Monday, April 16, 2007

The Shootings

God has been very good to me. In light of the recent shootings here at Virginia Tech, please pray for the families of the victims, their friends, etc. No one I know, I think, was hurt, but that is not true for everyone around here.

Incidentally, in case I haven't mentioned it before, I think the media has lost base with reality. Consider: unsubstantiated rumors abounded. The police reports were much more conservative. For example: we don't actually know that the two shootings were even related. There was one shooting in a dorm room: two dead. Approximately two hours later, there was a much more deadly rampage in a classroom: thirty dead. The classroom gunman then turned the gun on himself, making for thirty-one dead in the classroom. The police still don't know if the two shootings are even related. But what does the media do? Automatically make the link, claiming that all 33 deaths are due to one man. In addition, all the media can seem to do is criticize the administration for "lack of proper handling." Let's see the media personnel in those places of authority and see if they could have done any better! I have very little patience with people who only criticize, and have no constructive comments. In addition, rather than focusing on being compassionate to those who have suffered loss, they seem to be focused on beating up the admin. Is there any compassion in the media? I'm looking forward to whatever World magazine puts out on the story.

In Christ.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007


An event has occurred recently that probably most of you thought was impossible. Susan Garrison has agreed to marry me. For those of you who know me better than others, and have witnessed some of my previous relationships, this might spell the end of what could have been considered a soap opera. I asked her Monday night, and she obviously accepted. For those of you who are curious, we will not be able to set a date for a while. I rather think Susan might be posting some of those juicy details y'all will want to know.

I would like to share with you some of what I believe God has been teaching me during the last few years. The first thing is that a prudent wife is from the Lord. Finding a good wife is not a matter of luck or circumstance, for we serve a sovereign God. There is no way I could have met Susan and pursued her unless the Lord had opened the doors.

The second thing I believe the Lord taught me is the importance of grace in relationships. Before he gave me permission to court, Susan's father asked me why I thought a relationship with Susan would work, where the previous ones failed. My answer was that of all the ladies I had been interested in, Susan is the most aware of the role grace played in her life. She is saved by grace, and knows it. Therefore, she doesn't have to stand up for herself. Without fear, she can voluntarily put herself under the headship of a sinner like me.

The third and last thing I believe the Lord taught me is about the relation between contentment and God's gifts to us. I would like to quote Carolyn McCulley in her essay, “Sex and the Single Woman,” part of a collection entitled Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. She writes,

One more thought: I've often heard married people say to singles that we won't get married until we're content in our singleness, but I humbly submit that this is not true. I'm sure that it is offered by well-meaning couples who want to see their single friends happy and content in God's provision, but it creates a works-based mentality to receiving gifts, which can lead to feelings of condemnation. The Lord doesn't require that we attain a particular state before He grants a gift. We can't earn any particular spiritual gift any more than we can earn our own salvation. It's all of grace. However, we should humbly listen to our friends and receive their input about cultivating contentment – after all, the apostle Paul says that “there is great gain in godliness with contentment” (1 Tim. 6:6); we just shouldn't attach it to the expectation of a blessing.

We serve a gracious God Who delights in giving good gifts to His children. Rejoice with me, my friends, for I am happy.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007


In conservative circles, and I mean theologically conservative, there are many movements towards regaining a biblical view of the family. I can think of half a dozen men working hard for this: Douglas Wilson, Douglas Philips, R. C. Sproul, Jr., and many of their cohorts.

While these men have done some remarkable things, or rather the Holy Spirit hath wrought some remarkable things through them, I see some danger signs. These are very general things I'm going to mention, general impressions. I say these only to put people on their guard, not to denigrate any of the good signs I've seen. I should also mention that I definitely believe in strong families - but strong in grace, and strong in their knowledge of their utter dependence on God's grace.

1. Probably the most dangerous thing I see, by far, is an over-emphasis on the law. "Do this, do that, and everything will be all right." No, it won't. We need God's grace for everything we do, precisely because we are fallen sinners. I'm the last person to say that the law is irrelevant or shouldn't be mentioned: far from it. The law is our teacher, to show us that we need grace. That is true for the unbeliever as well as the believer, and it is true in justification as well as sanctification. However, it is counter-productive to talk all the time about what we ought to do, without mentioning the far greater thing that God does in His own will and timing. It is simply not true that if all the dysfunctional families in society were functional, that everything would be all right. It wouldn't. In fact, there's a possibility it could be a lot worse, given the pride people might well have in their now-functioning families.

2. I see an over-emphasis on the role of family in society. There sometimes seems to be a blurring of the roles of the three extra-personal spheres of government: civil, ecclesiastical, and familial. There are certain roles given to each of these that are most definitely not given to others. The family does not have the rule of the sword to punish the evil-doer, the civil government does, as Paul points out in Romans. The church does not have the primary rule of comprehensive education of children; the family does (though I would hasten to point out that I don't think this implies homeschooling is the only option, though I do think it's a good one; parents can delegate, after all!). This we get from Deuteronomy 6. The state does not have the rule of excommunication for the publicly-offending sinner in the church. This we get from Matthew 18 and 1 and 2 Corinthians.

Perhaps this over-emphasis comes about because the people engaging in it see the near-catastrophic meltdown of the family. It's true that such is the case. However, I believe the church is not in much better shape, and the civil government is a basket-case. I'd be hard-pressed to decide which of these governments needs the most help! Whose help, incidentally?

Let us not forget that there will, after all, be no earthly-type marriages in heaven. Jesus makes that clear in answering the Saducees and their question about the woman who married seven brothers, one after the late other. I think heaven is going to be something of a blend of civil, ecclesiastical, and familial relationships - all into one: the marriage of Christ and His church. Jesus Christ is Prophet, Priest and King, so there's definitely the civil aspect and the ecclesiastical right there. And it's the marriage to which all earthly marriages point, as Ephesians 5 tells us. So there's your family aspect.

3. I see some people talking an awful lot about family, but not actually taking the time simply to do it. When I grew up, my family didn't discuss all these serious "family matters" all the time. I didn't need long lectures about marriage, and the importance of stability, and the like: I had Dad and Mom as a wonderful example. One of my pet peeves (to get on a possibly extra-biblical soap-box) is "family time." As in, "We're going to have some family time now." As if it's possible for a family to be together and not have "family time." Perhaps you might argue that everyone in the family might be off doing their own thing. Well, then, are they really together? Some people, perhaps, don't use the term this way. I dislike the term "family time" almost as much as "quality time." There is certainly no such thing as quality time. There is only quantity time - and lots of it! I can't help putting a plug in for my favorite thing growing up: reading stories and books out loud. That's a great thing to do together.


Our society has many problems, familial problems among them. But these visible problems are all symptoms of a deeper problem: our spiritual death and alienation from God and our need to be resurrected and made right with God. Normally I don't like using passive sentences, but in my previous statement, I used the passive voice intentionally to illustrate the point: God gives us grace. It's nothing we do.

May God give us grace; may He save those whom He wills soon; may His gospel go forth. Fixing that deeper problem will result, eventually and gradually, in the solution of all these other problems like dysfunctional families, civil government run amok, and flabby churches. Treating the symptoms, though, is like putting a Band-aid over someone's heart when that person is really having a heart attack.

In Christ.

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