Monday, October 30, 2006

Times and seasons...

With the exception of a possible Reformation Day post tomorrow (reflecting on the long-lasting changes for the world caused by the Reformation), I am going to take a one-week minimum hiatus from blogs. Completely. The Lord is calling me to lay it down, at least for now. I do not know how long the hiatus will be; it may last only a week, or it may be forever. His will is what matters at the moment. I need the time to reprioritize and make the very best possible use of my time; and He requires my time to be submitted to Him. God bless you all - make you walk in His perfect peace; may you have His unbounded wisdom; and may you draw ever closer to the heart of our Father, Our Savior, and our Comforter.

In Him,
- Chris

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Cross

Josh Harris writes in his Wednesday blog entry of the power of the cross - that it is only in the cross that our lives can be truly changed. None of our own efforts avail; none of our own strength suffices to bring us closer to God. Our own self-induced penances and penalties for sin are worthless for change. It is only God's grace - His perfect, unmerited favor - that changes our hearts and sets our lives on a new course. We're so aware of that in the big picture - but we tend to forget it in our day to day walks. We tend to see the cross in light of a one-time transformation, after which the process is up to us to complete. Only that view is completely wrong. Our weakness remains; the resistance of the flesh to the work of God stays with us until we are perfected at death, and it dies slowly and only through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. That is, by God's grace. The power of Christ's blood shed on the cross is not only that which saves us. It is also that which transforms us daily. More than anything, we ought to be humbled by that.

And humility is a process. It is not a destination. We ought to beware, lest we ever think we have arrived at humility - the moment we think that is the moment we step again into pride and arrogance. Trust me, I know from protracted and painful experience. We set our eyes again on our own accomplishment, and like that we've fallen again into the vicissitudes of arrogance and self-centeredness. But God is faithful! He brings conviction when we need it, and He sets us free anew. Praise Him for that, and never forget His grace, and the price He paid - the blood He shed - at Calvary so that we could be daily transformed.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

- Chris

Proverbs 27:6


NOTE: welcome to any possible visitors directed this way from Boundless Line; I hope you take the time to glance at other entries beside this one, and are blessed or encouraged in some way. :)

Okay, so this is just plain strange. A guy makes a robotic twin for himself. And you thought I, Robot was far out... you were wrong. (Excepting, of course, the intrinsic difficulty - impossibility? - of actually creating a neurological system capable of consciousness...)

- Chris

Friday, October 27, 2006

Review: The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov - considered by many to be Dostoevsky's greatest work, the novel is epic in proportion and demanding in its message. The book is a massive text, covering some 776 pages in my edition, putting it well over 400,000 words - perhaps closer to a half million. The text is demanding, requiring a level of literary sophistication and a willingness to persevere that are perhaps less common today than they were when the book was written in the latter years of the 1870's (it appeared first in serial form in Russia; Dostoevsky began work on it in 1878 and it's publication was completed in 1880). This is not to say that the reading is difficult - though long, and occasionally a bit laborious (one particular section of narrative midway through the novel comes to mind) - it continually holds the reader's attention. Given that this is a massive novel in which the central event occurs only after 400 pages of exposition and gradually rising action, this is no small feat. Such is the inventiveness of the prose and the quality of Dostoevsky's narrative, though. The pacing is phenomenal: while at times one hungers for the central moment of the book to come sooner, it is all the more delicious for having waited for it, having savored the growing tension in the setting, in the characters, and in the situations. There is a reason that The Brothers Karamazov has taken a place as one of the greatest works of literature in history.

The Brothers Karamazov is in some ways similar to one of Dostoevsky's earlier works, his only slightly less renowned Crime and Punishment. Both novels follow the course of men who plot, commit, and then suffer the grave consequences of murder. The similarity between the novels extends to Dostoevsky's prose, which is equally compelling in both texts, particularly with his emphasis on the psychological elements inherent in each case. There the similarities end, though. For in Crime and Punishment, the protagonist and really the only figure of the novel is the tragic Raskolnikov, whose rejection of traditional (Biblical) morality leads to his murder, and thence to a downward spiral culminating in an ultimate moment of choice, where at last he confesses his sin and sets out on the path to redemption via temporal punishment in Russia and eternal salvation in Christ. In The Brothers Karamazov, the accused did not even commit the murder; nor is he the protagonist (though he is certainly the central figure of the novel). In his final work, Dostoevsky follows Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov through the events as they occur; it is his father who is murdered, one of his brothers who is accused of murder, and the other of his brothers who ultimately helps sharpen the situation to a point where murder could occur. Crime and Punishment was a spartan affair, with little love to darken the recesses of Raskolnikov's mind. The Brothers Karamazov, on the other hand, is full of fiery passions and love triangles which drive the brothers and their father to ruin. Not one nor even two love triangles exist, but three, causing tension between all three of the eldest Karamazovs - Alexei's elder brothers and his father being the three men involved in the triangles - and causing havoc for Alexei as well. Crime and Punishment was about the murder of an old defenseless woman, at least on the surface. The Brothers Karamazov is about a parricide, at least on the surface. Underlying the texts, however, are deep and compelling themes of faith, love, and spirituality. In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky tackled the fundamental questions of the meaningfulness of faith in a modern world. His answer is a resounding affirmation that faith not only retains a place in modernity, but is essential to understanding and coping with the struggles caused by modernism's influence. In what proved to be a spectacularly visionary moment, he foresaw - and argued against - the postmodern ideologies that would be birthed and come to prominence only half a century after his death.

The narrative is broken into four sections. The first essentially functions as exposition of setting, characters, and the underlying mechanisms of the plot, as well as laying the foundations for the thematic development of each of the actors in the dramatic script. The second part includes most of the rising action, detailing the stormy affairs of the family Karamazov and setting each of the characters out along their respective arcs. The third part comprises the climax and the beginning of the falling action. Unsurprisingly, part four follows the falling action into a denouement, which is concluded in a brief epilogue. That Dostoevsky intended the work to be merely the first part in an epic saga is clear from this ending: while all the major plot and character lines are sufficiently resolved as to allow satisfaction, there is clearly more to be told, in both plot and character development. Stylistically, this is Dostoevsky's most bombastic work - for all that the subject matter is extremely heavy, and that the prose is thick, the novel is nevertheless full of its own grandeur, and simultaneously aware of its inherent inability to capture all of Dostoevsky's intended nuance. His narrator is just that - a third-person omniscient narrator who observed all the events, and chooses to record some in some ways, and other in other ways. The narrator himself has any number of idiosyncrasies, as do each of the characters, in their mode of speech, from which entire theses could be constructed with little difficulty. This narrator consistently comments on his own inability to tell the story properly, or indicates that he would bore his audience by committing to paper the particular details at hand, or even claims to have forgotten the particulars of the events in question. While this takes some adjustment initially, the voicing ultimately results in a certain personality and brilliance to the text that would be otherwise missing.

The book clearly advocates a Christian understanding of the world. Dostoevsky's experiences in wrestling with his own Christianity come through loud and clear in the various characters of Alexei Karamazov's father and brothers, who each embody a particular rejection of Christian truth (while Alexei himself remains ever true, despite his own struggles with doubts). This alone recommends the book, but far more compelling than Dostoevsky's affirmation of Christianity is that his art is so high that it commends the reader to Christianity while rarely straying into the realm of the didactic. Indeed, more often do the anti-Christian characters preach about the follies of believing than do the Christians about the virtues of faith. Yet through the course of the narrative, Dostoevsky makes clear which side has the ultimate hold on truth. In one particularly enlightening conversation between one of Alexei's brothers and the devil, Dostoevsky wittily (and apparently somewhat presciently) skewers the follies of moral relativism and postmodern thought, though they would not appear at all for a few decades and would not come into vogue until the advent of dada and deconstructionism in the 1920's - much less take hold as they would in the 1960's, nearly a century after Dostoevsky's writing. Such merits easily outweigh the few demerits of the text. Dostoevsky does occasionally veer off into thoroughly unnecessary details (though he certainly never gets so caught up in them as others [cf. Victor Hugo] have done), and at times his narrative loses its underlying coherency, but within 20 or 25 pages he quickly gets back on track. Even these sections have something to contribute, but they lack the finesse and thematic motion that the rest of the text so effortlessly conveys. It speaks highly of the book that the only demerits are such only in contrast with the brilliance of the rest of the text.

In short, The Brothers Karamazov was well-worth reading, and I give it my highest recommendation. Get the translation I just finished - by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky - as it does the best job of any I've found of capturing the nuance of Dostoevsky's original text in the transition to English. Take one Christmas or summer break and dedicate yourself to it; it will be more than worth the effort. As a work of literature, it is unparalleled in my reading. As a work of art, it is matched only by the grandeurs of the greatest of paintings, symphonies, etc. As a testament to Christianity's resolute answer to the challenges of secularism, it is surpassed only by Scripture and a few instances of brilliance in non-fiction. This book ought to be required reading in every high school in the nation.

- Chris

Blog recommendation

Hugh Hewitt's blog is full of some pretty savvy commentary on politics and the state of the United States (Amanda - don't read it unless you want to get grumpy at me!). He comments quite a bit both on politics in general and their impact on the state of the family in the US in particular, and comes from a position fairly friendly to the Christian community (I'm pretty sure he's a Christian himself, but it's not something he focuses on that much, as it's not the point of either his columns or blog). Enjoy the reading!

- Chris

Thursday, October 26, 2006


More conviction, more boldness, more heart for God, more heart for the lost.

More shift in my paradigm.

Grace and peace be with all of you. I'll try to sum up tomorrow evening, as well as probably putting up a review of The Brothers Karamazov, which I finished (at long last!) last night. And I think there's something else that I'm forgetting, but as I'm forgetting it, I'll have to wait until I remember it to tell you what it is.

Philippians 1:29, 3:7-15

- Chris

Interview with the President

Don't think the President is real? Don't think he understands the gravity of the situation in Iraq, or is really trying to do the very best he can by both us and the Iraqi people? You're wrong, then. Go here, and you'll see what I mean.

And pray for him to have wisdom.

- Chris

Four percent

A rather big deal has been made of late about the decline of Bible-believing Christians with some notable sources taking note and commenting on the apparent dearth of Biblical Christians among the youth. The point that has been causing the most friction is Ron Luce's claim that only 4-5% of today's young adult Christians are going to be Bible-believing Christians. That's a tiny percentage, obviously, and the validity of the statistics has come under criticism from various sources. It's important to note, however, that whatever the validity of this particular set of statistics, it rings true with others (Josh McDowell found a few years ago, for example, that less than 10% of Christian teenagers believed the Bible was the absolutely true word of God), and more importantly, even if it's off by a factor of 5 (not likely!) that'd still be less than a quarter of the church that believes in the validity of Scripture.

Ben Witherington's blog entry on the topic addresses the issue quite adroitly, and effectively argues that more Scripture, more theology, and more real substance is what's ultimately needed here - not the decreasing amounts all-too-often advocated by people thinking that compromising with culture will gain converts. He writes:

My word today to Youth Ministers is this--- one key to retaining the youth is this--- have they been captivated, caught up in love, wonder and praise of the Lord, or have they merely been entertained? There is a difference. Does the event not merely make them dance but make them kneel and confess their sins and pray? Does the event not merely move their emotions but challenge their thinking? Does it bring them to repentance, or are you offering some kind of forgiveness without repentance, crown without a cross, encounter without commitment? And are you integrating them into a caring Christian community where they will be planted deeply, richly in God's Word? The key to retention is surrounding a new Christian with a caring, supportive and yes challenging Christian environment that involves more than just worship. It also needs to involve some profound Christian education, as our youth will never get that from our culture these days. Youth ministry is often failing because in general the Church's Christian education is failing. Less than a third, on average, of people who go to worship stay for Sunday school or Bible study or its equivalent. We should have noticed this warning sign a long time ago.

I highly recommend reading the rest of the blog, if you have time. It's worth the minutes it will take you to get through it. It's certainly something we need to be attentive to - and something we need to address. Christian teens and young adults are leaving because they're not having their questions answered. We ought to be answering. And people my age (that very same age group) ought to be among those stepping up with the kind of intellectual response that questioning people need. Tired, trite responses with no Scriptural, theological power to them are not going to keep people in the body.

- Chris

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Meditation on the greatness of God

He is God.

Do we really remember what that means?

He is great. He is awesome. He is magnificent. He is more fantastic than any human mind can ever comprehend. He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. He is before creation was and now and is now and is when the world comes to an end. He made everything - the highest mountain, the lowest abyss of the sea; the greatest of galaxies and the tiniest of particles; the simplest creature, and you. He is Beginning, He is End. He is merciful and loving and kind; He is just and righteous, holy and wrathful. His favor never ceases; his grace is deeper than the sea and higher than any mountain. He meets every need, heals every wound, dries every crying eye. He reigns forever, enthroned with the world as His footstool. He is the Holy One, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords - and He is our Father.

He is Yahweh.

He is I AM.

He is Messiah.

He is All in All.

He is Father God; He is Christ Jesus the Son; He is the Holy Spirit, our Teacher and Comforter.

My God is great enough to save even those who have rejected Him; He has the strength to heal our wounded souls. My God is God Almighty, He is without comparison. No other god compares in greatness, in mercy, in splendor and majesty, in love, in holy and righteous judgment, in grace - no other god compares in every way or even in any way. There is no room for other "truths:" my God is truth. There is no other way to heaven: He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to God but by Jesus Christ. There is no other spiritual experience that is valid: the Holy Spirit alone is divine; every other spirit is a source of deception.

He is God.

Do we really remember what that means?

- Chris


I apologize for not posting yesterday. It was a very odd day; I was unusually unproductive on all fronts, save for performing my civic duty by filling out my absentee ballot for the November 7 US election. Please go vote!

I'll probably have a good post tonight. Until then, grace and peace be with all of you!

- Chris

Monday, October 23, 2006

Meditation on rest

A brief meditation:

To sleep is perhaps to rest, though resting need not involve sleep. Which is good, because all too often we haven't the hours to sleep as much as perhaps we ought. But to rest - to rest is to cimply be at peace, to wait in a state that allows one's body to refresh itself, to be renewed. Conversation can be as restful as sleep sometimes. So can staring at a starry sky. So can walking in the rain with a friend. Rest is a gift. It was given to us for our good, because our Father - who gives only good gifts, and who alone gives truly good gifts - knew that we would need it, and in the goodness of His heart, blessed us with it.

When was the last time you rested? Truly, deeply, rested? Not just slept, not just sat and watched a movie, not just read a book (those are all wonderful things, and can be rest, but are not inherently), but actually let go, let your mind settle on God alone in quiet meditation as you did whatever you were doing?

Rest and peace are partners. If peace is simply knowing God - truly and deeply - then perhaps rest is simply letting Him be God in your life, no matter the circumstances. No matter how busy we may be, we can be rested in Christ.

Go in peace. Be refreshed by your communion with Almighty God. And don't forget how marvelous a thing it is to be able to have fellowship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

- Chris

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Let me explain... no, that would take too long. Let me sum up.

Time to summarize my last month or so from every vantage point available to me. Some of this will be old, but it's my processing of everything for the e-mail I sent to friends and family from my church back in Colorado Springs, but edited for this presentation.

My arm almost never hurts anymore, which is a huge blessing. I'm finally starting to get caught back up on school things, and to actually feel confident about my grades being relatively good this semester. None of them are horrid at this point, but I am definitely going to have to push to get them up in a more comfortable range for maintaining scholarships. By God's grace, I am getting there, though it's definitely requiring a great deal of work. That's okay; if it were easy we wouldn't pay people to teach it to us!

This weekend is a huge blessing, in that I have very little homework I actually have to do - and thus I'm using it to get ahead in some areas, and to simply catch up on some rest, which is very much needed. My last few weekends have been extremely busy, and thus the weeks in between have as well. Last week, as most of you are aware, my parents came out and visited, which was fantastic. Our time was extremely blessed, and I was very encouraged by it. The Lord provided a great deal of clarity regarding many issues I've been facing regarding my future, and also helped me to see that it's okay to just sit and wait on His timing (I'm beginning to see this as a recurring theme in my life right now - not least because it was also the topic of this week's speaker at BSU). And there are many areas I simply have to wait and trust the Lord in right now.

For me, I'd appreciate your prayers for me in that area as I have to simply be steady in pursuing this degree - I'm feeling very burned out with physics in a lot of ways right now, and really enjoying other things a lot more (like writing on here, what with the opportunity to simply read and research and think about things I am fascinated by). I know God has a perfect way for me, and I'm simply having to trust Him and continue following Him in the midst of my own frustrations. At times it becomes very hard to wait on His timing, because I just want to jump in and go - never mind that His timing will be so much better than mine. I've learned that lesson all too well from the past. At least the Spirit is faithful to bring all of that to remembrance when I begin to struggle.

The weekend before that, we had a three-day weekend thanks to the OU-Texas game. Six of my friends and I thus took a three-day trip to Arkansas and drove around exploring the Ozarks. I was extremely blessed in the time, and it was very refreshing (though not terribly restful!). I have to say that the Ozarks are the only place I've seen that's as pretty as Colorado, and they're pretty in a very different way. The best way of articulating the difference that my friends and I could find was to note that the Rockies have a more masculine, rugged beauty about them, and the Ozarks have a much softer, more tender, feminine beauty about them. It was a wonderful, wonderful time, getting "lost" (we knew generally but not specifically where we were at several different points in the trip, and it was actually pretty fun), finding our way back, just enjoying the incredible splendor of God's creation. It's easy to see why so many people just fell in love with and stayed in the Ozarks back when the US was being settled: it's a positively gorgeous area. Words fail me.

The time was also good in a spiritual sense, as the Lord continued building on things He had begun working in my heart about a week earlier. I can honestly say that I have never been so challenged and so convicted on such a regular basis as I have over the last several months. And every time I think it can't possibly get more intense, it does - until I'm now expecting it, and slowly ( very slowly) coming to appreciate what God is doing in my life by pushing me so much. Nearly a month ago, I had a horrible week. It was frightening and humbling to realize just how much of my own flesh still remains in me, and it led to a greater degree of brokenness than I've ever known before. The Spirit has been faithful, beginning that night, and continually ever since, to remind me of just how utterly inadequate I am. All my strengths, talents, etc. are utterly useless to honor God, to advance His kingdom. I am nothing in and of myself.

This has been one of the hardest - but most encouraging - processes I have ever been through spiritually. We never want to admit our own weakness, and particularly we do not want to admit that we have nothing to offer God. He's finally been able to start teaching me what Paul meant about being the worst of sinners, what Isaiah meant when he wrote that all our righteousness is filthy rags before God. And more importantly, He's showing me just how little I still know of those things. There is so much farther I have to go in that, as in every area.

Just this past Thursday, the Spirit gave me even more understanding on that point, as He has been all the time - this time opening my eyes to just how self-centered my walk with Christ has been. I have such a horrible tendency to make everything about my spiritual walk about me, instead of about Him. And because of that, I am all too often largely impotent for the Kingdom. We cannot avail anything - we can have no impact on the lives of those around us - when we essentially worship ourselves by requiring that our study of the word be about how to make our own lives better, when we expect to get an emotional rush out of times of worship, when we make Christianity a religion about ourselves instead of a surrendering of ourselves in personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Again, it's so humbling - but so necessary, and so very good - to come to that place of greater brokenness. And finally I'm starting to really hunger for more brokenness.

The Lord is continuing to make opportunity to share with others: in the lives of the guys I'm discipling, in the lives of the guys coming to the Bible study I co-lead, in the lives of the non-Christians around me. I simply pray that the Lord will continue to open doors, and then to give me wisdom of the words to speak - of the WORD to speak, for the word truly is what convicts, not our own wisdom. I'm excited to see what the Holy Spirit does in these people's lives in the years ahead.

I think that sums up most everything going on with me at this point - if I left anything out, it's okay, because this is already a monster of a post (well... okay, to be fair, it's no longer than others I've posted, but it's still long). I love you all, and pray the Lord's blessing for all of you. And I'll see most of you in just four and a half weeks! Grace and peace be with you in everything.

- Chris

One day missing

I didn't post yesterday, but I intend to rectify that completely later today.

- Chris

Thursday, October 19, 2006

In the mirror

I looked in the spiritual mirror tonight, and to be honest, I was disgusted with what I saw. Selfishness and self-centeredness rampant in my heart, in my thoughts, in my mind. It's revolting. Is this what God called me to? Is this the level of dedication to Him that He's called me to? When I looked in the mirror spiritually this evening, I found myself deeply saddened that, rather than focus on glorifying Him, my focus has been on doing what is convenient and easiest or best for my own personal agenda. Where does He fit into that agenda? On the periphery, at best. I'm reminded of the message given by Dudley McAlister at the beginning of the year - indeed, at our very first Paradigm meeting for the Baptist Student Union. He asked usto consider where God fit in our lives: were we living lives with God, or were we living lives for God, unto God? Honestly, looking back - looking now - I'd have to say that the majority of the time for me, it tends to be and have been life with God, not for Him. And that's a tragedy. It's certainly not what He has called me to, and it's certainly not the best of what He has for me. No, instead I ought to be operating in lowliness of mind; I ought to be looking out also for the interests of others (Phil. 2:3-4). Above all, I ought to be seeking to glorify the name of Christ Jesus in everything I do. Nothing else is even really worth living for.

And as I stopped - and stop again now as I write this - to consider that, I'm also struck by this: how much greater a difference can we make for the Kingdom if we'll just get over ourselves? I find myself increasingly saddened by the fact that we as Christians allow ourselves to be so spiritually impotent by becoming so focused on ourselves. I let Paradigm be about me, I let my personal study be about me, I let the Adams-Johnson Bible study I help lead be about me, I let Trinity be about me, I let worship be about me, I let praying be about me, I let everything be about me! Enough! The call of the cross is to die to ourselves. The Holy Spirit enables us to do it. So why aren't we? Why am I not dying to myself? God's glory and His kingdom deserve my attention. Worship is about Him. The Bible study is about Him. Paradigm is about Him. Trinity is about Him. Prayer is about Him. We do these things to see the Kingdom of God advanced, and to honor the name of Jesus Christ. If we're doing them for any other reason at all, then we're doing them for the wrong reasons. Especially if we're doing them to better ourselves.

Will we ultimately benefit from doing the things that God has called us to? Yes, we will. Should that be our reason for doing them? I have to answer that question with a resounding, Scriptural, "NO!"

Praise be to the Holy Spirit for His faithfulness to bring me conviction. I pray He bring you peace and grace, and that you walk in the wisdom from above, which is foolishness to man. God bless, and good night.

- Chris

Important Correction!

As an important correction, when I posted that it was Colorado Amendment 44 that pertained to marriage, I was in error. Amendment 43 is the marriage amendment. The original post has been amended to reflect the correct numbering on the amendment. My apologies!

- Chris

Quick link

I meant to post this last night with my analysis of the marriage figures, but somehow missed it. For the actual raw Census data being referenced, go here. Specifically, I took a look at the US data sheet on this page. I'm sure most of you will probably skip reading it, and with good reason, but I wanted it to be available easily if anyone wanted it!

I'll be back later with a real post!

- Chris

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Recommended reading

Well, I've found a number of new sites to recommend to all of you. First, I direct you to Josh Harris' blog, which is excellent reading. Harris remains one of the most Godly authors I have ever read on the topics of dating, courtship, sexuality, and male-female relationships in general. He also has an excellent grasp of theology and the importance of the cross in every part of our lives (his book on dealing with lust, for example, dealt with it in a way focused on the redeeming power of the cross rather than on human willpower - a significant difference from most books on the topic).

Alex Chediak's blog also seems to be excellent reading all around, and he seems to have an excellent grasp on the underlying realities and truths of our situation as fallen beings who are redeemed and now being sanctified. Good stuff there, and lots of references to things I've been referencing, which is always fun to see. I can't speak for his book or the rest of the website, but the blog is good.

Last but certainly not least are two excellent posts on a blog called Theophilus, one in response to the free grace movement, and one on questions we ought to ask in evaluating songs for worship. Both essays are excellent, but be warned, they are long (particularly the response to "free grace" theology; it clocks in at over 16,000 words). I can't say I completely agree with all of his points in the response to free grace theology 100% - he is clearly Calvinist/Reformed in his leanings, and I am not - but with that exception, I can wholeheartedly recommend his work as a solid, thoroughly Biblical refutation of the fallacies inherent in the arguments of the free grace movement. The essay on questions about worship songs is dead on the money, so far as I'm concerned. Enjoy.

- Chris

As promised...

As I promised, I went ahead and did some independent research on the response made by Michael Medved to the claim of 49.7% marriage rates in the U.S. As expected, I confirmed his results. A massive number of the people not in marriages are simply people living alone - 26.9%, in fact. Comparing that to married persons puts the number of married persons in the US at almost 4 times higher than that of those living alone, unmarried. It's simple math, but math that the media has chosen not to do in the interest of supporting the idea that traditional marriage is outmoded and fading - that is, in the interest of supporting the redefinition of marriage.

What is perhaps most frustrating to me is how little people have done to clarify their understanding of the actual data. Websites like this one simply present the data in a raw form, without any context, historical or otherwise, and then irresponsibly misconstrue the information:

In 1930, fully 84 percent of American households included a married couple.

The 20th century, however, saw momentum build within such anti-marriage trends as fornication and out-of-wedlock parenthood, cohabitation, divorce, single parenthood and homosexuality—at the same that the stigma against all of these phenomena shriveled. Thus, over that period, the number of marriageless households increased, and the percentage of married households dropped: By 1990 it was 56 percent; in 2000 it was still 52 percent.

This is - or rather, ought to be - unacceptable treatment of something as important as the truth about the situation of American families. While the analysis has a certain amount of truth in it, it ultimately ignores essential facts that make the comparison rather fallacious. In the 1930's, it was hardly common for widowers and widows to live on decades past the deaths of their spouses. Today, it's quite common. I agree that there has been cultural erosion against the institute of marriage, but between the reality of the numbers given by this data, and the fact that marriage is actually stabilizing and in some ways becoming more important to people (cf. this years State of Our Unions report), we need to realize that the situation is not nearly so dire as it might be - as indeed it is in other parts of the world. And for that we ought to be immensely grateful.

On a related note, many states have constitutional amendments and or ballot provisions regarding marriage coming up this fall. I ask you to pray about exactly how God wants you to vote for candidates in terms of their support for (or opposition to) the defense of traditional marraige. I believe it's already clear how we ought to be voting on the aforementioned amendments (Amendment 43 and Referendum I in Colorado; I don't know the information for elsewhere).

- Chris


This caught my attention while reading Michael Medved's column today on

That’s one of the reasons that so many Americans so readily accept the pernicious lie of the 50% divorce rate, despite the most recent (2001) Census Bureau figures showing that 71% of first marriages last till one of the partners die (see my blog from Monday). [emphasis mine]

I'm honestly not entirely sure what to do with that, other than go look and see if I can't find some confirmation. From his blog Monday after new Census figures came out:

This interpretation of the data is ridiculous, manipulative and profoundly misleading at a time when statistics show that at least 85% of Americans will eventually marry, and that more than 60% of U.S. adults above the age of 25 are currently married. Most unmarried adults are aging widows and widowers (a rapidly increasing number) or else young people below age 25 who haven’t yet married, but expect to get hitched eventually.

So what, exactly, are the “experts” talking about when they suggest that married people are now “outnumbered?”

The New York Times announces this conclusion in the following way: “Married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority…The American Community Survey, released recently by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7%, or 55.2 million, of the nation’s 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples….”

This may sound worrisome, until you realize that this highly touted figure involves households, not individuals.

To get some sense of the difference, imagine a block on a suburban cul de sac that includes six homes. Three of them are occupied by married couples; the other three are in inhabited by an elderly widow, living alone; a struggling single mom with her kids, and a swinging bachelor with a succession of glamorous dates. In other words, there are a total of six households on “Wisteria Court” and, like the national figures, only half of them feature married couples. But of the nine adults (total) who reside on this block, two thirds are currently married.

This little example illustrates the deceptive, dishonest way that major news outlets have decided to trumpet the new figures. Counting “households” as discrete units, two people who have been married for a long time are balanced by a single person who’s never yet married. The current decline in married couples as a percentage of all households reflects demographic factors concerning the huge baby boom generation: with more boomers counting as officially “unmarried” because they’re victims of divorce, or else widows and widowers.

The rest of the blog entry is well-worth reading. And, as I said, I intend to go looking for confirmation of this from independent sources as well as by looking at the data myself. (I'll get back to you on that later today, hopefully.) This information needs to get out, and quickly, because it says a great deal about the realities in our culture versus our perceived realities - and this at least is something that ought to be very encouraging to Christians attempting to make a difference in their culture.

- Chris

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

To provoke a little thought

The United States today officially passed the 300 million persons mark according to the US Census Bureau. That's not counting illegal aliens in the US, of course, who pushed us past that number quite some time ago, by most estimates (given there are at least 12 million undocumented aliens here, you can extrapolate back a ways to figure out just how long ago if you feel so inclined). It seems like a lot of people... but as noted by the folks over at The Boundless Line, it really isn't, and in fact, our population, like that of Europe and Japan, is actually on its way to declining.

In the short term, our population will continue to rise, particularly as it is bolstered by the more traditionally family-oriented immigrants coming here from largely Asian and Latino backgrounds. Longterm, however, we're headed for the same situation as Japan and Europe, whose birth rates have fallen significantly in recent years, and now sit well below the replacement rate (which sits somewhere around 2.3 children per home). This is, of course, part of the ongoing reason for the Social Security "crisis" (there are many opinions as to the magnitude of that particular issue, and this post, at least, is not the place to go into them), and it will almost certainly cause other significant issues to arise in our future that we have not faced yet.

More importantly, though, as Candice Watters and Ted Slater variously hinted at and more directly pointed out in their blog entries today, they reflect a shift in our cultural mentality - far more visibly pronounced in Europe and Japan - that ought to capture our attention. In short, we are on the fast track to becoming a culture of death (some, like Ramesh Ponuru, would argue not only that we are headed that way but that in many parts of the country we are already there). This is disturbing on all number of levels. The Netherlands, for example, already have many cases of forced "assisted suicide" - that is, murder - by the very doctors once sworn by Hippocratic Oath to protect life. People supporting euthanasia nearly always conveniently overlook this fact, either from willful disregard or from forced ignorance. Abortion, too, is a significant issue in this culture of death, and will remain so. When we nihilistically value ourselves to the exclusion of anyone around us, it is all but inevitable that we will find ourselves (as we have) in a culture dedicated to "therapeutic" death. The Romans found themselves at the bottom of the slope we now tread in the days before their ultimate end. How much farther have we to fall?

- Chris

An ongoing war

We are at war. I was reminded of this rather strikingly today by some commentary by Betsy Childs of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Today's Slice of Infinity column has made me ponder once more the role that we as believers play in this ongoing battle. And I'm not talking about the "War on Terror" in any of its guises, nor even of the ongoing battle for our culture - though both of those are extremely important. No, I speak instead of spiritual battle, of Christ's Kingdom against the kingdom of Satan and of this world. I speak of the great conflict, ages old, that will one day be ended utterly and completely by Christ's victory and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. We are at war, and we dare not forget it.

As Childs notes, it's easy to think of ourselves as somehow less important than those we perceive to be on the front lines - the pastors, missionaries, evangelists, etc. But we are not. We are all part of one body - some more visible than others, but nevertheless coequal in our responsibility to fight for the kingdom, to be active. Nowhere in Scripture is there a picture of people in the Kingdom not being on the front lines of battle. Rather, the text pictures every single Christian as being a front-lines warrior, standing in battle for the sake of the advancement of the gospel and the destruction of the kingdom of this world. That means that those of us not in "full-time ministry" need to remember that we are in full-time ministry, and that our ministry is in no way less important than that of those who have been given a call to have their jobs be called ministry. Our jobs, our classes, our vacations - every part of our lives is to be actively advancing the Truth. Childs quotes John Piper from Desiring God, and I will do the same:

"There is a war going on. All talk of a Christian's right to live luxuriantly 'as a child of the King' in this atmosphere sounds hollow--especially since the King himself is stripped for battle. It is more helpful to think of a 'wartime' lifestyle than a merely 'simple' lifestyle. Simplicity can be very inward directed, and may benefit no one else. A wartime lifestyle implies that there is a great and worthy cause for which to spend and be spent" (2 Corinthians 12:15).

(Note - he's not paraphrasing 2 Corinthians here, but referencing it.) He is absolutely correct: we ought to have about us the menatlity of participants - extremely important participants - in the ongoing struggle for spiritual dominance. We, unlike the soldiers in an ordinary war, know the ultimate outcome of the conflict definitely and distinctly. But far from allowing ourselves to slack off because of that, we should be encouraged to press on all the harder, that the victory might ultimately be even greater - that more souls be added to the Kingdom, that more hearts be won for Christ.

It's time for us to pick up our swords and fight.

- Chris

Monday, October 16, 2006

Thoughts on death and sundry other topics

I spoke tonight with a friend whose grandmother just passed away. The details are private, and certainly need no going into here before all the world; my friend's grief is too personal for that. Suffice it to say that, as any of us would, this friend is struggling immensely with the questions posed by a death coming relatively quickly and unexpectedly: "Why?" is of course among them, but so is, "Couldn't there have been some warning? Shouldn't we have had the chance to know that the last time we saw her would be our last this side of eternity?" Grief for one who has passed is such a strange thing. On the one hand, we rejoice for those who die if they are saved - and this woman definitely is - but there remains in us an undeniable and irrefutable sense that This is not what ought to be.

C. S. Lewis argued in Mere Christianity that our own heart's responses to various situations tell us a great deal about reality - that is, that if we have a desire for spirituality, it is because the spiritual exists (he uses the analogy that if we are hungry, it is because there is such a thing as food; if we are sexually driven, it is because there is such a thing as sex, and so forth - his analogy, not mine). I think the same thing can be said of our experiences with death in many regards. Our hearts fundamentally reject this notion of people being torn from us. Although at a rational level, we are aware that all people die at some point in time, our reason and our intellect are incapable of overcoming the sheer flood of emotion that arises in times of loss. We grieve. We mourn. We inexplicably (but unavoidably) have in us this unbearable sensation that a part of us is torn away, that something has gone horribly amiss, that this is not what ought to be. Why? Reason has no answer in and of itself, except insofar as it points us to God and His Answer.

I have yet to hear a compelling - or even remotely plausible - naturalistic explanation for the phenomenon of grief. There is no reason for it to exist, that emotional reaction that inhibits normal functioning for weeks at the barest minimum, that informs our every waking thought for months to come, that shapes the course of our lives forever. The only answer I have ever heard which in any way makes sense is that provided by the Biblical narrative. We mourn and grieve because we know that this really is not what was meant to be. Life is what ought to be; instead we find death - a jarring, disorienting shift from all our preconceptions. We cannot begin to comprehend not existing as we do now; we cannot ever truly wrap our minds around the fact that we will not live forever as we are. Every person I have ever spoken with has, at some level, had the same basic (seemingly irrational) sense that they do not plan on dying. Nor should they - because our natural state (by which I mean our original state) is to not die. If we feel that way, it is because it is so.

We were not meant for carnality, for temporality, but rather for eternity. We were not created as beings of mere decaying flesh, but as beings of undying spirit. And we know this at a fundamental level, know it so strongly that when death comes rushing in to contradict our feeble grasp at eternity, we simply are unable to understand it. The interruption is so abrupt - no matter how gradual the passing, it seems to always be a surprise - and the shock so severe that our minds simply refuse to process that the person is ultimately and utterly gone. Again, when we ask, at a rational level, why this reaction exists, we are left with two choices - (a) it is the sheer chance product of forces operating without regard to morality or sympathy for those in the system, or (b) humanity was not created with death in mind.

All of this is ultimately academic, though, unless we remember that it is a real God we are dealing with, capable of solving real problems in the real world with real people. Like you and me. And this is a problem that we created, but that He solved, using the real Person of Himself the Son incarnate, fully God and fully man, overcoming death for our sake. For our sake. Death is not natural; it is not what we were created for - and it no longer rules us. My friend's grandmother is alive right now, with Christ Jesus for all eternity. In some ways, I envy that woman: no more pain, no more sorrow, no more sin, no more death; everything that is so horribly wrong in this world is completely made right for her. One day we will all be on that side - eagerly should we await the day!

I ask that, as the Lord leads, you would pray for my friend and her family as they deal with this situation. And I ask that you carefully consider how you live your life - is it kingdom-focused and kingdom-led? Or is it merely the sum of your own personal wants and desires? I know that all often, mine is the latter, rather than the former. And it's (still) time to (continue) change(-ing) that. Praise be to God, for whom "[we] have been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in His name, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29). Walk in peace, in strength, in Godliness and virtue!

- Chris

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I apologize that I haven't written anything worthwhile since Thursday. I don't see that pattern changing until Monday night. What with my parents here and my still having the responsibility to maintain my coursework, I haven't time to post at length at the moment. Monday I'll return to my normal form.

Our Father's perfect peace be with you, guarding your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

- Chris

Friday, October 13, 2006


My parents got here tonight. There was a lot of good conversation, and it was generally just very good to see them. I also spent a while talking with the inimitable Chris Goree this afternoon, and that was - as always - a blessing. Between the three of them, I've gained a lot of wisdom and perspective on the things I've been dealing with over the last many weeks, and that is a blessing.

I would write more, but I have several phone calls to make this evening, one at least not trivial in length in all probability. Peace be with you all!

- Chris

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Forced to reconsider

Today I got to witness God moving in a friend's life in a powerful way, doing some amazing freeing and unchaining of the variety I've seen he needs for a while, and have thus been praying for. It's always such an encouragement, and it humbled and amazed me again to see just how faithful God is to move in our lives, how faithful He is to change us - to set us free from all the things of our flesh that bind us - if we're seeking Him. As always, it brought me near to tears to see His mercy and the direct action of the the Holy Spirit in the life of a friend, even as it does to see it in my own life. There is a certain unexplainable and incommunicable joy at seeing the Holy Spirit at work, and as He continues to give me a heart for those around me that mirrors His heart for them, I continue to be ever-more moved to see Him working.

So I was yet again forced to think about things from God's perspective rather than mine today... and I'm still in the process of sorting a lot of it out. Today, it was about what I'm supposed to do with my life. Really, that's something that's sort of been eating at me for a few weeks, but I only realized today what it was that was actually getting at me. The nagging, annoying thing that was bothering me a few weeks ago was this. I realized, thanks to an extended conversation with my music composition professor, that a great deal of my troubledness of mind of late has come because I have not been at peace or content in this semester. I have found myself increasingly disconnected from the musical world, which saddens me greatly, because I love composition. Physics has increasingly dominated my life, and kept me from pursuing some of my other passions, including writing and composing. (I know the former may be hard to believe given my output on this blog, but this is something I have chosen to do in spite of my lack of time for it, not because I actually have the time for it - I have had to make the time for it.) And that has been something which has troubled me: should these things which God has given me such a passion, such a talent, and (at least so far as I've perceived to this point) such a calling to exercise, get pushed aside simply because of the demands of physics?

Honestly, I don't really know the full answer to that question yet. Part of my difficulty arises in that God has gifted me in such a way that essentially anything I set my mind to I can do well at. A conversation with my physics professor from last year, a very Godly man in touch with the Holy Spirit (something I cannot say of my music professor, in spite of his good intentions) was edifying and encouraging. First, he pointed out that the difficulty I'm experiencing here is normal for a sophomore physics student, and also noted several peculiarities about my particular circumstance that further aggravate the frustration and sense of burn-out for me. Not least was his observation that the lab class I'm enrolled in takes considerable time and contributes significantly to my stress level. He also noted that giving myself time to really see where physics goes from here will help me to see if it's ultimately where God is leading me - and reminded me, thankfully (though to my chagrin for not simply resting on it in the first place) that given that the Holy Spirit is leading me, I know my destination is assured. It was also encouraging to be reminded that, even if I don't ultimately end up as a physicist professionally, having a physics degree is not terribly limiting regarding other job opportunities; and he demonstrated that particularly as I gain a vision of where I'm going after school, there are choices I can make regarding physics that will allow me to either emphasize it or emphasize other pursuits to equip me for where I'm headed. Next semester should bring some clarity, because in all likelihood, I'll be in only one physics class - the rest will be music and humanities. If nothing else, the break should help immensely with the sense of burnout, and it should provide some clarity for what the true desires God has put on my heart are. I'm exceedingly grateful to God for the gift that Dr. Strauss is and has been to me.

Ultimately, of course, this comes back to needing to be fully reliant on the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom, not leaning in any measure on my own understanding. Looking back, while I don't believe that I wasn't supposed to have done the things I've done in pursuing physics, right here at OU, I also don't think that I necessarily did so in the most Godly way. I decided, almost on a whim, near the beginning of high school, that I wanted to be a physicist, simply because I liked the idea of it. I never really prayed about it. Ever. Not when I made the decision, and not at any point thereafter, until early this year when I ran into a crisis not terribly dissimilar from the one in which I've found myself of late. I don't think at any point I ever really stopped to consider where else I would go besides physics or music either - though as I now consider it, there are plenty of other open doors should God lead me to them. This is yet another area, I'm coming to realize, where I have to completely let go of my own strengths, my own understanding, my own wants, and simply follow God, acknowledging my own utter inadequacy - in this case, to chart a path for myself. It is a good place to come to, and by the grace of Christ, the Holy Spirit continues to require me to understand more and more what my inadequacy means, and what brokenness before Him and surrender to His will really mean. Being broken is the greatest thing that can ever happen to a human being, because only when our misshapen and wrongly cast bones have been rebroken can they heal properly - and that is as true spiritually as it is physically.

Our Lord be with you. May He keep you in His perfect peace; may His Spirit guide you in all.

- Chris

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Update, and holding hands

I know, that probably seems an odd title for a blog post. And it's still not my real blog post. It may be next week before I can manage a normal, lengthy update - unless one just comes out in the middle of overloading on homework before this, another busy weekend. Last weekend, you see, was the OU-Texas game, for which all OU and Texas students get three-day weekends (thanks to long-standing tradition of students not showing up anyway, basically). A bunch of my friends and I went to Arkansas (you can see some pictures from the trip here on one of my friends' blogs), which was amazing. I plan on doing a writeup of it - next week, because this weekend, my parents are coming to visit. Which is going to be awesome, because I haven't seen them in two months. The consequences, however, include not having much time at all in which to do homework over the few days they're here, because I'll want to maximize my time with them (obviously!). In short, I have a great deal of homework to do, and very little time in which to do it.

In lieu, then, of a full-length blog update, I'm simply going to once again point you in the direction of some other interesting reading, this particular reading being on the topic of holding hands. Yesterday, one of Boundless Line's contributors, Motte Brown, wrote a short post discussing the importance of holding hands. I'm not sure I entirely agree with him - nor with the sentiments expressed in the article referenced therein - in the context of a committed pursuit relationship (though I'm not sure I disagree, either - I think this is more a personal conviction area) but I do agree that holding hands, like all physical contact outside marriage, ought to be thought about very seriously. Following up Motte's post with a post of his own today, Ted Slater posts challengingly to truly value holding hands.

Speaking from my own limited dating experience, and from the conversations I've had with a few friends, I have to agree that holding hands is a powerful and meaningful physical symbol of commitment to and affection for one's "significant other." We ought to treat it as such, not so casually as we often do.

- Chris

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Worth reading

For all of you who have been following the ongoing situation with former Representative Foley, and the ongoing media coverage regarding the probe taking place in the Republican party - for any and all who have heard the many calls for Speaker of the House Hastert to resign, I recommend reading this blog entry for a breath of uncommonly good sense regarding the whole situation. In fact, I also recommend Michael Medved's blog as a whole - he's a Jewish author and radio commentator who has one of the best minds I've seen, and who consistently supports Christians. Worth keeping an eye on.

More later regarding my own life.

- Chris

Monday, October 9, 2006

Another movie

I've (obviously) not yet seen this movie, but a company called gener8tion entertainment is putting out a film based on the Biblical story of Esther. From what I can see of the trailer, it looks like it should be pretty good. This is the first film being distributed by Fox's new Foxfaith component, a group whose development I've been following over the last several months - basically, they looked at the market and said, "Hey, there's a huge group of Christians out there wanting good movies. Let's find some and deliver them to the market." Honestly, I don't care what their motivation is - profit is just fine, in my opinion - so long as their agenda is just the delivery of good movies. Interviews with them have suggested as much (I'll try to find the one in particular that I read last week regarding it sometime this evening after classes). This is no small-scale production by any means, though: the cast includes some very big names, including Peter O'Toole, John Rhys-Davies, John Noble, and Omar Sharif, to name the ones that stood out to me the most in the cast list. I'll probably be going to see it sometime early next week, and reviewing it at that point, but I wanted to give everyone the heads' up and ask you to prayerfully consider going to see it.

Grace and peace be with you this day.

- Chris

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Pray. Hard.

It appears that North Korea has (as long threatened) tested a nuclear warhead. The world is a different place than it was three hours ago. The country is led by a veritable madman; it has an inferiority complex, particularly as compared to its far wealthier southern neighbor and counterpart; and it has ties to terrorist organizations around the world.

Pray. Pray for wisdom for our leaders. Pray for reason to prevail - against both hysteria and underestimation of this situation. And don't forget that God is God. This doesn't surprise Him, and He is ultimately still in control of the world.

Peace be with all of you.

- Chris

Friday, October 6, 2006


If you want a testimony - if you need encouragement - to the power and the reality of Christian faith; if you want real evidence that it ultimately is superior to every other message, read this article at Boundless. Our God saves.

Good night, and I will be back in a few days!

- Chris

Thursday, October 5, 2006

So you know...

As a heads' up, I'm going to be out of town from tomorrow through Sunday (on a short trip to just enjoy being out and about in God's magnificent creation, in this case in the Ozarks), so I will probably not post again till Monday (Sunday's going to be very busy after I get back).

As always, may God keep you in His perfect peace; may you walk in His strength alone and His wisdom alone. Be blessed.

- Chris

Worth Considering

A few points worth considering, which have arisen from a combination of tonight's message at Paradigm, delivered by Cindy Owens (one of our staff at the Baptist Student Union), and this article I found linked from the Boundless Line.

Tonight's message was about honoring God by honoring those around us. The main thrust of Cindy's message was that we really do honor God by treating those around us in a way that is not merely respectful but actually honors them above ourselves (see Philippians 2:3-4, for example, or Ephesians 4:29-32). That includes not only those Christians who it's easy to love, but those Christians it is difficult to love, and non-Christians - both easy and hard to love. Perhaps especially the latter. How much do we do that, both in fellowship with other believers, and in our interactions with others who don't know Christ? And what kind of a difference would it make in our testimony if those around us consistently saw us laying down our lives both for those in our "easy" circles and those in our "hard" circles, if they saw us be servants to all?

On that note, we really ought to consider our relationships with members of the opposite sex with particular care and caution. Dare we treat those relationships lightly? Dare we trouble the waters that are so easily stirred, so easily disturbed? I think that we do far too often, far too callously, and far too unthinkingly. We fail to consider the outcome of our actions or our behavior. Guys, I'm mostly talking to you (though that doesn't excuse girls for the part they play in this): we tend to be the ones who will basically lead a girl on, enjoying the benefits of a particular friendship without any of the consequences of commitment. I personally have had it with that kind of mentality in our culture, and I have every intent of doing whatever God allows me to do to help change it. And that starts with our hearts as followers of Christ, being willing to surrender to Him and do things His way, in His strength, instead of our own. It means abandoning our normal ways of thinking and being renewed in our minds, not conformed to this world's pattern of doing things. It means charting new territory, and honoring the women in our lives - with our actions, and with our inactions; with our words and with our silences. Let's make a change, men. Let's earn women's respect. And let's do it by dealing with our own hearts first and foremost: dedicating ourselves once more to serve them, to live circumspectly with regard to them.

Grace and peace with all of you.

- Chris

Wednesday, October 4, 2006


I've been thinking a lot over the last few days about the concept our my own inadequacy. Last week was very difficult, as I believe I've mentioned. What I haven't gone into is the reasons why. There are several: my own exhaustion, spiritual attack both from my own flesh and from the demonic realm, and last (but most definitely most important) God allowing me to witness certain things about myself so that He could be better glorified. Namely, to witness the utter weakness and inadequacy of my own strength, to witness the utter fallenness of my flesh and to see the consequences of thinking that anything of myself is of worth or has any righteousness without His redeeming and restorative work in my heart.

I feel I have to preface my elaborated thoughts on this by directing you to this post of mine from a few months ago, when I really hit a brick wall in certain areas, a wall that God eventually used for great good and great growth in my life. I was consumed at the time with the futility of my own actions, and obsessed with my inadequacy to be effective in the lives of those around me. It was, however, an extremely self-focused consumption with the idea of my own inadequacy. Essentially, my inability to achieve my goals frustrated me because it was hindering me from getting what I wanted. Notice the focus there? I, me, and mine. The Holy Spirit was at that time able to get it through my head that I couldn't get it for myself, but it took a bit longer for me to finally hear Him saying that I needed to want what He wanted, and to stop striving after my own ambitions, be that in the context of relationships (friendships, dating, etc.), my life plans, etc.

In fact, to be perfectly honest a lot of that has only started to really come into focus in the last few weeks, particularly regarding the fact that I need to utterly surrender to Him my thoughts and desires regarding my future - especially what my career will look like. I finally proclaimed about two weeks ago, first in the privacy of my own heart during my time of devotions, and then aloud to Travis, the guy who disciples me, that I will pursue God's glory and seek His will for my life no matter what. Every dream and thought of glory, every hope for fame, I have chosen to set aside. Letting go is a process, of course, and I certainly have far to go even now. But ultimately, I want to see Him glorified, see His fame increased, see His name exalted in my life. However He chooses to do that - whether I remain innocuous and unknown all my days, or whether I am incredibly famous - is not only enough for me, it is the best I could ever hope for. That's a hard place to come to: it means letting go of all I once held dear, surrendering it to Him for the sake of His name. I have only now begun to catch a glimpse of the radical change that came over Paul, leading him to abandon all his worldly achievement and fame, and to seek the glory of God, to seek to proclaim the gospel of Christ at all costs. We're so used to his story, but he really did give up everything - prestige, power, admiration, a promising career: you name it, he had it, or it was on its way. Only now do I begin to grasp what he meant when he said that he counted it all as nothing for the sake of the cross - because I'm only now beginning to grasp how much higher a calling the cross is than all those things, how much worthier a path is my own death than my own aggrandizement.

I knew that there would be a testing borne of that proclamation, and I knew that there would be a higher standard for my life. I had no idea just how much it would affect my perspective, or how radical the changes God had in store for me were (and are). Nor did or understand how hard it would be or the price it would cost me. Last week, I started to catch a glimpse - and only that: a glimpse. If what I have gone through in the last week is the beginning, then what is to come will surely be an even greater challenge. But then, the testimony for God's name, for the glory of Christ, will be so much greater as well. And that is more than enough. That's what makes my heart leap. And that is the change that He is starting to work in me.

Last week, my own utter inadequacy once again became very real to me. Between my tiredness and the strain of classes and midterms, I hit my breaking point. I exploded at Dean. I haven't blown up in anger like that at anyone in a very, very long time - years. I'd been snapping at him and others all week; I'd been overly sensitive to teasing all week; I'd been generally vulnerable on an emotional front in ways that I haven't been for several months, what with the work God accomplished in me this summer and in the beginning of the school year. And all of that only fed my frustration, my growing irritation at myself for not being better than that. When it finally exploded out of me in an angry yell at Dean - for something utterly trivial - it shocked me at one level, and surprised me not the least on another. I'd known I was close to the breaking point, but I hadn't know just how close. But it broke my heart when I yelled at him. I just stopped after I had finished, my head hanging, apologized, and walked away in tears. It took me a few minutes to even realize what was going on, and why it bothered me so much. What I finally realized was this: I've been under huge amounts of strain before, and recently, without losing my control like that. What bothered me, more than that I was stressed or tired or unable to deal with it, was the simple knowledge that This is not who God has made me. This is not who I am anymore. And it broke my heart even more.

So I fell down on my knees in the grass and sobbed and cried out to God, seeking His answer.

And, as always, the Holy Spirit, in His infinitely comforting (but infinitely convicting) way, brought the answer. It's very simple. I am a fallen man. My flesh is in rebellion against God. There is nothing good in me. Nothing. If I failed in my relationship to Dean, that is merely becuase my own strength is useless. Not just useless to solve my own problems, as I've so often been made aware in the past, but useless to God, useless to His kingdom, useless to serving others in His name. There is nothing in me that is capable of doing anything for God. When something is accomplished through me, it is just that: the Holy Spirit acting through me, using what gifts He has given me, for His glory. It has nothing to do with me. For the first time, I began to understand Paul's meaning when he talked about willing to act for God and failing, and willing not to act for the flesh and failing equally. For the first time, I understood the truth that the fleshly man is in utter enmity with God, resisting Him with everything in it. For the first time, I actually came face to face with my own inability to please God. I've had the head knowledge for years, of course, and I've wrestled with the issues in my heart. But by the grace of God, by the providence of the Spirit, my eyes were opened to see it, to understand it in a way that I never have before.

I am nothing; He is everything. I cannot live for myself; I'm not worth living for. He is. I cannot do for Him anything in my own power; only by surrendering to Him utterly and letting Him rule my heart and my thoughts, my words and my deeds, can I ever see His name glorified in my life. And that's what I want to live for. Not for some insignificant and unlasting fame, not for some glory heaped upon myself that turns to bitter ashes when I find I've lived my life for me. No, I want to see Him glorified, and Him alone. He is becoming my all-sufficiency. There are so many areas in which I still have so far to go - but it's refreshing to have a vision of that as well, to know that I will never attain until I am at His side, perfected. I understand just a little bit now how Paul, late in his life and having served God mightily, could see himself as weakest of God's servants, could see himself as chief of sinners. Because with what the Holy Spirit showed me last Friday night, I finally see that in myself. And, finally, I see the magnitude of what Christ has saved me from. We take for granted the cross; we take so lightly the salvation we have, because we do not see that from which we are saved, when we've grown up in the church and been Christians from a young age. Thank God for His revelation; praise be to Him who brings truth!

My words are not enough. God is big enough; He is mighty enough; He is able enough. Live for Him. I will - by His grace, and His strength. I love you all.

- Chris

DG06 Update

Well, the full audio for this year's desiringGod conference is now online at their site. You can access the sermons at the following links:

David Wells
The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World

John Piper, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Justin Taylor
A Conversation with the Pastors

Voddie Baucham
The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World

Tim Keller
The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World

Mark Driscoll
The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World

Voddie Baucham, John Piper, D. A. Carson, David Wells, Justin Taylor
Speaker Panel

D.A. Carson
The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World

John Piper
The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World

I hope you enjoy all of this material - I myself haven't gotten through any of it except a brief transcript of Piper's sermon at the end, but it was by all accounts an excellent conference, so I highly recommend you go through all of it. I'll probably post some reflections as I manage to get through it. God's blessings be with all of you reading this.

- Chris

Oddly enough...

Oddly, I didn't actually get anything written up today. I took the day off, completely, other than the lab writeup I'm about to do. It's been very needed, so it's a pleasant relief. I'll be back to my normal lengthy posts tomorrow.

In lieu of anything else to put up, I'll make one short recommendation - namely, that you read this article at and add it to your list of things to consider about marriage (yet more proof that ultimately God's way is the best!). I'd also suggest that everyone take some time to pray for our leaders - from the schoolteachers up to the heads of nations. Things are very ugly all the way across the board right now.

Grace and peace be with you!

- Chris

Monday, October 2, 2006


Well, I find myself contradicting my earlier post - I'm back one last time tonight.

There's a fantastic discussion that's been going on (seems to have died down a bit recently) here regarding Biblical roles for men and women and how we both need to step up into those roles to redeem at minimum our church culture, and thus reclaim the Biblical mandate and vision for men and women so that they actually fill their Biblical roles and, among other things, actually become marriageable. I highly recommend you read it. I recommend that, however, with the clarification, declaimer, and caution that I am not familiar with the space as a whole, so I'm not recommending the site as a whole at this time - I'll get back to you on that.

I'll also take this opportunity to go ahead and, after some prayer and consideration, forthrightly recommend the blog that actually started that discussion, I'd rather laugh than cry. I've yet to find any place where she's out of line Biblically. Enjoy!

- Chris


Well, Desiring God '06 has now officially wrapped up, but the goodness isn't over yet for all of us that couldn't go. First off, I'll once again note that Tim Challies live blogged the whole thing, and secondly that Piper has at least his sermon from the conference up on their website at, which is also a highly recommended site. You can download Piper's sermons (they're no longer being aired on the radio, because so few people listen to it that way, but you can get them via podcast), as well as look at a massive number of other resources, including transcripts of various sermons of his, recommendations of other reading, and so forth. Excellent site.

And with that, I'm headed to bed; I'm going to enjoy sleeping in and resting some tomorrow. God bless, and good night!

- Chris


Last Wednesday, I sat and laid under a tree for over an hour. It's been a while since I've done that. A long while, in fact - perhaps not since I've gotten to college, with the possible exception of doing so at some point while at Glorieta last spring break. My friend Emily was there, and she and I talked off and on... but mostly, I simply laid under the tree, staring up into its branches and thinking and praying. She had homework to do - I had meditation to do.

I'm not talking any sort of Eastern meditation or transcendental meditation; stay as far from those as you can. I'm speaking instead of a quiet, relaxed, focusing on God - in prayer, in contemplation of His character, in consideration of His work in my life, in comprehension of the magnificence of His creation. There is something about sitting under a tree, staring up into its branches, that just makes it easy to let go of everything else, to forget that there are thousands of people not terribly far away, and just think about God.

Staring up into the branches of that tree, I was able to pray for those I know that needed prayer. I was able to deal with certain struggles in my life, to let go of certain conflicts in my heart and trust them to my Lord. And above all, I was increasingly moved to consider the wonder of who my God is. There was one particular moment - in an echo of many, many similar moments past - when gazing up into the swaying branches, I was caught for a moment by their structure, their integrity; and for a moment it was as if my mind leapt past what my eyes could see, racing down to the inmost structure of the tree: flying down the scale from my perspective through the system to the cell biology to the genetics to the very molecular and atomic structures that made the tree what it was, that gave it its nature and held it together. And it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever glimpsed. Occasionally, God gives me that kind of little glimpse of the true glory of things. It comes in different ways - sometimes it's a comprehension of just how vast our world and our universe are; sometimes in the sense of how tiny the details that make it all up are; sometimes in a mix of the two. Always, it leaves me wanting to leap higher and dance more passionately and shout louder than I ever could, just to somehow express the incredible wonder of God's greatness. Because that's all I can ever think about when He gives me that vision - how great, how awesome is the God that made all of this!

Many people I know find it a bit odd that I see physics, biology, and the like as beautiful. Or they don't understand how I can actually appreciate music when I'm caught up in considering the technique and theory behind what is being played. For them, understanding the physics of a sunset is a distraction; so is thinking about the harmonic progressions at the end of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. To me, understanding those things only enhances the beauty. To be sure, I may not be able to sit back and be immersed in the sound without any analysis - but then, I also have to note that I really never cease analyzing and considering the things going on around me. Thus, for me, the greater my understanding of the reality and the nature of any given subject, the greater is its beauty in my eyes.

All of that is, in some sense, just a metaphor, I think, through which God is teaching me that to truly appreciate the glory, the majesty, the phenomenal beauty of who He is, I have to know Him more, better, deeper. And the more I pursue Him, the more I seek to have my heart follow hard after Him and Him alone, the more I find that to be true. His is an intoxicating beauty, a phenomenal depth of wonder and breadth of greatness. The more I understand physics, or music, or philosophy, or history, or anything, the more it turns me to worship Him. And the more I pursue Him, the more I see just how clearly and plainly every other created thing points to Him and Him alone.

Go sit under a tree. You might just catch a glimpse of God's glory in a way you haven't before. Grace and peace be with you; and may our Lord guard ever over your hearts and minds!

- Chris

Sunday, October 1, 2006

CT Article

Thanks to a link from The Point, I found this fascinating article from Christianity Today on the history of evangelicalism in the latter half of the twentieth century. The article is concise and well-written, though that is not to say it's short. I highly recommend reading all the way through it if you can find the time to do so. We cannot know where we are going if we do not have a good sense of where we're coming from; and we are going to repeat the mistakes of the past if we are not aware of them.

- Chris