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Well, I’ve not been posting lately, because of general busy-ness.  I think this is the reason why most of the blog’s I’ve stated have failed.  Miserably.  Here is a general update in most of the areas of my life that anybody might be interested in.

On the Home Front…

It’s baseball and T-ball season at the Marshall house.  Both the kids are on different teams, so the schedule is crazy.  On top of that, having only 1 vehicle makes it difficult to get the kids where they need to go.  Alexis is playing T-ball, and is on Roopers again this year, with the same coach and a bunch of the same kids.  Seems like a mix of experienced and first-year players on her team.  Check the events page for the schedule.  Liam is playing coach-pitch for the first time this year, on Blais Flower Shop.  Compared to other teams, we are short-staffed with coaching, so I’ve offered to help out when I can.  An interesting experience to say the least.  His schedule is also on the events page.

The square-foot garden is all planted.  The kids helped us plant a variety of vegetables, fruits, and flowers for this first-time, experimental technique.  If all goes well, we should have lettuce soon, followed shortly after by onions, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, watermelon, potatoes, cukes, peppers, and 3 different varieties of marigolds.  Strawberries will be in a few years, and the 2 4×4 beds will be planted later this summer with 3 Sisters (corn, beans, and squash).

Homeschooling with Liam is going well, although Sandra might say otherwise.  We will soon start thinking about what we will do for Alexis next year.  We already know we are going to home school, it’s just a matter of what we are going to do.  She is doing well in preschool this year, and has made a few new friends.

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho…

Work for me is going well.  Getting to the end of the busiest season now.  Thing should pick up once we start adding some projects over the summer and into the fall.  That’s about all I can say right now about work…

Church…

Still leading worship most weeks, and for special events.  I’m leading worship this weekend for a women’s conference.  If you’re a lady, you should go.  Also leading for the Sunday meeting this week.  Please pray for our pastor.  He is going through some adjusting, with the new baby and all.  Pray that he has all the time he needs to prepare, and pray that we, as church leaders, will seek God in finding a way to have him go full-time.  I’ve requested some more detailed financial information from our treasurer and accountant so we can hopefully work out a way to remain faithful to God and the congregation, and pay him enough to support his family.

That’s about it for now.  Thanks for reading.

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Bob Kauflin has a great post discussing how both preaching and music grow dull if they don’t magnify the greatness of the Savior in people’s minds and hearts.  The quote is from a sermon called “The Fulness Of Jesus, The Treasury Of Saints,” that Spurgeon delivered February 28, 1869.

“All music becomes wearisome but that of heaven; but oh! if the minstrel doth but strike this celestial harp, though he keepeth his fingers always among its golden strings, and be but poor and unskilled upon an instrument so divine, yet the melody of Jesus’ name, and the sweet harmony of all his acts and attributes, will hold his listeners by the ears and thrill their hearts as nought beside can do. The theme of Jesus’ love is inexhaustible, though preachers may have dwelt upon it century after century, a freshness and fullness still remain.”

HT: Worship Matters

Thinking About Santa

Noel Piper shares some interesting thoughts about including Santa in our Christmas stories and decorations.

First, fairy tales are fun and we enjoy them, but we don’t ask our children to believe them.

Second, we want our children to understand God as fully as they’re able at whatever age they are. So we try to avoid anything that would delay or distort that understanding. It seems to us that celebrating with a mixture of Santa and manger will postpone a child’s clear understanding of what the real truth of God is. It’s very difficult for a young child to pick through a marble cake of part-truth and part-imagination to find the crumbs of reality.

Third, we think about how confusing it must be to a straight-thinking, uncritically-minded preschooler because Santa is so much like what we’re trying all year to teach our children about God. Look, for example, at the “attributes” of Santa.

    • He’s omniscient—he sees everything you do.
    • He rewards you if you’re good.
    • He’s omnipresent—at least, he can be everywhere in one night.
    • He gives you good gifts.
    • He’s the most famous “old man in the sky” figure.
She goes on to explain some encouraging effects of not mixing Santa and the manger:

First, I think children are glad to realize that their parents, who live with them all year and know all the worst things about them, still show their love at Christmas. Isn’t that more significant than a funny, old, make-believe man who drops in just once a year?

Second, I think most children know their family’s usual giving patterns for birthday and special events. They tend to have an instinct about their family’s typical spending levels and abilities. Knowing that their Christmas gifts come from the people they love, rather than from a bottomless sack, can help diminish the “I-want-this, give-me-that” syndrome.

And finally, when children know that God’s generosity is reflected by God’s people, it tends to encourage a sense of responsibility about helping make Christmas good for others.

Read the entire post here.

HT: Desiring God Blog

On Church Hopping

Bottom line: Church hopping is an example of the overall instability of our culture.

It reflects a deeply troubling trend of how easily people slide in and out of commitments. “Commitment” is a revisable term at best and an increasingly negative concept to many (i.e. marriage?). Reflecting the prevailing discontentment in our culture, people are endlessly looking for something better. But better, often means more exciting, entertaining; more satisfying to the ruling self. Churches calling for higher levels of commitment are usually smaller.

In an article entitled “Confessions of a (Recovering) Church-hopper”, John Fischer acknowledged that, “In our free-market, commodity-rich society, it’s understandable that we would approach church as we would a shopping mall of spiritual products and services.  This is the way our culture operates.  In our hymnals we can still find those great hymns of the church like ‘A Mighty Fortress’ and ‘The Church’s One Foundation,’ but in our worship and practice we are probably more consistent with the Motown hit ‘You Better Shop Around.’”

Fischer describes the following scene from a church-hopping family: “‘Where shall we go this morning, dear?’ he says. ‘The music is great at Calvary but I like the teaching at Grace.’ ‘Don’t forget the kids,’ she says. ‘The youth program at Bethany is the best of all.’  ‘I’ve got it.  We’ll drop the kids off at Bethany and go to Grace for teaching, and then we can start going to the Saturday night worship and praise services at Calvary.’”

What’s wrong with this picture? Fischer suggests at least three things:

First, we become critical consumers. “As consumers we reserve the right to pass judgment on the products and services we use, and the companies that service us begin to cater to our demands. ‘The customer is always right’ may work well at McDonald’s, but in a church it undermines the authority of the Word of God and the leaders God has called to represent Him. We do not go to a particular church to decide whether that church is doing everything right, but to hear from God and humbly find out where we went wrong that week in our own lives and what we need to do to make it right.”

Second, we become invisible spectators. “Church-hopping turns you into a nondescript pewsitter. A number. A statistic. When you’re shopping around, you never stay in one place long enough to know anybody or be known. We like this because we have gotten into a habit of being anonymous in our culture. Church-hopping helps protect anonymity we already possess, and it keeps us alone.”

Third, we become detached from what we are. “When you were a child, did you ever make a church with your hands folded together, forefingers pointed up like a steeple and all your fingers interlocked inside? Remember opening your hands to see all the people?  Well, that’s exactly it. We are the church. You and I are the fingers and toes and eyes and ears of the body of Christ. To be only a spectator in church is to detach yourself from who you are — like cutting off your fingers.”            

Are there ever good reasons for leaving a church? Yes. False doctrine, unqualified leadership, absence of accountability for righteous living, lack of commitment to evangelism and discipleship — these are issues which should be considered. However, leaving a Church should not be taken lightly. Even when one has good reasons for leaving a Church, it should be done in a respectful manner.

Pastors should also be careful about receiving those who “hop” their way. When church hoppers hop your way and gush praise all over you (while criticizing their former church), it’s often only a matter of time before they leave your Church with the same critical attitude.  Church-hoppers should remember the old advice, “If you find a perfect church, don’t join it because you’ll ruin it.”

(HT: ThinkPoint)

On Making Decisions

“Proverbs, and the wisdom literature in general, counter the idea that being spiritual means handing all decisions over to the leading of the Lord. The opposite is true. Proverbs reveals that God does not make all people’s decisions for them, but rather expects them to use his gift of reason to interpret the circumstances and events of life within the framework of revelation that he has given. Yet when they have exercised their responsibility in decision-making, they can look back and see that the sovereign God has guided.”
—Graeme Goldsworthy, in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (IVP 2000), p. 210. See also Gospel and Wisdom in the Goldsworthy Trilogy.

(HT: The Shepherd’s Scrapbook)

Charles Spurgeon:

One thing is past all question; we shall bring our Lord most glory if we get from Him much grace.

If I have

  • much faith, so that I can take God at His word;
  • much love, so that the zeal of His house eats me up;
  • much hope, so that I am assured of fruit from my labor;
  • much patience, so that I can endure hardness for Jesus’ sake;

then I shall greatly honor my Lord and King.

Oh, to have much consecration, my whole nature being absorbed in His service; then, even though my talents may be slender, I shall make my life to burn and glow with the glory of the Lord!

[From chapter 8 of Spurgeon’s An All-Around Ministry. My emphasis and line breaks.]

HT: Justin Taylor