There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

Archive for July, 2005

Steps toward Unity?

Before you come Sunday, have a look, if time, at two documents: the first is a summary statement of the movement known as Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). They’ve written a series of documents explaining where Protestant Evangelicals and Roman Catholics appear to be on the same page, and what implications such unanimity of opinion has for cooperation in the work of Kingdom-Building. The second is a response by our denomination, the PCA, to that effort. I confess a certain sympathy for ECT–that these two communities of Christendom would genuinely look past ancillary distinctions and form a bold and broad new parternship in all things gloryifying Christ. I want that to be true. But when I read the PCA response, I can’t get past the notion that our unity must be founded on something other than a desire to be unified; to follow that route makes fidelity to the apostolic witness unnecessary, and as we’ve discussed, if you discard the fundamentals of the apostles, you lose the Church. It’s not as if ECT has spearheaded an effort to cast a blind eye to fundamental theological differences; if you have even more time, have a look at their estimation of what really separates Catholics from Protestants on the understanding of Salvation. But they have concluded that differences over the nature of salvation should not preclude substantive cooperation, collegiality–everything short of sharing Communion–between these two communities of faith. So have a look. Cogitate. Share your thoughts here. See you Sunday.

on death and dying…..and hope

When’s the last time you’ve been around someone who is dying? And what would you have said (and how would you have said it) if called upon to offer them hope? And while we’re at it, why do you think this question isn’t relevant until you’re older?
Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

the significance of being “already” and “not yet”

All this talk of what it means to be a holy church, and I forget to mention two reasonable applications of the fact that we are “already” holy and “not yet” holy! As it pertains to the fact that we’re “already” holy, I think that asks us to expect more from one another. Our flesh (in the deceitful sense), our pride of life–all those things we’re called to renounce–notwithstanding, that the Spirit dwells within gives us good reason to have confidence in the possibility of our sinning less. So lest you throw your hands up in holy exasperation, resigning yourself to the notion that no good thing can emerge from the human soul, think again. Being already Holy speaks to our potential for expressing that holiness.

Now as for our being “not yet” Holy, I think that addresses our reactions to the presence of unholiness. In other words, when we encounter what appears to be the absence of holiness in one another, we may be tempted to write one another off, or even to write the church off as a place “full of hypocrites” (the cliche so many use to justify their absence from the Church community). But the other’s being “not yet” holy should only be a reminder that we, too, are in the same struggle. It’s within that “not yet” community that we are stretched into reflecting grace back toward those who wrong us, and persevering in love for the community that, while imperfect (and often exasperating), is precisely what God must do (and does) for our sakes.


the community you keep

We’re very late in having seen Million Dollar Baby. Surely it will test your convictions. Instead of stepping into the fierce and complicated discussion on euthanasia though, I’d like to propose a question to all of you concerning a larger theme in the background of the movie. How does the community you keep shape your view of the world, of self, and of the point to life? If she had been in a different kind of community might her outlook have been different? Or should our view of present circumstances be the final arbiter, as she allowed them to be? Discuss.

What is Beauty?

What is beauty? For the past several weeks I have been involved in a study with a heterogeneous group of women at PCPC with the purpose of examining beauty and introspectively searching our own lives to understand our hearts better. Through this study and petitions to the Father, He has revealed to me ways that I misunderstand and idolize beauty. I have misunderstood the lack of physical beauty to assume untrustworthiness and constitute not getting to know the person. I have idolized beauty in my own life to place high importance that as long as I look good, I will be accepted. And I wonder, through all the ways that the world tells us what beauty is, what if we really worked together to show the world what beauty really is…Christ. That in our sin we would be busy interceding with prayer for those who are blinded by it. That instead of judgement, we would grieve. The more self absorbed we become, the less we will be concerned with our neighbor.

(The picture that I posted above is of a woman I met in Peru who attends the local church. Upon introducing myself and asking of her name, she said, “Somos de la misma familia,” we are of the same family. According to the world, this woman has nothing of beauty to offer, but look closer at the beautiful creases in her face, which speak of the depths of her relationship and love for the Father in Heaven.)

Can’t we church people all get along?

When the early Church saw fit to enunciate “One” as one of the Church’s distinguishing characteristics, who could’ve imagined how difficult it would’ve been to preserve that fundamental feature? That Jesus prayed for His Church to be “one as we [He and the Father] are one” (Jn 17:23) in the hours before His arrest only heightens our sense of His deity: He knew well what would most plague the Church He was about to “obtain with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Of what does our unity consist? Of what should it consist? Have a look here at the perspective of an Eastern Orthodox Christian regarding what our unity must be based upon.

right shoe, wrong foot

part of parenting is getting your kids off on the right foot (but what if you put that right foot in the left shoe?) Posted by Picasa


(I assured my golden retriever, Maggie, that I’ve only had eyes for her, but in the words of that famous sage, “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”–but only if we’re talking about a dog…er…dogs. This is a fireside shot of Patrick in Peru with Timber and….I can’t remember the one on the right’s name; they’re the dogs of the Powlisons, the missionary family to the Quechuan people–see a shot of him, Keith, below)

Here begins what I pray will be a forum that brings us closer together, as skeptical as you might be since most other technolgical advances claiming to bridge the gaps only make them wider. That we are trained to consider one another only once a week–maybe not trained, so much as it becomes habitual–makes the kind of community that genuinely fosters concern for one another’s holiness all the more problematic. May this little tool whittle away at what keeps us apart.

Preparing to teach on the church: harder than I expected. The topic is so vast, and its so easy to go down a tributary that, while interesting to the average scholar, would be seemingly of little use to the man or woman on the street. I welcome your prayers.

Meet the Powlisons

“those of whom the world [is] not worthy” (Keith Powlison–missionary to the Quechuan people of Southern Peru) Posted by Picasa

get that retreat smile

20+ Spring Retreat, Pine Cove, TX Posted by Picasa