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Archive for July, 2012


Nearly 2 years ago I preached on God as the Creator of time, and Lord over work and rest. He made us to work AND rest. There are limits to each.

One of the young moms, no doubt stressed by the realities of raising kids, asked me about how this applies to moms. I intended to think through this a bit more, and just got mired in other responsibilities. So, here are some thoughts about how moms can find the Sabbath a delight, and opportunity to rest from their ordinary labor.

It is more difficult when the location of your ordinary labor is where you live (working moms are a different matter, obviously). But even if you would outside the home, at home there are always things that need attention whether they are urgent or not.

Take the day off from cleaning the house. In most families, moms do most of that. I remember a time we were eating with my siblings and their spouses at my parents. After dinner, Mom got up and started clearing dishes. CavWife was shocked that no one stood up to help. Mom always did it (though one chore of mine for awhile was cleaning the dishes). Husbands or older children can step up on Sundays to give moms a break when it comes to the dishes. But lay aside the laundry, floors, dusting etc. The home will not fall apart prior to Monday. And if you find that you will go crazy if you won’t- then there is a deeper issue to address.

Go out for lunch, maybe. Some people are not comfortable with this due to their convictions about others working on Sunday. They are working whether you go out to eat or not. They are suffering the consequences of the worship of money and comfort. If your conscience won’t let you, don’t do it. But the restaurant workers won’t condemn you, and could use the tip money.

Eat leftovers. The big Sunday meal may be a great tradition to build memories and a special time to be together, but it puts an unfair burden on moms (unless you grab take out). But Sunday can be a great time to clear out the leftovers from the fridge, or at least eat something simple. Most dads or older kids can operate a microwave.

Allow Dad to cook! It could be a time when he cooks for the family. Homemade pizza, BBQ or some other dad specialty allows mom to get some much needed rest (imagine how less stressed, and irritable they’d be).

Take a nap. One of the benefits of having younger kids is nap time. It is often a great time to get stuff done. Most Sundays CavWife and I use that to enjoy some time together. Sometimes, it is a great time to catch a few winks after not sleeping well all week.

Enjoy some sex (with your spouse). You didn’t expect that, did you? In doing research for a sermon years ago on the Sabbath, I ran across the mention of the Jewish practice of Sabbath sex. The slower pace of the day should help you to enjoy some time together enjoying the marriage bed. We have some friends who really appreciated this suggestion.

Pursuing Christ through the means of grace. God mercifully gave us a whole day to pursue Him. It is about more than public worship, however. There should be family and even personal worship. Moms often have a hard time finding time to read their Bibles or other books, pray, sing, etc. I put this near the end because this is all some people think the Sabbath rest should be about. But the phrase is redundant- Sabbath means rest. As Christians we rest in Christ from our works. But Sunday is a great day to read things that will point you to Jesus and the sufficiency of His work for you. It is a great grow in grace kind of day.

Works of mercy. It could be as simple as inviting a lonely person over to help you with the leftovers. Or someone who is struggling financially. Simple works of mercy, like hospitality (you don’t need to do anything fancy) restore their souls, and yours.

Anyone have any other ideas for moms to enjoy some rest in accordance with God’s merciful law.

Update: Here is a good article by Dr. Bill Evans on the Sabbath principle.

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About a year ago I realized I had no books on the subject of our union with Christ. I decided to go on a buying binge. It didn’t last long because there are not many books on that subject. Since then I read Robert Letham’s excellent book on the subject. Since I was on study leave, I decided to take J. Todd Billings’ book Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church.

The phrase reframing theology can often be a bad sign, sort of like ‘repainting the faith”. But here it is not. Billings is a Reformation scholar, with particular emphasis on Calvin. This book oozes Calvin, along with others. He utilizes “retrieval theology”, which was a new term for me. You look to the theology of the past to address problems of the present, and to renew our vision. We tend to be culturally captive, and see theology in light of the problems of our day. This looks to the past to gain a theological foothold to examine the problems of our day, sometimes to even see them. I hope that makes sense, and that I did it justice (I suspect some Ph.D. candidate out there could take me to task). Billings wants to reframe our thinking, so we look at things like salvation, justice, communion and ministry in light of our union with Christ.

When I taught a Sunday School class, one congregant took issue with Packer’s assertion that one only understands Christianity to the degree that they understand adoption. His assertion was that union with Christ as the most important unifying principle or doctrine that we must understand. So, I found it ironic that the first chapter is entitled Salvation as Adopted in Christ. The point is, that they are connected to one another. You can’t have one without the other. But one way we can better understand union is thru understanding adoption. Much of the book keeps our current context in mind, and explores how Christianity really differs from MTD, or moralistic, therapeutic, deism. Odd in that some of the other books I’ve been reading have dealt with that as well. Salvation as adoption is so different than MTD. God, who is transcendent (great & glorious) draws near to us in salvation. He draws near to us to save us.

“The prospect of adoption in this sense is an offense. It is too much closeness– it is the sort of closeness that requires giving up one’s own identity.”

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The final section of The Explicit Gospel has to do with implications and applications. The majority of the section has to do with what happens if you stay on the ground or in the air too long.

“The explicit gospel holds the gospel on the ground and the gospel in the air as complementary, two views of the same redemptive plan God has for the world in the work of his Son.”

Think of it as a cross country trip. If you drive it you easily get lost in the details. Especially in west Texas. Monotony can set in. The hours grind by and you lose sight of the big picture- why you are going there. You just want to get there.

If you fly, let’s say a small private plan like my friend Steve, you can’t stay in the air too long or you’ll run out of fuel. You see the big picture, but you miss out on the details. You see the expanse of canyons and mountains. But you miss the nuances of those same places.

Not the best illustration, but hopefully it helps. Unfortunately it does break down because the two modes of transportation are not as obviously complementary. They are often mutually exclusive. Too often people treat the gospel on the ground and the air as mutually exclusive instead of complementary. These are the dangers that Chandler wants to make explicit.

He begins with a discussion of slippery slopes. Most theological errors are the result of over-emphasizing something that is true at the expense of something else that is true. In trying to protect one thing, we go too far and deny something else. His goal is to encourage us to avoid this by holding both together.

“So it is not usually in the affirmation of a truth that someone goes down the slippery slope, but in the denial of corresponding truths.”

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The second section of The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilsom addresses the “gospel in the air”. If the gospel on the ground is the still photo of justification, the gospel on the ground is the movie that provides the context for the gospel. It addresses the meta-narrative of the Bible. What this meta-narrative does is help us see our personal salvation in a larger context of God’s glory and plan for the universe.

This is not a new idea. He quotes Martyn Lloyd-Jones as stressing the need for both the personal and cosmic sides of the gospel. We are to live in the tension instead of focusing exclusively on one. Fundamentalists live in the personal while liberals tend to live in the cosmic. Both are true. Both are in Scripture. So we must hold one in each hand. Chandler does a great job of balancing the two instead of affirming one at the expense of the other. This is something Greg Gilbert struggled to do in What is the Gospel?.

As a result, they display a good theological method. The chapters run thru Creation-Fall- Reconciliation- Consummation. They spend a lot of time in Romans 8 and Revelation 21-22.

“The bottom line is that science is in a constant state of subjectivity and do-overs.”

In the chapter on Creation, Chandler lays some cards on the table. He’s a scientific agnostic. I like the phrase and found this section interesting as he criticizes those who want to place science above Scripture and embrace theistic evolution. He is critical of BioLogos. He looks at some articles about the scientific process as well as how the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics are incompatible with (macro) evolutionary theory.

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Tony Jones addressed the United Methodist Church as “scholar in residence” at Aldersgate UMC in Alexandria. He was given the topic, “Why is the United Methodist Church so Screwed Up?”. Sounds like a very emergent sounding title. Jones is the pastor of Solomon’s Porch and one of the key figures with Brian McLaren in the increasingly irrelevant emergent church movement.

Despite evidence a weak grasp of church history, he made some observations as an outsider. The article summarizes the problems as follows (he may have made other, more significant observations than these):

  • People seeking ordination have to “jump through hoops of burning fire”.
  • Younger pastors are frustrated because the older leaders “won’t relinquish control.”
  • Church bureaucracies don’t rely on the Holy Spirit and don’t value initiative.
  • They are hindered by their doctrinal distinctions which many lay people do not hold to at this time.
  • In light of the broken relationships they need to focus on reconciliation.
  • They may need to “euthanize some things to make room for the gospel.”

An Episcopalian author, Diane Butler Bass, was present and noted that the UMC is not the only denomination in trouble. “Institutional Christianity” is in trouble.

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When he looks like you ace … you’ve got trouble.

It is the All-Star break. This means that the Red Sox can’t lose any games, and no more players can get hurt unless they pull an Irving Fryer or get hit by a bus. New England can catch its breathe, breath deep and so some version of “Serenity now!”, “Goosfraba!” or “Calgone, take me away!”. It was a most frustrating first half of the season. There has been lots of analysis. I thought I’d throw in my 2 cents worth, which is probably more logical and levelheaded than people like CHB, or his nemesis The Schill.

What Went Wrong

It would be easier to ask what went right. Injuries. Check. Bad manager’s moves. Check.

The main problem, from my perspective, is starting pitching. This should sound familiar, because I said this was the main cause of the September Slide of 2011. They got nothing out of Lester and Beckett, and Buchholz was hurt. This is nearly a replay. Lester and Beckett have nearly respectable ERAs and have pitched very well in 2 or 3 games apiece. But these guys are not supposed to be on the north side of respectable. They are supposed to be pitching 7-8 innings a start, not 5-6. They are supposed to be leading the staff in ERA, wins, Ks and every other pitching state aside from saves and holds. But they aren’t. Not close. You’d be happy if they were the 4th and 5th starters, but they are the 1st and 2nd.

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I really like Matt Chandler’s preaching. He’s a little edgy, and has that Baptist almost screaming things at times. But I benefit from much of what he says. He also experiences similar reactions to the gospel as I did in small city Florida. He just experiences it on a much larger scale in the Big D. His frustrations with people being inoculated for the gospel ring true in my time in Florida.

I’ve read Jared Wilson’s blog for some time now. I like how he tries to keep the gospel central. You have to like a guy who moves to Vermont to pastor a church, especially when he adopts the local sports teams. That’s good missional thinking, right?

Well, they wrote a book together. Matt was the primary author, and Jared helped him out. The book is The Explicit Gospel, and it has blurbs filled with praise from the likes of Rick Warren, D.A. Carson, Mark Driscoll, David Platt, Ed Stetzer and more. A literal hodge-podge of famous (and some might say infamous) pastors. Incidentally, CavCorollary #167 is don’t believe the blurbs.

I am half way through the book, and thought this would be a good time to process it. The first half focuses on “the gospel on the ground.” The second focuses on the “gospel in the air”.  Think trees versus forest. It is the same gospel, but from different perspectives, or angles.

“If the gospel on the ground is the gospel at the micro level, the gospel in the air is the story at the macro level. … One crucial thing that viewing the gospel on the ground helps us do is distinguish between the gospel’s content and the gospel’s implications. … On the ground, the gospel comes to us as individuals.”

The gospel on the ground, according to Chandler, distinguishes between the gospel and its implications. It focuses on the personal aspects of the gospel instead of the cosmic aspects of the gospel. We need both. But we need to distinguish them or we get all messed up. This is one of the problems that he mentions in some “gospel” preaching- they talk as if the implications of the gospel (social justice, good works, community etc.) were the gospel itself. So they distort and obscure the gospel as a result.

But let’s get back to the beginning.

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