Where I Am This Week

I’m leaving on jet plane train with my family, my parents, and my sister’s family for a short week in the Windy City. One of our cousins will be getting married, we’ll do some tourism/sight-seeing, and hopefully have a very refreshing, relaxing time. If you’re looking for me, this is where I’ll be.If you’re in Chicago, give a shout! I’d love to meet up.

We made it back! Here’s a great run down of our time in Chi-town.

Productivity from Presbyterians in the 18th Century

I’ve written before on the inestimable Dr. Samuel Miller – whether on prayer, his online works, or his views of the ministry – but I stumbled across just a few biographical remarks that I found very encouraging. They even inspire in areas of productivity and GTD!

The great secret of his [Miller] being able to do so much, and to do it so well, was that he did everything systematically. He had a time for every duty, and one duty was not suffered to encroach upon another. In his personal habits and dress he was remarkably neat, without anything, however, of undue precision. In his manners he was polished and graceful, and duly attentive to all those proprieties which confer dignity upon social intercourse. Of the “clerical manners” which he recommended in his invaluable work on that subject, he was himself an admirable example.

Dr. Miller’s intellectual and moral character partook of the same beautiful symmetry that characterized his external appearance… He used to say that he loved to have a nail in every building intended for the glory of God or the good of man… There are few men who have an assemblage of intellectual and moral qualities so well fitted as were his to form a dignified character, or to secure a course of honorable and enduring usefulness…

He gave to his work all the energies of his mind and body.

Confessional Presbyterian (2005) p. 9 – 10

Miller’s output – whether as a pastor or in any vocation – was impressive. In our easily distracted age, his resolve to do everything “systematically” and in its appropriate context sounds like it would be championed by the David Allens and Stephen Coveys of our age. Even in putting this post together, I’ve felt the temptation to have a video playing in the background, check email and Twitter alerts, all the while needing to focus on a wholly other project. (I finally paused the vid clip to finish this out!) So Miller’s exemplary self-control and disciplined focus still seem incredibly relevant to me, at least.

But the above quote highlights that, for Miller, these virtues weren’t limited to his work life, but instead characterized him as a person. If I can’t allow my attention to be divided by various tasks screaming for my attention, there is a corollary to our public/private, work/personal lives as well. I can’t remember off hand if David Allen ever specifically addresses the person who practices GTD at the office, but then allows his personal, relational, and financial life to fall into irreparable chaos, but I can only imagine that (far from a “mind like water!”) this is frowned upon.

Miller was known as an exceptional doctor of theology, and his didactic efforts go beyond mere content to method as well. Reading of his voluminous output, I’m inspired and encouraged to have the same laser focus he exhibited.

Apologetics from Colbert

Can you learn to do Van Tillian apologetics from watching The Colbert Report?(HT: Reformed Forum)

SC got a lot of great one liners in, including a terrific set up for his last line. Though the entire show is on the chin, it was also a profound demonstration that something ≠ nothing. Further, the way Krauss was willing to speak in hushed/awed tones of “what we now know from quantum mechanics,” it is easy to see everyone worships something (and has presuppositions to boot).

Who was Van Til?

Here’s an old post from my old blog on Van Til’s ideas, with several quotes and pictured charts (though apologies in that it is hard to read):
A Van Til in the Hand is Worth A Kant and Hume in the Bush

Suaviter in Modo, Fortiter in Re

I’ve been reading John Muether’s excellently engaging biography of Kees Van Til for the American Reformed Biographies series. There has been so much that challenges, convicts, and encourages. Though introduced early on, one idea that Muether brings out was Van Til’s ability to be suaviter in modo, fortiter in re. Broadly rendered as “gentle in manner, forceful in deed,” Van Til’s personal interactions and writing were a demonstration of this truth. One student, Grady Spires, is recorded as noting, “I recall his [Van Til] debating liberal and neo-orthodox champions at Boston University. He graciously, respectfully, but incisively told them that they were going to hell.”[*]

A real mark of this quality is when the compliment is paid by opponents, and not just comrades. It is one thing to be self-congratulatory, and quite another when even your adversaries note your ability to be strong in substance while delicate in communication. Evidently, this was true of Van Til. Though he was no presuppositionalist, Lewis Smedes praised in him, “it is possible to be profoundly critical of all compromises with the truth, and yet always cum suaviter modo” (209). Continue reading

Is Your VBS Christ-Centered and Gospel-Powered?

Dear Zion,

We are so excited to get kids pumped up for Jesus in our VBS program this summer, but we will not be teaching the Babylon lesson curriculum exactly as it is written. Even though the Babylon lessons teach a lot of good things – like trusting God when we’re scared, and the importance of gratitude and prayer – it does not focus on Jesus[*]. We want our kids at Zion to not only live a godly life, but we want them to do so because they love Jesus so much! In Luke 24:27, 44 we learn that all of the Bible, even Old Testament books like Daniel, were written to teach us about Jesus, and that He is the center of the story, not us. Sometimes, our message to kids is “improve your life by daring to be like Daniel,” but we forget that the Bible is about what Jesus wants to do to our lives. So this year, we want to take our VBS further.
Maybe some examples would help: Continue reading

Seek Reformation Fellowship!

J.I. Packer – “Seek fellowship among those who share your [theological] vision of the renewal that the Christian world needs, even the evangelical world. Recognize that spiritual truth and spiritual renewal are the primary things, and that ecclesiastical matters come second. Then, the Lord will be with you, will bless you, and use you. So may it be. Amen.”

From his interview with Carl Trueman

One of the things The Reformation Midwest hopes to accomplish is recognizing opportunities for this kind of fellowship. Check out upcoming events at our Facebook page, or let us know about gatherings in your area.