For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On Being a Caffeinated Calvinist

Maybe it just has something to do with still missing Brewer’s Coffee House so much since they closed, but coffee has been on my mind a lot lately. There’s just something about that steamy, creamy stuff. I’ve always known there had to be something more to it all, and now I’ve found part of what the connection might be.

Awhile back I stumbled across something called the Caffeinated Calvinists Blog Network. Now, as someone who is passionate about both theology and coffee, how could I resist. So I submitted a request to join, and as you can see from the side bar on the lower left of this page, I’ve now become a member of this elite group (OK, so elite might be pushing it, since they let me in, but go with me here).

The network is overseen by Shane Vander Hart and the folks at Caffeinated Thoughts, which is self-described as a site “about looking at the news, politics, culture, life and theology from the evangelical (mostly Reformed) point of view of our contributors. We like to think our thoughts are stimulating hence the name “Caffeinated Thoughts,” and many of us love coffee as well. We just don’t blog about it.”

So, to the point. One of the first things I read on this new “network” was a brief blog from Theology for Girls (please, I followed a recommended link; no jokes here, thank you), which in turn was repeating some information from another blog, Standing on Shoulders, which gave a nice link between coffee and theology. (Sorry if that train of links and thoughts was confusing).

Here is the essence of what they both reported, quoting from yet another source, John Coffey’s Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England, 1558-1689. (gotta love the name). Anyway, according to this research:

"Coffeehouses, which were famed as places of public debate and discussion, dated from around 1650, when the first one had opened in Oxford. By 1663, London alone had over 80 coffeehouses, whilst by the end of the century it had more than 2000."

"People met there to read newspapers and discuss politics, and High Church Anglicans associated coffeehouses with Puritanism and republicanism; one declared that ‘a coffee-house is a lay conventicle, good-fellowsip turn’d Puritan."

Intrigued, I did a little more digging in my own library and came across this item about famed pastor and theologian John Gill. “It was his practice, once a week, to meet his ministering brethren at the accustomed coffee-house, where a sort of ministers’ club assembled.” (from The Metropolitan Tabernacle: Its History And Work, by C. H. Spurgeon)

In fact, in Spurgeon’s collection of proverbs called The Salt-Cellars, he includes this little tidbit: “Advice to a thirsty soul. Try coffee.”

There it is. Coffee and Puritans joined together in the annals of history. So now I know what the connection is. And the next time I have that craving for a Scary Berry Mocha from the Mudhouse, I’ll know it’s because of the Reformed/Puritan blood flowing through my veins, and I’ll tip my cup heavenward toward Spurgeon and Gill and the rest of those who have gone before, looking forward to the day we can share a cup together.

(Disclaimer: The preceding article, while containing actual historical quotes, does not in any way claim any legitimate theological import to the drinking of coffee. While this is an enjoyable pastime, no actual spiritual benefits have been proven, and no firm biblical evidence has been offered either for or against coffee. That is all)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Go Hard or Go Home

I think I've mentioned before my appreciation for some of the "Reformed Rappers" out there. Guys like Flame and Lecrae and Shai Linne who take good solid doctrinal lyrics and put them to some fun rap grooves (like I know what a "groove" is). Anyway, one of my favorites that has been "haunting" my thoughts lately is a song by Lecrae called Go Hard.

Simply put he tells us to Go Hard or Go Home. Either sell out completely to Christ, or just forget it. It's all or nothing. You can't be a half-way servant of Christ. That's why I hate the modern church idea of "inactive members." There is no such thing. Either you are an active, participating, serving member of the body of Christ, or you're not. No such thing as half-way. Either Go Hard or Go Home.

For your enjoyment, and hopefully to challenge you, here's the video of that song. If you want to see the lyrics, go HERE.

LECRAE:: GO HARD from Adamson.TV on Vimeo.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Joy And Grief of Homeschool Graduation

Let me try to say this without offending anyone: Public school parents have no idea what we’re going through right now. I’m not saying that parents who send their children to government run schools don’t love their children as much as we do; or that they are more sad or less proud of their graduates than we are; or anything like that. But, it is very, very different.

Until you’ve spent 18 years with that child in your home every day (well, nearly every day. Except for orchestra days and field trips and library runs and horse training days and homeschool co-op days and; you get the idea); until you’ve bought those text books with your own money for 12 years; spent those 12 years sweating day by day along with that child through all of those subjects and assignments, worried more about your teaching than their learning at times; until you’ve experienced the sacrifices in time and money and energy to provide those 12 years of education while at the same time building a bond together as parent and child, teacher and student, discipler and disciple, etc. Until you’ve done these things you can’t possibly understand the joy and grief of watching your oldest graduate.

Our precious daughter LoriAnn had her graduation yesterday. It was a very emotional time for us. This was our first graduate. When we started this back in first grade, we said we’d just do it one year at a time and see how it went. LoriAnn was our “guinea pig” in a sense (don’t tell her I said that!). Since then, we’ve started homeschooling our other three children as well. But she was the first. And she is our first graduate.

To say we’re proud of her doesn’t begin to describe it. God has made her into an extraordinary young woman, for which Mom and I can only take partial credit. This is truly a case of the student outdoing the teacher. During the graduation service she played her flute, read some of her poetry (some of which she has had published) and then gave a short address speaking of her homeschool experience, her faith and her vision for her future. Talk about a tear jerker.

A dear pastor friend brought a brief “charge” in which he not only commended LoriAnn for her accomplishments, but also thanked us parent types for our commitment and accomplishment as well. We all felt like standing up and saying “By God’s grace, we did it!” I was fine with all of this until Mom came up to give the diploma and started crying. I then had to cry all the way through the prayer of dedication we offered on behalf of our precious girl.

We are proud. We are joyful. We are also grief stricken over this precious gift preparing to leave us. Next Sunday we’ll deliver her to the college campus where she will work this summer and begin classes this fall. 18 years goes by in a hurry, doesn’t it? I love all my children. And I still have three to continue investing the time and energy in. But there is a great sense of loss right now. Again, I’m not saying other parents miss their children less because they weren’t homeschooled. It’s just very different.

She has been more than a daughter. She’s been a friend, someone to read and discuss books with, to have theological discussions with. She has been my “go to guy” when I needed something done quickly, something made for church, some project I was running behind on. She’s covered VBS classes for us as well as been our built-in-babysitter.

Quite frankly, I feel for parents who didn’t get to spend this kind of time with their children; missing out on at least 8 hours a day with them; a minimum of 40 hours a week in which you didn’t get to experience life and growth with them. Of course, I’m not so sure I’d miss the added grief this causes when it’s all over.

In the end, our goal has not been to churn out a Nobel Prize winning scientist or a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. Though we are proud of her writing accomplishments and music accomplishments and artistic accomplishments and so on; we are most pleased and proud of her faith and maturity. Our goal has simply been to see her become a fully devoted follower of Christ and a godly woman in this sinful world. God has been gracious in granting that goal.

The joy and the grief. Quite a mixture of feelings. I believe that while all parents feel those, they are intensified for homeschool parents (you can argue with me later, this is my “moment”!). But I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s been a long, often difficult road; but by the grace of God it has all been worth it.

So congratulations, LoriAnn. We are indeed proud of you. And we still love you, even if you have chosen to abandon us (just kidding…about the abandoning part, not the loving part…oh, never mind). It’s time to share this blessing with the world. May God continue to guide your steps each and every day as you seek to exalt Him in all you do.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Borrowed Words

Since getting back from vacation, the onslaught of things on the old “to do” list has completely overwhelmed me. So, to give the illusion that I’m actually doing something on my blog, I simply pass along to you the following links for your reading pleasure. These are mostly just for fun, so enjoy.

Tim Challies: Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie?
Wonderful little article showing that Osteen’s message has as much (or as little) meat as that of the typical fortune cookie. Be sure to take the quiz.

Calvinistic Cartoons:
Just a couple of the latest entries from this fun site.
One for fun
One for thought

And how about a little satire?
This is a great video poking some fun (very accurately) at the whole emergent-type focus.

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Well, that’s all for now. Hopefully we’ll get back to actual comments and insights from yours truly in the near future (as bad as that might be).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Borrowed Thoughts for Mother's Day

So, I'm on vacation and haven't posted here in two weeks or so. Should be back home and back into the daily routine the first of next week. I won't get to preach on Mother's Day for the first time in, I don't know, 20 years. But next time I do, I'll strongly consider these wonderful thoughts on Mother's Day from Pastor Scott Lee. (I'm sure he won't mind my re-posting his words here, but you can go HERE to read it on his blog)

An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels. (Prov 31:10)

It’s easy, sometimes, to overreact. In my zeal not to repeat the mistakes of others, I can end up making new ones of my own. I wonder at times if I’m ever in danger of doing that where Mother’s Day / Father’s Day are concerned.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love my mom– far more than I could ever say! And I think its good to set aside a day once a year to honor our moms and let them know that we think there really is no one like them in the whole world.

My problem comes in the tendency I see in churches to take a day like Mother’s Day and make it the focus of worship. It just seems to be a misappropriation of God’s honor to shift the focus of any worship service off of Him and put in onto anyone or anything else at all. Am I right?

And then there’s a practical concern, as well. When it gets down to it, I’m convinced that what you and I need is not another warm and fuzzy, feel-good experience, or another ‘sentimental journey’ sponsored by Hallmark. What we need is for the life-strengthening, soul-anchoring power of God’s Word to be opened up and applied to our lives.

So let’s take a moment this morning to say ‘Thank you’ to our Moms for what they mean to us. Let’s acknowledge that we can’t think of any job that could be more important than that of a godly parent. Let’s shout from the rooftops, “We love you, Mom! We’re grateful to God for you. We know our lives would be infinitely poorer without you and your Christ-like example of love.” But then for Mom’s sake, let’s shift our focus off of her and on to Him who created motherhood in the first place. And let’s offer our prayers to our Father in Heaven Who alone can give Mom the help she needs!