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A Distaff Laugh

“She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle.” -Proverbs 31:19

While having family worship at our table one morning this week with Miriam’s parents (affectionately known as Papa and Hoo-Hoo, the latter tag bestowed upon Grandma by young grandchildren for her habit of calling “Hoo-Hoo!” when entering the house), we were reading the last chapter of Proverbs about the excellent wife and came upon the above verse. The question arose over “What is a distaff?” Given that the context is talking about the industrious nature of the wife and mother spoken of in this passage, and the obvious reference to weaving or sewing in the second part of the verse, we concluded that the distaff must have been a part of a loom for weaving and went on.

This morning Miriam’s mother told us she had looked it up in the dictionary, and this is the interesting definition as given by Merriam-Webster:

distaff – “1 a : a staff for holding the flax, tow, or wool in spinning b : woman’s work or domain 2 : the female branch or side of a family.”

As we discussed especially the “1.b.” and “2” definitions, we reasoned that so associated […]


At our session meeting Wednesday night, our elders decided to begin a Men’s Society at Sycamore Reformed Presbyterian Church. Having seen a need to help men grow in the grace of Christ, and becoming excited in what he is seeing in church history through his study with Dr. Roy Blackwood, Jason Camery gave a presentation of how the Reformation spread as men had rigorous studies and discussions with one another over the Scriptures. John Calvin referred to these meetings as “prophecying” and John Knox called them the “Exercises.” They followed a certain format. Our particular meeting will have the following structure patterned after these Exercises:

Have a twenty minute study on the passage preached in the previous Lord’s Day sermon.
Have an elder give a ten minute presentation on his own study of the passage, stressing application.
Give time for questions and further discussion.
Pray together in accountability pairs.
Conclude with some robust psalm singing.

In recent years “Reformation Societies” have been popping up in different communities based on a similar format which have transcended denominational lines. Our hope is that others will join us in due time.

The only hitch? Jason proposed that we call this the “Men’s Reformation Society.” Later that night when I got […]

No Creed but Christ’s Creed

Often people and even congregations boast of “No Creed but Christ” or “No Creed but the Bible,” meaning they are downplaying the importance of having formulated doctrines of the Scriptures. A while back I wrote the following letter (edited slightly for the blogosphere) to a man named Tony living near the church to whom I had been witnessing. Tony had stated this belief to me and said he did not need to go to church. Perhaps some of the thoughts contained in this letter might be of help to you.

Dear Tony,

Thank you for the letter that you sent me at the beginning of the month. I thought about visiting you, but then decided to write back so you could think through my answers to your concerns. Then if you would like to talk personally about these things, I would be glad to meet with you.

A statement you made in your letter seems to be a good summary of your concern: “Having been associated with a legalistic church one thing I don’t need is much more doctrine.” You asked if the Reformed Presbyterian Church is big on doctrine. I can understand the concern you are expressing here.

What I would like to […]

A Doctrine to be Whispered

I do not often shout at my wife. If not for some foolish moments of indiscretion in my youth, I could even say I never shout at her. Why? Well, I would like to convince you of how noble I am, but that’s not really the truth in this situation. The bottom line, I would have to say, is that it simply just does not work. I always lose, and I hate losing.

For some reason, every time I have shouted at Miriam it has failed to move her to see things my way. Can you believe that? The Proverbs say, “The anger of man does not accomplish the purposes of God.” The few experiments where I have tried to prove the opposite hypothesis have ended in dismal failure. I have pulled a few Mount Merapis on her, which I think I could count on no more than my own fingers (though I am sure Miriam, being the sweet helpmeet she is, would lend me hers for the ones I have forgotten). At those times, I have only succeeded 1) in convincing her how utterly wrong I am anyway, 2) in making it nearly impossible to communicate further, and 3) in […]

The Glory of Old Men

Despite the fact that I re-sprained the arch of my left foot doing so, and had to hobble the rest of the way through it, I thoroughly enjoyed getting out on the basketball court with my two oldest sons last night at the spanking new YMCA in Flora. We played with dads and sons associated with our local home school team. When the local yoga class dismissed after the first hour, we were able to go full court. Someone had the idea of letting the young bucks on the team play together against the rest of us, which meant mainly us dads. I thought they would run us into the ground, but was surprised that, well, actually the opposite occured. As I scratched my head afterwards wondering how we pulled it off, it came to me when I remembered the ancient proverb:

The glory of young men is their strength, but the glory of old men is they know how to pass.

A Reminder Outside My Window

While I was in the Philippines in 2004, Miriam orchestrated, with the help of several friends in the church, the redecoration of my office. I had worked in it for months with it looking like a bomb shelter that had taken a direct hit. Two walls, invaded by outside moisture, had to have the plaster knocked completely off, with the west wall having only lath left and the northern wall being a rough, ugly brick of several varieties. The gray indoor-outdoor carpet was worn through in spots, stained, and dust-ridden. The two windows were both stained glass, but the glass had been broken in spots, the wood was rotting around the frames, and the lack of light was depressing. On the very day I arrived, Miriam took me that afternoon to the church, where I was met by a surprise party of dear friends and family in my new office, whch had been utterly transformed. It had freshly dry walled and painted walls, all color-coordinated with the new carpet and office chairs that were recovered in a sharp royal blue. New bookshelves lined my walls, where my books could finally display themselves appropriately rather than being double-stacked or […]

Caution: Men at Work

Every so often I don the role of Embarrasem Keillor and tell the congregation a story such as the one below about the saints of a church named Sycamore located near Lake Woes-Be-Gone. When asked about how he sculpted his works, Michelangelo used to say that the sculpture was already hidden in the rock. He just removed the rest of the stone to release it. In a similar vein I do not write these stories. They write themselves. I simply remove the irrelevant details and unveil what is already here.If you have never been to Sycamore church on one of its Men’s Work Days, it is a bit hard to explain to you what you are missing. The best way I can describe it is to ask you to imagine a series of outtakes of a now-defunct PBS program called “This Old Church” that somehow got mixed up with scenes from a Laurel and Hardy movie. Often the ladies of the church come to the building after one of these work days expecting to see great improvements rendered to the building, only to have their hopes dashed upon entering. They wander around the church building bewildered, asking one another such […]

A College Course Option

When it comes to college education, perhaps you should not listen to me.

My oldest son is only a senior in high school, so I cannot yet claim to speak from family experience.
Those friends of mine who have children away at college or are involved in college ministry may not like my suggestion below.
If you are a college student already living away at college, you may consider the thoughts in this blog out-of-touch and shake your head in sympathy at this uncool, middle-aged guy who just doesn’t get it.

Nonetheless, I would like to suggest another option for college rather than the typical sending of an eighteen year-old off to university. Why not consider keeping your son or daughter home for at least another year or two and have them attend a local college? Please realize I am not condemning those who choose to send their high school graduate off to college the next fall. Rather, I’m offering another “course option” for doing college that I have been observing others doing with success. I have three reasons for suggesting this: giving additional time for maturity, avoiding huge costs and debt, and deepening the generational ties.

Additional time for maturity – My […]


Now look carefully at the title. This is not entitled blogology, which would be the study of the history of weblogs and their societal impact.

Neither is it blogistics, which would measure the statistics of weblog sites, such as the percentage of certain types of blogs, number of hits per day, etc.

No, this is a blogpology. This is where the blogger apologizes for the appalling lack of blogging he has done lately to anyone who might care.

A while back I promised to blog more frequently, and not always to make my blogs into articles. Yet I have not kept that promise, so for that I ask your patience and forgiveness. I was trying to get at least one out a week, and thought I was succeeding for a time. Yet when I made that claim recently, a blogging buddy of mine whose regularity and interesting blog I admire challenged me (before I dropped out of the blogosphere like a plane with engines failing), and he was right. I have not even kept that one per week pace. Oops – I have slipped into blogistics. Anyway, to him (you know who you are and with this hyperlink now so does everyone else!) […]

The Supper of the Lord

Recently a friend who attends our church asked me:

“Would you give me some scripture that supports the church’s decision to be so selective in who partakes in communion?…As you know, I attended a church were the sacraments were offered to anyone who wanted to partake.”

This is a great question. Should the Lord’s Supper be offered to anyone who wants to take it, or are there certain conditions that should be met before one is given the privilege to come? I thought others might be interested in the answer. Here’s a few of the things, slightly altered and edited for the blogworld, I shared with her…

We can read about Jesus first instituting the Lord’s Supper in Matthew 26:17-29 (it is also in the other gospels). To answer this question, we must recognize that this first communion took place at the time of the Passover (note verses 17-19). The Passover was the meal the Jews ate to commemorate God’s deliverance of them out of Egypt through the blood of the lamb. As you might recall, only those who had this blood on their doorpost were saved from the angel of death. In God’s plan, Jesus was put to death at this Passover […]