Posts belonging to Category Home Life



A few rays of hope


The Natural Family Where It Belongs: New Agrarian Essays
by Allan C. Carlson

This is a good sampling of Dr. Carlson’s work. It includes brief biographies, sociological research on the family, and historical overviews. It (as is normal for Dr. Carlson) is short on application, but does give hope for the future of the family.

View all my reviews

The blessingsof our daily tasks

While reading a meditation by Abraham Kuyper here, I was impressed by several insights he drew from the text about the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. One of those insights deals with how the shepherds performing their tasks in obscurity. He said that if they hadn’t been doing their jobs, they would have missed the glorious message from the angelic hosts. I would add that in this they also were made the first human heralds of the Incarnation.

We all have daily tasks, just like those shepherds did. What is the payoff? It is in these tasks that God comes to us. Think of Peter, James, and John. They were about their daily routing of cleaning their nets when Jesus called them. Elisha was plowing in the field when God’s calling came to him through the prophet Elijah. It is easy to become discouraged in our work routines. We don’t think that our work accomplishes anything; but in doing this work, you avail yourself to the ministry to which God has called you, prepared you, and empowered you.

Your vocation enables you to be salt and light in the world. Don’t despise it.

Wrestling with new beliefs

It has been a rocky trip over the last year as I have changed my views on baptism. Having been a life-long Baptist, I didn’t think I would change, except for the nagging feeling at times that I was inconsistent in my Reformed beliefs. Oh well, Spurgeon had no problem admitting he was inconsistent so I didn’t think I should either. But then I started studying covenant theology and boy did it make sense. I already believed covenant theology in a Baptist sense but as I read more about it, things really fell into place. But I still didn’t have a problem being inconsistent; wasn’t everybody to some extent? (By the way the answer is yes, we all are to a point. The key is recognizing and acknowledging those inconsistencies rather than pretending they aren’t there.)

Then some things happened which I can’t speak of here. Suffice to say I was suprised by several things I witnessed in ministry that opened me up to paedobaptism. I believed the Lord wanted something else from me than I had been willing to give. I prayed about what those areas might be and came to the conclusion that paedobaptism might be it. I studied the subject heavily over several months. I read many books and articles by Baptists and some by paedobaptists; the number of the former dwarfed the latter. I didn’t want to leave my heritage lightly and I wanted to expose myself to the best arguments that Baptists had. But I will confess, there was a draw to paedobaptism. It seemed more consistent with a reading of Old and New Testament, rather than just consistency with the New Testament.

I’ve told people before, the disagreement between Baptists and paedobaptists comes down to your understanding of the Old and New Covenants. If you see greater discontinuity between the Old and New covenants, you will hold to believer’s-only baptism. If you see greater continuity between the two covenants, you will hold to paedobaptism.

Even though I had deep respect for reformed theology, I would never have considered paedobaptism without the Lord opening me up to it. When He opened my heart to it I stopped studying the subject and started wrestling with it. I’m convinced that most Baptists never truly wrestle with paedobaptism, nor do paedobaptists wrestle with believer’s-only baptism. Not that wrestling is for everyone. Most are perfectly content to remain in their beliefs without questioning them. And it’s impossible to wrestle with everything. There was a time when I wrestled with Roman Catholicism in my early twenties. The Lord preserved me from that belief system and I’m thankful. I have no plans on wrestling with the beliefs of Islam; I will study them and attempt to refute them to evangelize Muslims but I will not contemplate that Islam is true. The same is the case for Eastern Orthodoxy. Having said that, why do I think Baptists and paedobaptists should wrestle with different baptism beliefs?

Perhaps I should define what I mean by wrestle. To wrestle with a belief is to open oneself up to the possibility that it might be true and deal with all the facets of the issue, all the while being willing to change if you are convinced it is true. It requires making yourself vulnerable and having the courage to change if you become convinced that it is true. Consider Jack, a young man who watches professional wrestling. His favorite wrestler, Mr. Wonderful is about to face William the Giant, a seven-foot-tall, four-hundred pound brute who flosses with barbed wire. While watching his beloved Mr. Wonderful receive the worst of a pounding, Jack says, “All he has to do it put the Giant in a choke slam and it would be over.” We observe here a disconnect with reality. On paper a choke slam would probably do the trick, but in this case neither Jack nor Mr. Wonderful is able to put the theoretical into practical use.

It is easy to listen to others make arguments against paedobaptism. It’s even easier when you interact with straw men, and I admit that building straw-men is something both sides do in the discussion. Because I’ve had a long-time goal of being faithful to the entirety of God’s Word, once He “put me in the ring” on this subject (to borrow from the earlier metaphor), I discovered that my theoretical Baptist arguments couldn’t hold under the weight of studying God’s covenant promises to man.

“That’s great for you,” you might say. Why write about it? For this reason: everyone faces transition points in his or her life. You have to decide whether to continue as you have before or open yourself up to new possibilities. When you arrive at one of those points, think carefully yet openly about it. You might just grow in the process.

The Inner Ring

Several years ago I read a speech by C.S. Lewis entitled, “The Inner Ring.” It is an excellent article about the dangers of trying to gain entrance into whatever group you wish to be a part of and how it is actually a trap. The article can be read here. The truth of that article came home to me recently as I was praying. As many know right now, my family and I are going through a transition. The Lord has blessed us thus far and we trust He will continue to, but as with any change, He has uncovered areas that I didn’t know existed and that need to be submitted to Him.

There is an innate drive in a man to gain access to a group that he thinks is unapproachable. These groups aren’t necessarily sinful; some of them are quite good. But our enemy says that if we can only get inside that group, we will have arrived. It’s about pride. This is where Lewis makes so much sense.

“I must now make a distinction. I am not going to say that the existence of Inner Rings is an Evil. It is certainly unavoidable. There must be confidential discussions: and it is not only a bad thing, it is (in itself) a good thing, that personal friendship should grow up between those who work together. And it is perhaps impossible that the official hierarchy of any organisation should coincide with its actual workings. If the wisest and most energetic people held the highest spots, it might coincide; since they often do not, there must be people in high positions who are really deadweights and people in lower positions who are more important than their rank and seniority would lead you to suppose. It is necessary: and perhaps it is not a necessary evil. But the desire which draws us into Inner Rings is another matter.”

His point is that our desire to pierce those rings leads to bondage. I’ve found myself at times clamoring for reassurance from a group when the fact is, the Lord doesn’t intend for me to be a part of it. The pressure, once inside, is almost double what it was to get in. Lewis went on to say,

“And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face—that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face—turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.

That is my first reason. Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things.”

And in a final quote, “The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it.” The Lord has given us all we need. It is important not to make a particular circle of people into an idol. It can cause more damage that we can imagine.

 

 

 

She’s here!

Bless the Lord of Heaven and Earth! Amanda and I received the gift of another baby on July 31. She was born at 8:25. We praise the Lord for His goodness to our family.

 

DSC02148

Living pro-life

Rachel Jankovic is quickly catching up to her dad (Doug Wilson) as a fantastic writer of practical theology.  She has several books out, one of which Amanda and I have read and learned much from (Loving the Little Years).  In this article at Desiring God, she exhorts mothers to daily choose life.

“Far from having done our part when we carry a baby to term, we can continue to choose life every day. Every day we choose the life of another over our own life. Every day we can lay down our desires, our selfish ambition, our self-importance, and choose life. And of course this is not unique to mothers — every Christian has the means of fighting for life by laying theirs down for those around them.

Right now, in our culture, in our time, there is something uniquely potent about mothers sacrificing for their children. As we lay down our lives for them, presenting ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, that sacrifice makes an aroma. That sacrifice directly contradicts and blasphemes everything the world is fighting for. As you care for your children, on the long days and tired moments, disciplining yourself, sacrificing yourself for them, you are reaching out to the world. When you present yourself as a living sacrifice, the aroma of that sacrifice cannot be contained.”

I can’t think of any better way to say it. She concludes:

“Motherhood is the big-leagues of self-sacrifice. Millions of women kill to avoid it. In our culture of self-gratification, to embrace selfless motherhood is a revolutionary act. To see the sacrifice and rejoice in it. To recognize that the cost is your own life, and to willingly lay yourself down. The world hates the smell of that sacrifice, because it is the smell of grace. They hate it because it is the smell of something living and burning at the same time — something that is impossible without a risen Savior.

There are times to stand on sidewalks and hold signs, but holding a sign isn’t what makes a mother pro-life. Being pro-life means putting the life of another ahead of your own. It means being daily grace to the small souls nearest to you. It is not just an opinion or a position or a lobbyist group. It is the glory of maternal self-sacrifice that begins at conception and runs through labor and midnight feedings and diapers and sandwiches and crayons and homework and flu seasons and graduations and on into grandkids. It is an avalanche of small and large sacrifices. It burns bright in kitchens and bedrooms and backyards. It is the real life of the pro-life movement, and it will change the world.”

She’s on to something.  Changing the world is not about everyone giving up all their money, or moving to the inner-city, although some are called to do those things.  Changing the world is cleaning up one dirty diaper at a time, washing one dish, making one pie, taking one fishing trip at a time, all as unto the Lord.

I Will Arise and Go to Jesus

I recently discovered a couple of verses I didn’t know to this great song by Joseph Hart.  It has been quite encouraging to me recently.  Savor these words.

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

Refrain:
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

To celebrate or not to celebrate

Here are a few links to interesting articles about Christmas.

This one discusses why December 25 was chosen as the date for Christmas.  It leans against the belief that Constantine started it.

This article is an excerpt from a recent book by Doug Wilson on how our celebration of Christmas displays the grace of God.

The last one is not for those with sensitive skin.  James Jordan explains why we should not eat Chinese food (yes it relates to the topic).

Enjoy!

Get out of your bubble

I was raised hearing how liberal the national media is.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen it for myself.  No person I know would cover for a sitting president, or gloss over a vice president making startling allusions to slavery.  But I also know that the conservative media has its own bias.  This is given more attention in a Jonathan Martin article, The GOP’s Media Cocoon(more…)

Radicals I can deal with

Gary North recently had a great review of an article in National Review called “The Last Radicals.”  Both articles make fascinating reading about the group one author thinks is the most radical in America:  homeschoolers.

The thesis of Williamson’s article is that homeschoolers are more radical than the Occupy movement, the Tea Party, and any other group you can find.  The reason is that they pose more of a threat to the status quo than any one else.  Homeschoolers don’t accept the state-as-deliverer creed taught in government schools.  In addition homeschooling is an insult to secularists because it is largely a Christian movement.  Add to it that those Christian families are largely anti-feminist and it becomes more than our “free-speech” idolaters lovers can stand.

North’s article is more of a history of the homeschooling movement.  Dr. North had a front seat since his father-in-law, R. J. Rushdoony, was a leader in the early homeschooling movement.  Dr. North also homeschooled his kids in the days when it was odd even among even Christians.

Whether or not one likes homeschooling, it is a growing movement in the U.S. that will not go away.  These articles explain why.