Friday, July 31, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - July 31, 2009

  • Gene Edward Veith reconsiders Calvin and culture.

  • Was John Calvin really a monster? Christopher Howse avoids answering the question.

  • Tullian Tchividjian presents gospel gold from John Calvin.

  • Stephen Garrett discusses three steps to Hyper Calvinism.

  • Some theorize that a personal struggle with the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination greatly affected the thinking of Tyrant, er, President Abraham Lincoln.

  • Contrary to what some may believe, Calvinism can't heal all wounds.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Day We Met Our Daughter

To say that Monday, July 13, was a whirlwind day would be the understatement of a lifetime. Dawn and I woke up in Beijing at 4:00am, finished packing, and ambled down to the lobby at 5:15. This was the day we had been waiting for.

After a two-hour flight we landed in Chongqing. Hot. Muggy. Barely a breeze. But a really cool city!

We arrived at our hotel with plenty of time to spare.

To pass the time we began to unpack, get all the baby's clothes and toys ready, and anything else to keep our minds off the wait. Sure, we waited three years, but that doesn't mean the last three hours are any easier.

Before long, we were off to the Civil Affairs office. The best way to describe what we were feeling is...not being exactly sure what it was we were feeling.

That non-feeling feeling grew into nervous anticipation as we sat in the waiting room with the other parents.

Then, before we knew it, our name was called.

It's amazing how far along Olivia has come since that day. We praise and thank God for his tremendous blessing, and look forward to the day when all of our kids are under one roof.

You can see more pictures at our family blog.

Friday, July 24, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - July 24, 2009

  • John Wesley charges that Calvinism makes God out to be worse than the Devil.

  • Eddie Eddings presents another installment of Strange Facts about Christian Leaders.

  • The 700 Club recently featured a report on the modern state of Calvinism. You can view it here.

  • Calvinism is not a dour theology.

  • David Mathis of Desiring God has posted part 5 of a 9-part series on the life of John Calvin.

Friday, July 10, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - July 10, 2009

  • Frank Bellizzi wishes John Calvin a happy 500th birthday.

  • Puritain Lad rightly reminds us that a belief in Calvinism is not part of the ordo salutis.

  • Margaret DeRitter, who has a love-hate relationship with the reformer, is "grateful there's more to Calvinism than predestination."

  • At 500, John Calvin still holds relevance in social and theological thought.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Where I'll Be for the Next Two Weeks

One of the reasons blog updates have been rather infrequent lately is that I've been busy getting ready to leave the country. My wife, Dawn, and I are finally going to China to meet our daughter! We've been waiting for this day for over three years now, so you I'm sure you can imagine our excitement.

We would appreciate your prayers as we embark on this adventure. Dawn had sent this list of requests out to our friends and family. If you would, please pray...:
  1. That we will have safe flights. We have seven flights over the next two weeks.

  2. That we will stay healthy.

  3. That we will not be quarantined. The U.S. State Dept. has a travel advisory regarding the quarantines, which last up to 7 days, with reports of some poor conditions (not enough water to drink, lack of good water and food, etc). Upon arrival in Beijing, you stay seated on the plane while people enter in hazmat suits and take the temperatures of all the passengers. If we or anyone within three rows of us have fevers or exhibit H1N1 symptoms, we will be quarantined. This would be difficult to accept as we would miss the Beijing tour (The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, and more), but it would also delay our "Gotcha Day" when we meet and receive Olivia. This would also add expense. We have also learned that some hotels are checking the temperatures of guests. There have been adoptive families quarantined on their trips, although overall, quarantine percentages are low in comparison to amount of travelers.

  4. That we and the other families will have fast and healthy bonding with their babies/kids. We witnessed that this can happen with our kids in Haiti and with fellow travelers. We believe it can happen here, too!

  5. That Olivia and the other kids with have smooth transitions and don't get sick. It is stressful for the kids as they have to adjust to so much -- new caregivers, different schedules, food, surroundings, etc. Aside from the day she was born, Olivia has never been outside the orphanage.

  6. That we will bless others around us and be an example for Christ. We have to show our passport to attend an International Church service, which reminds us of the blessings we have in this country.

  7. Please pray for our older two, Patricia and Philippe, in Haiti. There are families visiting in June and July and we know it must be hard for them as they watch to see if we will get out of the van. Patricia kept asking if we were coming back in June and was so sad when we said no. They know about Olivia, but will see her picture for the first time on July 15th or 16th, when another Haiti mom will visit and share pictures with them.
Above all, we want to bring glory to our Heavenly Father, who adopted us into his family.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

What We Mean by "Inalienable Rights"

This is the time of year when we patriotic Americans like to reflect on our "rights" and what has been done to secure that freedom. Some of us may even pause to read the Declaration of Independence and contemplate just what it means to have certain inalienable rights, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I would submit that we have no rights, at least not in the eternal sense. To argue otherwise is to adopt an entitlement mentality. Sadly, we Americans can't seem to help looking at liberty from the perspective of what we believe we are entitled to. When we complain about government intrusion into our lives, we gripe about "our freedoms" being taken away.

We need to remember that everything we have was given to us. We are entitled to nothing. In fact, the only things we deserve are death and eternal punishment (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, 2 Thessalonians 1:9). So, from a Christian standpoint, how do we reconcile our theology with the traditional American view of liberty?

The best way to interpret the concept of "inalienable rights" is to flip it around. When we speak of the right to life, liberty, property, the pursuit of happiness, etc., think of it not in terms of what a person deserves, but what a person isn't entitled to do to someone else. It doesn't mean that I am entitled to life, since that is an undeserved gift from my Creator; rather, it means that you have no right to take my life. The Bible calls that murder (Exodus 20:13). You have no right to take my property. That would be stealing (Exodus 20:15). And so on.

One important thing to note about the Ten Commandments is that in using words like "you shall not," they focus on God's rights, not ours. Since all men are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), all men should be treated with dignity, respect, and love -- not because they deserve it, but because God deserves it.

Friday, July 03, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - July 3, 2009

  • Good old Calvinism.

  • There's a new play about John Calvin entitled "Geneva in Flames" that will make its debut in Switzerland. The director see it as "an opportunity to deconstruct some of the clich├ęs and unfavorable images surrounding the character."

  • Tom Usher of Real Liberal Christian Church hates Calvin. And he thinks Calvinists are idiots. He writes, "Now, if you can't see that Calvin was a buffoon, what can anyone do for you?"

  • Mr. Usher hates Calvinism because it "doesn't jibe with Christianity," or what he calls "Acts-communism."

  • James is a former Southern Baptist who thinks his fellow Catholics should bone up on their Calvinism in order to better grapple with it. I still think James and I would get along. He may not be a Calvinist, but he is an LSU fan. :)

  • Calvinism in African-American history.
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