• Busy and Tired

    800px-2010-07-20_Black_windup_alarm_clock_face_Sun_LadderIn response to yesterday’s post, a blog reader asked why regularly telling people that you are busy and/or tired is a gentle selfishness. Here are several reasons why it is very often an expression of lack of thought for others.

    It implies that the person asking you is neither. When someone says, “Hey, how are you?” and your normal response is, “Busy” or “Tired” it implies that they aren’t, and that you are either unusually fruitful, in demand, and hardworking, or have a physical issue that makes you more frail and fatigued than the rest of us can be. Continue reading

  • Gentle Selfishness

    800px-Narcissus-Caravaggio_(1594-96)_edited A classic novel I’m reading had that phrase in it, describing a character’s personality. The old man was not evil, malicious, scheming, or even mean: he just had a gentle selfishness.

    The kind of behavior we usually think of as selfish is obvious: lying, cheating, stealing, hurting, etc., to get what we want. Everyone recognizes it for what it is. But a gentle selfishness, because of its very gentleness, is subtle, deceptive, and far more difficult to detect than the blatant kind. Often, it is in adults. Everyone is born selfish, and children clearly express this, often learning more gentle forms of the sin as they mature and realize that crass egotism is both conspicuous and socially unacceptable. Continue reading

  • Grace At The Grocery Store

    IMG_5855 “Spiritual struggle” isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when I think about buying my food. But lately, I’ve noticed a lot of judgement as I work through the aisles – from other people to me and from me to other people.

    Kids are a big source of this. When I see someone else’s kids screaming their heads off, I tend to feel smug that mine aren’t grabbing the candy or taking off in the produce section or hiding behind temporary displays. Mine are sitting nicely in the cart watching the bad kids. That is just pride! I feel as though I am in a position to condemn this woman’s parenting because God is graciously enabling my kids to obey. What this other mother needs are not judgmental looks, but encouragement, and maybe the gospel. Continue reading

  • The Sanctified Introvert

    God gave us our personalities. In their sinless forms, each is perfectly suited for Kingdom use. In their fallen forms, they can be excuses for a lack of obedience in some aspect of Christian service. Extroverts can control and manipulate people; introverts avoid them. But as each personality becomes more Christ-like in sanctification, it becomes more useful to the Kingdom and a greater blessing to others. B. B. Warfield had some wise words for those of us who would rather not exert ourselves for other people:

    “Self-sacrifice brought Christ into the world. And self-sacrifice will lead us, His followers, not away from, but into the midst of men. Wherever men suffer, there will we be to comfort. Wherever men fail, there will we be to uplift. Self-sacrifice means not indifference to our times and our fellows, it means absorption in them. It means forgetfulness of self in others. It means not that we should live one life, but a thousand lives—binding ourselves to a thousand souls by the filaments of so loving a sympathy that their lives become ours. Continue reading

  • Of Weddings and Heaven

    IMG_0547 I know two young women getting married this summer. They have pretty rings, enjoyed shopping for the dress, had fun at showers, and got the bridal party all lined up. But it’s not enough for them. Pleasant as engagement has been, they want to be married. In fact, they can’t wait. If you asked them to please bump things off just a little longer, they would refuse. They’ve done all the preparations of engagement in order to make the wedding possible. They’ve been promised marriage by men they love, and they aren’t going to take anything less, any later than they have to.

    So it’s the marriage that is informing how they think and live right now, not the engagement ring. That piece of jewelry is just an encouragement and symbol of what’s coming. Continue reading

  • Things Dad Did

    climbEvery dad is different. But there are biblical principles that should guide a father’s parenting. Here are some of them, and what that looked like in action when I was growing up.

    Dad taught us the Word. Though he was a pastor, the main way Dad taught us the Bible when we were little was through family worship. Every night: Bible reading, discussion, prayer, singing, catechism. Sometimes Dad was exhausted, sometimes we wouldn’t stop laughing, sometimes the phone kept ringing, but family worship was still consistent. Continue reading

  • Another Ordinary Pastor

    Last Week in Canada 030Earlier this week, Tim Challies linked to this article. In the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, each year the synod reads aloud obituaries of pastors who died in the past year. It is a way of honouring God’s faithfulness to them and an encouragement to ministers who are still serving. This is one of them.

    Born to Scottish immigrants, William Campbell grew up in a loving, Presbyterian Church of Canada home in Ontario. While employed by a large newspaper, he married Maureen Dawson in the summer of 1956. During routine travel for work, he saw an entire family known for their immorality suddenly converted; Continue reading

  • Leaving and Cleaving

    IMG_1148“A couple should live at least a hundred miles away from both sets of parents for at least the first year of marriage.” That’s what an older couple told us as we rode to church in the back seat of their car. We thought we were doing pretty well by that standard: it wasn’t quite our first year of marriage, but we were 3,000 miles away from all four parents.

    Leaving home in order to join together and form a new, separate identity as husband and wife is woven into the creation ordinance. Genesis 2:24 tells us that “a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife…” The New Testament repeats this mandate (Matt. 19:5). Getting married necessitates getting out of your parents’ home (in all but very rare circumstances) and creating a new, independent household. At least, it does according to biblical standards. Continue reading