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Updated: 2011-01-12T00:08:04-05:00

 



One more on the long goodbye

2011-01-12T00:10:20-05:00

I knew this would happen - I would write a farewell post, and a bunch of you would send some nice notes which make we wish I wasn't quitting blogging. Well, I've no intention of doing a poor man's blogging...

I knew this would happen - I would write a farewell post, and a bunch of you would send some nice notes which make we wish I wasn't quitting blogging.  Well, I've no intention of doing a poor man's blogging imitation of Brett Favre and retire only to keep unretiring. 

Actually, as I said in my last post, I didn't say I would never blog again.  I still have times where something is on my mind and I have a burning urge to blog it, but usually that passes.  There was a time I was like the guy in that cartoon who is sitting at a computer and his wife calls him to come to bed from another room and he says "Just a minute honey, someone is wrong somewhere on the internet."  So, of course he has to stay up to set all of those kinds of folks straight.  I no longer have that urge, but I still may want to put something up.

If it happens it will be over at the new places - jollyblooger.wordpress.com.  I do plan to put up at least one post dealing that cryptic little comment in my last post about some of my qualms of consciense when it comes to blogging.  Nothing will be earth shaking but it may help me get some things off my chest.  And who knows, if I can deal with my conscience and these matters of seeking a name for myself, I may bind the wherewithal within to feel compelled to blog a bit.

Still, I just wanted to put up one last post here as my account settings say that payment is due tomorrow and I won't be paying up.  I think Typepad may take this whole thing and reduce it to one of their micro blogs, which is a free blog.  If that is the case I'll check back in a few days and make sure the template looks ok and then I'll just let it sit there as long as typepad lets its sit.  At the risk of flatteriing myself, all my old posts should still be there on the micro blog so if someone remembered something I said way back when that was helpful, it might be there.

But mainly I just wanted to say thanks one more time.  When I wrote that last post announcing I was shutting down several of you sent very nice comments here and on the wordpress blog.  Words fail me in expressing thanks for the overwhelming kindnesses I have received from you, the readers.  I do hope to maintain some level of contact with you on the new blog, but regardless, please know of my deep abiding appreciation for your many kindnesses and prayers.




Happy New Year, Time to Shut 'er Down

2011-01-04T23:16:59-05:00

Hi everyone, Happy New Year. I hope you all have a terrific new year, just wanted to let you know the time has come to shut down the blog, at least here in it's Typepad manifestation. I was one of...Hi everyone, Happy New Year.   I hope you all have a terrific new year, just wanted to let you know the time has come to shut down the blog, at least here in it's Typepad manifestation.  I was one of those folks who got on the blogging wave back when it was the cool thing but over the last few years just haven't had the fire to blog much.  Also, I'm on Typepad and actually pay money for the hosting so there's just no real reason to keep this up. BTW - let me just say that Typepad is a terrific service and I highly recommend it to anyone who really takes blogging seriously or maybe needs a great blog for an organization or wants to make money.  But, since I'm no longer in any of those categories there's no real reason to keep paying However, I do have a blog over on wordpress.  I think I must have reserved that back in the day when I was trying to be the uberblogger and trying to make sure I had the lock on the Jollyblogger name.  I had forgotten about that till recently but check it out I did and still have an account there at jollyblogger.wordpress.com.  If I get going again I'll get going there.  I don't really have any great burning urge to keep blogging but neither am I against it.  From time to time I do think I ought to keep up or re-start some kind of something to leave some wisdom for my kids, on the outside chance that someday they'll want to know what they're old man thought about things.  Also, I do sometimes think I may want to keep writing to encourage fellow cancer sufferers.  So, I may keep something going over there at the wordpress blog.  I actually have had some pangs of conscience about my blogging practices.  I know to say it this way sounds overly-introspective, probably quite neurotic, and maybe even a like a grab for sympathy through gratuitous public self-loathing (ok, I had to try to throw a few big words at you, just in case I don't get back to blogging).  Truly through, one of the problems with being sick all the time is that you have lots of time to lay in bed and be introspective, which is not a good thing.  Nevertheless, during those times I've had several Genesis 41:9 moments about many things and blogging is one of them.  In an effort to clear my conscience, or maybe just an attempt at self-induced catharsis I may go ahead and do a post on that at the new place.  For now let's just say that blogging offers a great, if illusory, vehicle for engaging in self-promotion,  something to which I am particularly prone.  Still, though I sometimes wonder about the value of things I have blogged and deeply regret much of the time I have wasted online I am particularly grateful to so many of you who have read this and have encouraged me over the last few years.  It probably goes without saying but I was devastated when I found out I had cancer two years ago.  My family and church family was the greatest help in those days, but all of you who expressed encouragement and concern online were a great help, especially knowing that so many of you were praying for me.  In fact, all of the comments here and on FB, along with many e-mails, were a huge boost for my family, you encouraged them as they tried to encourage me.   So, for the innumerable kindnesses I have received from all of you I am eternally grateful, and for those kindnesses I am very happy for this season of blogging.  I will say that my health is stable right now, so I have nothing new to report - and that is good news.  I will continue to post health updates on Facebook and probably at the wordpress blog.  And like I said, who knows - I may get the desire to blog again over there and I hope that if I do some of you will follow me there - jollyblogger.wordpress.com God bless and thanks for the memories.    [...]



Some Great News

2010-11-29T15:27:27-05:00

Hi everyone, here's a health update. I got some bloodwork results today and my bloodwork is the best it has been since I was diagnosed with cancer. The CEA is a blood tumor marker for colon cancer. A person without...

Hi everyone, here's a health update.

I got some bloodwork results today and my bloodwork is the best it has been since I was diagnosed with cancer.  The CEA is a blood tumor marker for colon cancer.  A person without cancer would have a 0-3, a smoker might have up to a 5 or a 6.  Anything over that indicates metastatic activity.  People with severe metastatic activity could have numbers in the hundreds, mine was in the 70's when I was first diagnosed.

Today, my CEA was 1.2.

My family and I are rejoicing in God's goodness to us in this and I wanted to share it with you.  Again, many thanks to all of you who have prayed for me over these last two years.

This doesn't mean I'm without cancer.   My latest scans show many tumors still present.  But they have all shrunk.  And although this CEA marker isn't the last word, when the number decreases it shows that the cancer is being surpressed.  So, even though the tumors are still there the cancer is being suprressed.

As far as treatment goes, I am currently on a maintenance treatment with a drug called "Avastin."  The medical folks call this a "biologic," it's different than what we typically think of as chemo.  Avastin has always been one of the drugs I have gotten in my chemo cocktail, but now it is the only thing I am on.  It doesn't have near the side effects as the others.  The only real side effects are bleeding and high blood pressure.  I haven't had any bleeding, and the blood pressure is being managed with medication.

These days I am still pretty fatigued and sleep a lot, but I am thankful that most of the other ugly side effects I had when I was on the full regimen are gone.  My nurses have told me that chemo patients can struggle with fatigue for up to 5 years, so it actually helps to know that - though I wish I had more energy this fatigue is not unusual.

The plan now is to continue the maintenance treatment and I'll get these blood tests every couple of months or so.  I will have another CT scan in January.  If the CEA goes up or other blood stuff gets goofy or if the scan shows tumor growth then we have to consider other things.  But for now, for at least the next 2 months I get to live a fairly normal life, just going in for the maintenance treatment every other week.

So again, thanks first and foremost to God for these days of respite.  And also, many, many thanks to all of you who have prayed for me and my family.




The Trouble with Miracle Cures

2010-11-01T22:08:32-04:00

I've tried to cut down on the cancer posts a bit. Cancer tends to dominate your life once you have it and one way of not letting it not dominate your life is to talk about other things so I've...I've tried to cut down on the cancer posts a bit.  Cancer tends to dominate your life once you have it and one way of not letting it not dominate your life is to talk about other things so I've been back on some of the other stuff lately.  But I came across a post from David Darlington over at In The Agora today that I needed to share. David is also dealing with cancer and, like most everyone with cancer I suppose, is also dealing with a steady stream of friends offering miracle cures.  It would have taken me thousands of words to say what he said here succinctly.  He has given me permission to reprint this post so please read this and carefully consider his words if you know someone who has cancer or some other serious illness. Greetings! I hope this letter finds you well. I’m dropping you a quick note today to express my appreciation for all you’ve done for me during my cancer trial this past year. Your love and support means more than I can express in words, and your actions have lifted me up in my time of need. But if I may be so bold, there is has been one area where your assistance has been more of a distraction than an aid. I am speaking of your passing along of miracle cures and alternative therapies you’ve heard about or read on the internet. While I appreciate the intent behind you sending me these things, they have generally been of little constructive use. Cancer patients are bombarded daily with helpful suggestions about beating their disease, and separating the wheat from the chaff is so often an overwhelming task, especially as most alternative cures have no scientific evidence that they contribute to one’s well being. Since President Nixon declared War on Cancer in 1971, the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars fighting this disease, with about the same level of success that it has had in its other “War on…” efforts, like Poverty, Drugs, or Terrorism. That is to say, marginal. Yes of course, there have been some significant breakthroughs in chemotheraputic drugs and, more recently, biologic agents like Avastin. But there is still a ways to go. As my friend, you know my general skepticism towards government spending and of the government’s ability to bring about massive advances in science and technology. But, if cancer could really be cured by that asparagus diet email that was sent around, or that cottage cheese and flaxseed diet Dr. Google recommended, do you really think the government would have spent all this money fighting cancer? Don’t you think that if these common foods could really cure cancer magically, we’d know this already? And another thing—supplements. I read your most recent issue of Life Forever magazine (or whatever it was called). I’ve kept an open mind about these things, but if an article about the benefits of a certain supplement is accompanied by a full page ad for that supplement brought to you by Life Forever Inc., doesn’t that get your skeptic sense tingling just a little? Aren’t you the least bit concerned that they’ve cherry-picked the scientific studies that showed their supplements in the most favorable light? Now please don’t call me a hypocrite on this issue. You’ve been to my apartment and seen the vitamin bottles on top of my refrigerator. The first is your standard supermarket multivitamin. Doctors’ opinions on these things range from positive to “meh.” Most will tell you that you don’t need them if you have a good diet, but most Americans’ diets are so poor that taking a vitamin supplement as an adult is not a bad idea. The next bottle, fish oil supplements loaded with Omega-3s, are hot and trendy right now I know, but there is some evidence that this “good fat” helps with inf[...]



We Live the Given Life, not the Planned

2010-10-26T22:17:57-04:00

A quote from Wendell Berry: We live the given life, not the planned. Reminds me of the pithy little saying - "Man plans, God laughs." Both of those quotes comport well with divine sovereignty and the doctrine of vocation. Could...

A quote from Wendell Berry:

We live the given life, not the planned.

Reminds me of the pithy little saying - "Man plans, God laughs."   Both of those quotes comport well with divine sovereignty and the doctrine of vocation.  Could change the way we look at life.




Better to be 500 Years Behind than 5 Minutes Behind

2010-10-26T22:13:09-04:00

I found the following quote attributed to Joseph Sobran. The "quote-r" doesn't reference the original source and I'm not familiar with Sobran so if anyone knows the original source please do chime in. Sobran said he "had rather be in...

I found the following quote attributed to Joseph Sobran.  The "quote-r" doesn't reference the original source and I'm not familiar with Sobran so if anyone knows the original source please do chime in.  Sobran said he

"had rather be in a church that is 500 years behind the times tha one that is five minutes behind the times, huffing and puffing, trying to catch up."

Thanks to commenter DT for below for setting me straight.   What I had quoted above is apparently a bit off - maybe done from the reader's memory.  Here's the actual quote:

"It can be exalting to belong to a church that is five hundred years behind the times and sublimely indifferent to fashion; it is mortifying to belong to a church that is five minutes behind the times, huffing and puffing to catch up."

Also, DT gave the original source for the quote - an article called "Notes for the Reactionary of Tomorrow."  I started reading that article and it is long, but very profound, especially for those who want an insight into the nature of conservatism.




The Old Things are New

2010-10-24T20:48:55-04:00

This quote from G. K. Chesterton hits home on so many levels. WHATEVER makes men feel old is mean -- an empire or a skin-flint shop. Whatever makes men feel young is great -- a great war or a love-story....

This quote from G. K. Chesterton hits home on so many levels. 

WHATEVER makes men feel old is mean -- an empire or a skin-flint shop. Whatever makes men feel young is great -- a great war or a love-story. And in the darkest of the books of God there is written a truth that is also a riddle. It is of the new things that men tire - of fashions and proposals and improvements and change.  It is the old things that startle and intoxicate.  It is the old things that are young.  There is no sceptic who does not feel that many have doubted before.  There is no rich and fickle man who does not feel that all his novelties are ancient.  There is no worshipper of change who does not feel upon his neck the vast weight of the weariness of the universe.  But who who do the old things are fed by nature with a perpetual infancy.  No man who is in love thinks that any one has been in love before.  No woman who has a child thinks that there have been such things as children.  No people that fight for their own city are haunted with the burden of broken empires.  Yes, O dark voice, the world is always the same, for it is always unexpected. 

G. K. Chesterton, The Napolean of Notting Hill, p. 157

 




An Apologetic for Using the Private Means of Grace

2010-10-21T22:55:14-04:00

Last week I did a couple of posts on bible reading and prayer. In the first one I talked about my friend "Bill" who knows he needs to read the bible and pray every day, feels guilt and sinful for...Last week I did a couple of posts on bible reading and prayer.  In the first one I talked about my friend "Bill" who knows he needs to read the bible and pray every day, feels guilt and sinful for not doing so, yet still never seems able to motivate himself enough or feel guilty enough to stay consistent with his quiet times.  I tried to bring some grace into the discussion and help Bill deal with some of the guilt.  In the second one I started to offer a non-guilt-inducing apologetic for reading the Bible and prayer.  Then I got side tracked.  I started looking at the means of grace and got going on the priority of preaching and corporate worship.  I argued that preaching and public worship takes precedence over private devotion. My good buddy Dan Phillips chimed in that we ought not to think of private devotions vs. public worship in an either/or fashion and he is right about that.  However, I think that it's probably worth a little more spilled ink, keystrokes and pixels to defend the importance the public and corporate, only because it is neglected.  But again, Dan is right and here's attempt 2 at what I started to post the other day on an apologetic for using the private means of grace.  1. Don't think of it is law I know we have covered that but it is worth saying again.  Paul said that he would not have known what it was to covet had the law not said "do not covet" (Romans 7:7-8).  I wonder if we sometimes fail to have "quiet times" because we make a law that says "thou shalt have a quiet time," or "thou shalt not fail to have a quiet time."  I can remember that when I first came into faith the joy and delight of my life was to read the bible and pray.  I prayed at all times and read the bible every chance I could.  If I was doing something else I couldn't wait to get home or get to my room to read the bible and pray. I really only started to struggle with bible reading and prayer when I learned that a Christian had to read the bible and pray and was given a quiet time notebook that I had to fill out every day.   I'm not blaming those who said I should have quiet times, just saying that I did what sinful people with sinful natures do when given a rule.  Also, I understand that when you first come to faith there is a kind of "honeymoon phase" where everything is new and exciting and I probably would have slacked off anyway.  But still, any time you make a law of something the sinful nature kicks in and resists.  2. Remember that the bible and private prayer are gifts and graces (not laws).  I mentioned this in one of the prior posts, quoting Scott Clark from Westminster Seminary in California.  I mentioned that in the last post but I'd like to elaborate in a different direction.   One of the reasons I think we ought to be careful about making a  "law" of the quiet time is that the "quiet time" as we know it is a relatively recent thing.  Historically, it's only been since the invention of the printing press that Christians have been able to take bibles home to read.  Also, there are still many brothers and sisters in the world today who don't have the luxury of taking a bible home to read. Granted, private prayer has always been possible, but I think the reading of Scripture is far more important because this is where God speaks to us.  Having said that, this speaks to the incredibly privileged position we who have bibles are in.  It's a tremendous gift that relatively few Christians have or have had.   To be able to read the bible in the privacy of one's home is a rare privilege indeed, one we should make use of all we can. 3. Focus on the treasure, not the shovel.  I've never been a treasure [...]



The Curse of Individualism in the Church

2010-10-20T00:02:39-04:00

Sometimes I feel rather Shakespearean in my posts, although in all the wrong ways. As a committed individualist I approached my Christian life, for most of my Christian life in individualistic terms. I never gave thought to how my pursuit...

Sometimes I feel rather Shakespearean in my posts, although in all the wrong ways.  As a committed individualist I approached my Christian life, for most of my Christian life in individualistic terms.  I never gave thought to how my pursuit of my own spiritual growth negatively affected others.  Now, as a pastor I see myself all too often.  So, I feel Shakespearean in the "methinks the lady doth protest too loudly" sense.  But protest I will.   Just because damaged the cause doesn't mean I can't help others avoid my folly. 

Came across the following words in Mike Horton's book Made In America

The Puritan was concerned that even his calling served the neighborhood or commonwealth rather than himself.  He hardly doted on himself.  Even religious activities were not to be done from selfish motives.  God has justified him, having punished Christ in his place.  Acceptance had been freely given, not achieved.  Therefore, even developing one's personal relationship with Christ at the expense of the community was viewed as antisocial and, consequently, anti-Christian behavior.  




An Apologetic for Using the Means of Grace

2010-10-15T17:12:30-04:00

Yesterday, I blogged about my friend Bill's struggle to be faithful to his quiet times and if you read the post you will see that I tried to divert his attention from himself, his performance and his failures to follow...Yesterday, I blogged about my friend Bill's struggle to be faithful to his quiet times and if you read the post you will see that I tried to divert his attention from himself, his performance and his failures to follow the law of the quiet time to think on the merits of Christ on his behalf.  My hope in that dialogue was to free Bill from the sense of guilt he brings with him to the reading of the Word of God and prayer, so that he could bask in the goodness of God and hopefully develop a desire to read the Word and pray instead of being driven by some kind of performance objectives he needs to live up to, or conversely, fear that if he fails to have quiet times that God is going to get him.  Having said that, I left an incomplete picture in that post.  The truth is that all of the things I shared with Bill to try to alleviate his guilt and show him the grace of Christ, all came from the Word of God.  I would not have those things to share with him had I not received them from the Word of God.  It is essential that we be in and under the Word of God at all times if we are to know and experience the grace of God.  Prayer, based upon the Word of God is a wonderful means of access to and communication with the God of the Word.  So in what follows I am offering an apologetic, or reason for getting into the Word of God and prayer under the heading of using the means of grace.  As I wrote the words below it became too wordy and I'll split it up into another post.  As I wrote the words below the post kind of evolved into an apologetic for hearing the Word of God and I think I'll just go ahead and let it stand on that.  We get very wrapped up in the private reading of the Word and private prayer, when the big deal is public worship, preaching and corporate prayer. The public use of the means of grace sets the stage for the private use of those means so I hope that what follows helps you understand and appreciate the most important aspect of the means of grace.  Tomorrow or next week I'll go ahead and let this flow into some more thoughts on the private use of the means of grace.  1. The Word of God and Prayer are gifts, graces, not law. As Scott Clark says here " The private devotional life is not a law, it is a grace. It is not a metaphorical whip with which to prod Christians to godliness, it is the natural outgrowth of union with Christ."   2. The language of "spiritual disciplines" is not the best, it should be replaced with the older language of "means of grace."  Here I'm showing my love for our fathers in the faith and I'm just offering the natural outgrowth of Clark's comment above.  When our forefathers called these things "means of grace," the emphasis was on receiving what God has done for us in Christ.  We've gone to calling these things "spiritual disciplines" and that puts the emphasis on what we must do for God, not what He has done for us.  Thus a new burden is placed on us.  The burden of being what God wants us to be is now placed on our shoulders. If we see the Bible and prayer as gifts for us I think our hearts, or affections if you want to use Jonathan Edwards terminology, may be more inclined toward the use and appropriation of them than if we see them as tasks to accomplish.  3.  The corporate and public takes precedence over the personal and private I think this is a big overlooked issue in our day.  It has almost become self-evident, needing no explanation or defense, that the our personal and private devotions are the most important thing in the Christian life.  Even though this seems self-evident to us today [...]



Is the gospel of any use to the Christian?

2010-10-14T23:53:26-04:00

I have a concern/fear/worry that most professing Christians don't understand the significance of the gospel for their lives nor do they appreciate all that Jesus has accomplished on their behalf. That concern is mainly driven by the fact that the...I have a concern/fear/worry that most professing Christians don't understand the significance of the gospel for their lives nor do they appreciate all that Jesus has accomplished on their behalf.  That concern is mainly driven by the fact that the "they" in the last sentence has been me for most of my Christian life.  Which is not to say that I've got all of this figured out.  But I have been given a season of weakness where I have had to come to grips with the fact that I have nothing to offer to God.  In truth I never had anything to offer to God and neither do any of us, it's just that I thought I did. It seems to me now that almost all of us have embraced a mode of Christian living where we come into the faith via the gospel then set it aside as we seek to grow in Christ.  It seems to me that our mode of Christian living is usually the pursuit of self-improvement or getting better.  Here's a paraphrase of a couple of conversations I had recently with a dear friend that illustrates this.  The name has been changed here, but I'll say up front that "Bill" is a true Christian who loves the gospel but who stuggles with guilt and feelings of condemnation over his failures to be all that God wants them to be.  I've known him long enough to know this is a long term problem, and I've also known myself and other Christians long enough to know that this is a common struggle.  Let me also say that I have a close enough relationship with "Bill" that I felt comfortable being more direct than usual in these conversations and I'll also mention that "Bill" has given me permission to share all of this. Bill: Do you have a regular quiet time? Me: Not really.  (I know that is probably shocking, but see here and here for a more biblical perspective on the "law of the quiet time"). Bill: I really need to do better with my quiet times.  I was reading _______________ (insert name of famous author and famous book here) and they said that if you are not having a regular quiet time you are basically telling God you can handle life on your own without Him. Me: Yeah, I guess so.  But don't worry, even if you tell God you can handle life on your own, He doesn't believe you.  He's still handling your life even if you don't know it or acknowledge it. Bill: OK, but I need to do a better job of having my quiet times. Me: OK, so what happens if you don't do a better job of having your quiet times? Charlie: Well I'll just be a better Christian if I do.  I won't be as close to God if I don't.  I look at __________ (insert name of local super-saint here) and they are always having a quiet time and are such a good Christian, and ____________(insert name of other local super-saint here) and they are so wise and I want to be more like them. Me: OK, so is God going to love you less if you don't have a consistent quiet time? Bill: Well no, but don't you think God wants us to have quiet times? Me: Well sure, but it sounds to me like you just want to be like ________ and __________ and want to earn a promotion from God. Bill: Yeah, they are such good Christians.  And doesn't God want me to be a better Christian? Me: How much better do you have to get at having quiet times and how much better of a Christian do you have to be before God will be satisfied with you? Bill: ??? Me: If you fail to have a quiet time, how does that detract from the sufficiency of Christ's atoning work for you? Bill: It doesn't, but doesn't God want us to spend time with Him? Me: Sure, but if you don't, does He love you less? Bill: Well,[...]



Where is our attention focused?

2010-10-13T15:30:32-04:00

The old Chinese proverb, which may in fact be a curse, says "may you live in interesting times." I am living in interesting times, interesting to me, and maybe me alone. I am in the midst of a great battle...The old Chinese proverb, which may in fact be a curse, says "may you live in interesting times."  I am living in interesting times, interesting to me, and maybe me alone.  I am in the midst of a great battle for my health which at times discourages and deflates me, yet in my weakness the grace of Christ has become more and more manifest and dear to me than ever. For the most part I have little energy with which to engage the tasks I am called to do, but I am in a season right now where I do have a bit more energy and am busy trying to do some things I haven't been able to do for over a year. Our church has had several families leave in the last year, yet we are also seeing several new families joining with us because they have found a place which gives them the gospel in it's fulness and the undiluted Word of God.  So, it's ups and downs, ups and downs.  But here is what I find the most - the ups come when we turn our attention to what Christ has done for us, the downs come when we turn our attention to all we must do for Him. When I am physially weak and unable to perform the tasks that come with my calling as a preacher I am down, especially when I look at all that goes undone.  Now that I have a bit of energy I am getting some of those things done. Yet, the thought occurs to me that Jesus' love for me and the value of His atoning work on my behalf is the same on days when things are done and undone.  My performance may go up and down, but the value of His work on my behalf never wanes, so which will I focus on and which will I take comfort from? With our church, when people leave or complain the reason is almost always some variation on the theme of what we as a body have failed to do or be for Christ.  When people join us and show enthusiasm for who we are and what we are doing it is almost always some variation on the theme that they have heard from us the good news of all that Christ has done for them, and they can rejoice in this good news. To me it all comes down to where our attention lies, where our focus is and where is our source of delight.  Zechariah 3:1-5 shows the different kinds of attention, or foci, of different kinds of beings:  1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" 3Now  Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments." 5And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. Satan's attention will always be drawn to the filth in the lives of the people of God, as individuals and as the church.  Satan will always accuse and will always publicize, privately and publicly, the filth.  It's all he can see.  The Lord and His angels will see the covering. The odd thing here is that, though Satan is the father of lies, in this case he was not lying - Joshua was filthy and worthy of the accusation.  Yet God did not let the accusations stand, He removed them and covered them.  This is a wonderful picture of the atoning work of Christ. It's a wonderful insight into the way we view the church and our fellow b[...]



Question on a couple of curriculums

2010-10-11T21:03:47-04:00

Hi everyone, I have a question. This is mostly for church and ministry leaders but any input would be welcome. I have just come across a recommendation from a trusted source for two curriculums on training for missional ministry. One...

Hi everyone, I have a question.  This is mostly for church and ministry leaders but any input would be welcome.

I have just come across a recommendation from a trusted source for two curriculums on training for missional ministry.

One is called "The Tangible Kingdom."  There is a book by that title, a "Tangible Kingdom Primer," and a website devoted to training this stuff. 

The other is the Acts29 Kit by the Navigators.  Please note that is not affiliated with Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill - Seattle or the Acts29 Network.

Just looking for info on these - has anyone tried them?  What's your experience? 

I'm particularly interested in hearing from anyone from a confessional tradition, but any feedback would be appreciated.




A Two Handed Grip on the Sword of the Spirit

2010-10-10T20:54:16-04:00

Hi friends and neighbors. I've had a few folks ask me about the blog lately and I think I'm going to ty re-up it. Back in the day when I had a wide readership I was writing kind of to...Hi friends and neighbors.   I've had a few folks ask me about the blog lately and I think I'm going to ty re-up it.  Back in the day when I had a wide readership I was writing kind of to proces and express my own thoughts and I was also always sticking my nose in major theological and ecclesiastical issues of the day.  I developed a wide readership but not many of those were members of my church. As I try to re-up the blog I'm going to try to self-consciously focus on topics of utmost relevance to my church, the local one, not the universal one.  At the same time I hope that these kinds of topics will still be of interest to the wider church. I won't try to conduct church business here on the blog but will blog on biblical and theological topics relevant to things we are dealing with.  One thing I'd like to do - and this will help build continuity with what I used to blog - is offer some sermon related material.  Often, a preacher prepares more during his study during the week than he is able to share in the sermon and a good deal gets left on the cutting room floor. So, I'll share some of that. For now I'll mention that I am doing a series on the law of God and I'm taking the old tack that sees the law and gospel as the two parts of the Word of God, both needing to be preached together.  The older and more conservative Lutherans are the most noted for this approach, but this is also a foundational matter in the Reformed tradition. I mentioned today that, as disciples of Christ, we are apprentices of Christ who are called to learn to use the tools of the trade.  Our main tool of the trade is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and I offered a word picture of thinking of the law and gospel as the two hands by which we grip the sword, the Word of God.  To properly handle the Word of God we must be able to distinguish the hand of the law which contains commands, prohibitions, and threats, from the gospel which contains words of promise, provision and redemption. Since I'm just using this as a kick-off post to help get me back in the groove of blogging I'll stop there, except to emphasize that law and gospel must be properly distinguished and noted if we are to apply the Word of God to our lives. For now here's a couple of links which may be helpful. I'm working my way through these first two books: C. F. W. Walther - The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel - a traditonal Lutheran treatise, maybe the magnum opus from the Lutheran tradition on the law and gospel.  Edward Fisher - The Marrow of Modern Divinity - a reformed treatise, combating the errors of legalism and antinomianism. Quotes on Law and Gospel - this is a compilation from Scott Clark at Westminster West of quotes from Calvin and others in the reformed tradition on the law-gospel distinction.   This is part of Scott Clark's ongoing defense of the law-gospel distinction in the reformed tradition, showing that this is not only a Lutheran distinctive. [...]



Health Update 9-16-10 and a Few Thoughts on the Kindness of God

2010-09-16T20:00:16-04:00

Hi everyone it's me, the blogger formerly known as the Jollyblogger. Just thought I'd pop in to say hi and see what it's like to blog again. Over the last few months chemo really got to me so I didn't...Hi everyone it's me, the blogger formerly known as the Jollyblogger.  Just thought I'd pop in to say hi and see what it's like to blog again.  Over the last few months chemo really got to me so I didn't do much of anything, but I'm kind of coming out of the fog now and thought I'd go ahead and give you an update.  I had a CT scan a couple of weeks ago and the results are good.  I found out that I actually have 5 or 6 tumors in my lungs, so that wasn't a happy thing.  But they have been there all along and the reason nobody made a big deal of it apparently was that there were only two that were big enough to be of any concern.  The good news is that, in the 18 months or so that I have been on chemo all of the tumors have shrunk significantly.  The biggest tumor was obviously in my colon, hence the surgery in December of 08 and the next biggest one was about 2.5 inches in my life.  There was another one in my liver almost that big.  The good news is that both of those tumors have shrunk till they are only about a centimeter now and all of the tumors in my lungs are a centimeter or less.  There was no dramatic change in size in any of them since my last CT scan in April, but there were a  couple that may have shrunk a millimeter or so.  The best news is that I am getting a break from chemotherapy.  It was getting me down and I was getting to the point where I feared having to continue with chemo almost as much as I feared getting a bad report on the CT scan.  So I have the month of September completely off with no chemo at all.  Then in October I'll go on a maintenance regimen with a medicine called Avastin.  Technically, the medical personnel don't put this one in the same category as "chemo" drugs.  It's what they call a "biologic" (I think that's the word) and it works by cutting off blood supply to tumors.  This has been a part of the cocktail I have been getting all of this time and come October it will be the only thing I'll get.  The only real side effects it has is that it increases blood pressure and it can cause bleeding.  So I do have to watch out for bleeding but over the whole of my treatment I have had only minimal bleeding in my mouth and nose and it's been much less over the last few months.  My BP has gone up a bit but I have some medicine.  So the bottom line is that I expect minimal if any side effects.  I'll see the doc again in November and I suppose we'll schedule another CT scan at that time.  If there is no growth in tumors I'll get to stay on this maintenance regimen.  But needless to say I am very happy that I can look forward to almost three months without chemo.   Right now I've been sick all week and I don't know if I'm still just recovering from the chemo or if I have come down with something, but I do expect to get better and start enjoying life.  Again, please accept my sincere thanks for all of the prayers and kind words.  I came across a poem on Tim Ferris's website on called "Discovering Kindness in the Storm" which perfectly describes my experience.  It is not Christian in origin but it is wise, and where the author says "kindness" I hear the words "the kindness of God and His people," or the "grace of God and His people.  It is a wonderful description of my own experience and I have to say that as much as I hate chemo and all of the things associated with cancer, that I don't think I would ever have awakened to the grace and kindness of God that surrounds me without going [...]