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joe reed

Tell Me A Story

“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.”

Deuteronomy 6:20-23

“When I was a little boy of about six I used to drive the horses and rake hay, and a couple of times we hit a ground hornet’s nest and those horses would take off like a shot straight ahead, running as fast as they could until they couldn’t run anymore, and there I was just holding on for dear life trying not to fall off.”

My wife’s Grampa is eighty-eight years old, going on sixty. Tomorrow if it doesn’t rain like it’s supposed to he plans to put up some sixteen foot 1×12” shiplap on the roof deck of a pole barn he’s building. “Gotta get all my scaffolding under a roof,” he says.
Continue reading “Tell Me A Story”

Mock On!

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

preface: I felt like writing something tonight, but wasn’t sure what to write. So I opened my embarrassingly large folder of unfinished articles and random thoughts and came across this one begun (and abandoned) on November 17, 2017, when Alice was in her fourth or fifth week of radiation. It seemed like a project worth finishing, so hopefully two years late is still better than never. Oh, and Dad, you worked really hard for a lot of years teaching me not to mock stuff, and I promise I’m getting better in general. Hope you’ll be okay with this one.
-jr

Because of our current family situation with Alice, I spend a lot of time these days pondering life, but to be honest, a lot more time pondering death. For the last 20 years I’ve never steered my mind away from thinking about death; it is coming to a boy named me at some point, and I’d just as soon make my peace with that, and understand the best way to manage whatever time I have until that day comes. And now, facing what feels like the inevitable departure of my dear daughter, death at least feels like it’s standing at our doorstep. I hope it turns around and goes away – but even if it does, it’ll be back. Maybe not for decades, but it’ll be back, and for all of us at some point. It is, after all, appointed unto us once to die. Continue reading “Mock On!”

Alice in the Palace

At the urging of some very dear people I have compiled, edited, and formatted the “Alice blogs” into book form, and am happy to say that Alice in the Palace is, to the best of my abilities and with the help of a few good friends, done and ready to go. As many of you know because you walked the journey with us, this is the story of my four-year-old daughter Alice from the first mysterious symptoms until her death from a brain stem tumor 8-1/2 months later. Along the way, I recorded a fairly raw account of what we were experiencing and feeling, for better and for worse, along with my own reflections on Alice, wrestlings with God’s involvement, thoughts about the prayers of his people and the fate of children who die. I also wrote an epilogue on the anniversary of Alice’s funeral, which was just last week.

Thanks to everyone who followed Alice’s story and encouraged us along the way, and if you’d like a nicely organized pretty good looking (if I do say so myself) record of Alice’s story you can get one, or it might be an encouragement for a friend who’s going through “the stuff.” I don’t know why you might want to buy one, but if you do, now you can!

For what it’s worth, I bought a copy myself and I really like it. And (far) more importantly, Michele approves. By the way, Michele drew the cover picture for a card she sent to Alice’s best friend Kenzie, and I loved it so much that I took a picture of it before she dropped it in the mail.

The book is available at Amazon.com in paperback for $10, Kindle for $5. If you purchase a print copy you can get the kindle version for free.

jr

Suck It Up

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you…
Ephesians 4:1 ESV

Once, while reading through the book of Ephesians, it struck me as a bit odd that here smack dab in the center of his letter, Paul mentions the fact that he’s in prison. I’d expect maybe that he’d do that at the beginning, perhaps at the end, but to stick it here seems out of place. Continue reading “Suck It Up”

In Which I Discover I am Immoral

I am now immoral when once I wasn’t, and I didn’t do nothin’. These are my thoughts concerning my recent, rather unpleasant, self-discovery. Continue reading “In Which I Discover I am Immoral”

My Confession: I Have a Thing for Old Ladies

Regarding the title of this piece, I must make an admission up front, which I only offer because you already know, and it would be highly insulting of me to presume you didn’t. The title is provocative; after all, that’s what I’m supposed to do in this age of cacophonous digital voices straining to stand out from the congested landscape of social media, frantically trying to grasp your attention. Then, in true clickbaity fashion, once curiosity has enticed its victim to give a little peek into this rabbit hole, what is discovered is rather mundane and boring. The lion doesn’t bite the man’s head off, the couple getting engaged don’t fall off the cliff, you won’t really be shocked at what she looks like now, and though I’ve never checked into it, I’m sure that secret the casinos don’t want you to know probably has more to do with the quality of the lobster on the buffet than the secret to victory over the slot machine. We are not fools; you and I. It’s merely a game we play, but pretend we don’t. I pretend my writing needs no suggestive title to be read; you pretend that you are immune to such juvenile tactics, yet here we are, and both rather embarrassed about the thing. Continue reading “My Confession: I Have a Thing for Old Ladies”

A few little things to note:

I added some new things to What I’m listening to for your auditory pleasure and/or edification. I particularly enjoyed (for the third time or so) Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story story about Mrs. Bullfrog, which is perhaps more relevant and culturally fitting in our day than we may care to admit. And while in my shop I was enraptured in the vision of God Sinclair Ferguson presented so beautifully, I also ignored the strain I was putting my table saw through until the motor burnt out. Still, I can scarcely recommend this sermon highly enough.

Don’t forget to register for our upcoming Spring Conference with Dr. Peter Jones. Registration is both free and required. If the registration process frightens you (entering an email address that “they” will have), contact Eric or me and we’ll register you under the name of some notorious heretic. I think the next name to be used is Marcion, unless Andy Stanley has reserved it for himself.

JC Ryle texted me from my Dad’s phone this week:
When an eagle is happy in an iron cage,
when a sheep is happy in the water,
when an owl is happy in the blasé of noonday sun,
when a fish is happy on the dry land –
then, and not until then will I admit
that the unsanctified man could be happy in Heaven.

My birthday was this week. Spent much time thinking about last year’s birthday – Alice on my lap laughing opening my presents and blowing out my candles (picture of that here), the first little signs of her tumor’s recurrence were showing up making it somewhat miserable for me as I tried to soak up all the good and properly ignore the bad I couldn’t do anything about. I think much of eternity, and in a way, yesterday I turned 40 but kinda wish I’d turned 70. I’d look good for a 70yr. old. Anyway, itching to see her again, itching to get on with the business of eternal life. God give me patience to endure to the end.

(Almost) Too Hot to Handle, and Another Thing Not as Hot as You Might Think.

My family and I spent a very casual and relaxed Christmas dinner with my sister and her family, and somewhere in the mealtime conversation she asked me, “So what are you going to write about next?”

I said something like, “I don’t really know. Something other than suffering, for a change.” Granted, for us it’s been a year that has had a lot of suffering in it, and unlike the inimitable 17th century theologian/writer John Owen who was able to endure the death of ten children and hardly pen a public word about it, I’ve hardly been able to think or write about anything else. It’s probably getting old to hear the same thing over and over. So it’s time for a change. Continue reading “(Almost) Too Hot to Handle, and Another Thing Not as Hot as You Might Think.”

Merry Grown-Up Christmas!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-4

Some of my fondest Christmas memories involve lying stretched out beside my siblings in the back of our ’79 Caprice Estate wagon, seats laid down to make a bed, Mom lying across the bench seat, asleep with her head on Dad’s lap while he drove all night through yet another Upper Michigan snowstorm. He promised to wake us up to see the Mackinac Bridge, and if we begged him, he’d drive on the grating in the middle lane so we could pop a door open and stare down at the water hundreds of feet below. Mom never really understood the joy of that gift. Never for a moment did I consider even it a possibility we wouldn’t arrived at Gramma’s safely. There’s not a blizzard in the world Dad couldn’t drive through, so when we hit one that was so bad he pulled off in Marquette to spend the night at the Super8, I still think it was probably more because he wanted to let us swim in the pool. Of course, we didn’t pack swim trunks, and ShopKo in Marquette doesn’t sell them in December, so as I recall we bought boxer shorts, swam in them. Good memories, happy days. Continue reading “Merry Grown-Up Christmas!”

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