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Friday, July 31, 2009

Hurry, Hurry...Time's almost up!

Since it is the last day in July, I thought I would remind everyone to get busy thinking about Christmas.  July comes around only once, and you may have already missed your chance at getting the good deals for the Christmas season.  Remember to save and plan ahead; it is not a good idea in these tough economic times to rely on Christmas bonuses (like our friend Clark Griswald) as your money source for family presents!

On a serious note though....

I am reading God in the Dock by C.S. Lewis.  It is a collection of essays.  Two essays that I have read recently are entitled "What Christmas Means to Me" and "Xmas and Christmas."  If you choose to click these links (please do), you might think that they are current commentary on the American, Christmas experience.  But no, they were written in the mid-1950's!  (And for the simple fact that I already told you that Lewis penned them).

They are pithy and poignant--two of the many characteristics I love about Lewis.  These essays are also culturally indicting--even 55+ years later!

Man, I love eggnog!

Some Related Posts:
Ever thought of a song and later that day heard it
Who would you like to eat lunch with?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Who knows?

One confession and a couple of thoughts:

I confess that memorizing scripture is one of my least favorite and least practiced disciplines. In the past, I have been active to etch the words of scripture onto my mind and into my heart. Not so much of late, and sadly, I have forgotten so many wonderful passages that I had memorized. Such active work requires ol' fashioned, time-on-task. Simply put, it requires diligence.

Memorization is not just putting it in your head and locking it away. It is active meditation--desiring to understand and seeking to appropriate its meaning to our lives. By the Word, through the Spirit, we are transformed in our character and conduct. This active meditation is a means by which we entrust our lives to God's will (surrender) and walk forward (action) in light of such transformation.

A couple of thoughts together put this post to mind. One, I am studying for a bible content exam. Part of the exam entails memorizing a plethora (such an underused word!) of verses. So I am putting them to memory. Second, this morning I spent some time in 1 Peter, specifically 1 Peter 1:13-17. A lot of my thoughts were focused around the idea of "preparing your mind for action."

This line of thinking was in conjunction with today's verse that I was memorizing.
[Esther 4:14] "For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Of course understanding the context of the surrounding verses and the context of the book of Esther is important to understand this verse in light of scripture's redemptive story, but this verse really challenged me today.

The phrase "who knows" jumped out. I am not Esther and I am not an exiled Jew in Persia, but I do know relief and deliverance comes from the hand of the LORD. I am not privied to know the circumstances, nuances, and ways in which he will carry out such relief. Ultimately, I know such deliverance culminates in Jesus, the Christ. But day-to-day situations, I do not.

It comes from His hand, AND he asks us to "go and do likewise." Who knows why stuff happens the way it does? Sometimes we are not meant to know the why's (more often, we should not attempt to know). We are to trust that his ways are sure and his paths are straight...and walk forward (and actively prepare to do so).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Who influences you?

This Saturday morning I was doing a pretty normal, morning routine, which entails a quick email check and blog skim in my google reader.  It is quick, mindless task that tidies up and establishes the flow of the day for me.

I enjoy reading Seth Godin's blog.  He is a marketer, speaker, and writer.  Apparently very successful, but I only know him via his blogged thoughts.  He is succinct, clear, and honest.  I like him...straightforward and commonsensical.  I have already mentioned and linked to his blog from here.

Well, my apparently mindless morning task got me thinking.  I am a big proponent of Ad Fontis, which is a latin phrase meaning "to the source."  I read blogs everyday; I have my favorite books and authors; I have favorite movies that have inspired me....these in many respects are my influences.  Of course I have people in my life, who are intimately aware and keenly influencing me.  However, other outside people influence me that have no idea who I am.  Seth Godin writes in a way that makes you think and see things from a different perspective.....enter ad fontis....I wonder who has influenced him.  What people?  What books?  What experiences? 

Seth Godin (he is unaware) has a platform in my life.  So does C.S. Lewis and Led Zepplin and John Piper and Johann Sebastian Bach and the Apostle Paul and Jay Sklar and (more than anyone) my wife.  Not only am I shaped by these people, but I also want to learn from their teachers. 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Who would you like to eat lunch with?

This is a favorite ice-breaker question: dead or alive, who would you like to eat lunch with?  My all time favorite probably would be C.S. Lewis. 

Over at Between Two Worlds, this link was posted.  It has some audio clips of C.S. Lewis talking.  I love all things British--afternoon tea, English accents, even Mr. Bean, but I was not expecting Lewis to sound the way he did.  Perhaps his books are more powerful than his voice (which reminds me that delivery is important, but content is crucial).

FYI...not all the links on the page worked for me.  The BBC radio address was enjoyable. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Remarkable Story

Some stories are beautifully written. Some movies have stunning cinematography. And then there are some stories that simply tell themselves.

Today I finished watching Defiance. It truly is a remarkable story; it is not the most amazing movie ever but the story is captivating.

It has a couple amazing sequences that shine glorious light and hope in the midst of such darkness and depravity. Two quotes stick out for me:
"Our revenge is to live. We may be hunted like animals but we will not become animals. We have all chosen this - to live free, like human beings, for as long as we can. Each day of freedom is a victory. And if we die trying to live, at least we die like human beings."
[paraphrase: in the midst of such suffering] The main character something to effect: "do you see it?.....the's beautiful"
O' how I want to cultivate a mindset to see beauty...the broken never lose hope.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Just a suggestion...

In one of my posts I used the phrase "here I stand."  It is a famous phrase that Martin Luther used.  It occasionally gets employed for emphasis.  Mostly when I see the phrase, the one using it is intentionally alluding to Martin Luther's use to help emphasize the point.

So I am guilty of over exaggeration.  It is probably a good idea in life to reserve such phrases as "here I stand" for really really really important occasions.  My post probably wasn't one of them.

Accordance v. the Competition?

Yes. This is a plug. If you ever read anything by Seth Godin or are involved with any sort of social networking sites (e.g. facebook, twitter, blogs, etc) than you are increasingly aware of the infinite amount of information to process (which can be simultaneously exciting and overwhelming). Such networking involvement only creates a multiplying affect (and effect) that the consumer possesses in making or breaking a product. So much power is in the hand of the buyer; or rather, so much power is in their fingers. A twitter message or a comment on a blog can be the rallying cry for allegiance or the mob's boisterous chants of displeasure for a product/service.

Here I stand and recommend Accordance Bible Software. The point of this post is not to compare Accordance with its competitors or give the pro's and con's. Honestly, if you are interested in using bible software, than you cannot go terribly wrong with any of them. You are going to have do your own research to see which program is the best fit for you.

However, I use Accordance and absolutely love it! It is perfect for basic reading, bible study, or serious research. It can be customized to fit your needs. Deciding to use Accordance was the very reason why I switched to a Mac.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What do girls do in this situation?

I lack the relevant experience of such situations but have heard that it happens. Please excuse any broad generalizations and type-casting. However, I have an idea that girls are not typically friendly to the idea of showing up to the prom in a dress that is being worn by another girl.

A blog that I follow mentioned another blog's post. It caught my eye so I clicked the link. Well, lo and behold, I showed up to the prom with the same, tux...I mean, template as this guy. What is the proper course of action? I could care less about wearing identical clothes, but I confess, I immediately wanted to strip my blog down bare to its skivvies and return with some new digs.

I think for now I will just stick to this template for now. I chose to wear it; I think I will stick around and enjoy the party without being overly concerned with fashion.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wikipedia has everything

After finishing the previous post I wikied the term "bulverism." Man, they've got everything. Check out the wiki article if you like.

Ever thought of a song and then later that day heard it?

I just had a similar moment. This morning my wife and I went on a walk. Our conversations took us to the topic of people's various prejudices and/or predispositions, rather more specifically the tendency for people to label other people's predispositions. These labels often become the main source of ammunition to debate an opponent (or your friend). The root issues of the relevant conversation are discarded and the labels are thrown like grenades.

These thoughts I have been having were nicely summed up later that day when I read an essay entitled "Bulverism" by C.S. Lewis. He writes,
"[Y]ou must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly."
He goes on to write of a fictional character that he named Ezekiel Bulver:
"Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall."
It never fails. Whether you and a friend are comparing Harry Potter vs. Lord of the Rings; The Daily Show vs. Fox News; or more politically charged discussions of abortion, Supreme Court nominees, etc., someone will inevitably accuse the other for being silly or ridiculous. At which point they have become "bulverized."
Next time you are discussing or witnessing a discussion, take note when it switches from the actual topic to "bulverizing" each other.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Very First Post

First things first--greetings to friends, family, and all who happen upon this blog. As it is my first post to my first blog, everything you see is a work in progress...everything from the title to the layout and even to its purpose. I suppose that is the thing I am exploring most of all--what is the purpose to a blog? What does it contribute? Is it worth my time writing? Probably, more importantly, is it worth your time reading?

I am not ashamed to admit it--I am a blog reader. I use google reader. I have a love/hate relationship with google. They are so dang awesome, creative, ingenius, and innovative...they are just so google; but it also scares me how much information they possess. But as "they" say, "information is power"... or is it "knowledge is power" or is it knowing is half the battle? Sorry. Back to my blog confessions. As I said I am a blog reader, but I have yet to jump on the blogging-wagon. There is definitely some ironic truth to the embedded picture. And yet, so many millions of people still strive to have their voice heard...well, let's be honest--some desire to be heard while others merely enjoy the projection of their voice with no mind to content or volume level.

I am still figuring out the content of this blog. I am still figuring out a lot about life in general. I suppose that is why the working title is "Mere Pilgrims." We are all on a journey. Yes, I realize the metaphor is overly lampooned, but it works. I also like the word "mere/merely" quite a bit.

Welcome aboard as I start this blogging journey. I merely hope that I am not adding to the noise. Please, take the poll located at the top of the page. Perhaps some of you veterans can give me some pointers as I sharpen a vision for this blog.