Wednesday, January 21


We all love them. Whether they come in the form of a movie, a song, or in a book there is an intrinsic draw to the drama, tragedy, and even beauty of living life.

All of us that live yet have a story that is already written, those who lived before us had a story, just as those who will come after us have one. The point is that the Author of life cared enough for us that He wove us into the poetry of drama that makes up His creation.

One of the anticipations I had in having a son born unto us was the opportunity to tell him stories. In my mind I pictured telling him of the tall tales that made room for Hrothgar, King Alfred, Henry V, and of Jacob. Instead, his mother and I told him a story that had the makings of an epic. A story I never would have been able to tell him had he not been with us in the manner that he was. We told him of how he was a son of Adam, fallen and yet redeemed. How that he was born into sin, but through a Mercy we can not fathom he was born into the Covenant of Grace. And of how he would leave our arms and be taken up into the arms of his Father and carried Home to a place where he could run, play, learn, and rule as a prince.

It was a great joy to be able to explain to him that this was no mere fairy tale, but a story that was in the process of being lived out and died in, and that we all would be there to see it through.

Tuesday, January 20

Snow In New Bern

Today we had a great treat! Snow! Coastal North Carolina is not known for great snowfalls. Due to old man Gulf Stream, which flows so close to the shoreline, our winter weather is moderated accordingly. Today, however, was the perfect mix for a grand snow fall. With cold air aloft and plenty of moisture thanks to the aforementioned Gulf Stream, snow was in abundance.

We celebrated with sledding in the street and romping with Herbie. Sweet Pea was not amused.

Thursday, January 15

The Great Schism

"and I wear it for the thousands who have died thinking that the Lord was on their side." ~Johnny Cash

Beau's life established a line of demarkation for us. When you glimpse eternity you can not help but be changed by the reality that floods your mortality.

For some time now I have well understood Johnny Cash's "Man in Black" mentality. And it has caused me to be a bit cynical as I viewed the Church. How can a group of people who insist that their God became man, hung out with losers, suffered and died a horrible death still insist that they pretend everything is well with the world. The Christian faith makes a horrible diagnosis. This faith insists that everything is not well with us, or the world for that matter. Sure, we can pretend on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings that we are "great", our kids are doing well in Sunday School, and the choir sounds wonderful. In short, we fake feelings that we wish were real. To tell about conflict and difficulties would be denying the work of Christ in our lives right?

I am not cynical anymore. Beau taught me that yes, we do suffer here. Suffering is real. However, I saw something during the early evening hours of November 25th that proved that this suffering is real and yet powerless over us. As Beau left my arms that evening the foundations of the world shook, and my breath, instead of being sucked out of me, filled my lungs in a new and mighty way. The City of God could be seen as a reality and the City of man crumbled away behind me in so many pieces. Yes, suffering is real. And as the Psalmist says, the words of man are but empty praise, but the Word of the Lord is life. I therefore do not have to feel bad about not using the unwritten code of Christian vocabulary, but can instead feel secure in using the vocabulary of the God made Man and rest secure that though our diagnosis is grim, our hope is both real and wonderful.

Saturday, January 10

A Case For the Liturgy

Theology is history class. ~Peter Leithart

In my mind, one of the unfortunate byproducts of the Protestant Reformation is the way in which we Protestants view the Liturgy. In many cases we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. To have a specific order to your worship and recite creeds or prayers is just so high church and is definitely not where you want to be if you are attempting to gain new members or be culturally relevant. Or is it?

Experience is often the best teacher and I have found the opposite to be true. Since I was a young man I have had the opportunity to worship in a manner that had order. That is, we had a liturgy. In my younger years, not all of the liturgy made sense, but as I matured not only did I understand it, but worship without it was simply not worship. The liturgy became just what it was supposed to be, a conduit by which I might most truthfully and beautifully worship our Lord.

What a litrugy really does though is give you a baseline, a foundation if you will, with which to stand on when you have nothing else. I understand the argument that states that it is knowledge of the Scriptures alone that must be utilized to strengthen our faith in a hard time, and that is true. But that sentiment is worthy of amplification. There is comfort in having a tried and true statement of our faith that has been hammered out by councils of godly men, that along with Scripture, has proven the test of time and apostacy. When your world is falling down around you it is comforting to have more than a smattering of verses memorized to give you comfort and hope.

A case in point. The night I was told of Beau's diagnosis my world shattered. The room began spinning and as I began looking for any shred of hope and comfort it was the Apostles Creed which came to me first. This creed, which I have been reciting since I was a young man, became a lifeline to a very powerless not as young a man. As I went down through a mental checklist in my mind of what was and is to be, I came across this question: "What do I believe?" What came into my mind first was this: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. . ." I recited it over and over for about fifteen minutes. That Creed became my foundation with which I could then build on as I had to make further decisions that night and in the days to follow. It remains my hope even now.

Had I not recited that summation of Church history every Sunday for the past fifteen years, I would not have had it so readily available and would have thus lost a great cornerstone in the foundation I needed to move on. I am sure that had I not had the Apostles Creed memorized, God's mercy would certainly have been sufficient in some other way. But I would venture to say that God has given us many tools to use in our walk with Him and that it is harder on us when we do not use all of those at our disposal.

Thursday, January 8

Grey hair of the Grandmam

Jose (from the movie, Bella): My Grandmother always used to say, If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

And how often do we pray with these intentions: we ask him incessantly to fulfill our plans, pave the way for our ideas to be known, make things happen when we think they should--and why? What insanity makes us think we know the best way things should be done? He need only say: be not anxious. For we are anxious about our lives, preserving our lives, keeping ahead of death's time, carefully protecting ourselves from giving too much away.

How often we make God laugh! My hope is that his laughter is that delighted joy of what he has in store for us. Perhaps the Spirit's work today is to interpret the bowl of prayers offered before the throne tomorrow so that God is always, figuratively speaking, one step ahead of us, knowing what we need vs what we ask for and making provision for us with a superabundance we didn't think to imagine yet.

Monday, January 5

"You gotta have faith." George Michael c.1988

Over the past few weeks while dealing with the cause of grief in my life many have remarked how great my faith is, as if I have now reached some sort of Christian high place. A place that is somewhat mysterious. A place that they are not sure that they really want to get to. After all, the people who get lumped into this classification are often the subjects of calamitous events. Either that or they are the elderly ladies of great wisdom in your church.

Well, I have not reached any sort of high place of faith, nor am I one of the sage elderly ladies in your church. If anything, I am simply the recipient of a grace of which I am not deserving. Take the Book of Hebrews, one of my favorite studies; in it the author talks of the ones who by faith parted the Red Sea, slew giants, and walked out of the fire. But he also mentions that there are others. Some, who even though they too possessed faith, were sawn in two. There were some who though they had faith, were forced to wander in the desert, were hunted by beasts, and were persecuted. The difficult thing for us to understand is that neither one of these groups had a greater faith than the other. In both cases, their faith was true and not found lacking. Not fair you say? Well, I am with you on that one. But seriously, who are we to judge fairness? If I have learned anything through this time, it is to leave the fairness issue to God.

To those who comment on my faith, I can only reply with this, the most incoherent of responses: It is not faith. . . well, ok , yes it is. But, it is not me reaching out--it is God reaching down. All I have done is accept this mysterious plausibility that God became man to die for me and in that I attain salvation. With that simple admission made, the Spirit comes to hover over me in that somehow Maternal manner and breathe the breath of life into a dead son of Adam. It is this breath that is breathed on us that we call faith. And it is therefore nothing that we do.