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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.

and then, "When words (almost) fail. I wrote a poem this morning about Jesus in Haiti."

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

Mere Chicago.

My wife and I live in St. Louis.  Over the past year and half we have talked about spending a weekend in Chicago.  Now I am more excited about that visit; last week she bought a Chicago/moleskin city notebook on sale at one of her favorite stores (she loves finding deals)!

I am a growing fan of moleskin notebooks.  This book includes street maps; pages for planning an itinerary; plenty of space for journaling the trip; and tabbed sections for recording restaurants, entertainment, and tourist spots.  

We look forward to going...sometime after the winter cold!  This is one attraction we must see–the Shedd Aquarium.

Related Posts:
Mere the city

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Google Reader as a filing system

No matter one's vocation, there are needs for ongoing education. I think google reader can be used for just that.

My purposes are geared to my interests and my current calling, which is to be a seminary student preparing for future vocational ministry. So I pass this idea on for fellow seminarians and for current/future pastors; however, I think using Google Reader this way would prove beneficial for any professional career.

The picture is a screenshot of how I currently set up my Google Reader. I have folders, which I assign my websites and blogs. The number in parentheses next to the folder designates unread feeds. Some sites I check pretty much every day; others I check occasionally; some I very quickly skim the headline and only read what catches my eye. This is based on personal priorities. Setting priorities is a must for this to be maintained as a tool versus it becoming a snare and a time-waster.

I then organize posts with tags for further reference. I don't tag everything, and often I assign multiple tags for a given post. These tags are always a work in progress. Occasionally I consolidate categories, and I have edited and even deleted tags that prove unhelpful to my purposes.

I have two main goals for this:
  1. Ongoing learning by reading a breadth of material (things I agree and disagree with). Doing this increases awareness and sharpens my critical thinking.
  2. It is a filing system for illustrations, great ideas, articles I would reference again, etc.
Happy Reading!

Abusus Non Tollit Usum

If you have been reading my blog at all or if you know me very well, then you would know that I am an information junky. I use google reader, the one-stop shop for all my digital perusing. However, I recently added Twitter as a medium for checking out the latest news and links. This has been really effective to follow companies or products that I would like to learn more about but not interested enough to follow their blog. I also use it to share links that I find interesting. Check me out at twitter.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

You've got to check this out!

Have you ever heard about "sand painting?"  I have seen it once before while wasting time on youtube.  You know how that happens–you follow a link to youtube.  Then you click a "related video" link in the sidebar...then another...then another.  You do that several more times before waking up from your screen dream.  It always amazes me where I end up.  Hopefully, the video below doesn't cause a similar distraction. 

The below video: Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine's version of "America's Got Talent." She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and "sand painting" skills to interpret Germany's invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII [description quoted from the info box].

Of course, I lack the context to fully appreciate the music and the story she is telling.  Nevertheless, she is extremely talented.  The music, the drama, the remembering, the storytelling are very moving–you can see it in the audience members' tears.  I can only imagine the sorrow experienced by people in similar situations.  

The nations continue to rage and kings plot.  Oh how I long in hopeful expectation for the coming Day when such sorrow is no more!