Friday, December 29, 2006

Quotable: C.S. Lewis

"It is the buisness of these great masters to produce in every age a general misderection of what may be called sexual 'taste.' This they do by working through the small circle of popular artists, dressmakers, actresses and advertisers who determine the fashionable type. The aim is to guide each sex away from those members of the other with whom spiritually helpful, happy, and fertile marriages are most likely. Thus we have now for many centuries triumphed over nature to the extent of making certain secondary characteristics of the male (such as the beard) disagreeable to nearly all the females - and there is more in that than you migh suppose. As regards the male taste we have varied a good deal. At one time we have directed it to the statuesque and aristocratic type of beauty, mixing men's vanity with their desires and encouraging the race to breed chiefly from the most arroant and prodigal women. At another, we have selected an exaggeratedly feminine type, faint and languishing, so that folly and cowardice, and all the general falseness and littleness of mind which go with them, shall be at a premium. At present we are on the opposite tack. The age of jazz has succeeded the age of waltz, and we now teach ment to like women whose bodies are scarcely distinguishable from those of boys. Since this is a kind of beauty even more transitory than most, we thus aggravate the female's chronic horror of grwoing old (with many excellent results) and render her less willing and less able to bear children. And that is not all. We have engineered a great increase in the licence which society allows to the representation of the apparent nude (not the real nude) in art, and its exhibition on the stage or the bathing beach. It is all a fake, of course; the figures in the popular art are falsely drawn; the real women in bathing suits or tights are actually pinched in and propped up to make them appear firmer and more slender and more boyish than nature allows a full-grown woman to be. Yet at the same time, the modern world is taught to believe that it is being 'frank' and 'healthy' and getting back to nature. As a result we are more and more directing the desires of men to something which does not exist - making the role of the eye in sexuality more and more important and at the same time making its demands more and more impossible. What follows you can easily forcast!"

Taken from The Screwtape Letters, chapter 20. (Bold font mine.)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Odds and Ends

The papers for Baptist History are nearly done, and tomorrow I will finish them. This will leave me with a few days here in town that I can actually devote in their entirely to my whims/wishes. I desperately need to get back into Greek practice, but that won't take more than an hour or so a day. The odd part though is that I'll have this free time but with no one to hang out with outside of my family.

All my old friends are out of town, but I guess that's okay. It's a subtle, quiet reminder that this is not where I belong, this is not where God wants me. I know so many people who have such ironclad connections with their homes and over the years I've known some whose ironclad connection has drug them back there, for better or worse. I feel kind of weird admitting this, but my parents and youngest brother David are essentially the last link to Heber-Overgaard, home since 2000. I still know some of the people at church, but even there people mostly recognize the resemblance between Dad and me, as opposed to actually knowing me. Such is growing up. It's a sobering thought.

On Sunday, January 7, I'll get to finally share with the church about my experience in Thailand. I have all of the evening service, so I need to start crafting Power Point slides and prepping a pre-service playlist, let alone planning what I need to say. A few days later, the long drive will begin, with the goal being to return to the Ville (dare I say return "home") in time to check into housing on Friday, and then go to Meg and Fitz's wedding on Saturday. The clock is ticking, though. I hope that I use the time wisely.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oceans Away

I have two seperate groups of friends heading two seperate ways across two seperate oceans. There is an outside chance that they might be both flying across the same ocean but for the sake of artistry, I'll just asume that it is indeed two oceans.

My friends Tad and Alli are a brother and sister combo I've known ever since moving out here to Arizona in 2000. Tad just graduated from college with a degree en Espanol and he's heading to Spain for a few weeks of just experiencing the country. Alli doesn't know nearly as much Spanish so I guess she'll be sticking close to him. They have passports, plane tickets, cash, and time to kill. No solid schedule, no solid itenerary. Man oh man how I wish I was leaving with them tomorrow.

AG and I both have the privilige of serving with the official missions group of Boyce, aptly named Boyce Missions Link. We've both been missions majors for some time, (although he does have a year on me at Boyce), and he left earlier today for Cambodia, where he'll be for just over a month while working towards the completion of his Boyce missions internship. Bobby Johnson is a dear brother and hallmate of Apostolos and he's going with his church in the Ville to Cambodia for about two weeks to do, well, I'm sure you can fill in the blank. I'm not sure if the flights are the same, but I asume they are. Man oh man how I wish I left with them today.

I know for a fact that Tad and Alli fly east to Spain, and I'm assuming that AG and Bobby J will fly west to California, and from there to Asia. It would be pretty awesome to be with either of them, but I know that this is where God has me for the next two weeks. After such time, my brother, my father, and I will make a bee-line back to Kentucky, Lord willing, and I shall seek to do his will there.

As my friends are oceans away, I hope you'll join me in praying for them, that the Lord will use His own wherever they might go.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder: Christmas 2006

I've been reading Isaiah over the past month or so and I encountered chapter nine, verses one through seven, afresh - afresh and in power. Here's how it reads in the ESV.

[1] But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

[2] The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
[3] You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
[4] For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
[5] For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fueld for the fire.
[6] For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
[7] Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

I took Religion in the Public Square this semester, so when I read this chapter a few weeks ago, I read it with a mind that had had to consider many forms of government. The thought that Christ Himself shall be our ruler one day, that all the corruption, greed, and war that so defines the governments of our world will be upheaved and replaced by a Messiah on the throne of David and that his reign will be endless and ever defined by by justice and righteousness, it is breathtaking - and humbling.

We had our candle light service as a church tonight and took Communion as a part of it. As I prayed before taking the cup, I was reminded of the very real aspect of having a King and being part of a Kindom. Am I an obedient subject of this kingdom? I was reminded that my salvation is only by grace, but that same grace demands so much. The Kingdom of Christ has come but yet is coming. And Christ has made us ambassadors on his behalf.

If you are reading this as a brother or sister in Christ: Merry Christmas, and may this holiday season truly be a time of wonder and worship. We celebrate the birth of our King, God in the flesh, Son of God and Man. May we work as faithful citizens of such a Kingdom, and may the zeal of the LORD accomplish His will. If you are reading this as one who does not believe in Christ, than may I urge you to consider the claims of this One who was born in Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago and yet lives as the firstborn from the dead. To you I also wish Merry Christmas.

May the King's reign be everlasting. Amen.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Quotable: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"There are only two places where the powerful and great in this world lose their courage, tremble in the depth of their souls, and become truly afraid. These are the manager and the cross of Jesus Christ."

"God is not mocked. It is not a light thing to God that every year we celebrate Christmas and do not take it seriously. His word holds and is certain. When he comes in his glory and power into the world in the manger, he will put down the mighty from their seats, unless ultimately, ultimately they repent...

Who of us would want to celebrate Christmas correctly? Who will finally lay at the manger all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all pride, and all selfishness? Who is content to be lowly and to let God alone by high? Who sees the glory of God in the humble state of the child in the manger? Who says with Mary: 'The Lord has been mindful of my humble state. My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior?' Amen."

Taken from his sermon "Third Sunday in Advent - My Soul Praises the Lord," preached December 17, 1933 from Luke 1:46-55.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Theological Depression and Struggle

I took Baptist History with Dr. Brand during the D-Term and I have yet to finish the work, because it is quite extensive. I'm on a daily reading plan to get me through the textbooks and I'll crank out the book review shortly before I turn everything in, but the primary focus of my attention has been on completing the research paper, and my research has led to my newest bout with theological depression.

Theological depression is what happens when you encounter falsehood and shortcomings and realize that they are quite profound. It's the consequence of actually listening to a conversation partner and realizing that they seem to be wrong. I've been studying a man named William Owen Carver, (yes, that Carver, Boyce-ites). He taught missions and comparative religion for muliple decades, and unfortunately, had his missionary passion laced with theological liberalism, such as advocating the Documentary Hypothesis, two Isaiahs, and evolution. At the same time, he was a bold advocate for missionary work and evangelism, and those who new him testified to his love of God. It is odd that despite his passion for missions, he refused to answer the question of who can be saved as Scripture does.

I encountered the same thing this past Sunday. Before going to the Cardinals/Broncos game, Michael and I went to my Uncle David's church, a Presbyterian church that's part of the PCUSA denomination. As I sang the Christmas hymns with the congregation, I noticed that they had changed the words to a few songs, namely obliterating any reference to "men" or "man" or "sons." This was but one of several examples of their biblical "squishiness" (as Dr. Brand would say), but they seemed to really love each other.

My encounter with Carver has been a struggle, as I tend to just want to give up. But still I know I have to struggle through the theological depression, and know that God has called for me to love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Simply retreating from the battle is not an option. You don't end the pilgrimage just because you face hardships.

Ultimately, I must entrust Carver, my Uncle David's PCUSA church, and all others who fall short in such ways to God, the one who renews our minds and transforms us from the conformity of the pattern of this world. I must entrust myself to Him as well, knowing that I fall short in so many ways myself. I've been really thankful to my friends and fellow Christ followers John Letoto and Jessica Cimato for the honest words they've written on their respective blogs. They have helped me love Jesus more through their writings, as they have honestly written about their own struggle to love God more.

Tomorrow's agenda features more study about the life and thought of W.O. Carver, missiologist extrordinare and a severly flawed theologian, yet a man who loved God, His Word and His world very much. I guess we have a lot in common, minus the "extrordinare" part. I can only hope and pray that the latter part might be true of me too.

Monday, December 18, 2006

As Seen on the Jumbotron

Michael's and my Christmas gift from our Uncle David was tickets to the Cardinals/Broncos game in Phoenix today, so I got to attend my fourth NFL game, complete with tailgating and seats at the 40 yard line (albeit on the third level). It was by and large a trouncing for the Cardinals, although they had some exciting plays, including a fumble return for a touchdown. I had forgotten just how fast the game is when watched live, just how intense, just how fun. Michael and I also made the jumbotron when the Cardinal's mascot, "Big Red," ran up into our section of the stands. We and others crowded around and did the "idiotic yelling at the camera" thing, only Michael and I did so without the aid of alcohol. Although we left in disgust with a good portion of the fourth quarter left to go, it was still one heck of a Christmas gift, and a chance for three generations of Butterworths to bond (my grandfather, uncle, Michael and me). I also learned an interesting fact about my grandfather today. I learned that he grew up in Chicago, and as a young boy, went to Soldier Field to see the Chicago Cardinals play. Those same Cardinals would later make their way to Phoenix.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Fun with the Fam

I'm pretty tired right now, seeing as I've been up since 7:30 and hanging out with my relatives since 11:00 a.m. We had the family Christmas get-together today at my Aunt Karen's house, complete with her famous fudge and a cut-throat round of White Elephant. I scored Trivial Pursuit 80s Edition, so that should be fun. Michael and I are crashing at my Uncle David's house for the night, since he's taking us to the Cardinals/Broncos game tomorrow, complete with steaks at a tailgate party. We've been hanging out with his two kids, our cousins, for the past few hours, and basically, we've shot each other with Nerf guns and have been constructing a Lego crane that's two feet tall. We'll all be heading to bed soon, as we're heading to their church for a bit before the game. It will be interesting seeing that it's a PCUSA church, so I'm not really sure what to expect.

Tomorrow should be just as full as today.

Even My Baby Sister's Gone Commercial

I was shopping at Berean Christian Store this evening, and as soon as I walked, I saw it. The front shelf facing the door bore the title of "New Voices/Emerging Church." Erwin McManus was in the mix with Don Miller, with Rob Bell and Brian McLaren thrown in. I had to shake my head at such commercialization, although perhaps its not much different than the Faculty Authors section at Southern's LifeWay Campus Store. McManus is something of a hero of mine (his An Unstopable Force and The Barbarian Way have been fairly influential in my spiritual formation), and Miller has pushed me toward Christ also, while Bell and McLaren have usually frustrated me more than fed me, but regardless of one's views regarding an "emerging church" or even Reformed theology, etc, our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.

My great fear is that although we in the church seem to have honestly assessed that the church isn't quite in the best of health, if we do not turn to Christ and his gospel, we are lost. This Gospel is not Calvinism, experiential worship, Purpose-Driven methodology, or any other high horse on which we want to hop up. The Gospel is the work of Christ in saving us, and on this alone can we stand.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Light Gives Heat

Southern Baptists devote Christmas time to raising awareness and funds for the unfished task of missions, and this year, the focus is on West Africa. A few months ago, Jars of Clay, who is by far my favorite band, released their latest and best album to date, Good Monsters. One of the last tracks is called "Light Gives Heat" and tells a haunting tale of failings in ministry, but it does so with hope that the Gospel will yet prevail. It features the African Children's Choir and is nothing short of haunting. You can listen to (and legally download) the song here, and as you listen, read along with the lyrics.

Catch the rain empty hands
Save the children from their lands
Wash the darkness from their skin
Heroes from the west
We don't know you, we know best
But this is not a test

You treat me like I'm blind
Setting fires around houses on the hill
But light gives heat
You segregate my mind
Burning crosses from your fears
The light gives heat

It's not the way to light their way
Poison holes in empty fields
Oh, how good it feels
Lower-class, understate
Empty promise, empty plate

You treat me like I'm blind
Setting fires around houses on the hill
But light gives heat
You segregate my mind
Burning crosses from your fears
The light gives heat

Will you teach us how to love?
To see the things you see
Walk the road you walk
Feel the pain that you feel
At your feet I kneel
I want to see you shine
See your light not mine
'Cause light gives heat
Your light gives heat

If you've got some time to kill this break, check out the following sites. Meet International Mission Board missionaries in West Africa and the people they love at You can learn more about the physical needs of Africa and how you can help meet them at (Blood:Water Mission is a group started by Jars of Clay and supported by the likes of Derek Webb and Donald Miller. Even one dollar makes a difference.) If you've never really gotten to know Dan, Matt, Stephen and Charlie, get to know them better at

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Change of Scenery

Once again, I find myself in the amazingly beautiful (and otherwise amazing) state of Arizona. I affectionally call it home, but effectually, it's not much more than a place where my family resides. Since 1 January 2006, I have been here for less than a month: having spent half of that January here, a week after the spring semester here, and since my Thailand missions internship started on May 30, a grand total of two non-consecutive full days here. So, it feels both natural and bizzare to be back home.

It's going to be a working break for me. When one decides to learn a language, one becomes that language's slave, and I must slap on my Greek shackles again. I also got about 20 pages of paper to crank out for the good Dr. Brand, and 600 plus pages of Baptist history text to read, in partial fulfillment of the requirements of HS 305. Good times to be had indeed.

Most importantly, this break is going to be a readjustment for me, a time that I hope will be dedicated on renewing my relationship with God, especially as it's a time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The end of the year is also a great chance to let go of the past and embrace the future, namely the Soverign God who has prepared it for us and us for it, and the entirity of the two for His Glory. Wrapped up in that glory is our good.

My scenery has changed and my great hope is that as always, God would change me as well.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Disaster on a City: Pictures

The fellowship hall/Spanish church chapel of the church campus that housed us had a mosaic on its floor, and the thing captivated me throughout my time there. It was a new mosaic, crafted in the days following Hurricane Katrina, although I do not know if it was volunteer crafted or otherwise. Stone, tile, and glass set in stucco took up a space of about four by six feet.

In the center of the mosaic was a cross, made from square tiles with a diamond shaped interior. The cross was surrounded by little glass pieces and smooth rocks, but in each of the mosaic's four corners, Christian images could be found, such as the anchor/cross, the dove, and the ICTHUS. There was a problem with the ICTHUS, however. ICTHUS is a Greek accrostic, formed from the words which mean Jesus Christ God's Son Savior. I noticed something about the ICTHUS, however. The Greek word for God's is theou, and the first letter of the word (which in English is the th, theta) is very similar to the letter that in English is transliterated ph (phi). Anyway, the little glass piece in the middle of the theta was shifted up, making the letter into an almost phi, and I walked away from the mosaic proud of my ability to the spelling of Greek words relayed in mosaics probably crafted by seventh graders (although I missed a much more important spelling error until the last day). As I walked away, I walked with the pick-me up of knowing that a little bit of Greek was sticking, but also with the knowledge that the spelling of a Greek accrostic in a mosaic had a value of next to nil.

I returned to the mosaic later that night for prayer. I could not get its beauty out of my head, and I could not wrap my fingers around why it meant so much to me, why I felt so drawn to it. I think it was the next day when I realized what gave it the pull that it had.

This mosaic was a simple of triumph in the midst of utter and complete disaster, tragedgy, pain. After the storm had wrecked the coast, four feet of water had stood on this very spot, but now a beautiful piece of art lay there. Then I thought of the cross in the middle of the mosaic, and I realized that the Cross itself had much in common with the mosaic, for what is the Cross of Christ but a symbol of triumph in the midst of utter and complete, disaster, tragedy, and pain. For just a moment, I remembered how scandelous the Cross of Christ really is, I caught a glimple of what it cost, I remembered what pain it brought. It was in the midst of this that Christ's triumph came, as death was swallowed up in victory, and Jesus became the firstborn from among the dead. That was why the mosaic tugged me so. It was a stone-set illustration of biblical truth.

It was not the only thing to effect me that week...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Disaster on a City: Layers

I'm not quite sure how to return from these things. My spirit longs to tell of how God sanctified me just a little bit more through the process, but my flesh craves approval or attention for merely doing what God had prepared for me to do.

We did a few days of a Bible study called Service and Secrecy, (published by IVP), while on the trip. I never made it to the secrecy part. Earlier this year, I was reading in a rather lackluster book on the concept of martyrdom, and as I read, I encountered one thought that would give me much food. The author stated that the concept of doing good deeds in secret did not mean that nobody knew what you did, because the Bible also says that we are to know people by their fruit and that the world will see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. What then is the secrecy? From whom do we hid our good deeds?

From ourselves.

We hide them from ourselves.

There are layers and layers of thought and introspection that can be observed in our heads. For me, I struggle to glorify God with my life, and not steal that glory for myself. That said, I will attempt to tell the few stories I heard in my short time in the Gulf Coast, stories of disaster brought on a city. I hope to post them while they're still fresh. Look for the first one tomorrow.