Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beached Feet

Twelve severed human feet have washed up on Vancouver's shore over the last 4 years, and no one knows why.  Since the first one was discovered in August 2007, "they have turned up with bizarre regularity."  See the fuller story.

It's Depressing

Perhaps these problems have sent you spiraling downwards.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Like Pride and Prejudice ... the Book, That Is

I know that Pride and Prejudice is allegedly more popular with the fairer sex, but I thoroughly enjoyed my recent read-through (my second).  My first introduction to the story occurred when Sara and I saw the movie at the theater (with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet).

One author writes of the novel, "[R]eaders may initially find the action somewhat slow, but if they persist they will soon be swept away by the sheer pleasure of the book" (Henrietta Ten Harmsel in Invitation to the Classics, edited by Louise Cowan and Os Guinness).  I am one who has been swept away by the sheer pleasure of the book.

What makes this book so pleasurable?  Right off the bat, plot and characters comes to mind.  The plot isn't overly intricate.  Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, who spring from different social strata, do not like each other but eventually fall in love.  But the plot is far more than that, and the various storylines that play into this plot are delightfully and effectively woven together to make a wonderful story.

Then there's the characters.  What a delightful array of characters with their idiosyncrasies!  Mr. Collins is loquacious and the ultimate brown-noser.  Lady Catherine de Bourgh is arrogant and opinionated (and how I love to see Elizabeth stand up to her).  Mrs. Bennet is ridiculous, and Mr. Bennet's sarcastic one-liners are sensibly delivered (usually).  Jane is so trusting, and Lydia is so annoying.  There's nothing bland about the cast Jane Austen has created.

More could be said.  I personally find the ending satisfying as Austen quickly reviews how things turned out for the vast array of characters.  And there's a felt justice in each one's case.

It's a good book.  (Incidentally, I think it's a good movie, too.  I have a friend who loves Austen and didn't like the movie.  But I found the movie to be pretty faithful to the book.)

First line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Last line: "Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them."

My rating (out of 5): 5

Monday, August 29, 2011

Great Memories of Our First Years of Marriage

During years 2, 3, and 4 of our marriage, Sara and I lived in the farther northern suburbs of Chicago.
On August 18, the second day of our 21st year married, Sara and I drove around remembering, and enjoying the memories.
Having checked into our Courtyard hotel in Lincolnshire, we decided to head in to Mundelein to Bill’s Pizza Pub, a memorable pizza place from our past.  Just down from the Courtyard was the McDonald’s we ate at when we first visited Trinity before we even married.  While in Bill’s parking lot, we changed our minds and decided to drive up to Round Lake Beach to see if Olando’s Pizza was still there.  Olando’s is my absolute favorite pizza place anywhere (better than Geno’s East, better than Giordano’s).  Along the way were delightful memories.  The changes in all the suburbs were incredible.  Landmarks were gone.  Roads were re-routed.  New homes, apartment buildings, and businesses were everywhere.  Everything seemed more populated.
Townline Road through Mundelein and Vernon Hills was packed and slow as ever.  But there was the Olive Garden we ate at once or twice.  There was Consumers Credit Union on Rte. 83.  Just a bank, right?  But a memory, a connection with a wonderful time in our lives, and therefore a memory that made me smile.  I was there often.  Sara remembered our insurance agent’s office on Rte. 83, but neither of us could remember his name.  There was the Lake Co. Housing Authority where Sara worked for 10 months when we first moved up to Illinois.  Getting that job was of the Lord; seriously.  Then Motorola up on the right.  Lots of building around it now.  I worked there the summer of ’94.  How did I even get that job?  Not even Sara could remember.  I’m guessing it was through a temp. agency.  We remembered eating at the Red Noodle once.  The Round Lake Beach Wal-Mart where I worked the summer of ’93 was gone!  Where did they move to?! 

But Olando’s was still there, and what a pleasure that was!  Sara got the loaded salad she fondly remembered as well as Olando’s typically huge slice of pepperoni.  I had two slices, which is a little more than a meal—1 sausage and 1 mega-meat.  Two Diet Pepsis completed our meal.  We grabbed our food and pop and ate in the parking lot of the neighboring bank.  Wow!  What a meal!  We drove on to Ingleside to the apartment we called home and the complex Sara managed.  The property is no longer Water’s Edge.  It’s been sold and apparently combined with the complex across the pond.  The apartments appear to be well-maintained, though Sara couldn’t help noticing some vacancies.  Another memory: the Lord’s helping Sara to rent apartments and significantly reduce the number of vacancies.  M. Myers Properties was pleased with her management. 

On in to Fox Lake, right next to Ingleside.  Up there should be the library we frequented.  We rented movies there from time to time for $1 each, I think; a good deal at the time.  Wow!  They expanded it!  It’s not the small affair it used to be.  There’s Dino’s.  Sara ate there once.  Hey!  The Dunkin’ Donuts is still there.  I remember going there with Kent Miller when he and Debby visited.  But the Little Caesar’s was gone.  Heading south on 59, which was part of my route to Trinity each day, we passed the familiar Volo bog.  But wow, is Volo itself built up now.  On through Buffalo Grove.  Down that road is where Bob and Jeanette moved to.  We remembered eating at their place a couple times.  Hannah was just a toddler.  Bob and I car-pooled to Trinity during my first year.
September 1992-June 1995.  We loved our time in Illinois.  The Lord forged us together as a couple.  Removed from other family, we learned to depend on one another.  Great memories.  Thank you, Lord, for those 3 years, and thank you for these 3 days to remember and smile.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Taking a Break from Blogging

Dear Faithful Readers of Forest View,

Thanks for going against the flow.
I am taking a two-week break from many things, and that includes blogging.
There are certain things I want to focus on, like my family and reading.
Hopefully I will be rarin' to blog again around Aug 30.

--Kent S

Monday, August 8, 2011

Friction with the World


a church in Laos

On March 21 Muslims shot Jamil (25) and another man at church.  Sana, Jamil's widow after 1 month of marriage, is losing to her grief.  Sosan, the other man's widow, is now a single parent of 6 kids.  (Pakistan)

On July 19, I was preparing a Bible study lesson on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace.  On the same day, a mob attacked the homes of 5 Christian families and destroyed much of their possessions.  (Sri Lanka)

Recently, Noy and his family were forced from his in-laws' home, where they lived, because he took his daughter to a hospital instead of a witch doctor.  His daughter recovered, but Noy, his wife, and 2 children were left without clothing or tools for cooking and farming.  Voice of the Martyrs helped them buy a house.  (Laos)

On June 26, I preached about Elijah being fed by the ravens.  On the same day Pastor T, a Mennonite from Ho Chi Minh City, was arrested and severely beaten and denied visitation by his wife.  Since then he has been taken to an unknown location.  (Vietnam)

On June 8, I taught on the resurrection of Jesus in our evening Bible study.  On the same day, Hindus invaded Pastor Ninama's house and beat his father (65), sister, wife, and 3 children.  This had happened one other time, and Hindus are now threatening his life.  (India) 


Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Importance of Love

Consider the two great commandments.  What is the command common to both?  Love. 

“'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  (Matt 27:37-40 NIV)

The most important thing you can do is to love.  It should be the Christian's #1 priority.

Consider the badge of the Christian.  How will people know that we are followers of Christ?  Is it our dress?  Our activities?  Our confession?  Yes, sometimes.  But it's most clearly seen elsewhere.  Jesus identified our badge as his followers as love.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  (John 13:34-35 NIV)

Among the many virtues (self-control, joy, kindness, humility, etc.), one stands out as preeminent: love.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Col 3:12-14 NIV)

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

Listening to a recording of A. W. Tozer preaching recently, he said something that intrigued me.  "Do you know what chapter of the Bible troubles me the most?  It's not [I don't remember which he said], and it's not Revelation 19.  No, the chapter in the Bible that troubles me the most is 'If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.'" (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV)

Pile up all your accomplishment, all your awards, all your achievements, and bring them before the throne of Christ.  What will he be looking for?  Love.  All your good deeds, if unaccompanied by love--nothing.  Reread those 3 verses.  Pretty powerful.

One other passage shows love's prominence and preeminence:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  (Romans 13:8-10 NIV)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Islam Poised to Dominate, Aided by the White House

Here's a half-hour program that is eye-opening, informative, and cause for pause.  In all the talks and chatter and opinions about Islam, I found this particular program singularly helpful.  The interviewer is not my favorite--he talks too much--but he is informed, and his guest is worth the price of the ticket, so to speak.

Muslim Activities in America

John Stott

John Stott, Evangelical, Anglican, 1921-2011
John R. W. Stott made the move from this life to the next on July 27.  On that day I took my kids to their sports practices, gave Andrew his first driving lesson, ran some errands with Callie, and packed for our trip to Kentucky.  But John Stott left all these earthly cares and entered his eternal rest and joy.

I thank the Lord for John Stott.  I have benefitted from his writings.  His commentary on 1 John continues to shape the way I think about that letter.  His commentary on the Sermon on the Mount and his concept of counter-cultural Christianity have also left lasting impressions on me.  He had an uncanny ability for exposition, a knack for outlining and summarizing biblical material in a way I could easily grasp.  And he could do it in fewer words than many other commentators.  I like Moo’s commentary on Romans, for example—it’s very good; but Dr. Stott’s is very helpful when I don’t have the time to read Moo.  The other Stott commentary I love is Acts.

Your Mind Matters encouraged me to love the Lord with all my mind.  I still turn to The Authentic Jesus for his exposition of Luke 1:1-4.  His book on the Holy Spirit (Baptism and Fullness) I found balanced (as Stott often is).  Without a doubt my favorite Stott book is The Cross of Christ.  How that deepened my understanding of the cross, widened my view of its implications, increased my appreciation of God’s wisdom, and multiplied my reverence and love for our Triune God!

Sara and I heard John Stott preach once.  He spoke at a chapel service when I was at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (early 1990s).  He had rosy red cheeks, and he preached out of 1 Cor 4.

I benefitted from his writings, his preaching (once), and from his example.  He loved the Lord, he loved the Word, and he was committed to evangelism and missions.  Like his writings, his life was characterized by a godly balance in the service of the Lord Jesus.

Friday, August 5, 2011

9 Things to Pray for Your Pastor

These are not original with me, but I'd love it if people prayed them for me!

1. That the gospel would be the focal point of my life and identity - not manhood, not being a husband, not being a father, not being a pastor, but who I am in Christ.

2. That I would not fear man by desiring the admiration of people; that the Lord's "Well done" would be ever before my eyes.

3. That the Lord would not allow me to go long between repentances; that I would keep short accounts with him and be sensitive to and ruthless with my sin.

4. That I would continue to grow in the character qualities of the man of God (1 Tim 3:1-7; 2 Tim 2:22-26; Titus 1:5-9).

5. That I would have a consistent, powerful, diligent life of private prayer; that I would grow in my dependence on the Holy Spirit.

6. That the Lord would give me great diligence in study and sermon preparation, making the most of my time.

7. That my preaching and teaching ministry would be empowered by the Holy Spirit; that the Lord would effect real change in our lives through it; and that by it we would be more endeared to Christ.

8. That I would boldly and faithfully and humbly and joyfully and intentionally share the gospel with the non-Christians in my social orbit.

9. That I would see Jesus as supremely valuable, my greatest treasure, and as my dear friend.

HT: Trevin Wax

Thursday, August 4, 2011

3 Audacious Claims in Daniel

This is supposedly a statue of King Nebuchadnezzar.
In each chapter of Daniel 2-4, a statement of challenge is made about God that the unfolding events disproves.

Daniel 2: When commanded by the king to not only interpret his dream but also to tell him what he dreamed, the king's counselors reply, "There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks!  No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer.  What the king asks is too difficult.  No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live with men" (2:10-11 NIV).

Daniel's God, however, proves the counselors wrong, and reveals in the process the inferiority of both the counselors and their gods.

Daniel 3: Infatuated with himself and furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, King Nebuchadnezzar orders them to worship his image.  "But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace.  Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"  (3:15 NIV, emphasis added)

Well, the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego worship can rescue them from his hand.  And in the end, Nebuchadnezzar is praising Him (3:28).

Daniel 4: King Nebuchadnezzar returns in Daniel 4 to make another audacious claim.  Though warned of his pride, he does not check it, and, admiring the view from his roof, indulges in self-worship: "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"  (4:30 NIV)

At that moment God begins a humbling process in the life of King Nebbie, and later he comes to acknowledge that everything he has is from God and that "Heaven rules" (4:26), even when Nebbie is king.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Funny

A man often walked through a cemetery on his way home. One night, though, unaware that a new grave had been dug in his path, he tumbled in. For some time he struggled to get out of the 7 foot deep grave, but finally gave up and settled down for the night.

An hour later, a farmer out possum hunting came walking through the cemetery and he too fell into the grave. He began a desperate attempt to get out, unaware that there was anyone else in the grave. The first man listened to him for a few minutes, then reached over in the pitch darkness and laid a hand on his shoulder. "You can’t get out of here," he said...

but he did.

Source: SermonCentral.com

Patriotic Song a Prayer


Katharine Lee Bates penned "O Beautiful for Spacious Skies" around the turn of the 20th century.  A celebration of America, it also contains a prayer of sorts, and how appropriate for today.  If only God would do this!

(verse 2)

Katharine Lee Bates
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011