December 2008

Father Richard John Neuhaus is gravely ill...

(Tim) Recently, a new professor at a Christian college asked for recommendations concerning magazines or journals he'd find helpful in his work. I suggested he subscribe to First Things and Touchstone, but also that he go to the library and skim each issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. A charter subscriber to First Things, I consider it indispensable to my work. So just now I was saddened to receive this e-mail forwarded by a dear friend... It's written by First Thing's managing editor, Joe Bottum, reporting on the grave condition of First Thing's founding editor, Richard John Neuhaus. Let's pray for him.

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The best New Year's resolution Christians could make...

(Tim) Things are quiet here at the church-house. It's New Year's Eve and I've been doing odd jobs in between reading Christmas cards and letters that piled up the past few weeks.

Just now, I finished my second letter in a row from friends with lots of children--one family with eight and the other nine. And last night, we sat and talked through the evening with our dear friends, David and Jill Crum, who are in town to visit their six sons now living here in Bloomington. David and Jill have been blessed by God with eleven children--ten sons and one daughter.

These are happy, happy families God has used to propagate a godly seed for His Own glory. And not one of the mothers or fathers cast a longing eye at other believers who chose money, career, or status over another child. They're all poor, and they're all joyful. Trust me. (If you want to test it, send me a private e-mail and I'll put you in touch with them so you may ask them yourself.)

So here's the New Year's Resolution I'm so impertinent as to suggest, dear brothers and sisters. Why not follow these three pastors and their godly wives and dedicate this coming year to being fruitful and multiplying? To propagating a godly seed. To making love and life, both at the same time? And if you and your wife are not able to have children, take in foster children or adopt a child.

What could you expect if you did so...

Helpful "Presbyterion" article on Romans 16:1 and woman deacons...

(Tim) The Fall 2008 issue of Covenant Seminary's review, Presbyterion, has an article by Covenant's Dean of Faculty, Jimmy Agan, titled "Deacons, Deaconesses, and Denominational Discussions: Romans 16:1 As a Test Case." Dr. Agan works hard not be viewed as putting his finger on the scale of a greatly controverted issue being weighed by our ecclesiastical association known as the Presbyterian Church in America. He warns his readers not to come to any easy conclusions about the meaning of the texts, but he does seem to have a few conclusions, himself, and they are helpful.

First, this from Footnote 29:

While fuller discussion is beyond the scope of the present article, we may at least name two implications... for the office of deacon if the conclusions summarized above are correct. First, it seems that the ecclesiastical title diakonos was chosen not because of its associations with the service rendered by domestic or table attendants, but because it well suited an arrangement in which "deacons" functioned as "agents" in authority over the congregation and under the authority of the elders, at whose behest they carried out a variety of tasks. Second, if deacons were such" agents," we should not speak of the office as one which was (or is) devoid of authority.

It can't be emphasized often enough that, whatever else deacons may be, they are officers and exercise authority over the believers of their church...

R. C. Sproul on "the myth of influence"...

(Tim) Responding, I believe, to the inclination of pastors to avoid the biblical doctrine of election in their teaching and preaching work, Calvin points out that all Scripture is God-breathed, and therefore profitable. Those who avoid any doctrine Scripture reveals are denying the profitability of that doctrine for the souls under their care.

Brothers, think of the many doctrines we avoid. Do we really know better than the Spirit of God what is profitable to those whose watch-care has been entrusted to us? Are we wiser than God? Should each generation produce a Bible with the texts most suited to its day intact and all others excised?

But of course, the irony is that the doctrines we cut out today are precisely those must suited to the battle that rages around us. For twenty years, now, I've tried to get pastors to preach and teach on the biblical doctrine of sexuality--all to almost no avail. Too controverted. Too controversial. Too compromised in my personal life. Too cowardly.

Twelve years ago, I spoke with R. C. at a conference in Chicago. Lamenting the unwillingness of men to take a stand against neutered versions of Scripture, R.C. said something I've often thought of since...

Moving cross country at 104, ear piercing at 91...

(Tim) Mary Lee, Taylor, and I just returned from a sweet visit to visit Mom Taylor in Wheaton. Last year was the first year we'd missed Christmas with her and the rest of the Taylor clan since some time before we were married. We stayed home with Aunt Elaine as she walked through the valley of the shadow of death, passing into the presence of the Lord one year ago, yesterday.

So this year we returned to Wheaton, and to Mom Taylor who has been a steady and godly influence over us and our children for half a century, now. The hard core traditions include lots of Christmas cookies, turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatos, the once-per-year bowling outing Christmas day or the day after, gifts, quiet reading in the family room, tons of toast late at night (especially), and Scrabble. The family's always been Scrabble mad, but I never play. Being from Philadelphia, I prefer scrapple.

Well, this was simply a preface to the two really important pieces of news from the Taylor clan this year...

Merry Christmas!

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (Galatians 4:4-6)

A Psalm for Christmas Eve

Praise God for Christmas
Praise Him for the Incarnation
for Word made flesh.
I will not sing
of shepherds watching flocks
on frosty night
or angel choristers.
I will not sing
of stable bare in Bethlehem
or lowing oxen
wise men
trailing distant star
with gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Tonight I will sing
praise to the Father
who stood on heaven's threshold
and said farewell to His Son
as He stepped across the stars
to Bethlehem
and Jerusalem.
And I will sing
praise to the infinite eternal Son
who became most finite
a Baby
who would one day be executed
for my crimes.
Praise Him in the heavens.
Praise Him in the stable.
Praise Him in my heart.

-Joe Bayly


A world that is "expanding its acceptance"...

(Tim, w/thanks to Taylor) Well, this one's a gnash-your-teether. It's the account of a man winning the woman's RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship (golf) who's used drugs and knives to alter his appearance so he can pass for a woman.

Really, though, the long drive rules committee has only done for the world of golf what Evangelicals and Emergents are doing for the church. Which is more twisted? A man winning the women's long drive championship or a woman serving the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper?

Yes, indeed, we are a world that's "expanding our acceptance." But what will we do in the end?

Football done right; a story for Christmas Eve...

(Tim) My most excellent son, Taylor, just forwarded me this good story from ESPN's Rick Reilly column, "Life of Reilly." Read it. It's a good preparation for Christmas Eve.

Who's your family's Gainsville State and how are you cheering them?

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Thank you, Ben...

(Tim) The past couple of days, my son-in-law, Ben Crum, worked for hours trying to fix some of the problems we've been having on this blog. The most tenacious one finally yielded to his attack this morning and we now have clear indicators at the bottom of comment pages telling readers if there's a second page of comments; and if there is, how to get there and back.

You may wonder why this wasn't simple?

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Thanks for your patience...

(Tim) We've all noticed the problems around here, lately. Comments have been pulled by the spam filter and I've tried my best to assure those hitting this wall that it's nothing personal. If it helps, comfort yourselves that this past week I myself had a comment rejected by the spam filter--and this, I believe, while I was signed in as one of the two blog owners!

But there have been other things, too...

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You cannot serve both God and Evangelicalism...

Unless the bugle-notes are clear who will be called to arms? (1Corinthians 14:8; J. B. Phillips)

(Tim, w/thanks to Steve) Rick Warren is a bellwether for middle of the road religious people in these United States. He's scrupulous about sodomite marriage, then equivocates by his casual references to "gays and straights" and his fawning over lesbian gay rights activist, Melissa Ethridge. He's pro-life, but to him this means more concern for the environment, world hunger, and AIDS. The slaughter of unborn children isn't even an afterthought.

He's a master of self-promotion but it's difficult to see how his leadership causes the Kingdom of God to advance even an inch. His books sell in the tens of millions but, after the wave passes, things pretty much proceed as they were before. Idolatry, state-sanctioned murder, materialism, divorce, fornication, feminism, envy, child molestation and abuse, self-satisfaction, pornography, and pride suffer little to no repentance. Yet there in the national limelight, larger than life, stands a Southern Baptist pastor sprinkling holy water on us all.

So what's in it for Evangelicalism's chief priest? Well, for starters, a mountain of mammon. Don't ever forget it.

But it doesn't stop with mammon...

Pleased as punch...

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. (Psalms 127:3)

(Tim) What makes me happy? God's grace everywhere. Simply everywhere!

But today, in particular, another family in Church of the Good Shepherd has been blessed with a little one tenderly nestling in his mother's womb, awaiting the light of day in God's perfect time. Children are a blessing from the Lord; happy is the man whose quiver is filling.

So, I'm rejoicing in all the covenant children bubbling up and out of our homes and churches. And no, I'm not going to spill the beans on who the blessed couple is this time. But I will tell you people who see them already thought they were Roman Catholic.

Certainly not Reformed.

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