Thursday, May 31, 2007

House Hunting Part 1

This morning, we saw seven houses. Whew! Out of those, we've narrowed it down to 2 - maybe 3.

Finalist #1:
Pretty good location; wish the road were better. By far the least expensive of all we saw.
What Stephen liked: toys, dune buggy, and trampoline.

Finalist #2:
Brand new house! Good location.
Stephen's comment: "There's nothing in it..." He rang the doorbell about 15 times.

Finalist #3 (maybe):
Large house, lots of painting to do, not much yard, kitchen is on the SECOND floor (I'm thinking about groceries and small children.)
Stephen's reaction: I had a hard time keeping up with him in this house, so I didn't hear much. I think he liked the stairs though, especially the ledge along the wall (yikes!). Oh, and the flamingo in the flower bed.

I used to think I wanted a big house to have plenty of room to spread out and store "stuff." But I have not been used to large spaces with Stephen - he was in exploring mode, so it was a little more difficult than usual to know where he was, etc. As I look more at expenses (in buying and maintaining), I see that I can be content with a smaller house. We'll see what God provides!
Our next step: Lee's dad has offered to look at houses with to help us cover all the things to think of. I guess we'll go from there.

Deacon Training: Part I

Deacon training has begun. Actually, we've had three sessions as of last night. The first thing we covered was taking vows and what that involves. We covered the vows from our BCO that we must take during installation as deacons - they're really quite straightforward. We've also discussed the nature of the office from Acts 6 and I Timothy 3. Again, the PCA's BCO has some excellent words to say about this.

One thing that I had not thought about previously is that this office has a spiritual focus. I had considered the division to be that the deacon cares for physical needs while elders care for spiritual needs. Indeed, the first deacons were called to organize the church's support of widows. But, being a deacon is far more than doling out soup at the church's soup kitchen. From our BCO, chapter 9:

It is the duty of the deacons to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress.
Deacons don't dole out, they minister. Note that the above quote mentions ministry to the "friendless." That ministry may certainly include physical needs, but also the love of fellow believers and the grace of the Gospel.

And, how can you minister well and correctly if you don't know right doctrine? That is a major reason we're going through the Westminster Confession and catechisms, so we know right doctrine. (We've blazed through the confession and are starting the larger catechism next week.)

One more thing on this: one of the first deacons, Stephen, is not remembered for waiting on tables, but for his doctrinally sound defense of his faith. Two lessons: 1) his ministry isn't out there for the world to see, but done quietly and without fanfare; 2) deacons must be sound and strong in doctrine and their defense of the faith.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Creation Museum Opens

In case you haven't heard, the new Creation Museum has opened today in northern Kentucky. The museum presents the young earth creationist view (a.k.a., literal 6-day view) in very high-tech, nearly theme-park ways. I understand it addresses dinosaurs regularly and depicts them as living alongside humans.

Speaking to my fellow Christians, I realize people come down on different sides of dating the earth. If we disagree on this, it does not bar me from full, joyous fellowship and worship with you.

From a very big picture perspective, there are things that the old earth and young earth views accommodate and things they must address. The old earth view offers an explanation for fossil & geological evidence and the apparent age of the universe; however, it must address the use of the word "day" in context of being numbered and identified with a morning and evening in Genesis 1. The young earth view accommodates the text by taking it to mean 6 literal 24 hour days; however, it must address the fossil & geological evidence along with the apparent age of the universe. My point is that Answers in Genesis (parent of the Creation Museum) is addressing these issues of the fossil & geological evidence (see: Noah's Flood) and the age of the universe with this museum (and other publications).

Others may have other emphases or items to address, but these were the main points of difference in my struggle with the issue.

Full disclosure: I'm a charter member of the Creation Museum.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wisdom from the Cloud of Witnesses

I recently skimmed through an on-line collection of writings from the early church fathers. My reading skills have drastically declined since finishing graduate school; it took me quite a bit of effort to keep up with the bits I read. I’ve decided to give it up for now and hopefully return in the future. However, I will point out two gems I found.

First, the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp. Now, Polycarp was a true man – courageous and faithful. The account is a great read, and all the better for being true. Do I glory in the murder of a saint? No, I glory in his witness to his King, even unto death. I will glory in a man who, while being persuaded to renounce Christ to save his life, said:
“Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

There is more – go read for yourself.

Second, in the introduction to the writings of Ignatius, the editor pulled out a number of proverbs he wrote. Judge for yourselves if these are not good advice:
  • Find time to pray without ceasing.
  • Every wound is not healed with the same remedy.
  • Stand like a beaten anvil.
  • It is the part of a good athlete to be bruised and to prevail.
  • Slight not the menservants and the handmaids.
  • Let your stewardship define your work.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nominated for Deacon

Yes indeed, I have been nominated to the office of Deacon at Emmanuel. I'm very honored to be considered. I look forward to the training and (Lord willing) serving in this capacity.

I'm curious to find out how different this will be from being an elder. They are two offices with different functions. We'll also have to see how this works out with being about a 40 minute drive from the church. The Distance Deacon? iDeacon? eDeacon? Can a deacon telecommute? Still, in our church's desire to reach out to the college students here at WCU, I think in the grand scheme it would be great to have both deacons and and elders (maybe someday) in the area. To build on a previous post, you just can't replace being there in person.

I think my favorite statement about the office is that "deacons clean up after the elders." (source not given to protect the innocent)

Reformed News

Just came across this: Reformed News. A site that's just getting started but promises to be an independent outlet for news about generally reformed and presbyterian denominations. I hope it takes off, because this could be a valuable resource.

However, their anonymity concerns me and I hope that will end in the near future.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rooted vs. Mobile

I've been thinking about "rootedness" lately. It is somewhat hard for me to conceive of a time when the average person would be born, live, and die all in the same town/village/city. Kristy and I have now lived in three different STATES in the first 8 years of our marriage.

We've lately experienced the great advantages of being closer to family (praise God!). All the grandparents have either come to visit or have taken Stephen for the weekend, which has been great for everyone.

Of course, it's fun and important to do things just as a family. Two weekends ago we went to the Greening Up the Mountain festival in Sylva. That was quite fun! Stephen (and we) enjoyed the music and square dancing. I think we'll do the pony ride next year when he's a bit older. And of course we had to get funnel cake. But this is back to rootedness. I remember growing up in Kingsport and ALWAYS going to the 4th of July parade and the routine we would follow in doing so.

That consistency seems very difficult to achieve in our mobile culture. I heard a statistic that 1/3 of all Americans move each calendar year (warning: 56.3% of all statistics are made up). How do you build and maintain friendships when friends are always leaving and new people are always moving in? I think that's going to be a struggle for the Church, which historically has existed in very rooted, connected, non-mobile communities. How to encourage fellowship? How to make sure people don't "slip through the cracks?" How to serve each other in times of trouble when people don't know each other very well?

I certainly won't call being mobile a sin, but I think it has major disadvantages. And I'm speaking from experience.