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Archive | Musings

For Beauty and Glory

Why do I love the way that Vermeer painted yellow? Can I describe the joy produced by concentric circles on an Art Deco water pitcher? What attracts people to spend thousands of dollars on an Eames designed Herman Miller chair? Why does the Chrysler Building’s crown make me smile? What accounts for the sensation produced by the visual elegance and dramatic displays in a Bierstadt painting of Yellowstone or a photograph of Yosemite by Ansel Adams? Why do lines on a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air produce happiness?

There are so many beautiful things in this world.

You may believe the answer to these experiences of joy and satisfaction are the product of an un-sanctified worldly-mindedness. You may call for the repentance of one who places value on such earthly things. But what if enjoyment of beautiful things is part of our sanctification as believers? What if the appreciation of beauty, design, and craftsmanship is a reflection of something heavenly, and in itself is a reflection of God’s character?

Though Dead He Still Speaks–C.H.S

Hanging on my wall just to the left of my desk is a small framed sheet of paper. The fragile paper is the palette upon which in faded purple ink are scribbled the almost unintelligible handwritten notes of a sermon entitled, “The Joyous Return.” Everything about it bears the marks of age. And rightly so! For the sermon was preached on March 1, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London by the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. The name and influence of Spurgeon has attained near ubiquity among contemporary preachers and students of preaching—and that’s to say nothing of the impact he has had on thousands who have read his sermons. It’s probably not advisable to try and quantify who is or is not the greatest preacher, but I don’t think it’s overly ambitious to agree with the consensus of many that he remains the Prince of Preachers.

It was a little over ten years ago that I was first introduced to Charles Spurgeon. At a very pivotal and difficult time in my life my brother recommended that I try reading some of his sermons. I quickly began to devour them as I read under the conviction of sin, the joy of […]

Harvest Eyes

I grew up surrounded by the cornfields of Minnesota and now I live encompassed by the ones in Kansas. Truth be told, they’re my favorite landscape. I know some people prefer the mountains of Colorado or the seacoast beaches. I’ve even met some people whose preference lies in cityscapes—I still can’t figure that out. As for me, I love the rolling green hills blanketed by a sea of golden tassels trembling on stalks of corn. And as summer slowly yields to autumn the silks, shucks, and stalks begin to turn varying degrees of brown as the dry out. To the unknowing eye it may seem the corn is simply dying. But to those who have harvest eyes it’s a good indication that the corn is ripe for the picking.

It’s remarkable to me that this is the way the greatest evangelist who ever lived saw people. I’m not writing about Wesley or Whitefield, Moody or Graham, but of Jesus. Everywhere Jesus went he saw a field that was ripe for the harvest. It didn’t matter where he was. Jesus evangelized in the high-population urban centers of government, commerce, education, and religion. He also spent time in those tiny out-of-the-way villages—a great […]

Monday Mourning Musings

No, the title is not a typo. It’s just what I’m doing today as I still am reeling over the loss of Dave.

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Our modern tendency regarding death is to do what we might call “grieve and run.” We rush to the visitation and/or funeral, then rush right back into our normal activities. When Jacob died, even the Egyptians wept for him for seventy days (Gen. 50:3).  If the deaths of family and close friends have taught me anything in recent years, we need to make time for grieving and not expect it to end for a great while. Some quiet periods of reflection are going into my schedule.

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A week ago Saturday, I received the news that Dave was in ICU and not doing well. Miriam and I wrestled and prayed over whether I should jump in the car and drive out to Chicago to be there. Yet we concluded that his family and pastors were there, and it would be best to remain here and pray. After a quiet morning, I grew restless. Miriam encouraged me to go out and work on a tree that my son-in-law and I had felled over […]

Monday Morning Musings

From the text in Romans 9 that quotes God from the Old Testament passage saying “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,” the preacher said yesterday that the gasp should not come after the second phrase but the first. The wonder is not that God hates hell-deserving sinners, but that he chooses to love any of them.

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We enjoyed getting to know our new grandson Max over the holidays. When our rather petite daughter delivered this big 9 lb. 10 oz. boy, our youngest commented, “After that, Lindsay is going to be all Maxed out.”

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Put a bunch of Yorks, eight Nerf guns, and eighty darts in a room. Now you know why I haven’t felt the need to see the new Star Wars movie.

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God promised Isaac that “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven…and in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” One reason the Lord gave for these great blessings was “because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (see Genesis 26:4-5). Do we live considering how our obedience to the Lord today will impact our grandchildren and even other nations […]

The Incarnation: A Brief Reflection

It is worth noting how the manifold wonders of Christ’s incarnation show forth the glory of God.  By wrapping the divine in flesh, being born a mere babe in a lowly estate, the humility of Jesus is demonstrated with marvelous clarity.  Mention can likewise be made of the timing of His birth.  Rather than appearing immediately after the fall of Adam, or perhaps the flood, when the numbers of men were fewer, God waited until the earth was teeming with people, and kingdoms were established, and the armies of Satan had spread like cancer, infecting the earth most abundantly.  This was to show forth more clearly his conquering power and grace and boundless love, saving the worst in the worst possible conditions.

With the passing of ages, as well as the establishment of the Mosaic economy, Christ’s mission could be prefigured in diverse ways, perplexing and intriguing both prophets and angels.  By fulfilling the types and shadows, the light of His majesty shone with greater brightness, causing dull hearts and clouded eyes to suddenly see and praise, having experienced the joys of serendipity.  Satan’s kingdom would be shown all the more impotent and foolish as his schemes could not destroy, nor […]

Why Are Some Reformed People Such Jerks?

Almost ten years ago I read a piece by R. Scott Clark called: “Why (Some) Reformed People Are Such Jerks.” The article was intended to address, as you can probably guess, a common criticism. It has always stuck with me. Admittedly—and somewhat to my own embarrassment—it took a little while for the harsh reality to sink in that I was, indirectly speaking, the subject of that post. Yes, I have been and can be a real jerk. However, I trust that in the years since reading it some of the rougher edges have been smoothed by the work of the Holy Spirit. But I know all too well that the little jerk called “My Sinful Self” is always crouching at the door.

Even though I’m stealing the title (kind of) I don’t want to simply restate what’s already been said–insightful as it is! This is a topic that is worth repeating and a point that is worth remaking because it’s a complaint that’s recurring. The truth is some Reformed folks can be complete jerks. Rather than being the “aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15) we can be the stench of arrogance. Rather than “compelling people to come in” (Luke 14:23) we […]

Mole Patrol

In cleaning out the tool shed upon moving into our home two years ago, I almost tossed out the funny looking, conical-shaped container of half-used mole poison left behind by the previous owner.  Yet instead of seeing the yellow bottle as potential trash, I should have seen it as a prophetical forewarning of battles yet to come.

For though there was no sign of them in my lawn last year, the end of this summer and early fall changed all that. The attack started simply enough. I noticed a few raised areas on the edge of my property. Thinking little of it, I stamped them down and walked away with a smug “that’ll show them” attitude. I shake my head now thinking of how inexperienced at war I was!

For before I knew what had happened, their boots in the ground campaign turned my yard into what looks like someone’s idea of an upside down battlefield. Trenches pushing earth upward hiding the soldiers. Mounds of earth every few feet in certain areas forming upside down craters, as if small bombs had exploded underground. Supply lines of tasty grubs below fueling the troops onward. Exhausting my leftover bottle of poison in one area only to have […]

In Appreciation of C.S. Lewis

Yesterday was the fifty-second anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis. Though his death was eclipsed by the assassination of John F. Kennedy on the same day, his legacy has endured. While half a century has passed, in the minds of many he remains one of the most successful and influential Christian thinkers of the twentieth century. Personally, I am very thankful for the man and his writings. That may sound strange to some. After all, I have my differences. I’m Presbyterian and he was Anglican. I’m a Calvinist, he wasn’t. I think Christ’s atonement is central, in his impatience he was ambiguous. I believe in the full authority of the Bible, he did not. But despite these and other differences—which are significant—his writings have had a profound effect on me.

C.S. Lewis taught me that Christianity doesn’t have to be mindless. I grew up in the heart of broad-evangelicalism. It was the kind, you might say, that didn’t encourage serious reflection and thought. To put it candidly it was a fairly brainless Christianity. That changed when I first encountered the mind of Lewis in Mere Christianity. Though I’ve moved beyond that book in many ways, it was there I first […]

Some Dogmatic Thoughts on Grace

When I was five years old, my parents took me and my sister to a farm – I think it was a farm – I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings so much as the reason for the trip.  We were getting a puppy!  Pretty soon I was standing in front of a wire-fenced, makeshift kennel in which a litter of mutts happily yipped and played together.  They were a mix of Golden Retriever and German Shepherd, and the one with a white tip on his tail immediately caught my attention.  So did the fact that he nipped me.  Yep, this was going to be our dog.