgiving.

Just the word thanksgiving prompts the spirit of humility. Genuine gratitude to God for his mercy, his abundance, his protection, his smile of favor. Life simplifies itself.
—Charles Swindoll


Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d dy of October, A.D. 1789.

(signed) G. Washington


November 23, 2009

I love Front Royal


hen I was a child, my family had a yearly tradition that involved touring the Luray Caverns, driving Skyline Drive, and then stopping on the way home at an apple orchard to pick a few bushels of apples. I loved those times. The caverns were impressive, the apples were delicious and fun to pick, and the incredible display of color in the leaves along Skyline Drive was intense and awe-inspiring.

Little did I know back in those days that we would one day live in Front Royal, just about two miles from the entrance to Skyline Drive. So this past Saturday we took advantage of our proximity and decided to drive a little ways along Skyline Drive to get some pictures—even though it is now heading into winter and the leaves are almost all gone.

It was gorgeous—as I imagine it is any time of the year.

When we got back home, Kim flipped through some of our Virginia Living magazines and found an article about Skyline Drive. I wanted to share it with you.

75 Years Ago

Skyline Drive

It was a one-two knockout punch: First, the Great Depression hit in 1929, then 1930 began the worst drought in Virginia history.

The combined crisis left Appalachian-area apple pickers desperate for jobs, and in January of 1931 the federal government sent help from the Federal Drought Relief Appropriation. The money was to employ laborers and contractors in a large construction project. It would keep them busy for the next six years and literally put Virginia on the map.

The idea had been first floated seven years earlier, in a report from the Southern Appalachian National Park Commission. The group recommended establishing a national park in the Shenandoah area, but the report also included an ambitious footnote:

“The greatest single feature, however, is a possible skyline drive along the mountain top, following a continuous ridge and looking westerly on the Shenandoah Valley, from 2,500 to 3,500 feet below, and also commanding a view of the Piedmont Plain stretching easterly to the Washington Monument, which landmark may be seen on a clear day.... Few scenic drives in the world could surpass it.”

Herbert Hoover was all for it; he loved the Blue Ridge enough to have established a permanent Presidential trout fishing camp on the Rapidan river. Federal money was secured, but the land still had to be acquired.

Most of it was farmland. Federal law forbade the government from seizing property, so the job fell to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Although some acreage was donated, most was acquired through condemning it, then negotiating a reasonable purchase price with the farmer and giving the land to the Federal Government.

David checking out fresh cotton

There were far more squatters than landowners living in the path of the Drive, and in evicting them the Federal Government tried to avoid sparking another messy protest movement as had recently happned in the Great Smoky Mountains. Over 500 families were displaced in Virginia. All were offered resettlement assistance, including Federal programs for purchasing land in three new homestead areas on each side of the Blue Ridge.

As the work progressed, North Carolina also realized the economic value such a project would create. State legislators proposed extending the Skyline Drive to connect the Shenandoah and Smoky Mountain national parks. A plan modeled on the Virginia project was approved, and work began on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1935.

The Virginia project went quickly, considering all of the blasting, grading, paving, landscaping, rail-building, and the digging and lining of the 670-foot-long Mary’s Rock tunnel.

The first section of the drive was opened in 1934, with the entire 105-mile road finished and paved by the fall of 1939. Over 4,000 workers and 13 contracting companies (four from Virginia) made it happen, at a total cost of just over $1.6 million government dollars.

Today, the Skyline Drive remains one of the most traveled recreational roads in the nation—about 2 million people drive it each year. It stretches from Front Royal to Rockfish Gap, with a 35-mph speed limit the entire way, offering the same magnificent views and peaceful foray into Appalachian Virginia as it did 75 years ago.

Kim, enjoying the final moments of our drive


November 22, 2009

The earth displays the handiwork of God


ur new hometown is a delightful place with many wonderful surprises for those who take the time to look. But one feature of our town is not a surprise to most people who travel through Front Royal, Virginia.

Skyline Drive is an unbelievably beautiful 105-mile-long drive along the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The drive sees many visitors during the fall foliage peak, but the drive is absolutely beautiful 365 days per year.

So yesterday we decided to drive along this road that begins across the street from our son’s high school. The entrance to Skyline Drive is about two miles from our house. We drove about 20 miles of the 105-mile length yesterday and took quite a few pictures. The current blog header is one of those pictures. This photo was taken about five miles from our house and about three miles after the entrance to Skyline Drive. As we were leaving the Drive for the day, we stopped here to take pictures as the sun set.

God has blessed us so greatly by moving us here and we are thoroughly enjoying his handiwork all around us. I’ll share a few more photos tomorrow and will give you some information about this wonderful drive.


November 19, 2009

A rose tulip by any other name


t is no novelty, then, that I am preaching; no new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, that are called by nickname “Calvinism,” but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into [the] past, and as I go, I see father after father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me....

Taking these things to be the standard of my faith, I see the land of the ancients peopled with my brethren; I behold multitudes who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion of God’s own church

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, as quoted by David Steele and Curtis Thomas in The Five Points of Calvinism (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1963), p. 8.


November 17, 2009

Pray for our government


eading in my bible today, I was reminded of how important it is for us to regularly plead with God about our leaders. I was especially moved to pray for our president.

Psalm 109:8

Okay. I’m just joking. But we really should be praying for our leaders.


November 15, 2009



he winds of change can really have an impact when you’re not grounded. I believe my lack of deep roots has caused me to be blown and battered about over this past year. Rather than looking at my own contributions to the faulty foundation I concentrated on the winds caused by those around me. This is not good.

So as I began today with my personal devotional time, I pulled out a book I have not read in quite some time, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. I turned to Book Two: The Interior Life and began to read from the beginning:

“The kingdom of God is within you,” says the Lord (Luke 17:21).

Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you will see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the impious.

Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed.

Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you; He Himself says: “If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him” John 14:23.

Thomas à Kempis

Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful and friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he sometimes opposes and contradicts you. Those who are with us today may be against us tomorrow, and vice versa, for men change with the wind. Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear and your love. He will answer for you; He will do what is best for you.

Wow. How could I have forgotten where to look for that peace and solace that all of us so desperately seek, but which I had not experienced for some time? I had looked for shelter from the storms of life and had accepted that shelter from men—never a particularly good choice. Those men eventually moved on to other plans, leaving me facing a storm and wondering how to protect my family from it.

In spite of my seemingly perpetually weak faith God blessed greatly, providing us a home and a church and educational needs for my son. He patiently waited for me to turn again and recognize the true source of comfort and consolation—himself.

Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or tasted a little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at all for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the reproach you suffer; for love of Him makes a man despise himself....

He who tastes life as it really is, not as men say or think it is, is indeed wise with the wisdom of God rather than of men.

Time to get back to ground level and work on my foundation.

All quotes from The Imitation of Christ
Book Two, Chapter One


November 14, 2009

Stratford Hall

I haven’t commented on my header photos lately, but thought I ought to at least identify today’s subject. This photo is of Stratford Hall, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee and of his great-grandfather, “Lighthorse” Henry Lee, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Stratford Hall is in Virginia’s Northern Neck, so it is not easily accessible by roads, although it was a thriving port 200 years ago due to its easy accessibility from the water. This house was featured in the Mel Gibson movie “The Patriot” in the scene when the revolutionaries blow up the ship and the clueless woman says, “Oh goodie—fireworks!”

If you live anywhere near Virginia’s Northern Neck or across the River in Maryland, take advantage of your proximity by visiting Stratford Hall. I would recommend a visit on July 4th when the Hall hosts various events and has myriad 18th and 19th century period actors to help deliver the full immersion experience. You’ll love it.

November 13, 2009

It’s Friday!!!


hen Mary and I were going to college together (about a quarter-century ago) I was a trumpet player. In fact, I was majoring in music with a trumpet proficiency (until I switched to voice because it seemed easier). And Maynard Ferguson was my favorite trumpet player.

Unfortunately, a health issue caused me to lose my ability to play the trumpet—not that I was ever able to do what Maynard can do, or even come close.

The loss of control of my lip muscles brought some fear with regard to Mary’s recent surgery and we’re praising God for retaining her ability to play the clarinet. Perhaps the fact that she’s good and I was a slouch played into the final outcomes in our individual cases. Hmmmm.

Anyway, as the weekend kicks off, here’s a video from back in those days (circa 1980) of my favorite trumpet player playing “Give It One.” And the tenor sax in the middle of the song is my tribute to Mary. I just couldn’t find an actual clarinet. A tenor sax is basically a clarinet with a bit more testosterone.

Maynard rocks!


November 12, 2009

Why does God allow evil in the world?


on Carson is one of my favorite authors. I had the honor of teaching a class using one of his books as the textbook and foundation for the curriculum. He’s a deep thinker and a solid biblical theologian.

Some of our recent conversations here have brought up the question of why, if he does exist, would God allow evil to happen in the world. This is a difficult question and one that comes up regularly in a world filled with so much evil and suffering. Don Carson attempts to answer this question in this video:



November 11, 2009

Interesting observations


n A Tale of Two Shootings, columnist Scott Wheeler made some interesting observations:

  1. Obama’s response to the shooting death of abortion doctor, George Tiller:
    I am shocked and outraged!
  2. Obama’s response to the Fort Hood shooting of 12 American soldiers by a self-proclaimed Muslim jihadist:
    I would caution against jumping to conclusions.

Wheeler also pointed out another apparent inconsistency in the Obama admistration’s response to domestic terrorism:

  1. Janet Napolitano’s activity following the Fort Hood terrorist attack on multiple American soldiers:
    The Department is now working to deflect any backlash against American Muslims following Thursday’s rampage by a Muslim soldier.
  2. Janet Napolitano’s activity earlier this year:
    The Department issued a report cautioning against the domestic threats of “right-wing extremism” and right-wing groups that might use issues such as abortion as a recruiting tool.

Interesting observations that kind of make one wonder exactly who our government is trying to protect these days. Read Wheeler’s article here.


Have We Forgotten?


s we mature in Christ, we take on more and more of His likeness. We now obey because of a clean heart, and righteousness becomes a habit. Yes, we participate in our sanctification by submitting and by practicing spiritual disciplines. But the internal work of sanctification is a result our new life and the work of the Holy Spirit.

There’s a problem that plagues us occasionally. Like the Israelites who began to think they were responsible for their wealth and for the favor of God on His chosen people because of their obedience to the law, so we as believers tend to forget that we are not responsible for our righteousness. We did not seek God. He is NOT lucky to have us on his team because we’re such great players. We are still, to this very day, recipients of mercy when we deserved none.

When we forget to look back to who we were, we lose our wonder at our salvation. We tend to be less thankful, because we have forgotten what we left behind. For some of us, we were not very old and hadn’t had much opportunity to experience how great a sinner we really were. Some of us grew up in Christian homes where morality and obedience to the Scriptures were part of our culture, and there wasn’t much of an external change at our salvation. NEVERTHELESS, we were ALL sinners in need of mercy. Romans tells us that ALL have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, and that no one seeks after God.

The reason believers can live a righteous life is because of God’s mercy and His righteousness that He imputed to us at salvation, not our good deeds. Good deeds are profitable and helpful, as they are an external evidence of an internal change. We honor God by serving others and showing them the mercy that we have received from Him.

Sometimes we cloud that process up with pride. We judge the unregenerate man with the attitude that our holiness is our gift to God, and wouldn’t it be great if these unsaved people could get their act together and start living a righteous life like we do. What we forget is that it is the natural thing for them, as it was for us, to follow after evil desires. They may be good individuals who do good works, or they may be rotten people who take the lives of others or do great harm to others.

Jesus told the story of a Pharisee and a tax collector. If we were to witness the outward righteousness of a Pharisee, we would be truly impressed. Jesus said in Matthew 5:20, For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. To the Jews of the day, such a statement would have been discouraging because they knew how righteous the Pharisees really were.

Yet in this parable, Jesus told of another person who was greater than the Pharisee in God’s eyes. It was a man, who by contrast, the Jews would have considered the greatest of sinners—a tax collector. When the Pharisee prayed, he reminded God how righteous he was, and thanked God that he wasn’t like the tax collector. Yet when the tax collector prayed, he asked for mercy, knowing that he was not deserving of God’s favor, and yet he wanted it. Jesus finished the parable saying, I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

It is important, as Paul reminded Titus, that we should remember our beginnings. We should not compare our righteousness with the unrighteousness of the unsaved. Instead, we should be gentle, and show perfect courtesy toward all people. Paul goes on to tell Titus why:

Titus 3:3-8
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

To be fully thankful for our salvation, we need to remember that we, too, were “like them” before God showed us mercy, and we would still be “like them” if He had never done so. Let us set aside our rehearsal of our own righteousness and spend that energy in praying for those who have yet to find the joy of eternal life and in bringing them the gospel of mercy.


November 10, 2009

Good Questions


ur friend Tim has been asking some very good questions about faith and prayer. I really enjoy my interactions with Tim, because his questions are honest and he appreciates my honest answers, even if he does not accept them as truth.

When I sat through the sermon Sunday morning, I thought immediately of Tim and of the questions he's been asking, and determined then to post a link to the sermon when it was available on our website.  

Our senior pastor has been "sidelined" with a broken kneecap. In his absence, one of our associate pastors, Dave Burgraff, has been teaching from the parables of Jesus. I am sharing this link and hoping you will take time to listen. It does address some questions about prayer and faith and it is worthy of your time.

Colonial Media Player

Once there, choose the first option, "Listen to Media". In the pop-up window, choose the third option, "Sunday Morning Sermons" In the new list, choose 11/1/09 | The Persistent Friend, and the sermon will begin.


November 09, 2009

A beautiful day in the neighborhood


lthough Virginia is a southern state, we don’t always have warm weather. It doesn’t often get cold enough to snow, but November days tend to be brisk and clear. It’s a wonderful time to put on a coat, go for a walk around the neighborhood, and kick up the recently fallen leaves as you pass through the piles.

But that’s not how we spent this past weekend. After a couple of days with very cold temperatures—nighttime lows below 30°—the temperatures took a warmer turn for the weekend and we ended up with highs in the 70s. It was heavenly.

I decided to take a couple pictures of the house against the bright, beautiful blue November sky. The first one is the front of our house, with David playing on the front walk, and the second one is from the back. (I guess you probably could have figured that out for yourself.)

It’s great to live in Virginia.


November 05, 2009

Abortion premiums mandated in Pelosi’s bill


o matter how you may have come down on the issue of universal health care, I’m glad someone is carefully reading Nancy Pelosi’s almost 2,000-page health care bill. House Republical Leader John Boehner’s staff has discovered a provision in the bill mandating premiums be paid by anyone opting for the Government-run healthcare. These premiums are to be used to pay for elective abortions. For shame. [Read about it here.]

It’s a slippery slope, as many others have said. About a year ago I created this advertisement to show where things could be headed. But even in this ad, it is asking people to volunteer to contribute to the murder of an innocent child. I never thought our government would try to mandate that we pay for such a thing.


The other side of my hurricane


n the other side of my “hurricane” I can tell you—it wasn’t enough to silence my love. As a matter of fact, it strengthened it! Years ago I counted the cost. My doors and windows were boarded up with faith and hope. I am tumor free, cancer free, and healthy enough to keep mopping up the floors of other hurricane victims for awhile yet.

John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


November 02, 2009

Steve Harvey introduces Jesus Christ


emember the comedian, Steve Harvey? I remember a funny sitcom he was in from a while back. But since I don’t watch much fictional TV, I never paid much attention. But I’m paying attention now. This is really great:

HT: Pastor Bill


November 01, 2009

Reformation Sunday


ome of my Christian friends are not entirely fond of Halloween. I have heard many reasons for their uncomfortable feelings about this holiday. The reasons range from fundamentalist legalism to concern for the children who are often targeted by ill-meaning individuals on nights like Halloween. But few of them seem truly able to put their uncomfortable feelings about this holiday into words that reflect their theology or biblical paradigm. I think the true root of the issue is the fact that it seems that nothing our society does on October 31st has anything to do with Christianity. And as Christians, we gravitate to the holidays that have an element of the truly “holy.”

Martin Luther

The apostles themselves considered it necessary to put the New Testament into Greek and to bind it fast to that language, doubtless in order to preserve it for us safe and sound as in a sacred ark. For they foresaw all that was to come and now has come to pass, and knew that if it were contained only in one’s head, wild and fearful disorder and confusion, and many various interpretations, fancies and doctrines would arise in the Church, which could be prevented and from which the plain man could be protected only by committing the New Testament to writing and language.

I tend to look forward to Halloween each year. But the events our culture participates in at this time of year are not the reason that I look forward to this time of year. While I enjoy seeing the kids dress up in costume, I enjoy the community spirit as the children go door-to-door and the adults distribute candy to them, and I enjoy decorating the house and yard in preparation for the fun and somewhat scary evening, there is another reason that I look forward to this day each year.

Our house last night

The reason I look forward to October 31st is that it is the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Castle Church door. Evangelical Protestants look at October 31 as the day when Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation that brought the focus of the Church back to the Word of God. To his own peril Luther proclaimed:

God preserves the experience of salvation and holiness from generation to generation by means of a book of revelation, not a bishop in Rome, and not the ecstasies of Thomas Muenzer and the Zwickau prophets.

Martin Luther

I condemn and reject as nothing but error all doctrines which exalt our “free will” as being directly opposed to this mediation and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. For since, apart from Christ, sin and death are our masters and the devil is our god and prince, there can be no strength or power, no wit or wisdom, by which we can fit or fashion ourselves for righteousness and life. On the contrary, blinded and captivated, we are bound to be the subjects of Satan and sin, doing and thinking what pleases him and is opposed to God and His commandments.

Our family celebrated Halloween with the folks in our neighborhood last night. We enjoyed seeing kids in their costumes. We enjoyed sitting on the porch around our firepit with our cute little Grim Reaper attached to the porch railing and distributing candy to the children who ventured down the path between our small "Boo" luminaries that lined the walkway to our door.

But today we begin the big celebration. Today is Reformation Sunday! Today we remember that God always preserves a remnant of faithful men and women who adhere to the Word of God above all the councils of men. Today we say, with the Reformers, that we exist only by His grace and for His glory.

Happy Reformation Sunday!