This and That

I just don't have the time to formulate an entire blog post on each of these great articles, so I'll simply point you in the direction of the originals:

A great article by Tim Challies over on the Ligonier blog:
Escaping Anonymity. Challies comments on our unparalleled level of anonymity and, as a result, lack of accountability in today's generation. As he points out, anonymity might be comfortable but it is far from what God intends for His children.

Two related posts at Pyromaniacs concerning church attendance:
Why You Need to Be In a Church This Sunday - slightly abrasive, this article packs a punch but lays out a crucial Biblical theology of church attendance. "Is Jesus your Lord in reality, or in theory alone?"

Thinking Like a Slave - I found this one to be a less frictional read, but nonetheless points out the overarching fallacy in all our "God commands me to go to church, but...." arguments: "Every one of them views the Christian life as a process of negotiation." Read the entire article!

On the gendered attributes of God:
Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, a post by Aron on his blog, Some Posts, gives a lengthy excerpt from C.S. Lewis's essay notes concerning the masculinity of God. Especially pertinent, as Aron notes, in light of recent controversy (i.e. female depiction of God in The Shack?). God is neither male nor female, but reveals himself consistently as having masculine names and attributes. A tasty morsel to whet your appetite:
"…The male you could have escaped, for it exists only on the biological level. But the masculine none of us can escape. What is above and beyond all things is so masculine that we are all feminine in relation to it. "

Re-imagining God in the Shack - critique by Mary Kassian of the church's tendency to reinvent God in feminine ways. Particularly provocative: her mention of the Christa, a female image of Jesus complete with "undraped breasts and rounded hips." One such statue was unveiled in 1984 at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. What?!

Enjoy and, as always, please leave a comment if you found any of these particularly helpful, provocative, or just plain irritating. I like to know that somebody is out there reading these things :-).

Spiritual Porn?

Dan Philips over at Pyromaniacs makes a startling comparison: Porn and Paper Pastors.

I felt convicted as I read the article because I fear have been guilty of comparing my pastors with those whose words have been carefully researched, revised, and reprinted on page after flawless page. I have forced my pastors' words through a fine sieve of precisely articulated theology straight from the pen of [Sproul, Piper, Calvin...]. And when my pastors' live, in-person teaching doesn't measure up line for line with the immortal words of R.C. or some dead Puritan, I find myself shaking my head in disappointment.

How fair is that? Not so much at all.

And Dan Philips likens our love of "paper pastors" to the fool's love of pornography. We lust after the unreal, give our hearts to those whose words and images are edited and airbrushed to perfection, rather than loving those who have good and bad days and labor beside us in the ugly reality of our very own sin.

And by "we", I mean "I".

I appreciate this re-calibration of my perspective on famous pastors and theologians. Not to dismiss their often brilliant work, but to put them in their proper place: While their work is certainly helpful and can be foundational to building a sound theology, it ought not to replace a discipling, mentoring relationship with a flesh-and-blood minister of the Word. Never before have I paused in utter gratitude for the great gift that is God's appointed shepherd.

Enough of muddying up the issue with my own dim thoughts. Read the article for yourself - what do you think? Is John Piper really the porn of the Christian world? (Or, at least does he have the potential to be?) C'mon guys, leave your comments...I know you can do it!

Babies Everywhere!

Brand-new Liam, the impending Petite Monnette, sweet Jacob, adorable Cullen, and the manchild Brody. My life is peppered with all these adorable little ones, with the effect that my baby dreams have started back up in full gear. This morning I had the clearly articulated thought, "If I don't have a baby soon, I will die."

Clearly, I am a 100% rational being.

That, following a dream last night in which a five-month-old Liam was already reciting catechism answers. Is it any wonder that my maternal instincts are in overdrive?

Add to all this the fact that we will have sweet, sweet health benefits at TRHMC for the next year - we could potentially have a $500 baby! - plus four weeks paid vacation (not counting possible maternity leave), and I am completely convinced that we would be utterly foolish to not have a child in the next year.

Any other "yes" votes? Grandparents? Anyone?

But the timing is still TBD. I'll defend my dissertation this fall sometime (Oct/Novish) and "graduate" next May (sans diploma, since I'll have to accrue my remaining internship credits before Pat will confer my degree). Joel will be working and hopefully attending an online MLS program starting in January.

Since a blog is, like, the totally best and easiest way to cull wisdom from a solid five people, how do you think we should time this? What should we be thinking about, other than blatantly cranking out a kid on somebody else's dime (which, really, isn't that enough?)?

More importantly, who will volunteer to be a free live-in nanny next summer?

I will totally slip you a twenty if you tell my husband that we should start trying next month. (love you, honey!) We are going to meet Liam this weekend, so he might be an easy sell next Tuesday....

Whew, I feel much better, now that I've spewed my baby feelings all over the internets. Emotional modesty what?

Welcome, William Isaiah Pearce!

The good news: Our brother and sister-in-law welcomed their firstborn son into the world on Saturday, April 11 - little William Isaiah. What a precious gift from the Lord! We're thankful that he and mama are now safely home and recovering from the thrilling experience of delivery. If only she could have held off for another twelve or so hours, we might have shared a birthday.

The bad news: Half of my regular readership is now out on maternity leave. Becca, I hope you're back on the internet soon, if only to kill time while Liam is nursing at 3:00 a.m.

We can't wait to meet the little guy!

He's a Pearce through and through, right down to the generous hairline...

Houston, We Have Liftoff

I would like to pretend that I figured how to do this correctly right off the bat, because I am so brilliant and techno-savvy. However, healthy relationships are built on mutual honesty and humility, and since I want us to have a close, positive internet connection (see what I did there? internet connection?), I'll tell you the truth.

Three weeks and two tech-guy consultants later, I have finally gotten the website to work by pure trial and error. Apparently tech guys know how to built and publish a web site for real, but know very little about self-publishing a site built from an easy-cheesy template. So, finally and accidentally, I present to you my very own domain:

Did your world shake just a little, itty bit just now? I know mine did.

Still a work in progress, but there's a bit more content than when I last linked you. I welcome feedback!

Too Much Skin...Or Heart?

I greatly appreciated this article on modesty that appeared recently on the Next webzine. I'm unfamiliar with Next as a whole, but they seem to be affiliated with Joshua Harris and Sovereign Grace Ministries. The vision of Next is to "gather worshipers of Christ who burn with a passion to see the gospel transferred to the next generation."

So the article on modesty.

Lydia Brownback touches on the obvious need for physical modesty as the summer season approaches. But she lingers there only briefly, highlighting the latter end of the modesty passage in 1 Peter:

3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. [1 Peter 3:3-4]

Brownback's emphasis on a gentle and quiet spirit illuminates an entirely different angle on modesty. She links "a gentle and quiet spirit" with discretion in revealing ourselves to others on an emotional level. The article is geared toward single women, and Brownback cautions singles against forming close friendships with single men without any sort of commitment. Pouring out our inner struggles and feelings to another person inevitably forms a bond, but if that bond is formed in the wrong context - either in the absence of commitment, or when the person is committed to someone else - pain will ensue.

Too few Christians grasp this idea of emotional modesty. I know I haven't always prioritized it as I should. We think it is ideal to be honest and authentic with one another. And this is true in the right context, among mature, trusted believers of the same gender. Yet we ought to exercise discretion not only for the protection of our own hearts, but for the protection of others' hearts as well. Opportunities abound for us to develop friendships with members of the opposite sex, particularly in the church and for those in graduate school where we often collaborate on projects and presentations. Brownback points out that most married men spend more waking hours with their coworkers than with their own wives. This should caution us to be very careful of our interactions and of the bonds we form with other people's spouses.

As a married woman, I have the greatest respect for the men in my life who exercise great discretion and display high regard for my marriage, as well as for their own. There is a noticeable difference between those men who treat me as a married woman, and those men who treat me as just another friend. My natural inclination is to feel comfortable in friendships with males, but the Lord has been gracious to show me through Scripture that my heart (inclusive of my thoughts, feelings, reflections, and struggles) is reserved for Him and my husband.

Men and women, married and single, should take heed of Brownback's exhortation to modesty. For us women, let our adornment come from a gentle and quiet spirit, exercising discretion in what we reveal of ourselves both physically and emotionally. Let us encourage our sisters to likewise protect their bodies and hearts with modesty. To you men, please respect the women in your life, and draw boundaries where there ought to be modesty and discretion. As men, you carry the burden of headship and must be careful to protect your own wife and marriage; but do not forget to exercise due diligence for the hearts of other men's wives. Encourage your wife to be modest in attire and expression, and hold her accountable. Encourage your male friends to be aware of modesty as well, and to be careful of their interactions with women. This is not to foster division between the sexes, but rather to nurture appropriate relationships between them.

If you haven't already, read the whole article. You might find yourself nodding in agreement. Or, you just might find yourself nudged out of your comfort zone, convicted in some area of immodesty and in need of some tighter boundaries. I hope, either way, that you are motivated to reflect deeply on the idea of emotional modesty, and what it means to be adorned with a gentle and quiet spirit.