Family News and
- At the top of matters in this edition of the newsletter is my request for your prayers regarding a message I'm to deliver on Saturday, October 11 in Minneapolis. It's a conference sponsored by Desiring God Ministries in celebration of the 300th anniversary of Jonathan Edwards' birth, and called "A God-Entranced Vision of All Things: the Unrivaled Legacy of Jonathan Edwards." I'm to speak on "Pursuing a Passion for God Through Spiritual Disciplines: Learning from Jonathan Edwards." If you read this prior to October 11, please pause to pray for God's blessing, both on the preparation and delivery of the message.
In September I experienced one of the great privileges of my ministry with the opportunity to deliver the Northcutt Lecturesthree chapel messagesat my alma mater, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. I sensed the Lord's help, and am profoundly grateful for those of you who prayed for this event. For the few who might be interested, the online version of the seminary's newsletter has a photo and summary of the three messages here.
Equally memorable for me were the experiences of the following weekend. I traveled to New England to preach, and on Friday my host pastor graciously drove me to New Haven, CT and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. We spent a glorious afternoon poring over selected manuscripts of Jonathan Edwards. Imagine the fascination of opening archive boxes, turning back the cover of file folders, and seeing the pages of Edwards' own diary. Or reading the study notes he wrote beside texts of Scripture in his famous "Blank Bible" (so named because of the blank pages inserted between the leaves of a reassembled Bible. Because of the scarcity of paper, Edwards often wrote in such a tiny script that a magnifying glass is necessary. And though he may have been, as he is often considered, the greatest mind in American history, he'll win no prizes for his penmanship. My hat is off to Ken Minkema and others who persevere through the tedious transcription process necessary to publish Edwards' works for us.
On Saturday afternoon, we made a brief visit to Northampton, the place where Edwards spent most of his ministry and the center of so much of the work of God during the First Great Awakening. Northampton is a disappointment to many who read Edwards, especially if they haven't been prepared for the experience. A Polish Catholic church sits on the site of the famous two-story home where Jonathan spent thirteen hours in his study every day preparing the sermons we still read, where he and Sarah raised all those Godly children, and where David Brainerd died. The town is a center for all sorts of beliefs and practices that Edwards never imagined. Only a cement step remains of the meetinghouse where Edwards preached. And while the public library employs an enthusiastic reference librarian who loves and studies all things Edwards, the library contains only one manuscript of the great theologian. It is, however, a revealing letter written to a pastor in Connecticut during the time of spiritual declension in Northampton that occurred between the two waves of the Great Awakening there. Equally interesting is a sermon of Jonathan's grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, written in lettering so tiny that it's unreadable even with a 5x magnifier. I doubt whether the elderly Stoddard could have written it, much less read it. And I wonder if it wasn't transcribed for him as an archive copy of the message.
One of the most interesting stops in Northampton was our firstthe cemetery. Although Edwards is buried at Princeton where he died, there is a monument to him and Sarah and their children, some of whom were buried there. I think the most emotional moment for me was at the grave of David Brainerd, the passionate young missionary whose life and diary Edwards published, and which remains a Christian classic. To imagine Jonathan and Sarah and others beside that grave when the earth was freshly turned prompted a few minutes of sober and grateful reflection by all of us standing there some 275 years later.
- Caffy's ankle was broken after all. To be more precise, it was her leg that was broken, just above the ankle. On three separate occasions, from the day of the accident on July 16 until early September, x-rays proved negative. Then why did she endure constant pain, bruising, and swelling? At last she was sent for a broken scan which revealed not only that the bone was broken, but on both sides! So after six weeks of walking on a broken leg, then she gets a cast. Two weeks later the cast was removed and she started therapy, which continues at this writing.
In spite of this, and in addition to her faithful homeschool teaching of Laurelen, Caffy spoke at a women's retreat in Kansas City area church one weekend, to the Midwestern Seminary Student Wives' Fellowship one weeknight, and taught her Tuesday night class on Personal Spiritual Disciplines each week to another group of our seminary's student wives.
- Laurelen is full of nine-year-old life. How do you put that into words? Last Saturday we drove half-an-hour north along the Missouri River to the quaint little town of Weston. Attending their Apple Fest each October has become a Whitney family tradition. Laurelen cranked an apple cider press, ate apple dumplings, felt the lanolin on a freshly-shorn sheep, photographed a two-toed sloth, laughed through a trained bird show, and just enjoyed a cool, sunny fall day with mom and dad (and friend Laura).
You should see her penmanship! (Or must we say pen-person-ship nowadays? Not!) She knows how to put that 1950s Sheaffer Triumph Imperial to paper. One of the best moments of the month for me was stretching out on the family room floor for an hour with her, leafing through a thick, illustrated book (An Elegant Hand) together on ornamental and personal penmanship.
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