Would you like to read more than stories of our kids? Visit the other blog.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A post about too many different things.

(But the ending is good.)

Yesterday was the first day back at class that I didn't have knots in my stomach the whole time, wondering if Olivia was dieing, or worse. The anxiety that a mother feels is like nothing I've experienced before.

But it's good to be back in the classroom, and reading with an instructor. There is something inspirational about having an older and wiser person reading with you. Especially one who gets up and acts the texts out with themselves in order to create a better understanding for their students. Both of my professors do this. It's really hilarious to watch an overweight man run up and down the rows of a stadium seated lecture hall, waving his arms wildly, while explaining the battle scenes in Beowulf. It makes the old epic style come to life. Maybe when the semester is over I'll finally feel bold enough to tackle the Iliad and the Odyssey. Both of which I am ashamed to admit I have been avoiding since my freshman year of high school.

Also, studying the Anglo-Saxon (Old English) period is doing wonders for my understanding of Tolkien. Where I once saw the style of Tolkien, and thought, "Well, that's an interesting way of describing things." I now recognize that he is inspired by a whole period of literature that reflects the way of life of a brave, and heroic people that we would do well to learn from.

There is something to be said for putting your life on the line for your people. It is a concept that is lost among our post-modern, individualistic age. The Anglo-Saxon Warriors valued valor and courage above all other traits. The code of the warrior demanded that your protected your lord, and your people, or else you'd better die trying.

In the last battle of Beowulf, his men deserted him, and left him to fight the dragon alone. One man, Wyglaf, remained to aid his lord. When Beowulf, who'd lead his nation to victory many times past died in battle with the dragon, Wyglaf was given rule over the tribe for his valor. But he feared that they wouldn't last long once word got out that they were divided, and the best men fled the fight.

The battle-tribes of the first century knew how important it was for the nation to stand together. Their safety and freedom relied on it. And when that unity failed, they knew that their tribe would soon fail with it.

I just found that prophetic of our time. We study history and literature to learn from others' mistakes. Beowulf is a fictional poem in so much as it deals with a demon named Grendel, and a treasure hoarding dragon. But, there is nothing more true than the vulnerability of a nation divided.

It would do America well to learn from the Anglo-Saxons.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Olivia is teething.

"Here I hand, I can do no other."

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Proverbs 31 Woman

I am in no way a Bible scholar, but I just came across this and I thought I'd share. I was recently accused of not trying hard enough to be the Proverbs 31 woman. Admittedly, I've never even read it before so I didn't really know how to argue with it. So, I did what anyone would do and I looked it up on BibleGateway.com while I was surfing blogs.

This is probably glaringly obvious to the rest of the world, but it's new to me. It seems to me that this passage is definitely a Law passage, "what a wonderful wife is like, and how to live if you want to be one." But more than that I think it is a prophecy of the Bride of Christ, namely, The Church.

My first clue?

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;

for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

That would be: clothed in the blood of Christ. How awesome that Jesus would speak so highly of us, his lowly bride.

Like I said this is probably plain as day to the rest of the world, but it's new to me.

[Michael Myers Impression] The Proverbs 31 woman is not an obtainable standard, nor should woman try to convince each other it is. Discuss...[/Michael Myers Impression]

Post Script.

As I was finishing up my post Rob informed me that John H. was saying something along this same wave length over here.

A moment of silence...

I wasn't going to post anything today about Roe v. Wade. It's a very sensitive subject to me, and one I take very seriously. But after seeing so many others posting, I couldn't stop myself.

I ask that all married couples evaluate the importance of life together, and then visit this website. I know it's RC, but it's very important that we remember abortion in every way it could happen.

Lastly, I ask that we all take a moment of silence to reflect on life, and on God's blessing of children. And of course to pray for all of those effected by abortion, and pray that the murdering of babies under the guise of "freedom, and women's rights" will end soon.

A child inutero at 21 weeks. At this point there is still
three weeks left in which this mother could choose to abort
her baby.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Will he ever stop posting about the Word?

Take out your copy of Scripture, and tear out a few pages. Rearrange the order of the books. Mix up the order of the chapters. Find a copy without verses and subtitles, and start segmenting whole phrases and thoughts with numbers, sections, colors, descriptive headings, and even observational notes.

When you're finished, let the book flop open and start studying. Ask yourself the question: Now that I've done all this editing, am I reading the Word of God?

What do we mean when we confess sola scriptura? I grew up in a church that taught me that creeds were worthless and confessions divisive. "Here, we only believe in the Bible," teachers would say to classrooms full of new members-in-training. "This book," one instructor might proclaim while holding a leather-bound NIV high in the air, "is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword."

Since joining the confessional Lutheran church, I've become more and more baffled by this sort of emphasis on "the good book" that excludes any advice on how the book should be read. Certainly, I believe that Scripture is God-breathed, infallible, and sets forth the foundation of our faith. But when we say "I believe..." in our confession of the creed, we don't confess a belief in a certain set of words, but in a certain trinity of God. The book is not an end in itself, but a means to an end separable from ink spilled on paper.

To understand what I'm getting at, take out that mangled copy of pages that we started with, formerly known as a Bible. During our process of copying and pasting, trimming and editing, rearranging and recoloring, at what point did it cease being the Word and start being only a collection of words? Was it when we tore something out? Or only when we chopped it to bits with numbers? Or when we colorized it? Or was it when we translated it from Greek and Hebrew into English?

As Christians, we believe that the Word is truth, absolutely. Truth does not exist in shades of gray. Furthermore, we recognize that Truth exists not in one language, one sentence structure, or one annotated, authorized copy, but in one person named Jesus Christ. We speak Truth when we say something that properly describes Christ. The Scripture is Truth committed to pages because it properly describes Christ to the reader.

But all written words, even Scripture, must be interpreted. The reader must know the writer's language, understand his grammar, and have some sense of his thesis. Bad readers miss a good author's point. As terrible readers, the Pharisees just could not get the point of Scripture's author, God the Father. From John 5:

37And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41I do not receive glory from people. 42But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"

Contrary to what I formerly believed, making Sola scriptura my battle cry is just not enough. It must be preceded by solus Christus, the living Word who existed before the alphabet was even imagined. Without the objective fact of His existence -- prophesied, born, lived, died, and resurrected -- all we've really got is words on a page. He is God's great statement of Himself, the thesis of all Scripture.

Some people wonder why we Lutherans insist on reading every Scripture with Christ as our lense, the cross as our lexicon. It's because apart from Him, we're reading the histories of a bunch of dead men who can only instruct us in the way of death. It is only in Christ that we have the Word of Life. It's not narrow-mindedness. It's good reading.

Me and Olivia's disagreement.

Today Olivia is three months old. I decided to celebrate by dressing Liv in a cute dress, and having a happy day. Well, Liv had her own agenda for the day. It included being in a horrible mood all morning long, and puking on her dress.

I think she's teething, and she has a small cough. So I wanted to check her gums and her throat, but once again, Liv has her own agenda. She wants to suck on my thumb. I can kind of feel a spot where things are different on her gums, but I can't look at her throat with my finger. Oh well.

The People Who Owned the Bible - a story

This story is great.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Balaam's Ass: A Sermon

You must all read this. Great preaching!

Continuing the discussion

Pr. Humann's posts, The Question of Orality and Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio Revisited add to the growing discussion on the Word.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Kitchen Window Reflections

This isn't all the way created but I thought I'd let you all come check it out anyway.

Since I'm always saying I'm going to write someday, I decided today was the day! I started a fictional blog for those interested called Kitchen Window Reflections, and I plan on using it to help me develop my character, Annette, and my writing skills.

I hope you all check it out and I"m leaving comments enabled on it so that you can leave input.

OK that's all.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Are all theologies heresies?

I've been reading a book that keeps my interest primarily by continually ticking me off: Adventures in Missing the Point: How the culture-controlled church neutered the Gospel by Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo. The book is a collection of essays, and Campolo's on theology got me thinking:
Far from any individuals theology being The Right One, in one sense all theologies are heresies. For theologies, like heresies, are major or minor distortions of the truth.

We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 1 Corinthians 13:9-10.
He goes on:

Let's get one thing straight: the One Thing. The one certainty against which all our theologies are guesswork. "This one thing I know," the apostle Paul wrote: Jesus, and how his crucifixion delivered us from sin, and how his resurrection assures us of eternal life.

I believe these are unquestionable absolutes for all Christians -- and perhaps the only absolutes. In the end, God's truth is not a theology, but a person. Our faith is not about Jesus Christ, not based on Jesus Christ-- it is Jesus Christ.

But that's where the certainties end. Christians explain their personal encounters with Jesus differently. We have different ways of explaining how our personal relationship with God defines how we function in daily life.
I think Campolo is largely off his nut here, as he often is. I certainly agree with his statement that our faith is Jesus Christ. But then mustn't we say that right theology is any statement that accurately describes Christ?

So what happens to confessions of faith? I believe that Christ is really, truly present in, with, and under the bread and wine of communion. This is an absolute statement I am making about Jesus. Call it partial heresy, and haven't you made it useless?

Contrast Campolo's statements with the Lutheran theologian Hermann Sasse in his Union and Confession: Christ and his Church, another series of essays:

Among the lies which destroy the church there is one we have not yet mentioned. Alongside the pious and dogmatic lies, there stands in especially dangerous form of lie which can be called the institutional lie. By this we mean a lie which works itself out in the institutions of the church, in her government and her organization. It is so dangerous because it legalizes the other lies in the church and makes them impossible to remove. Such a lie exists, for instance, where the governance of the church grants to those who confess and those who deny the Trinity and the two natures in Christ the same rights in the church; where the preaching of the Gospel according to the understanding of the Reformation enjoys the same right as the proclamation of a dogma-less Enlightenment religion, so long as the latter appeals only to the Bible [...]

Such canon law [...] makes it completely impossible to differentiate between truth and error, between true and false doctrine. A church so composed can no longer see that the Gospel is plainly and purely preached and heresy opposed. It must protect open heretics when the "orthodox" side denies that they possess an equal legitimacy in the church. The congregations of such a church, the youth who are educated in it, the people to whom it attempts to preach the truth of the Gospel, must come to the conviction that it simply does not matter much what one believes or does not believe. Since what is to be believed or not believed in the sermon is left up to the individual, his inclinations and aversions, his world-view and soon also his faithlessness will become the norm for proclamation in the church. In place of the objective message of that which God has done in Christ, subject religious feelings and convictions soon form the essential content of the sermon. Thus the church sinks to the level of an institution for the satisfaction of the manifold religious needs of men and ceases to be the church of Christ, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
The problem here with Campolo's perspective is one we see across the American evangelical spectrum: A failure to see the church as the true body of Christ, as Sasse says "the pillar and foundation of the truth."

Sasse's view demands lines be drawn. But without lines, can we ever know where we are standing?

St. Paul writes that he becomes "all things to all men, so that he might save some." Though Paul may change his approach and delivery of the Gospel, he is still preaching one true Gospel. We cannot separate the Gospel from what we confess as Word rightly preached and sacrament rightly administered, because it is through these means that Gospel is imparted to us.

This leaves us with a lot of questions about how to deal with semper reformanda. But we must always be certain that what we confess is true, and most certainly true.

The Word and the Light

Comments on John 1, from The Life of Christ by Adam Fahling, on loan to me from our pastor:
In a beautiful prolog the Evangelist John identifies the person of Jesus Christ, who is to be the subject of his narrative, as the Logos, or the eternal and preexisting Word, the Son of God, God Himself. A term is used which was already familiar in Greek philosophy to denote the anima mundi, or the principle which maintains order in the world, but is here given a meaning all its own. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In tracing the antecedents of Jesus, this writer steps upon prehistoric, but not unhistoric, ground and proclaims Jesus as the Fountain of life and light, adding the sad note, however, that "the Light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not."
I've been recently longing to learn more about the Greek term "Logos." What was the full meaning of the word, and how is John using it when he describes Christ? The question is particularly important to me now in relation to many changes sweeping through the church now, and throughout the past thirty or so years; changes moving the church away from oral/aural proclamation (the preaching of the Word), toward visual or even tangible proclamation.

I have a sense that God favors a particular arrangement or hierarchy of the senses. For instance, Moses was certainly allowed to hear God -- and he even spoke back to Him -- but was prohibited from seeing God, lest he die. We are commanded in the Law to never make a graven image. Faith is described in Hebrews as "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see."

So why is hearing the voice of God, and speaking in His name, so favored over seeing the face of God, and casting images of His glory? And what does it mean for the church? (Another related question: What's the Lutheran response to Reformed theology's Regulative principal?)

Even our Lutheran liturgy favors the oral/aural over and above the other senses. We confess our sins with our mouths, and upon our confession are forgiven all our sins. We consider communion -- which we contact with our other senses of smell, taste, and touch -- rightly administered only when the words of institution are used, and baptism valid only in the spoken name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In all cases, the Word and the word come first, and the rest of the sensorium trails behind.

Perhaps it's useless to so divide the senses. But I've had this nagging sense that there is a tremendous mystery here (as I've written about in the past), and I'm longing for a better articulation of that mystery.

Your thoughts? On a related note, the recent series of the White Horse Inn has given me a lot of food for thought. Give it a listen!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Judge nixes evolution textbook stickers

This story infuriates me. What has happened to the courts in this country? What particularly annoys me is the quote from the attorney against the school board: "They're going to be permitted to learn science unadulterated by religious dogma."

You're telling me that a sticker that carries no religious connotations placed on the cover of a science book imposes religious dogma on all of that book's content?

Now, it's hard for me to say what I think about this without seeing the content of the book, but I'm guessing that it teaches the big bang theory on creation. If so, I think a sticker like this is appropriate.

Things always get muddy when talking about evolution. Many Christians hear the word and immediately think "Atheism!" From the meager bit of science I know, I believe that evolution does occur, but it's certainly not the origin of man. If this science book claims that man evolved from apes, which evolved from slime, which showed up after the big bang, it's teaching something other than just the theory of evolution. So, perhaps the school board's sticker could have been better worded. However...

When and why did schools stop being about education -- teaching people how to think -- and start being about personal agendas?

Apparently, the thrust of the argument of the parents that sued was that the stickers "unfairly singled out evolution" from thousands of other theories about the creation of the world. Wouldn't a textbook that taught only evolution also unfairly single out the theory? What's wrong with informing students that they're only getting one side of the story?

Look at my baby grow!!!

Liv is big. Can you believe it?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Sorry, I'm dating Jesus

Chris Williams' excellent blog always sparks discussion, and his latest post is no exception. In that post, Chris mentions his longing for a wife. One commenter wrote to warn Chris of the damage that could be done to his relationship with God because of his desire for a mate.

These days, it's common for us to throw warnings like this around at every young couple. I've done it in the past, and also had them tossed my way.

It's easy to imagine why we'd want people to be so cautious. We live in a society that's become completely unhinged sexually. "Careful!" we say, because we see troubled waters all around us, and we know that just below the surface are rocks -- sharp ones.

But I get the feeling that our cautiousness is not without a few potential wrecks.

When my wife and I started our relationship, I could have been the poster boy for Christian dating done right. I had only dated one other person, never kissed, and took the lead when it came to setting goals for our relationship. "I want us to help one another grow spiritually," I thought. If we weren't growing, I would know the relationship was not "the one," and should end.

We set boundaries, too. No kissing, no time together after midnight... the list goes on. I was driven to make our relationship a holy one headed for marriage, or nothing at all.

Despite all our best efforts, we didn't become a pair of perfect Christians, united in the purest mission. We found ourselves distracted by one another when we should be singing in worship service. We longed for a physical relationship. We found ourselves impatient, selfish, and immature. To our surprise, we also found ourselves in love.

Many people might have told us that our relationship was a bad one, doomed to drag us down and pull as away from God. Ending it would be the best choice we could make for our spiritual well-being.

But looking back from this side of marriage, I can tell you one thing: They would have all been wrong. The fact is that Devona and I are sinners. Sinners in courtship, and sinners in marriage.

This misapplied, pietistic, city-on-a-hill mentality about romantic relationships has got us all looking for the wrong things in a relationship. When we wake up one day and find ourselves more attracted to a member of the opposite sex than our Bible study, we think we've fallen into a quicksand of depravity, when what we've got to learn is patience. When we sin against our boyfriend or girlfriend in anger or passion, we think we've built a doomed relationship on immorality, when what we need is repentance and forgiveness.

The problem is centered on our false understanding of a right relationship with God. "Being a Christian isn't necessarily about sinning less, but about repenting more," writes singer Derek Webb. No relationship is going to make us perfect save the one Christ has with us, and expecting anything otherwise is going to lead us astray.

No matter whether we've been dating two hours, or married twenty years, we will all come face to face with sin. It will look a lot like our spouses, and a lot like ourselves. Because we sin in the context of a romantic relationship, does this mean we've got to put the whole thing to an end? What we need, precisely in our moment of sinfulness, is someone who loves us and knows us to say "You're a sinner," and "I forgive you."

For Devona and I now, rather than spending our time making one another perfect, we're a lot happier when we see our sins for what they are, and give each other the Gospel. Rather than helping one another become more pious, we're a lot stronger in our weakness, much prouder in our humility. There's no other place to truly be married -- or even dating -- than at the foot of the cross.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

More internet thank you cards...

Devona in her hat (made from my mom's yarn), drinking Jacque's chai. It's cold inside our house. But that's okay, because we can go warm up with our electric blanket, courtesy of my mom and dad.

We were given lots of other great things too. Maybe we'll post more thank yous in the next few days.

Friday, January 07, 2005

YEA Amazon.com

I just bought my books for class online at Amazon.com. I got a $15.00 book for $.50, a $17.00 book for $9.35, and $45.00 book for $25.00.

I'm so happy.

I couldn't find two of my books, but that's ok. With all that I saved on these three I don't feel bad going to the store to get my last two.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Liv a few days old.

Liv a few weeks ago.

Olivia a few minutes ago. This is for you, Theresa!

Olivia has hit a growth spurt, and has started waking up at night again. Twice! Ahh! It seemed like it was easier to wake up with her as a newborn than it is now. I feel like I haven't slept at all.

Anyways, having her wake up all night long reminds me of way back when she was so small. She's more than twice her birth weight now, and growing! I miss the little Liv that was all warm and slippery when they put her on my belly for the first time.

It's fun to see her grow up, and watch the little person God created unfold. But you still wish they would be so little for the rest of your life. So, in honor of missing my little bundle I thought we could revisit the little Liv. Isn't it amazing how different she is now after only two months? We adults haven't hardly changed at all, but she's a completely different person!

So here we are, once the parents of a blob of baby (and I mean blob in the most adorable way). Now the parents of a babbling, cooing, almost rolling infant.

It's so rewarding, too. When she smiles at Rob or I it is a smile intended just for us. Sometimes Liv's Nana or Grandma will get one of the big ones, but it's not the same. We are her heroes. Also, she got us the "Blog of the Week" at Random Thoughts for more than a month. That's pretty rewarding in its own right.

So, that's our trip down memory lane. I just want to make sure no one can forget our little Bundle, and where she's been.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

"The Word Made Foolish"

This weeks episode of the White Horse Inn is excellent. I recommend that you stop in and give it a listen. It'll only be up on the website until Saturday, so hop to it!

The question that our good friends at the WHI are hashing out is, "How can we be a people in the religion of the Book when we live in a culture where words have lost their meaning?" They touch on wide base of problems, all of which I've struggled with first hand. Since Liv is being a bit demanding today I will quickly touch on one point even though so many good points were made.

They discussed how we have become jaded to words, and have instead become a "follow you heart" generation. It is more acceptable to agree with an idea if you can personally attest to its "truthfulness." It is no longer with our intellect, and by study that we come to the truth, but with our gut instinct. Do people forget that our hearts and instincts are fallen? " The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? " Jer. 17:9

It is not by our subjective hearts and intuition that we can come to truth, but by the objective Word of God. Yet we do not turn to the objective and historical understanding of scripture, the confessions and creeds, to understand God.

This is fundamental to our relationship with God. We need to remember that we are sinful beyond reckoning, and it is within all of our parts that we stumble. If we "follow our hearts" ultimately, we will inevitably be led down a never ending bunny-trail, into a Godless life of sin. Instead follow the Word of Truth, and it shall set you free.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

What to make of Piper

There's an excellent discussion going on over at Here We Stand ( Justification by Faith) regarding an article written by John Piper, the ever-popular Reformed Baptist pastor and author.

About three years ago, just before me journey into Lutheranism, I was a big fan of Piper's defining work, Desiring God. I've occasionally wondered what to do with his ideas now -- do they make sense with my understanding of scripture?

Piper's thesis in the book modifies the Reformed confession from "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever," to read "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever." Another way Piper states it: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Piper wants us to realize that pursuit of God should give us joy.

Without laboring over a lengthy disputation of Piper's points, my gut feeling is that, though well intentioned, Piper's work is doomed to remove our eyes from Christ, and place them back on ourselves.

Specifically, Piper does an excellent job of restating the Law for us. He tells us to no longer see obedience to God as an ascetic effort, but as a pursuit that we should take greater and greater pleasure in. Piper is telling us what is demanded of us. But even if the demands give us joy in their fulfillment, sinners will always be discovering that they haven't enjoyed fulfilling them very much, or they haven't fulfilled them at all. After all, we still live on this earth. Christ has not yet taken us to Heaven.

Yes, I do hope we find unfathomable pleasure in obeying God. But unless the cross (an often unpleasurable sight) is placarded before us at every turn, we're doomed to always be kicking ourselves for our lack of enthusiasm.

The truth is that because of our sinful flesh, it's often difficult to feel like obeying God is enjoyable at all. Many times, it feels like suffering -- and not just feels like, it is suffering.

In these moments, I've found that the worst way to find peace is to stare into my own desires, and wrestle to point them toward Godly things. Rather, the only view that makes the yoke of suffering easy, and the burden of the daily cross light, is the brilliant, bloody passion of Christ's desire for me.

Tremors of Doubt

What kind of God would allow a deadly tsunami? David Hart makes an excellent point here:

"When confronted by the sheer savage immensity of worldly suffering--when we see the entire littoral rim of the Indian Ocean strewn with tens of thousands of corpses, a third of them children's--no Christian is licensed to utter odious banalities about God's inscrutable counsels or blasphemous suggestions that all this mysteriously serves God's good ends. We are permitted only to hate death and waste and the imbecile forces of chance that shatter living souls, to believe that creation is in agony in its bonds, to see this world as divided between two kingdoms--knowing all the while that it is only charity that can sustain us against 'fate,' and that must do so until the end of days."

Solus Christus and the Pastor

Solus Christus and the Pastor - Rod Rosenblat. I love this quote:
"That which saves us is not Christ's work within us. What saves us is Christ's objective dying, his objective blood shed on an objective cross. This sounds so simple, but it is the battle between the true Gospel (which is totally objective) and a false gospel of inwardness. When our introspections result in despair (and well they might, because we continue to sin), Christ's objective and sufficient work must be re-presented to us by our pastors."

Saturday, January 01, 2005

It's 2005!

My stunning wife in a stunning New Year's party hat.

Happy New Year from Love and Blunder!