Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Prayer for the Persecuted Church

From 12/23/2009

Our Father and God, King of kings and Lord of all nations; we come before You now to beg Your mercy on our brothers and sisters who suffer persecution for Your name’s sake.

By Your decree the leaven of the gospel has spread to the farthest corners of the globe, penetrating enemy strongholds and inexorably working its way toward filling the whole earth. By Your Son’s death and resurrection, Baptized believers the world over share a covenant identity in You that knows no borders; for we are all of one bread and partake of one bread. By Your grace then, we ask You to show Yourself strong to save our persecuted brethren!

For Your name’s sake, overthrow the wicked governments that harass Your church in countries like China, Sudan, Burma, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Indonesia, Cuba, and Somalia. Cause their designs against Your saints to be brought to confusion, and thwart every attempt to prevent your Word from being proclaimed. Bring comfort and hope to Gao Zhisheng, and the hundreds of thousands of other faithful Christians who have been imprisoned and tortured for Your name’s sake. We cry out to You to set them free and restore them to their families! Each is worth more than many sparrows, and we pray that they may be freed to pursue still greater labors for Your kingdom.

We thank You Father, for sending Your Son into the world to save sinners the world over. We thank You for the assurance of Romans 8:28 that all things truly do work together for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. And we thank You for Your promise that those who are reviled and persecuted for Your name’s sake will receive a great reward in heaven. Comfort the persecuted church with these same promises.

We ask all these things in the strong name of Your incarnate Word, Who now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God blessed forever; and Amen.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Humble Thanksgiving

From 11/22/2009

Father of all Grace,

We come before You with hearts full of gratitude for Your many blessings and Your mighty deeds. While this week of Thanksgiving often causes us to pause and reflect on the good gifts that You give to Your children, it also serves to remind us of our tendency toward ingratitude at other times of the Year. Help us to be grateful for the small things, that we may be better prepared to savor Your great blessings; and guard us from the temptation to get this principle backwards. Just as children learn first to “Thank You for this day” and “Thank You for this food”, teach us to say “Thank You, Lord, for turkey and dressing, and for wine to gladden our hearts”. And give us the humility to take Your Word seriously enough to give thanks in all things; like, “Thank You for my kids’ runny noses and need for frequent spankings.” For only then can we begin to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of Christ’s love. And of course we do thank You for these great gifts as well; for Your grace which is poured out on us abundantly in every spiritual blessing, for the certainty of Your promise to work all things together for the good of Your people, and for the joy and fellowship of the communion table You have laid out before us. Truly You are good all the time!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Good Day

1. Turned 28
2. Slept in
3. Had an excellent breakfast
4. Played with my kids
5. Bought a house
6. Sipped my favorite Scotch
7. Kids are at Gradma's while I hang out with my wife...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oh, to Eat Meat!

Our God and Father,

We come before You once again with the profound humility of our position as Your creatures. Not only because we are undeserving of Your gifts in the first place, but because we daily show ourselves ungrateful servants who fail to improve upon our baptisms as we ought. We desire knowledge, but are often negligent in our pursuit of Your truth. We would have understanding as the sons of Issachar, but lack the diligence of the Bereans to search Your word daily. We long to do precisely that which You would have us do, but frequently lack the wisdom needed to discern our proper course of action. In many ways, we are like a toddler who refuses solid food because we’re quite content to maintain our comfortable lot as nursing babies indefinitely. But of course, this is not the life to which You have called us.

You have created us to wield dominion over the works of Your fingers! You have made us joint heirs together with Your Son! Indeed You have entrusted us with the task of subjugating the entire world for Your glory! Ours is seldom the path of gingerbread houses or peppermint bays; but often the inglorious way of late nights and long hours of study, of sick children and the inevitable death of loved ones. But for all its lack of glamour, we have confidence that ours is the way of life despite the death all around us; of glory in the midst of every mundane task or duty. For You have ordained not only the end of Your divine story, but all of the means through which You will accomplish that end. Not only the major characters, but every minor walk-on as well. And not only the triumph, but every defeat behind which it is concealed. Help us to see Your hand at work in these apparent setbacks, thereby making it easy for us to give You thanks and praise in all things.

Help us, Father, to eat meat!

Be Not Silent

From 9/20/2009

To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock; do not be silent to me, lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. Psalm 28:1-2

God of our Fathers,

We thank You for answering the prayer of the Psalmist when he asked You not to be silent towards him. For You spoke Your eternal Word into this world, caused Him to become flesh and dwell among us, and sent Him to a violent death on the cross to atone for our sins. You spoke to us triumphantly through His mighty resurrection, through His ascension, and through the written words of Your servants; blown by the wind of the Holy Spirit. You speak to us even now through this written word, reminding us of the gifts that are ours through that same Spirit – of Your lordship over the Sabbath, of Your sovereignty over all time and events, and of Your certain victory over all who would oppose You. And as if that weren’t enough, You eloquently speak to us through the sacraments; welcoming us into the covenant in baptism, and nurturing us with the bread and wine of communion.

Whenever we see or hear of these gifts Father, stir our hearts to sing Your praise. Make us ever more mindful of Your abundance toward us, and of the debt of gratitude we owe You. Open our ears to hear when You speak, and grant us the faith to obey Your voice.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Band-Aids Are Forever

Patrick and I are reading through Genesis, with the intent of memorizing a few key verses along the way. One night this week I taught him the second half of Genesis 9:1 "...Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." I also tried to explain that this is one passage that sets forth the "Dominion Mandate"; God's commissioning of mankind to subdue His creation.

The next morning I asked Patrick if he remembered his verse; which he did! Along with the name of the doctrine it teaches... sort of.

"Genesis 9:1 Be fwuitful... and multiply! And replensh... the earth!

...Daddy, that's the Dominoe Bandaid!"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Be Anxious for Nothing

Philippians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

God of our Fathers,

The world around us seems replete with reasons to be anxious. We and our children fail to honor You as we ought, vast portions of the church persist in flippant disregard for Your Word, so-called “rogue nations” feverishly seek to develop nuclear weapons, and our own government seems hell bent on swamping America in her own materialistic decadence and imperialist debauchery.

How can we look at a pregnant teenager and tell her she need not fear? Or how can we toss around terms like “hyperinflation” and “socialized medicine”, and not be filled with consternation?

Yet You tell us to be anxious for nothing; like a patient father explaining to his toddler that there is no need to worry about where his next meal is coming from, You assure us that we have no need to fear or worry. You who wrote the opening chapters of history and who knows the end from the beginning will infallibly bring about Your intended conclusion to the story. Why then should we fear? You have guarded Your servants through flaming furnaces, foreign captivities, shipwrecks, plagues, and lions’ dens. Of what should we be afraid? Over and over You have shown Yourself mighty to strike down Your enemies at the appointed time. Who then can hope to stand against us?

Teach us, Father, to glory in the confidence that You teach us through history and Your Word. As You delight to bring about blessing and success in dramatic fashion, help us to glory in that drama! The taller the giant, the more spectacular his fall; the larger the crowd, the more compelling do we find the loaves and fish; and the fewer the men in our army, the greater share of honor due Your holy name when You grant us the victory!

Teach us not to fret when we perceive a setback in the work of dominion, but rather to lean forward in eager anticipation of seeing how You will work all things together for the good of Your people. And guard our hearts and minds with Your peace, which passes all possible human understanding.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Of Hitler and Darwin

I posted a comment on Bria's blog a few days ago and received a lengthy response from a gentleman named Corey, which you can read here.

Rather than clog Bria's comments with such a lengthy reply, I thought I'd post it here instead.

Your comment covered a lot of ground, and I don't think I'll be able to respond directly to all of it... but I would like to address some of the main points.

1. Of course racism and genocide existed before Darwin. In fact, there were even attempts at scientific defense of these practices well before Darwin, as noted by Stephen Jay Gould in his 1977 book Ontogeny and Phylogeny: "Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1850, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory."

I never suggested that Darwin was the father of all racism, merely that his theory on origins is inescapably racist. At the very least this is true in the historical sense. Modern Darwinian thinkers have tried to distance themselves from racist philosophy by referring to "ethnicity" rather than race; which I think is a wise move on their part. But this modern adjustment of terminology does not absolve the Darwinian School of atrocities committed against Australian Aborigines and other primitive tribes in the name of science (going so far as to put one Congolese man, Ota Benga, on display in the Bronx Zoo), the eugenics movement (particularly the efforts of Francis Galton and Margaret Sanger), and, I maintain, the attempts at refining a Master Race under Hitler.

Incidentally, your assertion that racism and slavery have seen a decline since Darwin's time is patently untrue. Anti-Slavery groups and analysts around the globe estimate the number of enslaved humans worldwide at anywhere from 20 to 200 million persons; which, even at the low end rivals or exceeds the greatest enslavements of history. The vast majority of these are in Asia and Africa, where much of the bondage and abuse is ethno-centric... ironically, in a geographic area where the ethnic diversity would seem comparatively minor!

2. Notwithstanding your quotations as to the motivation behind Hitler's actions, I would argue that he operated from a profoundly Darwinian ethic. In Mein Kampf he stated, "If reproduction as such is limited and the number of births decreased, then the natural struggle for existence, which only allows the strongest and healthiest to survive, will be replaced by the obvious desire to save at any cost even the weakest and sickest; thereby a progeny is produced, which must become ever more miserable, the longer this mocking of nature and its will persists.... A stronger race will supplant the weaker, since the drive for life in its final form will decimate every ridiculous fetter of the so-called humaneness of individuals, in order to make place for the humaneness of nature, which destroys the weak to make place for the strong." (emphasis mine)

This seems to me the very essence of Darwinian evolution: The weak must make way for the strong. I would also refer you to pages 113-115 here.

3. I will join you in your condemnation of religious bigotry and hypocrisy; which I see evidenced both in Hitler and in many of the events surrounding the Crusaders and Conquistadors... though we would probably disagree on many of the particulars. However, I vehemently disagree that creationism is even remotely based upon such bigotry.

My views on the origins of mankind, and indeed all other elements of the created order, are based upon the Inspired account of Genesis, and backed by plenty of good science. This approach is religious, to be sure, but not bigoted until I completely refuse to give any hearing to other views... which, I trust this exchange of comments will preclude.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Measured Patriotism

1 Timothy 2:1-2 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

God of our Fathers,

In this season of patriotic fervor and celebration, we are rightly mindful of and deeply grateful for the rich heritage left us by our forebears in this land. We thank You for the examples You have set before us in the courage and humility of George Washington, the brilliance and decisiveness of John Adams, and for the farsighted wisdom and discernment of Patrick Henry. Help us to follow them as they followed You, while, of course, bearing in mind that they were, inevitably, imperfect men. Guard us from the temptation to put our heroes, or as is far more common, our nation on an unlawful pedestal. Remind us that while “we” are indeed Your chosen nation; the “we” is New Israel, the Church, and not these United States of America. And yet we pray for our nation, Lord God. We cry out to You to turn America and our leaders away from our wicked ways! Continue to expose the misdeeds of unscrupulous senators and cavorting congressmen for what they are, and visit the unrepentant with Your judgment! Visit our president with the terror of Your holiness, and cause him to turn from his socialistic and totalitarian policies. Teach us, as a nation, to kiss the Son lest He be angry… preferably before His wrath is kindled against us. And renew in us a love of history; Your story, giving us discernment as we seek to profit from the lessons You have taught through the centuries.

We ask that You teach us to understand our times, as the Sons of Issachar, and strengthen our fingers to fight the good fight. We thank You for giving us such powerful weapons as prayer and Your word, and ask that You would help us to wield them with skill, authority, confidence, and devastating effect. Even as Your Son Jesus did when He modeled so poignant a prayer for His disciples, saying…

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pentecost Sunday

God of our Fathers,

On this Pentecost Sunday we thank You most heartily for giving us Your Holy Spirit! Some 2,000 years ago You Yourself walked this earth in human flesh, ate of our food, lived in our homes, willingly died a tortuous death on our behalf, and rose again in triumph over the grave. Then, as if that were not magnanimity enough, You promised that You would be with us even to the end of the world; and a few short weeks later You demonstrated the intensity of Your continued commitment to the race of men by sending Your Spirit down to rest upon the disciples.

How can we even begin to thank You for such an exorbitant gift!? For without the movement of the Spirit there would be no scriptures to teach us Your law! Without the indwelling of the Spirit there would be no conviction of sin, no response of faith, and no salvation! Without the Spirit working in us to will and to do Your good pleasure, we would have no hope of growing into Your likeness! And without the Spirit’s constant intercession on our behalf we would often be at a loss even for words with which to pray to You! So help us more and more to see the work of the Spirit for what it is; to discern His cues from our own self-righteousness and bull-headedness. By that same Spirit, cause us to follow Your example of humility and sacrifice, and to respond to Your blessings with generosity and service all over again.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Son, The Charmer

Earlier this evening, at near-perfect random, Patrick enumerated to me his understanding of the various classifications amongst our family...

Patrick: "Daddy... you're a guy."

Me: "Yes, my son."

Patrick: "...and Trinity's a girl... and I'm a boy."

Me: (absently) "That's right."

Patrick: "And Mommy's a Princess!"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Teach Them Diligently... to Hammer!

Lots of sundry opportunity to show off my handyman skilz in our new abode... latest being the installation of a wall cabinet for the master bathroom. Patrick was designated "Assistant Hammer Wielder in Chief".

He took to it remarkably quickly: no bent nails, no smashed fingers, and one job well done!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vermin, Beware!

I am hereby, formally declaring plenary (and unapologetic) genocide against all local tribes of mice, roaches, and wasps.

You have been warned.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Augustine on Eschatology

Been awhile since I've posted any thoughts from The City of God: this partly due to some other reading (and other time investments), and partly to a long segue by Augustine to explore the history of the two cities from Old Testament prophecy down even to the end of the world. Many of his historical observations are a bit mystical for my taste, but some of his thoughts on eschatology highlight the historical ignorance of dispensational premillennialsm. And while Augustine doesn't invest a lot of time defining his own eschatology, he does spend much of book 18 criticizing those who think they can predict the timing of the last days based on persecutions or any other metric. We might think modern teachers of biblical prophecy clever and original when they line up their numerology just so, proclaiming that the end of the world is at hand; but Augustine's lack of patience for the doomsayers and numerologists of his day shows that there's really nothing new under the sun:

I do not think persecutions were prophetically signified by what was done in Egypt, however nicely and ingeniously those who think so may have compared the two in detail, not by the prophetic Spirit, but by the conjecture of the human mind, which sometimes hits the truth, and sometimes is deceived.

We've all heard it said that the ongoing wars and rumors of wars across the globe are the harbinger of failing world powers and ultimately the end of the world... but keep in mind that Augustine was writing just after the fall of Rome. Civilization as they knew it was crumbling before their very eyes!

It is customary to ask, When shall that [the end of the final persecution] be? But this is quite unreasonable. For had it been profitable for us to know this, by whom could it better have been told than by God Himself, the Master, when the disciples questioned Him?

And just as some in our day claim to have figured out God's timeline, Augustine had to deal with the same presumptuous "scholarship" in his day.

Yet some have said that four hundred, some five hundred, others a thousand years, may be completed from the ascension of the Lord up to His final coming. But to point out how each of them supports his own opinion would take too long, and is not necessary; for indeed they use human conjectures, and bring forward nothing certain from the authority of the canonical Scriptures. But on this subject He puts aside the figures of the calculators, and orders silence, who says, "It is not for you to know the times, which the Father hath put in His own power."

Why try to use math, newsreel, or clever prophetic conjecture to make the scriptures say something they don't actually say; particularly when God has already told us that it's not for us to know?

You Gave Even the Sacrifice

"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:14-16

God of our Fathers,

We stand still and marvel at Your mighty hand of provision and the wonder of all Your ways! Who else could have orchestrated a way for the second person of the Trinity to be found in fashion as a man, and be tempted in all points that we are? Who could have ordained that He should then become both our great High Priest, and the spotless lamb sacrificed for our sins? Who but You could have made us kings and priests with Your eternal Son, allowing us to come boldly before Your throne as a royal priesthood rather than mere mortals clad in the rags of our own righteousness? What wisdom of man could have concocted a scheme that would allow a Holy God to remove those rags and clothe us instead in the righteousness of His eternal Son? Only You can cause mercy and truth to commune together, and righteousness and peace to kiss. Only You hold the heart of every king and president in the palm of Your hand, and only You can turn them at Your good pleasure. You alone hear the prayers of Your people, and answer without fail. And only You can take our stammering praise and turn it into an acceptable sacrifice!

As assuredly as You made the wicked for the day of judgment, for Your own glory; so You have also made the very sacrifices that we offer back to You... for Your own glory. Guard us from the temptation to think that we, on our own, have anything worthy to present to You; and remind us constantly that we can't even bring You a sacrifice of praise without the tongues You have created, the thoughts You have implanted, the scriptures You have inspired, the hearts You have made new, and the identity You have provided us through Your eternal Son, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Acuity Lounge

I'm out on my back porch enjoying one of these right now... probably my favorite Nicaraguan cigar, which happens to be cultivated from Cuban seed. I know I owe y'all another post or two on the theology of tobacco, but right now I really just want to tell you how amazing this cigar is! It has the aroma of a newly planted field; moist earth and the undefinable odor of satisfaction in a day well spent. The draw is easy and smooth, with rich smoke plumes and a lingering taste of freshly cut hardwood and cocoa powder. And at $4 to $6 a stick (depending on size) it's quite a bargain! I usually enjoy a little dark chocolate and/or Scotch with my cigars, and today is no exception. I'm sipping a glass of Glenmorangie - Burgundy finish, which serves to highlight the woody notes of the cigar.

As with most upper echelon culinary endeavors, I find that cigar smoking and whisky drinking stimulate brain activity.

Stop laughing!

Seriously, despite their reputation for dulling the senses, I find myself tuned and sharpened in an effort to fully appreciate the many different elements of each sip and puff. Is that a hint of honeysuckle in the Scotch? Did that whiff of smoke remind me of a grassy field after a hard rain? I find my vocabulary stretched to the limit in an effort to capture my enjoyment in words!

Certainly one must exercise moderation, lest overindulgence should breed silliness, headaches, or intoxication. But savored appropriately, I find these gifts of God serve to facilitate my enjoyment of Him and His creation. Rushdoony and Van Til become easier reading, the truth of Scripture leaps from the page, and my creativity soars as I ponder sub-points for my next Men's Meeting lesson.

That's why I call my back porch "The Acuity Lounge".

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever!

March 15, 2009

God of our Fathers,

You are the same yesterday, today, and forever; the only true constant in the universe. You are the God who brought Your people safely out of Israel, making a mockery of Egypt and her false gods in the process. You are the God Who stayed the sun while Joshua thrashed the Amorites, and the God who gave David victory over Goliath. It was You who spoke to Elijah, not in the mighty wind or the earthquake, but in a still small voice that both convicted and encouraged him. And it was You who allowed Israel and Judah to be carried into captivity when they forgot all Your mighty acts. Yet Your perfect justice in no way denigrates Your perfect mercy, because You are the God who forgives and provides escape – as You did through Daniel and Zerubbabel and Nehemiah; and ultimately through Your Son Jesus, the penultimate way of escape. You sent Him to redeem us, and He fully accomplished that task. You sat Him down at Your right hand while His and our enemies are subdued, and You are inexorably accomplishing that task as well. Deliver us from the temptation to think of You as just “the one in the stories” or “the one who used to do miracles”. For You are the one who sets up kings and tears them down, the God who holds the world in the palm of His hand, and Who alone does wonderous things: yesterday, today, and forever!!

...We give thanks in all things, Father. Even when those “things” don’t turn out the way we would have chosen. But when that happens remind us that You are the God who rains bread, parts rivers, calms storms, confounds princes, and raises the very dead! Help us to spurn mere cognitive assent for true confidence in Your perfect will, even now as we lift our hearts and voices in the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, saying…

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Power of the Son

January 18, 2009

God of our Fathers, strong to save, we thank You for Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, and the freedom that we have in Him to approach Your throne with boldness and confidence. We thank You for giving Him all power in heaven and on earth, and for giving us daily reminders of His eternal authority over creation. Help us to see these reminders for what they are, and prompt us to give You thanks for all of them. So often we are at a loss to explain the wisdom that you conceal in what seems foolishness to us, but help us to praise, thank, and trust You even in those times… indeed especially in those times!

With that in mind, we pray for Barack Obama, that You would cause him to fear You and govern according to Your precepts as he takes office this week. We dare to ask that You would cause him to repent of his sins, worship You in spirit and in truth, and guide this nation with Your wisdom.

Grant, Almighty God, since we so pass through this world that our attention is easily diverted, and our judgment darkened… that we may raise our eyes upwards, and consider just how much power You have conferred upon Your only begotten Son. Grant, also, that He may rule and govern us by the light of His Spirit, protect us by His faithfulness and guardianship, and compel the whole world to promote our salvation; thus may we rest calmly under his protection, and fight with that boldness and patience which He both commands and commends, until at length we enjoy the fruit of the victory which You have infallibly promised, and which You will provide for us in Your heavenly kingdom.