Wednesday, May 31, 2017

day no, 14,100: tiny thieves of oneness

Song of Solomon 2:15
Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.

It is more often the little things eroding slowly than the large things blasting suddenly that spoil the fruit our marriages.

Marriages first need husbands who are committed to catching and killing even the tiniest thieves of oneness. 

Next, marriages need friends who are invited over to point out the foxes we missed or do not see for the foxes they are.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

day no. 14,099: spring loaded

Song of Solomon 2:10-12
My beloved speaks and says to me:

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
 and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land."

Being loved is like smelling Spring. It is surprising and refreshing and altogether undeserved. It is dependable and unexpected. It makes sense and it boggles our brains all at once. The time of bitter wind and water often begin to feel like the facts until the promised warmth and daffodils produce in us their song of hope.

Monday, May 29, 2017

day no. 14,098: a garden tended to by covenant

Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, 8:4
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.

The chorus to which this greatest hit often returns is that true love waits to be awakened, that the most beautiful flowers are planted in a garden tended to by covenant.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

day no. 14,097: His banner over me was love

Song of Solomon 2:4
He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.

The war God fights
His battle cry
lifted high
above His bride
for all to see
is love in Christ
nailed to a tree.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

day no. 14,096: a lily among brambles

Song of Solomon 2:1, 3
As a lily among brambles,
so is my love among the young women.
As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.

"A man must choose his love and then he must love his choice." - Henry Smith

Your wife is to you an altogether different thing when compared to other women. She isn't like them. She is more than a woman. She is a bride, a lily among brambles, a white dress in a sea of colors.

Friday, May 26, 2017

day no. 14,095: the best tree in the best garden

Song of Solomon 1:14
My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
in the vineyards of Engedi.

The best dish at the best restaurant, the best room at the best hotel, the best song on the best album, the best line from the best book, the best neighborhood of the best city, the best wine from the best vineyard is our God and Savior, Jesus Christ! He is our Engedi, the best sofa in the best home.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

day no. 14,094: tanning my hide

Song of Solomon 1:5-6
I am very dark, but lovely,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar,
like the curtains of Solomon.
Do not gaze at me because I am dark,
because the sun has looked upon me.

I too sometimes feel like whatever and whoever I am is disqualified from being whatever and whoever I wish I was. The place where I was placed has produced in me something of which I now feel ashamed to be. But my Maker placed me there and the darkness produced by His sun is not offensive to Him. It may not have been my preference or to my neighbor's taste, but it is a non-issue to the One who tanned my hide. I may be dark to them, but to Him I am lovely.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

day no. 14,093: let us run

Song of Solomon 1:4
Draw me after you; let us run.

I love this idea. Lord, draw me. Like water from a deep well, draw me. Even though it seems as though You have nothing by which to draw (John 4:11), I trust You can dig me out and find life where it looks like only mud. And once You've unearthed me, let us run! Kids like running because it feels fun. It is undignified for adults to run in civilian clothes. To run across a parking lot, to dash across the lawn, to sprint to the restaurant are all considered faux pas. But I want to run. I want to go with God quickly to wherever He's going with me. Lord, draw me and fill my sails with the wind of Your will to run fast and free and faithfully.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

day no. 14,092: under the sun without Christ

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Life under the sun comes down to this one matter: the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever and that God will judge you for falling short of that prescription.

That is life under the sun... without Christ.

If there is one thing we all know, it is that there are things we ought to be doing and things we shouldn't have done. We are our own accusers. We confess the standard and the failure in the same breath. Without Christ, this is all of life.

Monday, May 22, 2017

day no. 14,091: a better book diet

Ecclesiastes 12:12
My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

I've taken this advice in a quite literal sense in recent years. I used to compile reading lists each year based on all that was still unread. I still have that list, but I now try to make my primary diet a return to feasting on good, rich, nutritious books from which I've already received health while sprinkling in some new ones on occasion.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

day no. 14,090: the quip in equipment

Ecclesiastes 12:11
The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.

I never feel more equipped for life than when I spend time with the minds of those whose quips give me insight. They are the firmly fixed nails on which I humbly hang my life.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

day no. 14,089: arranging with great care

Ecclesiastes 12:9-10
Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. 10 The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.

I find a kindred spirit here in my desire to seek and find words of delight that teach others to know, love and obey Jesus.

Friday, May 19, 2017

day no. 14,088: the dying before the death

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— 6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.

Getting older under the sun without God is like clouds covering a land that has already quenched its thirst. It's shaking hands and bent backs, rotting teeth and dimming eyes. It's losing sleep over the sound of a bird, it's failing to hear what others are now saying. It's afraid of staircases and sees white hair looking back in its blurred reflection. It is becoming dust… again. And that is ALL that it is if under the sun without God: a dark shadow of what was once a vibrant flame.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

day no. 14,087: short, dark, cold days

Ecclesiastes 11:7
Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.

If you possess any uncertainty with respect to this precept, plant a church in Northeast Iowa and wait for February. It will certainly remove all doubt.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

day no. 14,086: the God Who is, is a God Who makes

Ecclesiastes 11:5
As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

No less than six times God has made from nothing a new person in the womb of my wife. Each one is a complete, complicated, common person. The fact that this is commonplace is phenomenal. The God Who is, is a God Who makes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

day no. 14,085: grace or disgrace?

Ecclesiastes 11:3
If a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.

One way or another every tree eventually falls; and when it does, it stays where it lands. So too, every man, woman and child will someday die; and when they do, they will remain forever in the state which they fell: in grace or in disgrace.

Monday, May 15, 2017

day no. 14,084: feckless fearlessness

Proverbs 1:32-33
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.

"Complacency is counterfeit ease." - Ray Ortlund, Jr

You can feel safe from an approaching storm if you don't know what storms can do, how bad this one is, or by pretending that what you've heard about storms in general and this one in particular is all exaggerated.

Or... you can feel safe because you are safely hidden in a storm shelter.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

day no. 14,083 continued... to thank and to blame

Proverbs 1:31
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.

"Hardness of heart inherits itself, and Hell cannot be more inescapable and just than that." - Ray Ortlund, Jr.

The sentence pronounced on self-reliance is having only yourself to thank and to blame.

day no. 14,083: more mom than you used to be

Every passing year seems to add more and more Van Voorsts to the choir of voices already learning to say, "Thanks, Mom." So today we salute all moms, but particular the ones who are more mom than most, especially the one my children call, "mine."

There are no days where I do not find myself grateful to have a wife who stays home with our children. They are blessed and I am thankful. As they grow, they will certainly begin to understand exactly what they've been taking for granted all these first years. And as their realization becomes more clear, they will likely feel tempted to be ashamed of how long they were in realizing it. But luckily for them, the very lady they have been taking for granted will be the first to comfort them with Gospel salve for sinners since she takes seriously the Christlikeness that strives to be kind to the ungrateful and the evil (Luke 6:32-35).

So today we raise our glasses, full to the brim with the best wine, to say, "if you weren't always pregnant, this could be you."

Saturday, May 13, 2017

day no. 14,082: mercy and mockery

Proverbs 1:24-26
Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you

"If we are too busy for God, He will judge us, and He will not apologize." – Ray Ortlund, Jr.

God mocks those who refuse mercy.

Friday, May 12, 2017

day no, 14,081: it's a dogma eat dogma world

"In truth there are only two kinds of people, those who accept dogmas and know it, and those who accept dogmas and don't know it." - G.K. Chesterton

Everyone rides a melt, even if it's their very own. But some ride a melt of being offended by the idea of riding a melt, which is the most peculiar melt of all on which to be riding.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

day no. 14,080: the ears of an ass

"The Devil is (in the long run) an ass." - C.S. Lewis

The essence of sin is incorrigibility - a refusal to listen, a resistance to being teachable. It is a stubborn insistence on one's own inclinations and proclivities over and beyond the reach of any other. It is being an ass.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

day no. 14,079: humble, hard work

"If you seek humility, try hard work." - C.H. Spurgeon

It would make sense that on the day I discovered this quip from Spurgeon I would have a rough night preaching at Salt Company. Preaching is hard work and when it goes well, it sometimes feels less hard. When it doesn't go the way you were wishing, it reminds you how hard the work really is and how vulnerable you are regardless of how much effort, education, and experience you bring to the pulpit on any given occasion, even if you find a way to find three "e" words to explain it. Thank You, God, for hard work and a faithful dose of humility in continuing to work hard at it.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

day no. 14,078: that damned "ism" in feminism

Doug Wilson linked to this article on his twitter feed the other day and I am very glad I clicked over. This is spot on and highlights many of the reasons I despise the "ism" in feminism.

Monday, May 8, 2017

day no. 14,077: predictable disasters

Ecclesiastes 10:18
Through sloth the roof sinks in,
and through indolence the house leaks.

Emergencies are often merely the products of procrastination.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

day no. 14,076: dancing before duty

Ecclesiastes 10:16-17
Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
and your princes feast in the morning!
Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility,
and your princes feast at the proper time,
for strength, and not for drunkenness!
When we dance before duty and bow before credulity, we are in certain danger.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

day no. 14,075: smarter > harder

Ecclesiastes 10:10
If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,
he must use more strength,
but wisdom helps one to succeed.

For every tree toppled by strong men and dull axes, forests are felled by the wise. Sometimes we must work smarter, not harder.

Friday, May 5, 2017

day no. 14,074: bound to be burgled

Ecclesiastes 10:8-9
He who digs a pit will fall into it,
and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.
He who quarries stones is hurt by them,
and he who splits logs is endangered by them.
Carpenters hit their thumbs with hammers more often than me even though they're better at striking nails. When you roll with hammer-men, you're bound to get hammered; when you roll with burglars, you're bound to be burgled.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

day no. 14,073: the foolish broadcasting network

Ecclesiastes 10:3
Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense,
and he says to everyone that he is a fool.
Fools broadcast their foolishness. Just wait. They literally can't help themselves.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

day no. 14,072: direction determines destination

Ecclesiastes 10:2
A wise man's heart inclines him to the right,
but a fool's heart to the left.
The fool and the wise aren't going similar directions, they're going opposite directions and end up at opposite destinations.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

day no. 14,071: eau de toilette

Ecclesiastes 10:1
Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a stench;
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
It only takes one turd in a bowl of brownie batter to ruin the entire batch.

Monday, May 1, 2017

day no. 14,070 continued... it's official folks

As of 2:13 pm CST today, new baby VV has a name...

Callista Janelle Van Voorst

Callista means "most beautiful" or "lovely." It is not a generic beauty like the type that people aspire to selfishly obtain or possess, it is of the highest, most honorable, and unique kind that inspires a person to aspire to live in a way that rises to match its splendor. It is a beauty that inspires gratitude rather than greed. It compels the onlooker to be grateful for the privilege of partaking. It is a sunset, an ocean view, a waterfall, a grand canyon, or any other of the things which photographers attempt to capture. The joy of setting your eyes upon it is enough. It makes you feel safe and scared all at the same time. It connects you to the depths of who we are and disconnects you from the mundane in which we often swim. It is a beauty that calls one to rise within oneself, to be honorable in response to observing honor, to be noble in reaction to seeing nobility, to be grander because there exists in actuality grandeur. This is the essence of the name Callista and God has granted women the unique opportunity to be the muses of a fallen world. There is a cheap beauty that men clamor to click on and then there is a beauty that causes men to pause and consider their ways, a beauty that arrests their attentions and calls them to be more than that for which they have settled.

Callista, may you remind people that there is a God and in such a way that inspires people to godliness by grace through faith in Christ alone, who is the very image of the invisible God, the beauty, the grandeur, the majesty that rallies souls to drink deeply the draughts of divine reality.

Additionally, Callista is a main character in the novel, "Callista," by John Henry Newman portraying the religious and political culture of 3rd century Roman occupied North Africa. Callista is a discontented, agnostic idol maker. She is renowned as a sculptor and creator of objects of others' worship. She sighs from the deep, heavy silliness of this reality and wonders if any of it has any true substance. She is attracted to the few Christians she has come to know and sympathizes with their sincerity. Ultimately, she ends up assisting her Christian friends in fleeing the growing persecution of the area only to be arrested and accused as a Christian for her efforts. While enduring the tortures attempting to produce repentance of Christ and worship of the Roman deities, Callista finds herself in a predicament. She is not a Christian and has nothing to repent of in that regard, but she is not and refuses to be a worshiper of her culture's so-called gods, many of which were made by her very own hands. During this process, she recalls conversations with her Christian friends and in being commanded and coerced to repent of Christianity; she actually comes to a believing faith in Jesus Christ. Her frailty cannot endure the tortures of her captors however and she perishes at the hands of men whose whips have produced her faith. She dies a martyr for a faith still as soft a newborn, yet as resilient as a weather-beaten mountain. May you, my daughter, quickly see through the frivolity of our culture's "gods", the futility of worshiping the products of our own hands and the vanity of searching for meaning in ourselves or in our efforts. May you be given eyes to see at an early age that our Creator is the Christ and that He came to live, die and rise again to demonstrate His authority over all things, including our lives and our deaths. May you follow Him wholeheartedly, determinedly, perseveringly, and purely from a tender young age, always with a steadfast childlike wonder attended by an increasing maturity of understanding and worship.

Janelle means "Yahweh is gracious." Many will say it means, "God is gracious," which is true, but it refers to a particular God, not just generically to any being one might choose to call "god." It refers to the one true, Triune god, Yahweh. He is gracious. It not only states this as an emphatic fact of reality, but also, in a way, makes it clear that He ALONE is gracious. Grace is unforced and undeserved and only the one, true, uncreated God is in a position to give it as He alone is forced by no one. The god made by the hands of men owes its life to his creator. All that to say, the only God Who is, is gracious because He wants to be. The one, true, unforced, uncaused cause of all forces is the God who gave His one and only Son to save sinners because He wanted to. Janelle also happens to be the middle name of Paige's sister, Lauren, who is an exemplary woman of God who relies entirely on the mercy and grace of God provided in Jesus Christ alone and is in her own right, the kind of woman who inspires those around her to rise up and be more like Jesus.

Callista, you were not named casually or by mere cutesiness. It was with full intention and contemplation that your mom and I strived to find a name that would reflect a glimpse of what we believe with all our hearts, "our greatest joy is found in giving our entire lives to make much of Christ" Your name reinforces that reality. There is no greater aim than to know, love and obey Jesus by being known, loved and blessed by Him.

day no. 14,070: a gun to a fistfight

Ecclesiastes 9:18
Wisdom is better than weapons of war.
It is just as foolish to bring a knife to a gunfight as it is to bring a gun to a fistfight.