Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Lord's Day in My Living Room

Sunday is the Lord's Day, because Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week.

Today, we worshiped Jesus with this group of people who supported us with their presence at our new and still nameless church's first worship service. Those pictured here may or may not become members of this church, but we are encouraged because God surpassed our expectations today!

We prayed. We read from the Bible together. We sang songs and hymns to God. We took an offering. I preached the first message in a series on I John that I'm calling "Making Sure". We sang to God some more. We closed by reading Numbers 6:24-26. After the service, we enjoyed spending time talking with one another over dessert. Simple. Church. Simple Church.

It's the first day of the week. Now it is our privilege to spend most of the rest of this week reaching out to unchurched people. Please pray for the believers pictured here to trust God and share their faith in Jesus with someone this week. Please pray for God to grow His church by causing men and women near us to repent and believe in Jesus and then by including them in our fellowship with the Father and the Son (I John 1:3).

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Name the New Church Contest!

Entries are now being accepted for the "Name the New Church" contest. Prizes will be awarded to the top three entries at our dinner and prayer meeting tonight. Prizes will also be awarded to the top three entries received via this blog! Categories include:

Coolest Name
Most Theologically Reflective Name
Most Culturally Relevant Name
Most Culturally Irrelevant Name
Best Use of Nearby Natural Landmarks in the Name

Don't Delay! The contest ends soon! Submit your entries by posting a comment today!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Becky's Airplane

The Lord willing, our good friend Becky will be taking this plane to Christmas Island next week. Becky was so kind and gave us and our kids a tour of this very big, very tech-y plane today.

Becky is a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

This is Megan and Becky standing beside the plane. Those metal doohickeys by Becky are the external components for the Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer that Becky uses in her work.

This is a view of the Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer from the inside of the plane. This doohickey is going to help Becky and other scientists learn more about how we should respond to climate change. Cool, huh?

This is the view out Becky's airplane window for the long trip to Christmas Island. Go Becky! Thanks for helping us learn how to be better stewards of God's creation and for being a good example of a God-fearing Scientist for me and my kids.

The Women Stole the Show

Meg and I went on a date last night. We ran through a surprise rain shower and got to the theater just in time for the latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The women definitely stole the show.
First there was Luna Lovegood. So cute and so weird.

Then the unpleasantly pleasant Delores Umbridge sacking my favorite, Professor Trelawney, while the maternal Professor Minerva McGonnagal comes to the rescue.

And finally the EVIL Bellatrix Lestrange. Helena Bonham Carter gets my vote for best portrayal of a witch that I NEVER want to meet.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Wonder If I'll Ever Ski in New Zealand...

It was hot today. The heat got me thinking about how much better I like winter around here than summer. If it's going to be hot, I need to be around a good lake, and there's just not much water out here. July and August are great months for high alpine hiking in Colorado, but they stink for just about everything else. Too hot and too dry. You know, there are people in New Zealand who are snow skiing today. I wonder if I'll ever ski in New Zealand?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cloud Seeding

It's not an urban legend, there really is "cloud seeding" going on here in Colorado. Check out this article from the Summit Daily News.

There's Good Food in Evansville!

I returned late last night from a quick trip to Evansville, Indiana. I made many new friends at Westwood General Baptist Church and enjoyed myself a lot. Thanks to Bob, Jeff, Lloyd, Jane, Chris, Jeff and Michelle for inviting me to preach at Westwood yesterday, and for being such good hosts.

If you're ever anywhere near Evansville, Indiana, I heartily recommend checking out this restaurant. They had the best fried green tomatoes I have EVER tasted.

I was also very impressed by the beautiful new campus of the University of Southern Indiana.
Go Screaming Eagles!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Book Review: God's Indwelling Presence

I haven't read anything this academically rigorous in quite a while. My brain is tired, but I hope stronger for the workout.

How much continuity is there between the Old & New Testaments? How much discontinuity is there? These are big questions in biblical theology with big implications for local church life. The answers to these questions influence the decisions churches make on issues like baptizing infants, church discipline, worship liturgies, leadership structures and church government.

In this book, James Hamilton focuses on the question of whether people in Old Testament times were indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The book is a major exegetical study of John's Gospel, though it also surveys the entire scope of the biblical canon. Heavily footnoted, it often makes for laborious reading, but scholars, theologians, pastors and teachers in local churches can benefit from this study.

Hamilton earned a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, America's seed-bed of dispensationalism. Hamilton has also been heavily influenced by Dr. Craig Blaising, one of our country's most able teachers of "progressive dispensationalism" (a modified version of the classical dispensationalism taught at DTS for years).

Hamilton concludes that there is more discontinuity than continuity between the testaments when it comes to the question of whether the Holy Spirit indwells believers in either testament. Not surprising, given the influences in his theological education, but he does a more than adequate job of making his points directly from the scriptures. Hamilton concludes:

"Regeneration is not to be equated with indwelling. Regeneration happens when God gives spiritual life to a person who was previously spiritually dead. Understood this way, regeneration is possible at any time in salvation history. The Spirit indwells believers when God takes up residence in His new temple, which consists both of each individual member of Christ's body and of the community of believers as a whole. Understanding indwelling this way leads to the conclusion that this aspect of the Spirit's ministry is only possible in salvation history after jesus has put an end to all sacrifices for atonement by dying on the cross. Once Jesus makes the old covenant temple with its cult obsolete, God dwells not only with but also in His new covenant people...Indwelling does exist in the old covenant, but it is not each individual that is indwelt. In the old covenant God indwelt the temple. In the new covenant the people of God are the temple, and God dwells in them." [160, emphasis his]

As a progressively dispensastional reformed covenantal baptist evangelical Christian, I think I am in complete agreement. How about you?

God's Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old & New Testaments
, James M. Hamilton, Jr., Broadman & Holman Academic, 2005, NAC Studies in Bible & Theology, Series Editor: E. Ray Clendenen

Note: I first met Jim Hamilton in June of 2001 at Southern Seminary in Louisville. He was a Ph.D. candidate at Southern while I was working toward my M.Div. and we studied Biblical Hebrew together for a while. This book was based largely upon his Ph.D. dissertation.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Bride Fainted at the Altar

And she did it with such grace and beauty.

Yes, the bride fainted during the vows. Twice.

I officiated a wedding at 5:00pm this afternoon for a wonderful young couple who will remain nameless here. As the guests were being seated, a nice big cloud kept the afternoon sun away. But as the father of the bride gave away his daughter's hand that cloud suddenly disappeared. The wind stopped and it started getting hotter and hotter.

The Bride and Groom were very attentive as I gave the wedding message. I must have been a sight, wearing my dark blue "wedding suit" and sweating profusely in the dead-on July sunshine. I wasn't the only one bothered by the heat. I could see groomsmen with seriously dripping foreheads. Ladies in the crowd started using the wedding programs as fans. The mothers of the bride and groom looked like they were suffering greatly in their summer gowns as they looked on with sweltering smiles.

All was well until the groom got halfway through his vows. She reached for him. At first it appeared to all that she was so struck by the beauty of the moment that she couldn't resist an affectionate embrace. But when she fell into his arms before he could say "till death do us part", we all knew we were in trouble. Heatstroke.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the pictures and watching the video for this one. She never fell to the ground, but as the second closest witness present, I attest that she fainted twice. Bridesmaids screamed. Women in the audience gasped. Some of the older men started shouting out directions. And all the while her faithful groom gently held her up and comforted her, whispering words of love and care in her ear. Someone brought a chair. Another brought a glass of water. Her mother frankly reminded us all that this had happened before, sunstroke while she was riding horses. Quite a scene. All the while, I was there, trying to keep the wedding ceremony together and get this couple married...quick.

Her second fainting spell happened just as she was saying "in sickness and in health." You couldn't hope for better drama. It was at this point that her groom insisted that she take some water and stay seated through the rest of her vows. We started over at "in sickness and in health" and after a short delay, got her through the vows.

As they exchanged the rings, she wobbled again but stayed strong. Through it all, this perfectly beautiful bride showed her character as she looked at her parents in the crowd and laughed and said "Who would have thought?"

She had fainted with grace and beauty. She laughed and allowed the audience to laugh with her. At perhaps the most significant public moment of her life, something terrible was happening to her, something beyond her control, and she handled it with humor and grace. I think that's because as a Christian she finds her identity in something so much more precious than in her appearance as a bride, beautiful as she was. I know that she had experienced the grace of God in her salvation and many other times in life. At this most important moment during her wedding day, she was able to respond to difficulty with that same grace from God and give it to all who were gathered there today. Beautiful.

She recovered quickly. The crowd cheered when I pronounced them man and wife. They cheered again more loudly when I introduced them as husband and wife for the first time. The party afterward was spectacular. The dance floor was full the entire time. And she and her new husband greeted everyone during the party and laughed and continued to display the goodness and grace of God.

Yes, she fainted at the altar. Twice. And it was a perfectly beautiful wedding.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why I Look Up to My Brother Jeff

Why do I look up to my older brother Jeff? Lots of reasons, really.

First of all, he's a great husband and father. He's been married for almost 20 years and has 7 great kids. Second, he works hard. He builds things like subdivisions and houses and lakes. Third, he is a great water skier. He's even pretty good at snow skiing (not as good as me, but still pretty good).

Recently, Jeff gave me another reason to look up to him. He bought a box of show-quality fireworks from a guy named Vito in Kansas City. These were the kind of fireworks that you're supposed to have a license to light. Somehow, Vito overlooked the fact that Jeff doesn't actually have one of those licenses. So this past Saturday night, Jeff hosted an awesome fireworks display for his family and friends at his new lake near Rhineland, Missouri.

Here's Jeff with his box of fireworks. Jeff is the smiling fool on the right in the yellow shirt.

Next are some of Jeff's glorious fireworks.

Ooooh. Ahhh.

Red, white and blue. So patriotic.

And now just red. Blood red. Yes, that blood is from the flesh wounds he received when he lit the wrong fuse and two Chinese fireballs blasted him in the forehead. That'll leave a mark.

Why is his shirt wet, you ask? Because once he realized that his hair was on fire, he dunked his fool head in his brand new lake.

Today there are black spots on his face and forehead filled with gunpowder residue. No joke.

Praise the Lord that the fireballs missed his eyes when they bounced off his forehead.

The emergency room doctor just happened to be Chinese. After doing a quick CT scan on my brilliant brother's brain to ensure that all of the really important parts were still working, the doctor asks, "Mr. Kelly, do you want to know what those Chinese characters on your fireworks said?" "Sure," says Jeff. The doctor replies, "Do not light."

Just one more reason why I still look up to my big brother Jeff.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Slalom Skiing for the First Time!

Congrats, Anna!

Slalom Water Skiing for the first time today!

More Fun in Missouri

Sophie likes tubing.
Waiting in line for the Wildcat Rollercoaster in Branson with Scott's niece Stephanie and sister Lisa.

Anna hams it up on skis.

While Sophie and me chase her on the wave runner.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Training Young Obsessive Skiers

This is how it all got started. When I was 6 years old, my dad threw me in a Missouri lake on a hot July day and my obsession with skiing began. It wasn't until I was 12 that I started skiing on snow. As you can see, my kids are growing up in a similar manner.

Anna crossing the wake and getting a little air.

Sophie turning with her typical intensity.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Rock Climbing and Bull Riding

Since our visit last summer, Anna has made it her goal to train as a rock climber and make it to the top of the most difficult wall at Mike's Fun Place on Main Street in Red River. Here she is accomplishing that goal!

Here is Anna and Ben Franklin on her prize money. She won $100 for climbing the wall in 53 seconds. Way to go, Anna!

In other news:

Sophie took a wild ride on Pepe the Bull. Ride 'em, cowgirl!
Not to be outdone by my daughters, I took a spin on Pepe, too. But after a quick spill, it was obvious to all that I had been outdone by my daughters. Time for another nap.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Book Review: Mornings on Horseback

I'm not sure what exactly got me interested in Theodore Roosevelt this summer. Perhaps it was seeing Robin Williams play a wax-museum version of his character in Night at the Museum with Ben Stiller. Perhaps it was standing below Mt. Rushmore a few weeks ago, looking up at what my girls now call "the heads" (thanks, Sanchez family) and thinking that I know less about President Roosevelt than the other three heads. Perhaps it was a common appreciation for the wilderness that drew me to TR. Whatever it was, I'm glad that I have now finished my third biography by David McCullough.

One might accuse McCullough of venturing a bit too far into the realm of developmental psychology at times, but I can put up with a little of that in my summer reading. Like so many other readers of this book, I fell in love with Teddy's family. Lively, principled, extremely wealthy, popular and often beset with tragedy and suffering, the Roosevelts were a unique clan. There are a number of parallels between the Roosevelt's Victorian-era political family dynasty and the Bush's postmodern-era political family dynasty, and the contrasts are even more striking, but I don't want to pick any fights so I'll stop there.

An extraordinary transformation takes place in this book: Asthmatic and squeaky little boy Teedie becomes one of the most lively and strong-willed leaders our country has ever known. If you want to learn about Roosevelt's presidency, find another book instead. This one is all about the family that raised Teddy Roosevelt and loved him throughout his life. It is a story of a family that has almost as many problems as it has dollars in the bank. Sometimes the Roosevelt's lifestyle leaves me feeling a bit distanced from them. But when they face sickness and death and family problems and failures in business and politics, I find that they are people I can relate to as well.

I loved this quote from TR on the democratic process: "It may be that the voice of the people is the voice of God in fifty-one cases out of a hundred; but in the remaining forty-nine it quite as likely to be the voice of the devil, or, what is still worse, the voice of a fool." [313] But Roosevelt's life goes on to show that while certainly thinks that our political system has its problems, he also believes that it is the best of all the fallen human options we can choose from.

I particularly enjoyed reading Teddy's pre-presidential 4th of July speech to the citizens of Dickenson, North Dakota. It is a classic example of the kind of political speeches I would like to hear more of today...speeches that are short and that talk about virtue, righteousness and justice.

Teddy Roosevelt impacted our country in so many ways, but perhaps his most significant contribution was turning the White House into a "bully pulpit." When asked how he had mastered "feeling the pulse" of the American people, his response was "I don't know the way the people do feel...I only know how they ought to feel." [364]

Sometimes guys like me get a bit discouraged about where they are in life. Reading the stories of men like Teddy Roosevelt and seeing how God changes men over time offers us all a lot of hope. Hurrah!

Happy 4th of July!

Red, White & Blue at the Red River Community House. Red=Anna, White=Sophia, Blue=Lillian

What a day! A parade, egg tossing, an ice cream party, thunderstorms, pizza and fireworks...whew! It's time to go to bed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Swinging with Cousins

We are now in Red River, New Mexico at Meg's parents' mountain place. We are enjoying the July 4th Week with Meg's Mom & Dad and Meg's sister Alison, her husband Jeff, and the girls cousins Lillian (4, next to Anna) and Josh (almost 2, being held by Lillie) and Baby #3 now growing inside Alison! Though you can't see the Red River in this photo, it is through the willows behind the kids and I am listening to it with my window open as I type this. Tomorrow: The 60th Annual Red River Fourth of July Parade.

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Prayer From "The Valley Of Vision" Prayer Book

Privileges ::

O Lord God,
Teach me to know that grace precedes, accompanies, and follows my salvation, that it sustains the redeemed soul, that not one link of its chain can ever break.
From Calvary's cross wave upon wave of grace reaches me, deals with my sin, washes me clean, renews my heart, strengthens my will, draws out my affection, kindles a flame in my soul, rules throughout my inner man, consecrates my every thought, word, work, teaches me thy immesurable love.
How great are my privileges in Christ Jesus!
Without him I stand far off, a stranger, an outcast; in him I draw near and touch his kingly sceptre.
Without him I dare not lift up my guilty eyes; in him I gaze upon my Father-God and Friend.
Without him I hide my lips in trembling shame; in him I open my mouth in petition and praise. Without him all is wrath and consuming fire; in him all is love, and the repose of my soul.
Without him is gaping hell below me, and eternal anguish; in him its gates are barred to me by his precious blood.
Without him darkness spreads its horrors in front; in him an eternity of glory is my boundless horizon.
Without him all within me is terror and dismay; in him every accusation is charmed into joy and peace.
Without him all things external call for my condemnation; in him they minister to my comfort, and are to be enjoyed with thanksgiving.
Praise be to thee for grace, and for the unspeakable gift of Jesus.