Saturday, July 21, 2012

What's In A Name?

So where does "Volumes of grace" come from, you ask?

That's a good question, because names are significant in ways most people don't think about these days. I love names, precisely for that reason. Maybe it's the anti-postmodernist in me. Words do have meanings. (Sorry, Mr. Clinton. Is means is.) My daughter's name is Rebekah because I want to communicate something about her. Rebekah means "bound up," as if by beauty. Her middle name is Grace... we're still working on that part! My third child's middle name is Christopher. I was never big on the name Christopher until I took Greek. Phero is to carry or bear, which makes Christopher take the meaning "bearer of Christ." Every day, I pray that my children will live out the meanings of their names. As you can see, I'm really into the nomenclature thing.

But back to the blog's title...
One of the earliest influences on my life as a new believer was Christian music. I was schooled in basic Christian doctrine by the well-worn, pearly white, hardback Baptist Hymnal I sang from each Lord's day. There were a few artists in the Christian Contemporary scene that I followed as well, but not many. Looking back, I suppose I always found the more popular Christian contemporary music scene pretty boring and predictable. But one group that immediately caught and held my attention was Caedmon's Call. Their writing was filled with things that appealed to the intellect as well as the emotions; they were communicating hard things about the faith. As an example, contrast Rebecca St. James screaming "God! .... God!" at the top of her lungs with Caedmon's Call wrestling over how to reconcile God's sovereignty with human decision-making. There is a place for both songs, but Caedmon's won a special place in my heart and my CD folder. They were singing about the very things I was passionate to know more about. When I met my wife, Caedmon's Call was a huge part of our time together. So much so that we named our first child Jesse Caedmon. (The name Caedmon has a very interesting story behind it as well. If you're into name meanings, check out the legend of the monk named Caedmon, who couldn't sing.)

My favorite Caedmon's Call song is a bit newer than the original pieces that made me fall in love with them. But the writing is amazing. The song communicates the truth that Christ is the only one to whom we can run when we are "laden with guilt and full of fears." The problems, questions, and hurts we have can only be overcome in this amazing relationship with Him. The speaker experiences intimacy with the Savior as she reads through the scriptures; a thing that I too have often experienced, enjoyed, and repeated.

So here are the lyrics to the whole song. It was written by Sandra McCracken and appears on Caedmon's Call's album "In the Company of Angels."

Laden with guilt and full of fears
I fly to Thee my Lord
And not a glimpse of hope appears
But in Thy written word
The volumes of my Father's grace
Does all my griefs assuage
Here I behold my Savior's face
In every page

This is the field where hidden lies
The pearl of price unknown
That merchant is divinely wise
Who makes the pearl his own
Here consecrated waters flow
To quench my thirst of sin
Here the fair tree of knowledge grown
No danger dwells within

This is the judge that ends the strife
Where wit and reason fail
My guide to everlasting life
Throughout this gloomy vale
O may Thy counsels, mighty God
My roving feet command
Nor I forsake the happy road
That leads to Thy right hand 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Prolegomena / Why I Write

I've got a lot of explaining to do.

Over the years, I've been a notorious critic of blogs and blogging in general. Why am I so harsh? Partially because we live in a world full of wannabe experts. If I google "upper respiratory infection," I want to know facts, not what someone's Aunt Bipsie mixed with turpentine to relieve a stubborn cough. I'm also probably a bit harsh because many people who are writing blogs aren't very good writers to begin with. These things frustrate me, but there is a greater reason for my negativity. The main reason I have been critical of blogs and bloggers is because of the endless stream of superficial subject matter. There is a blog of Kim Jong Il "looking at things." Seriously?!

So as I said before, I've got some explaining to do for creating a blog of my own. Here are three reasons this blog exists.

1. Over the last few years, I have discovered something quite strange about myself. I... like to... write. All the frustrations of the late-night, last-minute seminary papers couldn't dissuade me. I enjoy this. Something about organizing my thoughts, carefully selecting just the right word, and even trying to predict how the reader will react to what is communicated- all appeals to me.

2. I believe there are important things to write about. Of course, I am primarily concerned with issues regarding the Christian Faith: theology, ecclesiology, church history, exegetical study of the scriptures, and the like. But all of these topics also have application in our society. So there is room for occasional social commentary as well. I need to write on these issues, because I believe that the discussions of such topics matter- now as much as ever.

3. Print isn't what it used to be. When I brought up the idea of writing articles for the benefit of my church family and others, my colleagues laughed at the idea of doing so in old-fashioned print. They were convinced that I would pour out my heart and soul on a page that was destined for the bottom of the canary cage. They convinced me. I don't want to waste my time writing. I want maximum readership because there are important things to communicate and discuss. Good theology deserves better than the recycle bin. Church history wasn't intended to be used for windexing minivan windows. In the electronic age of writing, the reader selects, (hopefully) subscribes, and reads. There is no wasted distribution. I suppose I like that.

So, I've been won over. Here is my blog. My earnest prayer is that its content would be salt and light in a darkened world, and an encouragement and blessing to the follower of Christ.