Archive for May, 2008

18
May

Nutter Foundation’s Dozer Day 2008

   Posted by: Mark    in General, Our children

This past Saturday was the Nutter Corporation’s Dozer Day in Vancouver. The sun was out, and the temperatures must have hit the 90’s. There had to be thousands of people at the event this year, and the lines were slow-moving and exhausting. But the kids really enjoyed getting to drive some heavy equipment, eating hot dogs, and scrambling for candy at the Dan Jones candy-throwing conveyer truck. And I really have to commend the volunteers and drivers, because every one of them I saw was just having a blast. The driver of the excavator the kids got to ride in was laughing and looked like he was having so much fun, despite the heat and constant flow of children.

Here are some pictures and videos from the day. And as soon as I get some links to the pictures Amy and Dad took, I’ll include them here as well.

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Dozer Day, Timothy

Dozer Day, Isaiah

Dozer Day, Lindsey

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15
May

Seven Sayings: The Word of Forgiveness

   Posted by: Mark    in The Church

I read this two weeks ago, on schedule with Tim Challies, but haven’t taken time to post my thoughts yet.

The first chapter in this book deals with Christ’s words “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This was a chapter completely overflowing with wonder and encouragement.

Pink explains that, during the most horrific and evil act of all time, with the Son of God hanging on a cross erected by His own creatures, Christ’s first recorded words were those of prayer. And the prayer was not one of calling judgment down on wicked man, or a prayer requesting strength, or a prayer for the “friends” who had left him alone. It was a prayer of mercy and forgiveness for the sake of his murderers. Pink concludes that none are beyond the reach of prayer.

I was intrigued by the idea that Christ’s prayer was specifically and directly answered in Acts, during Peter’s preaching. Pink draws the link between “they know not what they do” and Peter’s statement in Acts 3:17 to his hearers who he said had “acted in ignorance.” And 3000 people were redeemed after Peter’s preaching, not from Peter’s eloquence, but because Christ Himself prayed for them. This is supported even more in John 17:20, where Christ states that He did not pray for the apostles alone, but for “those who will believe.” We, too, need to intercede in prayer for the enemies of God.

It was also noteworthy that sin is always sin to God, whether done willfully or in ignorance. Leviticus 5:15-16 addressed “sins of ignorance,” and shows that even these required blood sacrifice. Pink writes that “God is Holy, and He will not lower His standard of righteousness to the level of our ignorance.”

Another point Pink addresses is one that I had discussed briefly in a Sunday School class just the Sunday before reading the chapter. He deals with the matter of forgiveness, and when we are to forgive. I admit I am not settled in my mind yet as to how to properly divide this matter. Pink points out that Christ did not specifically forgive people here as he had done during his earthly ministry. Rather, he asks his Father to forgive them. Primarily this can be viewed that Christ, in hanging on the cross, was no longer in a position to forgive. (Matthew 9:6 says Christ has power on earth to forgive sins, and John 12:32 says on the cross he was “lifted up from the earth”; on the cross Christ was our substitute, and was no longer in the place of authority on the matter.) Building on the facts that Christ taught to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), and that he told us to forgive our brother if he repents (Luke 17:3-4), Pink concludes that Scripture does not teach that we must always forgive in all circumstances. He is careful to point out that withholding forgiveness should not include harboring ill feelings or ill will, but we are not to treat the unrepentant brother as if he had not wronged us. Most certainly, however, we are to pray for him. Again, I am not fully settled in my mind on this, and it warrants further study.

Pink pulls so much out of this first saying of the Savior. Do yourself a favor and read the chapter for yourself: The Word of Forgiveness

You can read Tim’s post here: Reading Classics Together – The Seven Sayings (Chapter 1)

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13
May

The new garden

   Posted by: Mark    in General

We decided a few months ago to start a very small garden this year, both for the fun and for the fresh vegetables that we hope it provides. I had seen a post on LifeHacker regarding square foot gardening and thought it looked like fun. So a week ago we bought some seeds for string beans, snap peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a few other things, plus a starter container of “peat pods” for 24 plants. And after about a week, we have plants!

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It’s been pretty amazing to watch these things grow. We took a seed and put it in a pile of wet dirt. That was it. Maybe I’m just really simple-minded, but that has got to be one of the coolest things in the world. And to think that one little seed will give us dozens of beans, and another will provide a host of peas. Wow.

Genesis 2:8-9: And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.

Thank you, Lord!

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11
May

God, the Gospel, and Your Marriage II

   Posted by: Mark    in General

The primary difficulty in writing a summary of any seminar session or message is the complete loss of context and foundation for any of the quotes or conclusions presented. With Dr. Art Azurdia this is even more complicated, as he so carefully builds a foundation on the Bible, then articulately extracts incredible truths that are clearly based on both the immediate passage and the “meta-narrative” or over-arching story of the Bible. However, I would still like to try to present a brief summary.

Had the conference ended Friday night after the first session, we would have had enough to think and meditate on for months. But Azurdia continued Saturday with three separate sessions, the last of which was a in a question-and-answer format with Dr. Azurdia, Jeff Seavey (pastor of Living Water Community Church), and Dan Morse (pastor of Christ our Redeemer Church). I would also be remiss if I neglected to mention the incredible blessing that the music was during this conference. The songs focused consistently on the cross and the work Christ performed, and really helped establish a proper Christ-centered approach to the sessions.

The first session, from Ephesians 5:15-22, was based on the premise that the holy dignity of marriage is grounded in the fact that its ideal can be recovered by the means of the Christian Gospel. In this session Azurdia emphasized that the Old Covenant brought sin to light without any power to overcome sin, while the New Covenant provided the power and ability, through Christ, to overcome sin. The problems in a marriage are a result of the Fall, so the solution for the problems in a marriage is the same as the solution for the effects of the Fall: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Husbands are not commanded to be the head of the wife. The husband is the head, and his example for how to love his wife is exemplified by Christ’s love for the church: sacrificial (Christ died for the church), exclusive (Christ loved “her” — specific and exclusive), and undeserved (love her as a sinner, not a saint).
  • I don’t need to be a better husband, I need to be a better Christian

The second session on Saturday continued with Dr. Azurdia’s third point: the holy dignity of marriage is grounded in the fact that it exists ultimately for God and His glory, not for our own self-enhancement, self-fulfillment, or self-actualization.

  • A healthy Christian family, like a healthy Christian church, has been designed for a purpose outside itself.
  • The purpose of every created thing is to bring glory to God. As “idol factories,” we end up making idols of anything, and consistently in the American church, this includes making an idol of the family. “The family” becomes the end, not the means or channel to the end.
  • You shouldn’t marry for love. You marry in love for the advancement of the kingdom.

The final session was more informal and involved Dr. Azurdia, Jeff, and Dan answering questions that had been written and dropped into a box throughout the day. There were far more questions submitted than there was time to answer. Without going into any detail, these men address issues from the “exception clause” regarding divorce, to birth control, to the benefits and pitfalls of “full transparency” in a marriage, and how to practically apply the truths learned over the weekend. For me, one of the more refreshing aspects of this time was the humility expressed as these men discussed things for which their opinions differed. There were no egos to be fed, and there was not a hint of pride or divisiveness.

On a side note, one of the quotes from Dr. Azurdia that I found quite humorous was something along the lines of “I tell my students they can preach one topical message per year, but they must immediately confess and repent afterwards.” It would be an understatement to say that Dr. Azurdia preaches expositionally, with complete and utter devotion to the importance of both the individual words and structures of the text, and the importance and and significance of any passage in its book.

As I stated above, this post doesn’t even come close to doing justice to Dr. Azurdia. There are so many more things I could write, but if I could summarize the weekend briefly, it would have to be using a conglomeration of statements Azurdia made: Marriage is divinely designed by Sovereign God, and it carries an ultimate purpose outside itself, extending to the magnification and propagation of the Gospel and the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. The supreme end of marriage is the Gospel, not the marriage, and a strong Christian marriage is characterized by the willingness of each spouse to sacrifice the marriage for the sake of the Gospel.

Finally, Living Water Community Church has made the audio from this weekend’s conference available on their web site (God, the Gospel, and Your Marriage — scroll down to May 9-10). I can highly recommend that couples devote some time to listen to this together. You will undoubtedly benefit more than you can imagine.

If you are interested, Dr. Azurdia has a series of previous messages on the Christian Family available on his web site (The Holy Responsibility Of The Christian Family — scroll down). I haven’t had opportunity to listen to these messages yet, but expect to in the near future.

10
May

God, the Gospel, and Your Marriage

   Posted by: Mark    in General

Last night was the first session from Dr. Art Azurdia on “God, the Gospel, and Your Marriage,” and I can honestly say that listening to him was like drinking from a firehose. Here are a few ideas and quotes:

  • “The Bible is not a magic book. We are in all was completely dependent on the illumination of the Holy Spirit.”
  • “The dignity of marriage is grounded in the fact that marriage is the holy creation of sovereign God.” He went on the explain that such a grounding removes any authority man thinks he has over marriage, and any right to change it to fit his purposes or dissolve it to accomplish his desires or changed feelings.
  • “We must begin with God Himself. Your marriage is not your own. It belongs to God.”
  • “Eve’s worth is based in the fact that she is an image-bearer of God, not that she came from man.”
  • “Marriage is not the creation of man, so man has no authority to do with it as he wills.

His text for the evening was Genesis 2:15-25, and he consistently and constantly referenced back to this text.

We’re looking forward to three more sessions today with Dr. Azurdia. In another post I will see if I can provide the words to one of the songs we sang; it is easily one of the most powerful songs about Christ’s work on the cross that I have ever sung or heard.

8
May

So much to say, so little organization

   Posted by: Mark    in Uncategorized

I haven’t been posting much around here lately. I’m actually in a place right now in which I have just a ton of things to write about, but nothing is organized. It’s all jumbled in my head, and I haven’t been able to devote enough single-sitting time to work any of it out in an understandable fashion. I have links, ideas, plans, thoughts about books I’m reading, things the kids do and say, Bible verses that have jumped out lately, topics I’m discussing with folks at church, and so much more. Oh, I wish I could write with the clarity and completeness that Tim Challies does!

But tomorrow evening and Saturday promise to be exciting and humbling as Tami and I attend a marriage seminar led by Dr. Art Azurdia of Western Seminary, hosted by Living Water Community Church at the Lauralwood Baptist Church facilities here in Vancouver. Wow, that’s a mouthful.

8
May

The other side of the fence

   Posted by: Mark    in General

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Well last weekend I sorta moved the fence. Actually, moving the fence might have been easier, but the grass is finally greener: I replaced our front lawn. Sure, it’s only 400 square feet, but I found out I was only in shape for about 25 square feet…

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When our house was built, and the front yard was landscaped, the sod was placed directly on top of sixteen billion tons of river rock and clay. And water bottles. And fast food wrappers. And left-over concrete. So I removed the old sod, garbage, old construction supplies, and a couple of hundred pounds of rock so I could place another patch of newer, better sod.

So now I have a wonderfully even, green, smooth lawn. And that lawn will take gallons of water to maintain. And pounds of fertilizer. And gallons of lawnmower gas. It took me about ten minutes to understand the complete folly of our obsession with lawns, but I live in a neighborhood that has a neighborhood association and architecture approval committee. And I think the rules eliminate the possibility of making the front yard useful, like these folks:

8
May

Evil hosting company

   Posted by: Mark    in Tech

I was plagued last week with problems stemming from 1and1 Internet. I had seen numerous advertisements from them in some of the magazines I read, and their prices were quite low. I opened a business account with them earlier this year, but didn’t move my site and related domain registration until about a month ago.

When that all finally went through, there was a rather significant problem that I emailed them about. They assured me they knew about it and were working on it. Three days later I emailed again asking when it would be fixed, and again the said they were still working on it. After six days, it was still not fixed, and I was disgusted with the lack of service, especially on a business-level account. So I canceled and moved to BlueHost. Still a “discount” hosting company, but smaller and apparently more responsive. I encountered two issues, one of which they kindly explained was my fault and the other they proactively notified me about and resolved in short order.

But when I canceled my hosting plan with 1and1, they saw fit to also cancel my domain registration, dropping “thenorwoodhome.com” into a cancellation status for 30 days. I could either pay $40 to retrieve it through 1and1, or wait until it expired and try to be the first to get it back. So no site, and more importantly, no email except my seldom-used gmail account.

It ends up that this is not uncommon with 1and1. After over an hour on the phone with multiple agents, they will be refunding me the $40 recovery fee. And I’ll be transferring my domain name out just as soon as I can.