Remembering My Mom, on Her Birthday

My Mom died about a year and a half ago, today was her birthday. I have quite a few letters from her from over the years, and so I looked through some of them just now, and thought I would pass along a couple of her thoughts to me. In this case, they are from 1995:

I believe that as you make plans, God is directing your steps. He delights in our coming to Him and asking for His help and guidance. In fact God says in Job 36:13 that the godless do not cry for help. The same thought is in Hosea 7:7 “none of them calls on Me.” It pleases the Lord when we call upon Him, & it brings peace to us…

What an exciting God we serve! Do wish I had known Him as a young person and dedicated my life to Him then. I am thankful that He brought me to Himself when He did, and did not leave me in darkness…if we could catch a glimpse of eternity how excited we would be to be all the Lord wants us to be, and not be focused on our little world in this “time” and space.

Posted in meTagged

Reads in 2011

I forgot to post my list of books read for the past year, so here it is:

The New Charismatics, Richard Quebedeaux

The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

The Life of Dr. Donne, Izaak Walton

The Life of George Herbert, Izaak Walton

John Calvin and Roman Catholics, Randall Zachman

Defending Constantine, Peter Leithart

Faithful Reason, John Haldane

Conquest, Hugh Thomas

Rabbit Redux, John Updike

The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, Piers Brendon

Deep Comedy, Peter Leithart

From Silence to Song, Peter Leithart

The Foundations of Social Order, R.J. Rushdoony

A Fury for God, Malise Ruthven

The Reformation, Diarmaid Mucculloch

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson

Count to a Trillion, John C. Wright

Predestination, Policy and Polemic, Peter White

The Sociology of the Church, James B. Jordan

Not as many as I would have hoped for, but of course I start scores more and will finish them later. Also, I read far too many articles and junk.

One Year Gone

The last time I saw my Mom in person she told me that “the future is always glorious for a Christian.” This week, I read with interest the following from Peter Leithart:

Resurrection does indeed follow the cross and swallows up the sorrow in astonished surprise and joy, but, as David Bentley Hart has argued, the light of the resurrection intensifies the pain of death by destroying the comforting illusions of ancient resignation…resurrection “opens up another, still deeper kind of pain: it requires of faith something even more terrible than submission before the violence of being and acceptance of fate,” thus throwing the believer “out upon the turbid seas of boundless hope and boundless hunger.” …though the resurrection opens up possibilities that could not even be imagined by ancient man, it also promises the fulfillment of those possibilities. If it provokes unimagined hunger, it also gives hope for unimagined satisfaction. Through its moment of cross and death, the story remains ultimately comic, finally and decisively comic, wildly and insanely comic.”

Mom was right, the future is always glorious for the Christian. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in me

Summer

I try to like summer, but it is difficult to do it. It is only June 2nd and the grass is already burning up and dying. My allergies are going insane whenever I walk outside due to grass. My eyes burn and I have to pop a pill. The air conditioner runs most of the day and the only relief seems to be when a tornado-carrying storm sweeps through. My lawnmowers don’t work so I cut the entire yard with a weed eater that sends grass into every pore of my body.

I went to the pool and it was full of America at its worst. Loud music over the PA system because we have to have a soundtrack wherever we go. Women wearing absurd swimsuits that they have no business donning. Loud talkers trying to be noticed so that they can enter into a conversation with you. Young girls lip synching to the loud songs that they should not be listening to in the first place, but in our dark age, parents don’t care. Insanely hot concrete underfoot and the only relief is to (a) get in the pool full of screaming kids or (b) get under an umbrella, but they are all taken by the loud talkers.

The only good way to experience the summer in my opinion is at night or on the oceanfront. I do not have the means to do either of those things, so I suffer through it.

Posted in meTagged

My Current Scripture Reading

For my Scripture reading last year I read Deuteronomy over and over. This year I am attempting to dig into the Wisdom books. I have been reminded that the road to Christian maturity is one of meditation on God’s Word, a constant approach and re-approach to the same texts, seeing them through the lens of Jesus and His Church.

I don’t have the discipline right now to follow a lectionary style of reading every day and I don’t want to launch out on another read the entire Bible project. So in these overly busy years I want to try and focus in on something that I can benefit from by repetition. I also want to feel some freedom about where I read, because I tend to feel very rigid about starting in one place and proceeding on until the end, not hopping around. I am trying to break away from the feeling that I should constantly be reading the lectionary or doing Genesis to Revelation on a cycle.

Part of the problem with my Scripture reading is that I find myself addicted to reading news and social media throughout the day every day. I need to drive a stake through those habits so that I can spend more time reading quality material and less on passing fancies. Lent might be a good time to try and change those habits.

Rob Bell and Hell in My Life

The controversy of the week in the Christian blogosphere regards Rob Bell and his apparent leap into universalism – (not surprising to me given the Wheaton and Fuller pedigree). I had never heard of Bell until last week, maybe because I don’t much care about celebrity preachers in general. What has been interesting to me is watching the reaction of people that I follow to Bell’s position, from the “left” and “right” theologically. But this post isn’t really about Bell or the reaction to him as much as it is about my own experience with the doctrine (and reality) of hell.

I had a period of apostasy that lasted for about eight years. During the last year of that time I was consistently worried about the possibility of death and an endless eternity in hell. This fear was part of what God used to bring me back to Him. For some folks, the gracious message of love and forgiveness, new life and cleansing, is what draws them back to the faith or to Christ for the first time. For me, the fear of hell was very real and very terrifying. It spurred me on more than the idea that I could be forgiven, which I always took as a given.

Removing the concept of hell from our lexicon is removing an effective means of spurring people to salvation. It is also a gigantic and terrifying lie. If hell is a reality – and if we take the Scripture seriously it most certainly is – then we may be condemning people to that very place if we backhandedly assure them that they need not worry overmuch about the possibility of spending eternity there, because in the end everyone is saved and “love wins.” That is something I would not want to stand before God and explain on the Last Day.

Our Short Sale

Last week we closed on a short sale here in Virginia. Our house sold for about 158,000 dollars less than we paid for it. It lost that much in 4.5 years. Some lessons learned:

* The sale took about six months to complete. The process restarted at least once and the closing date was extended a few times.

* The banks are government-sized bureaucracies. The left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. You aren’t dealing with a person, but a system. One side was pushing along a foreclosure while the other was working with us on the short sale.

* We had to stop making our payment in order to play this game. Although our payment really was killing us, you can’t do anything until you fall behind. The bank only works with those who quit paying. For us, this was no huge loss as we wanted out of the house and had a good situation to get into on the other side. It made eminent sense for us to do this, but it’s not for everybody.

* We maintained our homeowners policy on the property and continued to pay utilities throughout the six months. The house was well-maintained and I think that helped us, although I’m not sure.

It is good to be free as Mr. Gallagher said!

As One Who Laments His Mother

I had one of those experiences in reading the Scripture today where a verse jumps out as if you had never read it before. I was in Psalm 35 and David says:

I prayed with head bowed on my bosom, as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;

I went about as one who laments his mother, bowed down and in mourning.

Since I lost my mother about six months ago, this acknowledgement of the grief involved in mourning a mother struck me. David knew the feeling, as we all will eventually if we outlive our parents.

Posted in meTagged

Shirley Ann (Moar) Wilhelm

1936 – 2010

Into thy hands, O merciful Savior, we commend the soul of thy servant, now departed from the body. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech thee, a sheep of thine own fold, a lamb of thine own flock, a sinner of thine own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of thy mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

Posted in me