October2011Archive for

I Wish Those Days Would Come Back Once More

The Kingdom Notes

What a strange and wonderful providence that this machine that sits on my lap, that is capable of astounding wonders, that employs the latest and greatest of technology and design spends most of its energy as a “Way Back” machine. Sure, I write things, I edit things; I study things with my laptop. But the one app that is operating more than any other is iTunes, playing music from my childhood. Here’s a little playlist confession- when I booted up this morning iTunes started with Stevie Wonder’s hit for which this piece is named, followed by the Four Tops ode to my beloved bride, “Ain’t No Woman Like the One I Got.” There are, I believe, two great triggers to nostalgia, music and smell. The two come together sometimes for me. If I listen to a few Nickel Creek songs in row, or a certain Alison Krauss album suddenly I…

Ask RC: Is a Christian school a better or worse choice than homeschooling?

Ask R.C.

I am, and have been for decades, a strong advocate of homeschooling. The key reason for that is my conviction no child can be properly educated unless they are taught day in and day out the Lordship of Christ over all things. This, of course, is not possible in the public schools that are by law and conviction secular, no matter how many godly teachers and administrators a local school might have. I have a friend who is rather well know in classical Christian school circles. His conviction is that homeschooling is the best choice for those who don’t have access to a classical Christian school. When one gentlemen sought to get my friend and me into a scuffle over that conviction I told my friend, “When we can get Christian children out of the public schools (roughly eighty percent of evangelical parents send their children to the secular public…

Come as You Aren’t

The Kingdom Notes

Too many conversations are far too predictable. Praise the sovereignty of God in salvation and someone will inevitably remind you that God didn’t make robots. You will then remind said friend that dead people are passive people, only to be reminded that God is not willing that any should perish. Warn against the dangers of too much wine, and someone will in turn present the biblical praises for wine, and before long in the back and forth you can count on someone pointing out that sometimes oinos means grape juice. As soon as the conversation begins we know how it will end. It is the habit of my family to dress for church. I have, on more than one occasion, argued in print that we casually worship a casual god because we enter into his presence casually. I have suggested that on the Lord’s Day we should dress as if…

All Quiet on the Western Front

The Kingdom Notes

FROM THE ARCHIVES of Every Thought Captive magazine All Quiet On the Western Front It probably says more about what defines our moments, the television, than the moments themselves, that we keep multiplying defining moments. For my parents’ generation, it was the death of John F. Kennedy. Everyone remembers where they first heard, or more likely saw, the news. Since that time we have added a moon landing or three, two shuttle disasters, and 9/11. We no longer can be certain what will follow, “Do you remember where you were when you first heard…” I was not yet among the living when JFK died, and was barely four when Neil Armstrong took his small step. But the rest of them I remember not only the events, but where I was for each of them. Each of these events, however, was more startling than shocking. That is, while we weren’t expecting…

Patience, NOW

The Kingdom Notes

Patience, right now, is in short supply. As so many have been faithful to pray for my wife’s health, and for the emotional weight on the rest of the family, I find my own peculiar weaknesses growing worse. My fuse, which in the best of times is measured in inches rather than yards has gone metric, and is now measured in millimeters. I have a house full of eight children whose lives have been turned upside down. They are struggling with fear and uncertainty, but most of all they miss their mom. They aren’t thinking, “Wow, this must really be hard on dad. We will bend over backwards to make this difficult time for him easier. We will play quietly, get along like angels and put away our toys the moment we finish with them.” No, they’re thinking, “Our lives are being turned upside down. And to top it all…

Ask RC: Is it a sin to celebrate Halloween?

Ask R.C.

I don’t know. And what’s more, I don’t care. First let me quickly deal with I don’t know, before moving on to the far more significant I don’t care. The Bible does not say, “Thou shalt not celebrate Halloween.” It certainly doesn’t say, “Though shalt not dress thy little girl as a princess, walk with her through the neighborhood and collect tasty treats.” It does, however, far more than we Christians, take very seriously the supernatural realm. When God established Israel He commanded that witches there be put to death. The same for necromancers. He understood that these are not games to play with, but deadly serious matters. To the extent that celebrating Halloween means playing fast and loose with such things, I would strongly discourage it. That said, even if we confess that this was its origins, it still doesn’t mean dress up and candy are sins. As long…

Ask RC: What is wrong with the church?

Ask R.C.

What is wrong with the church is what is wrong with Christians, sin. Because of our sin, however, we tend to think of sin as something we do, rather than something we are. Because of our sin, in turn, we are more interested in covering our sin than fighting it. We cover it in at least two ways. The first is misdirection. That is, if we can define sin as that which we are less apt to struggle with, we miss the real problem. So we vow not to drink, smoke or chew and not to go out with girls that do. We behave in nice, respectable ways, and mistake this for growing in grace and wisdom. We show our brothers our sparkly white teeth as if this is how one recognizes a shiny white soul. My business is successful, my wife is happy, my daughter is on the honor…

Ask RC: How does one learn to suffer well?

Ask R.C.

I want to suggest two points that relate directly to suffering, and two that do not. First, you learn to suffer well by watching others suffer well. When we weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn we are not merely offering comfort to others, but are receiving instruction from them as well. We can’t do this, however, unless we enter in. If illness makes us uncomfortable, if we refuse to visit His own who are poor or in prison, if we insist on spending our time exclusively in the village of the happy, pleasant people, we will learn precious little. Visit instead the oppressed outside your local abortion mill. Go where the suffering is, and enter in. God has peculiarly blessed me in giving me a beautiful example to witness in my precious bride. As she is assaulted once again with chemo in an attempt to push…

Judging With Charity

The Kingdom Notes

I was scheduled tomorrow to meet with my professor, the man overseeing my Ph.D. studies. He called this evening wanting to know if I wanted to postpone. “That depends,” said I, “on whether you want to yell at me or not for not getting more of my reading done.”” He, gracious man that he is acknowledged, “You have had a lot on your plate lately.” This same man, from the time I was a boy, has belabored to me the importance of seeking to judge others charitably. Because there is always a speaker and a hearer, and doer and a receiver, because we are all tempted to put ourselves in the best possible light, it is critical, he explained to me as I grew up, that we put ourselves in the other guy’s shoes, and judge what he has said, or done, with the same compassion and understanding with which…

Dust to Dust

The Kingdom Notes

FROM THE ARCHIVES of Every Thought Captive magazine My father and I agree on many things. There are few we disagree on. But there may be no issue over which we disagree with greater passion than this one- snow. I am not only a pro-snow club member, I am the founder and president of the pro-snow club. I write odes to snow, and fret that they fail to convey the depths of my love. My father, on the other hand, is Mr. Heat Miser, he’s Mr. 101. He literally lives in a land where, each time you step outside, at least nine months of the year, you get this nearly audible message from God, “I did not shape people to live here.” Yet he turns a deaf ear, and continues on his merry way. I live where we get snow. He lives where there is no snow. But there is…