Go, Discovery! Go!

Go, Discovery!  Go!

At 11:38 am (EDT) today the shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and made a safe, flawless, and beautiful ascent to space. Within the next hour, the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, will give Discovery a ‘Go for orbital ops,’ meaning that all essential tasks to turn the shuttle from a rocket ship to a space ship had been successfully completed!

This launch is especially dear to me as this is the crew with which I have been working for the past ten months in my capacity as EVA safety and mission assurance engineer. I’ve had the privilege of ‘getting my hands dirty’ in just about every facet of the EVA portion of this flight including crew training; mission logistics; payloads; contingency planning; and a host of briefings regarding certification of flight readiness, safety, and mission success.

As we continue to ask God’s blessing and care over our shuttle and station crews in the days ahead, let me again take some space for this hymn from the Book of Worship for United States Forces (1974). (BTW, while the words are new to us, the tune for this hymn is familiar and is that for “The Navy Hymn” and “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” found here.)

Bless Thou the Astronauts Who Face

Bless Thou the astronauts who face
The vast immensities of space;
And may they know, in air, on land,
Thou holdest them within in thy hand.
O may the small step each doth take
Aid others giant leaps to make.

How excellent in all the earth
Thy name, O God, who gave it birth;
When first upon the moon man trod,
How excellent thy name, O God.
The heavens thy glory doth declare;
Where-e’re we are, Lo! thou are there.

We still upon thy laws depend
As our dominions thus extend,
While from the nations triumph rings
When we mount up with eagles’ wings.
Grant on each planet, far and near,
To all thy glory may appear.

Give all men, for all time to be,
The blessing of tranquility,
As galaxies and quasars share
The knowledge that our God is there!
May future aeons call to mind,
“We came in peace for all mankind.”

CoD Part 3, Faith and Obedience

As was pointed out in my first post on Cost of Discipleship, much of what Bonhoeffer has to say deals with the apparent disconnect between our confession of Christ and our lack of obedience to the commands of Christ. Given his historical context (Nazi Germany) and the actions of so many ‘Christians’ in the Third Reich, it doesn’t take much imagination to see why he began to ask some of the questions he does. One of his more poignant assertions (and one that made me stand back and scratch my head for a while) on the subjection of faith and obedience is this:

Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes.

Perhaps our natural reaction is to read this as two separate assertions, but Bonhoeffer won’t let us read it that way. “It is quite unbiblical,” he writes, “to hold the first proposition without the second.” Though it may be unbiblical, I think it is our first reaction to do just that. There is much talk in Evangelicalism about obedience as the fruit of faith, about judging a person’s confession by the fruit of their lives, about so-and-so being a ‘fruit inspector,’ and so on. Many times these discussions revolve around the topics of justification by grace, progressive sanctification, or ‘carnal Christians.’

When discussing justification, we must separate faith and obedience, as Bonhoeffer rightly points out. He is not content, however, to accept a chronological separation between the beginning of faith and the beginning of obedience in praxis because he had seen first hand how sinful people (i.e., all of us) will use such a distinction as a license for sin. These two assertions serve to address both works righteousness and cheap grace…

  • To the Pharisee who is trying to earn favor with God by his good works performed apart from a penitent and faith-filled heart, we teach that only he who believes is truly obedient. In other words, your good works are like filthy rags and will gain you nothing if you look not to Christ for your righteousness (cf. Is 64.6)
  • To the self-deceived one who professes to believe yet lives a life that is outwardly no different from the heathen of the world, we teach that only he who is obedient truly believes. In other words, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jas 2.17, ESV).

Bonhoeffer’s assertions, while difficult and at first perplexing, challenge us to steer clear of the deadly traps of self-righteousness and dead faith and look, of course, to the cross of Christ to find our righteousness, hope, and assurance. Thanks be to God for these poignant but truthful words!

Amusement (16 Oct)

It’s been a while since we’ve had any a-musement around here, and given the geographical distribution of my family thought this was perfect. Here is a quiz that alleges to be able to tell where you grew up based on your pronunciation of different words (i.e., your accent). HT to Sarah for this one…it totally nailed that I’m a Hoosier from Southern Indiana. Too funny! Go here to check yourself out.

What American accent do you have?

Your Result: The Midland



“You have a Midland accent” is just another way of saying “you don’t have an accent.” You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West



The South



The Inland North









The Northeast



North Central



What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

CoD Part 2, Justifying Sinners or Sin?

Though I’ve read ahead in CoD by now, I cannot help but return to the first chapter again and again for Bonhoeffer’s discussion of cheap versus costly grace. He wrote to address the situation of WWII Germany, but his voice heralds like a prophet to contemporary Evangelicalism. As he discusses the differences between cheap and costly grace (see discussion here), he parallels his grace terminology with his discussion of justification–specifically justifying sinners versus justifying sin. Though it may sound like some sort of semantic slight of hand, his words cut to the bone as usual:

This is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of the sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Continue reading

Speaking About Christ

I read this today over at Steve Camp’s blog…and it speaks volumes about the hip, relevant, new Evangelicalism that is little more than irreverent, ungodly, silly drivel:

“Roughly two thousand years ago, Jesus was born in a dumpy, rural, hick town, not unlike those today where guys change their own oil, think pro wrestling is real, find women who chew tobacco sexy, and eat a lot of Hot Pockets with their uncle-daddy. Jesus’ mom was a poor, unwed teenage girl who was often mocked for claiming she conceived via the Holy Spirit. Most people thought she concocted the crazy story to cover the fact she was knocking boots with some guy in the backseat of a car at the prom.” -MARK DRISCOLL

“We know that it is our good, our joy and rest to be united with the Son of God. As He is our Head, we are His body, so also from Him we hold our life and our salvation and all good. In fact, we see how miserable our condition would be unless we had our refuge in Him, to be maintained under His keeping. However, we could not reach so high (seeing that scarcely can we crawl upon the earth), unless from His side He approached us, and already He had approached in His birth, when He clothed Himself in our flesh and He made Himself our brother. We could not now have our refuge in our Lord Jesus Christ’s being seated at the right hand of God His Father in heavenly glory, unless He were abased as far as being made mortal man and having a condition common with us. That is also why, when He is called “Mediator between God and men,” this title “man” is especially attributed to Him. As also for the same reason He is called “Emanuel,” that is, “God with us.” -JOHN CALVIN

Amen. God forgive us for our desire to be more like the world and less like Christ.

A Foggy Morning Illustration

This morning as I went outside, I was greeted by the first foggy morning we’ve had in a while. As I listed to the words of the Kyrie of one of Schubert’s masses playing softly (Kyrie eleison; Christe eleison; Kyrie eleison…Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy), I was struck by what an awesome illustration I was seeing unfold before my eyes…


There is a lot of heavy construction going on around our exit from I-45, and the torn up ‘gumbo soil’ is pretty ugly–black, mucky, full of sticks, etc. But the fog, sitting low over the ground, perfectly covered the ugliness, hiding it and making it a sight of beauty. In the same way, the righteousness of Christ covers the ugliness and wickedness of our sin and makes us a beautiful sight for our Father to behold.

A wonderfully simple picture…(Ps 19.1ff)

The Truth Behind Sputnik

It’s better than Hollywood… Sputnik

With this week marking the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the Earth’s first artificial satellite, the interesting truth behind the events of the day have finally surfaced. Not surprisingly, the Soviets were more interested in nuking the US than opening the space race. What is a surprise, however, is the story behind it all…too great to make it up.

Check it out here.


As our discussions of worship continue at church amid concerns of (gasp) ‘relevance’ to the ‘demographical makeup’ of our community, things from time to time get rather heated and some levity is needed. Last night, after a time of passionate discussion with the congregation, I told our pastor with tongue firmly planted in cheek:

Don’t let thoughts of relevance as a means to draw people to the church take up too much of your time. The two largest Christian bodies on the planet, Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, haven’t changed anything substantial in over 1000 years and they aren’t having to worry about this discussion!