Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June Newsletter

Houston weather report … We’re experiencing one of the worst droughts in about 100 years. Even trees have been dying. We have some dead ones on our property which will need to be removed. Our neighborhood is on well water and some wells have run dry. Thankfully we received almost two inches of rain this week. We’re still far below normal so are hoping for more. The one bright spot is that there have been fewer mosquitoes!

From Laura, 12 … Settling into the new normal with John being gone is certainly an adjustment for me. Prior to the wedding I had thought that perhaps John moving out would not be as hard as Katie moving out, because he was not home all day as was Katie. Now that it has happened though, I think it is harder for me this time because, first, I was only nine when Katie got married, and second, more of my life has been spent with John living at home than with Katie.

From Becca, 14 … The other day Papa explained the third law of planetary motion to me, which says that the distance between any planet and the sun is proportional to the time it takes to orbit the sun. If you multiply the time by itself and the distance by itself three times you will always come up with the same number. I thought that was wonderful and I wondered how Johannes Kepler could have discovered that. Papa said that Kepler suspected that there would be a rule and so he just played around with the numbers until he found one. Kepler believed that God created the universe with order, so he looked for it. Someone who believes that the universe was created by random chance would not look for laws like that. How could something like this occur any other way than by a God of order? How wonderful it is that God has designed things in our universe to be dependable and yet he is far more dependable still!

From Seth, 18 … I spent a few days working for John during the week after he returned from his honeymoon. The task at hand involved painting dentil molding, which is a type of molding that has hundreds of tiny cube-like shapes in-set along the length of the molding. The cubes, with all their tightly-packed interior right angles, make the molding very painstaking to paint. Though the work was not that enjoyable, I was very glad to be able to work with John. We had worked on jobs together several times before his marriage, and it was nice to do so again after he was married. Because I rendezvoused with him at his house, I was able to see a little of his new family life. I enjoyed seeing John’s house becoming a new Pedersen home and being with them while they prayed and spent time in the Word.

From Anna, 21 … We ended up with a handful of video clips from John and Megan’s wedding that we would like to put together with some audio clips and photographs to make a nice finished product, so I’ve been playing around with transitions and special effects. I’ve never done any video editing before, so I’ve had to figure out what I’m doing, but I’m having fun. I put together a three-minute sampler video just to try everything out, and I’m looking forward to doing the real thing.

I’m currently reading a volume of the letters of John Newton (author of the hymn Amazing Grace). He demonstrates deep insight, great humility, a caring shepherd’s heart, and a joyful awe at the nature of God and the gospel. That would be enough to make his letters edifying reading, but knowing his background as a former God-hating, rebellious slave trader adds a fascinating dimension. In one place he is writing to his unbelieving brother-in-law and speaks of how he had tried all the pleasures the world could offer—and he certainly had! This hardened seaman-turned-caring pastor is a shining example of the sanctifying power of God’s grace.  (See some excerpts here.)

From John and Megan … (by Megan) Life after the wedding has been wonderful! These last three weeks have been busy, but productive, as we have been settling into a new normal for our own family. John has been keeping busy with work, and I have been getting our home set up and running. We have both been learning the new dynamics of life for two.

From Ray, Katie, Peter, and Samuel … (by Katie) Ray's business has been the busiest it's ever been lately. Clients seem to be coming out of the woodwork. Ray is enjoying it, even though it's a lot to juggle, and we're thankful for the Lord's provision. Samuel is a happy, healthy, delightful baby who seems to get bigger every day. He'll catch up to Peter soon at this rate! Peter is enjoying his new little baby brother. Ray and I are learning to juggle TWO little boys. We enjoyed the visits of relatives who came to town for John and Megan's wedding, including Ray's dad, Carl, who hadn't seen our 'new' home yet. Carl got more than a little of our Texas heat, but had a great time here.

From Judith … Life just goes from full to fuller! To my great delight I now have my very first daughter-in-law! Megan has become a treasured friend to me. I look forward with joy to our relationship deepening in the years to come.

Another new treasure in my life is the parcel of sweet memories I came home with from John and Megan’s wedding. Though all the words spoken and sung in the service were deeply meaningful, it was particularly moving to me to hear my son vow before God to be faithful in every regard as a Christian husband. Years of preparation were bearing fruit in those moments. Later during the reception John washed Megan’s feet so as to illustrate that the husband’s leadership role should be characterized by servanthood. This showed me yet further fruit. I thank God for this new treasure freshly stored in my heart.

From Gerald … Today we participated in an activity called “The Tabernacle Experience.” A local church sponsored this traveling exhibit. It consists of a nearly full-scale replica of the Tabernacle of God from the time of Moses. A narrated presentation explained each element of the Tabernacle as participants moved from station-to-station within the structure. I thought that it was a worthwhile experience. Even though it was not doctrinally accurate in every aspect, they did a good job of recreating the structure and in the narrated presentation. The explanation of each element of the Tabernacle looked at its historical significance and also showed how it pointed ahead to Christ. For example, the altar where burnt offerings were sacrificed pointed to the sacrifice of Christ. The mercy seat on the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies was a cover over the ark which contained God’s law. Christ’s perfect obedience to the Law and his atoning sacrifice provide a cover for us against the righteous wrath of God.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Quotes from the Letters of John Newton

I've been enjoying reading a volume of John Newton's letters.  The first excerpt was written to his unbelieving brother-in-law after he had recovered from a serious illness.  The next was written to a pastor, the following three to another pastor, and the last two to a group of Christian ladies.

Remember that we must all, each one for himself, experience on which side the truth lies.  I used a wrong word when I spoke of your recovery.  Dear brother, look upon it as no more than a REPRIEVE; for you carry the sentence of death about with you still; and unless you should be cut off (which God of his infinite mercy prevent) by a sudden stroke, you will as surely lie on a dying bed as you have now got up from a bed of sickness.  And remember, too (I can hardly bear to write it), that should you neglect my admonitions, they will all tend to render you more inexcusable... My hearty, daily, constant prayer is, that [God may meet you] in a way of mercy, and that you may be added to the number of the trophies of rich, free, and sovereign grace.  Amen.  Your sister sends her love.

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Methinks a very different spirit from that of the church of Laodicea is to be seen amongst us, though perhaps it is not easy to say which is the best of the two.  That was neither cold nor hot, this is both cold and hot at once, and both to the extreme.  Hot, hasty, and arbitrary in those few things where mediocrity is a virtue; but cool and remiss in those great points, where the application of the whole heart and soul and mind and strength is so absolutely necessary, and so positively enjoined.

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If you should be numbered among the regular Independents, I advise you not to offend any of them by unnecessary singularities.  I wish you not to part with any truth, or with any thing really expedient; but if the omitting any thing of an indifferent nature will obviate prejudices, and increase a mutual confidence, why should not so easy a sacrifice be made?

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Have we not sometimes mocked God, by pretending to ask direction from him, when we had fixed our determination beforehand?  It is a great blessing to know that we are sincere; and next to this, to be convinced of our insincerity, and to pray against it.

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May God give you wisdom, faithfulness, and patience; take care that you do not catch an angry spirit yourself, while you aim to suppress it in others: this will spoil all, and you will exhort, advise, and weep in vain.
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Be not discouraged: usefulness and trials, comforts and crosses, strength and exercise go together.  But remember He has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."  When you get to heaven, you will not complain of the way by which the Lord brought you.

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He drank of the full cup of unmixed wrath for us; shall we then refuse to taste of the cup of affliction at his appointment, especially when his wisdom and love prepare it for us, and proportion every circumstance to our strength; when He put it into our hands, not in anger but in tender mercy, to do us good, to bring us near to himself; and when He sweetens every bitter draught with those comforts which none but He can give?

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Oh!  Who can say which is the most wonderful part of this wonderful subject?  That He should provide such a happiness for such hell-deserving wretches, and that He should commend his great undeserved love to us in such a wonderful way, as to give his own and his only Son to be born, to be buffeted, to be crucified for us?  Alas!  Alas!  For our stupidity, that we can write, or hear, or speak of these things, with so little feeling, affection, and fruitfulness.  Oh!  That the power of God would set my heart and pen at liberty while writing, and fill your heart while reading, that we may rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Monday, June 20, 2011

General Robert E. Lee and His Children


Recently I read something about Robert E. Lee which I found fascinating.  It gave me a more personal view of this great man.  It was in a book called Recollections and Letters, written and compiled by his son.

"From that early time I began to be impressed with my father’s character, as compared with other men.  Every member of the household respected, revered and loved him as a matter of course, but it began to dawn on me that every one else with whom I was thrown held him high in their regard. At forty-five years of age he was active, strong, and as handsome as he had ever been.  I never remember his being ill.  I presume he was indisposed at times; but no impressions of that kind remain.  He was always bright and gay with us little folk, romping, playing, and joking with us.  With the older children, he was just as companionable, and I have seen him join my elder brothers and their friends when they would try their powers at a high jump put up in our yard.  The two younger children he petted a great deal, and our greatest treat was to get into his bed in the morning and lie close to him, listening while he talked to us in his bright, entertaining way.  This custom we kept up until I was ten years old and over.  Although he was so joyous and familiar with us, he was very firm on all proper occasions, never indulged us in anything that was not good for us, and exacted the most implicit obedience.  I always knew that it was impossible to disobey my father.  I felt it in me, I never thought why, but was perfectly sure when he gave an order that it had to be obeyed.  My mother I could sometimes circumvent, and at times took liberties with her orders, construing them to suit myself; but exact obedience to every mandate of my father was a part of my life and being at that time.  He was very fond of having his hands tickled, and, what is still more curious, it pleased and delighted him to take off his slippers and place his feet in our laps in order to have them tickled.  Often, as little things, after romping all day, the enforced sitting would be too much for us, and our drowsiness would soon show itself in continued nods.  Then, to arouse us, he had a way of stirring us up with his foot—laughing heartily at and with us.  He would often tell us the most delightful stories, and then there was no nodding. Sometimes, however, our interest in his wonderful tales became so engrossing that we would forget to do our duty—when he would declare, “No tickling, no story!”  When we were a little older, our elder sister told us one winter the ever-delightful “Lady of the Lake,” Of course, she told us in prose and arranged it to suit our mental capacity.  Our father was generally in his corner by the fire, most probably with a foot in either the lap of myself or youngest sister—the tickling going on briskly—and would come in at different points of the tale and repeat line after line of the poem—much to our disapproval—but to his great enjoyment.”

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wedding Video

A friend of ours took some video clips at John and Megan's wedding which she has put together in a lovely video on her blog. 

Thank you, Katrina!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Samuel Yawns


Big brother.

Little fingers.

Baby's here, wedding's a-comin', life is full, and God is incredibly gracious in the midst of it all.