Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Father's Bargain

Paul Washer preached the gospel this morning at our church.  He was in town because of our youth camp, where he will be the keynote speaker.  I had never heard of him before the announcement that he would be preaching, but now that I have heard him I will be seeking more from him.

He preached on one verse this morning:  II Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  If you are interested in his sermon, you can watch it here.  I spent 80 minutes in complete captivation as he presented that one verse of scripture in such a way as to make me rejoice, weep, praise God,  feel the love of God as well as understand His wrath all at the same time.  It was an emotionally and spiritually grueling hour and 20 minutes, but I wouldn't take back one single second of it.

In his sermon, he quoted Puritan preacher John Flavel several times, but it was this excerpt that really brought me to my knees.  Paul conveyed it in such a powerful way and you can see it at around 1:03 on the video.  I would encourage you to watch at the very least that small part of his sermon, because it is absolutely amazing.  Here is the text from "The Father's Bargain".

Here you may suppose the Father to say when driving His bargain with Christ for you:

The Father speaks. 

My Son, here is a company of poor, miserable souls that have utterly undone themselves and now lay open to my justice. Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them.

The Son responds. 

O my Father. Such is my love to and pity for them, that rather then they shall perish eternally I will be responsible for them as their guarantee. Bring in all thy bills, that I may see what they owe thee. Bring them all in, that there be no after-reckonings with them. At my hands shall thou require it. I would rather choose to suffer the wrath that is theirs then they should suffer it. Upon me, my Father, upon me be all their debt.

The Father responds. 

But my Son, if thou undertake for them, thou must reckon to pay the last mite. Expect no abatement. Son, if I spare them... I will not spare you.

The Son responds. 

Content Father. Let it be so. Charge it all upon me. I am able to discharge it. And though it prove a kind of undoing to me, though it impoverish all my riches, empty all my treasures... I am content to take it."

Excerpt from "The Father's Bargain"
John Flavel

Friday, July 8, 2011

High Flight

In honor of the last space shuttle flight....

High Flight

 Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
 Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
 of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
 You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
 High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
 I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
 My eager craft through footless halls of air....

 Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
 I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
 Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
 And, while with silent lifting mind I have trod
 The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
 - Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

--John Magee

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Character Assassination in the Media

The media circus surrounding the Casey Anthony trial this week has been crazy.  First a verdict of not guilty was returned for the murder of Caylee, but then she was found guilty of lying to law enforcement officers.  Public outrage was immediate and fierce, including my own.  But as I've read and listened to many of the comments about Ms. Anthony, it has made me stop and think about what really happened in that court room.

I know this isn't going to win me any popularity contests, but a jury of her peers heard all the evidence and were unable to convict Ms. Anthony because the prosecution could not clearly show cause of death. Let me pose a question. If you were on trial, had lied about very important issues, but were still very much innocent of murder, wouldn't YOU want a jury that was careful in it's deliberation of the facts? Or would you prefer that they be swayed by the public's opinion of you, no matter how skewed it might be?  Only God knows exactly what happened to that little girl, and if it was Casey she will get her due and it will be far worse than our justice system can mete out.

I don't really know what I believe about the case.  I actually only have the information that the media gives me so I don't think that I have enough facts to form an informed, intelligent opinion.  I understand the outrage that a small child is dead, possibly at the hands of a family member, but there is also the possibility that her death really was accidental.  It saddens me to see people picketing outside the courthouse, screaming that Ms. Anthony is a baby murderer and that she deserves to die.  This is not an election where we can pout after the candidate we supported lost, and sometimes make disparaging comments about the winner.  This wasn't a majority wins situation.  The twelve people who represent the rest of us heard the evidence and returned a verdict based on facts to which we are not necessarily privy, although many have used the limited information in the media to make uninformed opinions about her guilt.

I don't think that I am defending Casey Anthony here, at least that is not my intent.  But you cannot even argue that she's a celebrity (have you seen the pictures of her and OJ side by side yet?).  She is a person who was plucked out of obscurity and became front page news because a child was involved, and we are always more outraged when children are involved.  If I can't believe that the twelve people who returned a not guilty verdict did so with the utmost deliberation and consideration, then I have no hope for myself or anyone else who might find themselves accused of a crime they did not commit finding justice.  It would have disturbed me more had they convicted her based on the public outcry that she was guilty, instead of really looking at the evidence and facts of the case.

It's so easy to get caught up in the anger and incredulousness that a case like this invariably causes, but much harder to look beyond how we feel so we can see what really might have happened.  It's tragic enough that one life was ended and destroyed, but compounding that by destroying another one who might be innocent will not bring her back.  The old adage that two wrongs don't make a right is absolutely true here.  

Did Casey Anthony kill her daughter?  I don't have the answer to that question, but if I believe in our system of justice then I have to believe that insofar as they were able, our imperfect version of justice was served this week.  

Monday, July 4, 2011


It started with a text inviting us to watch fireworks with friends, and grew into an entire weekend of fun and fellowship.  The plans to organize my linen closet, and rearrange the shelves in the utility room, were replaced with swimming, friends around the kitchen table and a picnic on the church lawn.

We set out Friday evening with our friends Curtis and Jyl to watch the fireworks with the rest of our city.  We went early to find a good, grassy spot to set up camp and found a great place just across the street from the launch zone.  With the help of seven kids, we soon had the chairs and coolers unpacked and placed in the growing patch of shade as the sun began to set.  Although our little area was small, the kids still found a way to run around and play.  The adults sat together and visited to the sound of our children laughing (and occasionally crying) as we waited for the sun to finish her descent in the sky.

The Griffins have become such good friends to our family, in no small part because Trevor and I have found good friends in Curtis and Jyl separately.  If you are married for any length of time, you will develop friendships with couples based on the friendship of the wives or husbands.  Sometimes these relationships are brought into a marriage at the beginning, and even though you might not click with the wife of his best friend, you can still hang out and have a good time.  She's not someone to whom you would tell your innermost thoughts, but she's fun to have over with her husband for a movie night.

Then there are some couple friends that don't really work because you might love noshing about scrapbooking, cooking and how fun it would be to decorate a little girls' room with her, but the husbands have absolutely nothing in common.  There is no animosity, but they really have nothing to say beyond the initial pleasantries.  You really want the "married couple friends" thing to work, but you find that it's just uncomfortable to be together in that capacity.

So when you find a married couple where both husband and wife are good friends individually, and we all have fun collectively you feel like the stars have aligned and all is right with the world.  Our children are friends and play well together (even fighting at times like siblings), and we have a genuine love for this family.  God blessed us with many dear friendships since we've moved to Oklahoma, and we've been grateful for each one because we needed that support without any family here.  Our friends have become our family, and it's simply God's hand of providence that we have been cared for so lovingly.

So as we sat in the balmy July air watching the fireworks burst in the sky above us, I looked around at Trevor, Curtis, Jyl and all the kids and said a prayer of thanksgiving for our life here.  Thankfulness for living in this great country and for having friends with whom we can share these celebrations.  Most importantly, thankfulness for these friends who are of an eternal variety and although miles and circumstances might separate us in this life, death never will.