only help my unbelief

On birth control
February 29, 2008, 7:00 pm
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I ran across a link to a message by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church about birth control. It’s part of a series talking about misconceptions people have about Christianity, etc. I listened to it with skepticism, because the link to it made it seem like he was going to say people who decide not to use birth control are crazy.

He does say that, about some people, though he does have good things to say about a family he knows with 13 children.

There was a lot that I don’t agree with, because he spends a lot of time talking about legalism and how it’s wrong to make your opinion binding on everyone else. I agree with that, but the things he was talking about as being legalistic weren’t necessarily one person’s opinion; they were God’s opinions.

He also seems to simplify the arguments a lot. I had a hard time following him at times, because he really likes to joke around.

His greatest emphasis is that Christians should be stewards of what God gives them, and he puts children in the category of what we should be stewards of. I’m just not sure I buy that argument – or maybe I do buy it, but I’m just not convinced that’s how most Christians make decisions.

I’m actually listening to it as I write this, and the more he talks I think the less I disagree. He takes all these arguments that anti-birth control advocates sometimes use and tears them apart. And honestly, some of the arguments are silly. But Driscoll is a smart guy, and I really think that he shouldn’t mischaracterize all Christians that way.

The way I see it, I’m going to take tylenol when I have a headache, and I’m going to put neosporin on the next cut I have. God has blessed us with those cures for our ailments. But birth control isn’t a cure for an ailment.

I want children, and I want lots of them. I trust that God knows me and loves me and wants what’s best for me, and so I’m not going to treat God like I think I can control things for myself.

Let Him give me 13 children; let Him give me one. I’ll welcome them all, from the first day I’m married until the last day I’m able to bear children.


‘A common worldly kind of Christianity’
February 25, 2008, 3:29 am
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As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m plodding through J.C. Ryle’s Holiness. I say plodding – but it’s really like strolling, because it isn’t that I’m not enjoying it. It is a wonderful book, and one that I would commend to anyone who wants to be challenged in their faith. I just finished the chapter on Moses, and Ryle had something good to say about worldly Christians.

“There is a common worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have, and think they have enough – a cheap Christianity which offends nobody, and requires no sacrifice, which costs nothing, and is worth nothing.”

This convicted me. First of all, I often think I have enough of God. Secondly, my faith tends to offend very few people. And thirdly, and probably most importantly, I sacrifice very little. Most decisions I make aren’t unpleasant to me at all, and aside from the painful consequences of stupid decisions, I suffer very little affliction.

Tonight at the vesper service I was overwhelmed with the love of Christ. It started with an encouraging conversation with the head of the childrens’ ministry, continued when a four-year-old climbed on my lap, and came to a climax when someone who I really enjoy being with asked me if I wanted to have breakfast together soon.

I can’t put into words what a great blessing those things were. With Christian 400 miles away and a 9-5 schedule that keeps me tired and away from my dearest friends, loneliness comes like a thief in the night, only it doesn’t slip away easily. And because I don’t know many people at church, going there hasn’t always been a comfort. But tonight I felt like I belonged.

On the way home I listened to “O, the deep, deep love of Jesus” and started weeping because His love truly is deep. It’s deeper than my concerns and anxieties, deeper than my hesitation to draw closer to others, deeper than the sorrows of loneliness. And He pours it out on His children in abundance.

I’m excited about the coming week, because today, on the Lord’s Day, He captured my heart with Himself.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” – Colossians 1:17

Flowers and flutes
February 21, 2008, 4:28 am
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Christian came down to visit last weekend, which was really fun. The Lord blessed us with some deep conversations and a lot of time spent reading and praying.

The occasion of his trip was Valentine’s Day. These (see below) were supposed to come on Thursday, but ended up not getting to me until Monday because of a delay at the florist.

Nevertheless, they were still beautiful.

But perhaps more beautiful was the note inside. I couldn’t ask for someone better than whom I have.

And, in addition to being quite romantic and sweet, Mr. Crouch also has a goofy side. His new favorite song is “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles, and we listened to it at least four times in a row while sitting at Sonic. Christian also felt the need to play along on his imaginary flute. As you can see, I was greatly amused.

The sin in me
February 15, 2008, 6:15 pm
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Every morning I go through pretty much the same routine once I park my car behind the Coliseum. Instead of going through the closer door to the newsroom, I walk through the parking lot and go around to the front so I can pick up some newspapers. Most days I grab four (all are provided free for students): The New York Times, USA Today, The State (Columbia’s paper) and The Daily Gamecock (the student newspaper). I generally get to school a little early, so I have some time to flip through the papers before we get started.

This morning I saw a Facebook group about something in Northern Illinois. Because I was out with friends most of yesterday, I missed the news about the shooting there. It hurt me to read about more people dead, more people afraid, more families broken.

I then switched over to the student newspaper and on the front page was a story about a fashion show with dresses made out of condoms. The intense marketing effort towards college students breaks my heart, because I know this isn’t what pleases the Lord.

Then I went to The State and saw an article about churches in South Carolina trying to be allowed to host poker games and raffles in order to raise money. It hasn’t passed yet, but it’s on its way. This hurt me as well, because I’m pretty sure God didn’t intend for His people to raise money, no matter how desperately its needed, by succumbing to the practices of the world. Thankfully, if you read the article, there is at least one pastor who sees the inherent problem in churches doing this.

And reading all those things starts to make me feel self-righteous that I’ve never done any of these things. And then I remember last night when I spoke harsh words to someone I love, and how I steamed over things that person had said for a long time, and it took much longer than it should have for me to confess my hard heart to God.

The fact is, the sin in my heart is no worse than the sin in the world. By the grace of God I’ve been forgiven for it, but I wouldn’t put anything past myself.

Praise God that He has given us forgiveness for our sins, and that He promises hope for this fallen world. One day, Christ will return.

Maranatha – come, Lord Jesus!

Picture(s) of the (last few) day(s)
February 14, 2008, 12:58 am
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So, like I said the other day – this picture of the thing isn’t quite so day-related. But I have managed to snap a few pictures over the last couple of days, despite how busy we’ve been at the Reporter.

This is a picture I took on Friday after the Internet had been down all morning. Our editing professor, Dr. Roberts, lamented the fact that we are all “digital children” who are at a loss at how to report without the Internet. We were at a loss, so a big group of us went to CiCi’s for lunch. Thankfully, when we got back, the Internet had returned!

This is a picture of the reporter’s nook in the newsroom. Eric likes to draw a lot.

Here’s a close-up of my favorite drawing on the board. Math nerds, unite.

I hope those pictures give you a little bit of an idea of what is going on in my life. If I had to take a picture of today, though, it would look something like this (I wrote the story “Local training groups provide encouragement and support for runners”).

‘The faith of adherence’
February 10, 2008, 11:02 pm
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“There are some who are true believers, and yet weak in faith. They do indeed receive Christ and free grace, but it is with a shaking hand; they have, as divines say, the faith of adherence; they will stick to Christ, as theirs. But they want the faith of evidence; they cannot see themselves as His. They are believers, but of little faith; they hope that Christ will not cast them off, but are not sure that He will take them up.” – John Durant, preacher at Canterbury Cathedral, 1649

I am reading through J.C. Ryle’s Holiness very, very slowly. Today I read through the notes at the end of the chapter on Assurance, which basically consists of quotes from a variety of Puritans and other godly men of the ages (or, as both Durant and Ryle call them, the “divines). This was one of the many quotes to which I could relate, because I find myself with a very small amount of faith most of the time.

In other news, my “picture of the day” endeavor didn’t last very long. I took a picture on Friday, but never uploaded it. Maybe I should take a picture every day during the week, and then upload them at the end of the week and instead do a “week in pictures.” That would probably suit my dislike of uploading pictures every day much better.

Speaking of pictures, I started uploading all my pictures to Picasa instead of to Facebook. Facebook has been ornery lately and won’t let me upload more than 5 pictures at a time, and I just don’t have the time or energy for that. Picasa is much easier to organize and has a nice clean interface. I have a lot of pictures I haven’t gotten to yet, but I’m uploading them from most to least recent, so if you want to see if I’ve captured you in a spectacular moment, here’s the site:

The pictures I’m most proud of are the ones in the album called “Carolina Reporter.” Not all of them are good, but I think my photography is getting a lot better.

Look for more pictures of the day (maybe) and hopefully more posts this coming week. Grace and peace.

Picture of the day: Blue skies
February 8, 2008, 3:27 am
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I haven’t had a lot of time for words, but I really enjoy taking pictures, and as they say, a picture is worth… well, you know.

I’m gonna try to do this every day. I think it will show what I’m feeling a lot better than my words, and it also gives me a chance to practice my photography.

The sky today was so blue you could jump right in and swim in it. Only South Carolina has skies like this.