Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Westminster Boy

Eli finished memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism today. He has an impressive memory and I trust that the years we spent working through the 107 questions of the WSC will be formative for the rest of his life.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Remedy for Wandering Thoughts in the Worship of God

After moving to Utah and starting a new job I quickly began to have terrible times of private and public worship. In private worship my mind would dart all over the place, mostly back to work. In public worship my heart would easily harden and forfeit the grace available in assembled worship.

Through a bookstore sale I picked up a copy of A Remedy for Wandering Thoughts in the Worship of God. This old puritan work lives up to its title. It's not lengthy by puritan standards but brims with remarkable analogies and pointed statements that deeply convict and then comfort.

If you struggle to keep focused during worship, seek out the remedy here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Family Vacation and Faith's Birthday

We hit the road last week enjoying Utah's summer adventure town, Moab, and then down to the Jemez mountains near Santa Fe for a couple days of camping with friends. Along the way, Faith turned five!

Just north of Moab is the Arches National Park; the shaded Sand Dune arch is tucked away inside a slot canyon and was the favorite place in the park to play.

The balanced rocks have inspired countless Road Runner cartoons.

They've also inspired some man-made rock-balancing.

I took the older children on a half-day white water rafting trip down the Colorado River. Here's Eli and Grace embarking.

Isaiah enters the river with a little more flair.

After Moab, we continued heading south for some camping; along the way we stopped at Four Corners for the traditional photo.

That evening we ascended into the Jemez Mountains (about 8,000 ft) and enjoyed friendship and fellowship with our church family from Albuquerque.

They even remembered Faith's birthday and presented her with a cake; but she's still a bit shy and tried to hide from the attention in my shirt.

Birthday presents have a way of drawing her out though.

It was a great trip and wonderful to see our friends in New Mexico again.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our first Pioneer Day

Utah's state holiday was officially celebrated yesterday but kicked off for us last week with a neighborhood parade complete with bag pipes and tractors. Since then there's been nightly rodeos, fireworks, and other small town festivities.

Pioneer Day marks the entrance of settlers into the Salt Lake basin. The overwhelming majority of those were Mormons but it is possible to enjoy many of the fun events without being LDS; kind of like more than Christians celebrate Christmas.

When you dig a little deeper though this state holiday is a little unusual. I can't imagine the state of New Mexico, for instance, celebrating the arrival of Anglos. Pioneer day is only possible in Utah because the culture here is so monolithic. The "Taste of the Town" event in our city last night was attended by at least a thousand, with very few exceptions all of those were the same ethnicity.

The history of the man who led the Mormons into Utah is also not something many would hold up as worthy of celebrating. Brigham Young had as many as 55 wives, held a number of uncouth views, and by some accounts attempted to start his own country called Deseret in the western region of America.

But this state holiday, like others, appears to be largely a secular event and so even interracial, non-LDS families like mine can enjoy it.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Sketches of the LDS

Donald Barnhouse could have been describing our quaint LDS community when he hinted at what a town could look like if Satan took it over,

All of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, "Yes, sir" and "No, ma'am," and churches would be full every Sunday...where Christ is not preached.

Many of the Mormons I've met here are genuinely moral people who are trying to conform to the LDS' expectations. The fourth of July celebrations were today (the 5th) to allow for Sabbath-keeping on the 4th. Grandparents start "mission funds" so their grandchildren can travel for two years as evangelists after high school. Utah has the highest birth rate in the nation and the youngest average age of marriage. Cute little children are everywhere.

But the pressure to conform may be behind Utah's high suicide rate, and the mass of extra-biblical theology that drives their moral behavior covers up the gospel of grace.

For instance, marriage is required to be eligible for exaltation after death. Doing their best throughout their life on earth is believed to be required to reach higher attainments in the life to come.

From what I observe living among the LDS, they affirm what sounds like the Gospel of grace. But what they don't see is that it has been so covered over by man-centered duties (along with a fundamentally un-Christian view of God) that the true Gospel is in effect lost and, as Barnhouse suggests, they are a moral people without Christ.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Eight is Great, Isaiah!

Some fun at the amusement park. Isaiah relishes an early lead over Grace and Eli.

Add your own Star Wars blaster sound effects.

Now let's learn how to blow-out a birthday cake, Isaiah-style.

Get set.

Cherish the moment.

Inhale calmly.

Let it rip!

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Be moved by prayer again

Matthew Henry (1662-1714) is most famous for his commentary on the whole Bible. But his book of prayers, A Method for Prayer, has proven to me to be an equally valuable resource. If you've worn out your copy of The Valley of Vision (another much loved book of Puritan prayers) here is a fresh spring in which to refresh your soul.

I first heard of the book throuh this website which I used regularly for at least a year.

But the book has much more content and can more easily be made part of your devotion time.