Saturday, December 15, 2007

"In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life" by Sinclair Ferguson

Dear Friends,

I want to introduce to you a great book, it is brand new by Dr. Ferguson, entitled, "In Christ Alone." It is an outstanding book that is VERY readable while deep in content as he helps the reader see the beauty and loveliness of Christ's person and work. I would highly recommend this to the families of our church as we are just now finishing our series "Believe and Behold: A Journey Through The Gospel Of John." The first several chapters deal specifically with John's Gospel and I know you will find it very helpful reading, especially as we start our new series, "Living & Loving Jesus: A Study of 1 John." This book is made up of 50 short chapters, which would make it great to for family reading and devotions focusing our attention on the sufficiency and glory of Jesus' person and work and how we live in light of Him. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK! This is book money well spent!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Husband of the Year Awards

Hey folks,

Here are some pics for a good laugh! But may this not be so with us! May we live out the mandate of Ephesians 5:25!

Sixth Place Goes To...

Fifth Place....
Fourth Place...
Third Place goes to...
Second Place...
And the grand prize goes to... a dude and his bike...

No date night ideas here...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?"

This is a question that God asks of Job, as Job is seeking to work out his theology in the midst of his own personal and very real suffering. And to answer that question, "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" The answer to that question would without a doubt be me, far too often. I cringe as I remember too many times I have been quick to speak and slow to listen. Quick to "tidy up a theology" with a nice neat bow on top of it, rather than living in the sovereignly ordained messiness of it, knowing that God Himself is sovereignly at work. These thoughts come to me after reading Andree Seu's article from World magazine entitled, "Letters To God: Cluelessness never stopped the clay advising the potter." It is a thoughtful article, written by an author who is aware of her own failings, written to inspire us to walk on the "unkept roads" with one another through a life that is far from the idealized "perfect life" trusting in our Sovereign Lord. Pour yourself a cup of this Psalm 88 and the see who the Lord calls you to pray for today. Take care ~M

"Susanna got in the way of my having a perfect life. It's nothing she did; it's something that was done to her. Worse than that, it's something that God did to her.

Five and a half years ago, Susanna's three sons, hale men in their 20s, died in a boating mishap on the same day. Her husband and she were already divorced. Her Christian daughter subsequently renounced her faith—and her mother.

I happened to be in the home of a friend of a friend of Susanna's when the news of the accident came that spring. But I didn't know the woman. Didn't want to know her. Our paths finally crossed last month at a retreat.

A retreat, imagine. She asked to come to my room and chat. Just before that, a woman in the last session had raised her hand and asked how we can be joyful when we're always "waiting for the other shoe to drop."

I offered sound theology: "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise" (James 5:13). Someone else did better: "Life is like a fairy tale where a lot of bad things happen in the middle, but the ending is happy. Think about the ending."
Sitting in my room with Susanna, I gave up all thought of saying a helpful word, though that's why she had come. I was scandalized myself. I felt like David when God struck Uzzah because he touched the ark. "David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. . . . And David was afraid of the Lord that day" (2 Samuel 6:8-9). God had killed the hapless cart man in the middle of a worship dance to the accompaniment of "songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals."

Susanna does not fit in my theology. She is like Psalm 88, a chapter of the Bible that you always hope won't be there next time you open it. Some other Psalms start poorly but have soaring endings. Psalm 88 has no ray of hope.

At one point in the retreat I had read selections from Children's Letters to God:
"Dear God, In school they told us what you do. Who does it when you're on vacation? Erin"
"Dear God, Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones why don't you just keep the ones you got now? Jane"
"Dear God, If you let the dinosaur not extinct we would not have a country. You did the right thing. Jonathan"
"Dear God, If you give me a genie lamp like Alladin, I will give you anything you want except my money or my chess set. Raphel"

What makes the letters cute is that the kids are clueless and yet they're giving God advice.
I went home and read all of Job.

God gave Job no answers. Nor did He apologize. He is God, He does as He pleases. We are all clueless, like children, and yet would give Him advice. He tells us that He is good. There is nothing to do with that but accept it or reject it. Job's wife rejected it, as did Susanna's daughter: "Curse God and die," they said. That's a choice.

I told two of my friends, independently of each other, the story of Susanna, thinking I would rattle their faith too, thinking I was presenting them with a theological Gordian Knot. I thought we would do a little hand-wringing together and flirting with doubts. They surprised me and said, in effect, "It all comes down to trusting Him."

Writer Anne Lamott tells the story of a little boy locked in his room and afraid. But his mother reaches under the door and finds his fingers, and he is consoled enough to wait for the locksmith who's coming in a while. This is the best we will do with Susanna: God's presence and His promise.

"Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" (Job 38:2). That would be me, Lord.

"I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know" (Job 42:2-3).

Click here for a link to the actual article: Copyright © 2007 WORLD MagazineDecember 15, 2007, Vol. 22, No. 46

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Cross Eclipses Everything!

Hey folks,
I just received this great quote from Mr. Kettler by Mr. Octavius Winslow, and it is outstanding. Read it slowly...

"It is the cross which eclipses, in the view of the true believer, the glory and attraction of every other object. What is the weapon by which faith combats with and overcomes the world? What but the cross of Jesus! Just as the natural eye, gazing for a while upon the sun, is blinded for the moment, by its overpowering effulgence, to all other objects—so to the believer, concentrating his mind upon the glory of the crucified Savior, studying closely the wonders of grace and love and truth meeting in the, cross—the world with all its attraction fades into the full darkness of an eclipse. Are not Christ and His cross infinitely better than the world and its love? "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." -Octavius Winslow

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Thanksgiving Family Vacation in Illinois!

Here are some pictures from our vacation to see family during Thanksgiving week! We drove to Illinois with my parents in their new mini-van. It was a wonderful time! Every time I come back 'home' I find myself so refreshed. It was a very relaxing and fun time visiting with my grandma and many other relatives. So hope you enjoy!

Here is a picture of my Mama's house. Christian, Vivian and I decorated her house for Christmas. Every time I go there I can't help but think of Psalm 23:2, 3 "He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul." It was such a refreshing time!

Above is a picture of us with Mama! What a godly woman!

My Aunt Cindy and Cousin Ashleigh (Above)
Janice, Aunt Janet and my dad's sister from Sitka, Alaska, Aunt Julia

Uncle Dee and Diane and Rick

Here we are with our cousin Sharon, and Aunt Opal (Mama's sister)

Here is where we spend a lot of time, especially Christian and I. This is what we have now unofficially called "Lake Happy" which is behind my grandma's home.

It was too cold to fish, but we spent many hours down here skipping rocks, shooting Christian's slingshot and just hanging out. You can see below that Christian caught a "baby frog" he wanted to keep it, but instead he wisely decided to let it go.

I am a blessed man!

And last but not 11x14 picture of my big head hanging in my grandma's home. Vivian couldn't resist, she wanted to take a picture to post it on her blog...but I beat her to it! Check out that jean vest!

Bella - Great Date Night Movie

Anna and I really enjoy good movies, however, all too often there are so few good movies out there that one could really whole heartedly recommend. But here is one for you that Anna and I have seen recently that we really enjoyed - the movie, "Bella." The harshest word in the movie is "gosh" which is a real shocker coming out of Hollywood. Bella is a great story about friendship. Jose, one of the main characters puts on display for us what being being slow to speak, quick to listen and sacrificial to care for others really looks like. This is a story about two individuals Jose and Nina and these themes come up around the topic of abortion vs. adoption, as Nina has found herself pregnant out of wedlock by a nameless, faceless man. (So because of this, I can't completely recommended it as a 'family movie.') Throughout the story there are wonderful vignettes of family interactions and care for others. It is a beautiful story of friendship, care and compassion with no sexual scenes depicted, etc.

One thing though, that some might not care for, it is a low budget film, with a type of 'independant' look to it (concerning its cinemography). The picture though is very well done it doesn't have any of the flashy Hollywood flare to it (which we find actually refreshing). It also has some of the symbolism that might be more common to some independent "artsy" films, which does make it more of an intelligent story to watch. If you see it, we hope you enjoy it.

Here is a link for movies that we have found very helpful from Focus on the Family called, "Plugged In Online." They give movie reviews from a Christian perspective. ((I do have to warn you-they do seem to tell you "everything" in the movie in great detail so this would be for parents to preview before watching a movie or sending your kiddos to a movie. It is a great resource