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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Moved This Blog

Thank you for stopping by; however, I moved the blog to a new location.  You are welcome to stick around and read old blog entries at this site, or you can read them at the new site.  Please follow this link to the new site; or the direct link here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Season!

Spending the evening with my wife:
  1. Purchased our Christmas tree.
  2. Of course decorating it.
  3. Drinking hot chocolate.
  4. Watching the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Tree on televsion.
  5. Listening to Christmas tunes.
It's the most wonderful time of the year! I know it's cheesy to say that, but my wife thought it would be a great way to end.

P.S. All in the proper order......Christmas celebrations follow Thanksgiving..not before.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Remember 3.5 Floppies?

I came across a link that is selling posters commemorating 3.5 floppy disks.  Each poster shows how many floppies it would take to hold current computer apps.

Result (Approximate)
46 disk for iTunes 8.02
358 disk for Adobe Photoshop CS4
1760 disk for the Sims 3
12 disk for Firefox 3, 36 disk for Firefox Add-ons





Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Clever Marketing for a Time-tested Technological Device

Digital Irony

So I bought a Kindle with my birthday money and received it in the mail yesterday.  Check out this assortment of customer uploaded pictures here.

I debated back and forth on whether or not I should get one because I have concerns with so much digital culture.  Of course there is a lot that can be affirmed about the technology, too. 

At the end of day one, I predict that I will enjoy the device very much.  In celebration of purchasing the Kindle I want to pass along two bits of digital irony:
  1. The very first book I plan to read on my Kindle is entitled You are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier.  I know nothing about the book except the title and it caught my attention one day parousing Barnes and Noble.  I have some thoughts stewing in my mind that I hope this book might shed light on.  And then maybe one day I will share them on my blog.
  2. I find it incredibly humorous that there is a Kindle version of a book entitled Bookbinding and the Care of Books: A Handbook for Amateurs, Bookbinders & Librarians
Periodically, I plan on blogging about my personal observations and insights into my digital reading.

Related posts:
Recent thoughts about the Kindle (posted March 19, 2010)
Stuff that Caught My Eye (posted May 16, 2010).  Really the first two links are related to today's post.

[Picture taken from a customer who uploaded it to Amazon]

Friday, October 29, 2010

Needs & Reminders

I have experienced the biggest case of procrastination and writer's block this past week. I am writing a paper on Paul's letter to the Philippian Church (modern day map), specifically on chapter 3, verses 12-16. It is actually a very difficult passage grammatically, and I am having a hard time getting all of my jumbled thoughts into any resemblance of written coherence.

Paul ties his main purpose, which is a call towards unity in the church, with themes of suffering, resurrection, and imitation, bound together in union with Christ. You see, the Philippian church in general, and a couple of the individual members in particular were experiencing some sort of discord and/or rivalry. And what Paul does in his letter, among other things, is call them back to their identity in Christ Jesus. Corporate and relational unity is rooted in the example we have in Christ's life, death, and resurrection (certainly Christ's life and work is much more than an example as He is our propitiation, but He also serves as an example to be imitated). We share those things with him; therefore, let us walk according to our identity...let us walk in unity having the same mind as Christ.

Now jumping back to my writer's block. My head is full of input but not much output, which is why my paper is actually late. It was due this afternoon. I am okay with it being lat. My prof is okay with it being late (and I'm okay with a potential mark down due to its lateness). However, I have not been okay the past several days with my anxious block. I am running to everything else to placate my anxiety: 1) my google reader because there is always some blog or article to read; 2) youtube videos because there are millions of videos to watch (because who doesn't need to spend time watching planes landing in horrific crosswinds?); 3) and compounding my anxiety, I think about everything else I need to get done before Thanksgiving.

Now I say all of this for my benefit and for transitioning to the video below. As I drove to campus this afternoon, this song was played on the radio. I have heard Need To Breathe before. I have even seen them live at the Handle Bar in Greenville, but I have never heard this song. It is called Lay 'Em Down.

It was refreshing to hear this reminder...that the Lord calls to every person...that He meets our every need. This is just what I needed today...to be reminded. So, let's bring all our troubles and lay 'em down. Christ Jesus calls through His Word and by His Spirit; do we have ears to hear?



Today is like...

I took my wife to work this morning.  We were running a bit behind schedule so we decided to buy two biscuits from McDonald's.  Although they don't have the best breakfast stuff, it is okay. 

This morning I ordered a combo meal: black coffee, potato cake and a bacon/egg/cheese biscuit.  It is my usual.  Well, I didn't get my usual.  I randomly received an egg/sausage McGriddle (basically the biscuit replaced with two pancakes that have warm pockets of syrup inside).  I've never had one before because I've never wanted one before.  Sure the concept sounds appealing but throwing down 400+ calories and 1000+ mg of sodium in one sitting is not my idea of a balanced breakfast. 

However.  This morning I didn't even care that they got my order wrong.  I opened the wrapper, and without thinking, sunk my teeth into it.  Of course it was good; nevertheless, I still stand by my assessment that the concept is appealing......but it is always a bad idea.

So, if you ask me how my day is going, I would have to say that today is like that.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Zing....Pow....Zwap....Pop.....Kapow!

Malcolm Gladwell's most recent essay "Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted" is a social critique of social media.  He pulls no punches...well, he doesn't so much sucker punch social media with his bare-knuckles as he sharply wins the argument like a skilled fencer.

When you read his essay.....and you should read his essay.....then humor yourself (and me) by inserting the words found in the title as you read it (think 1960's Batman, the television show).

I find his running illustration of the Civil Rights movement (contrasted with the recent events in Iran) as a wonderful example of what he calls "strong ties" (versus "weak ties," which social media generally fosters).  He also has interesting observations regarding structures (hierarchy vs. networks) as they relate to activism.

I wonder if his essay is a timely piece to showcase the mystery of inertia, movements, fads, trends?  I wonder if there are books available to teach a person "how to" foster social media for their business or online persona (or people like me who are blogging about it), then is it likely the bus has moved on?  I wonder if there comes a point when the bus keeps moving and never slowing down or when there are too many bus stops and way too many people needing rides that it becomes an ineffective form of transportation?

Personally, I want to connect/build/cultivate/nurture relationships that are strong-ties––relationships that will inspire me to fight injustice and stand beside me when others want to spit in my face because I am sitting at their counter and are equally scared as me,  but their presence is enough encouragement to stay the course.  I want "strong-ties" to encourage me and stand beside me saying, "Play the man!" Likewise, I want to be like one who does that for those standing beside me.

On a related note:
Gladwell's essay reminds me of something else he has written: "The Power of Context: The Magic Number of 150" found in his book The Tipping Point.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Incomplete Thoughts.....or Thoughts Begun

I want to write more.  I really do.  However, I find myself thinking too much and scribbling notes (either in my Moleskine notebook or in Evernote).  I even have a category in my Evernote application called "incomplete thoughts" and my pocket notebook is full of them.

I wonder if my desire to write essays instead of blogs, articles instead of comments drives the gap between my will to write and what I accomplish to write.  What do I mean by that?  Writing an essay requires a well-defined, purposed and unpacked, completed thought.  I rarely have any of those.  Thus, my desire to write only grows....longings to contribute in the discourse of humanity; however, rarely do I pen anything.  For contribution to be weighed, something must be put on the scale.

Perhaps it is my perspective....an incomplete thought vs. a thought only begun.  For now I am content with blogs and scribbles.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ad 'em to the list...

Staplers are like q-tips and band-aids...

you never want to purchase them for yourself; however, when you need them you always hope someone has them.  Add them to the list of stuff you need but don't want to buy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weddings, Vows, and Witnesses

Two weekends ago I participated in a close friend's wedding.  Tomorrow I am participating in another friend's wedding.  Both these men mean a great deal to me, and I feel honored to be present at their weddings, and more importantly I feel honored to be their friend. 


Related Posts: Participate Actively
                        Renewal

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thank You Blogger!

Well upon my return to blogger, from a long hiatus, I learned of some of the new features in Blogger.  Perhaps they are not so new, since the long gap between posts.

At one point this summer I dabbled a little bit with WordPress to develop a more robust blog; a pseudo website, if you will.  Also, I noticed the 'stats' feature.  Once upon a time I tracked statistics through Google Analytics, but it got to be more than I wanted or needed.  It will be nice to occasionally check some of those same stats in house.

Now that Blogger has 'pages' and 'stats,' I think I will stay for awhile longer.  Now I just have to get back to writing.

Back From Blogger Vacation

I have nothing to write for my first post back from blogger vacation, so I will just say hello.  Hello.  More to come later.

Until then, take a look back at my very first post, a little more than one year ago.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I'm Still Here...

...but on vacation.  Well, I went to Seattle, which was fun but have been back home in St. Louis.  I've been on vacation between class sessions. 

I've been thinking but haven't wanted to write.  Maybe soon.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Stuff that Caught My Eye (over the weekend)

I am in the middle of exams....which means I am oscillating between two extremes: never reading articles/news/blogs in my reader to wasting too much time reading other things. Here is what caught my eye over the past few days.

Some stuff from Tim Challies:
Video review of the Kindle vs. iPad.
Survey about reading habits
Some stuff from Kevin DeYoung:
Catholicity and Apostolicty
Christians and feeling guilty
Some random stuff:
Gotta love an optical illusion
Sometime in your life you should watch this movie. I know, I know...it's random, but the climactic unveiling of the murderer is great. You can't beat a good Agatha Christi mystery.
Happy browsing...I have to go write a paper now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Renewal

I still have the index card that my wife wrote my wedding vow on.  She wrote it so I could practice before our wedding day. 

Two years ago today, on May 10, 2010, I made this vow:
I, PD, take thee Kelli, to be my wedded wife,
          and I do promise and covenant,
                    before God and these witnesses,
          to be thy loving and faithful husband;
                    in plenty and in want,
                    in joy and in sorrow,
                    in sickness and in health,
                    as long as we both shall live.
 With God's help, I renew this vow day after day, month after month, and year after year.  I love living life together with you!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Stuff that Caught My Eye

It's been awhile since I posted some links.  Enjoy a small taste of what has caught my eye:

From the Lausanne Movement.  There is tons of stuff at the Lausanne website.  I really encourage anyone to jump into the stream of conversations regarding this summer's Laussanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.
Need to communicate a statistic or other number? 
Books mentioned to me lately (I plan to check out):
Christian and Bored with Jesus? Or non-Christian and tired of the hype about Jesus?
  • A letter addressed to Christian's who are bored and want "Christ plus" something else.   

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What's the value of a diploma?

If you never read Seth Godin's blog or if you have never heard of Seth Godin, then you should read his most recent post. 

He is a person.  He writes books.  He knows marketing.  He influences people.  From his vantage point, he has some interesting things to say about the future of traditional higher education (despite the potentially incorrect/highly unlikely statement about Galileo at Harvard).

I think he makes interesting observations; I think it should make us pause and think about it.  What do you think? 


Related Posts:
Accordance v. the Competition
Who influences you?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Refreshing Reminder of God's Process

Today I was introduced to a new blogger.  With me, that statement is a dime a dozen; however, this new blogger is unique.  Amanda, as her blog title explains, is a new Christian.

She has two blogs.  One in which she wrote while an atheist–– and the new one in which she writes as a former atheist.  Check out her blogs!  She includes quotes, Scripture passages, etc.  As I mentioned above, I think her blog is wonderfully unique.  What's so unique about another blog?  I'll tell you, but I hope you go see for yourself.  The blog's unique characteristic is not that she writes cool quotes or important Bible verses (although she does do that, too), but it appears that she designs her own cartoons to illustrate the quotes or verses she mentions.  Her blog is a cartooned commentary.

I've enjoyed seeing her interpretations.  They are a refreshing reminder of God's process––bringing us from alienation (distance, hostility, separation from Him) to reconciliation (nearness, peace, relationship with Him). 

Lord, thank you for the new life in Amanda!  Amanda, thank you for creatively posting your journey!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Today is.....

Monday.  Monday follows Sunday.  Sunday is for gathering in worship of the Risen Lord, and Sunday is the day Chick-Fil-A is closed.  Therefore, Monday is the day that Chick-fil-A is open!

Below is a video by comedian Tim Hawkins.  He is funny by himself, but I think his comedic songs are funnier.  Here is one about Chick-Fil-A.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Recent Meditations

I encourage you to read prayers from Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.  They make great gifts (how I got mine; thanks Marty!) but it would make a great gift for yourself. 

There are numerous prayers, which makes it slippery.  You can't read this book like other books: from cover to cover, one after another.  Well, I suppose one could but I think you would be missing out on huge opportunities for meditating and making these prayers your own prayers.

Here is one I have been meditating on the lately, especially the bold sections (Living by Prayer, p. 266-267):

O God of the open ear,
Teach me to live by prayer as well as by providence,
           for myself, soul, body, children, family, church;
Give me a heart frameable to thy will;
           so might I live in prayer,
           and honour thee,
           being kept from evil, known and unknown.
Help me to see the sin that accompanies all I do,
           and the good I can distil from everything.
Let me know that the work of prayer is to bring my will to thine,
           and that without this it is folly to pray;
When I try to bring thy will to mine it is to command Christ,
           to be above him, and wiser than he:
           this is my sin and pride.
I can only succeed when I pray
          according to thy precept and promise,
          and to be done with as it pleases thee,
          according to thy sovereign will.
When thou commandest me to pray
                 for pardon, peace, brokenness,
          it is because thou wilt give me the thing promised,
                for thy glory,
                as well as for my good.
Help me not only to desire small things
         but with holy boldness to desire great things
                for thy people, for myself,
                that they and I might live to show thy glory.
Teach me
        that it is wisdom for me to pray for all I have,
               out of love, willingly, not of necessity;
        that I may come to thee at any time,
               to lay open my needs acceptably to thee;
        that my great sin lies in my not keeping
               the savour of the ways;
        that the remembrance of this truth is one way
               to the sense of thy presence;
        that there is no wrath like the wrath of being 
               governed by my own lusts for my own ends.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Living Letters: David Fisk



Please welcome David Fisk to the blog. My wife and I have grown to be good friends with David and his wife over the past year. We are sad that they will soon be leaving upon graduation, especially since we are growing in our friendship; however, we are thankful and excited about what the Lord is doing in their lives. ~PD
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
My name is David Fisk and I’m a 4th year Covenant student about to graduate in May. After graduation, my wife and I are moving back to SC to start a new RUF work at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC.

It’s a very bittersweet feeling having to say goodbye to Covenant. My time here has been the best and the worst time of my life. It has been horrible and incredible at the same time. If I had to sum up my seminary career, it would be this – maturity through brokenness.

In four years, I’ve had two hospitalizations lasting 10 days total, four ER trips, 10 MRI’s, a spinal tap, two epidurals, countless doctor’s visits, even more medications, physical therapy, laparoscopic surgery, and an eight month bout of Depression. Only one semester out of eight did not have some sort of medical crisis. There were times when I cried, times when I was angry at the Lord, and times when I wanted to drop out and go home. However, the Lord used these things as a cauldron of character formation.

In the times of despair, there was one question that continued to come to my mind – God, don’t you care that I’m hurting this much? I mean – God, why is this happening? God, are you even there? Why aren’t you doing anything? Here’s what I did learn. I learned that you don’t always get to know why suffering happens, but the answer to my questions cannot be that God doesn’t care or that He isn’t doing anything about suffering. It took me a long time to begin understanding that the evidence of God’s care for suffering is Jesus. By looking at the life and death of Jesus in order to save us from our sin, we see God’s willingness to take on Himself the pain and suffering of this sinful world. It shows us just how much He does care. God entered time and space and suffering to redeem the brokenness and to restore the relationship He intended to have with His people from the beginning.

Christian maturity looks at how Christ took on the suffering of the world for one reason – to redeem the world and gain us. Tim Keller taught me that understanding this beautiful truth “brings deep consolation and strength to face the brutal realities of life on earth. We can know that God is truly Immanuel – God with us – even in our worst sufferings" (Tim Keller. The Reason for God, p. 31).

I don’t know if I would choose to go down the same path again because of the difficult trials I have been through. But I know that if I did not endure what I endured, I would not cherish Jesus nor have the maturity and perspective to trust in the Lord like I do now. Even after all the pain, I can still know God does care and the proof of Jesus shows me just how much.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tomorrow's Post

It has been awhile, but tomorrow will welcome another guest blogger for my segment called Living Letters.  David Fisk, a fellow classmate and soon-to-be graduate, is going to share how the Lord has used his time at Covenant as a way to grow him.

Related Posts:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lost Momentum (Better yet, Happy Easter!)

Today was my first day back to class from a four day Easter break. My wife and I went to Georgia to see our families and to celebrate Easter. It was so wonderful to spend time with our families, and living in St. Louis, we take every opportunity that we can get.

At the same time, the gap between writing posts is overwhelming. The blogosphere grows and morphs––the conversation carries off in another direction; someone, who might be interested in reading what you have to say loses interest because of the lack of posts. Information is submitted to the vacuum and forever lost. The pressure to keep up with it all makes me feel like I have completely lost momentum. What traction I had is now slipping away. Might as well start over, right? Jump start a new brand? I do feel the weight, but then I remember reality. No one reads this blog. No one is longing for my next word. Who am I kidding! So there is absolutely no reason try to cover lost ground.

Instead...I say, "Happy Easter!" I hope your time with family was as good as mine. I hope you were mesmerized by the love of God, and shocked at the cost of sending of His Son, and bursting with joy that the tomb is empty! THE FREAKIN' TOMB IS EMPTY!!! THAT IS A HUGE DEAL––NOT JUST ON SUNDAY MORNING, BUT TODAY AT 12:25 PM AS I TYPE THIS AND ABOUT TO GO GRAB SOME LUNCH AND THEN SPEND ALL AFTERNOON READING FOR CLASS REGARDING PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS. THE FREAKING' TOMB IS EMPTY....WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT THAT ANXIETY DISORDERS? DEPRESSION? SCHIZOFRENIA? WHAT CAN YOU DO BUT I HOPE AND LONG FOR THE RESURRECTION!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Different Prescription Glasses

Yesterday I watched a thought provoking video presentation by Sam Harris. He is described as "one of the Four Horsemen of Atheism." I have not read any of his books but have watched some videos. He is one of the more pleasant New Atheists, as he actually writes and speaks as a capable philosopher. More pleasant is his tone––he actually asks important questions and attempts to provide coherent answers without all the rhetorical fluff masquerading as an argument.

He and I observe the same world (only difference, he is much more intelligent), but we come to very different solutions to life's problems. Which of course reveals another difference–humans are limited by the extent of our knowledge. There is a ceiling, so to speak, that prevents us from grasping full knowledge. Full knowledge can only be ascertained by an outside source revealing it.

After watching his video, it struck me that everybody has a theology of God, theology of salvation, and theology of eschatology. Of course the categories, definitions, terms, and frameworks are viewed from very different focal points with the aid of very different lens. For instance, how one responds to the question, "Who is Jesus?" reveals much about how you view God, humanity, and the world.

Tim Keller's presentation, "Who is this Jesus?" offers a vivid contrast to Sam Harris' presuppositional starting points. You can download it for free by clicking the link or listening to it in the embedded player.

I encourage you to listen to both Tim Keller and Sam Harris. What are each offering the listener in their presentation? What are the future ramifications in the world if one of them is correct and the other wrong?


[UPDATE: I cannot figure out how to get the player to work. Please click the "download" link to stream it.]

The below video was embedded from TED: Ideas Worth Spreading:



(the irony of me sharing this video is that I don't consider the presentation's implications worth spreading)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pursuing Ad Fontes: an Example

One of my professors, Jay Sklar, begins every class with the following mantra:
Jay: "Shalom, class."
Class: "Shalom, Jay."
Jay: "Start with the Bible."
Class: "Not with the commentaries."
Jay: "Context..."
Class: "is king."
Apparently this call/response is Tivoed into my brain because it came to the tip of my tongue as I left the library this afternoon.  I have an upcoming exegetical paper on Deuteronomy 28, and I am genuinely excited about studying the passage.  However, if I am honest, walking out of the library with an arm full of Deuteronomy commentaries made me eager to read what these commentators have to say regarding the passage.  How easy it is for me to first gravitate towards what other scholars and pastors have said about God's Word!

Growing in our relationship with God and developing the scope of our theology must be done in community, and this involves what other scholars and pastors have gleaned from their studies.  To be sure, we are surrounded by a wondrous cloud of witnesses!  But, may we look to the One who their fingers point to, rather than to the one who is pointing––the validity of their witness properly corresponds to the One who they bear witness to.

Therefore, let's first start with our Bibles.  My prayer is to recall this mantra for the rest of my life.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Check!

Just found out how to rotate my screen 90 degree. I can now hold my Mac like a book and use it as an e-reader.

Recent thoughts about the Kindle...

Technology shifts and sifts the way we think about life. Yesterday I came across a free, Kindle download for my Mac. I wonder about the Kindle, the uncertain future of the iPad, and where the dust will settle?

Although the question is posed and we sit waiting for the answer, I believe books will never go out of style. There will always be a market demand for printed books because of me. That's right, I will forever want to physically handle a printed book. I like to physically hold it; I like to physically turn the page; I like to physically underline and handwrite comments in the margin; I like to judge books by their covers. If I am just one of millions who feel the same way about books, then I am pretty confident that there will always be a market for printed books.

Am I a book snob? Am I a book hypocrite? If I am honest–"Yes, to the former and "No," to the latter. Technology is neutral–it has things to affirm and to challenge. First off, a quick list of things I like about the Kindle (this is not exhaustive):

  • In the long run, I know it would save money on books.
  • It would save physical shelf space.
  • It would allow for easy access to a library of books at your fingertips while traveling, etc. (Which makes me pose the question, "With such availability, are we really reading or accumulating?" That sounds like a great post for another time!)

Now, the main reasons why I am hesitant to fork out the mullah:

  • It would take me years to "save" the money. Why? Right now in my life I am buying more printed, reference books than pleasure reading.
  • I am waiting to see what the iPad does in the coming years. I think if the iPad does all that I think it will able to do, then why spend $400 plus on a gadget that can do one thing, when you could spend a little bit more and get a gadget that does multiple things.
  • The books I would buy for Kindle are books that I want to read but don't want to spend much, if any, money on them. Nor would I care to read them twice. For these types of books, I am content to either read someone else's review about the book or skim the book at Barnes-n-Noble for free (OR USE THE PUBLIC LIBRARY).

Why spend $20-30 on a new book that will be read by millions this week but then be out of date as fast as the next book is off the press next week? So then, why spend the money on a Kindle that potentially will have the same fate as this week's bestseller? I suppose that is what at the end of the day holds me back––the future Kindle upgrades, soon-to-be-released iPad, or some other gadget that makes the first generation of e-readers obsolete.

Which is another reason I don't think printed books will ever be obsolete––as a technology, they have been tested by several thousands of years. With all this said, I installed the Kindle app on my Mac and went browsing for Kindle books. I found my first book that cost $0.00 and got really excited (I enjoy G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy and Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice). My next task is to figure out how to rotate my screen so I can turn my Mac into an e-reader. I can dabble with the technology without experiencing buyer's remorse.

UPDATE: After writing but before posting, I found out that the Kindle is not $400 plus anymore. The price is going down, but my reasons still stand at this time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What's MacGyver's first name?

We don't have cable so I don't get to watch one of my favorite shows: Mythbusters.  Last night, however, I found the show on Netflix.

Here is an excerpt of the episode I watched last night:





No one can sport a mullet like MacGyver!



Does anyone know MacGyver's first name? 

Litmus or Taboo?

The words "inspiration" and "inerrancy" are used in doctrinal statements, spoken in friendly debates, and thrown like grenades in theological war zones. But what do they mean? I think I have an okay grasp of their meaning but long for greater understanding, especially as Christians become more and more biblically illiterate.

Issue Image

The current issue of "Modern Reformation" includes the following:

Points of Contact: "Snow" by Orhan Pamuk (Book Review) By Ann Henderson Hart

Monday, March 15, 2010

"A zeitgeist film!"

We've all heard the metaphor, but The Joneses, and upcoming movie, brings it to life. Go watch the trailer for yourself. I think it will be an interesting commentary on American Dream-isms. What do I mean by "American Dream-isms?" I don't know really because I just made it up. I mean for it to mean the cultural narratives that tell us, "If I have this or that, then my life will be better and complete."

Who doesn't want the next best thing? The new, bigger and better thing promises to fix all our problems; however, those promises always end up unfilled. I only know of one thing that fulfills all my longings, needs, and desires.

The movie will most likely be sad, frustrating, and (unfortunately) self-indicting. Despite this, it will be an opportunity to affirm and challenge the narratives with which our culture inundates us. The trailer includes critic's quotes. One such quote, I think, captures the movie very well: "A zeitgeist film!"

I look forward to watching it; most likely a rental.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Links & Misc. Stuff: 3.14.10

Happy weekend to everybody! My week was really busy so a lot of my internet browsing happened on Friday and Saturday. Just want to pass some links your way:
  • Check out a promo video for Trevin Wax's Holy Subversion.
  • upcoming DVD study on the Gospel in Life by Tim Keller. Check out the trailer.
  • A thoughtful, pastoral response to a young woman concerned about her boyfriend's sexual past.
  • some helpful reminders about the joys in pastoral ministry
  • a pastor considers what vocational evangelism might look like in the future
  • NPR's Freshair ran a 2009 interview with Bart Ehrman on Friday. Brethren, we must be able to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ, appropriately handle Scripture, and to teach in order to build up the body so people are not blind-sided by such mis-information.
  • let the conversations begin! Cape Town 2010-3rd Lausanne Congress; 12 Cities-12 Conversations



Also in South Africa 2010!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Living Letters: John Pennylegion


Please welcome Penny to the blog. He is a friend, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and currently serving as an assistant pastor. I'll let him explain more himself, but you can also learn more here.

Please introduce yourself.
My name is John Pennylegion, most everyone I know calls me “Penny” and I am an Assistant Pastor at The Covenant Presbyterian Church (CPC) in St. Louis, MO. I graduated in May 2009 from Covenant Seminary with an MDiv and started at CPC on June 1. I was married to my wife, Kat, in September 2003 and we have two daughters, Laine (3 ½) and Mead (1). When choosing names, we were going with different but not weird.
Tell us more about the work you are doing there, particularly your involvement with the Schaeffer Fellows.
While having regular pastoral responsibilities at CPC, my primary role is the Director of the Schaeffer Fellows Program. This is a new endeavor for CPC which began out of discussions between our Sr. Pastor (Ryan Lauglin) and some professors from Covenant Seminary. The Schaeffer Fellows program is a nine month internship where recent college graduates will come to St. Louis, work part-time internships, take seminary level classes, and be actively involved in the church community. The purpose is to help young Christians, who have plans to enter the marketplace, learn to integrate their faith with their vocation. Thus, we are seeking to train future lay leaders of our churches to be better equipped to engage the world through their vocation.

The foundational premise of the program is that God-honoring, kingdom valued work can and does take place in the context of ‘secular’ vocations. It is based off of an understanding that when Paul says in Colossians 1 “by [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth...all things were created through him and for him…. and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” that he really means “all things” not just things that we determine to be “spiritual.” Thus, Christ’s dominion, his rule, is extended into every sphere of his world. And because of this, we act as his ambassadors not only by sharing our faith but also by extending his authority into our areas of vocation - be that the law, medicine, marketing, home building, home making, etc.
What have you learned during this process and the past year?
Since June, I’ve been working (with a board) to establish the foundational aspects of the Fellows program in preparation for the arrival of, what we hope will be, 10-14 Fellows in September. During these months, the thing that I find myself saying again and again in my prayers to God is, “I need your help.” I’m constantly confronted by the fact that I need more of Jesus; that all my hard work, determination, talent, etc. is all for not if Jesus is not intimately and actively involved. While this is not a new realization, over the last eight months it has become a more true realization to me. I find myself asking God for his grace and trust more often and desiring to depend upon him.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Upcoming Guest Bloggers

Starting tomorrow there will be a new segment on this blog called "Living Letters."  My goal is to have two posts per month from guest bloggers.  Each person is an encouragement to me, and I want to share with you who they are, how the gospel is impacting their lives, and the work with which they are involved.  Topics will include anything and everything as I have a developing vision for it.

Tomorrow's guest will be John Pennylegion.  With his permission I divided his post into sections to make it feel more like an introductory interview. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

If you enjoy audiobooks then you might...

Check this link: download free audiobooks.  There are some great books available! 
My first downloads: The Federalist Papers and The Man who was Thursday.

Give Yourself an Assignment

Today's brainstorm:
  1. learn how to use a compass and a topographic map
  2. plan an upcoming weekend get-away with your spouse or a group of friends
  3. refurbish an old piece of furniture you found at a yard sale or antique shop
  4. get ready for spring cleaning

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Read some Books!

Click this link to see pictures of spectacular libraries from around the world. There are a lot of them. I can only imagine the books found in these collections; likewise, imagine the scholars browsing their halls down through the centuries.

Now here is some motivating humor to read some books: "Go. Go away. Read some Books." ~Nacho Libre

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

YouTube - Kevin Martin: Superstar in the Making

 I found this video in my "drafts" folder.  I meant to share this two weeks ago but forgot about it.  The video is about Kevin Martin.  We had some classes together in college.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Conundrum

My wife makes fun of me.  I like Murphy Beds.  Well, as she says, "You like anything that can fit inside a compartment."

I don't think she is right, but I do like intuitive packing–space saving–IKEA–like stuff.  I like the way people in NYC have to live by maximizing their living/eating/work space.  I appreciate creativity because I am not very creative myself. 

My conundrum: I am 6'5'' and hate small, compact spaces.  I need head and leg room.  I wish I was about 4-5 inches shorter so I can fit more comfortably in the world.

So, check the link for some cool ideas to save living space; the bunk beds are my favorite.  Also, whenever I verbalize my likes/dislikes, it usually confirms my wife's theories about me.

Stylish Space Saving Furniture on Third Avenue | Styleture.com - notable designs and functional living spaces

Thursday, February 25, 2010

M.Night + Kung Fu= Awesome!

M. Night Shyamalan is a great story teller.  Okay, okay –The Happening was not so happenin'.  I actually never saw it because a reliable friend and M.Night fan did not recommend it.  Let's be reasonable––greatness cannot happen with every try.  Even Mighty Casey struck out, and so did Babe Ruth....a lot!  And he was the Great Bambino!

Back to M. Night being a great story teller.  His stories start with a great concept.  He uses vivid imagery and captivating cinematography, which only draws you into the characters and dialogue.  He develops the story behind the story.  I find myself just listening and watching the story unfold instead of working to follow or piecing the story together.  When I watch his movies, I don't go to watch a movie; I go to be told a story.

Thus/therefore/hereafter/thereunto/consequently/without further ado, this post's subject line explains it all (and reveals my biases)!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Hate Email Forwards But...

My dad sends an occasional email forward; and they are occasionally funny.  Instead of contributing to the email forward game I am just posting it here.


 
Customer Service --- Computer Repair

 
Caller :                      Hi, our printer is not working. 
Customer Service:     What is wrong with it? 
Caller
 :                      
Mouse is jammed. 
Customer Service
:     Mouse? Printers don't have a mouse!!!
Caller:  Mmmmm??.. Oh really?... I will send a picture. 

[UPDATE: The Picture didn't initially post.  Here is the picture, which is the very punch line for the joke.  Sorry for the delay.]
 
 

Give Yourself an Assignment

Good morning to you! Weekly brainstorm:

  • Write a letter to your state representative (I say this one because I have never done it, and I cynically believe it won't make a difference. Two to three generations ago this happened all the time. Maybe one day I will do this).
  • Decrease your digital intake.
  • It is still February, which means it is Black History month. Next time you are in a public place, shake a black person's hand (especially an older person who has witnessed much of the Civil Rights struggles) and tell them, "Isn't it wonderful that you (if you are white) and I can be in the same line/building/restaurant/other location?!"
  • Anonymously leave a grocery store gift card in a friend's mailbox.
  • Instead of telling your pastor how good (or bad) the sermon was, ask him how the gospel is shaping his life today.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Posting via email via Evernote

From Evernote:

Posting via email via Evernote

The previous post (and this one, too) were published via email using Evernote.  
I use Evernote, which is a free capturing application.  Please click the link to check them out, but I just wanted to clarify that the post itself was not "From Evernote."  

I wrote it (and this one, too) but just emailed the post directly to blogger using email.

A Wonderful Silence Overpowers a Weighty Sentence

From Evernote:

A Wonderful Silence Overpowers a Weighty Sentence

I love the pause I experience after a profound statement. You know, the pause that makes you stop everything you are doing, thinking, and saying so that you can direct every ounce of your being towards concentrating on what was just said.

These moments usually happen to me after reading a great sentence in a book or hearing a great line in a movie. It is the zinger, the punch-line, the climactic statement; the focus of all that was said before and the point of what is said after. It is the proverbial "hmmm" moment.

That moment invites you to respond. But how? With a clarifying question; with a skeptical eye; with a cynical sneer; with an agreeable smile; with an argumentative retort? The possible responses are truly infinite. The experience, however, that I am talking about is when the singular, appropriate response is silence.

My whole day has been characterized by that response: SILENCE. I think of words but none come. Saying, "Wow!" or even a jaw-drop insufficiently expresses the silence I am experiencing. This silence has weight and power; I attempt to respond but I am held back. Fear, almost terror, begins to qualify this silence. Though it is the safest place to be.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekend Tidbits

A couple of things that caught my eye this weekend:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Give Yourself an Assignment

By now, if you have read my blog before that is, you should know that I occasionally brainstorm a list of "assignments." They are lists for you and for me to consider doing sometime today/this week/soon. As I do more and more of them, I will introduce them less and less.

Today's Brainstorm:
  1. mail a handwritten thank you note
  2. start using google reader for your online news/blogs/websites
  3. don't assume recycling gets the job done; use less and resuse more
  4. comment on this blog sometime; give some feedback and constructive criticism

Some things don't get posted

Good morning!  This post is about posts that don't get posted.

I just spent twenty minutes reflecting on how my morning gospel reading (Matt. 14) is relating to circumstances in my life.  I sat and thought; I sat and typed; I sat and re-read; I sat and edited; I sat and decided...not to post it.

Why?  Some things are too personal.  So I wrote this lil' ditty instead.  Just because most of our life functions in the cloud doesn't mean you have to publish everything in the cloud.  And honestly, not everything written is publish-worthy (so, PD, get over yourself)!

Today's takeaway: keep it to yourself and/or verbally tell a close confidant.  Don't broadcast it to the whole world who probably won't see it anyway. (If you never read this post, you realize the irony in these last two sentences.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ever Need a Follow Up Reminder?

So, getting a Mac was my first step; finding the website Lifehacker was my second step; and my final step into geek-dom was joining Twitter, where I can follow other gadget geeks. I came across this nifty tip today and have used it with almost every email I sent out today.

It is a great follow up tool. Click the link and watch the video.

FollowUpThen: Free, Fast and Simple Email Reminder

Posted using ShareThis

"What would you say that you do here?"

Over the past the past six months, I have desired to write more.  Starting this blog was one avenue to write on a consistent basis.  I don't really care about people reading (well, that is a lie).

Communication is important, and there are many different mediums.  For instance, it is a life-dream of mine to write a screenplay.  I would like it to be made into a movie, but I am realistic about those chances.  Still, writing a screenplay swirls in the back of my mind.

I also think it would be cool to write a novel.  I appreciate the abilities of Lewis, Tolkien, and Rowling to weave a world with their words (how about that for alliteration; I didn't even edit that for style!).  However, I do not think I have the mental fortitude to tell a story worth telling.  There is nothing I could say that hasn't been said already.  (I have a theory that whenever I have a thought I should search C.S. Lewis' writings first. [Related post about this])

If I were to start writing more seriously (I mean, how serious is blogging, right?), than I would want to be an essayist.  Not only is that more romantic than saying, "I'm a writer," but who does it anymore?  Emerson?  Lewis?  Twain?  I'm sure there are fascinating essayists out there.  I suppose I haven't heard about them because they aren't dead yet.  That is an interesting thought to consider: what's going to happen to people's blogs when they die?  Will college students of the future be required to read Blog Anthology of 21st Century, Vols. 1-1,000?  It would probably be something else I never read in college.

I promise I have a point with this post.  I was thinking about writing this morning and a conversation happened in my head (no, I didn't hear voices).  The conversation began, "What do you do?"  This of course made me think of Office Space.  Please be advised that the video below does contain profanities; it's still funny though.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Until the Dust Settles


Social media works.  I am convinced.  It is amazing how fast information (old and new) zooms around the vast vaccum called the internet.  So much information lost in its space waiting to be accessed.

Although I participate in the technology and affirm its benefits, I try to keep it within reality.  So, consider my pondering mere speculation; it is not a prediction.  I am not smart enough nor well-informed enough to stay ahead of the trends to make predictions.  

Social media (perhaps, just speculating) may grow into a never ending black hole of lost information.  A blog post here, a tweet there will never be seen because something else got posted a micro-click later.  Thus, for social media to continue as is, it must maintain its purpose: communication.  If it no longer serves as a means for communication or collaboration (both positives) towards productive results, than social media will implode just like the housing bubble with no valuable content to hold it up.

Until the dust settles...I am perfectly content in making a few posts, sharing a few links, spending "facetime" with my family, friends, neighbors, and reading a good ol' fashioned book.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Helpful Tool


Memorizing Scripture is hard for me.  Not because I can't memorize, but because I rarely make time for it. 

I have been following Christ Jesus for about ten years now.  In the earlier days, I committed a lot of Scripture to memory; since then much has been lost.  This saddens and convicts me.  I want God's word in my head and on my heart.

My renewed desire to memorize Scripture started with a modest goal: memorize one verse per week.  Memorize Now is a tool that I am using to do just this. 

No registration is required.  You create "cards" of any text you want (not just Scripture) to memorize.  There are various ways to help you memorize: letters or whole words can be removed.  My favorite tool shows the first letter of each word.  Click the "save" tab and follow the directions.  There are other online memorizing tools, but I am currently dabbling with this one.  Go check it out for yourself!

Can you guess what verse the picture shows?

Related Post:
Who Knows?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Give Yourself an Assignment

Last week I mentioned that I would begin a weekly(ish) post: "Give Yourself and Assignment."  Take them as merely ideas.  More than anything they cultivate my idea generating temperament.  Some will be good, others will be bad.  If at any point you decide to follow through with one of the ideas, please leave a comment and share how it went. 

Today's brainstorm:
  • call your mom and/or dad
  • start going to the same coffee shop; become a "regular"
  • take a half day off from work for a "prayer retreat."  
  • consider a theological, philosophical, political, and/or economic viewpoint (aren't they usually interwoven?) different from your own.  Learn about that opposing viewpoint from someone who holds it.  Listen.  Try to understand.  Be able to articulate their position accurately and fairly (so they would say, "Yes, that is what I believe.")  Then be able to articulate your own position accurately and clearly.  Don't use strawmen.  May your words be seasoned with grace, love, and truth.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Give Yourself an Assignment (Weekend Edition)

I think I am going to do a post like this once every week or two. I am probably doing it more for me, but I do it also to encourage you. Just think of me as the "idea guy."

Today's Brainstorm:
  1. Go ice skating.
  2. Sleep in on Saturday; wake up and make pancakes.
  3. Think of a question. Go ask the same question to 5 different people to hear/learn from their perspectives.
  4. Write a letter to a friend or family member. (An actual, hand written one!)
Related Post:
Give Yourself an Assignment (first edition)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This is funny to me...and so true.

This guy is sick and tired of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton.  This only confirms what Lewis said about reading:
"It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones."
I recommend reading the rest of his comments relating to reading old books to modern books in his Introduction to St. Athanasius' On the Incarnation.

'Mercy killing' not part of law

'Mercy killing' not part of law: "An Old Bailey judge sums up in the trial of a mother accused of murdering her son who was brain-damaged in an accident."

This is very interesting in light of recent discussion in England in particular, and Europe in general. What do you think about it?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes

Below are some of his quotes. These quotes and more come from here.

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

"
Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better."

"
An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law."

"Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them."

"A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan."

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."

The Same Movie on the Same Row

What do a bridge, a road, a school, and a national holiday have in common?  They all are named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.  There is plenty of written history about this man and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, so I am not going to write in length about that.  He is probably most well known for his "I Have a Dream" speech, which you can watch on any number of websites and blogs today.  For instance, you can watch it here.  Today I want to briefly write something more personal in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Twice this month I have gone to the movie theater, and both times I have gone to the restroom following the movie.  And both times I was deeply moved by the experience of washing my hands next to an older black man.  Not too long ago there were separate toilets, separate water fountains, separate schools, separate restaurants.  "Separate but equal" is not equal.  So this MLK Day, I am thankful to be able to wash my hands next to a black man and enjoy the same movie on the same row. 

It makes sense for people of minority races to honor and celebrate MLK Day.  It also makes sense for whites (that's me, a white guy) to honor and celebrate him.  You see, the oppressor has the false perception of feeling superior and the oppressed has the real perception (but also false) of feeling inferior; however, the oppressors' dignity is also stolen when wickedness and injustice is committed against the oppressed.  Correcting that injustice, in a way, restores the God-given dignity of both sides.

The laws have changed, but the battle of the heart continues to rage.  Praise God that he ultimately judges with righteousness, justice, and equity!  Praise God that in Christ Jesus there is "not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:9-15).  He is the one the transforms and renews our hearts and restores our brokenness.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Comment Sections

I confess I read the comment sections on websites and blogs. I don't recommend doing this all the time or waste a lot of time doing it; nevertheless, it is an interesting exercise.

Go to youtube. Go to any news website that gets a lot of traffic. Just read and observe what's said. Follow people's flow of thought. Do they reference something in the article? Do they address a previous comment? Perhaps they do not address the content directly, rather they address the person (positively or negatively). What's the tone of their comment? This exercise is especially illuminating upon public discourse, values, and worldview regardless of how important the topic–or trivial. What is said in these rapid-fire scenarios often reveals what we truly believe.

Yes, to be sure the internet provides a certain level of anonymity, which gives the commenter the perceived permission to blast anything and everything that spews forth from his/her mind and heart. But that in of itself presents an interesting view into the human condition. It is not natural to love; it is not natural to build up. All the more important to be transformed from within, and then have love and encouragement overflow into every situation. Jesus is so good at this; why can't we be more like him? I want to be more like him.

P.S. If you do this, don't be shocked by the potential vulgarity.

Related Post:
Give Yourself an Assignment

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Give Yourself an Assignment

Do something.  Doesn't matter what it is.  Do something.  Give yourself an assignment; follow through with it.

Today's Brainstorm:
  • Paint a bookshelf (which I did this morning)
  • Go eat lunch with a friend (which I will do later)
  • Go interview somebody that interests you; perhaps a person from a previous generation.  Ask them how they see the world.  What has changed?  Do they see the changes as positive or negative?  Who or what has helped influence them to be who they are now?
  • Read a book about something you know absolutely nothing about. 

Chris Wright's Book

Yesterday I mentioned Chris Wright's book, The God I Don't Understand. It is an honest reflection on some of the most difficult theological and philosophical questions of all time: evil and suffering. So far I have only read the first two chapters. Below is a breakdown of the section headings and chapter names.

What about Evil and Suffering?
The Mystery of Evil
The Offence of Evil
The Defeat of Evil
What about the Canaanites?
The Canaanites––Three Dead Ends
The Canaanites––Three Frameworks
What about the Cross?
The Cross––Why and What?
The Cross––How?
The Cross––According to the Scriptures
What about the End of the World
Cranks and Controversies
The Great Climax
The New Beginning

Related Post:
I Don't Understand Either

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Posting by Email-I am so Behind the Times

Testing the email posting feature. This might revolutionize how I do posts. Probably not, though.

I Don't Understand Either

This winter break I have been reading books that interest me versus what has been assigned for class.  Don't get me wrong, I love the content of my classes, but sometimes it is refreshing to read something because you want to read something.  Perhaps towards the end of the month I will post something about what I have been reading.

But for now I want to mention one book in particular.  The book is titled The God I Don't Understand by Chris Wright.  I have only read the first two chapters; so far so good.  Chapter Two (The Offence of Evil) is especially timely because of the current crisis in Haiti.  Part of this chapter talks specifically about natural disasters.

We all respond to such circumstances differently; likewise, we respond to the news of such circumstances differently.  Here are two links which give two very different responses.  The first one seeks to quickly mobilize relief funds.  The second one tries to provide an answer.  Ironically, I found the second link from a twitter page (the person tweeting it was not doing so because he agreed with the person).  Helpful use of media.  Unhelpful use of media. 

I will close with one more twitter reference.  Pat's attempt at answers pales in comparison to John Piper's response––tears, sorrow, and continued trust in God.

He first wrote, "Weeping over these pictures from Haiti. http://ow.ly/W7rY

and then, "When words (almost) fail. I wrote a poem this morning about Jesus in Haiti. http://ow.ly/W7EY."

I think John Piper's response is the more biblical one.