Monday, January 26, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

This post was pleasantly prompted by a Facebook friend. Here it goes:

1) I was born near Chicago, moved San Jose when I was 2, to Orange County CA when I was 9, to Plainfield CT when I was 18, and to MA when I was 23. Here I am…where now Lord?

2) A big fan of pickled eggs, Buffalo wings, salsa, pizza, Bonnie’s bean dip and Frank’s hot sauce
3) Married to a wonderful woman far better than I deserve, the love of my life, my best friend...Bonnie.

4) Someday I would love to write a book…maybe more than one…but just one would be great. Do a little writing, as time allows, on blogger and hubpages.
5) Am very shy in social settings and not so skilled at small talk, but I like to teach…although still have much to learn about doing it well.
6) Very appreciative of the Puritan authors such as John Owen, Thomas Watson, Bunyan, Newton, Goodwin and Burroughs.
7) Enjoy reading but don’t have as much time for it now as I would like. Mostly theology, biographies and the Classics.
8) Don’t have much time for TV. But when I do I watch Monk (with Bonnie), Psych (with Evan) and animated Disney shows with the other kids.

9) Bad at most word games and puzzles. Actually…I just don’t really like games. Pretty dull huh?
10) Years of fish keeping experience. I have enjoyed freshwater, tropical, and saltwater tanks. Currently I have just 1 freshwater Cichlid tank…and a couple snapping turtles.

11) Toyota Pickups are my vehicle of choice. I have an 06 Tundra at the moment.
12) Have a few recipes I like to make, like Sausage Bake Florentine, chocolate truffles and a fun breakfast bread with ham and cheese and tomato. But mostly Bonnie does all the cooking…and it is wonderful!!
13) Enjoy surprising Bonnie with little getaways from time to time…but I do this far too infrequently. Must make some more efforts here in 2009…

14) Basketball player in high school.
15) Live in Whitinsville, MA. Yeah, I know, you’ve never heard of it.
16) Owning my own business or service has always been a dream. Maybe someday…
17) Only one sibling, my brain surgeon brother (okay, he’s a PA…but still very cool!), and he has a great wife and family and lives too far away…but we very much look forward to seeing this summer.
18) Dell Laptop owner and love researching stuff on the internet. Probably waste too much time on it.

19) Organized. LOL. NOT!!!
20) Father of 4 amazing children whom I love. Two boys two girls. The first and last were born on the same day…9 years apart.

21) Java nut. Yes…I love a good cup of coffee. Mostly hot…but iced is nice as well.
22) Expecting the return of Christ
23) Serve my church as an elder (weakly, poorly, and far less perfectly than I ought) and have taught Sunday school for 13 years. Spent 10 years teaching through Romans and that, next to my conversion, has been the single most influential spiritual experience of my life.
24) University of CT graduate in 1993, school of pharmacy. Worked 5 years for Brooks, 10 years for WalMart, and now work for a pharmacy website business: Fingertip Formulary.
25) So if you have actually read this far you should know that the most important thing about me can only be discovered by taking the first letter in each of the 25 things and forming an 8 word sentence.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Evening & Morning

"So the evening and the morning were the first day..."
Genesis 1:5

Repetition is the hammer that strikes the truth into our soul, fixes it to our frame, and binds it to our hearts. What Gods says only once we are obliged to obey, and what He says twice we would be fatally foolish to forget. Therefore I wonder what the six fold repetition of "evening and the morning" in Genesis 1 is intended to teach? Evening and morning...evening and morning...evening and morning...repeated 6 times, once at the close of each day of Creation. What does it mean? Could it be...I just wonder...a pattern for worship that God the Creator was weaving into the very fabric of the world? In all my unholy haste and hurry to micromanage every moment mabey I have missed the clue that the hands of heaven's clock always point upward. In our evening and mornings there must be more than merely the start and end of another dreary day. Could the rising sun be our daily call to woship, and the setting sun a portend for our prayer?

The Lord sent hope to Noah in the evening. "The dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth" (Gen. 8:11). Is not the evening a fitting time to pluck a branch from God's bountiful blessings upon my life and present them by the prayer of my mouth to my merciful Maker?

Did they not find my Savior's empty tomb early in the morning? "Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning...they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus" (Luke 24:1-3) And should not my heart rejoice in a risen Redeemer at the dawn of every day?

Oh my soul, has not the Psalmist also seen something about this delightful daily duty of heavenly harmony when he wrote: "To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night" (Ps 92:2)?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Treasury of the Snow

Dusty theologians tend to distinguish between types of revelation. Special revelation involves supernatural intervention. We like this! Visions and voices, manifestations and miracles, sights and Scripture all appeal to our appetite for the amazing. But the Lord has a lower language, more like a sigh than a shout, and this we call General Revelation. In this parlance the planets make pronouncements, the mountains bring a message, the creatures a cant, and there is a whisper in every wind. As the Psalmist puts it, concerning the natural order, "Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge" (Psalm 19:2). So said the Apostle as well "His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" (Romans 1:20).

As I sit here on a Sunday afternoon, amidst a Winter wonderland of white, I wonder what the snowflakes are saying. These active little ambassadors from above descend with determination to articulate an announcement from their Author. Methinks the Lord hath scripted us a sermon in the snow!

1) The falling snow reminds me of The Fall of man. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). As those millions of flakes began so high and end so low, so God "made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes" (Eccl. 7:29). Leprosy, a disease often employed to declare the depravity of man, was commonly compared to snow. As it was said of Gehazi, the wicked servant of Elisha, "he went out from his presence leprous, white as snow" (2 Kings 5:27). The snow fall reminds me of the Sin Fall. It is Nature's homily intended for our humility.

2) The disappearance of snow reminds me of the brevity of life and the destiny of man. As Isaiah draws a parallel between fading grass and fading flesh (Is. 40:6), so Job appears to draw a parallel between the vanishing snow and vanishing man. "As drought and heat consume the snow waters, so the grave consumes those who have sinned." (Job 24:19) Man cannot prolong his life, but is like falling flakes upon a river "into which the snow vanishes" (Job 6:16). Snow cannot resist the radiance of the sun, so man cannot avoid his appointment with death. Man's life is but a vapor. Oh that we would be wise and consider our latter end!

3) The shining snow reminds me of the holiness of God. When Christ was transfigured upon the mount and His Holiness and Divinity dared to peek beyond the door of His flesh, it could only be compared to the whiteness of snow: "His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them" (Mark 9:3). When the Lord envelopes His earth in white, He places, as it were, the hood of His own holiness upon our planet, and we are for a moment enrobed in a borrowed splendor.

4) The whiteness of snow reminds me of the only hope for man. Of all its lofty lessons, none are so satisfying to my soul than the hope of forgiveness of which this snow so softly speaks. "Though your sins be as scarlet" saith the prophet "they shall be as white as snow" (Is. 1:18). Oh what a delightful dissertation and encouraging exhortation is this! With Scripture's light we find the message of salvation falling with the snow. And so, oh my soul, look to Christ! Have faith in Him who died for sinners like me! Here is hope indeed. I thank Thee Lord for granting ears to hear and eyes to see this "treasury of the snow" (Job 38:22).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Noah's Journal

"Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation" Genesis 7:1

Sometimes what the Bible doesn't say is as interesting as what it does say. Of course, "the secret things belong to the Lord" (Deut. 29:29), but wonders. For instance, I wonder if Noah kept a journal during his approximately 370 days at sea, and if he did...what would it have said? All terrestrial life was confined to this one floating island drifting upon an open and endless ocean. What awesome thoughts, what fearful wonders, what weighty concerns would have harbored within the silent shores of Noah's heart! And yet all we know of all that time upon the ark is contained within a few short verses, and not a word from Noah himself.

But what if he wrote a journal every night? What if it were found? What thoughts of God and man would have occupied his holy mind! I suspect they would have been very different than our modern and casual approach to thinking about God, about life, death, judgment, and the life to come.

What might his journal have said? What would he have recorded before retiring every night? I wonder....



"The Lord commanded us to enter the ark today. I think the Almighty is about to perform what He had promised 100 years ago. Will my neighbors continue to mock, even now? I wonder if some were moved when they observed both predator and prey evenly entering this (as they called it) irrational raft. What awesome power dwells within Him who calls the beasts of the field and orders their approach unto His appointed preservation! Creatures yet untamed by man appeared and advanced into the ark as by a secret counsel and hidden decree which they dare not disobey. Oh my soul, are not herein the animals even wiser than man? They have sufficient sense to hearken, while man so filled with sin is hardened of heart. What a contrast did I see today! Dumb animals obeying the invisible voice of their Creator, while man in his self satisfied wisdom denies the Deity that even the donkeys discern."


"Creatures keep coming. Now I see more clearly than ever before both the need and power of God's grace. My community cried out for a sign, and here it is, yet they will not be convinced. I preached for years to their ears, now the Lord has preached to their eyes, but still they will not be softened in heart. I doubt not that if God Himself came down in human flesh this rebellious race would yet rather choose their own ruin than repentance. Oh the need of grace! But oh the power of grace as well! Why should I be saved? Why should my eyes see and my ears hear when all the world is blind and deaf to Him who made and governs all that is? I have no answer but this: the grace of God. And what a mighty powerful grace indeed! By nature I was born God's enemy, but by grace I have been made His friend. I should have been drowned in the sea of my own sin, yet here I am free from danger by this unmerrited mighty mercy of God! Oh the power of grace!"


"Words cannot express the fear and awe that fell upon us all when the unseen hand of God closed us in today. I think all creation fell silent for a spell. It was as though the very gavel of God pounded down in a final pronouncement of punishment upon this planet. What a contradiction is this casket within which we are now confined! Within are those preserved, and without are they who perish. Now the very fate of every creature has been forever sealed. Now every living soul finds itself immortally imprisoned to its own unchangeable choice. Oh what madness exists in men's eternal souls! Oh what a mischievous merchant is sin! For by it man will trade away a millenium for a mere moment, eternity for an evening, pardise for a penny. Wait now...I think...I think...yes it is...water has begun to fall from the sky as though heaven itself were crying over man's refusal to repent."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

No Modern Preacher

"Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance..."
Matthew 3:7-8

I highly doubt that John the Baptist would be invited to preach at a Presidential inauguration. This is not intended as an insult to those called upon today to such high honors. But spend some time thinking upon the message John preached in Matthew 3:7-12 and it becomes clear he was not interested in impressing the religious or political leadership of his day. I wonder if any preacher today, given the opportunity to preach to America, would tell our nation to "flee from the wrath to come." Yes, there are a few, but we hardly know them.

John the Baptist was not interested in pandering to the wealthy, the influential, or popular people of his day. In fact, his radical message was virtually this: "Guess what...God doesn't need you!" For he says to the Pharisees, and everyone else who cared to listen, "God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones (vs. 9)." Not many TV evangelists would get far today with the message "God doesn't need you or your money..."

John wasn't looking to improve his social or economic position to make the gospel more attractive. "Now John himself was clothed in camel hair... (vs 4)." No Armani or Brioni suit for him. Modern preachers seem intent to impress their congregations with the best this world has to offer. John was more interested in what the next world had in store.

John wasn't worried about being "negative" or damaging the precious "self image" of his hearers. He wasn't ashamed of the cross or afraid to lift the sewer lid from off the top of man's naturally proud heart and say "repent!"

John didn't shy away from the doctrine of hell all too frequently forgotten in modern churches where such subjects are deemed "unworthy" of a God of pure love. John said "He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

John wasn't full of himself. Too many modern ministries seem to be nothing but monuments to man. John would have none of it. "He who comes after me is mightier than I (vs. 11)."

Oh my let me turn the light of these truths upon my own heart. Am I any different? Would I dare to be a John today? Do I spend more time in repentance...or in justifying my sin? Do I want the best of this world...or am I content with Christ and eager for the life to come? Do I want to be popular...or do I want to be holy?

May the Lord teach me that I am just one of those stones of which John spoke, whom God in His infinite grace raised up and gave life and joy and hope through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing..."

Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, January 2, 2009

Living like I've seen Angels

"Now when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt..." (Matthew 2:19)

We have here recorded the third visit Joseph received from an angel. He was visited by an angel before the birth of Christ to announce His coming and His name. He was visited after the birth of Christ to warn Joseph to escape to Egypt. And now here in this text he is visited yet again that he might be instructed to return to Israel and eventually to Galilee. What an incredible thing to have been so frequently the host of these heavenly heralds!

Visits from angels were rare. To the mother of Sampson an angel appeared twice, but the Scriptures say "the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife". And it would seem for them that twice was enough, for Manoah exclaimed "We shall surely die, because we have seen God!" (Judges 13:22). Elijah was visited twice. "And the angel of the Lord came back the second time..." (I Kings 19:7). Elijah was later instructed by the voice of an angel, but we know not if an angel actually "appeared".

But Joseph actually saw an angel at least 3 times in his life. I wonder how one lives who has visibly seen a glimpse of the spiritual kingdom all around us? I wonder what kind of perspective one has who has looked behind the veil of our material world and caught sight God's eternal realities which are otherwise dimmed by the shadows of our own unbelief. It is interesting to me that we read no more of Joseph. My own suspicion is that the world could not bear with him much longer after this. He lived in the world, but did not belong to this world.

What about me? Do I require a visit from heaven to make me live a less worldly life? Are not these testimonies from Scripture sufficient to satisfy my soul and set my mind on the things above? We walk by faith and not by sight. But alas, far too often my life appears to operate on far too low a plain. And I have no excuse. I have received far better than any angel appearance, for I have a Christ who dwells in me by His spirit, a Savior who has promised to never leave or forsake me, a God to Whom I have access always in prayer, and the Word which is a most visible testimony of God's work and which I have daily in my possession.

Oh my soul, obey the Word of God and you will live like you have seen an angel! Stay near to God in prayer and you will have even better than any seraphic visitation could supply. Look unto Christ and you will have more help than even the highest heavenly host could provide. Joseph was a mere carpenter from Bethlehem...but I bet he lived like a child of the king! His hand held a hammer, but heaven held his heart. Live like him, and you too will live like you have seen angels!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Content where God has Planted

"The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed" (Genesis 2:8)

Upon reading these words today it struck me for the first time that there were actually 2 plantings spoken of in this text. I had always noticed the first one, the obvious one. God planted a garden...and what a garden it must have been! But there is a second "planting" of sorts referred to in these words when we read "there He put the man."

God planted Adam as well. Isn't that interesting? The Lord had just finished creating the whole universe. The world was dressed in unfallen splendor. All creation bore the unblemished inscription of an Infinite and Wise Creator. And yet, rather than calling Adam to holy adventures He instead confines him, as it were, to a handful of acres. Rather than telling him "Go climb the mountains and cross the sea" He says instead "Stay here, mow the lawn and cultivate the soil."

I know that much more was going on as well. Our federal head was being put to the test and the entire scope of God's redemptive purposes were soon to unfold. Nevertheless, it seems remarkable and worthy of some reflection that God planted Adam...and called him to work within given boundaries in spite of unlimited opportunities all around.

Here is the question: Am I content to produce within the field that God has planted me in? I think there is an underlying message here. Man is most fruitful when he serves within the circle which the Lord has assigned to him. This means working with the gifts God has given me, and not wishing for what I do not have. This means contentment with my present circumstances, and not looking over the fences of my "Eden" into other potentially fruitful fields. This means believing that all I need to glorify God and serve Him faithfully is fully provided for me already, right where I am. This means that my present trials are not primarily intended for my "escaping" but for my "improving" through obedient perseverance.

God planted Adam in Eden. Where has He planted you or I? Today it is so easy to think of "moving" and "escaping" and "changing" to get out of our previous commitments and promises. We use so many excuses. Oh my soul, the Great Gardner makes no mistakes while sowing His saints, "and there He put the man whom He had formed." Do not miss the message of this planting. Contentment with godliness is great gain.