We celebrated the covenant of baptism in church this morning, putting the Triune name upon a new baby girl in our midst! What a blessing it is to see extended families coming together and rejoicing in a new member of the church. (We had more people in service this morning than I think we've ever had!)
Coincidentally, it was also the day of our Sunday school promotion service; during the second hour, we give reports on what the classes have been reviewing, and we celebrate kids moving up into various classes. I led a devotion from Deuteronomy 6, seeing that parents hold the primary duty for the education of their children, but also seeing throughout Scripture to see that God has never intended for parents to carry that burden alone. Thus enter the covenantal involvement of other saints into our children's education and spiritual life. We should seek not to replace or undermine, but always to support and supplement parents in their incredible kingdom-mission.
Tonight I'm preaching on "Walking by Faith" from Proverbs 14:1-15. Here's a fascinating verse:
Pro. 14:6 - A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge is easy to one who has understanding.
Easy. God says that knowledge is easy. Allow me to make an observation as a relatively new "blogger" (ugh, hate that word); you would not be able to tell the truth of this verse from the majority of Christian blogs, or even Christian magazines/websites, out there. Everyone is struggling to find the truth, unsure about themselves or others or their opinions or others' opinions; there seems to run beneath the surface of American Christendom a vague fear of never really being settled, never really having firm, rock-solid convictions on important stuff. But that's not God's plan. We are supposed to be people who study and learn and grow; but we are also supposed to be people who know, who have a significant body of knowledge that is beyond doubt, beyond assault, beyond question. It's easy because we have the trustworthy Word of truth and the Spirit of Christ within us.
Short Book Notes
Withhold Not Correction, by Bruce Ray - this is a book about corporal punishment of children. For many reasons, spanking is unpopular, uncool, abusive, etc. But Scripture is clear - those who withhold the rod hate their kids (Pro. 13:24), and so we spank our children. But there are many valid questions which follow: What's the goal? How do I do it? What's the difference between Biblical spanking and authoritarian revenge? It's these questions where Bruce Ray's book shines. It is warm, Biblical, and thoughtful - and it helpfully addresses the problems that may come from an unfaithful reading of Scripture (i.e., what's the difference between spanking and "abuse"). This is something parents need to have settled in their minds.
Even young parents who have been brought up with a loving "rod" don't always know how to do it right themselves. Please buy this book and absorb it; God will be glorified in our homes.
Baudolino, by Umberto Eco - I've been told that I shouldn't have read this first out of Eco's canon. Alas, it's too late.
Baudolino is a historical fiction/fantasy, set in the 13th century. We follow Baudolino, as good a liar as they come, as he tells his story to a new friend. His story involves many famous people, places, churches, etc. Eventually, he gets to telling about his search for the famous Prester John, who lives in a country no one's ever been to. On his way to this country, he has some odd (and some obscene) adventures with some odd people...wish I could be more descriptive here, but it wouldn't help you much.
The most outstanding feature of this book is its great skepticism. Baudolino is a liar, a great one even. Much of his progress through life has come from his abilities to make things up and then get people, even himself eventually, to believe them. This is all good and fine until Eco takes aim at the church (by the way, Eco has some sort of established relationship with the Vatican). It turns out that the reason Baudolino and his friends are searching for Prester John is a letter he sent to the emperor. But it quickly fades from his memory that he and his friends wrote the letter in the first place.
As they go throughout their adventures, much is made of "icons" (physical memorabilia of sacred people/things), especially of the bowl Jesus drank from on the cross. This icon becomes a source of hope and vision, even as Baudolino puts it out of his mind that it was a bowl his father carved out of a root.
And so the story goes. I won't go too much further, because I can't recommend the book for its unwholesomeness. I will say that I greatly disliked it at first; but now, a couple months removed, I'm more certain that it's a valuable and stinging critique from one who sees "value" but not "truth" in religion. This is a critique I want to be better at combatting on a daily basis.