Archive for the ‘Pensiveness’ Category

4
Nov

Patience

   Posted by: Mark

This is not a political blog, and I hope it never becomes one. But as America votes, I have a bit of anxiousness. I have no doubt that the outcome of today’s election will be no surprise to God, and in fact will be exactly according to his purpose, plans, and desires.

I occasionally read articles from left-leaning folks. One in particular makes me cringe, probably because I know the guy, and know his complete hatred of all things Christian and conservative. My anxiousness (not eager anxiousness, but uneasy anxiousness) is centered around a knowledge that unrighteousness will not ultimately go without punishment. I know he won’t be too excited about that. It’s like the quote I saw the other day attributing a horrendous name to God. The fact that we can dare to actively raise our fist in God’s face and not be immediately blasted to bits indicates incredible mercy, not absence of a diety.

Regardless of what we face on Wednesday morning, our mission as Christians remains the same. Our mission is not dependent on the current view of the Constitution, whether the public schools teach intelligent design, how much we pay in taxes, or the price of gas. These are all temporary, passing things. Sure they affect our approach to our mission, but nothing can affect the mission itself.

8
Oct

How serious am I about this thing?

   Posted by: Mark

I am a husband and a father of four. Things are busy, and the majority of the time that “busy-ness” really is self-inflicted, despite the fact that I continually try to rationalize that it is not self-inflicted. I often ask myself if I am being too selfish when I sequester myself in my office for a while. And I find that it is quite easy to answer with “not really; I need my time.” But is that true? This answer is the lazy way out. Why take 20 minutes to read to the kids when I have blogs to read? Why sit and play with Legos when I have a web site to design? Or more personally, why read Ephesians or Titus when I have the second season of Lost sitting here, and an extra disk full of special features?

I need my time.

I believe that I can justly pin a good portion of today’s problems in Christendom on the distractions of this modern life. We are surrounded with distractions. Hebrews 12:1 warns us not only about laying aside “sin which clings so closely,” but also, and perhaps less obviously we are implored to lay aside “every weight.” I do find it interesting that the writer of Hebrews lists these two things separately; they are two distinct things. Serving at church, running to the store, mowing the lawn, washing the car, watching another movie, reading Arthur C. Clarke, answering the phone, checking email, running to the store (again), learning a new programming language; any of these can be distractions, weights, things that get in the way of a more real and personal relationship with Christ.

I am certainly not suggesting that playing Legos with Timothy is a “weight” or distraction that needs to be set aside. Rather, so many of the other things that I think are important, things that reduce the time I might otherwise invest wisely, are unbelievable weights. And the remarkable thing is that I seldom see these weights because of my selfishness! In fact, I actually relish carrying them. And that is a huge problem.

Am I really in a battle? Are there daily struggles that I should be involved in more? Or are the clash of swords and the yell of war too far away? Have I forgotten? Have I ever truly realized that this issue of following after or pursuing Christ is serious business? How earnest am I about training my children, and about fortifying against the worldview that is pushed mercilessly in every children’s movie? How serious am I about doing everything in my power to instill in their young, open minds the glory of Christ and what he has done for them and what he continues to do?

And so far the only answer I can hear, to my shame, sheepishly and faintly in the back of my mind, is “Not serious enough. Yet.”

4
Aug

The Glory of the Cross

   Posted by: Mark

I had about an hour in the car alone today, and was able to listen to and concentrate on an album I have come to love. One song in particular, called “The Glory of the Cross,” has continued to awe me every time I hear it. Here is the first verse and the chorus. If you read it slowly, and comprehend the words, perhaps you will feel the immense impact:

What wisdom once devised the plan
Where all our sin and pride
Was placed upon the perfect Lamb
Who suffered, bled, and died?
The wisdom of a Sovereign God
Whose greatness will be shown
When those who crucified Your Son
Rejoice around Your throne

And, oh, the glory of the cross
That You would send Your Son for us
I gladly count my life as loss
That I might come to know
The glory of, the glory of the cross

The next verse is just as powerful, and plainly states that the righteousness that was revealed at the cross “proved to all [that God’s] justice has been met.” This one sentence encompasses incredible Biblical truth that I think many Christians completely miss: Salvation is not a gift that results in God accepting our sinfulness! The death of Christ on the cross did not enable God to ignore our wickedness or give us a “pass” or “bye” on our rebellion. For him to do that would require that he set aside his holiness, which, could he do it, would cost him his deity. Our sin is an offense beyond comprehension; so great that it requires our eternal separation from God to accomplish his justice against it. But God meted out his righteous judgment on Christ, in our stead, in totality, and thereby accomplished that justice. And he did this according to the counsel of his will, not based on any innate virtue or goodness we think we have. Wow. Were we to understand this more, we would surely be more grateful than we are.

You can read the rest of the lyrics here, or listen to the beginning of the song: The Glory of the Cross

13
Feb

A letter from Alan Groves

   Posted by: Mark

Alan Groves was a professor of the Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. He celebrated his homecoming early this month.

Here is a bit of a glimpse into the details of his death. But if you do not read that, at least take a few minutes to read his letter.

20
Sep

On blessings, busy-ness, and balance

   Posted by: Mark

This post will likely ramble a bit, but gettings things “down on paper” often helps me evaluate more completely. It would be a bit severe to say that I have been overwhelmed lately. I have not been, thankfully. But I have been caught in a whirlwind of activities and thoughts that will undoubtedly continue for some time.

The blessings lately (beyond the “normal” blessings of three awesome children, an incredible wife, vehicles that run, and good health, to name a very few) have been two specific jobs that have come, post-“9-to-5,” that may prove to be validation of future involvement in additional development and consulting work (or not). They come at a time during which Lindsey’s school has started again, and various semi-annual bills become due. A few weeks ago I officially registered with the state as a business, and received my “you better pay us quarterly” welcome letter from Olympia, so I am official.

I have worked recently in a renewed effort on the pedal car I started two years ago for the kids. I expect to have it completed to a point that it can be driven in the next week or two. It still needs a lot of work, including paint and tons of finish work, and including the way-cool, obnoxiously loud brass taxi horn that will adorn its side. MG-TC pedal car

We had a missions revival at church this week. Ignoring the fact that the Holy Spirit is really the only one who can “schedule” a revival (I fully understand the point/intent, however), the effect of such a series of meetings on an individual is undoubtedly related to the individual’s willingness to be affected. Combine this with recent reading I have done from Spurgeon, MacArthur, and Dan Phillips, recent email conversations with two great missionary friends, posting interactions on Slice, and general messages from John Piper, and the result is, ultimately, a bit of a frustration related to the limited amount of time I have to devote any time to “extra” study of topics that interest me. And closely intertwined with that, perhaps a bit of frustration related to how much time I should devote to study of particular topics.

As with most things, it comes down to priorities. I have always struggled with this, since my areas of interest cover so many topics (magic, movies/movie-making/video production, RC models, model trains, woodworking, tinkering/building/creating, software development, photography, music, apologetics, etc.). It is not possible to maintain so many different interests and really be any good at any of them, while making any effort at becoming a better father, husband, and Christian, and all that those entail. Folks like Tim Challis amaze me in that they can make such an impact on so many people, while seeming to have it all together all the time!

I would love to complete the “series” I started on Bible translations. I would love to post regarding my recent (superficial) reading on the doctrine of grace and related discussions. I would love to post and study on reaching Mormons with the true Gospel of salvation by faith alone. I would love to be able to read Romans in a single sitting with no interruptions, and learn how to read/teach expositionally. I would love to have a weekly cup of coffee with a couple of brothers to pray and really talk about life. And I would love to get this ugly site redesigned!

And so this post ends. No real answers. No pearls of wisdom. Perhaps nothing more than a baring of my thoughts to the benefit of someone with similar wrestlings. Refocus on what matters. Set priorities and stick to them. Say “no” more often to men, “yes” more often to God.

Sleep is necessary, and I am off to see how much I can find. Soli Deo Gloria!

6
Jun

Justice

   Posted by: Mark

We do not understand our fallen state. In fact, we cannot understand it.

Our sin is of such grave offence to God’s holiness that it is beyond the ability of our finite, fallen minds to comprehend.

Here is a stunning thought: eternal Hell is the only just punishment for us. Eternal Hell. Eternal flame. Eternal separation from God. Eternal torment. This is a just punishment for our sin. God could simply destroy the unrepentant sinner, but that is apparently not sufficient punishment. In meditating on that thought for a few moments, we may barely catch the smallest glimpse of how seriously God takes sin.

It is one thing to think, casually or not, that we really even begin to understand that God had to send Christ if we were to have any hope. It is fully another thing to think that Christ’s death changed God’s attitude toward sin. He sees sin the same today as He did when Christ hung on the cross, and He had to turn His back on the One who became sin for us. He turned His back on His own Son, with whom He existed in perfect harmony in “eternity past.”

And to think that He offers His grace so freely. How can we suggest that we have any part in salvation? How can we think we can do a single thing to appease a holy and righteous God?

23
Mar

How have I fallen so far?

   Posted by: Mark

I read a post today at Challies.com that disturbed me. In fact, it bothered me so much that I did not finish reading it the first time — I had to come back to it a bit later. Below I provide the quote that Tim included in the post. It is from a book by John Piper titled God is the Gospel, which is a book that I now see I must read.

The critical question for our generation–and for every generation–is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever say, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

It disturbed me because of the tendency of my initial answer, and what that means about my commitment and life. I cannot say much more that Tim does not already say. You can read his entire post here.

7
Mar

Enjoy

   Posted by: Mark

Time passes so quickly. Childhood disappears. It happens earlier for some than for others, but it seems that it eventually ends for everyone. Tickle fights will lose their enjoyment. Coloring will become boring. Firecrackers will become annoying. Hikes will become more about the destination than the walk in the woods. Silly faces at dinner will be embarrassing instead of laugh-out-loud funny. Friends become a “boy” or a “girl” instead of a “friend.” Life becomes a series of things to endure or complete instead of a mystery, an adventure, a circus.

Does my father look back 30 years and wish he had done anything differently? Does he wish now that he could have wrestled just one more time? Thrown one more ball? Caught one more fish? Chased one more pirate or shot one more indian?

Will I look back in 30 years and wish I had done anything differently? I already look back three years with that wish. But right now the next 27 are a clean slate. Tomorrow is a clean slate. Tonight is yet a clean slate. I have my chalk — now get out of my way.

6
Jan

33 years

   Posted by: Mark

You celebrate a birthday today. I have only known you for about 15 years, but treasure the memory of every one of them. Even the second year, the year you dumped me. But you said “yes” a year later and we were married a year after that. How fortunate for me!

Memories of the five PK (pre-kid) years are a bit of a blur, but the spur-of-the-moment trips to Seattle, the coast, and back East will not be forgotten. Each year the time seems to pass more quickly. We are certainly not getting any younger, but we sure are having a lot more fun.

Your patience with the children is an example to me. Your patience with me is even more humbling! Thank you for being a wife I can “safely trust in.” I trust that the Lord will give us another 60 or more years together, and that you can put up with me for that much longer.

I love you, Tami! Happy birthday!