A Christmas Update

I thought I’d give an update on me and my family now that I have some spare time during the holidays. I haven’t posted since June, and that’s really because of how busy I’ve been with my family and my work. I figured having a child would take up lots of my time, so I’m not surprised that I’ve gone months without even thinking about pleonast.

Aviella is now almost 15 months old. She is the sweetest baby and very smart. She loves books and is funny and loud like her mother. She runs around the house often and will do strange dances like me. She loves eggs, chicken, toast, and fruit, and eats a lot more than we expected she would be capable of eating at her age. God has blessed us with her health and her personality.

Heather’s health is a little uncertain. She’s had high blood pressure and heart issues for years and has been on medication, but recently the blood pressure has gotten higher and has been accompanied with some dizziness and hearing loss. She’s on a stronger medication but the doctor wants to look at her inner ear because he thinks she might have a tumor there, most likely benign. That would explain the hearing loss, dizziness, and high blood pressure. She has an MRI scheduled for Saturday. We thought a couple of weeks ago that she might have some bleeding in her brain that could lead to a stroke, but thankfully we found out that is not happening.

Work is stressful right now. We’re in crunch time and there’s so few of us left that we’re being pressured to work weekends. As a Bechtel employee, you work project to project. Back in June I had interviewed for a Bechtel project in Oak Ridge (not far from where I live) and was offered the position there. It would be a good career step for me. I accepted immediately. But if you are leaving one Bechtel project to go to another Bechtel project, both projects have to agree on a date to release you from the one so that you can join the other. I originally had a release date in September, but extension after extension moved that date to the end of December. After the last extension to the end of March 2016, the Oak Ridge project retracted the job offer that I had already accepted. I was angry and discouraged. This is not the first time that Bechtel has gone back on their word to me. They told me that more job openings at the Oak Ridge project will come in 2016 and that I’m at the top of their list once I get released, but I no longer have a reason to trust them. So for the last couple of months, I have been struggling with temptations to show my frustrations, act rudely, slack off, etc. I’ve wanted to act selfishly to counter how I’ve been treated. I’ve felt betrayed and anxious and jealous of others that have already left for the next project. It’s just a clear reminder to me that the promises of men do not hold up to the promises of God, and that His promises are balm to the soul. God isn’t surprised by this situation, and the Lord is my helper no matter what happens to me or my family. So I’m fighting the selfish tendencies, the anxiety, and the discouragement with God’s promises, knowing that how I act carries weight, especially in situations where I feel I’ve been wronged. On the bright side, I will have something to be proud of when I’m finished at my current project. Watts Bar Unit 2 will be the first new nuclear power plant to come online in a long time and will likely be a gateway to more nuclear plants developing in the United States.

An unusual turn of events took place two weeks ago at church, and maybe some of you can offer some comments on this. We have been members of a rather large church for over a year now, but a couple of months ago we decided to join a church plant in the area as others in our church broke off to build up the new church. We wanted to do this since it would be a smaller group of people and Heather already knew several moms attending the new church. Though this church has a nursery where most toddlers go, when we go to worship, we take Aviella in with us, and she stays with us the whole time. We do this because Heather and I want her to worship with us, and we want her to learn to sit quietly in public and focus on the speaker. We feel very strongly about this and feel that it’s a biblical position to include her. And Avi is actually pretty good in public. She sits quietly most of the time, but eventually, as one-year-olds will do, she gets antsy and will talk some. If she ever cries or gets too loud, I’ll take her out so as not to disturb anyone. It never seemed to be a problem to anyone in the church. Well, two weeks ago, as we’re leaving the auditorium, our pastor stops us and asks us if we would consider putting Avi in the nursery during worship. We explained why we weren’t going to do that, and he told us that she was a distraction to the speaker and to other members in the auditorium.

Heather and I were shocked to say the least. In all my life I have never heard a public speaker complain that a baby was a distraction to them. Dealing with audience noises comes with the territory of being a public speaker in my opinion. He told us that other speakers and other church members had complained to him about our daughter. We still didn’t know the pastor or many of the other members very well at that point. Why people complained to the pastor without approaching us first is a mystery to me. If you’re going to complain about my daughter, you ought to at least know her name! I just couldn’t believe that he was saying this to us. It was a little offensive because his argument had nothing to do with Avi’s well being or our well being; it was solely based on the speaker wanting to be rid of a distraction. So as of last week, we are back at the big church where that is at least tolerated.

I’m a new parent, so I honestly had never really thought about situations like this. I see now how important a church’s attitude towards children is. We’re seeing a church culture that more or less treats children as a nuisance. It certainly doesn’t feel the same as Jesus’ attitude towards children. Parents would rather leave the spiritual training to the church than to accept the responsibility themselves. I won’t comment on if church nurseries are wrong per se, but I just see nothing in the Bible that would commend them. And I see plenty in the Bible that would commend the whole family being together in worship. Have any of you been in situations like this?

All in all, we’re doing well and have plenty to be thankful for. I want to wish you all a merry Christmas and hope you enjoy this time with your families!
  • 71lespaulcustom
    Part of the problem with assembly time is the focus on preaching. It's really not the focus of why we are to gather, and certainly not what should take up the majority of the time- hearing one person's take on everything with no conversation.

    It is supposed to be family and mutual encouragement. What family would complain about another family member's baby acting like a baby?!
    by 71lespaulcustom at 03/14/16 10:16PM
  • aaronw
    Yet another church hot button issue. You have to find out if the church is pro children's ministry or pro children.
    by aaronw at 03/20/16 5:27PM

Embracing Personal Truth Led to the Supreme Court's Decision

The Supreme Court’s decision regarding same-sex marriage is not surprising, nor is the mass celebration of it happening across the states. I’m thankful that Christians see the world differently. Christians don’t look at anything from a political perspective or a business perspective, etc. Christians see what’s on the stage, but they more primarily see what’s happening behind and underneath the stage. By and large Christians are not opposed merely to the decision itself, but to the sins that led to it and the implications of it. Ultimately sin is behind this, but more specifically the sin of denying God’s objective truth in favor of personal truth. Personal truth in America is viewed as authoritative, thus exalting the person above any law or historical position. This of course is the essence of sin - the crowning of self and dethroning of God from the heart outward.

The particular weapon that this sin is wielding is simple yet very damaging. It is the dignifying of desires to the degree that they become a type of identity. Homosexual orientation is assumed to be at the core of a person’s identity despite the fact that the Bible refers to it as a desire. Homosexual acts come from distorted desires, not from one’s identity. The primary argument for same-sex marriage is that it allows people to be who they are. Think of the power behind this and the far reaching effects it brings. If someone wants something and is passionate about it, they should have the right to obtain it. Why? Because their desires have a dignity equivalent to their personhood. To prevent them from fulfilling this desire would be to deny their existence. The value that has been placed on one’s personal desires is going to absurd lengths in other areas. Gender and race, which are legitimate ways of identifying oneself, are now fluid and dependent on desires rather than objective reality. Our inner feelings about our gender trump how God designed us. Being true to oneself in this way is simply a veiled rejection of God.

We already know that this has caused marriage to be redefined. But words such as discrimination, persecution, and hate are also being redefined to give force to this movement. Calling someone to repentance is not hate. Insisting on the sanctity of marriage is not discrimination. Refusing wedding services to a same-sex couple is not persecution. Yet the majority of society will have you believe that they are. Why? Because same-sex marriage is riding on the wave of identity and freedom, two factors that have done many good things in our country. But as swiftly and fiercely as America has protected the rights of human beings regardless of gender or race, it will now do the same for homosexuality just as swiftly and just as fiercely.

I used to be indifferent about same-sex marriage. I thought the real enemy was homosexuality itself, so if one wasn’t illegal, there was no point in making the other illegal. But I’ve really been corrected on that over the years. Marriage is a real picture of Christ’s relationship with the church. The profound mystery in Ephesians 5 is not that Christ and the church are like a husband and wife. It is that a husband and wife are like Christ and the church. God designed marriage with Christ and the church in mind, not the other way around. Therefore, to promote marriage as any two people that want to be together regardless of what the Bible says is to confuse the message of the gospel intended to be communicated through the marriage relationship. Our perception of marriage affects our perception of Christ and the church. And how we react to same-sex marriage inevitably points back to how we react to homosexuality itself. We cannot be indifferent.

Whatever happens to this country, good or bad, is not the main point of our stance. Christians can see the true enemy behind even the most celebrated and harmless actions. And Christians can see when God’s glory is at stake. Establishing one’s own righteousness is called a stumbling stone in the Bible. That is happening all around us. Our calling is to submit to God’s righteousness. “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”
  • 23_bravo_7
    As the song says, "Troublesome times are here...".
    by 23_bravo_7 at 06/27/15 4:35PM
  • marmee
    Thank you, Aaron. This is so very well said and so very true. May God help us to believe and never be ashamed to own our Lord.
    by marmee at 06/27/15 5:32PM
  • misssonja
    You may wish to read Robert Gagnon's work on the topic, including this
    by misssonja at 06/27/15 9:06PM

Persistent Negativism is Spiritually Perilous

"The person who makes it his life's ambition to discover all the things that are wrong- whether wrong with life or wrong with some part of it, such as exegesis- is exposing himself to spiritual destruction. Thankfulness to God both for good things and for His sovereign protection and purpose even in bad things will be the first virtue to go. It will be quickly followed by humility, as the critic, deeply knowledgeable about faults and fallacies (especially those of others!), comes to feel superior to those whom he criticizes. Spiritual one-upmanship is not a Christian virtue. Sustained negativism is highly calorific nourishment for pride."

D.A. Carson, "Exegetical Fallacies"
  • 71lespaulcustom
    Wow.
    by 71lespaulcustom at 05/09/15 1:02PM
  • 23_bravo_7
    All too often brethren win the argument but end up losing the soul.
    by 23_bravo_7 at 05/12/15 5:58AM

Look at the Book

Look at the Book is a teaching resource from Desiring God ministries that my wife and I are really enjoying. It's an intimate look at short passages of scripture narrated by John Piper. All you see is the passage on the screen while John circles, highlights, etc. parts of the passage to help draw the meaning out. This isn't a 45 minute sermon or pages and pages of commentary. It's short videos displaying the simplicity of biblical exegesis that is nearly impossible to show in sermons. They just finished a series of videos for Romans 8.

I would post a video but I have lost the ability to embed. Here is the link to the website.

http://www.desiringgod.org/labs
  • 23_bravo_7
    I gave it a try and marked it. Sometimes we try, in our teachings and sermons, to get to the main structure without building the foundation.
    by 23_bravo_7 at 03/03/15 5:40AM

Alcohol

I hadn't noticed before the example of drinking wine in Romans 14:21.

"It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble."

It looks like drinking wine is in the same category as eating meat, as in the category of "things that aren't sinful but could possibly cause a brother to stumble." This instruction seems to only make sense if the wine is alcoholic.

Am I missing the meaning here? What would the "alcohol may never touch your lips" crowd say?
  • 71lespaulcustom
    Don't you know Jesus only turned water into really good grape juice?!
    by 71lespaulcustom at 02/15/15 9:40PM
  • aaronw
    Yes, I've heard the grape juice arguments. Just never heard one in response to this verse. There'll always be someone that will call you a drunkard. Not even Jesus avoided that. Some really will stumble over it. But some don't care about the stumbling and just want to trip you up.
    by aaronw at 02/15/15 11:12PM
  • 23_bravo_7
    Your scriptural posts always give me cause to think and examine.
    by 23_bravo_7 at 02/16/15 3:51AM
  • keepingheart
    I can't get over the fact that Jesus turned water to wine. Not a little bit or even bad wine - but the best and a good amount of it. If He wanted us to avoid the alcohol debates - that was His cue - and interestingly - He didn't take it.
    by keepingheart at 02/19/15 7:50PM
  • 23_bravo_7
    Firstly, I do believe there is enough NT scripture to indicate that the wines of that time were alcoholic and I am not opposed to "taking a little wine for the stomach's sake". However, I always urge CAUTION on this subject. Brethren have a history of countering one extreme by going to the opposite extreme.
    by 23_bravo_7 at 02/20/15 6:22AM
  • keepingheart
    ^^ That's exactly what my paraphrase of Romans 14:21 would be. "CAUTION for the sake of the brethren. No issue that rests on opinion is worth tearing someone up about." The thing is - we tend to do a bang-up job of turning opinions into laws/commands for safety. Then we end up tearing each other up over them.
    by keepingheart at 02/20/15 9:39AM