Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Some Resources on Humility

As someone who struggles in my pursuit of humility, this response by John Piper during his "Ask Pastor John" feature at Desiring God was very helpful.
"We should be amazed that God has treated us so generously. Laboring to see that means we must know our sin and know the cross well.
Other resources: C.J. Mahaney's book, Humility: True Greatness is amazing, and written by someone who truly attempts, by God's grace, to live it out.

Some of Mahaney's ideas were used by Mark Driscoll in a sermon on Philippians:

Obama Denounces Wright

Yesterday, Senator Barack Obama had these comments about his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright:



What do you think? Has Wright changed drastically recently and Obama was genuinely surprised at the things being said? Is he just trying to distance himself now that it's affecting the campaign? Do you believe this is really the first time he's heard these types of things from Wright?

Either way, it's interesting to see that he's now gone from defending certain comments to vehemently denouncing them. The comments he refers to are the same ones that surfaced months ago. What changed?

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Also, check out this article by Thabiti Anyabwile. He uses the Wright situation to give advice to younger pastors on how things could (I think should) have been handled. WELL worth the read.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An Arminian Perspective on the "New Calvinists"

Thomas McCall has a great guest post on Justin Taylor's "Between Two Worlds" Blog about the "New Calvinists," which is a group into which I would likely fit. This group consists of mainly young Christians who have found a renewed desire for theology, and more specifically, the sovereignty of God. An Arminian, and therefore theologically very different, McCall has some great perspective on the movement. He is able to praise the things about it that glorify God, while at the same time humbly pointing out areas that could be concerning. From my own personal experience, he is dead on with the concerns, especially the arrogance. It's kind of a long post, but definitely worth the read if you are a Calvinist, or come in contact with anyone of that persuasion on a regular basis.

If you're a Christian and have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, here's a brief introduction on the differences between "Calvinists" and "Arminians." It essentially has to do with how God saves sinners. Does God offer salvation and hope people will make a free will choice to follow Him, or does He choose people and change their hearts so that they will follow Him? It may sound unimportant, but this shapes your view of God, and thus is extremely important to understand why you believe either way.

Here's a clip from Mark Driscoll examining the differences. Also, if you want a little more depth, Tim Challies did a series examining the differences, which you can find here.

*Disclaimer: Driscoll is a Calvinist, but I think he does a good job of presenting both sides here.



RSS Readers: A How-To

If you read one or more blogs on a somewhat regular basis, you should be using RSS. What is RSS? Abraham Piper explains this and has a good How-To on Google's RSS Reader. Definitely worth checking out if you don't understand this VERY helpful technology (I keep up with about 30 or so blogs and do so with minimal time - I use NetVibes, but Google's reader is good, too).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Love is Not a Fight

Warren Barfield, one of my favorite Christian singers (also one of my wife's favorites) has a new CD coming out May 20th. This is the first single off that album, called "Love is not a fight."

Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in and then commit to never leave
So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We'll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees...

Love is not a fight, but it's something worth fighting for...



Leah, by God's grace, I will do everything I can to love you right for the rest of our lives.

Screwtape in the 21st Century

Douglas Groothius channels C.S. Lewis with Screwtape's take on technology.

A sample:

"I once spied [our man] with his iPod blasting in his ears while he was looking at his lap top and talking on his cell phone! It made my week. He seldom reads, but was able to get a 3.5 GPA at the university by his native smarts, a lot of BS, and plenty of easy classes filled with PowerPoint graphics, film clips, and so on. And he thanks God for all of it. How I love this kind of faith. It is positively contagious in America: so much money, so much freedom, so little knowledge. We are doing well here, Wormwood..."


Update 4/29: The Washington Post has a review of "Screwtape," a play adapted from Lewis' book. This sounds very interesting:

"...audience members interested in spiritual reflection will certainly find food for thought -- and mortification -- in this dramatization. But the fiendish reality the production conjures is colorful enough to appeal to theatergoers of any, or no, religious persuasion. The Devil is an equal-opportunity entertainer."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Testimony of God's Grace

From C.J. Mahaney's talk at the Resurgence Conference in Seattle entitled, "Pastoral Character and Loving People." He speaks about looking for evidences of God's grace, which leads him to discuss his own testimony and how God called him. Amazing testimony.
video

View the entire lecture here (you'll have to select C.J.'s as they have all the sermons from the conference).

Needtobreathe - Washed by the Water

Thursday, April 24, 2008

3 Doors Down - It's Not My Time

Thought this was cool. I like 3 Doors Down anyway and the song is cool, but the video is sweet and was shot in downtown Cincinnati, OH. The free-runner in this does some crazy stuff. Check it out:
video

Ricky Henderson-isms

For those of you who don't know, Ricky Henderson is a baseball player who owns several major league records and is generally considered to be the greatest lead-off hitter ever...and also the most conceited. I happened to have some insider knowledge of his arrogance. A friend sent me these today and I just had to share. Ricky also has a little Mike Tyson logic in him...

My favorites:
1) Rickey… on referring to himself in the third person: “Listen, people are always saying, ‘Rickey says Rickey.’ But it’s been blown way out of proportion. People might catch me, when they know I’m ticked off, saying, ‘Rickey, what the heck are you doing, Rickey?’ They say, ‘Darn, Rickey, what are you saying Rickey for? Why don’t you just say, ‘I?’ But I never did. I always said, ‘Rickey,’ and it became something for people to joke about.”

2) In the early 1980s, the Oakland A’s accounting department was freaking out. The books were off $1 million. After an investigation, it was determined Rickey was the reason why. The GM asked him about a $1 million bonus he had received and Rickey said instead of cashing it, he framed it and hung it on a wall at his house.


4) Ricky called San Diego GM Kevin Towers and left the following message: “This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.”

7) Moments after breaking Lou Brock's stolen base record, Henderson told the crowd - with Brock mere feet next to him - "Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest of all-time."

15) A reporter once asked Rickey if he talked to himself, “Do I talk to myself? No, I just remind myself of what I’m trying to do. You know, I never answer myself so how can I be talking to myself?”
There's 25 of them here. Trust me, they're worth the time.

Piper on Retirement

John Piper on retirement, as part of the "Ask Pastor John" feature at DesiringGod.org.

His conclusion:
Put a governor on your life. Make as much as you can, give as much as you can, and save what you need to in order to be a responsible non-borrower. Then do retirement with some minimalistic plan that frees you up for gospel ministry till the day you drop.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

3,000 Strikeouts for One

John Smoltz, pitcher of 20 years for my favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, reached a milestone last night that few before have been able to obtain. In a game against the Washington Nationals, on a 2-2 splitter to Felipe Lopez, Smoltz struck out his 3,000th batter of his career. He is only the 16th pitcher in MLB history to strike out that many.

Terrance Moore from the Atlanta Journal Constitution has a good story on Smoltz and the game last night.

Now, despite the fact that my wife has a somewhat-creepy crush on him, John is, and will be until he retires, my favorite player. Not only is he a great competitor who can dominate on the mound in any circumstances, he is a man of integrity and a man of God who follows Jesus Christ. His charity work has been well-documented, and he routinely speaks at events for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and has shared his testimony on "Faith Day" for the Atlanta Braves.

In an interview with "Sharing the Victory" magazine about FCA, John said: "People ask me how I can go out and pitch in front of 45-50 thousand people. I tell them I'm not pitching for 45-50 thousand people. I'm pitching for One."

Here's an article from CBN about Smoltz, and here's some videos to commemorate this milestone for John:

A recap of the game where it happened (he struck out 10 in the game in 7 innings):
video

The tribute they showed on the video board at Turner Field in Atlanta when it happened (done by a hand-held camera, so it's not perfect, but still worth seeing):


Congrats John, and thanks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New Attitude Conference

If you're a young single person or young married couple and live in this part of the country, this looks like an amazing conference. It's from New Attitude and will feature John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and Joshua Harris. It's May 24-27. Check out the trailer below:

Guess this TV Theme

Can you guess this old TV show theme? This was one of my favorite shows as a kid. It was the reason I owned a pocketknife as a kid.

I Love the World

Tim Challies pointed out this commercial for the Discovery Channel. As far as commercials go, I think this is pretty cool.

10 Ways Darwinians Help ID

Related to the discussion being stimulated by the movie Expelled, Joe Carter at the Evangelical Outpost has a three-part post on how Darwinians actually have inadvertently helped the case for Intelligent Design.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Monday, April 21, 2008

Expelled Reviews

Reviews for the movie Expelled are beginning to roll in:

Brent Bozell (Townhall.com)

"Everyone should take the opportunity to see "Expelled" -- if nothing else, as a bracing antidote to the atheism-friendly culture of PC liberalism."

Radical Womanhood

"...sometimes a vote with the wallet at the box office can be quite meaningful. In the case of Expelled, it is not only a vote for a diversity of film topics, it is also a vote for the preservation of free speech and scientific inquiry."

C. Michael Patton (Reclaiming the Mind)

"I don’t really like propaganda. I don’t like spins. I don’t like misrepresentation. Even though I am all for the ID movement, I highly expected this movie to make my face red. It did not. In fact, I think that the producers and writers proposed a humble agenda and accomplished this, giving people a educational video that should well outlast its Hollywood light."

Douglas Groothuis (The Constructive Curmudgeon)

"While the major news outlets are viciously attacking “Expelled” as creationist propaganda (and they didn't have to actually see it to say that), the fact is that the film reveals a systematic, unfair, and deeply un-American suppression of ID thought in the academy. The Darwinian inquisitors make Joseph McCarthy look like a girl scout. "

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Together For the Gospel Conference

Tim Challies has a great roundup post on the T4G Conference in Louisville, KY. The conference had speakers such as John MacArthur, John Piper, RC Sproul, Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, and others. My father-in-law actually attended the conference and said it was amazing. I was traveling last week and unfortunately couldn't go. Tim Challies' post, though, has summaries of most of the talks. Thanks Tim!

You can also go to T4G.org for more information and the audio from all of the talks.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Signature of Divine (Yahweh)

Check out this video from the band Needtobreathe. It's a great song and the video was completely produced by the band on a very limited budget. Here's what JesusFreakHideout.com had to say about the song in their review of their latest album, The Heat:
"...the record really hits the high note with soaring worship on "Signature of Divine (Yahweh)," a song that arguably packs more punch lyrically and musically than a lot of songs coming from the worship genre today."
You can also hear samples from their album, The Heat, at the very bottom of this page.






Mommy's New Belly

Wow...Newsweek has a feature on a new children's book about plastic surgery. Yes, you read that correctly: a children's book on plastic surgery. Again, wow.

The caption:
Tapping into what may be a growing market, a plastic surgeon has written and published a book for the children of women who have cosmetic surgery procedures like breast implants, tummy tucks and nose jobs. 'My Beautiful Mommy' by Dr. Michael Salzhauer aims to reassure kids that Mom's bruises and bandages are just temporary, and that the new, improved mommy won't be different, just 'prettier.'
Joshua Harris has more on his blog.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Need a Good Laugh?

Check these out:



This is Utterly Disgusting...

A senior student at Yale is being honored for her senior art project. Her "art": a display featuring blood samples and videos from her repeated artificially-inseminated pregnancies, and then subsequent purposeful miscarriages. Numerous times, she made herself pregnant, only to then take "herbal" drugs to induce a miscarriage and kill the child. Just to be clear, both the National Right to Life Committee and the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America have condemned the "project." See here for the whole story.

This is getting really disgusting...

Update 11/8: so now there's some controversy over whether she actually did this or it's just "creative fiction." Either way, it's still repulsive...

Anti-Life?

So a resolution welcoming the Pope to the United States was unacceptable to "Anti-life" Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif due to "offensive language."

Here is the sentence that she refused to allow:
"Whereas Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out for the weak and vulnerable, witnessing to the value of each and every human life."
Seriously? She doesn't want people to speak for the weak and value human life? That's interesting.

My Friend's Dad

I just found out that the father of one of my best friends since I was very young has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I know the man very well and he is a caring, thoughtful person who I have always loved being around and talking with. Please pray that God would heal him and use this to His glory in some way. Also pray that Larry would be strengthened and grow closer to the Lord through it.

If you happened to be a member on Facebook, you can join a group there that will be fasting for Larry next week. Even if you aren't, please join if fasting next Monday if you want.

We love you Larry and will be praying for you.

Oprah's Cult?

Very interesting article by Roger Friedman for FoxNews on Oprah affliation and endorsement of Eckhart Tolle's book and seminars. I don't know if Roger Friedman is a Christian or not (I have some reasons to suspect he's not), but either way, his analysis of the situation is solid.

He explains how Eckhart's philosophy was born out of a checkered history and a book that "wanted to be written."

Friedman writes:

Oprah’s response to this: "It’s like Michelangelo says the angel’s in the marble and he just cuts away the marble."

Well, not quite.

His books, "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth," are the same gobbledygook as most New Age stuff. They’re all about self-empowering and how to find out who we are. "Awakening" is Tolle’s key word. Tolle is very busy enforcing moments of silence and showing his readers how to find their "pain-body."

Nothing new there. And nothing new for Oprah, who’s now so wildly wealthy that she’s exceeded literally any famous person she might interview. Parade magazine puts her 2007 income at $260 million, the most of any celebrity and $150 million more than Steven Spielberg, the most successful filmmaker of all time. So what can she do besides anoint presidential candidates or start a religion?

He goes on to detail Oprah's support of Scientology and Rhonda Byrnes The Secret. I realize that many people idolize Oprah and I don't deny that she does many good things with her power, but it's about time people started to wake up to what she's actually promoting. Coming from anyone else, she'd probably just be laughed at.

For another perspective, check out this good (although a little dated) article by Mark Driscoll on Oprah.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Jacob Michael Munoz

My wife, Leah, posted some pictures and a slideshow from a recent photo shoot she did. The baby is Jacob Micheal, the newest addition to Michael and Emily's family. He was just born on March 30, so he's still fresh out the oven. Check out the great pictures and slideshow my wife put together of this beautiful child. Congrats Michael and Emily!

Hallelujah

Myles Kennedy of the band Alter Bridge singing one of my all-time favorite songs acoustic.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ESV Study Bible

So I'm a total theology dork and love new resources to help my study, so today is a very good day for me. Crossway has released a lot of new information about it's new ESV (English Standard Version) Study Bible. Looks like it may replace my Reformation Study Bible.

Check out Justin Taylor (one of the managing editors) with some more details.

And check out some of these endorsements (if you know me or read my blog at all, you'll understand why I'm excited about this):

John Piper:

The ESV is a dream come true for me. The rightful heir to a great line of historic translations, it provides the continuity and modern accuracy I longed for. Now the scope and theological faithfulness of the ESV Study Bible study notes is breathtaking. Oh how precious is the written Word of God.

Mark Driscoll:

The ESV Study Bible is the most important resource that has been given to the emerging generation of Bible students and teachers. The ESV Study Bible is the best. Period.

Randy Alcorn:

Wow! Concise, lucid, enlightening—the ESV Study Bible is an amazing resource. With its textual fidelity, doctrinal substance, and artistic beauty, the ESV Study Bible will be an immense help to all who hunger for God-breathed Scripture. I wholeheartedly recommend this exceptional resource.

C. J. Mahaney:

I can’t imagine a greater gift to the body of Christ than the ESV Study Bible. It is a potent combination indeed: the reliability and readability of the ESV translation, supplemented by the best of modern and faithful scholarship, packaged in an accessible and attractive format. A Christian could make no wiser investment for himself, a pastor could recommend no better resource for his congregation.

Functional Faith

Al Mohler with a great article on discerning what politicians are actually saying when they speak of their "faith."

He says:
"No one but God knows Sen. Obama's heart, but we are left with his words. In this case, the words are very similar to what is so often heard from political figures. When speaking of their own faith they often speak of how it functions. Sen. Clinton spoke this way at the "Compassion Forum" at Messiah College on Sunday night, but we must note that Republicans often speak the same way -- valuing "faith" as if faith has no object."
You hear this from regular people all the time also, talking about how their faith has helped them through difficult times. Obviously, it can do that, but let us be very clear when speaking about our faith. Faith it not the end but the means to another object: the man Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross as a substitution for our sins, rose again and is seated at God's right hand.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Clinton and Obama on Abortion

From a forum on faith and politics at Messiah College:

Hillary Clinton:

"I believe the potential for life begins at conception," Clinton said. "For me, it is also not only about a potential life. It is about the other lives involved. ... I have concluded, after great, you know, concern and searching my own mind and heart over many years, ... that individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision, because the alternative would be such an intrusion of government authority that it would be very difficult to sustain in our kind of open society."

The New York senator added that abortion should remain legal, safe and rare.

2 things...

1) The statement that individuals must be entrusted to "make this profound decision" is scary and shows a profound trust in people. It's a very post-modern statement that says the person who becomes pregnant has the best-functioning moral compass and should be responsible for determining if a human lives or dies.

2) I also don't understand her reasoning that abortion should be rare. I don't think this statement is just a way to try and placate Independents that don't really like abortion. I think she really means it. But if it's not a child anyway, why does it matter if they are rare? Why should we try to limit them if there is truly nothing wrong with it?

From Obama:

"This is something that I have not, I think, come to a firm resolution on. I think it's very hard to know what that means, when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? ... What I know, as I've said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we're having these debates."
I find this fascinating. He hasn't come to a firm resolution? He's not sure if it's a child or not, but in the meantime it's ok to kill them because they may or may not be living humans yet? I was under the impression that he had considered the issue and knew for certain what he believed about when life began (apparently only at 9 months, healthy, and when the mother says so...see here). To say that he's not even certain makes his support even more disconcerting to me.

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Overall, the debate was quite interesting and I think the fact that the discussion was had was a good thing. I truly hope that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are really Christians. It's hard for me to understand how they can hold certain beliefs if they are, but there are also things I think I can learn from their version of faith. I think the social aspect of liberal Christianity is something sorely missing in many evangelical congregations. Reminds me to follow the Christ of the Bible, and only Him.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Shout to the Lord on American Idol

Josh Harris has had a couple of posts on American Idol's performance of Shout to the Lord, and has gained some inside scoop based on comments in response to those posts. Very interesting and encouraging to remember God is at work everywhere, even Hollywood.

In case you missed it, scroll down to Thursday, April 10th to see the clip.

Do Hard Things

Randy Alcorn on the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris, two teenagers who started the website The Rebelution. Randy's recommendation for the book:

Do Hard Things is an extraordinary book. In fact, I believe it will prove to be one of the most life-changing, family-changing, church-changing and culture-changing books of this generation.

Alex and Brett are the real deal, Christ-centered young men of character and vision, committed to serving Jesus with humility and excellence.

I read countless books but this is one of the most unique, defining and important ones I've ever seen. It is paradigm-shifting, revolutionary, liberating and hope-instilling. While I'd love for every teenager to read Do Hard Things, I'm just as eager for every parent, church leader and educator to read it.

God spoke to me and encouraged and challenged me through Do Hard Things. If you do the hard thing of saying no to distractions and yes to this remarkable book, I guarantee you'll be richly rewarded.

Friday, April 11, 2008

ESV Study Bible

Mark Driscoll got a sneak peak at the new ESV Study Bible, out October 15th this year.

A sample:
To test my hypothesis, I showed the confidential proofs to some of our newly converted, well-tattooed indie rockers and they reported that it looked “filthy” and “sick”—for those of you who wear khaki pleated pants and tuck in your shirt, this is a really good endorsement. So, thank you Crossway for the “filthy sick” ESV Study Bible.

Wildcat Dominance and my Dad

Ok, I'm sure the interest in this will be minimal for most people, but as the UK basketball kind of let me down this year, I must acknowledge the great performance of the University of Kentucky baseball team. They have been solid the past few years, and this year they are off to a 26-5 start and are ranked number 9 in the country. Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill are tearing it up for the my dad's former team.

Speaking of my dad, I'm going to brag on him for a second. Before playing in the A's minor league system, the "White LeRoy" played at UK and achieved the following honors I could locate:

First Team All-SEC (1976)
All SEC Eastern Division (1975, 1976, 1977)
GTE Academic All-American
- First Team (1976)
- Second Team (1977)
Academic All-SEC (1976, 1977)

Check here for the proof.

Clarifying the Bible

Mitch Maher has what appears to be a great resource on understanding the big picture of the Bible called Clarifying the Bible. Also, see Justin Taylor's blog Between Two Worlds for Mitch Maher's comments in response to a post Justin had on Clarifying the Bible there.

Part of the description:

You have probably been told at some point in your life, “You just need to read the Bible,” or “You just need to study the Scriptures.” But, if you are like most people, nobody has ever taken you by the hand and said, “Before you jump into the Bible, let me introduce you to it first. Let me walk you through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, show you the lay of the land, and give you a bit of confidence as you read and study for yourself.” That is just what Clarifying The Bible does.

If you would like to feel more comfortable as you dive into the greatest Book ever written, then Clarifying The Bible is for you!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bueller...? Intelligent Design...?

Ben Stein, of Ferris Bueller and "Win Ben Stein's Money" fame, has set out to expose the bias and suppressive nature of Big Science is his new movie, Expelled. Check out the trailer below and check out the movie, in theaters April 18th. Looks like it could be very interesting.

Buckner and the Sox

Erik Raymond (a.k.a. The Irish Calvinist) with a great post on The Boston Red Sox, Bill Buckner, and worship. Bill Buckner, he of Red Sox lore, was recently welcomed to throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game. This is a man who has been hated in Boston ever since he failed to keep his glove down on a ground ball that cost the Red Sox the World Series. Cool moment for Buckner, but what was the true motivation behind it? The Irish Calvinist's take is that people love to worship.

I'll try to remember this the next time I sacrifice all else to spend 3 hours praying in front of my TV during an Atlanta Braves game...

Shout to the Lord

American Idol had their "Idol Gives Back" night last night. I think this is a great thing they do. They have a huge name and use that name to bring attention to poverty and other problems around the world and raise a lot of money to help.

Interestingly enough, they closed the show last night with the top 8 contestants singing "Shout to the Lord," a Christian praise song. I love that this song was sung during prime time during a show that reached millions and millions of people. I don't know for sure what their motivation in choosing this song was, but the performance was amazing and Christ was glorified either way. Gives me chills seeing that done on a show like american idol.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Redeemer, Not Religion

"We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles. We offer people a Redeemer."

-Paul David Tripp, Instruments In The Redeemer's Hands, p. 8

Sola Scriptura

Sola Scriptura: This term means that Scripture alone is our highest authority. As Mark Driscoll outlines briefly in this clip, we may have other sources we go to, but the Bible alone is the highest authority that trumps all others. Also, check out the Reformation Study Bible, my personal favorite (ESV translation).

Planned Parenthood's Quandry

They were founded by a woman who said abortions were necessary to weed out "the problem of the dependent, delinquent and defective elements in modern society." 80% of their "clinics" are located in minority neighborhoods. What began as a movement to eliminate the unwanted parts of society has morphed into a claim of protecting "reproductive health" and allowing control of an individual's body. They've gone from being unashamedly racist to a more subtle form.

Tough to ignore the actions and statistics detailed here. How do they defend the fact that the abortion rate is FAR higher among black women without sounding racist? Hard not to.

And as a side note, the picture above is my nephew A.J. How anyone could consider this beautiful baby anything less than a gift from the Lord to be treasured is beyond me. He is not a punishment, regardless of what any mis-guided politician might say.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Timeless Tips for Being Clear

In keeping with the spirit of the 7 Deadly Words post:

John Piper posts C.S. Lewis' 5 Tips for Clear Writing and Talking.
  1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn't mean anything else.
  2. Always prefer the clean direct word to the long, vague one. Don't implement promises, but keep them.
  3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean "More people died" don't say "Mortality rose."
  4. In writing, don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers "Please, will you do my job for me."
  5. Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite
Great advice for remaining clear and humble in communication.

Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide!

You need to be aware of this chemical compound that you've likely come in contact with already today. Go here to learn more about it, then check out the video below of people getting involved to ban it:



*Sorry about the language a couple times in this, but I thought it was still worth watching.

7 Deadly Words of Book Reviewing

Bob Harris has a very "intriguing" look at some of the words book reviewers overuse. I mean, seriously, who actually has ever spoken the word "eschew"?

The same exercise would be fun to do for sports analysts. Words like amazing, great, and unbelievable are used to describe the 2nd guy off the bench on a mid-major basketball team. I'm not even just talking about Dicky V; they all make it sound as if these performances are so amazing as to defy description. Question, though: If so many "unbelievable" plays are being made every day, at some point shouldn't we start believing?

Monday, April 7, 2008

He has the what?

I like Mike Hampton, I really do. Despite all the injuries and the big salary that has basically gone to waste. I feel for the guy who has essentially been injured for 2 and a half years straight now. I'm not one of those Braves fans who blames him, I just think he's had an extraordinary run of bad luck.

The other night, he was prepared to make his first start in 31 and a half months, only to strain a pectoral muscle (completely unrelated to his other injuries and a fluke). Emotionally, that had to be tough.

But this line by Jeff Schulz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution was great:

"Mike Hampton suddenly has the durability of a Peep in a microwave."

Ouch.

Still Growing (Pains)

Tim Challies reviews Kirk Cameron's book, Still Growing. Might be worth the read to hear how God called "Mike Seaver" from a life most would consider perfect to use those blessings to reach others with the gospel.

Playing to Win

I was watching the Kansas/UNC game the other night with Leah, and as Kansas tried to blow a 28-point first half lead, I commented to Leah that Kansas was no longer playing to win, they were playing not-to-lose. There is a distinct difference. It makes me crazy when teams play that way, trying to "use the whole shot clock" with 15 minutes left in the game, playing a "prevent defense" that does anything but...

Reminded me of this article my dad wrote about 5 years ago about the way many businesspeople react when the economy starts to go south. Pretty timely for today's circumstances as well, in business, sports, and really life in general.

Don't Waste Your Life

2 short videos from Desiring God's "Don't Waste Your Life" ministry. John Piper convicts, and then encourages, on how to not waste your life:



It's Awesome, Baby!

Dick Vitale announced on ESPN radio today that he will be a member of the 2008 class inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. I can't say I always like the guy, and trying to ignore his borderline worship of Mike Krzyzewski can be tough, you cannot deny the guy's passion for the game and what he does. Must be nice to feel that way about what you get paid to do.

Other members of the 2008 class included: Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, coach Pat Riley, Adrian Dantley, coach Cathy Rush, and NBA team owner Bill Davidson.

Anyway, just for fun, check out this clip from ESPN of Dicky V imploring IU to re-hire Bob Knight as their basketball coach. Knight's reaction is priceless...


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Beijing Olympics and the Persecuted Church

Randy Alcorn posts on the decision to have the Olympics in Beijing, China this year. Interesting take on the desire to have the oppressive nature of the government brought to light versus rewarding a country that suppresses human rights so vigorously. Having just been to China this past year, I can attest to the fact that many of those rights (especially religious) are in fact oppressed. I even visited an illegal house church during my time there.

If you are interested at all in learning some about the persecuted church in China, read Randy's book Safely Home. I had the privilege of reading it while living in Shanghai and much of what is detailed in the book still goes on today, based on conversations with some Chinese friends we made and some missionary friends we know living in China.

Very convicting to think about as I prepare to go to Faith Bible Church in Cincinnati, OH tomorrow morning, where I will sing loudly without fear and hear the Bible preached without threat. Reminds me of this audio clip from Mark Driscoll about how American Christians sometimes lose perspective on what persecution truly is.

It's kind of long, but quite humorous and convicting as well.

A Transgendered Twist

The confusion about genders takes a very twisted turn...This is the kind of craziness that happens when people refuse to accept God's natural distinction between genders.



The most telling line is when we learn that "she" wrote in an article that people need to "define for themselves" what normal is. How very post-modern...define the truth for yourself, and anything goes. The whole thing is very sad. This woman has a God-give desire to have children, but complicates everything instead. I'm sure her desires will cause her to love the child well, but the child will be deprived of a true father. Hopefully, he or she will grow to know his or her Heavenly Father, for whom no one is beyond reach.

For a little more on the transgendered movement and as a contrast to Oprah-ethics, check out this article by Al Mohler.

He says:
Once again, let's remember what is at stake. Christians see the reality of biological identity as a gift--one important way the Creator has told us who we are and how we are to glorify Him with our lives. To deny this is to deny the Creator's goodness, and to deny who He made us to be.

Blizzard '08

Just messing around with the iMovie software on my Mac this morning and put together this quick video of Blizzard '08. Back a few weeks, we got over a foot of snow and Leah and I decided to take our dog, Lilly, out to enjoy it. She not very big, so the snow pretty much covered her. It was a blast. Not much to the video, but this software is nice and easy.

video

The Gospel

Well if this site's going to glorify God, which is my ultimate goal, then I figured it would be good to have a presentation of the gospel here. The Apostle Paul recognized the apart from Christ and him crucified, there was nothing. The truth of the gospel informs everything in my life. So here's a clip from Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. The visual quality of the video's not great, but it's a very good, concise, accurate version of the gospel.

If you're a believer, be reminded of what we live for. If you're not a Christian, I encourage you to listen and be open to the Good News that God sent his son Jesus Christ to die in our place for our sins, paying the punishment that we deserved, drawing us to Himself to give us forgiveness and eternal life. God bless you all!

"...which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel..." 2 Timothy 1:10

Tito and the Gun Show

My Braves are taking on the New York Mets today in the first meeting between the two NL East favorites after last night's matchup was rained out. It will be Tim Hudson vs. John Maine.

In honor of Timmy's second start of the season, wanted to share this song by Tito and the Gun Show. They made a splash last year with their song about Mark Teixeira (even got to perform that song at Turner Field before a Braves game), and they came back with this Timmy Hudson ditty.

Go Bravos!

Friday, April 4, 2008

My Pride and God's Glory

I need to confess at the start of this post. This will be very prideful. Pride is a sin I struggle with, but I hope you'll permit me this once to be very prideful and boast for a minute...

While I whole-heartedly admit my bias, I must unequivocally state that my wife, Leah Robbins, is the greatest photographer on the face of the planet...ok, that's just silly because I don't know every photographer on the face of the planet, but she truly is amazing and talented. Her business, Leah Robbins Photography, specializes in weddings, but she also does portraits of families, children, babies, etc.

Her website is here for you to see for yourself:

http://www.leahrobbins.com. Like I said, I'm biased, but the results of her talent are not. You can also keep up with her work on her blog here: http://leahrobbins.blogspot.com.

I believe that God gives us talent in order to glorify Him through that talent. Leah does this. Her creativity reflects the creativity of the Creator. Her camera and God-given eye portrays his creation in a way that captures a small part of the glory He instilled in that creation to point us to Him. He created people, emotions, families, love, children, light, shadows, etc. Leah's pictures evoke a feeling of wonder that can only come from beholding God and what He has made.

Thanks Leah, for allowing me to see a reflection of God in your work and for doing it in a way that only serves to glorify Him even more. You are amazing.

Here a link to probably my favorite slideshow she's put together. My sister, Jen, recently had her 2nd child, A.J. and Leah was there, documenting the birth and capturing the grace given us in A.J.

Gotta love April...

Well...it's been raining pretty much 2 months straight. The ground is so water-logged that flooding has become a real issue in Ohio this year. But what does all this rain really mean? It's means it's April. And what does April mean?

...BASEBALL!

That's right, Leah is disappointed now because she has now lost her husband to the Atlanta Braves until October (hopefully October, that is). Now I hesitate to use the word "obsessive," but I just can't really think of another word with a less-negative connotation to describe my relationship with the team (albeit a relationship they don't know they're in and don't really reciprocate...). "Devoted," maybe? Nope, not strong enough honestly.

My Atlanta Braves (ay, they're mine...) are off to a slow 1-3 start, but neither that nor the torrential downpour can dampen my spirits. We're getting back on track this year after 2 sub-Atlanta Braves seasons. No Mike Hampton injuries, Bobby Cox ejections, or Jeff Franceour first pitch groundouts to shortstop are going to stop us. Neither will Johan Santana, David Wright, Ryan Howard, or Chase Utley. Or Billy Wagner, Carlos Beltran, Jimmy Rollins, or Cole Hamels. Wait, we are going to win the NL East, right?

Of course we are. We're going 159-3, right? Seems like that's what baseball fans expect of their teams. Are those expectation unrealistic? Or am I too "devoted"?

(Just to clarify, Leah never takes 2nd to baseball for me...at least not purposely. Besides, she has an unashamedly devoted crush on John Smoltz anyway.)

Hailey Grace

Had to take a chance to brag on my little niece, Hailey. This is a video I made a while ago from a clip and some pictures from a family vacation in Charleston. She is just the cutest thing ever...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sweep The Leg

Just had to share this...

Anyone born around the same year as me (1982) is familiar with the Karate Kid. Great movie. Profound wisdom...

Anyway, great video by the band No More Kings for their song "Sweep the Leg." Good song, hysterical video. Don't miss the cameo at the beginning either. Another person everyone my generation is very familiar with.

Emergent vs. Reformed

Are you Emergent or Reformed?

Does anyone actually fit neatly into these? They are definitely humorous, though.

(From the title of my blog, you can guess where I lean, but I prefer "biblical" to Reformed or Calvinist.)

The Trinity and The Shack

If you are a Christian and read a lot, or if you are "Emergent" and want your faith to be hip and cool, you've probably at least heard of the book called "The Shack" by William P. Young. The book, a work of fiction, presents a man named Mack and his "conversation" with the Trinity at a shack where a tragedy happened earlier in his life. Young attempts, I think, to explain the Trinity in a new, challenging way that will cause people to think and reconsider the entire concept of the Trinity.

While the desire to understand the Trinity is admirable, the results are not, and this book is dangerous in large part because of the audience at which it is aimed. Young people, likely still fairly shallow in their faith and undeveloped in their discernment. I include myself in this category, which is why I read guys who know MUCH more than me.

One such person is Tim Challies, who has a great review of the book at his site. He is an amazing reviewer who also wrote a book called The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment.

Also, pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, in his latest sermon on the doctrine of the Trinity, contributed his critique of The Shack as well. Many of his points appear to be borrowed from Challies' review, but they are both worth the time.

Obama and Abortion

Very interesting article yesterday about Obama and abortion by the Washington Post. It's interesting to me that this has stayed really pretty much hidden for this long. I have to think that even pro-choice people would be bothered by some of the stands he's taken.

A sample:
But Obama's record on abortion is extreme. He opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion -- a practice a fellow Democrat, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once called "too close to infanticide." Obama strongly criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth ban. In the Illinois State Senate, he opposed a bill similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. And now Obama has oddly claimed that he would not want his daughters to be "punished with a baby" because of a crisis pregnancy -- hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life.

Also yesterday, another good article by Randy Alcorn, a very active pro-life author and speaker. Interesting discussion about Planned Parenthood. I wonder how much all of this will come up in the campaign this year?

Here we go....

Not sure if anyone else will ever read this, but it's going to basically be my repository for random thoughts, musings, and links to interesting articles or blogs by others who know much more than me. I do my fair share of blog reading, and I will likely use this as a place to organize those posts that particularly impact me or to keep up with current issues within Christianity, politics, sports, or just the world in general.
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