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Archive | Musings

Let Justice Roll Down

It has been a tumultuous week. Of course, in a very unfortunate way that almost seems normal. Turmoil, discord, confusion, and anarchy appear to be the new normal. That’s the society we live in. Recent headlines only confirm it. We have learned this week that the politically elite are not subject to the same laws as the governed, and dishonesty is an excusable offense so long as one is seeking to protect a reputation. We have again been troubled by the graphic and complicated images of those gunned down by police. We hear of the ways in which truth is being suppressed and efforts are being made to mute and silence religious convictions. We have watched again as those who have sworn to maintain peace have been, in a very calculated manner, executed on the street. Turmoil. Discord. Confusion. Anarchy. It leaves the world crying for justice because, in a very real sense, people see that things are not as they should be.

It’s difficult to know what to say in response. Even as I sit here and let my fingers do my thinking my own mind has tossed and turned and my reflections have taken a new direction. To desire […]

Friction

Recently I was out in the woods hauling some things with a wheelbarrow. As I tromped down the hill, with the weeds, grass, and briars brushing against my legs and arms, I was concerned about getting poison ivy. Then I remembered seeing this video about how to never contract it again (proving Facebook does have some value!).

The message of the video, delivered by Dr. Jim Brauker, is that the urishiol oil in poison ivy must remain on your skin for some time to create the itchy rash. Since this oil is undetectable to the eye and adheres to the skin, it is easy for it to remain on your body. Using very visible axle grease to demonstrate, in the video Brauker shows different ways you get the oil on your skin and then, with his hands and arms blackened by the grease, goes inside to clean up. Brauker uses different soaps and proves that none of them is the true answer to getting rid of the oil. The key is (you guessed it from the title) friction. He uses soap and running water with a cloth, and carefully cleans the axle grease off by rubbing it. He explains in the video that most people get […]

A Memorial Day Meditation

number of years ago now our family took a vacation eastward and southward where we focused on learning more about the Civil War. We had been studying this war in our home schooling curriculum. Being able to see some of the sights added value to our education.

As we traveled, we read books and listened to tapes that told stories of the war. Yet we also visited a few places to see what we were reading.

We stopped in Gettysburg, heard of Pickett’s Charge, and read Abraham Lincoln’s address.  As most of the war was fought on southern territory, it was fascinating to learn more of General Lee’s attempt to try to take the war to the Yankees. The great number of men who lost their lives in this battle was staggering.

Our favorite sight on this journey ended up being the private Pamplin Park near Richmond, Virginia. This four hundred plus acre site was extremely well-maintained, preserving the location of the April 2, 1865, “Breakthrough” battle which led to the evacuation of the Confederate capital at Richmond. This park also featured the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. As we walked through this interactive display, our imaginations were triggered by the audio recounting and memorabilia all […]

“How Are You?” – and other declarations of malice

Imagine that you’re severely stressed.   Maybe that’s not too much of  a stretch for you right now.  If you’re anything like me in tense times, then in addition to stress-pounding Skittles to cope, you develop an irrational suspicion of other people’s motives when they encounter you in your turmoil.  Someone asks “How are you?”  But the inquirer seems afraid, and you interpret the nervous eyes to say:  “The answer to my question is any number of positive words, followed by your grateful acknowledgement of my asking.”  If you do give an upbeat answer, no matter how dishonest, and you follow it up with your thanks, no matter how insincere, you think you spy in their smiling response not only happiness, but relief.  And that makes you boil.  Or, someone just looks at you in your stress but doesn’t ask how you’re doing, and you get mad about what seems to be an obvious lack of concern and you suspect that they’re silently condemning you.  Either way, they can’t win.  Stress and the charitable judgement of others are not natural friends.

Stopping by Foggy Books on a Spring Day

Having just briefly dipped into B.B. Warfield’s ancient tome, on ‘the Inspiration and Authority of the Bible’, eager to glean some tips on ‘God-breathed’, otherwise affectionately known as ‘Theopneustos’, I thought I would pen a few random thoughts on the difficulty of reading highly-technical scholarly works.

Being a pastor with a side-interest in languages, and having a certain familiarity with Hebrew, Greek and Latin, I have to confess to being a little overwhelemed at the depth of linguistic knowledge required to decipher one of the chapters.

This work, brothers, frankly, is seriously heavy going; the material Warfield covers is beyond the competence of most pastors; without linguisic accumen the arguments are difficult, if not impossible, to follow or carefully weigh; yet, as most recognise, this also is an important book [at least in it’s day] – this stimulated me to muse on the vital importance of godly bible scholars.

It is much to be lamented, and dangerous for the Church, if she does not seek, by all means in her power, to remedy the longterm, slow decline in ‘classical’ education. The study of ancient cultures and languages have long proved a safeguard against the intrusion of serious error into the Body of Christ.

Certainly not […]

A Brief Reflection on Ephesians 2:7

“4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

————–

One of the astonishing things to be observed in Ephesians 2:7 is its future scope. Our being raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly places is designed to show forth the immeasurable riches of God’s grace. But note when this will be manifested. Paul declares that this will occur “in the coming ages.”

What is it about the riches, nay, the immeasurable riches of God’s grace that will be more clearly manifested in the future? Hasn’t such grace already been made plain?

It no doubt has. So in what way will it be made to shine more brightly?

Perhaps this is simply a matter of our more adequately apprehending its depths. Maybe once we are transformed in the twinkling of an eye, and once we behold […]

What Are We To Do?

What are we to do? I suspect that’s a question many Christians have been asking lately. The rapid sexual descent of our culture either has or will force every Christian to seriously ask it–Christians who might otherwise be content to play the part of the ostrich with their head stuck firmly in the sand. It is remarkable to me that less than ten years ago a presidential candidate couldn’t run on a platform that endorsed same-sex marriage and today there is an all-out societal celebration of sexual immorality. Bob Dylan, who was not, according to my knowledge, a prophet or the son of a prophet was, nevertheless, quite right: “The times they are a-changin’.”

What is a helpful Christian response? Should we stop baking cakes and taking wedding pictures? Should we sign petitions and organize boycotts? Should we position ourselves on the nearest picket line and protest? Should we sit and reminisce about the good ole days? Should we board up the doors and windows of our church building and fearfully hide in our corners? Without deciding the merit of these responses it does seem, at least to me, that many ordinary Christians have found themselves completely unprepared for this cultural […]

Of Burner Phones and Busy Lives: Making the Best Use of Time

A couple of weeks ago I walked into a cell phone store and said,  “I would like to trade in my iPhone 6 for a dumb phone.” Puzzled, the clerk asked why I would do such a thing. I told him I longed for the simplicity of the 2000s. The look of puzzlement continued as I described why I only wanted talk and text: I am tired of the media access on my phone. It’s a time vacuum.

He consulted with another employee and then informed me that they no longer sold dumb phones and said I would have to buy a “burner phone” to avoid media. I could try CVS or Target. All phone plans now carry a media charge; it cannot be avoided.

I went home disappointed, but as a small victory in the media-fatigue battle I deleted my Facebook app. I love you all, but you don’t need to join me on coffee dates with my wife and you don’t need to accompany me to the park with my children. I don’t need to see your vacation pics while I’m waiting for the light to change. There are better ways for me to use my time.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, gives a […]

A GenRef Update

Though we basically like to blog rather than blog about our blogging, every now and then we like to update you about things going on behind the scenes here at Gentle Reformation. Here are a few items to share.

First, if you want a good reminder of why we chose the name, please read Tim Challies’ excellent article “The Character of the Christian: Gentle.” We do not lay claim to being fully gentle as described here but we are striving toward it on this blog. Tim asks in the self-evaluation section of his article, “Do you like to play the devil’s advocate? Do you like a good argument? What would your social media presence indicate?” We try to ask ourselves questions like these before we publish. Numerous times one of us will submit an article to another for feedback before publishing or even accept a veto and not publish. We will not hesitate to address difficult issues, but hope to do so in a gentlemanly manner that promotes the peace and welfare of the church.

Second, it is no secret to many of our readers that most of the writers here are from the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Though we have no stated policy to limit our authors to this branch […]

A Game Recommendation. A Conference Recommendation

Two recommendations today. One is for all you gamers out there. The other is for all of you.

First, the gamers.

I love a good thinking game. Portal and Portal 2 certainly come to mind. So does World of Goo. One can’t forget the old classic, Myst, either. Well, I am happy to report that there’s another heavy hitter in town. It’s called The Witness.

While I’m not yet finished, I can say in all candor that the design is pure genius. Pure genius!

You emerge on a colorful island full of intrigue and mystery.  No people.  No critters.  Just plants, water, and themed locations (like ruins, sunken ships, etc.).  But embedded all throughout the land are a variety of puzzles that share a common thread. You have to draw lines on computer screens scattered about the island in the correct order. Sounds easy enough. Except that you have to also figure out what the puzzle requires of you; what the rules of game actually are.

As I write this, I realize how lame it sounds. But what can I say? It’s awesome.  It’s not annoying.  Though it will hurt your head.

So, yeah, if you have $40 burning a hole in your pocket, and you […]