Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Fool's Gold Is Moving!

Tomorrow marks the 1 month birthday of The Fool's Gold blog. To celebrate, I'm moving it to a new home:

The blog will be through Word Press. I'm excited about the new digs for three reasons:

1. A simplified domain name.

For $15, you can purchase an available domain name through Word Press. The domain is good for a year, at which time you can renew it if you wish.

2. Aesthetics.

I find it mildly painful to look at the blog as it is now. This is owing to my consummate nincompoopness when it comes to site design. The folks over at Word Press provide a number of options for blog appearance. This makes me very happy.

3. Ease of commenting.

To leave a comment with Blogger, you are required to have a Blogger or Google username and password. Not so with Word Press. All you need to do is enter your name and e-mail address (which does not appear publicly when you post a comment). I find this to be a very attractive feature.

My deep desire is to see God use The Fool's Gold to spread the fragrance of Christ as far as he sees fit. I'm still figuring out things as I go along, but I know God will give grace. I'm eager to learn with you.

We'll be having a housewarming party tomorrow at the new homestead. Feel free to stop by and say hi.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV Released Today

Today marks the release of the widely-acclaimed "Grand Theft Auto IV."

BBC reports:

"Highly anticipated video game Grand Theft Auto (GTA) IV has gone on sale worldwide with analysts expecting it to smash sales records.

Many shops in the UK and the United States opened their doors at midnight.

The game is tipped to break the opening week sales figures of Microsoft's Halo 3, and pull in up to $400m (£201m).

Early reviews of the game have hailed it a 'masterpiece' and it is on course to be the most critically acclaimed title of all time."

Seth Schiesel from the New York Times wrote in a review of the game: "Grand Theft Auto IV is a violent, intelligent, profane, endearing, obnoxious, sly, richly textured and thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun."

The game is rated "M" for mature audiences.

Allie Cook from World Magazine wrote an interesting article on April 24 titled "Video games = less violent kids?" In it she cites an interview with Harvard professors Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson, who argue that there is no evidence to support the claim that playing violent video games necessarily produces greater tendencies toward violence in young people.

What do you think?

Monday, April 28, 2008

J.I. Packer Severs Ties with Canadian Anglican Church

Denny Burk has the scoop. He quotes the Vancouver Sun:

"One of the world's most famous evangelical theologians quit the Anglican Church of Canada this week because he believes many of its bishops are 'arguably heretical' for adhering to 'poisonous liberalism.'"

Here is Burk's summary commentary:

"After reading the excerpt above, you may be thinking: 'I thought the split within the Anglican Communion was about homosexuality, not liberalism.' Well, it’s about both. The Anglican Communion is being split apart because the liberal wing of the church is willing to ignore or distort the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. At bottom, this is a question of biblical authority, and the liberal wing of the Communion has rejected that."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

5 Ways to Make God Your Treasure in Crummy Weather

After waking up this morning, I looked out the window and saw snow on the ground. Granted, it wasn't much, but it was enough to make my heart sink like a cast-iron rowboat.

I got in the car after clearing my windshields of winter condensation. A heavy-hearted southerner met me on the radio, lamenting a fresh case of "Deep River Blues."

My computer tells me it's 34 degrees outside. If it were alive, I know it would be choking down a maniacal snicker.

On days like this, how do you keep from muttering? Here are five things I can think of:

1. Thank God for the snow.

This sounds counter-intuitive, but I have to remember that my "intuiter" is rotten. "Give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

2. When people ask, "Why is it snowing in April?!?!?!", tell them, "God told it to."

This can become excessive, but take a risk. And don't scowl when you say it! "For to the snow he says, 'Fall on the earth,' likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour" (Job 37:6).

3. Remember that, compared to the lake of fire, out-of-season flurries aren't that bad.

God has saved me from so much. When I think about the fury my sins deserve, parking it right above freezing for a day is blissfully refreshing.

4. Shock someone by telling them how thankful you are for a day like this.

To do this step requires that you actually mean it. See steps 1-3.

5. Remember that valiant acts happen on snowy days.

"And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen" (2 Samuel 23:18).

Friday, April 25, 2008

On a Personal Note....

I was talking with my wife a few minutes ago, and she told me it would be a good idea to throw up a personal post about us and what we are doing right now.

I am currently enrolled in an apprenticeship program at Bethlehem Baptist Church called The Bethlehem Institute. I go to class on Mondays and Thursdays with eight other men. We sit in a circle and discuss everything from participles to poverty. It has been a mercy from God to be here.

Crystal, my wife, works part-time as a pediatric hemotology/oncology (blood diseases and cancer) nurse at Minneapolis Children's Hospital. She goes to work three days a week with about eight other people. They neither sit in a circle nor debate participles. However, they do get to see poverty first-hand.

We have been married for two years, nine months, and twenty-six days. I love her two years, nine months, and twenty-six times more than I did the day we wore a tux and a white dress.

Random fact: Crystal likes to sew potholders, and I was wildly obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a boy:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thank You, My Dear Watson

To round up our discussion of sin, I would like to bring in a long-silenced voice from across the Pond. Thomas Watson (born 1620) was a Puritan who studied at Cambridge and went on to pastor St. Stephen's in Walbrook, London from 1646 until 1662 when he was ousted due to the Act of Uniformity. Undeterred, he went on to preach privately and then publicly until 1680, when he retired on account of poor health. Husband to Abigail, father of at least seven (four of whom died young), Watson died in 1686 while he was praying.

He wrote a number of books, one of which is "A Body of Divinity." In this book Watson gives a chilling description of sin:

"It is a defiling thing. Sin is not only a defection, but a pollution. It is to the soul as rust is to gold, as a stain to beauty. It makes the soul red with guilt, and black with filth" (pg. 133).

He goes on to expose the heart of sin: "Sin strikes at the very Deity.... Sin is God's would-be murderer. Sin would not only unthrone God, but un-God him. If the sinner could help it, God would no longer be God" (pp. 133-4).

Sin is horrendous. What unspeakable mercy that God would condemn this murderous pollution in the flesh of his Son for all who will trust him (Romans 8:3-4).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sin Requires Relationship

Being as Monday and Tuesday's posts were on the subject of sin, I figured it would be good to maintain that theme for the time being. Not for the sake of being dour, but for the sake of loving the gospel more. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).

A couple days ago I found this post on Doug Wilson's blog. Wilson is the pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho and the author of a number of books, including "The Case for Classical Christian Education" and "Reforming Marriage."

Wilson's post is titled "In Relationship." His main argument? "All sin, every sin, is always a sin in relationship to others."

Listen to him explain what he means:

"If you could be alone, truly alone, you could not sin. Moreover, you could not be you if you were genuinely, completely alone. In the world God made, relationship with others is as necessary as contending with height, breadth and depth. Even if you were to go off into the mountains to live alone, every moment of every day, you will still be living in relationship with the triune God in whom we all live, move and have our being."

I would highly encourage you to read the whole thing. It's a quick read, and I found it to be fascinating.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sin as Stealing? Part Two

Here are three observations I have in thinking about Baba's definition of sin from yesterday ("There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft"):

1. Baba's definition works....for a while.

Baba's definition of sin is not logically inconsistent. At least not on the surface. It actually makes a good deal of sense. If a man kills, he steals a wife's right to a husband. If a woman lies, she steals another person's right to the truth. Fair enough. But all this talk about rights raises the question, What happens when perceived rights conflict? A thief may believe it is his right to do what he pleases. What then? Does Baba's explanation leave room for the possibility that I may not be an impartial judge when it comes to determining what I'm entitled to?

2. Baba leaves God out of the picture.

Amir's father is not a believer. Therefore, it is fitting that his understanding of sin does not include God. Fitting, but tragic. The question of sin becomes clear when we understand that God created us. We owe our existence to him. It would follow, then, that God's rights ought to determine our notions of morality. This is the testimony of the Bible: "Has the potter no right over the clay....?" (Romans 9:21). "Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4). The fact that we are deeply resistant to this possibility may indicate more about our hearts than it does about reality.

3. Sin is stealing......from God.

What is God entitled to? What is the Right that trumps all our creaturely notions? In a word, it is glory. God, as our Creator, is entitled to all honor and praise. He says, "I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols" (Isaiah 42:8). When I do anything that attempts to exalt myself as supreme, I steal glory from God. This is the heart of all sin.

Murder is sin, not ultimately because it steals a wife's right to a husband, but because it steals God's right to determine the length of a man's days. Lying is sin, not mainly because it steals another person's right to the truth, but because it exalts me as supreme over another person's mind. Cheating is sin, not finally because it steals a man's right to fairness, but because it places my desires on the throne of the universe.

The reason Baba's definition won't work isn't because it's implausible. It won't work because it's idolatrous. It never leaves the swamp of man-centered reasoning. In fact, rather than defining sin, Baba's definition compounds it by insisting that the creature's rights are divine. If only his idea was as fictional as his character......

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sin as Stealing?

I said I would post some thoughts about issues raised in "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. Here is one hot off the Bunsen burner.

It has to do topic of sin. Amir, the main character, tells his father (Baba) what he has been learning in school from the mullah (an instructor). Amir's report concerns the mullah's statement that Islam considers drinking a horrible sin. Baba, who likes to drink, sits Amir on his lap and begins to explain to him what he thinks about sin. Here is what Baba says:

"Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. Do you understand that?"

Amir is clueless, so Baba attempts another go at it:

"'When you kill a man, you steal a life,' Baba said. 'You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. Do you see?'"

The lights go on for Amir. He gets it.

I'll let you chew on Baba's definition of sin for a bit. More to come tomorrow.....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Blogging and the Opinion Mill

I just started reading "Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)" written by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. In his chapter on the postmodern infatuation with uncertainty and mystery, DeYoung comments insightfully on blogging:

"We live in a blogging culture, which suggests that just because we have an opinion on something it must be worthwhile and just because we are in touch with our spiritual journey it must be worth sharing" (pg.34).

In my opinion (which may or may not be worthwhile!), this is perceptively accurate. Spot on, as the Brits would say.

Friday, April 18, 2008

John Piper on Sacrifice

I was unable to post last night because we were barreling northward in a church bus. There is nothing quite like being stuck with thirteen other guys in a rolling rectangle for hours on end. We had lively conversations about Biblical inerrancy, slept in odd positions, and watched the Bourne Ultimatum on a borrowed laptop. All three were very enjoyable. I am happy to be home and to see my lovely wife.

John Piper preached yesterday morning. His message was titled, "How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice." His text was Hebrews 13:13 - "Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured." He referenced other texts in Hebrews to demonstrate that the surpassing value of having Christ impels us to risk-taking ministry. It was a deeply moving message. Piper pled with us to not spend our lives accumulating endless possessions and cultivating churches that idolize ease. Rather, he said, we ought to embrace suffering because of the promise of eternal, deeply-satisfying fellowship with Jesus.

Here's an excerpt from early in the message:

"My desire and prayer to God is that your life and your ministry would have a radical flavor. A risk-taking flavor. A gutsy, counter-cultural, wartime flavor that makes average American people in your church uncomfortable. A strange mixture of tenderness and toughness that keeps people a little bit off-balance, a pervasive summons to something more, something hazardous, something wonderful. A saltiness and a brightness about your life and about your church. Something like Jesus."

Finally, a closing ballad:

Amid the sweeping tide of ease and leather La-Z-Boys,
John Piper bellowed, "These are not the most enduring joys!
The fellowship of Jesus blazes hotly like a lamp
And beckons us to join him on the hill outside the camp."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

R.C. Sproul on the Cursed Substitute

If I had to choose a favorite message from today's lineup at T4G, my vote would be R.C. Sproul. In a word, he was magisterial. His text was Galatians 3:10-14, and he spent nearly sixty spellbound minutes explaining with calculated precision what it meant for Christ to become a curse for us.

He sat in a chair while he preached (on account of recent struggles with vertigo) and, aside from the characteristic upper body swivel, made little use of exaggerated gesture. But his words.....his words were like clubs. Heavy. Round. Blunt. Powerful. He beat the air with the agony of the cross until the room sizzled with the majesty of God. I thank God for the gospel and for men like R.C. Sproul who tell it so well.

Here is my balladified recap of the session:

He perched atop a wooden chair and with his eyebrows arched,
The raspy voice of R.C. Sproul was anything but parched;
Instead it flowed with springs of gospel richness like a flood,
And swept us up to Calvary where hung the cursed God.

The audio is already posted.

The First Installment

Well, I was hoping to post something last night after getting back to the hotel room, but I couldn't get the internet to work. On the positive side, I was able to offer a cold piece of pizza to Tim Challies in the elevator. He rejected my offer, but I haven't lost heart.

Around lunchtime yesterday, a group called the Band of Bloggers met to discuss various issues related to blogging. The main feature of the gathering was a panel featuring Abraham Piper, Thabiti Anabwile, Phil Johnson, and Tim Challies. I felt like the discussion was profitable, and we all received some free books. Not a bad deal.

Here is the mini-ballad I wrote for the event. Actually, it's just one stanza. It feels better to call it a mini-ballad, though:

The Band of Bloggers met for lunch and chatted 'bout the craft,
A moderated panel quipped about the perfect draft;
Four men (Thabiti, Challies, Phil, and DG's Abraham)
Arrested our attention for a sixty-minute span.

If anyone is feeling adventuresome and would like to put this verse to music, I would love to hear it.

Off to the conference.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Ballad A Day....

The other day, I was reading in Numbers 21. Verse 26 says, "For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon."

Now, verse 27 says, "Therefore the ballad singers say, 'Come to Heshbon, let it be built; let the city of Sihon be established. For fire came out from Heshbon, flame from the city of Sihon. It devoured Ar of Moab, and swallowed the heights of Arnon."

Sometime between verses 26 and 27, history was translated into ballad. Prose became poetry. Victory donned the cloak of verse.

I want to learn from that.

I'm here in Louisville for Together for the Gospel. Rather than report on each day's events, which others will do much better, I thought it would be interesting to try my hand at a little historical balladification.

More to come......

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Russell Moore on Charles Schultz

Russell Moore from Southern Seminary has posted a perceptive article on Charles Schulz, titled "You're A Lost Soul, Charlie Brown." In the article, Moore reviews the book "Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography" by David Michaelis.

Sadly, life for the Peanuts creator was not as idyllic as his fictional characters might suggest. After serving in World War II, Schulz immersed himself in the Church of God community and seemed to have been influenced in his lifestyle by the Christian ethic. However, as he began his cartooning career, this influence began to wane and he gradually declined into a Godless despair. Moore writes:

"Unlike Schulz's view of comic strips--they should never have an ultimately unhappy ending--the end of Schulz's life was the capstone of his despair. The man who, like Charlie Brown, always feared that no one could truly love him, died, in the words of another cartoonist, 'angry at God, angry with friends, angry with fate--angry [about] all the troubles he could never let go of.' This fellow artist concludes: 'He had control over the [ Peanuts] universe for fifty years, but he had no control over his death. He didn't accept it graciously. He wasn't ready.'"

Schulz' despair need not be the final word. Moore admonishes us to learn from it and love those who are gasping for hope:

"That kind of vanity, that kind of despair, is found all around us, even next to us in the pew. This book is a sober call to us to remember, to pray for, and to love those especially who will never believe they can be loved."

This is the kind of love the world needs. We have all settled for cheap replacements. Hobbies. Facebook friends. Grades. Buffets. Jokes. Visa cards. They are caves of futility if they become our gods. Real love comes through blood, spikes, and splintered timber:

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person -- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die -- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).

May God grant us to drink deep from this love and pass the cup to others.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Beauty of Being Unconscious

Why do we sleep? Let’s put it another way. Why is it that, at any given moment during the day, over a billion people lie unconscious? As I post this, it is 3:25am in Mumbai, India. Many are flat on their backs and breathing hard. I’ll be there soon. Not in Mumbai, but in bed (probably later than I should…I’m notorious for piddling around when I should be asleep). How should we think about this? Why did God create us so that we need to be dead to the world for hours on end?

Here are two observations. This is not all that could be said, but it may help orient us to a proper framework for thinking about questions like these:

1. For man, sleeplessness is vanity.

Psalm 127:2 – “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

2. For God, sleeplessness is glory.

Psalm 121:2-4 – “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

When I sleep, God is giving me something that he doesn’t need. Come to think of it, he is always doing that. God has, I need. God is, I’m not. God can, I can’t. I need to hear that message all the time, but it comes to me in unique sweetness when I kiss my wife good night, close my eyes, and let God keep vigil.

Funny what you hear when you’re not awake to listen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Power of A Well-Crafted Phrase

I just began reading "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. It is a fictional story told from the perspective of Amir, a Pashtun man who grew up in Afghanistan during the late 60's and early 70's and fled to the United States with his father when the Soviets invaded the country.

I hope to post some reflections as I move through the book. Hosseini addresses some very important subjects.

What immediately struck me as I began the book, though, was the power of words. Hosseini is a very gifted writer, and can turn phrases like omelets at Denny's. Reading his descriptions makes me realize again the importance of writing well. You know. Not just saying something, but really SAYING something.

Here's an example. Amir has a strained relationship with his father, whom he calls Baba. Baba was a soccer player in his day. Amir reads books. Baba is strong and opinionated and drinks scotch. Amir gets pushed around and stepped on. But Amir reveres his Baba. Fears him, even.

One day Amir decides to write a short story and show it to Baba. Listen to how Hosseini retells the meeting:

"'What is it, Amir?' Baba said, reclining on the sofa and lacing his hands behind his head. Blue smoke swirled around his face. His glare made my throat feel dry. I cleared it and told him I'd written a story.

Baba nodded and gave a thin smile that conveyed little more than feigned interest. 'Well, that's very good, isn't it?' he said. Then nothing more. He just looked at me through the cloud of smoke.

I probably stood there for under a minute, but, to this day, it was one of the longest minutes of my life. Seconds plodded by, each separated from the next by an eternity. Air grew heavy, damp, almost solid. I was breathing bricks. Baba went on staring me down, and didn't offer to read."

May God give us a love for crisp description, especially as we have the greatest of Stories to tell.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Charleton Heston Dead at 84

Charleton Heston, versatile movie actor and recent president of the NRA, passed away this past Saturday in Beverly Hills. The cause of his death has not been released. Heston had announced Alzheimer's-related symptoms in 2002.

Anthony Sacramone over at First Things posted a helpful round-up of articles related to Heston's death. He writes:

"Heston was one of those towering figures you could count on to bring a certain dignity to even the most surreal premises, and who wouldn’t get swallowed up or overwhelmed by CinemaScope. Who’s left of his generation of equal stature? Peter O’Toole. Maybe Connery. That’s about it."

Heston was known for his roles in movies such as "The Ten Commandments," "Ben Hur," and "Planet of the Apes."

A description of the actor at includes the following comment:

"With his large, muscular build, well-boned face and sonorous voice, Heston proved the ideal star during the period when Hollywood was filling movie screens with panoramas depicting the religious and historical past. 'I have a face that belongs in another century,' he often remarked."

The family plans to hold a private memorial service.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cedarville in Christianity Today

On April 3rd Christianity Today posted an article titled "Cedarville's Tenure Tremor." The current article reflects an update from the Board of Trustee's decision yesterday.

From the opening paragraph:

"Cedarville University has become entangled in a dispute over theology and academic freedom after it terminated two tenured professors in July 2007. Cedarville's board of trustees upheld Bible professor David Hoffeditz's termination Friday, despite a report from a faculty grievance panel of five professors that determined that the college had made "administrative missteps" in the termination process. In classrooms, the professors openly challenged other faculty members whom they felt encouraged postmodern or Emergent theology."

Please pray for Cedarville as this is a difficult time for all.

Friday, April 4, 2008

God Plays Board Games

I love Risk.

Around New Year's my Dad, brother, and I belly up to the dining room table and grapple for world conquest. The essence of the game is fairly simple: populate your countries with your little green or blue or red men and bully the other guys out of the way until the world is awash in a sea of your army's color. It takes a tortuously long time (which is why we play it once a year) but it's worth it.

There's just one catch: the dice.

The game is not won by sheer force. There is strategy, yes, and numbers certainly help. But the outcome on the battlefield is determined ultimately by who can roll the highest numbers. If you roll a string of sixes, your one plastic troop can stand down a whole fleet of military muscle.

It's all about the dice.

Which is why a text like Proverbs 16:33 becomes very real to me when I play: "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord."

God determines who wins Risk. I roll the dice, the natural laws of gravity and friction take their course, and yet -- in and through the flick of my wrist and the pull of the earth -- God decides what I will roll.

I love that God governs galaxies as well as golf balls, kings as well as ketchup bottles, hurricanes as well as hamsters......

and battleships as well as board games.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind

Thomas Oden, retired professor from Drew University in New Jersey, has recently written a book titled "How Africa Shaped the Modern Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity."

Here's an excerpt from the first chapter (thanks to Amazon):

"The telling of Africa's ancient Christian heritage has languished for many centuries. Though it needs telling, there is some reticence to think that anyone from the West is adequately equipped to tell it. Yet it is so important to the history of Africa and global Christianity that it needs to be told accurately and without unfounded conjectures" (pg. 35).

Marvin Olasky has briefly reviewed the book.

David Neff from Christianity Today posted an article about it in late February.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How to Not Fear a Steamroller

David faced down a steamroller. We get a glimpse of his affliction in Psalm 56, where he cries out, "Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me" (56:1).

David knew what it was like to be squished.

And yet, like a grape, the blood that flowed from his flattened soul was soaked with faith in God: "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?" (56:3)

How might we have the same response to suffering? How is it possible not to fear the steamroller of affliction?

Let's try to answer David's question. "What can flesh do to me?"

Answer #1: Flesh can do lots of things to us.

Here's a sample from verses 5-7:
  • People can injure our cause.
  • People can fill their minds with evil thoughts against us.
  • They can stir up strife.
  • They can lurk in corners and dark alleys.
  • They can lie in wait for our lives.
David was not naive to all that flesh could do. What then does he mean?

Answer #2: If God is for us, flesh can do nothing to us.

Listen to David explain the hope that steadied his trembling hand: "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me" (56:8-9).

This was his hope: that God was for him. Sounds a lot like what Paul would say many years later: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

How then can we be sure that God is for us? Answer: by treasuring the One who was flattened in our place. Jesus knew every sorrow David was talking about. "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). He knew what Psalm 56 was like.

There is one crucial difference, though. Jesus knew sorrow because he was bearing it for us. "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4). "He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

If we look to the One who was crushed for our sin, God is no longer against us. We don't need to fear the steamroller, even if it grinds us into the pavement. "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).

May God give us grace to not cower before the steamroller of affliction. In Christ, our Father is for us, and if he is pleased to have the cylinder of evil press our lives to flattened extinction, we will not fear.

We have a God who will raise us from the asphalt.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Inaugural Post

My wife made me do it.

Well, maybe not. But her gentle prodding and Abraham Piper's recent post tipped the scales in favor of entering the blogosphere.

The main purpose of the Fool's Gold blog is to promote thoughtful, winsome engagement with various facets of culture in the name of Jesus. This goal may expand or contract like a pair of lungs, but I hope the process will always be life-giving.

Why the name Fool's Gold? I'll give three reasons, and none of them have to do with geology or deception:

1. I'm bad with dates.

My memory is a bit like a month-old razor: sharp in some spots, but painfully dull in others. I once read an article in National Geographic about a woman with an encyclopedic memory. On any given day, while blow-drying her hair in the morning, she would rehearse what she had done on that particular day in years past.

I'm not like that.

To supplement this deficit, I figured it would be helpful to coin a title that would serve as a memory cue should anyone ever ask me the precise date I started this blog. You never know when the question might come up on Final Jeopardy. I'd hate to let Alex Trebek down. Being that today is April Fool's day, it seemed fitting to include a portion of the phrase in the title. Fool's Gold sounded like a better option than April Showers, so it stuck.

2. I need to be reminded to flee folly.

The Bible is stuffed with descriptions of the fool: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Proverbs 14:1 ESV). "Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26 ESV). Particularly relevant for blogging is Proverbs 18:2 (ESV): "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." I need the constant warning that, apart from God's grace, I will reject God and prefer self-sufficient grandstanding. I hope the name Fool's Gold will sober me to this danger.

3. I need to be reminded to pursue folly.

The message of Jesus Christ crucified is foolishness to many. "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Corinthians 1:20-25). The message of a murdered Savior is folly to the world, but it is this fool's Gold.

With this explanation I smash the dedicatory wine bottle on the stern of the H.M.S. Fool's Gold. May she sail through the waters of culture with humble, biblical care.