Tuesday, September 20, 2005

24 hours at the Wilds

At approximately 5:30 pm on a Friday afternoon, we arrived; at the same time Saturday, we packed up the van and headed home. During the ensuing 24 hours, we packed about as much activity as possible into the Father/Son Campout weekend at the Wilds.

I, along with two men from my church, brought our six-year old boys. While it was a new experience for J.D.’s two friends, he himself had been to the Wilds three previous times. He was already a veteran of the land trolley, the super slide, and the waterfall hikes. J.D. enjoyed doing these things again, as well as discovering the archery, slingshot, and rifle range. He even managed to hit a few of the targets at the rifle range – a feat that thrilled him to no end.

The Father/Son Campout provides a great opportunity for fathers to spend time with their sons. At the Wilds, there is, of course, the added benefit of doing this within the context of a God-glorifying atmosphere that emphasizes the public preaching of God’s Word and the private “God and I Time” meditation on that Word. I appreciated the chance to spend time in the Bible and in prayer with my son. We all wondered how John Bott, the camp speaker for that weekend, would deal with the wide range of age levels, but he did a great job and kept everyone engaged, including our young ones. His message on a divided heart was particularly penetrating.

For those interested, here are some pictures from our trip:

Here are the three of us with our sons. From left to right it is J.D. and me, Pastor Henderson with his son Drew, and David Szweda with his son Hudson.

J.D. on his way to the top of the land trolly. If you have Quicktime on your system, you can watch a movie of his trip down the land trolley HERE.

J.D. at the archery range

J.D. with his friend Drew at the 2nd falls

J.D. about ready to head down the superslide

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Thoughts on Katrina

A few years ago I attended a network security conference held at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans. It was my first and last trip to the so-called “Big Easy.” One of the most striking aspects of the hurricane coverage, for me, was seeing the damage to the very hotel that I stayed at during my trip. Here are some before and after pictures:

My memories of New Orleans are not good. One afternoon I took a hotel shuttle to the French Quarter to see what the area was like and to find a good place to eat. For some reason I thought I would find New Orleans to be somewhat similar to San Francisco – a place known for the sin of its inhabitants but in other respects, just an interesting and relatively harmless place for a Christian to visit. After all, I had been to New Orleans Square at Disneyland. How bad could it be? Answer: Pretty bad.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. I don’t know if it was aroma of the Mississippi River or the dirty streets soiled with beer and who knows what else from countless nights of partying and bar hopping, but the place stunk to high heaven. Besides the smell, one could not help but notice the voodoo, the transvestites, the bars, and the overall red-light-nature of the place. I did not hear any music but that was probably due to the fact that I was not there at night and things were not really “happening” during the time I was there. The most incongruous thing that I noticed were the families with young children strolling through the area like it really was Disneyland. Why anyone would take a child into a place like that is beyond me.

At any rate, the city of New Orleans probably ranks right up there in most Christian minds as one of the most ungodly places in our nation. If God were to use a natural disaster to judge a city, surely New Orleans would be one of the most likely targets. We, of course, do not have direct revelation concerning all of God’s purposes in sending hurricane Katrina to the gulf regions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, but we do have some Scripture that I think does apply whenever disaster strikes a community.

The first thing to acknowledge is that God is in direct control of sending hurricanes and other “natural” disasters. Amos 3:6 asks rhetorically, “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” In Isaiah 45:7, the Lord Himself says, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.” While we may not understand God’s purposes in sending calamity on the just and the unjust, we must nevertheless trust in the revelation that God is both great and good.

The goodness of God in calamity can be clearly seen in one of the primary reasons that God sends disasters. Returning to the book of Amos, we see in 4:6-12 that God sent several calamities to the nation of Israel for the express purpose of seeing Israel repent from their wickedness and return to Jehovah. This section concludes with the famous warning in Amos to “prepare to meet thy God!” That God would do anything to convince a sinful nation to turn to God is an act of mercy and grace. Yes there is judgment involved but in God’s mercy He did not wipe out all of the inhabitants of New Orleans or the gulf coast. Those who survived ought to be motivated to prepare to meet their God, a God who can wipe out entire cities with just a whisper of His breath (cf., Job 26, especially verse 14).

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rationalizing Away Pauline Theology

The more things change the more things stay the same. Apparently, this maxim is no less applicable to theology than it is to other more mundane subjects. A case in point comes from John Eadie’s preface to his commentary on the Letter to the Colossians. Dr, Eadie’s comments were written in 1855 but they sound as if they could have been written today.

I believe that the writings of the apostle, whatever their immediate occasion and primary purpose, were intended to be of permanent and universal utility; and that the purity and prosperity of the church of Christ are intimately bound up with an accurate knowledge of, and a solid faith in, the Pauline theology. I dare not, therefore, in the spirit of modern rationalism, say in one breath what the apostle means, and then say, in another breath, that such an acknowledged meaning, though fitted for the meridian of the first century, is not equally fitted for that of the nineteenth; but must be modified and softened down, according to each one’s predilections and views. The privilege of individual deduction from the inspired statement is not questioned – the attempt to glean and gather general principles from counsels and descriptions of a temporary and special phasis is not disallowed; but this procedure it totally different from that ingenious rationalism which contrives to explain away those distinctive truths which an honest interpretation of the apostle’s language admits, that he actually loved and taught.