Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mark Tubbs, Discerning Reader

Funny, I notice it's been almost a year since I updated this site. Oh well. Much has gone on. Most salient to Christian blogdom is my entry into the world of book reviewing. Tim Challies of kindly accepted me onto his rota of reviewers at Discerning Reader, quickly to become a sort of aide-de-camp of his. Reviewing has its perks, but the best part of the 'job' is the reading rigor and the writing practice. My latest post is a review of The Future of Justification by John Piper, my favorite author. I call his book ' a difficult pleasure.' The site also features some author interviews, some conducted by yours truly. If you're a reader, you might want to check it out. If you're a writer and you want your book reviewed, I may be inclined to read it...maybe...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Notice of Impending Closure

It's more official sounding than it actually is. I have been approached to assume the responsibilities of CrossWay Community Church's Book Table. The opportunity excites me because I find it amazing that God has seen fit to put me a place of responsibility in an area I love - books! What kindness!

This blog will therefore be undergoing a twofold transition. 1) It will become the Book/Ends blog, providing book reviews and an ongoing discussion of the Chief End of reading and reviewing books (echoes of the Shorter Westminster Catechism, I know).
2) Yours truly will attempt to become more a master of the technical side of Blogger. This may be a foolish mountain to climb but I'm up to the challenge.

Please join me on Book/Ends in late December.

Time for one more rant/post before I go...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Kenny Rogers - Third Time's A Charm

There's something about Kenny Rogers. He's charismatic, dynamic, and he's on pitch 99.9% of the time. Cheri's Mom gave us tickets for our 7th anniversary (thanks Janine) and KR didn't disappoint. We've seen him in Vancouver and Seattle before, this time at the River Rock Casino in Richmond. From experience I can say that fourth row at the River Rock is almost as good as the second row at the Queen Elizabeth.

He started with same song as the last time in Vancouver: "Love or Something Like It." He did all the favourites (Lucille, The Gambler, The Greatest, Coward of the County, Lady, Through the Years, Daytime Friends, Buy Me A Rose, and Islands in the Stream minus Dolly "the Bleater" Parton) and some newer ones from his latest album, Water & Bridges. He even sang some surprise selections, such as the First Edition's "Stand Up", John Hiatt's "Have A Little Faith in Me", which KR recorded on his Across My Heart album, released by Word, a Christian label (interesting bit of trivia, that), and "Owe Them More Than That", a tribute song to old country music legends. There was a Tim McGraw voiceover, just like on the album, and a roadie bought out a Tim McGraw cut-out that KR sang with/to. Funny stuff. He even had a few new jokes - and a whole lot of old ones. In fact, Cheri and I could predict what was coming.

KR is a consummate entertainer. But that is all he is. He is not a role model or a paragon of virtue, after three or four marriages and his latest, painfully noticeable run-in with a plastic surgeon's knife. I don't worship him (although I would venture, based on tonight, that a good many middle-aged women do). To put the questions about my son's name to rest, he was named after his Grandpa Ken. And no matter how you slice it, Kenny is a cool nickname.

KR may be back in town in a couple of years, when he hits the big Seven-O. And he still may sell out. But the way I figure it, I had better start looking for some good singers under sixty, before they all go the way of the dinosaurs.

Lists are fun. KR albums I own:

Greatest Hits
She Rides Wild Horses
Classics From The Heart
Water & Bridges (signed)
Love Songs
Back Home Again
With Love
Something Inside So Strong
All Time Greatest Hits KR & The First Edition
A Decade of Hits
The Gift
Christmas in America
KR Christmas
Twenty Great Years
There You Go Again
Hearts on Fire
Christmas From the Heart
The Gambler (Enhanced)
Back to the Well
A&E Live By Request
If Only My Heart Had A Voice
Across My Heart

I'm missing a few but there's no rush.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

As the years of my life pass me by...

Wowie Zowie! Has it been that long since a post? Suppose it has. And here I've been chastising friends such as Bart and Tim for failure to update. The failure, my friends, is mine.

Much, much, much has happened since July 24th. At that time my little family and I (including my wife Cheri and my kids Kenny and Lydia) were living in Bristol, England, attending Grace Church Bristol of Sovereign Grace Ministries. We had moved there in the twilight hours of 2005 so I could train to be a teacher, courtesy of Her Majesty's Government.

On July 31st two friends, Neil and Ken, drove us to the airport. Air Canada was incredibly helpful as we arrived with mountains of excess luggage and a brand new baby in tow. They processed us quickly and without complaint. Thank God we were flying that week instead of the next week, when Heathrow was under clamp-down due to the terrorist plot.

It didn't take us long to get over jet-lag, except for poor Kenny who didn't understand what had happened during the time change. The next Monday I began my teaching job with Traditional Learning Academy in Surrey. I'm responsible for supporting all the distance students taking English courses in Grades 10, 11 and 12. It's plain old fun.

Meanwhile Cheri is taking good care of our two littl'uns. Kenny's two upper incisors are coming in, so his mood is sour and his bum is rashy. Lydia is a happy little tyke who smiles gummy smiles and has mastered the quivery bottom lip to indicate unhappiness.

At the moment, at least until October 1st, we are staying with my parents in Ocean Park. Oh, and Julie (known to Kenny as "ah-Julie"). Oh, and Daniel, a 12 year-old Korean homestay student. I shouldn't forget Willow, Julie's over-babied feline pet. It's a full house, but we appreciate the space everybody has made in their lives to accommodate us.

On October 1st, maybe a day or two before, we will be moving into the upper suite of this quaint older house on Indian Fort Drive in Ocean Park. Indian Fort is the squiggly continuation of 20th Avenue, on which my parents live. We were actively looking in Langley or Cloverdale, but divine intervention has insisted we stay in Ocean Park. Fine with us - parents live close, our friends the Manns are close, the beach is close, and "village-style" shopping doesn't get much better than Ocean Park Shopping Centre. Well, there are little English towns that do it better, but we don't live in England anymore.

Best of all, we're plugged back in at CrossWay Community Church. We received such a warm welcome our first Sunday back. I'm sure some folks who have joined in the past 8 months were wondering who we are. We're the prodigals! It's great to be back in care group and playing on worship team. Like many have said, it's as if we were never gone.

I had planned on wrapping up this entry with a profound verse of Scripture, but sometimes a children's song says it best: "God is so good, he's so good to me" (well, us).

Friday, July 21, 2006

Final Countdown

Time keeps slipping away into the future.

Time is like a paycheque. One minute it's there, the next minute it's gone.

The first quote is real, the second one is just me messing around. I had planned to post extensively today on the subject of the Paradox of the Christian Life courtesy of Tozer and Valley of Vision, based on the example of Christ in Philippians ("not considering equality with God as something to be grasped...") but I'm afraid that will have to wait until another day.

Friday today:

-Bill payments to be made
-Kenny's first salon haircut
-Bags and boxes to pack
-A weekend to plan
-As always, books to read!!

On that note, just finished Piper's Don't Waste Your Life, second time around; getting to the end of Tozer's Radical Cross; still wading through Spurgeon's Christ's Incarnation - excellent songwriting material.

And now for the particulars:

EDA: 31 July 2006
ETA: Haven't the foggiest
MOA: Air Canada

For all you who are weak on acronyms:

EDA = Estimated Date of Arrival
ETA = Figure it out
MOA = Mode of Arrival

See you in ten!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Spirituality of Sleep

Seeing as I can't for the life of me get motivated to finish off some work at this exact minute, here are some thoughts on the spirituality of sleep that I've been tossing around lately, and experiencing firsthand.

"Sleep" from The Valley of Vision

Blessed Creator,

Thou hast promised thy beloved (me!) sleep;
Give me restoring rest needful for tomorrow's toil;
If dreams be mine, let them not be tinged with evil.
Let thy Spirit make thy time of respose
a blessed temple of his holy presence.

May my frequent lying down make me familiar with death,
the bed I approach remind me of the grave,
the eyes I now close picture to me their final closing.
Keep me always reading, waiting for admittance to thy presence.
Weaken my attachment to earthly things.
May I hold life loosely in my hand,
knowing that I receive it on condition of its surrender;
As pain and suffering betoken transitory health,

may I not shrink from a death that introduces me
to the freshness of eternal youth.
I retire this night in full assurance of one day
awaking with thee (oh the bliss of this glorious thought!)
All glory for this precious hope,
for the gospel of grace,
for thine unspeakable gift of Jesus,
for the fellowship of the Trinity.
Withhold not thy mercies in the night season;
thy hand never wearies,
thy power needs no repose,
thine eye never sleeps.

Help me when I helpless lie,
when my conscience accuses me of sin,
when my mind is harassed by foreboding thoughts,
when my eyes are held awake by personal anxieties.

Show thyself to me as the God of all grace,
love and power;
thou hast a balm for every wound,
a solace for every anguish,
a remedy for every pain,
a peace for all disquietude.
Permit me to commit myself to thee awake or asleep.

"Withhold not thy mercies in the night season..." Just as I am writing this, the CD Cheri put on is playing Mark Altrogge's song "Mercies Anew", whose lyrics read "and at the end of the day, when my labours are through, I will sing of your mercies anew." Echoes of Jeremiah, from Lamentations 3:21-24: "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him.”

But isn't it the case that so often when we lie down to sleep, this is the time when our flesh, our thoughts, and the Accuser come to churn up anxiety and worry in our hearts, even though Christ has said "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27) I could be tempted to say that 'I come from a long line of worriers' or that worry 'is only human' but that type of reasoning would only be putting an artificial gloss on the problem until the next time, or the next night. The answer lies in the above verses from Lamentations: "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope." This is what Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Piper and C.J. Mahaney and Jerry Bridges have all referred to as 'preaching the gospel to yourself' in their writing. I won't go into detail here, but it is the essence of Jesus' words in John 14:27 before he counsels our hearts against fear: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you." In Colossians 3:15 Paul admonishes us to "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." Paul is advising that we abdicate the goverance of the state of our hearts, which is futile anyhow on a human level, and give it up to the content and truth of the gospel of Christ - that gospel which is in and of itself the tangible manifestation of the 'peace' Paul refers to. In other words, it's not a vague, hazy good feeling of "all's right with the world," although that is generally true because of God's sustaining sovereignty over his creation. Rather, it's a content-rich, informed knowledge that Christ has made peace with the Father on our behalf, securing everlasting peace and redemption with God, even into eternity. We can surely sleep the sleep of the blessed upon the grounds of that promise.

What does this have to do with sleep? Everything. Consider:

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

And the following, which my friend Greg sent me, and sums up all the above:

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

So thank you Greg, and thank you anonymous puritans, and thank you David and Solomon, and thank you all the writers mentioned above, and above all, thank you, glorious Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thank you for the sleep that acts as a reminder of the sleep of death that will introduce us into heaven, and which provides us with restoring rest needful for tomorrow's toil.

A final thought, courtesy of hymnwriter Frances R Havergal:

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest;
finding in his promise perfect peace and rest.
(from "Like A River Glorious")

Sleep well and wake, either here or in heaven.

Monday, July 03, 2006

New Addition: Lydia Rose Tubbs

Lydia Rose Tubbs (aka Sniffer)

Size Small: both photo and baby. Apologies for the size of the photo, but not for the size of the baby.

Vital Stats: born right on time (but a week before expected) on June 21st 2006 in Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol, at Southmead Hospital. 6 lbs 14 1/2 oz birthweight, arriving after just over two hours of hard labour.

Mom Cheri, big brother Kenny, baby Lydia and dad Mark are all doing fine except for nasty sniffles that keep us up at night.

Fast Fact: our midwife's daughter is also named Lydia. Small world.

Welcome Lydia. I'll post a prayer for you very soon.