Monday, November 29, 2010

Another Romantic Monday...

I know, those aren't the words to the old Bangles tune, and I'm not sure who Bruno Mars is since my knowledge of contemporary music, like my fashion sense, stopped right around the mid-90s. But if there is a gift that this husband wishes he had, the ability to write poetry and sing well for his lady love ranks right up there. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


When I was a kid, we used to all gather for Thanksgiving at my Grandma Horn's house. All of my aunts and uncles, my mom and dad, and all of us Horn kids would eat cornbread dressing, roasted turkey (which tasted like newspaper, like all baked turkeys-long live the deep fryer!), cranberry salad, lettuce salad, breads, pie, and all the other grand traditions of the holiday. We would eat until we couldn't hold any more, then snooze in various places around the house while football provided the background noise. Later, we'd watch a movie together. (This can't possibly be true, but somehow I remember it being Cannonball Run more than once). Inevitably, one of my aunts (usually Nita) would want to go around the table and have us share what we were thankful for, which I thought at the time was the most painful, irrelevant, and dumb part of the day.

Or so it seemed to me at the time.

Somehow now, with middle age rapidly advancing over the horizon (yeah, sad but true, even my hairline knows it), it has become the part I enjoy more. Maybe I have grown enough in Christ now that I am realizing how much I truly have received from God. I hope so. It's so easy to pray for things, so much easier to forget to praise and thank the God who gives answers. So in honor of God (and my aunt Nita!), here's my list for 2010:
  1. God saved me by His grace a long time ago, and by His grace He is keeping me, staying faithful to me even after a long, often checkered and indifferent level of faithfulness to Him.
  2. God gave me the woman who, while not perfect, perfectly completes me and loves me in spite of me. Who can find such an incredible woman as the one I married? I couldn't and didn't. She is God's gift.
  3. God gave me 4 children, 2 sons and 2 daughters, who still think that they have the best Daddy in the world. Though I'm sure there will be times when that opinion changes, I am still blessed that they are part of my world. They are my pride and joy every day.
  4. God has given me a pastorate with a flock I love deeply and am deeply loved by. I get to do what I love and am called to and get paid for it. Who can ask for more than that in their job?
  5. God has watched over my health. He gave me Crohn's disease 21 years ago, and it has been a hard gift to know what to do with, but He has led me, shaped me, and taught me a lot of lessons with it. All the while, through a multitude of tests (and more to come in January and afterward), God has protected me. I haven't gotten any of the really bad side effects or related conditions (colon cancer, surgery, colostomy, and so on), even though my odds of one of those theoretically keep increasing each year. Somehow I know that, even if one of them should come, God will still be there, watching over and going through it with me.
  6. God provided for all our bills, our repairs, some wonderful new furniture and decorations for our house, and kept us warm, well fed, and healthy.
  7. God paid our church's bills while expanding its ministry, gave us people to share the Gospel with, used us to change other people's lives for good, and led us deeper into fellowship with one another and with Him.
I am truly blessed beyond measure and far more than I deserve.

"God Provided" - Jonah and God's Sovereignty

The book of Jonah is pretty fascinating stuff. Its theology of grace is as good as any New Testament parable of Jesus, and the fact that it is true only makes the story more compelling. But it's also interesting to look at it as a literary product and see some of the features of the way its author has chosen to write it.

One of the most obvious features of the story is it's emphasis on God's sovereign provision and rule, which is underlined with the words "God sent" or "God provided." Here's a list of the things God gave to Jonah:
  1. His commission to go to Nineveh, given by "the Word of the Lord" (v. 1:1)
  2. A violent storm that got fiercer when he and the sailors tried to escape (v. 1:4, 11, 13)
  3. A fish that swallowed Jonah for 3 days and nights (v. 1:17)
  4. A command to the fish that it vomit Jonah out, which was obeyed (v. 2:10)
  5. A 2nd commission to go to Nineveh, also given by "the Word of the Lord" (v. 3:1-2)
  6. A plant that shaded (v. 4:6)
  7. A worm that ate the plant (v. 4:7)
  8. A scorching wind that withered the plant (v. 4:8)
What is fascinating to me about this list is the fact that many of the things on it were not received as indicators of God's sovereign care and love. Nevertheless, they were given by God, and given for Jonah's good rather than his harm. Which reminds me that many of the things in my life which aren't terribly fun are nevertheless gifts from God which are given me for my good, amen?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tim Hawkins on The Sermon Series

I just wrapped up a sermon series on Marriage and I'm starting on this Sunday on Jonah. Still, while it's important to take God, His Word, and the Gospel seriously, we do well not to do the same thing with ourselves:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Disorganized thoughts on the 2010 Election

I have wanted to write a post about the election since Tuesday night, but the results weren't in thoroughly enough then to write coherently. Here are my observations about it, in no particular order:

Which is worse, a "shellacking" or a "thumpin"?

Republican victory was both broad and deep. Republicans will control more legislative chambers and won more legislative seats (680) than at any time in the last 82 years, and won at least 239 U. S. House seats (a net gain of at least 60, while 11 remain undecided at this writing), while picking up at least 6 additional Senate seats (again, a few remain undecided). This is the most significant gain in House seats for Republicans in a single election since 1946.

It is probably better, from a tactical perspective, that Republicans do not control the Senate. This will prevent both Clinton-style triangulation and a Truman style campaign against a "do-nothing" Congress (whose bills Truman vetoed). Moreover, at least a few of the Democratic Senators will have to go along with the GOP to avoid their own shellacking in years to come (Sen.-elect Manchin, Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, possibly a few others).

Why is it that a candidate is often more gracious in defeat than he was in victory, and more likable?

Coming soon to remainder bins at fine bookstores near you: The Death of Conservatism by Sam Tannenhaus and 40 More Years: How the Democrats will Rule the Next Generation. (As an aside, it's creepy when American political figures talk about ruling. Ruling is for kings, despots, and dictators in ill-fitting uniforms, leading is the term for the stewardship of presidents, senators, and representatives. Ruling is a creepy word for an American to use of his own government... and telling, if I may so).

Cap-and-trade is dead, being literally shot through the heart by Democratic Senator-elect Joe Manchin. So, probably, are forced unionization through card check, another "stimulus" bill, and any future attempts to govern Americans from the far left.

Candidates I have the highest hopes for: Nikki Haley, Allen West, and Susana Martinez. It's about time some non-white Republicans beat some white liberal Democrats in close races. It's past time to prove that Republican and racist aren't interchangeable terms (not they ever were, but still...). These candidates are a silent rebuke to all that.

And while we're on the subject, how did the party that was for slavery, secession and segregation wind up being the defender of minority rights? Abe Lincoln was a Republican; Bull Connor and George Wallace were Democrats. What voodoo rite did the Democrats perform to transform 165 years of opposition to blacks and their rights into a perception as the party of the oppressed rather than the oppressors? This will, I'm afraid, always confuse me.

Here in Illinois, the Machine grinds on, unhindered by law or shame to the lasting detriment of the people.

Advice to Democrats: Push harder for what you want. People love full-scale Europeanization and social democracy, they really do. The problem with this election was your marketing, and the nefarious influence of the US Chamber of Commerce. Seriously. Keep doing what you're doing. Americans will see the wisdom of your ideas any day now, despite the fact that they haven't wanted what you are selling (clearly labeled as such) since FDR, and it's debatable that they wanted it then. The next unabashed liberal president with a temporarily large majority will form a permanent center-left majority in this country. Really.

Advice to Republicans: Enjoy this while it lasts. The wheel turns, and it will roll over the unwary. Beware hubris, lest nemesis come for you as it has for Obama and the Dems. Keep your word: Cut spending-really cut it, don't just slow down the rate of growth. Serious about limiting the influence of lobbyists and "special interests"? Reduce the size and reach of the federal government, and fewer people will feel the need to lobby. Don't leave us with debt that my grandchildren will never pay off. Do something great for the country instead of something that will merely ensure your re-election in 2012.

Three words that best describe the election for me: Hope and Change.