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Archive for April, 2010


He's coming to get me!

The Cavman is going to “jail.”  I’m going to suffer for the well-being of another.  Quite in line with the gospel, for Jesus suffered for our well-being (salvation).  I’m doing it to alleviate some of the effects of the curse, namely birth defects.

I won’t really suffer badly.  On June 16th I’ll be carted off the “jail” at Carrabbas.  Before then I’ve had to contact friends, family and associates for bail.  Yeah, maybe you can also help me raise the money to send 2 kids with MD to camp.

Click here for more information and to donate.

Update: So far $325 of the desired goal of $1,600 has come in.  Please consider giving.

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W. Robert Godfrey’s book God’s Pattern for Creation: A Covenantal Reading of Genesis 1 is a short, fairly easy to understand book that wrestles with some of the issues regarding the interpretation of Genesis 1.  Godfrey, from Westminster West, focuses on the theological and is not trying to integrate the scientific.

Godfrey was a student of Meredith Kline’s, and the book (mostly) teaches the Framework Hypothesis (FH).  He has some mild critiques of the FH, but the vast majority of what he says fits quite well within the FH.

My beloved professor, Roger Nicole, jokingly called his friend Meredith Kline “covenant crazy.”  It is appropriate that Godfrey’s book focuses on a covenantal approach to Genesis 1.  He sees it as a covenant prologue of sorts for the Exodus generation (and all who follow).

“It is a covenant history focusing on what the people of God need to know about their God and themselves.”

Godfrey often frames God’s act of creation as preparing a suitable environment for humanity.  God is also revealing who we are and what we are supposed to do.  God subdues the chaos (tohu) and fills the void (bohu), even as He overcomes the darkness (the 3 problems Godfrey highlights in verse 2).  The creation mandate is to fill the earth & subdue it.  As God’s vice-regents, Adam and Eve were to act like God on God’s behalf.

“Genesis 1 presents creation as the progressive ordering of the earth to be a home for man in fellowship with God and to teach man how he is to bear God’s image.  Genesis 2:4-4:26 begins with the creation of man in fellowship with God and then presents the formation of a place for man to live.”

Godfrey is also highly dependent on Calvin’s method of exegesis (his principle of accommodation- God speaks so we’ll understand).  While Calvin does not do it with his work in Genesis, he often recognized that many historical accounts in the OT were not in chronological order, but in topical arraignment.  He attempts to take Calvin where Calvin did not go.  And this, I think, is the weakness of the book.  He argues that Days 1 & 4 were the same day since sometimes Hebrews were not as concerned about chronology as we are.

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My first series at Desert Springs will be Foundations of the Faith from Genesis.  I’ll be spending 3 weeks on Genesis 1 (I’ll be moving more quickly through the rest of Genesis).

The first week I’ll be focusing on what it says about God (communicating Frame’s Lordship attributes).  The second week will focus on creation.  And the third will focus on humanity and the creation mandate.

There are many interesting questions to ponder or address from this chapter and these topics.  Here is some of what I’ll be using.

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My new Presbytery covers quite the geographical range.  It covers Arizona, New Mexico and part of Texas.  I had just driven through El Paso on our trip to AZ, but found myself having to go back for my first State Presbytery meeting.  Thankfully we now only have one car so I was forced to ride with one of the elders.  Usually I’m not the best passenger (I get really bored and restless), but it was good to spend time with this elder and talk about a variety of issues regarding church and life.

When we came through eastern NM the week before I did not notice how much the stockyards stunk from the cattle.  It was clearly evident this time around, however.  What do you expect from so many cows in one place?

We checked into the hotel.  It was a “no frills” hotel.  I’ve been staying in “fancy” hotels, apparently.  I was surprised at some of the things they considered “frills”.

  • An exercise room.  Yes, an extra but it would have been nice to spend some time on a treadmill after riding for 4-5 hours.  The wind outside was kicking up plenty of dust, which can’t be great for your lungs.
  • A continental breakfast.  Thankfully the host church provided a very nice breakfast for all the Presbyters.
  • An iron.  When your clothes are still wrinkled from the cross country move, you really need an iron.
  • A bottle of shampoo.  It was very hard to tear an opening in the top of the shampoo packet in that shower.

The pastor of the host church used to be in my former Presbytery.  He had a difficult call there.  I was glad to see he ended up in a very good situation with some great lay leadership.  Though the dress was casual, they were liturgical.  Though in a rented facility, they invested lots of work to make it beautiful.  There were very nice wooden pews, a wooden arch, paintings from an elder adorning the walls…  The worship team included a pianist, violinist, keyboardist and bassist.  Most of the music was traditional, but they did Chris Tomlin’s I Will Rise as an ensemble piece.  It was a very encouraging worship service to begin our meeting.

The meeting itself was fairly uneventful.  We examined one man for ordination so he can labor with RUF (the PCA’s college ministry), another transferred into the Presbytery, and we examined another for licensure.   We heard from some military chaplains about some of the possible implications of the end of the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” in the military.  They are afraid they may be forced to do things contrary to their faith.

The most remarkable thing, for those who know me, is that I basically kept my mouth shut the whole time.  Okay, not completely true.  But I did not speak before Presbytery aside for expressing appreciation for the called meeting that brought me there when I was introduced.  I updated them with the fact that we are in town, house sold, house bought and moved across country under budget.  Yes, that’s it.

Much thanks to the host church for lunch.  They had a guy making tacos for us.  Delicious!  I was (thankfully) able to go back for seconds.  So I’m thankful that God gave us taste buds and put so many delicious things in this world for us to enjoy with thanksgiving.

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For Biblical Lay Ministry

One (all?) of the community groups here at Desert Springs is going through Paul Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change.  I guess that is one of the reasons I see this congregation as a great fit for me.  I’d have recommended this material, and they are already studying it.

It is a book I read during my transition period.  I posted some thoughts on it.  I decided to bring it home with me last night to review.  Yes, most of my books are now out of boxes.  When you go back to something you can often wonder why you liked it in the first place.  But this is one of those times you are reminded just how thoughtful and profound a book is.  Paul Tripp is one of those guys more Christians need to read.  That he has been a serious student of Scripture for a long time is evident as you read his books.  In the opening chapters I (re)discovered material suitable for my sermon Sunday and my upcoming series on Genesis.  You can read the first chapter here.

Here are some thoughts from the first few chapters, and the preface.

“For most of us, church is merely an event we attend or an organization we belong to.  We do not see it as a calling that shapes our entire lives.”

This is a great summary of what good pastors want to tell their people, often.  We are shaped by the ministry of the Word, both public and private or personal.  It is not enough to show up- but to engage with the Word by believing it and acting upon it.  One of the things I appreciate the most about this book is its call to do just that.  He has a very Word-centered view of ministry, for it is there that we meet with the Living Word- Jesus Himself.

“The King came not to make our agenda possible, but to draw us into something more amazing, glorious, and wonderful than we could ever imagine. “

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This Sunday will be my first official Sunday in the pulpit of Desert Springs.  I guess I was technically their pastor after my examination.  But now we have moved and are in the process of settling in.

In May I will begin a series called Foundations of Faith from Genesis.  But I had 1 Sunday lost in the shuffle there.  So I figured that of the recent sermons I preached in Vero Beach, the one of John 15 would be the most appropriate as we begin our life together.

Why so important?  Jesus is the true vine, and we can do NOTHING without Him.  I am merely one of the branches.  We must remember to seek our life in and from Him.  Jesus is the one essential component of a vibrant church.

Not only that but we must recognize the roll of fruitfulness as an inevitability of union with Christ the vine.  If we are really connected to Him by faith through the Spirit, we will be fruitful.

Third, the Father will prune all who are to be even more fruitful.  We are not to plateau, but to continue to increase in fruitfulness.

I’m thankful to read the pertinent portions of D.A. Carson’s commentary on the Gospel According to John in the Pillar New Testament Commentary series due to the gift of a friend.  I’m also relying on Leon Morris’ volume in the NICNT series.  He’s one of my favorite commentators.

Next time I spend time in John, I may want to look for Dick Lucas and William Philip’s Teaching John.  Lucas is someone Tim Keller often mentions as a thoughtful exegete and preacher of the Word.

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We had a difficult decision to make:  spend a day in Las Cruces as planned, or press on to Arizonia ending the long string of nights in hotels.  Hotels aren’t too bad if it is just adults.  But pre-schoolers don’t get the whole not jumping, running and screeching thing.  You grow weary of the additional parental demands.

We decided to head out to Arizona, after spending the morning poking around Las Cruces.  We went to the bosque near town and spent time listening to birds and looking for lizards.  The mountains in the distance were pretty as well.

Then back to Mesilla, one of the early towns in New Mexico.  It was the capital of Arizona and New Mexico, and a stop on the stage coach trail predating the pony express.  Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced there before he escaped.

For lunch we stopped at a local cafe, the Cafe Don Felix.  It is known for some great local flavor.  We ate on the patio to take in ambiance.  The chiles were HOT.  That was some hot salsa, and my green combo plate (enchilada, taco, carnitas & chili renello) was delicious and hot.

Around 1 pm we hit the road west one last time.

In some ways New Mexico was the same as western Texas.  But there were more billboards to break up the landscape.  We also saw a lot of dirt devils, little dust storms.  Fortunately no big ones blocking our way.  Then suddenly there were yellow wildflowers everywhere.  They were beautiful!

At one point we hit an immigration check point.  We weren’t very close to the border, but sufficiently in the middle of nowhere that traffic wouldn’t back up too much.  “Are you U.S. citizens?”  “Yes” while conveniently wearing my adoption agency hat in case CavSon was mistaken for hispanic in the dark.  “Okay.”  That’s it, on our way.

I also saw a car with Georgia plates with a table tied to the top.  A folding, plastic table.  Yep, they couldn’t travel cross country without that.  I’m thinking it cost them more than it cost in extra fuel due to the drag the thing created.  At the hotel in Las Cruces, there was a pick up truck that had a cab like a semi.  It was pretty cool looking.  Later in Arizona I saw a car with speaker wire keeping the passenger door closed.  The things you notice…

We stopped at one of the few rest areas in New Mexico to stretch our legs, and take the picture above of the wild flowers.  But this sign struck my eye.  Not exactly what I had hoped to see.  I figure snakes are pretty scared of people and will stay off the beaten path.

Soon we were crossing the border into Arizona.  I have never seen so many patrol cars.  They seemed to be everywhere, pulling people over.  We saw many places I’d like to return to: Tombstone, Cochise’s stronghold and national parks.  We stopped at at rest area in the Texas Canyon.  The rocks changes significantly while in the canyon.

Not too soon we were in Tucson.  We stopped at our future home to show the kids.  Then it was on to our friends’ home for a home cooked meal (!!!) and time to relax.

Since arriving we have signed all the paperwork, and will pick up the keys later today.  I’m ready to put down some new roots.

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