Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Lazy Logician No More?

When I first started this blog I wanted to choose a name that reflected my personality and goals. At the time my desire was to be a philosopher in the analytic tradition, so technical precision and formal logic meant a great deal to me (they still do, but my trajectory is now toward the ministry, be it in a seminary or the pastorate). I chose the term 'logician' to reflect my philosophical aspirations.

I called my blog, and by extention myself, 'The Lazy Logician'. In that title I emphasized a rather unpleasant trait of mine: laziness. I referred to this blog's title as 'my scarlet letter' because it drew attention to something I wanted to change about myself. I suppose I was trying to use it as motivation, but it didn't work.

I have found that the only thing that can motivate me out of my laziness is Christ. Only God and His Word have proven sufficient to make me deny myself and do what must be done. I have known for many years that I represent Christ in everything I do, but only recently has that truth begun to sink in. I had fallen prey to one of the dangers of being raised in a Christian environment: my ears had been dulled by hearing the same truths over and over. I had not allowed them to impact my life.

By the grace of God all this is changing (and just in time for seminary!). Pray for me that this progress will continue. Since these changes are taking place, I have decided to change the title of this blog. I hope everyone who has linked me will update their blogrolls to reflect this change, but my blogging has been so spotty I doubt many people stop by anymore.

Regardless, here are some candidates for a new blog title:

1. Only and Good: Exercises in Glorifying God- 'Only and Good' referring, of course, to God. He is the only God, and He is a Good God.

2. A Puritan Path: Reformed, Always Reforming- This expresses my hope for my life as a Christian. As I've begun reading the Puritans I've been astounded by their devotion to living a holy life before God and through His power, all the while coupling it with deep, sound theology.

3. Joy and Slavery: Life in Christ- This one couples two concepts many would find difficult to reconcile. For the Christian, however, being a slave to Christ is essential for joy.

Right now I'm leaning toward 'Joy and Slavery', though I may change the subtitle a bit. I like 'A Puritan Path' but it might cause people to think I'll constantly be analyzing Puritan literature. I hope to do a lot of that, but that's not all I will be doing.

So here you have it; my own miniature blog revolution. The Lazy Logician will soon be dead, only to be replaced by a new blog with (hopefully) new motivation. I hope to post a worthwhile essay of at least 500 words every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. June promises to be my most prolific blogging month ever.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Book Update: Harry Potter and the Puritans?

Last week I mentioned that I had read the second and third installments of the Harry Potter series. I now inform you that I have read the fourth and fifth books, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, respectively. I am chuckling at myself because that's over 1500 pages in a week, and quite possibly over 1600. I usually don't read that much in a week, but as J.K. Rowling's fans can tell you, the books are page turners.

I do not yet have a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so I cannot go on reading that. What I do have is even better.


I received three monetary gifts due to my recent graduation from Bible College. Out of this money I allowed myself $50 for books. A quick (internet) trip to the Westminster Seminary Bookstore yielded fantastic results. For $49.99 (including shipping) I purchased these books:

The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

The Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson

Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices by Thomas Brooks

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel

The Mortification of Sin by John Owen

The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture with comments by Thomas Vincent

Yep. Seven books for $49.99. Needless to say, I am quite happy. I've started in on The Mortification of Sin and Precious Remedies already, and I've given a quick glance to The Christ of the Covenants. I've only gotten as far as the table of contents for Precious Remedies. If you've ever read it you'll know what I'm talking about. Brooks' ToC is detailed enough to be worth the purchase price on its own. So I'll have plenty to read between now and the time I start seminary.

I hope to emerge from each of these books a better Christian. Please pray for me in that regard.

Monday, May 08, 2006

God Chastened My Doubting Heart

Just a few weeks ago I was asked if I would deliver a sermon at nearby Kenwood Baptist Church. I had been there before and enjoyed the warmth of the congregation. They are good people as far as I can tell. I do not think of myself as a preacher, but I do not mind filling a pulpit when God provides the opportunity.

As a text I chose Romans 8:13:

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

I chose that text because I had heard John Piper speak on it and I was moved with conviction against my own sin (if you’re wondering, no I didn’t plagiarize his sermon). It is a powerful verse, especially considering our culture, which takes sin lightly. I really wanted to convey a passion similar to that of Dr. Piper when I spoke. I wanted to see that the people were moved as I was moved. I failed.

When my sermon was over and I stepped down from the platform my heart sank into my stomach. The sermon was too short. I fumbled with my words. I lacked the intensity I thought necessary for the subject matter. The people of the church congratulated me on my sermon and said they enjoyed it. I suspected either the Holy Spirit had done a work in spite of me or the saints of God were lying in an attempt to be kind. I chose to believe the former because, again, these were good people.

As my wife and I pulled out of the parking lot she asked how my sermon went (she had to take our sons down to the nursery). I told her that I laid an egg. She tried to raise my spirits by telling me someone had said they thought I would go far, but to no avail. I had failed in my own eyes, and I saw no one to blame but myself.

Roughly two weeks passed and my college graduation ceremony arrived. I enjoyed it very much and rather liked celebrating my achievement with my family and friends. After the ceremony was finished and the time for refreshments had arrived, I was approached by Jane Waddell, who attends Kenwood.

Mrs. Waddell took me aside and told me the story of what happened after my family and I left two Sundays ago. In the sermon I made the comment that we often laugh at our sin, as though it’s some big joke. This struck the heart of a young woman in attendance. She thought, “That’s me!” As I understand it she left the auditorium after I made this comment.

After the service was over and the pastor and some of the congregation had gone out to eat, he received a call on his cell phone. It was the young woman. She wanted to meet him back at the church. Long story short, she wanted to reaffirm her commitment to Christ. When I heard this I praised the Lord. God had shut my mouth for doubting the power of His Word, and I can think of few better outcomes than this.

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Time for Fiction

For the first time in a number of years I have begun reading fiction. For almost a decade I read little or no fiction because my experience as an English major in college sapped the joy out of the experience. It was then that I started focusing on philosophy, and the analytic branch at that. I wanted to get as far away from fiction as possible. The last year or so has softened me toward fiction, however, and I have polished off a few novels in the last few days. I must admit that none of them are difficult works, but one of them is a classic.

Two of the books are from the Harry Potter Series. Yes, yes, I know there are Christians out there who hate the books and think they're evil, but I'm not one of them. The two I've read in the last week or so are Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I read Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone early some time last year.

I'll admit it: I love the Harry Potter books. They are utterly delightful to read, whether they're considered children's literature or not. The stories are full of adventure and humor. But by far my favorite things about the series are the emphases on bravery and fighting evil. Harry gets scared, but he perseveres because he must do what he can to conquer evil (Voldemort).

The books also show that we do not come through these battles without scars, emotional and physical. Harry's parents lost their lives because they chose to do what was right. **SPOILERS AHEAD: IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOKS SKIP THIS SENTENCE** Sirius Black died fighting the same evil, and so did the honorable Albus Dumbledore.

Harry Potter shows us that things will not always turn out as we want, but we must continue the fight. There are some things that are more significant than our lives. I think this is actually a valuable lesson for Christians in the West, though it is unfortunate if we have to learn this through Harry Potter when it should be learned from the Bible.

Obviously there are negatives about Harry Potter, but those have been well covered. If you're looking for a fun read, I recommend them.

The other novel I recently read was Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island. Like Harry Potter, this book took me in with its story of adventure, piracy, and honor. Once I started reading it was difficult to stop. Though I knew the basic story, I didn't know all of the details. Not surprisingly, I recommend this book as well. I can't wait untill my sons can read!

Monday, May 01, 2006

I'm A College Graduate!

It’s over. I have finally, after 10 years, finished my Bachelor’s degree. On Saturday May 6, 2006 I will graduate from Tri-State Bible College with a BA in Biblical Studies. Praise God!! It has been a long road, but I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had for anything. I can see how God has made me into a more mature person in the years between my high school graduation and today. I was ill equipped to make life-changing vocational decisions in 2000, which is when I would have graduated from college had I taken the traditional route.

Soon my family and I will move to St. Louis, taking us hundreds of miles from our parents and siblings. We will no longer have quick access to baby sitters. The boys’ cousins will see each other with less frequency. These are definite negatives.

On the positive side, I am sure as I can be that this move is the direction in which God wants us to go. Covenant seems to be a great school, and I very much look forward to my education there. There are also plenty of kids on campus for the boys to befriend and plenty of educational opportunities in the St. Louis area. Missouri is also pretty friendly toward homeschoolers as well.

I am still a little concerned for our finances. We’re taking student loans right now, but I would like to not have to do that any more after this year. That may be an unattainable dream, but I’m going to try to find a way. Pray for us that I will be able to find a job, as this will ease the burden somewhat.

Also, my wife and I are considering raising support. Pray for us to make the right decision on this matter, but most of all pray that we will rely on God no regardless of our money situation.