Monday, June 01, 2009

In which an accessory covered completely by a skirt is Special.

I present the following shoe to you as Exhibit A for What is Ridiculous about the Wedding Industry:

This is a "bridal shoe." It is meant to be worn by a bride. Several factors clue you in to this fact:

1. The shoe is advertised in the "bridal" section of the sandal shop at
2. The shoe is ivory, a color worn only at weddings and only by brides, and is likely never to be worn again.
3. The shoe is decorated with bows, flowers, rhinestones, ribbons, and/or glitter in such a fashion that were it not "bridal couture" (a phrase I'm learning to loathe) it would be utterly ridiculous.
4. The shoe is somewhere between impractical and torture device. "Nike Air® technology cushions" or not, only a non-bride could have reached the conclusion that a four-inch stiletto heal is a good idea for a woman who will be on her feet all day in a dress in which she (in all likelihood) cannot breathe, thanks to the equally insightful people who design wedding dresses.
5. The shoe is $428. Because it is special. Because it's Your Day. Because you should get Whatever You Want.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I like that spirit.

Me: We sent invitations this weekend. We probably broke at least a dozen sacred etiquette rules, but they're sent.

Thomas: Invitations are invitations! Weddings are a notice pleading jurisdiction.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is risen!

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

Friday, April 10, 2009

For Tenebrae

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Weekend thoughts

It doesn't matter how these words by Ro­bert Ro­bin­son are reworked or reset in new tunes, they always touch me. This has to be one of my favorite hymn texts.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

On liturgy

Hughes Oliphant Old in Guides to the Reformed Tradition: Worship That Is Reformed According to Scripture (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1984), p. 162 (quoted in Jeffrey Meyers, The Lord's Service, p. 152):
There are good reasons for having an established liturgy.... In the first place liturgical forms are a good means of teaching the essentials of the Christian faith. When familiar liturgical forms and texts are used again and again, it gives us the opportunity to meditate on them and to penetrate their meaning more deeply. When there are well established procedures with which everyone is familiar, it makes it easier to concentrate on content rather than on outward from. Any athlete understands the importance of mastering form. Such simple things as breathing must be done correctly, but this is essential so that eventually they can be done spontaneously, without effort, without thinking about them. The concentration must be on other things. Forms are a means to an end, and if they are constantly changing they obscure the end rather than lead to it.
The athletic analogy is a good one. When I triple jumped in high school, I always started with my left foot at 84 feet, 4 inches from the board and took 7 strides before taking off. I rehearsed this over and over until I could do it with my eyes closed without even having to count or think. It wasn't because I wanted to zone out or relax during a jump--it was because I needed to focus my thoughts and efforts on jumping higher and farther, without being worried about shortening or lengthening my stride to hit the board just right.

A litergy includes (traditionally) several elements. In a Latin Mass you would commonly have kyrie, gloria, credo, sanctus, and agnus dei. In a Reformed church you are likely to have some variation on call to worship, response, hymn of praise, confession, declaration of pardon, creed, offerings, doxology, congregational prayer, exposition, and benediction. Even the most "informal" of churches has some kind of liturgy, even if they eschew the term. There are times of singing, of prayer, of thinking, of communicating. Whatever the liturgical form chosen, it does seem to me that its predictability would add to its usefulness. The congregants, rather than worrying about when they should stand or sit or what element of worship comes next, may focus their thoughts and energies on actually praying or listening or thinking.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quote of the week

"We’re no-point Calvinist: there’s no point in talking about it"~ Bible College President in publicized address.

Cute, but stupid. This is the Biblical scholarship of the fundamentalist bible college movement. It also explains why so many bible colleges are slowly dying their necessary deaths.

The president of the college in his lecture to unsuspecting students also talked about “Hyper-Calvinists.” By implication, a “hyper-Calvinist” is one who talks about his Calvinism. He claimed to know many of them.

But “Hyper-Calvinism” is actually a theological conclusion and not the status of a Calvinist who has consumed too much caffeine. By his unmistakable implication one who talks about Calvinism, thinks it’s important, and is unashamed of the label is a “Hyper-Calvinist.” Thus, Spurgeon and Edwards, the very men that he admiringly spoke of in his short address, were “Hyper-Calvinists.”

Taken from Pensees: Bible College Scholarship and One More Reason Why They Are Losing Influence in a Fading Movement. The rest of the post is worth reading as well.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Grace and growth

It's hard for me not to find tension between the concepts of absolute justification and incomplete sanctification. If I am completely redeemed, through no work of my own, what is the importance of trying to become more holy? Doesn't that undermine the freedom of grace? The church I've recently started attending has been examining that apparent tension, lately making the transition between Romans 5 and Romans 6. J.C. Ryle (Anglican bishop) addresses it too, in his sermon "Growth":
When I speak of growth in grace, I do not for a moment mean that a believer's interest in Christ can grow. I do not mean that he can grow in safety, acceptance with God or security. I do not mean that he can ever be more justified, more pardoned, more forgiven, more at peace with God, than he is the first moment that he believes. I hold firmly that the justification of a believer is a finished, perfect and complete work; and that the weakest saint, though he may not know and feel it, is as completely justified as the strongest. I hold firmly that our election, calling and standing in Christ admit of no degrees, increase or diminution. If anyone dreams that by growth in grace I mean growth in justification, he is utterly wide of the mark, and utterly mistaken about the whole point I am considering....

When I speak of growth in grace I only mean increase in the degree, size, strength, vigour and power of the graces which the Holy Spirit plants in a believer's heart. I hold that every one of those graces admits of growth, progress and increase. I hold that repentance, faith, hope, love, humility, zeal, courage and the like may be little or great, strong or weak, vigorous or feeble, and may vary greatly in the same man at different periods of his life. When I speak of a man growing in grace, I mean simply this--that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, his spiritual-mindedness more marked. He feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart. He manifests more of it in his life. He is going on from strength to strength, from faith to faith and from grace to grace.
J.C. Ryle, Holiness: its nature, hindrances, difficulties, and roots (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2001), pp. 81-82.