Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sun from Bentley Farm

Who imagined the sun and gave source to its light?

Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night, none can fathom:

Indescribable, Uncontainable
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing, God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing, God -- Chris Tomlin

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Seeking Truth vs. Loving Truth

Among those who dare to believe in truth, the phrase, "seeking truth" is one to be guarded, if not altogether avoided. Perhaps it does not always come packaged in those exact words. The phrase, "Not all who wander are lost" comes close to the sentiment of seeking truth. It is also not uncommon for someone to excuse behavior with the dismissive, "Well, at least I am seeking the truth."

There is a time for seeking. To a certain degree we spend our lives seeking. But there is also a time for decision, for recognition and for acknowledgement of the truth. Intentional life decisions made out of acknowledgement of the truth seem much rarer than a generally expressed idea of seeking truth.

But acknowledgment of the truth is not enough either. Romans 1:18 states that the wrath of God is revealed against the wickedness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness. It is possible to acknowledge and hold truth and be outside the blessing of God.

What must our response be to truth? We need a desire for the truth that is so strong that it could most accurately be described as love. Very few can come close to the expression of the love of truth as the psalmist in Psalm 119. Consider the difference between the psalmists' declarations of love and the phrase seeking truth:

Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: Quicken me in righteousness (v. 40)

I will delight myself in thy commandments, Which I have loved (v. 47)

The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver (v. 72)

Thy law is my delight (v. 77)

Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. (v. 97)

And lest this seem to be just a menial thought exercise, it should be said that the consequences of these different approaches are far-reaching. The difference between mere acknowledgement of truth and fervernt love of truth is obedience. There is no necessity for obedience in the former; the latter demands it.

Thy testimonies are wonderful: Therefore doth my soul keep them (v. 129)

To seek truth and never acknowledge truth is to live without purpose. To hold truth and not obey the truth is to live in sin. To love truth, to rejoice in the goodness of the natural and revealed law and to live out of the overflow of this love (obedience) is to live life abundantly.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Of Mystic and Torino

President's Day provided a nice break for eight of us (Isaac and Nate had to be at college) to take a short trip to Mystic, Connecticut. When you are a part of a large family, vacations (even twenty-four hour vacations) are quite exciting. We left Clinton Corners on Sunday afternoon and headed for the Markus Dairy Bar in Danbury, CT. We were fed quite a feast but my personal favorite was the raspberry chocolate-chip yogurt.

Even though we went to Mystic to see the aquarium, we made ourselves at home in the Holiday Inn Express and settled down Sunday evening to see what we had only heard and read of - the Torino Winter Olympics. This was quite a thrill. We realized we were somewhat uncultured in winter sports as some of us had not even heard of curling and luge.

This morninig we made it to the Mystic Aquarium bright and early (thanks to Mom) and found ourselves attracted to the moon jellyfish that seeemed to peacefully exist in a cylindrical UV-tank right at the entrance to the museum. The diversity of life that we witnessed was quite impressive, and lest that be too colloquial a statement, particularly outstanding was the diversity of animal locomotion. The jellyfish moved seemlessly with the ebb and flow of the water, the manna rays seemed to beat their fish-wings to move, the sea lions flung around their huge paddle-like arms, the seals propelled themselves with their back flippers, the African Penguins were a little tipsy on the feet and very versatile with both their land and water movements (see sampling below), the octopus seemed to move by simply enveloping the space while the starfish did not move at all, the hermit crab moved with quick fanfare when Rebecca reached to touch him... but best of all, according to Caleb, was the motion that we experienced in the 3-D movie theater when suddenly our chairs started moving under us.

The museum had a special exhibit on President Kennedy and the PT-109 that launched torpedos in the second World War. Dad loves museum exhibts where you can learn by reading signs. Only problem? The rest of us covered the whole exhibit while Dad was still on the first sign.

It was a very satisfactory twenty-four hour family vacation.

Me Too!

When Isaac realized that full attention was brought to Nate's recent Titanic Dinner, he felt like his Cornell experience was not getting the necessary press. In the absence of new news, he suggested some old news. I think that it is worth recounting.

In the fall (yes, 2005), Isaac moved into a brand new dorm at Cornell - the Carl Becker House. It was a Saturday and Isaac was diligently studying and decided, as all college students do, to take a 10-15 minute break. And as all college students know, time relativity applies especially well to study breaks and 10-15 minutes easily becomes more. But, in this instance Isaac wasn't so much at fault.

He decided to start off his break with an elevator ride (I am not entirely sure of the lure, excepting that I am sure there are vending machines on the ground floor). In the elevator Isaac met another student and silently stood on the opposing side (for all of the chemists - people in elevators do obey Hund's Rule).

As usually happens, the elevator began to move. At some point in the descent, Isaac began to hear some suspect noises - he remembers banging and people screaming and then a jolting grind and then silence. Isaac and the anonymous man (AM) looked at each other and pressed the alarm button, holding it for approximately 30 seconds. No one came. Isaac then fulfilled a small lifetime dream - he called the campus police on the elevator phone and spoke to the campus police. They asked if anyone had any health issues, but Isaac said, "We're cool with this." A discussion ensued between Isaac and the AM. They had a discussion about farming; the AM told Isaac that he had an accent.

After twenty minutes, a voice was heard through the doors and finally the campus police pulled apart the doors with their special tools. Isaac then began a discussion with the campus police concerning their normal job functions such as planning escape routes for dignitaries and politicians into the great city of Ithaca. Well, when the doors were opened, there was one problem, Isaac and the AM were half-way between floors and the police wouldn't let them out for fear that they would climb out and the elevators would start moving. While the police searched for the elevator power switch, Isaac's friend, Ted, drawn by the excitement ran to get the camera. And we are left with the following. The AM is hiding in the picture and one of the policemen is in the foreground.

As they say, "An oldie, but a goodie."

Sunday, February 19, 2006



(Rebecca, too, shares in the utter delight.)

When I was Rebecca's age, one of my dearest passions was nannying. I had five younger siblings of my own and was thrilled to hear the news of more coming. It has been eight very long years since I have been able to indulge my nannying passion to any great extent. This weekend we were visited by a family friend with her two-month old, Ivo. Ah, the joy! There is something very peaceful and settling about looking into the face of a contented baby and thinking, "From whence I did come." And I can only imagine the extreme joy and love that must occur when the look is not only of one human to another, but of madonna to child. Perhaps one day that gift too shall come. But as Hannah and Rebecca like to remind me, it would be a good idea to get married first.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Titanic Dinner

Well, the Titanic sunk, but at Princeton its memory has not. A German professor from Princeton invited Nate and friends over to his house for an elaborate ten course dinner served on fine china. Apparently the main courses consisted of chicken, beef wellington and salmon. Midway through the dinner the students cleansed their pallets with sorbet. The last course? Earl Grey tea. See above.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Is Spring Coming?

(Jacob surveys the remaining wood stack.)

Our southern neighbors in New York City reported a record setting snow storm according to the New York Times. Upstate in the town of Stanford, we are hopeful that spring will soon be arriving. Signs? Well, there aren't too many yet. The snow drops haven't sprung up and I still shiver in my car for the first five minutes of the drive. However, the sun is rising earlier and setting later. And most importantly? The wood pile is getting smaller. Before winter came the wood pile expanded to fill the whole under-deck. The ever dwindling pile is now only one and a quarter stacks long. Spring is coming.

To Seek After

May there be no difference between the Truth that we hold and the obedience that we render.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


This weekend was very pleasurable. Not pleasurable in the "sin is pleasurable for a season" sense, but pleasurable in the "at His hand are pleasures forevermore" sense. The pleasure of the weekend brought to mind the following quote from Chariots of Fire:

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure. (Eric Liddel)

This weekend made me mindful of many words that could replace 'run' in the above quote:

When I toboggan down the big farm hill with snow flying in front of me and little girls screaming behind me, I feel His pleasure.

When I laugh with Hannah as we try on jeans in the tiny room of a thrift shop, I feel His pleasure.

When I listen to our friend, Kaspar, recently adopted from Poland, speak in an excited Polish accent and smile incessantly, I feel His pleasure.

When I play a Typing Teacher game with Caleb on the computer and we both get so nervous that sharks will eat the little diver that we are trying to keep alive by typing an insane number of words per minute, I feel His pleasure.

When I look out the window during our family's Meeting for Worship and see a purple finch finding seed in the bird feeder amid the constant snow fall, I feel His pleasure.

When I come from the cold into the hot sauna of the room housing our wood furnace, I feel His pleasure.

When the family gathers in the living room to read Lord of the Flies before the children go to bed, I feel His pleasure.

When I practice the piano and begin to believe I am actually beginning to make music, I feel His pleasure.

When I laugh and laugh with my friend Emily just because we are happy to be together, I feel His pleasure.

And when I play the guitar and nine kids join me in singing, I feel his pleasure.

C.S. Lewis insightfully said in The Screwtape Letters that God desires for us to richly share in His pleasure. Satan, however, wants us to always believe that we are seeking our pleasure but denies the reality that we are never really attaining it because we do not seek the pleasure in the right time and way.

Friday, February 10, 2006

To Hold in Tension

Three things that are hard, and harder still to practice simultaneously:

- The active pursuit of a specific vision
- Patience in awaiting the attainment of the vision
- Honor in seeking the blessing of those in authority for the fulfillment of the vision

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Honor Authority

I recently drove by Vassar College and noted what seemed to be a passé attempt to relive the 1960's: a bumper sticker that still proudly read, "Question Authority." It wasn't out-of-place because our cultural sentiment regarding authority has changed much since the sixties. It just seemed like an unnecessary attempt to persuade people to do what they are naturally prone to do without persuasion. Perhaps it was meant to offer solace to the lone soul who dares to question the questioning of authority. Or perhaps it was to be the balm of assurance that questioning authority is not at all related to the vice of hubris and, quite the contrary, is the only natural expression of the intellectual mind.

Yet still this slogan seemed slightly out-of-place. Telling my students to question authority would be like reminding them to enter their own iPodian microcosm - it is what they gravitate toward so naturally and without, well, question.

But for all of this questioning that occurs in the guise of democracy and independence and intellect, some essential questions are just never asked. Like: What purpose does authority serve in preserving the common good? And: Why do I believe that my own best interest is served when I make my own decisions?

Rarely do I hear the words 'submit' and 'honor' and 'regard' and 'reverence' used in any positive light. The problem? To submit, to honor, to regard and to reverence we must trust. We must trust that someone else is responsible for decisions that affect our lives.

Authority represents a standard of right and wrong and the implementation of the consequences of choosing the wrong. We rebel against authority because we like to believe that both our decisions and their consequences are our individual property. Paul says it best: It is necessary to submit to authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

Ultimately, though, our failure to regard authority is rooted in our failure to trust God. We do not believe well as Paul teaches us: There is no authority except that which has been established by God.

This is the harder message. It is easy to question authority. It is hard to trust. It is easy to despise. It is hard to pray. It is easy to scoff and ridicule and rebel, it is hard to reverence and honor and respect.

No wonder we attempt to assuage the conscience so readily.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Man Within A Hole

(Far Above: Jacob stands in the hole. Directly Above: The permanent hole-filling-object awaits its burial.)

Work has steadily continued on the farm throughout this mild winter. The most recent development (or underdevelopment!) has been the addition (or subtraction!) of a hole. Luke gladly dug the hole with the John Deere backhoe. Unlike Mike Mulligan's steam shovel, the hole was dug without the equipment remaining in the hole. Eventually the hole will be filled with a tank. The tank will be filled with propane. The propane will fuel the farmhouse generator and will eventually warm a pool when the farmhouse pool is installed.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Trip Within a Trip

(Far Above: Nate and I after the Brooklyn Tabernacle service. Directly Above: Nate and friends from Manna outside the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.)

Nate was home for the past week between finals and the beginning of a new semester. While he was home he kept saying how much he wanted to do something just with me. So Sunday we ventured down to Princeton for his return. After a three hour drive to Princeton, NJ, we got on the dinky (a little train that runs between campus and the Princeton, NJ station) and headed to Brooklyn! Nate and I went with Manna, a large Christian group on campus, to the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

After returning from church ( a full day venture) Nate wanted to give me a tour of Princeton as I had never visited before. For a large portion of the tour, Nate was on his cell phone speaking with Dad, so I found Nate's tour quite amusing. In the middle of his phone conversation, Nate waves his hand toward a building and says, "Sarah, look around."