Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Today - A Modern Incarnation

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in the fashion of a man, He humbled Himself ...

Philosophers debate the possibility of God becoming a man. When it actually occurred, it was more radical than they could've imagined. After years of Hallmark nativity greetings, familiarity has blinded us to the scandal of the incarnation. When the holy God became humble, it looked, by contrast, disgusting.

The Christmas story deals in the realm of the concrete; shared reality in a fallen world; common need with which all mean can relate - and so it begins with tax legislation.

She was sixteen, quiet, and a two days over-due.

He was working in a machine shop, broke after buying the engagement ring, and hoping their eighty-nine cavalier would finish the five day trip to Coonesboro, the middle-of-no-where town whose only claim to fame was being the birthplace of a former King from the nation's glory days a thousand years ago.

When they pulled in after midnight, the only motel was behind the trailer park. The neon vacancy sign was not lit, and for good reason - the only available space was in the maintenance garage to the rear. They had no other option.

While he was cleaning grease off the floor to put down a blanket, her water broke. He could clean the floor later. When the baby arrived, they wrapped him in shop towels and gently set him in the utility sink.

Angels appeared for a brief and terrifyingly awesome moment to announce the birth of the Godman at the local truckstop.  So garbage men, a tow truck driver, and the Wonderbread delivery guy came to worship the Savior of the world.

As He grew, He apprenticed under the father He'd created. The One Who'd stood as the fourth in the fiery furnace, now woke up before sunrise with achy knees and itchy stone-dust eyes. He commanded the angels of heaven and winced at pulled splinters. Six-day-a-week, blue collar life was the only he knew for thirty years. It ended when the Spirit of God was seen filling Him, while the greatest of all prophets baptised His body, and the Father's voice came out of the sky to affirm His perfection. On that day, like every day before, he had dirty fingernails.

After three years, He was a despised and rejected teacher, though His words had spoken the Andromeda galaxy into place. His student followers left him to return to their jobs in the factory. He was tortured to death as a political scapegoat, for hours, naked, beside two car thieves, in public. As He gave them life, breath, and all things, the centurions pulled His draining carcass from the wooden pole.

The incarnation was the closest God has ever come to denying Himself and betraying His own glory. It was so sacrificial as to almost be sacrilegious. It was nearly obscene - God sinning.

This is the mind of Christ. This is what we are called to imitate. In our world of entitlement, this is obscene humility and we are commanded to make it our own.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tattoos, piercings, and other banalities

And now let’s repeat the non-conformists oath [all together now]:

I promise to be an individual.

I promise to be unique.

I promise never to repeat things other people say.

-Steve Martin [from a segment of his standup]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dad's the House Bouncer

Not only must you be able to spiritually lead your family, you must be able to physically protect your family. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re 6’4” and shrouded with muscles. But it means that as a man, you’ve developed the character that you’re going to meet every adversity at the door. You assume that responsibility. You’re not sending your wife to do it. You’re not like Adam who will stand at a distance while the serpent talks to his wife. You are the one who stands at the door and you meet every adversity head-on.

-Paul Washer in What it Takes to be a Man

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bumpersticker of the Week Award

I'll keep my freedoms, guns, and money; You keep the change.

-Ford Excursion

Only Little Boys ...

... can turn decorating a mini-Christmas tree into bloodsport. Yes his nose is bleeding. ... And yes, his pants are on backward.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Prophet of Their Own Said ...

Men won't step one foot into the local church cuz' it caters to the woman's bent and it's full of feminine men. Man, we're pushing them far away from Christ into the arms of the Muslim men. Cuz men don't need to primp - we need strength. Christ was not a hippie pickin lilies with His friends. Jesus was a man's man - so men follow Him.

-lyrics from 'Man Up' by Emanuel Lambert, Jr [aka: da T.R.U.T.H.]

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Atheists don't fly planes into skyscrapers ...

... historically their preference has been gas chambers, military force, and publicly-funded medical clinics.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

EXPELLED: 2 opposable thumbs up! Way Up!!!

Well, we were finally able to rent Ben Stein's Expelled last night and let me tell you - it was UNBELIEVABLE! If you haven't seen this documentary, do yourself the favor. Stein far surpassed my highest expectations and I'm not exaggerating.

The film clearly communicated the rationality of ID; the inescapable links between Darwinism and racism, nihilism, determinism, ethnic cleansing, abortion, euthanasia, and atheism; the FACT that worldview commitments inform our attempts at science and not vice versa; how superficial and inadequate most attempts to reconcile evolution and the Bible are; there was even mention of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood and Eugenics growing out of the practical application of Darwinism!!!

I've never seen such a poignant demonstration of Romans-one truth suppression. Where's all the evidence? Why is God hiding Himself? [asks Richard Dawkins in a final scene]: Perhaps ... no, certainly ... it is we who work feverishly to hide Him. Exquisite.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Belly up to the Trough...

Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.

-Frederic Bastiat

Saturday, November 1, 2008

On Not Tempting God

Trust God and keep your powder dry.

-Oliver Cromwell

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Know Thyself

If the human heart is an idol-forming factory, the human mind is an excuse-making machine.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Choose You this Day, Whom You Will Serve.

There is a ridiculous notion in many young peoples' heads that goes like this: 'If I were a Christian I'd have to do exactly what the Bible says, when and how it says to do it. That's way too restricting. I want to be free - free to do what my lusts tell me to do, when and how they tell me to do it.'
Oh, is that it means to be free?

Freedom is not possible for human beings. We were created as servants and to rebel is only to switch masters. All people exist either as slaves to God or sin. There is no third option. There are no spiritual free agents. But equality also does not apply to our possible masters either. The One is far more to be desired than any other. In our age of independence and egalitarianism, we must be sure to pay a special heed to passages like the one below.

"Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."

-Romans 6.16-18

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fathers and Sons

"In 15 years I have spoken with hundreds of homosexual men. I have never met one who said he had a loving, respectful relationship with his father."

-Dr Joseph Nicholas

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Boys to Men

Nothing shapes a young man’s character like blisters on the hands.

-Dave Buehner [co-host of Generations w/ Kevin Swanson, on broadcast “Perpetual Boyhood”]

The Therapeutic Non-Gospel

We live in therapeutic times. We want comfort for being losers instead of forgiveness for being sinners. And we need forgiveness for being sinners; we have way too much comfort for being losers. This is because true forgiveness always brings other transformative things in its train while therapeutic comfort leaves us right where we were: comfy in our sins.

-D. Wilson [excerpt from The Gospel and Your Family, from The Blenheim Lectures]

A Quality Education

If our children know Saxon Math and Geography better than they know the book of Proverbs, we have given our children a substandard education!

-Kevin Swanson

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Book List [what I've been reading these days] ...


Baxter on Accountability

Take heed to yourself also because there are many eyes on you. As you have engaged to be the light of the world in the church, you must expect that men's eyes will be upon you. Although other men may sin without observation, you cannot. You should thankfully consider what a great mercy it is that you have so many eyes to watch over you; so many ready to tell you of your faults. For by these, you have greater help than others do. For these eyes restrain you from sin. Even though some may watch you maliciously yet you have the advantage.

-Richard Baxter [excerpt from The Reformed Pastor]

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Biblical Sermon Length

Hebrews is probably the only instance in the Bible of a sermon delivered to Christians. All the sermons in Acts are delivered to unbelievers or a mixture. But here we have a sermon because it is called a ‘word of exhortation’ which is identical to what the synagogue leaders asked Paul to deliver after the text had been read in the synagogue. He calls it a brief word – takes about 50 minutes to read this book out loud – so a 50-minute sermon is brief by 1st century standards. That may be why we’re returning to those in so many fruitful, Biblical churches today instead of these silly, little things.

-John Piper [excerpt from his T4G sermon]

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

De Profundis [#3]

People find it hard to believe that a good God would plan for us to endure difficulty. They are shocked by the trials they face and conclude that God must not be Who they thought He was. And the fact of the matter is, He might not be Who they thought He was – He is better.

-Brent Brewer [one of my pastors]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

De Profundis [#2]

When I find myself in the cellars of affliction, I look about for the King's finest wine.

-Samuel Rutherford

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Buyin' Votes with Stolen Dough

Where does the Bible tell us not to steal from the rich? In the same place where it tells us not to steal period. That commandment is in the same place where we are told not to steal from Ford Motor Company, WalMart, your mother's purse, or any other place where the money you want might be found. The morality of the thing has nothing whatever to do with the moral condition of the victim, or with his extra resources.

Stealing is stealing whether or not the person involved would ever miss it, and envy is envy even if the wealthy are parading about in some unconscionable fashion. What is that to us? It is not our money. We must not want it, seek it, angle for it, manipulate for it, vote for it, or write prophetic jeremiads with one eye on the main chance. The only thing we may do to get some is by offering a lawful service, diligently performed. Surrounding the palace with ballots is no more acceptable that surrounding the palace with torches and pitchforks.

-D. Wilson [excerpt from his article: Envy Looks Uphill]

Thinking Clearly About Culture - P.S. [Part 4 of 3]

2 final thoughts regarding what I believe are common errors about culture -

What culture is not:

1. The adjective 'cultural' is not a synonym of the adjective 'relative'. A person shouldn't say, 'Music standards are just cultural' when he means to say, 'Music standards are just relative'.

How about a quick test? Does the phrase 'objective cultural standards' strike you as an oxymoron? If so, I believe you're thinking about culture improperly. It is contradictory to speak about something as 'objective and relative', but not 'objective and cultural'. Relativity varies between individual people; culture varies between thousands or millions.

So when St. Paul talked about 'being all things to all men', he affirmed a discernable objectivity existing within cultures [e.g. When I go to the Far East, I KNOW I SHOULD take my shoes off before entering ANYONE's home; when I go to the Middle East I KNOW NOT TO pass ANYONE's dinner platter w/ my left hand; etc.]

2. Culture should not be confused w/ my immediate community or context. When someone says, "Tatoos aren't a sign of rebellious individualism in our culture. My three best buddies all have tatoos and they don't see them as rebellious or vain," they're misusing the term.

Culture is something bigger than me, my three buddies, or my neighborhood.

If life were a forest, cultures would be oaks visible from airplane windows or the next ridge over through binoculars. They possess trunks too thick to wrap your arms around - they are not the seedlings hugging the forest floor.

Too often, Christians dismiss criticisms and admonitions by titling all standards of evaluation as being merely 'cultural'. As if this were a trump card, rendering any further conversation moot.

But if we actually mean to call something like aesthetic standards 'cultural', we have not just ended the conversation; we've just begun it - by inviting investigation from a whole new angle. [ex. If something truly is cultural, then how do we go about establishing what is actually a cultural norm versus a fad. What is cultural as opposed to universal and just rarely ackowledged?]

How often might our simple sloth and sloppiness keep us from seeing our spotted sacrifices and will-worship for what they really are.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Rites of Passage

"The typical, healthy play of boys is called rough-and-tumble play. There's a lot of sound effects, and mock fighting, and chasing. This is the healthy, happy play of little boys."
- Christina Hoff Sommers, Author of The War Against Boys
Pictured above - the radius and ulna of my oldest son as they appeared Tuesday night after a rousing sequence of healthy, happy play with his brother [... well, 'healthy' in the developmental sense].

Friday, July 18, 2008

Raising Pure Sons

Q: How do we keep our sons pure in an age like this?

A: Well, the best thing you can do to keep your sons pure is to respect and love their mother. And that's, quite honestly, 80% of it. The remaining 20% is to teach them discipline and self-control when they're 2.
When your son hears about a poor kid growing up without a dad, does that turn his stomach? Dads running off and leaving mom to pick up the pieces - that should really upset your sons. You should teach them that this is not noble; this is not chivalric; this is not what God calls us to. And if you're modeling that in the home, they will pick up on it naturally.
The 2nd thing is that boys are creatures of appetite. They are driven by their passions, by their hunger, by competition, that sort of thing. So you need to teach them to be disciplined and self-controlled when they're 2 and 3 and 4 years old with regard to these relatively simple appetites. If you don't teach them self control in all these simple appetites, and they get to be 12 or 13, and all the sudden the mother-of-all-appetites overwhelms them ... you tell me how they're going to feel?
If discipline is a novel concept, the last time you want to learn it is when your body has just flooded with testosterone. Fathers teaching their sons how to compete in sports without loosing their temper, how to be patient at the dinner table without demanding things from their mother, how to get up and make the bed in the morning - every form of discipline that's in a context of love that young boys get is going to be an aid to resisting sexual temptation.

-Douglas Wilson in an interview on St. Anne's Pub

The Rare Jewel of Feminine Modesty

We are already, as it happens, a casually and chronically pornographic society. We dress young girls in clothes so scant and meretricious that honest harlots are all but bereft of any distinctive method for catching a lonely man's eye.

-David B. Hart

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pressing into the Kingdom

... the violent take it by force:
"they are not lazy wishes or cold endeavours that will bring men to heaven."

-Matthew Poole

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The 20-Year Test

Q: What is the 20-year rule?

A: The 20-year rule is: if my children grow up in my church for the next 20 years, singing the songs that we're singing today, what is going to be their view of God? How well will they know God? How much will they know about Him? What will they think about how they're to respond to Him? Will they think that worship is just singing songs that they like in a meeting? That thought helps me think about worship differently.
-Bob Kauflin [interviewed on the Paul Edwards Radio Show]
[BBC photo]

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Manly Art of Self-Denial

To speak bluntly, the essence of Biblical headship is: Sacrifice. Any man whose leadership is not characterized by sacrifice is a counterfeit. God assigned men authority over home, church, and much of nature for the good of home, church, and much of nature - not men. To the contrary, that authority quite often materializes as responsibility that is accepted to the detriment of one's own comfort, preference, and physical well-being.

There was an era when this was widely understood. The measure of a man was rightly gauged by the level of his self-denial; men were expected to go without for the gain of their families, churches, and communities. Today everywhere around us, false-manhood is built around indulgence and adolescent narcissism.

Good men drive old cars so their wives can keep the safer, more reliable, more comfortable vehicle. True men have better things to spend money on than every other outfit in the mid-spring lineup at Kenneth Cole. Real men record sporting shows and watch them with their leftover time. Fraudulent masculinity motivates some men to accumulate toys that real men will pick up at garage sales for half retail value and enjoy with the sons of their youth. At the end of the week, their bodies ache, and there are often personal needs left unfulfilled.

Because of this, authentic Biblical masculinity is low-key and easy to miss. This series of blogs is a tribute to the real men who've taught me by their lives. If I'm exhorting anyone, it's myself.

Question: What does authentic masculinity look like?
Answer: Jesus Christ. Sacrifice.

Miracle Panacea Found!

Today at the dinner table, Gabe disobeyed me and left to get a toy. I promptly told him that I needed to spank him for it, and as I went to get the paddle, it occurred to him that his stomach ached. Not only this, but he needed to go to the restroom right away. With Becki's blessing, we proceeded with the spanking first ... and to our amazement, when it was all over, his stomach felt fine and he was able to forego the restroom visit to stay and finish dessert. Gabe, as sons of a disobedient Adam, we need the healing rod of love - I look forward to the day when we can trade spank stories with laughter.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pearls, Swine, and the 13th Clown

If there are 12 clowns in a circus ring, you can jump in there and start quoting Shakespeare, but to the audience, you're just the 13th Clown.

-Douglas Wilson

(Whether it's Evangelism or Worship In Question...)

Rich Simplicity - Worship Part 5

Sunday School has taken the responsibility away from the father, and the father loves it. One of the reasons God is not blessing our churches is because we're in the continuous process of doing 'plan B'... You young men and young women need to realize you're wrong in almost everything you're thinking, and start all over again.

You need to submit to church and submit to leaders, but you've got to realize that you're going to walk in and tell this stuff to pastors and not only are they not going to have an answer, they're not even going to know what the question is. So just keep going. Be respectful, but just keep going.

-Paul Washer

Rich Simplicity - Worship Part 4

In our church, we don't have Sunday School. We just haven't found that in the Text. We have catechism and family worship in homes and we look our men in the eye and say: "I double-dog-dare you to disciple your family. We're not going to do it for you, and that includes your wives."

-Voddie Baucham

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Best Things in Church are Free

The Free Church of Scotland is living up to its name by making available several FREE downloads of congregational singing from the Scottish Psalter. You can find them here. Notice particularly the way that men lead the congregation with their voices and the strength of their praise. It is simply glorious. Guess what the Rossell boys will be learning in family worship this year. [The text is from the old Scottish Metrical Psalter, as well as from a newer Psalter I'm having trouble finding - keep an eye out for updates.]