Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Son

I posted last week that Leah and I found out that our child due in December was a boy, but I finally got around to getting some pictures on here:

This is a picture of his feet that looks like Leah could have taken it

Profile shot - He's got my nose...poor kid

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Culture of Cohabitation

Al Mohler has an interesting post commenting on the U.S. Census Bureau's findings about cohabitation in the U.S:

The number of opposite-sex couples who live together, less than a million 30 years, hit 6.4 million in 2007, show federal data released Monday. Cohabiting couples now make up almost 10% of all opposite-sex U.S. couples, married and unmarried.

Mohler discusses how there is much less stigma attached to living together before marriage. I've definitely seen this, as my wife was actually criticized by some people (acquaintances, not friends) when we were engaged because we had chosen not to live together until we were married. "How do you know you guys can live with each other?" asked the twice-divorced 22-year-old.

Her wonderful example notwithstanding, I've been to multiple weddings where the couple has chosen to live separately before marriage, and I've been to others where they were living as if they were already married (of course, according to my wife who's a wedding photographer, these tend to be the people who are adamant about not seeing each other before the ceremony for pictures).

There tends to be a distinct lack of excitement for these couples already living together . It's just another day; they just happened to be getting married that day. Many don't even go on a honeymoon anymore. I always imaging them going home that night and asking each other, "Well, what do want to do now?" Nothing changes; the actual marriage does nothing to alter their lives at all. This is really sad to me.

From Mohler's article:

Once all this is put together, a portrait of a changing America comes into view. The most significant data reveals the incredible cultural shift on cohabitation since the late 1970s. The larger picture concerning marriage would have to include the impact of so-called "no-fault" divorce laws that became widespread during the same period.

Even as marriage is still the norm, increasing numbers of heterosexual couples are cohabitating before, if not instead of, marrying. The Census Bureau reports statistics, but the more urgent dimension of this development is moral. The subversion of marriage comes at great cost, even if couples do not experience what they describe as trauma or trouble. The reality of sexual intimacy outside of marriage always comes with a moral and spiritual cost, but this is rejected by a culture in denial.

For many, cohabitation is now just "part of the life course."

New Sovereign Grace CD - Psalms

Sovereign Grace Music has released their newest CD, entitled Psalms. From their website:
For centuries the book of Psalms has informed, directed, and inspired the worship of God’s people. Without minimizing the struggles of living in a fallen world, this book exudes a confident trust in the God who is good and rules over all.

These twelve songs have emerged from those ancient poems and prayers. Our aim is to offer fresh interpretations of individual psalms, especially in light of the crucified and risen Savior to whom they point.
It should be noted you can order the physical CD from their site, but you can also purchase and immediately download all mp3 files of the album for only $9. Great deal and no waiting!

Go here to listen to samples of the songs and even get a free download of "Praise the Lord."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Music Video of the Week

Flyleaf - "Cassie"

This song is about Cassie Bernall. For those of you who don't know, this song is directly related to the Columbine High School Massacre of April, 1999. When Eric Harris bent to shoot Cassie Bernall, he allegedly asked the question "Do you believe in god?" And when she answered "yes" He shot her.

The question asked in order
To save her life or take it
The answer no to avoid death
The answer yes would make it

"Do you believe in God"
Written on the bullet
Say yes to pull the trigger
And my sister Cassie pulled it

They didn't love there lives so much
As to shrink from death
Inspired in their footsteps
We will march ahead
Don't be shocked that people die
Be surprised you're still alive

All head are bowed in silent reverence
The floor is wet with tears of sorrowful remembrance
The alter's filled with hearts of repentance
Perfect love kills all fear
Rejoice in this deliverance

Friday, July 25, 2008

Get To, Not Got To

Tim Challies had a great post today on the difference it can have on your perspective to look at things as "get to" situations rather than "got to."

It’s funny the difference made by that one little letter. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with the got to’s and the get to’s. Church can seem like a “got to” obligation, but it is so much sweeter when I face it as if it is a “get to” privilege. My morning devotions can often feel like a “got to” but I enjoy them so much more when I treat them like a “get to.” Rather than having to face the Bible and prayer in the morning, I see them as an enjoyable privilege. It often makes all the difference in a mind as feeble and sinful as mine.

His daughter was his inspiration, which got me thinking about being a dad, and trying to imagine all the "get to" moments with my son that will have the opportunity to become "got to" moments if I let them. Thanks for the reminder, Tim.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Back to School...

Adding to the list of major life changes recently...

It's official...I'm back in school, on my way to becoming a professional student. Actually, I have officially begun my Master's Degree in Religion from Reformed Theological Seminary's Virtual program. I will be working towards my degree completely via correspondence (PDF files and mp3 lectures). So far, I have been VERY impressed with the school and I'm looking forward to this. As of now, this is just a way for me to determine if seminary is where the Lord is leading me or not. At the same time, I get to study Systematic Theology and learn from great teachers. Great stuff.

I'll try to use this blog to post some of the things I'm learning. I'm sure there will be an ample amount of material in that area. Wish me luck!

Dick and Rick Hoyt

I've seen this video many times, but Justin Taylor posted it today, and it gets to me every time I watch it. Thought I would pass it along as well. Justin also found this on Wikipedia:

"As of January 31, 2008, Team Hoyt had participated in a total of 958 events, including 224 Triathlons (6 of which were Ironman competitions), 20 Duathlons, and 65 Marathons, including 25 Boston Marathons.[1] They have also biked and run across the USA, in 1992 — a 3,735 mile journey that took them 45 days."

Amazing stuff and a powerful video, no matter how many times I see it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's a Boy!

Leah and I officially found out today that we will be having a SON in December. He's currently 10.5 inches and weighs 13 ounces. They may be moving the due date from December 12th because he's actually pretty big for that, so it might be more like December 4th or 6th.

Either way, we're EXTREMELY excited, and can't wait for this little miracle from the Lord to arrive.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I've Apparently Arrived!

Happened to find this blog out there, Eat the Crumbs. If you go to the "Fake Friends" section, they list a bunch of webpages and blogs they read and/or like. They have 2 of my favorite blogs listed, from C.J. Mahaney and Tim Challies. I would highly recommend both of these.

So why am I sharing this? Well, check out who's listed right below them:

Yep, I've arrived...

Music Video of the Week

OneRepublic - Mercy

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight

Leah and I went to see The Dark Knight last night. I know...yes, we saw it the day it opened...but at least we didn't go to the 12:00, 3:00, or 6:00 AM showings Friday morning.

Anyway, I was curious to see if Heath Ledger's performance actually lived up to the hype surrounding the movie. His performance from the previews looked amazing, and I wanted to see if the previews showed it all, or if the rest of his performance was really that good.

I was not disappointed.

He is even better than the previews lead you to believe. His take on the Joker was simultaneously hysterical, creepy, endearing, and psychotic. I'm not sure how those can all fit together in one character, but he made it happen. He is also one of the smartest villains ever, which is clear from the opening bank heist. He truly is a sick, demented....genius. The movie may be titled after Batman, but this was the Joker's show.

Aside from Ledger's performance (which is worth the price of admission itself), the movie itself was basically a post-modern take on heroes and villains. Batman represents the old modern viewpoint, with all his rules he lives by, and the Joker, who plans and plans, but in the end, has no real point to his madness other than to create chaos.

He's psychotic, but his explanation of things is highly logical. For example, he explains the difference between him issuing the public an ultimatum of killing one ordinary person, or he will blow up a hospital. This creates a moral dilemma. How different would it be, he asks, if the person were a gang-banger or some soldiers where we expect their deaths? His manipulation of the public is highly intellectual, but ultimately, he just wants to create dis-order. For the Joker, the means is the end.

Speaking of ends, this one continues the post-modern theme right through with how Batman handles things at the end...although I actually enjoyed the ending.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, despite the violence. Actually, there is a very minimal amount of blood. I can understand why it's rated PG-13, although my kids would probably have to older than 13 for me to feel ok with them seeing it. There are some great themes, though. It's more of an exploration of the evil inherent (or not) in humanity, the need for heroes (or not), and the danger of evil without purpose. They explore these issues fairly well.

I would highly recommend it, and I will probably see it again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shawshank in a Minute

So in addition to the Election parody by JibJab Leah sent me yesterday, she also found this...a great parody of one of my all-time favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. Great stuff.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Bible is Better Than Being There

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend last night about how difficult the Bible can be to read and understand, and my friend made the comment that it would have been easier to have been alive during the Old Testament when God spoke directly to people like Abraham and Moses. I gave a simplistic explanation about being able to understand things only hinted at in the Old Testament that we get to see clearly in Christ (my explanation was simplistic...not the answer).

I had no trouble, really, seeing that it was far better to see God's complete revelation in the Bible rather than the hints that Moses and Abraham got. As I thought about it, though, I did begin to wonder about whether it was better to be in our position than the disciples who actually walked and talked with Jesus. Coincidentally, Tyler Kenney posted this article over at Desiring God's Blog today.

He gives 3 reasons why we're better off with the Bible today than to have lived during the O.T. or when Jesus lived:

1. Scripture interprets the biblical events for us.
2. Scripture’s interpretation is inspired.
3. Scripture appeals to our inner being.

He then gives 2 reasons why believing this makes a difference:

1. More appreciation for having the Bible.
2. More encouragement to share the Word.

He concludes:
We don’t need supernatural signs to have an effective witness. We just need to present the Word of God. It is supernatural in itself and more powerful to convince hard-hearted sinners than anything else.
Read the whole post here.

It's Time for Some Campaignin'

My wife sent me this video this morning. Just had to share...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Great Story of Redemption

Amazing story out of Yankee Stadium last night. Josh Hamilton, a once-can't-miss #1 draft pick who has battled drug addictions only to make his way back to majors the past couple of years, put on a display at the Home Run Derby that will be talked about for years.

He hit 28 home the first round.

Yeah, he hit 28 home runs before he hit 10 outs (any swing that's not a home run). He hit 13 straight swings out at one point.

This great story is even better when you learn how Hamilton beat drugs and addiction. He became a Christian a few years ago, and the Lord has decided to use him in a great way. There's no way he should be where he is now, but the Lord wanted him there last night...showing the world his story of redemption...and never failing to acknowledge that he's only there because of how the Lord transformed his life.

Jason Stark from ESPN:

And then, the next thing you know, there he is on this stage, doing this beneath the eyeballs of America, in a ballpark that represents a living, breathing home-run museum. Accompanied by his own 71-year-old personal pitcher named Claybon Counsil, summoned from North Carolina for this occasion, as Josh Hamilton's reward for all those BP fastballs Counsil has been serving up to anyone interested for the last three decades.

Friends, you can't make this stuff up.

But hold on. There's more. There's also Josh Hamilton's Dream. It's a famous dream now, a dream he had back in the winter of 2006. But it was a dream that made no sense at the time, because he had it at a time when he was still suspended from baseball for drug abuse, back when he was, therefore, about as far away from this place as a bunch of aliens from Neptune. He'd dreamed that night that he was taking part in a Home Run Derby -- in Yankee Stadium.

Of course. It was a dream that couldn't possibly come true. And then it did. Whoah. Did it ever.

In the dream, though, he never saw himself actually swinging the bat. He remembers only being interviewed afterward on ESPN, and describing how he'd gotten to this miraculous point, through the power and the grace of God.

But now, here he was, 2½ long years later, and he got to find out how it all turned out. How beautiful was that?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Music Video of the Week

O.A.R. - This Town (in honor of their new CD, All Sides, dropping tomorrow)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

How Can African American Christians Vote for Obama?

Eric Redmond has a very interesting post where he attempts to answer the above question in response to his friend's reaction to the support of Obama.

"To [my friend], it was very obvious that Obama’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage are so far from what Scripture requires of us that, seemingly, to vote for Obama would be to deny the very things Christians believe. So he turned to me for some explanation of how African American Christians could vote in good faith for Obama without sensing conviction for endorsing one who takes anti-Christian positions on the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage."

How can Christians, specifically African-American Christians, reconcile voting for a candidate that seems to go against a good portion of what the bible teaches? I really appreciate him taking the time to articulate this point of view. I don't like his reasoning, but I do understand it. It's nice to have an explanation other than, "I'm voting for him because he's black." Ultimately, I think that's the answer for most (and it seems to be for Eric), but it is actually much more complex than it sounds. I think Eric does a great job of explaining that in this article.

A sample (the whole article is worth the read):

...there is a sense of hope no longer being deferred. Instead, hope is at the front door knocking furiously, waiting to see if African Americans will answer. If we open the door, forty million African Americans are going to witness a fellow African American getting the largest slice of the American Dream Pie—a dessert many had hoped to see people of color eat in their lifetime, but the many fell asleep having embraced such promises from afar. As the struggle for social and economic equality has been a struggle for all African Americans, regardless of belief system(s), we all share in the joy when one of our own achieves the (presumptive) nomination for the highest office in the land—an office that has been reserved for white males only until now. Obama’s candidacy would allow all African Americans to say to our forefathers, “we finally did it! Your attempts at escaping slavery, deaths by lynching, scars from the scourge of slave masters’ whips, pain from the full blast of unleashed water hoses and muzzle-free police dogs, humiliation by white hecklers at lunch counters, degradation at “coloreds only” fountains and restrooms, indignation on the back of buses, forced acceptance of poorer educational materials and facilities, and marches at the threat of beatings and bombings have not been for naught! Hope, yea victory, is finally here! We are equal at the highest level!”

...While it might seem a contradiction for Christian African Americans to vote for Senator Obama, each of us votes with many contradictions in both the righteous and selfish hopes of having the best possible earthly government and society. Such hopes yield appointments of pro-life justices and unjust war decisions. But when we “pull the lever,” we vote our consciences, our blind spots, and unknown future actions of our candidates and those in their selected cabinets and staff. At best, going to the ballot box as believers is one great act of hope in the God who rules all things for good, who “removes kings and sets up kings,” and whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion” (Dan. 2:21; 4:34). It is best that we look to his Son for true hope, identity and justice. This is the only way any of us will stop throwing cards on the table each election cycle.

I especially love that ending, referring to God as the one who "removes kings and sets up kings." Regardless of what happens come November, the Lord will not be surprised. If Obama loses, God will not look down and proclaim, "But I WANTED you to have an African American president! Why did you people do that?" Likewise, if Obama wins, the installation of a pro-abortion, anti-traditional marriage president will not be a frustration of His plans. This does not negate our responsibility to prayerfully make what we feel is best decision come November, but there is peace in knowing the ultimate control is not in our hands.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Quick Update

So I'm not traveling for work anymore. The travel "season" here goes from about March through the end of June. I actually had time to post more the past few months because nights on the road leave plenty of time for that.

Now that I'm in the office all day (and extremely busy for the next few months finishing up clients) and then come home to Leah at night, the posts may slow down for a while. Once things slow a little at work towards September, things should pick back up...just in time for things with the election to really kick in. In the meantime, I'll do my best to post regularly, but just a head's up.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Evidence Against Christ's Resurrection?

There's a story out today about a tablet found on the eastern bank of the Dead Sea that some are claiming casts doubt or even disproves the resurrection of Christ.

From the article:

Israel Knohl, a biblical studies professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, argued yesterday that line 80 of the text revealed Gabriel telling an historic Jewish rebel named Simon, who was killed by the Romans four years before the birth of Christ: “In three days you shall live, I, Gabriel, command you.”

Professor Knohl contends that the tablet proves that messianic followers possessed the paradigm of their leader rising from the grave before Jesus was born. He said that the text “could be the missing link between Judaism and Christianity in so far as it roots the Christian belief in the resurrection of the Messiah in Jewish tradition”.

Knohl, of course, is operating under the presupposition that the resurrection couldn't have possibly happened; thus, we must find some other explanation for why Jesus' followers would have made up such a story. Apparently in his view, they found this one reference to someone coming back to life after 3 days and decided, "Hey, that's a cool story! Let's all say that happened to Jesus so we can all be killed too!" (as all the disciples except John were). Lacks the ring of truth a little.

There is far too much evidence FOR the resurrection for someone to be able to disprove it simply because there was a reference to someone rising from the dead after 3 days previously. Was the resurrection of Jesus the first time there had ever been a story about someone rising from the dead? Obviously it wouldn't have been. There are numerous prophesies in the Old Testament itself that refer to the resurrection of the Messiah. Those who would like to disprove Christ's resurrection scramble to find an explanation like this for where the disciples would have gotten the about the fact that they actually saw him resurrected? Reality is as good a place as any to get story ideas.

Check out this article from DesiringGod about the historical evidence for the resurrection.

To summarize:
On the basis of the evidence we have seen, it appears to me that the resurrection is the best explanation. It explains the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the existence of the Christian church. No other competing theory can explain all three of these facts. In fact, none of these competing theories can even give a satisfying explanation for even one of these facts. So it seems like the rational person will accept that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
In any discussion of the resurrection, though, we should remember these words of John Piper:
A saving knowledge of Christ crucified and risen is not the mere result of right reasoning about historical facts. It is the result of spiritual illumination to see those facts for what they really are: a revelation of the truth and glory of God in the face of Christ—who is the same yesterday today and forever.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Music Video of the Week

Shane and Shane - "Yearn" (I know it's on TBN, but it's still good...)

Douglas Groothuis on His "Support" of Obama

Great satire here:

Yes, he doesn't share my views on abortion, but so what? After all, aborted babies go to heaven. If they grow up, they might go to hell. Abortion on demand is the best form of evangelism ever invented. So, with Obama we'd continue to get over a million babies into heaven year, and Supreme Court Justices to insure that it goes on for another generation. Obama would push for more and more federal funding for abortions, which means we would be using state money for evangelism! How cool is that?!...

... With increased terrorist security in Afghanistan and Iraq, attacks on the US are much more likely. This would embolden Osama and his ilk to give us as many 9/11 like apocalypses as possible. But do you remember how full the churches were after 9/11? Remember how many people were asking significant questions about life and death in the wake of 3,000 deaths? This spiritual openness trailed off as months and years went by without another catastrophe in America (thanks to President Bush's authoritarian policies at home and abroad.) But with Obama in The White House, terrorist attacks would increase. This would rally abroad and have more freedom at home (since Bush's heavy-handed surveillance tactics would be annulled). Think of the possibilities for revival! San Francisco is shattered by a suitcase nuke and then repents of its long term and trend-setting immorality--just like after the San Francisco earthquake long ago. Marvelous are these thoughts. Let it stretch your faith...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sovereign Grace Music - Psalms (and Other Music Recommendations)

I'm a huge fan of Sovereign Grace Music. They've released a ton of CDs and keep coming out with more. Great music, amazing, bible-based lyrics...God-glorifying worship. They have a new CD called Psalms that will be released at the WorshipGod 08 Conference in August. Also, check out the NA Band's CD Looked Upon (this is the band that led worship at the New Attitude Conference my wife and I attended...amazing stuff).

A sneak preview showing the vocalists, including John Reilly from the band Reilly (one of my new favorite bands):

Obama Interview with RELEVANT Magazine

There is a very interesting interview with the Democratic candidate over at RELEVANT Magazine. He addresses his position on government-funded, faith-based initiatives. He also addresses some "rumors" about him when it comes to abortion. Some very interesting comments (and VERY different from how he sounded in his speech to Planned Parenthood I posted on here a while ago):

Strang: Based on emails we received, another issue of deep importance to our readers is a candidate’s stance on abortion. We largely know your platform, but there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?

Obama: I absolutely can, so please don’t believe the emails. I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that “mental distress” qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.

The other email rumor that’s been floating around is that somehow I’m unwilling to see doctors offer life-saving care to children who were born as a result of an induced abortion. That’s just false. There was a bill that came up in Illinois that was called the “Born Alive” bill that purported to require life-saving treatment to such infants. And I did vote against that bill. The reason was that there was already a law in place in Illinois that said that you always have to supply life-saving treatment to any infant under any circumstances, and this bill actually was designed to overturn Roe v. Wade, so I didn’t think it was going to pass constitutional muster.

Ever since that time, e
mails have been sent out suggesting that, somehow, I would be in favor of letting an infant die in a hospital because of this particular vote. That’s not a fair characterization, and that’s not an honest characterization. It defies common sense to think that a hospital wouldn't provide life-saving treatment to an infant that was alive and had a chance of survival.

I can actually understand his reasoning up to a point here. The man definitely knows how to tailor his message to his intended audience. The only huge problem I have with what he says here comes with the last sentence: "It defies common sense to think that a hospital wouldn't provide life-saving treatment to an infant that was alive and had a chance of survival"

Really? Does he really believe he can simply appeal to common sense in saying this? Interesting, because extrapolating that logic, it's hard to see how he could support late-term abortions. If these babies were born during this time, they would most definitely have a "chance of survival" with hospital-provided care. Does it "defy common sense" to allow these children to be murdered?

I realize, of course, that he added the words "an infant that was alive" to leave room for this. The child isn't really alive until the mother says so. Fine. But then you can't fall back on common sense because that implies it's something obvious to everyone. I don't think anyone who supports abortion can use this defense.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ideas for the Kid's Name?

So Leah and I are about 4 weeks or so away from finding out whether the child the Lord has blessed us with will require an extra cloth for protection when changing or not...

(The picture on the left is his/her first photo...the kid better get ready for the 7,467,364 Leah's going to take...)

In the meantime, we've come up with all kinds of names, but haven't really settled on any yet. We're pretty open, except I'm not big on unisex names (especially names that aren't actually unisex that people try to make unisex...). We have a lot to live up to in our families as well, as there have been some very unique choices so far.

Anyway, I came across this post from Molly Piper today on their child-naming philosophy and the names they've chosen for their two children so far, Orison (meaning prayer) and Felicity (meaning intense happiness). The whole post is worth reading and you can check it out here.

So anyone have any suggestions for the name? I would prefer a name with meaning versus one that just sounds cool, but we're fairly open-minded...within reason...
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