The Bible Sedimented in the Bones

I hope the speech referenced in this article is made available online. Russell Moore makes some great points. My favorite is about teaching the next generation to respond to challenges in the world not by looking to the Bible as a rulebook but having the Bible sedimented into their bones.

This is not a distinction of semantics but a vital truth. The Bible needs to be more to our children than a list of do’s and don’ts. It truly is more than such a list; it’s the Word of God to man, a revelation of Divinity to humanity. For the Bible to be loved and cherished by our children it must be loved by us first. We set the example.

I like the word picture of the Bible sedimented in the bones. It pictues something settled and abiding. Sediment is solid material that is suspended in liquid and left behind by the flow or evaporation of the liquid.

Imagine that the means of delivering the Scriptures to your children is the liquid. Family devotions and the local church are the main carriers of the Word – the liquid in which it is suspended. As we read the Bible to our children, as they memorize it as part of their Sunday School program or at our request, as they hear the Scripture expounded faithfully in church week after week something is left behind and settles. The weekly church meetings will blur into the past, family devotions will be fondly remembered but also blurred. A particular point you attempted to make or an illustration given by the pastor will be difficult to recall days from now, but the sediment will remain.

Parents who are faithful can trust God’s Word to do it’s work in their children. They can trust God to accomplish the purpose for His Word – the revelation of Himself to humanity. Don’t give up parent. Don’t give in to exhaustion and frustration. Keep proclaiming the truth of God’s Word to the next generation. By doing so the Scripture is being molded into the bones of your children’s lives.

 

 

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Facing the Wite-Out® Bandit

The future is calling and asking us to send men of courage, men to rise up and boldly address the moral evils of the day.  It’s our job as fathers to prepare the next generation to boldly confront a world gone mad.  We have little time, the task is large, and the enemy is daily on the march.

I Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”  Whatever else this is saying, it’s certainly an affirmation of Biblical manhood.  God created men and women differently; equal yet different.  There is a certain something built into men that gives them a special ability to stand firm as a protector, to rise up when circumstances demand bravery, to defend the defenseless, to act like men.  The future needs such men and dads are given the task of producing them.

In HIs mercy, God has not left dads without the means we need.  Children learn by imitation.  They have a built in ‘more is caught than taught’ mechanism.  Teaching them how to act like men is important, but modeling is urgent.  Boys need to see their dads acting bravely.  Recently I had such an opportunity.

I’ve never been in combat, never faced down a criminal with a weapon, and never rescued a child from a burning building, but I did come face to face with the Wite-Out® Bandit, and this is my story.

On a Saturday afternoon bike ride with my two boys, we had just reached  the bridge near Old Sacramento when I spotted him.  As the pedestrian crossing signal changed I held my boys back.  They were ready to go and wondered at my hesitation.  About fifteen feet from us stood a monument with pictures and plaques which told some of the history of the region.  A young man (probably in his early twenties) was defacing the pictures.

I yelled, “Hey!” to get his attention.  He looked at me and I said, “What are you doing?”

No response, he just stared at me.  What could he say?  I had caught him red handed destroying public property and he wished I would mind my own business and carry on with my bike ride.  But I persisted.

“Don’t do that,” I said firmly.

“What is he doing?” one of my boys asked me.

“He’s painting on those pictures and destroying public property,” I said.

The bandit had replied, “Okay,”  but stood there waiting for me to leave.

I didn’t.  In fact, I was about to walk over to him when he decided to end the confrontation and walk away.  He actually walked directly past me and my boys.

Again, in a firm (but not angry) tone, I said, “Why are you doing that?”

He ignored me and kept walking.  I followed him with my boys in tow.  I figured he would wait until we were out of sight and then come right back to his evil deeds and so I pulled out my phone and let him see me do it. He probably thought I was either taking his picture or calling the police.   Either one was a deterrent to further bad behavior.

After he disappeared into the Saturday afternoon crowd, I had a conversation with my boys.  I explained to them what I had seen the criminal doing.  I told them it’s okay to speak up in such situations.

I told my boys, “When someone is doing wrong, they need to be confronted.  Many other people were walking by.  Maybe they didn’t notice what he was doing, but maybe they did and weren’t sure what to do, or were afraid to say something.  It’s okay to say something.  When you are in the right, the person doing wrong has no moral ground and will usually be a coward.  This guy could have become angry and confronted me, but he knew I was right and he was wrong.  Usually in such situations the one doing wrong acts like a coward when confronted.”

Across the bridge we went on our bikes and enjoyed ourselves along the river.  On our return trip I spotted the bandit headed directly towards us on the bridge.  I was ready to say something to him again and turned to warn my boys.

“Here comes that guy,” I said.

“He’s leaving,” said my oldest son.

Sure enough.  He had spotted me and in the time it took to turn to my boys and back to face him again he had spun on his heel and headed the opposite way across the  bridge.

Back at the monument we examined it.  We discovered the man had been using Wite-Out® to paint over words in the pictures and plaques.  Random words.  It was obvious that he had no agenda other than to deface property.  We scratched the Wite-Out® off with our fingernails and rode on.

Later we recalled the story to the rest of the family and named the man the Wite-Out® Bandit.  It’s a fun story, but I’m no hero.  Facing the Wite-Out® bandit doesn’t really amount to much – or does it?

Boys need examples of courage, and by God’s grace on that Saturday afternoon, an ordinary dad, far from the worlds military or political battle fields, was able to give his boys a small picture of what it means to “act like men”.

-David West

*This was originally published in the SCOPE homeschool newsletter.

2016 Reading Challenge

I like to read. But I’m a slow reader. I was encouraged when I read this post.

I printed out the 2016 Reading Challenge list and looked it over. After review I decided to create my own list for the year. It’s a work in progress but the list is at 40 books so far.

The list includes books to read to my children, books for fun, books for growing in faith, and at least on book to read with my wife.

I’m looking forward to reading more books this year than ever and growing in the process.

Knowledge By Association

My 3 year old wanted me to hold her. She hadn’t been feeling well, I’d been gone to work all day, and she needed her daddy.

I decided to hold her on my lap and asked, “Can I read a book while I hold you?” She was good with that.

I was at chapter 2 of The Master Plan of Evangelism by Dr. Robert E. Coleman. Holding my daughter on my lap, she sucked her thumb and stared at the pages. I read aloud to her. Dr. Coleman was arguing for a method of ministry modeled by Jesus. The author showed how Jesus called the disciples to follow and watch his life. Jesus was with them, or more properly, the disciples were with Jesus – constantly.

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This method of training new believers has been lost to much of the church. Programs and curricula have largely taken the place of life on life example based training. Being close to Jesus as he ministered, showed compassion, and prayed, the disciples were learning many things without formal instruction.

I stopped reading aloud and marked in my margins. Naomi asked, “Why are you drawing on your book?”

I said, “That sentence was really good and I wanted to remember it. I wrote that it was a good sentence.”

The sentence wasn’t the only thing I wanted to remember, the moment was worthy of being captured.

The moment was my daughter sitting with me as I read aloud about the Master’s plan of evangelism. The sentence read, “Knowledge was gained by association before it was understood by explanation.”

 

Book Summary: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper

Today, while rummaging through some miscellaneous files, I found the following book notes written to myself.

For a season, I attempted to extract a summary from each book I read and then I put the summary in a Word document. The season was short, but the following is from those days.

Nothing here is about fatherhood (my usual topic for this blog) but if you’re in ministry (and fathers are) this may be a helpful review.

John Piper has been a favorite preacher and author of mine for the past two years.  I happened upon some of his sermons and was greatly impressed.  Then not long after, I was able to attend a regional conference hosted by his Desiring God ministry.  At this conference I picked up some materials by him, mostly sermons.  Since then I have read a couple of his books and have consistently been inspired, instructed, and influenced.  With all this as a precursor to reading Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, one could see that this book would be favored by me as well.  I was not disappointed.  This book delivers in standard John Piper fashion.  Although, the one critique I might have is that the book seems to be a compilation of articles put into book form rather than being written as a book from the start.  Because of this it seems to have less cohesiveness from chapter to chapter.  The overarching theme intended by the title is nevertheless prevalent.

A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry: is the subtitle of the book.  Piper is pleading, challenging, exhorting pastors to look at the ministry God has placed them in as a mission.  Pastoring is not a job, it is not counseling, or public speaking, or any type of activity that can be placed on a list of occupations or competencies.  Reading from chapter one I was struck with the thought that much of what is in this book could and should apply to all Christians, not just pastors.  Here is a quote, and if I insert the word Christian in place of pastor does it not also apply?

“There is an infinite difference between the pastor whose heart is set on being a professional and the pastor whose heart is set on being the aroma of Christ, the fragrance of death to some and eternal life to others.”

Certainly pastors have a high calling and a responsibility to their congregations and before God.  Yet, all Christians should strive to be the aroma of Christ.

“The aroma of Christ”, I love the vivid and engaging language that Piper uses throughout the book.  Here are a few examples:

“God’s love for the glory of His own name is the spring of free grace and the rock of our security.”

“The gospel is not a help-wanted ad.  It is a help-available ad.”

“For most of us the voice of self-reliance is ten times louder than the bell that tolls for the hours of prayer.”

“God increases our yield so that by giving we can prove that our yield is not our God.”

One chapter that I need to re-read and study further was titled “Brothers, Save The Saints”.  Having long been a believer in the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, these ideas and others that I have heard or read recently, have encouraged me to study this doctrine further.  Not that my belief has changed regarding the doctrine, but that there is clearly more to it than I have had the opportunity to study.

The chapter titled “Brothers, Let The River Run Deep” was very helpful for me.  Piper discusses the issue expressing emotions and uses Lamentations as the backdrop for the lesson.  Lamentations, Piper points out, it deeply emotional and at the same time profoundly formal.  The number of stanzas and lines could not hinder the pouring of the emotions but gave them form.  Piper uses the analogy of a river to say, “Emotions are like a river flowing out of one’s heart.  Form is like the riverbanks.  Without them the river runs shallow and dissipates on the plain.  But banks make the river run deep.  Why else have humans for centuries reached for poetry when we have deep affections to express?”

The book will hold a valuable place in my library and is sure to visited over and over.  I look forward to gaining fresh insights from it for many years to come.

On Boys Climbing Trees And Stringing Lights

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“Are you guys okay up there?”

“Yeah,” one of my boys answered.

I heard the concerned neighbor from where I sat in the backyard. It was dark and my two boys were about forty feet up in our redwood tree. Headlamps on, Christmas lights being strung, having a blast.

We’d talked of lighting up this tree many times, but weren’t sure how we would do it. As my boys age, they have become adept climbers of this tree. Cousins and friends have joined them. Several parents have stood in the backyard with me and watched, amazed.

“How far up do you think they are?” The question has been asked many times.

“I don’t know. I suppose forty or fifty feet.”

Watching the boys climb, I decided the best way to get Christmas lights strung on the tree was to have the boys carry them in a backpack and wrap the trunk. My eleven year old son reminded me of this one evening.

“Dad, can we string the lights on the tree?”

“Oh, I forgot we were going to do that. It’s almost dark now. We might need to wait until next weekend.”

As I said this, I could see the disappointment in his eyes. The thrill of stringing the lights into that tree was something he was anxious to experience. Why disappoint the boy, I thought.

“The only way to do it now is to put on your headlamp.”

He brightened as he headed off to find his gear. The excitement of stringing the tree with lights doubled with the adventure of working in the dark. He worked tirelessly, untangling lights from a big tub, figuring out which ones worked and which didn’t, packing them into his pack, and hauling them up the tree. His younger brother eventually joined in the fun.

The plan went through several starts and stops. Several strings of lights had connectors which only worked with the same brand. Up and down and into the tub of lights my older son went, over and over. Once, while packing another string of lights into his pack in the house, he said my wife, “Mom, my backpack fell all the way down and I heard it hit the ground.”

“Calvin,” I said, “Don’t tell you mother things like that.”

“Why?”

“That is the type of thing you tell her when you are like forty years old.”

“Oh, then you probably have a lot of thing to tell your mother.”

The tree looked fabulous when it was complete; we could see it from blocks away. One of my neighbors asked how we did it. I told him. He wasn’t surprised; he was a tree-climbing boy once himself. I think we all were – and we lived to tell about it.

I Remember His Angry Outburst

 

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I was wandering the aisles of a new flooring store when a clerk asked, “Can I help you find something?”

“Actually, yes. Where is the restroom?”

The clerk pointed toward the corner of the store behind me. As he did, our eyes met and I recognized him. More than twenty years had passed. His face was the same, only older. Maybe it was wiser too. His hair, brown in bygone days, had a whisper of grey. But there was no mistake, it was Randy.

In a brain blink I asked myself, “Should I tell him who I am? Should I take a chance that he remembers me? No, what’s the point? Even if he remembers me, the conversation would be short and dull.”

I turned and walked to the restroom. Looking back over my shoulder, I saw Randy walking. The hiccup was still in his step. He walked as if one leg was slightly shorter than the other, or maybe he had a hip problem. Whatever it was (I had never asked him) he still had it.

As I left the restroom I looked for him. Two things were on my mind. First, I wanted to get a look at his name tag. I didn’t doubt who he was, but something in me wanted confirmation. I quickly thought up a question to ask. “Does your store sell vinyl flooring, or only tile and wood?”

“Only tile and wood,” he answered.

There was his name in bold letters. RANDY – his name tag was clearly pinned on his work apron.

My mind hummed, “Should I say something? Should I talk about the days when we worked together and see if he remembers me?”

Another thought crowded my mind. Randy and I had worked in the same grocery store more than twenty years ago. He had been my superior. He had yelled at me.

That’s what I remember about Randy. It’s a sad commentary – to be remembered for an angry outbursts. I’m certain Randy is a fine man, a hard worker, and loved by many people. But all I remember about working with him, and under his supervision, is the time he yelled at me.

Did I deserve to be yelled at? To be cursed at? Many times, yes. The time I recall wasn’t one of them. I distinctly remember that his outrage was unwarranted. He yelled and cussed and was unreasonable.

Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he didn’t mean to be mean. Maybe. The sad thing is – I don’t remember one nice conversation I had with Randy (although there must have been many). I was never chummy with my coworkers at the grocery store. I didn’t go out with them after work or invite them over for barbecue. Yet, I have fond feelings for many of them. Not for Randy. There is a blank in my mind regarding our working relationship. A blank, all except that one angry outburst.

As I left the store I was covered by a sadness, deep and pressing, like my soul was under water. Seeing Randy made me think about the importance of controlling my tongue. I don’t want my family, my neighbors, or my friends, to see me years from now and only remember the times I lost control. What impression will I leave in the minds of others twenty years from now? Will it be positive or negative? And more important, how can I best give glory to God through the use of my tongue?

If others are to remember me for kind words, for encouraging words, and not for angry outburst, I need to draw near to Christ. I need to be filled with the Spirit. I need all the help I can get. Lord, help me to control my tongue. And Lord, thank you for being gracious when I fail.