Semper Reformanda

...some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help.

[Wednesday, December 9, 2009]

Daylight Savings Time

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(Click to enlarge)

[Tuesday, December 8, 2009]

Out on a limb

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In school, you normally have a Fall and a Spring semester... but there are also options to take classes during Summer and what we call a J-term (January). These tend to be much more intense periods of study because of the shortened amount of time to cram the information in. Last January, I took one of these classes (Communicating the Gospel). It met Tuesday through Saturday from 8am to 5pm, and was the equivalent of an entire semester's work -- crammed into 5 days. These classes are beneficial because Covenant has maybe 1,000 students who take classes via distance learning and are encouraged to take classes on campus during these terms.

In this class is where I met Todd. Todd was getting his degree to prepare him for planting and pastoring a church in Nebraska. He just updated his blog today with this post which has gotten me thinking a bit about my own life and the direction it has taken.

Today I made it officially known at work. I’m resigning. Voluntary termination in the vernacular. Walking away from nine and a half years of electrical engineering education, two degrees in the field, and seven and half years of a career with Boeing.

And so this afternoon, there I was staring a little screen on my dual monitor, Intel Core 2 Duo workstation that said:

Your Voluntary Termination is Final as Submitted If You Click OK.

“OK”


Funny how things can change completely in such a short amount of time.

Todd, I wish you and your fellow planters the best as you set out on this limb of faith. May you be fearless in proclaiming the gospel of grace to everyone -- even in Nebraska.

[Friday, December 4, 2009]

Doorway to another world

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I absolutely love the Steampunk aesthetic. It just oozes awesome to me. Now, I don't get dressed up in Victorian post-apocalyptic wear (not yet anyway), but I'd love to live in this house.

Bruce and Melanie Rosenbaum started ModVic (Modern Victorian) Home Restoration in June 2007 and have now moved onto steampunk Home Design. ModVic's mission is to authentically restore historic Victorian homes (1850 – 1910) to their original beauty and richness while completely modernizing the home’s systems, functional layout and conveniences for the family of today (sound familiar?). Bruce and Melanie also love the steampunk design aesthetic of combining the best of Victorian high design and craftsmanship with modern functionality and usefulness.


Here are some pics from Bruce and Melanie's house for those that don't click links:

Exterior


Kitchen


Office


If you are interested in Steampunk, here is a blog that I read.

[Monday, November 30, 2009]

Meditation: Charles Spurgeon

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‘Alas’ say you, ‘I have done wrong.’ I know you have; but HE has not.
If your confidence were in yourself, that wrong of yours might crush your hope; but since your confidence is in God, and He has not changed, why should you fear? ‘Oh, but I am so sinful’. Yes; I know you are, and so you were when He first looked upon you in love. If His love had sought to come to you by the way of merit it never would have reached you; but it comes to you by way of free, rich, sovereign grace and therefore it will come to you evermore.


Courtesy of C.H. Spurgeon

[Wednesday, November 25, 2009]

Viral Video Chart

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I'm not sure how I missed this... but this site lists the top 20 most watched videos over certain periods of time.

Fun to check out occasionally.

[Thursday, November 19, 2009]

Mac Book Pro -- on its way!

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I ordered a Macbook Pro 13 inch laptop the other day. I have a friend that works at the store that was nice enough to share his discount with me. I'll never understand why it's the most efficient use of resources to ship from China to Alaska to New Jersey to get it to me in St. Louis... but hey, I don't get to make those calls. This sucker could be waiting for me when I get home, but chances are it won't be till tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it! I'm actually procrastinating on a paper I need to write so I can use the Macbook to write it. :)

[Wednesday, November 18, 2009]

Tim Keller @ Covenant Seminary

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Tim Keller stopped by Covenant Seminary during his book tour for Counterfeit Gods. Here is the audio for the Q&A by Dr. Chapell and the students of the Seminary.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/271745/20091117_Keller.mp3

For Steve -- New video game just for you

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Although this seems too good to be true, it looks like it's legit.

[Wednesday, November 11, 2009]

Unsettling

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The Texas Department of Justice has a list of convicted criminals who have been executed, and their last words on their website. Yes, this is unsettling and yet interesting. More unsettling because of the "random" person I clicked on.

Yes I do. To the Harris family. I have been trying to tell you for years that I am sorry. I know that I hurt your family bad. I am sorry. Wynona should not of even have happened. I am sorry. I truly am sorry for the hurt and pain I caused you. I hope you can forgive me. One day I hope you can move on and if not I understand. Tim Jackson, Bobby Dan Spade and Mr. Segal thank you for your lies. Your lies set me free. I couldn't do a life sentence. To my mom, I'm sorry. I love you. I'm not the big son that you wanted me to be. But, I love you. To my friends, Synnova, Kay I thank you for everything. I'm ready. I told you years ago that I was ready. Synnova tell everyone I got full on Chicken and Pork Chops. Rodney, take care of my mom. To the fellas on the row, stay strong. Renee, I love you baby. Fleetwood is up out of here. I'm ready Warden. (bolding mine)


I know my name is pretty common, but goodness... out of ALL the last words I could have clicked on. I'm still processing this. Maybe more later.

If you want to read some last words, click here.

Advent Conspiracy

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It's that time of year again... Christmas season. Although, I don't think it officially kicks off until the day after Thanksgiving, its in the air and I'm getting excited! I'll admit that I really do enjoy Christmas... I love the weather, music and people. However, this can also be a hectic and horrible time of year from a financial perspective. Christmas in the United States has reached amazing heights in the amount of money spent on presents each year. The resulting credit card debt and financial strain in January is never a good thing... yet year after year, we do it again and again.

Well, not anymore.

Advent Conspiracy is a movement started by 3 pastors Rick McKinley (Imago Dei, Portland), Chris Seay (Ecclesia, Houston), and Greg Holder(The Crossing, St. Louis). The idea is simple... spend less at Christmas on presents, and give more presence (see what I did there?). By giving even a single gift that is specifically meaningful to the recipient instead of the sweater or tie you know they will never use, you show love for that person instead of an obligation to buy something for them. These presences could range anything from dedicated time together to handmade scarfs or even food. But the idea is always the same. Instead of just picking something (or many things) off the shelf, spend some time choosing/creating/doing something meaningful for the people you care about.

Now that you've spent less and given more, with some of that cash you've saved how about giving some of it away to others that have need? Our church partners with a group called Living Water International who drills water wells for those in 3rd world countries who don't have the luxury of clean water. However, this is just one idea. As I write this, Albert Pujols is getting ready to speak to ~200 business and church leaders from around the St. Louis area about the work the Pujols Family Foundation is doing, and how this Advent Conspiracy idea is a pretty neat thing.

By spending less and giving more to those around you that you care about, and by using some of that extra money you didn't spend on presents towards a cause that helps push back darkness and injustice in the world, you love all. You show that you recognize and acknowledge the world outside of your immediate surroundings. That there are people who don't have it as good as you do, and that you actually can make a difference. Essentially, Christmas can still change the world.

Through all of this above, this takes some pressure off right? No longer are you searching for gifts upon gifts. No longer are you standing for hours in line at the mall or waiting for that parking space 2 miles away. Instead, you are free from those burdens and able to focus on Christmas itself... to worship fully the advent of the Christ being birthed into the world. This baby Jesus who would give us a glimpse of God, and His desire to rescue us from ourselves. Who would later die and through His death reconcile us to God, paying our price for us. Who would then be resurrected from the dead to secure eternal life for us, that we might live forever with God in glory.

This is the true meaning of Christmas... this is what the Advent Conspiracy is about. Will you join us?

What are you planning on doing this Advent season?

[Friday, November 6, 2009]

LEGO philosophy

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This reminds me of a conversation I had with Brian Moncey in Kirkwood Park one night...


How big is too big?

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I recently read this blog about FBC Dallas' new $130 million building project.


Nobody should fault FBC Dallas or anybody else for building a building. But this isn’t a building. This, and a bunch of other stuff, i[t]s Bible Belt Disneyland. This is evangelicalism with more cowbell. This is Field of Dreams attractional church. And it stinks to high heaven...

...Not go and tell. Come and see is the “mission” of megachurchianity.


After a little research, I found they are running ~3 services with about 11 thousand people. I can't help but think to my church, Windsor Crossing and wonder if there is really much that separates us in terms of size (we run close to 10 thousand on Easter & Christmas, but that's spread over ~7-10 services and have close to 5 thousand every weekend at 2 sites now, with 5 services at one site and 2 at the other). On the flip side, Francis Chan has a radically different approach:

Convicted by the verse to "love your neighbor as yourself," Chan showed up at the next board meeting with an agenda. In the early years, Cornerstone gave away 4 percent of its budget. Chan asked them to give away 50 percent. Cuts in staff salaries and serious sacrifices in programs would have to be made, but it only took a half hour for the board to agree.


Chan's church now meets in an amphitheater in the park to accommodate their growing size (They are in SoCal, so the weather is on their side most of the time I'd guess). And they are now giving away 55% of their budget to various ministries.


If it rained, they'd get wet knowing their money was feeding the hungry.


So what do you think? I think these are vitally important questions to be discerning considering the brink of change we are on here in St. Louis and the ministry of Windsor Crossing. Would you be willing to have church in the park? Maybe not in St. Louis. :) What are your thoughts on what the modern church should look like? Should we go for a huge complex to fully meet the needs of the community? Should we get rid of as much as possible and live radically different lives culturally? Should we balance the two (which is what I think the Crossing does currently)?

How do we make sure we are in a "go and tell" mentality rather than a "come and see"?

May we not focus on our own will, works and power; but rather on the will of God, the work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. May our church buildings be nothing more than a "place to hang our hat" so to speak, and that a large majority of what constitutes our "church" exists entirely outside its walls.

[Wednesday, November 4, 2009]

The new and improved(?) Sesame Street

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This article talks about the changes that have been made to Sesame Street over the years since its 1969 debut. This is making news because of a disclaimer that now comes on the 40th anniversary DVD box set:

"These early 'Sesame Street' episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child."


Yikes!

However, I think some of the changes were probably for the best... Some of you might remember the Cookie Monster diet change that happened a few years ago:

Today, Cookie Monster's diet is much more balanced, as he has adopted the philosophy that cookies are a "sometimes food." Cookie coincidentally changed his tune in 2006 amidst reports that childhood obesity had reached epidemic proportions.


Cookie Monster was awesome, but this is actually a good step in my opinion to lead by example.

As the article states:

Early "Sesame Street" had some other elements that would not pass muster today. Oscar the Grouch is just plain nasty, children are seen riding their bikes without helmets, and there's even a sketch where the human character of Gordon can be seen approaching a little girl on the street. He takes her by the hand and brings her into his house for milk and cookies (again with the cookies!). Clearly, that could be misinterpreted by today's standards.


All in all, Sesame Street as unassuming and beneficial as it is, still has to evolve and change in a changing world.

This was a similar conversation to one I was having with a friend a week or two ago about the changing of the times. We were talking about what we got away with when we were kids... I'd take my bike in the summer and be gone all day. I'd come back for lunch, then back out until dinner. Mom didn't mind and she just stood and yelled for me when it was time to come home. I'd have to think that those days are long gone now.

I don't think that the world is any more dangerous now than it was 20 years ago, but it seems our sensitivity and awareness of the danger has increased. I just wonder if that is a good thing.

What do you think about all of this?

[Tuesday, November 3, 2009]

I like the Navy

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The Great Adventure -- Part 2

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So... I sold my house. Its a really weird feeling. I was only on the market for a little over three months, but it really was one of those things I didn't think would actually happen. This whole experience has given me confidence in prayer and has further solidified my alignment with God on the path my life is taking.

Here are some highlights:

The goal of selling the house was to free up my financial situation so that I could concentrate more on school instead of the corporate world. From an investment standpoint this was a horrible idea because of the market, and the fact that I had only lived in the house for a little over a year.

I met with some trusted friends and mentors in my life to talk about this idea and felt affirmed to proceed. Also, through prayer and petition to God, I had a peace about what I was doing.

I actually get a buyer to make an offer after like 40 house showings with no bites. This guy low-balls me by like $10,000 -- sort of a deal breaker for me if he doesn't get his act together. I'm not holding my breath.

I counter his offer, and he counters just a tiny bit lower than mine... he had come up ~$8000!!! Now why would this have been? Well, my realtor let the buyer know that we had several showings and an open house scheduled soon and chances are there would be a lot of interest for a house this price... all of which was true. I sort of think God played a bit of a role in this as well. Its funny how some people think if man is responsible for something that somehow precludes God from being active in the situation... not so in my opinion. God's providence is a very interesting thing.

Parallel to all this, I wrecked my car during the torrential downpour that was October in Saint Louis. The insurance company called it a total loss, so I was going to get a check. However, the mechanical work (to get the car road-ready) was about half the check, so I just repaired the car and basically made money! I've just got a big 'ol scrape on the side and a missing hub cap, but that's ok by me. And, yes I'm fine. :)

So we come to an agreement on price, and then starts the inspections (for those who don't know, after you have an accepted offer on the house, you have 15 days to get a home inspector in the house to look at it from top to bottom. He then writes a report based on his findings that details problem areas that a normal Joe-schmo wouldn't see. This starts another negotiation process where you come to an agreement on compensation/repairs for those things.)

The buyer wanted me to replace all the electrical circuits in the house, a new roof, and various other things. Just as a side note, replacing all the electrical would include ripping out walls and other nasty things that wouldn't be a very good idea. I was a little distraught. So close yet so far away.

We counter with what we are willing to do, and the timeframe expires... but they want an extension. Great, just prolong my nail biting.

Finally, they come back and ask for a bit more cash than I offered, and we have a deal.

So, I'm now technically house-less and I have to move out before November 16th!

That was step 1.

Now its on to finding another place to live, which I thought I had lined up... not so much. Still working on that. However, step 1 has given me enough of a peace about this crazy tumultuous time in my life to know that I'm not the only one working in this situation. First, I have some amazing friends and family that are walking through this with me every step of the way. They are supportive, loving, and giving and I really appreciate that. But also, I have confidence in the God of the universe that He is for me in this situation. Romans 8:28 tells us that "God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose." I believe that means that as long as our lives are centered on His desires, His will, His glory things will work for good. Not necessarily what we expect to be "good," but good from the perspective of God, who in essence, knows much better than I what good actually is.

[Wednesday, October 21, 2009]

Is God needed?

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I just read this article on how a dozen New York City subway stations will be adorned with ads asking the question: "A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?" on October 26th. The event is being called "a coordinated multi-organizational advertising campaign designed to raise awareness about people who don't believe in a god", and is being organized by the Big Apple Coalition of Reason.

Michael De Dora Jr., executive director of the New York Center for Inquiry, another of the associated atheist groups had this to say on the objectives of the event:

First, the coalition hopes the promotion will enhance awareness of New York City's secular community. He explained that the coalition also hopes to encourage "talking and thinking about religion and morality," as well as support involvement in groups that encourage a sense of a social community for non-believing New Yorkers.

I'd like to reply to these in turn --

1. The coalition hopes the promotion will enhance awareness of New York City's secular community.

Basically, to me, this means that atheists want to find and hang out with other atheists. I got no problem with that. We all search for community and acceptance among those who think similarly.

2. The coalition also hopes to encourage "talking and thinking about religion and morality."

I guess mission accomplished, since this is exactly what I'm doing through this blog post...

So lets talk a little about religion and morality... "A million New Yorkers are [morally] good without God," I would agree in one sense but push back a bit in another sense. De Dora mentions later in the article that people "don't need religion to be good people and productive members of society." I'd agree with that... mankind on the whole has an ethical moral system integrated into their being... some call it the moral law. You don't need religion or belief in God to make use of that. We can follow civil code just fine without even bringing God into the mix. However, religion -- true religion is not moralism. It was never intended to be. God does not exist to tell us right from wrong. Now, don't get me wrong, He did tell us what was right and wrong... but that's not His whole purpose nor His main purpose. So to state that religion isn't needed based on moral goodness existing apart from belief in God is reductionist and honestly, a straw man argument.

3. The coalition finally wants to support involvement in groups that encourage a sense of a social community for non-believing New Yorkers

Again, not much of a problem here. If you seriously have convictions about something, you should live it out. Atheists have as much a right to promote their worldview as Christians do (and I'm not really a fan of the billboards).

A few other thoughts...

I am pretty OK with this demonstration. I think for too long we Christians have lived inside an ivory tower of protection with our Christian music and Christian authors and Christian camps ad nauseaum. What I'd really like to see is more interaction between faiths (including those who claim none). I'd like to see real Christianity emerge to the forefront of what people see and know it to be rather than the caricatures that plague the airwaves now. The mission of God is too important to be degraded and defamed by His own so-called "followers."

If you are a Christian...

Please do not make the same mistakes as some of our predecessors. Hold on to what is good and reject what is evil. Help restore Christianity to its true biblical nature. Be a good steward of the faith you have been given. It is a tall charge, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, honesty about our own faults and humility towards others we can succeed.

If you are not a Christian...

Speaking on behalf of collective Christianity -- I am sorry for our mistakes. We owed you better than how we treated you. I am sorry for my faults and for how I've hurt you personally. I am sorry that for you Christianity has been reduced to a list of do's and don'ts that seem superfluous in today's culture. I am sorry that horrible horrible things done in Jesus' name have blemished your thoughts of who He truly is. Please don't let the mistakes of mere humans posturing themselves with the almighty name of God get in the way of God Himself. He does exist and He seeks to know you and you Him.

The truth is that the biblical story is about a good God who created all that you see in perfect beauty and harmony. Humanity, in the first act of pride wanted more... essentially to be God. This plunged mankind into an enslavement and a separation from their Creator. However, from the beginning God planned a way to fix it all. He sent His Son to us to teach us more about Who God is and ultimately die in our place. This act of sacrifice paid the price of our enslavement, effectively freeing those who would believe He came for them. Not only did Jesus die to free us from bondage, but He was raised from the dead so that no man that believes in Him would ever die again. Instead, this secured for us eternal community with the Creator God of the universe. The story of the bible is one of redemption. It's all about huge screw-ups and how God repairs and restores and even improves upon our failures. Ultimately so that we can enjoy life together with Him.


[Wednesday, October 7, 2009]

The Reboot of Reboot!

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Ok, so I'm a nerd, we all know that. However, I just heard today that the old TV series Reboot is getting a reboot onto the big screen -- actually it's slated to be a trilogy!!! This excites me to no end! If you don't know what Reboot is, well let me tell you. It is a 1/2 hour tv show set inside a computer (a la Tron), and follows the story of the computer's citizens in the town of Mainframe. "The User" plays games that take over a part of the city, and the Guardian (Bob) has to play the game and defeat "The User" to save Mainframe. All the while, the virus Megabyte is looking to take over Mainframe, and must be stopped as well. It was good stuff for a kid like me growing up.

This was the first full-length, completely computer-animated TV series.

What I didn't realize at the time was the AMAZING amounts of pop-culture and movie references in this show. It's writing was pretty splendidly done and still sort-of-suitable for the age group it was intended for.

I am further excited by the fact that I just found A TON of Reboot episodes on YouTube!!!

Here are a couple of clips from Reboot:

Opening Sequence


X-files


Evil Dead


Guitar Hero (wayyyyyy before Guitar Hero... notice that Megabyte turns it up to 11!!!)

[Tuesday, October 6, 2009]

The scariest thing I've heard in a while

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Over the summer, I had the privilege to attend commencement ceremonies at Covenant Theological Seminary, where I am a student. A good friend was graduating, and I wanted to support him, but also get a feel for what I would be going through in a few years. At the baccalaureate services, Dr. Bryan Chapell, president of Covenant Seminary preached a profound message to the graduates. This message scared the pants off of me because of the implications of what he spoke. The extreme amount of responsibility that is placed on the preacher is such a humbling ordeal, that the only relief is in the fact that you have Divine Guidance in preparing and speaking the Word. I remember thinking at the time, and still wonder if I will be up to the task of preaching the Word. Here is an expanded version of the same message given at The Gospel Coalition conference this past April. The source text is 2 Timothy 3:10 - 4:5.

Set aside an hour or so and reflect on the power of the words he is speaking to you here.

[Monday, September 28, 2009]

Intangibles

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Dana Hungerford was a math teacher at my high school (unfortunately I never had him for a class) that recently died. This article is a compelling insight into the importance of teachers in the classroom and the intangible metrics by which they are measured.

Mr. Hungerford, I'll miss ya, I wish I would have gotten to know you better.

[Thursday, September 24, 2009]

...To the ends of the earth

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(Click to enlarge)

This is a map of the world circa 18 AD, according to the Greek geographer Strabo.

An interesting point showing that to the Apostles, carrying the gospel to "the ends of the earth" had a much different meaning than what we think of today.

[Tuesday, September 22, 2009]

The Godfather of Video Venues

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As we near the point where The Crossing expands from Chesterfield into their new site in Fenton, I've been having lots of questions about our future, and how it will look. One of which, being: "There are so many question marks in my head as to how this will work... is leadership aware and working on these?"

I randomly found this article where Larry Osborne is interviewed on his church's use of "video venues." If that phrase is familiar to you, then you'll understand why I was immediately intrigued and became more relaxed as I read through the article. The Crossing staff ISN'T making this up as they go along. They've done their homework. We've been using "video venues" for quite a while now. And, just the general tone of the article, and how Larry, "the Godfather," talks about his church's path and what they emphasize has a resemblance to The Crossing. I believe our staff is taking an approach as student, rather than visionary when it comes to our multi-site move. We have some great resources to learn from, and all signs point to the fact that we are.

Yes, there are still questions, some very scary ones. Yes, multi-site is a "new" trend in church strategy. No, they haven't been around for that long... its not a standardized method. But there is a ton of information and experience out there from many churches who are doing it and doing it well. I don't think The Crossing will be any exception.

May we be humble learners and open to whatever God has in store for us both in the near future and the far. May we raise up leaders who raise up leaders. May we carry the gospel to all parts of St. Louis and beyond. To the praise and glory of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Leaky Tub

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Yesterday I was finishing up my shower, and when I turned the water off, the water kept flowing... not like drip........ drip...... drip, but like goooooooooooooooooooooosssshhhhhhhhh!

Needless to say, I was a bit frustrated... This house has been great, but it seems that nothing decided to go wrong until I decided to sell it.

Anyway, I'd always had a leaky tub that was annoying... and I'd even asked a contractor to fix it while he was here doing other things (which appeared fixed for about a week). So I wasn't really too keen on hiring it out again. I did a bit of research on the internet, and started disassembling. Two trips to Home Depot and about 2.5 hrs later I ended up diagnosing and fixing the problem! A small rubber washer had eroded away. This washer was responsible for forming the seal around the valve where the water comes out, thus causing my leaky, and now flowing faucet. A 100 pack of assorted washer sizes was $5, the tool needed to remove the encasement from the wall was $8 (basically it was a huge socket). So, all in all I fixed that sucker good for less than $20 and not too much of my own time.

After it was all said and done, and I turned the water back on to test the seal, several things raced through my mind in a flurry...

It started with: "Wow! I did it!"

Which led to: "Wow! *I* did it! And I didn't need ANY help!"

But then I started thinking about how weird that felt to say that. I remembered that all of my gifts and skills that I use in my life ultimately come from God (thank you Dr. Douglass). So I did the only thing I could...

"Thank you God! Thank you for giving me the skills necessary to work through and solve this problem and fix it with minimal effort. Thank you for allowing this problem to be minor enough that the likes of me could fix it without royally screwing something up. Thank you for permitting this to be done in a couple of hours, knowing that my house is on the market right now, and I cannot afford to miss any showings."

Which led to this:

"Thank you God for reminding me of where my abilities and talents come from. Thank you for bestowing those abilities and talents on me through your Holy Spirit. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who lives in me and works through me, which you have given me in your abounding and merciful grace. Thank you for bestowing on me that saving grace to deliver me from my own sin, for redeeming me and making me alive in you."

I'll be honest, I don't "get it" that often, but I think this is a glimpse for me of what a proper devotion to God looks like. In our daily lives, we use talents, gifts and abilities all the time. These should be directing us back to the Giver, the Author of those gifts -- God. A natural outflow of that, then is to be reminded of the greatest gift we have received as followers of Christ - Christ Himself. Thus, it would be a normal progression to start at point A (being happy that I didn't flood my upstairs by forgetting to turn off the water) and end up at point B (praising God for my salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit in my life).

I hope this event has opened your eyes more to the reality of God working in and through your life on a daily basis. I can't say I'm always going to "get it" from now on, but I've definitely become more aware of my surroundings and I encourage you to stop and look around every once in a while as well.

[Monday, September 21, 2009]

Semper Reformanda

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If you've frequented my blog before, you might notice I've changed the title from Chopstick Bandit to Semper Reformanda.

Chopstick Bandit had no meaning... it was a nonsensical conglomeration of words that I formed by looking at random things. That being said, I thought it was a good name for a blog. However, Semper Reformanda seems better.

I'm reading through Os Guinness' The Call, for one of my classes and ran across a section where he mentions the Latin phrase "semper reformanda." In English it means "always reforming," and was the cry of the reformation that formed what we now call Protestant Christianity. The point of the phrase is to show that no one this side of glory has arrived. We should always be evaluating our beliefs and practices and how they compare to Christ. To be content to stay where we are currently will begin to breed pride and contempt for those around us. Only by humbly bowing at the throne of grace can we prevent ourselves from being puffed up with our own self-worth and eclipsing our view of Jesus Christ.

May we never think so much of ourselves that we think something or someone is below us. May we always be reforming our thought, speech, and actions in accordance with what Christ would have us do. May we always remember that we are all sinners, saved by grace, to the glory of God the Father, amen.

[Thursday, September 17, 2009]

A Minister's Bible

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O God of truth,
I thank Thee for the holy Scriptures,
their precepts, promises, directions, light.
In them may I learn more of Christ,
be enabled to retain His truth
and have grace to follow it.
Help me to lift up the gates of my soul
that He may come in
and show me Himself when I search the Scriptures,
for I have no lines to fathom its depths,
no wings to soar to its heights.
By His aid may I be enabled to explore all its truths,
love them with all my heart,
embrace them with all my power,
engraft them into my life.
Bless to my soul all grains of truth garnered from Thy Word;
may they take deep root,
be refreshed by heavenly dew,
be ripened by heavenly rays,
be harvested to my joy and Thy praise.
Help me to gain profit by what I read,
as a treasure beyond all treasure,
a fountain which can replenish my dry heart,
its waters flowing through me as a perennial river
on-drawn by Thy Holy Spirit.
Enable me to distill from its pages faithful prayer
that grasps the arm of Thy omnipotence,
achieves wonders, obtains blessings,
and draws down streams of mercy.
From it show me how my words have often been
unfaithful to Thee,
injurious to my fellow-men,
empty of grace, full of folly,
dishonoring to my calling.
Then write Thy own words upon my heart
and inscribe them on my lips;
So shall all glory be to Thee in my reading of Thy Word!

[Monday, September 14, 2009]

Colorado: Part 3

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Aug 25
  • Climbed Quandary Peak (4000 vertical feet in 5 hrs - up, then 2.5 hrs down... total height 14,265 feet)
  • Felt like dying for a while
  • Took a bubble bath in the whirlpool tub
  • Ate an awesome burger from Empire Burgers for dinner
  • Ate my first crepe for dessert
  • Slept REALLY good
Aug 26
  • Did some reading and just had some down time
  • Bought some Smith ski goggles for 50% off
  • Had Wendy's for lunch (hey, it was vacation!)
  • Went to the Red Orchid for dinner (family style Chinese and Sushi)
Aug 27
  • Headed to Vail to meet Steve's family for lunch
  • Shopping in Vail was very reminiscent of Disney World
  • Lunch somewhere... don't remember. I had pasta
  • Went to Ford Park... as in Gerald and Betty
  • Took a gondola to the top of one of the peaks for a better view
  • Ate Giampietro Pizza for dinner back in Breckenridge (tiny restaurant, good pizza)
  • Packed
Aug 28
  • Headed home

Colorado: Part 2

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Aug 23
  • My birthday
  • Went to a non-instrumental Church of Christ since it was Sunday. (ecclesiastically stimulating)
  • Went to the Whale's Tail for my birthday lunch. Had a crab melt.
  • Ate Fatty's Pizza for dinner. Pretty nice little joint.
  • Went to a muscial -- the Fantasticks that evening. Not too shabby.
Aug 24

Yeah, God's kinda like that...

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As soon as you think you're all that... He knocks ya down a few pegs.

[Sunday, August 30, 2009]

Appreciate Technology!

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[Saturday, August 29, 2009]

Colorado: Part I

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Some highlights from my trip to Breckenridge, Colorado...

Aug 21
  • Had to get my license plate tags renewed before I left town... always a chore.
  • Forgot my checkbook at the DMV so I had to go back.
  • Got pulled over for running a stop sign one block from my sister's house before leaving for CO.
  • Had an uneventful flight from STL to DIA.
  • Ended up with a 4-banger Kia Sportage rental.
  • Got a meatloaf sandwich for lunch at the Happy Cooker.
  • Figured out the 4-banger Kia Sportage sucks for driving in the mountains of Colorado.
  • Met up with mom and dad & checked into our condos
  • Had dinner at the Breckenridge Brewery with 2 of Erin & Steve's friends -- Shane and Jason. I had a reuben.
  • Mom and dad decided to give me the master bedroom (king-sized bed and private bathroom w/ whirlpool tub and walk-in closet) so they could move around more in the bigger common room (trundle bed and pull-out couch). I wasn't going to complain.
Aug 22
  • Went to the Blue Moose for breakfast (I had pancakes, eggs, bacon, and half a cinnamon roll)
  • Everyone went to buy groceries, and I stayed behind to get some peace and quiet and do some reading.
  • Mom and dad found Country Bob's Steak Sauce at the grocery, which is produced in Centralia, IL... not too far from our hometown.
  • Grilled steak for dinner.
  • While we were waiting for the steak, I found a lego table in the game room of our complex. I rejoiced greatly.
  • Additionally, there was a life-size chess set near the grills that dad and I tried out after dinner.
  • Played Yahtzee later on... I took names by rolling 3 yahtzees.
More to come...

[Tuesday, August 18, 2009]

Looking forward to vacation

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[Sunday, August 16, 2009]

Jedi Gym

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Watch the whole thing... even if its hard. :)

Reading the Bible -- Jude 1-4

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1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:

2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
The sin and doom of Godless men
3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.



Jude starts off as most of the NT letters do: by identifying himself. We find out in verse 1, that Jude is the brother of James, who is the brother of Jesus thus, Jude was also a brother of Jesus. Most likely, this is the same Jude (or Judas) that is referred to in Matthew 13:55 - a son born to Joseph and Mary after the birth of Jesus.

The end of verse 1 determines the audience of the letter - in simple terms, true believers.

Verse 3 starts us off on an interesting note. It seems that the letter of Jude is not the actual letter he wished to write. Originally he sought to write about "the salvation we share," however circumstances made it such that a new topic took precedence. That topic being the defense of the faith against the false teachers that have started popping up in the church.

He goes on to use some pretty powerful phrases such as "men whose condemnation was written about long ago" and "godless men" to describe these false teachers who have "secretly slipped in" to pervert the Gospel of grace.

Licentiousness was an issue all the NT writers had to deal with. A common battle Paul had to face with his fairly revolutionary Gospel of free grace was that this led to liberal living and moral flexibility. The so-called "Christ died so that I can do whatever the heck I want" mentality. Jude was no exception in having to participate in this battle.

We see a glimpse of the argument against licentiousness that Jude will be making here in verse 4. First, he firmly states that "license for immorality" is changing the "grace of our God," which would not make it grace at all. Moreover, changing grace from what it actually is, is a flat out denial of Jesus Christ, who, as Jude states is "our only Soverign and Lord." The language here, speaking to Christ's authoritative role over the Christian.

In the following verses, we will see this theme fleshed out more.

Reading the Bible

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So I'm gonna try something new. I'm going to blog about what I'm reading in the Bible. The hope is this will keep me accountable to reading and actually thinking about what I read.

I'm starting with Jude because I don't think I've ever heard a sermon or seen much spoken/written about the book. And I find it immensely interesting.

Stay tuned...

[Friday, August 14, 2009]

The Crossing & AC on KMOV

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http://www.kmov.com/video/lateststories-index.html?nvid=389135&shu=1

[Thursday, August 13, 2009]

This past year

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So the teaching year at The Crossing is coming to a close with the end of the summer. As we gear up for a new year and changes all around, I thought it would be good to reflect a bit on where we went this last year.

Nehemiah

Still moves me...

Easter

Mystery at The Crossing - 4/12/2009 from Andy Sharpe on Vimeo.




John 3:16



I am constantly amazed at the talent and abilities of my friends.

[Wednesday, August 12, 2009]

LEGO What?!?!?!

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Re-blogged from one of my favorites...

Variety recently reported that Warner Brothers has brokered a deal with LEGO. They are making a movie. Did you see this coming? I sure didn’t.

Here’s what Variety has to say:

WB is toying with plans to develop a movie around Lego and its popular building blocks.

Scribes Dan and Kevin Hageman are penning the script for the family comedy that will mix live action and animation. Warners is keeping the plot tightly under wraps, but it’s described as an action adventure set in a Lego world.

Apparently, LEGO has been approached about making a movie before, but has always turned the idea down. This time, things seem to be different.

Directors and producers in town have attempted to make a Lego movie for years, approaching the Danish toymaker with various ideas, but Lego turned down most of them because it’s highly protective of its brand.

But the company sparked to Lin and the Hageman brothers’ embrace of core values Lego wanted to include in a film, especially “a fun factor, creativity and that imagination has no boundaries,” Lin told Daily Variety. The film’s been in development for more than a year, with the scribes and producers making several trips to Denmark to work with Lego’s execs on the concept.

Also helping is the long relationship Warner Bros. has had with Lego over the years. Warner has licensed characters like Batman, Harry Potter and Speed Racer to Lego to integrate into playsets, and through TT Games, the videogame publisher that WB bought in 2007, has produced the popular “Lego Star Wars,” “Lego Indiana Jones,” “Lego Batman” and, soon, “Lego Rock Band” titles.

Vacation

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Hmmm this reminds me... Family vacation is coming up soon.

[Tuesday, August 11, 2009]

Bait and Switch

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What do you think of this?

Taken from here.

To start, a story.

A few years ago a female student wanted to visit with me about some difficulties she was having, mainly with her family life. As is my practice, we walked around campus as we talked.

After talking for some time about her family situation we turned to other areas of her life. When she reached spiritual matters we had the following exchange:

"I need to spend more time working on my relationship with God."
I responded, "Why would you want to do that?"
Startled she says, "What do you mean?"
"Well, why would you want to spend any time at all on working on your relationship with God?"
"Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?"
"Let me answer by asking you a question. Can you think of anyone, right now, to whom you need to apologize? Anyone you've wronged?"
She thinks and answers, "Yes."
"Well, why don't you give them a call today and ask for their forgiveness. That might be a better use of your time than working on your relationship with God."

Obviously, I was being a bit provocative with the student. And I did go on to clarify. But I was trying to push back on a strain of Christianity I see in both my students and the larger Christian culture. Specifically, when the student said "I need to work on my relationship with God" I knew exactly what she meant. It meant praying more, getting up early to study the bible, to start going back to church. Things along those lines. The goal of these activities is to get "closer" to God. To "waste time with Jesus." Of course, please hear me on this point, nothing is wrong with those activities. Personal acts of piety and devotion are vital to a vibrant spiritual life and continued spiritual formation. But all too often "working on my relationship with God" has almost nothing to do with trying to become a more decent human being.

The trouble with contemporary Christianity is that a massive bait and switch is going on. "Christianity" has essentially become a mechanism for allowing millions of people to replace being a decent human being with something else, an endorsed "spiritual" substitute. For example, rather than being a decent human being the following is a list of some commonly acceptable substitutes:

Going to church
Worship
Praying
Spiritual disciplines (e.g., fasting)
Bible study
Voting Republican
Going on spiritual retreats
Reading religious books
Arguing with evolutionists
Sending your child to a Christian school or providing education at home
Using religious language
Avoiding R-rated movies
Not reading Harry Potter.

The point is that one can fill a life full of spiritual activities without ever, actually, trying to become a more decent human being. Much of this activity can actually distract one from becoming a more decent human being. In fact, some of these activities make you worse, interpersonally speaking. Many churches are jerk factories.

Take, for example, how Christians tip and behave in restaurants. If you have ever worked in the restaurant industry you know the reputation of the Sunday morning lunch crowd. Millions of Christians go to lunch after church on Sundays and their behavior is abysmal. The single most damaging phenomenon to the witness of Christianity in America today is the collective behavior of the Sunday morning lunch crowd. Never has a more well-dressed, entitled, dismissive, haughty or cheap collection of Christians been seen on the face of the earth.

I exaggerate of course. But I hope you see my point. Rather than pouring our efforts into two hours of worship, bible study and Christian fellowship on Sunday why don't we just take a moment and a few extra bucks to act like a decent human being when we go to lunch afterwards? Just think about it. What if the entire restaurant industry actually began to look forward to working Sunday lunch? If they said amongst themselves, "I love the church crowd. They are kind, patient and very generous. It's my favorite part of the week waiting on Christians." How might such a change affect the way the world sees us? Think about it. Just being a decent human being for one hour each Sunday and the world sees us in a whole new way.

But it's not going to happen. Because behavior at lunch isn't considered to be "working on your relationship with God." Behavior at lunch isn't spiritual. Going to church, well, that is working on your relationship with God. But, as we all know, any jerk can sit in a pew. But you can't be a jerk if you take the time to treat your waitress as if she were a friend, daughter or mother.

My point in all this is that contemporary Christianity has lost its way. Christians don't wake up every morning thinking about how to become a more decent human being. Instead, they wake up trying to "work on their relationship with God" which very often has nothing to do with treating people better. How could such a confusion have occurred? How did we end up going so wrong? I'm sure there are lots of answers, but at the end of the day we need to face up to our collective failure. I'm not saying we need to do anything dramatic. A baby step would do to start. Waking up trying to be a little more kind, more generous, more interruptible, more forgiving, more humble, more civil, more tolerant. Do these things and prayer and worship will come alongside to support us.

I truly want people to spend time working on their relationship with God. I just want them to do it by taking the time to care about the person standing right in front of them.

[Monday, August 10, 2009]

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

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This looks really really good.

The Least Interesting Man...

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[Tuesday, August 4, 2009]

Neat... if you like music or the brain

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World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

[Friday, July 31, 2009]

The God-sized hole

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This article was published back in June, but a friend just told me about it recently.

I don't know if he even understood what he was saying when he said it... but it is telling and honest. Read it people, it is probably the most true look at the life of a Hollywood actor you'll ever get.




"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matthew 11:28-30

[Friday, July 24, 2009]

Meditation: Phillipians 3:15-16

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Taken from here.


“Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” Philippians 3:15-16

How incredibly difficult it is to see ourselves as we really are. Though we see the strengths and shortcomings of others quite easily, to look honestly in the mirror at our own lives is not easy at all. Those who wrestle with addictions are very familiar with the power of denial. We all tend to deny to ourselves what we don’t want to admit. Though the people who love us the most keep warning us; though sermons and songs and words from scripture keep confirming those warnings; though deep in our hearts we know those warnings are probably on target; if we don’t like what we are hearing we will deny to ourselves what we know to be true. The promise the Apostle Paul makes to us in this passage is that God will reveal to His children those ways of thinking, patterns of behavior, attitudes, character flaws, etc., that need to change. What an awesome promise that is. God will break down the walls of denial we build around our hearts if we will let Him.

How do we let Him? Three words: faith, courage, willingness. Faith leads to courage, courage leads to willingness, willingness leads to God. Here’s how it works. To have FAITH in the love of Jesus means that you know that no matter what you have done or haven’t done, no matter how you have failed or succeeded, no matter how good or bad you have been; God loves you with an incredible love. Romans 5:20 tells us, “…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” There’s nothing you can do to make God love you more or love you less. Jesus’ death on the cross has shown us once and for all the depth of God’s amazing love for us all. When you have faith in that love it gives you COURAGE. When you know how loved you are you have the courage to look honestly at yourself because you know that no matter how good, bad, or ugly you are, still you are loved!!! You don’t have to be afraid of what you will see if you let go of your denial. Have you really messed up? Still you are loved. Have you hurt someone terribly? Still you are loved. Are you selfish, prideful, greedy, judgmental, etc.? Still you are loved. When you have faith in Jesus, that faith gives you the courage to see what you haven’t wanted to see, and that courage leads to WILLINGNESS. With courage you can find the willingness to let God break your denial. With courage you can find the willingness to hear whatever God is saying to you. With courage you can find the willingness to let God speak to you through your spouse, your parent, your friend, your preacher, or even your own conscience. With courage you can find the willingness even to make changes you haven’t wanted to make, knowing that God’s love will be with you as you make those changes.

Denial is a terrible thing. Willingness to listen and to change is an awesome thing.

Prayer: Dear God, please strengthen my faith in Jesus so that I may have courage. I want to be brave enough to hear what You are really saying to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Booty, God, Booty

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Stuff Christians Like's Jon Acuff brings it at Cross Point Church in Nashville.



Coming in at just under 28 minutes, this is definitely worth a watch.

[Monday, July 20, 2009]

Which one are you?

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July 2009 Events

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A short video my man Brian did for church announcements.

Re-posted from Katie's blog.

Book Review: Crazy Love

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Short story: Francis Chan is the man. This book is compelling, accessible, and has exhortation out the yin-yang.

I did myself a disservice by reading this book over a period of 2-3 months. I've been lazy this summer with regard to my reading and just didn't stay on a regimented schedule. My fault. However, every time I read part of this book, I was continually impressed with Chan's ability to pull me back into his way of looking at the Christian life.

The main purpose of the book is to establish a sort of framework for the craziness that is the love of God towards man (crazy, in the extreme amount and specific nature of that love). And the craziness of our normal response (singing, 2 hrs on Sunday morning, and feeling bad about cussing etc...) Thus, Chan works to reestablish the sheer weight of God's love for us and our amazing inadequacy in our response to that love. Then, after this, he asks the hard questions and challenges us to reflect on our lives and how they should properly convey God's love and our love for God.

Chan has impacted me with his book, if only to reaffirm some choices I've made recently. Theology is great, and a large part of my life, but if theology doesn't cause you to get out of your chair and your nose out of that book, then something is wrong. We are called... even compelled to make a difference in our surrounding world. Chan helps us to not lose sight of this. Chapter 9 is basically a number of biographies of people who have lived their lives differently, who have chosen not to be complacent with the status quo of human existence and who gave until they were unable to give anymore. This chapter really spoke to me, and I hope it speaks to you as well.

This book goes next to Mere Christianity on the list of books every person who considers themselves a Christian should read.

Please do not miss this.

[Wednesday, July 15, 2009]

Bible giveaway

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Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at Bible.Logos.com and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.

Being observant

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I recently started a new part-time job, which requires that I keep an eye on everything that is going on around me. This really started to hit home to me as DJ (a co-worker) was training me on the things he does during his shift. I was beginning to realize that I don't really pay attention to my surroundings that much, take stock of the world around me, or notice small changes. I'm usually driving towards a goal, seeking after a result that is still far away. Big changes, that's what I seem to do well with.

Hopefully, I'm not as un-observant (is that even a word?) as this guy:



But, I do feel that this is an area that I need to improve in. When was the last time you noticed something new about a place you walk by everyday? Or perhaps a new hairstyle of a friend?

I think this even carries over into our reading of scripture. "Oh this is the Christmas story, I know what happens here!" And we skip right over a truth that is sitting right there waiting for us that maybe we didn't see the first 5000 times we read the story. That's the beauty of scripture-- regardless of how long you've studied it, something new can always be brought to light. As long as you are humble enough to be taught.

I think good observance is directly connected to humility. Without being humble enough to realize that more is going on than we already know or can see, we can never truly observe and learn from our surroundings. If you aren't able to say "What is the new thing am I going to see today?", you will never find anything new in life to get excited about.

Change is a wonderful thing. It destroys monotony and reminds us of our temporary existence by reaffirming what is truly important in life. Don't get caught in the trap that things need to settle down. Seek new things every day of your life!

Humility is also a wonderful thing. It destroys the pride and self-worth that comes from the invader and reminds us of our finite minds by knocking us down a peg or two when we need it. Don't get caught in the trap that you know it all. Seek to always be a student every day of your life!

I hope I never quit learning and observing from my surroundings. If I do, someone kick me in the face.

[Tuesday, July 14, 2009]

What you didn't know about Apollo 11

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Taken from here...


Ten Things You Didn't Know About the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

1. The Apollo’s Saturn rockets were packed with enough fuel to throw 100-pound shrapnel three miles, and NASA couldn’t rule out the possibility that they might explode on takeoff. NASA seated its VIP spectators three and a half miles from the launchpad.

2. The Apollo computers had less processing power than a cellphone.

3. Drinking water was a fuel-cell by-product, but Apollo 11’s hydrogen-gas filters didn’t work, making every drink bubbly. Urinating and defecating in zero gravity, meanwhile, had not been figured out; the latter was so troublesome that at least one astronaut spent his entire mission on an anti-diarrhea drug to avoid it.

4. When Apollo 11’s lunar lander, the Eagle, separated from the orbiter, the cabin wasn’t fully depressurized, resulting in a burst of gas equivalent to popping a champagne cork. It threw the module’s landing four miles off-target.

5. Pilot Neil Armstrong nearly ran out of fuel landing the Eagle, and many at mission control worried he might crash. Apollo engineer Milton Silveira, however, was relieved: His tests had shown that there was a small chance the exhaust could shoot back into the rocket as it landed and ignite the remaining propellant.

6. The "one small step for man" wasn’t actually that small. Armstrong set the ship down so gently that its shock absorbers didn’t compress. He had to hop 3.5 feet from the Eagle’s ladder to the surface.

7. When Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface, he had to make sure not to lock the Eagle's door because there was no outer handle.

8. The toughest moonwalk task? Planting the flag. NASA’s studies suggested that the lunar soil was soft, but Armstrong and Aldrin found the surface to be a thin wisp of dust over hard rock. They managed to drive the flagpole a few inches into the ground and film it for broadcast, and then took care not to accidentally knock it over.

9. The flag was made by Sears, but NASA refused to acknowledge this because they didn’t want "another Tang."

10. The inner bladder of the space suits—the airtight liner that keeps the astronaut’s body under Earth-like pressure—and the ship’s computer’s ROM chips were handmade by teams of “little old ladies.”

[Saturday, July 11, 2009]

Half Blood Prince

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The new Harry Potter comes out this week. Get excited!!!

[Friday, July 10, 2009]

Lucky Rocketship Underpants

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So recently, a lot of people have been asking me where the quote in the upper-right-hand corner of my blog came from... Ok, so that's a lie. No one has ever asked me where it came from or why its there. Actually, I'm not sure if anyone has ever even noticed it. Anyway, I thought I'd share where it came from anyway, since it came from one of the indispensable bastions of truth in the galaxy...


(Click to enlarge)

Ever feel like you can take on the world? Like you're prepared for whatever gets thrown at you? Then you get ran over by a Mack truck right out of the door? Yeah, we've all been there. On days like that, even your lucky rocketship underpants don't help.

Happy 500th John Calvin!

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Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the Church?
-- John Calvin


If he were still alive, John Calvin would be 500 years old today. Now, even though that's only half as old as Yoda actually lived, its still an historic occasion to remember. This whole week, many people gathered in Geneva, Switzerland to celebrate the event which is covered here.

Forever known as the "founder" of Calvinism (though he did not coin the name, nor did he systamatize the theology into the dreaded "TULIP," which was actually done by his contemporaries), John Calvin remains a very volatile image in Christian history. Ya either love him or hate him... not many land in between.

His Institutes of the Christian Religion and set of commentaries still remain a powerhouse in Christian theology and respected in the academic community.

Regardless of what you think about his teachings on specific topics, the guy was a man of God... no doubt about that. So, happy birthday John Calvin. I wonder if you thought you'd be remembered this long after your death.

Don't set your beard on fire when you blow out your 500 candles.

Taun-Taun Sleeping Bag... for kids!

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Apparently, this started as a "Think Geek" April Fool's Day joke, which has quickly evolved into a real good possibility of actually happening...

All I can say is... I WANT ONE!!!!!!!

[Wednesday, July 1, 2009]

Meditation: Philippians 3:1

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“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not irksome to me, and is safe for you.” Philippians 3:1


The story is told of a tourist in New York City who had a ticket to attend a symphony concert at the storied Carnegie Hall. Running out of time and unable to find the concert hall, the tourist spotted a musician carrying a violin case, and asked him, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice,” replied the musician.


So it is with becoming the people God sent us here to be. You don’t learn how to love, how to forgive, how to be kind, patient, or compassionate in one or two easy lessons. These are the goals of a lifetime, and repetition is the key. You read the Bible again and again. You worship again and again. You pray again and again. You try, you fail, you get up and start over; again and again and again. The point is, you never give up. You keep on going, no matter what. In I Corinthians 9:24-27 Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”


The question is, are you humble enough to keep on working at these lessons God is seeking to teach you even when it seems like you’ve already been there and done that? It is a humble thing, after all, to admit to yourself that you need to keep worshiping, you need to keep listening to sermons, you need to keep praying, you need to keep reading the Bible because, like everyone else, you’re not that fast of a learner when it comes to the things of God. It might not have taken you long to learn chemistry or algebra, but nobody learns quickly how to truly love. In an ADD, hyper-speed, digital, media-blitzed culture; it’s hard not to get bored doing these simple things of worship, prayer and Bible reading over and over again; but the end result is more than worth the effort.


Make the effort…over and over again.


Prayer: Father, please give me the discipline and determination to keep working at godliness all the days of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A good reminder to me and to you. Taken from here.

[Tuesday, June 30, 2009]

Mmmmm! Taco Bell!

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Taco Bell's New Green Menu Takes No Ingredients From Nature

[Sunday, June 28, 2009]

Books that will save your life

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I've been on an "organization" kick lately. I've decided that I depend on my brain too much to do things for me. And with all the different places I go and things I do, I decided it was time to start streamlining and getting into some good habits.

My first step in this process deals with these three little black books. I plan on carrying these with me everywhere (step 2 comes later) from now on.



From top to bottom...

Moleskine notebook -- I've noticed that I tend to forget a lot of things, especially what church was about the week prior etc... So I started carrying one of these to take notes from week to week. I think I might start expanding into writing random thoughts / profound things I come across in my daily life. This is an important habit that I resisted for a long time... I didn't want to be a journaler. But, I think as long as its on my terms, I'm OK with it... its my journal, so what I want to write is what I write. I don't have to live up to the standards of other more poetic journalers that I envy, even if just a tiny bit. I really like the size of this journal, the elastic strap on the outside and the nice bookmark to help keep your place.

Life saving power: Allows you not to lose important thoughts, as long as you are not too proud to write them down. Makes you look really cool because its German (a la Sham-Wow) or something, and you act like you know how to pronounce "Moleskine".

Weekly / Monthly Planner (hyperlink not the actual planner in the picture) -- This is the newest addition to the "black book" series, and I finally broke down to get one. Last night, I got offered a part-time job at my church doing facilities work. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I needed organization of my time. Between day-job deadlines, school assignments, night-job scheduling, and social life I knew I was going to miss something if I didn't have a written reference keeping me sane. Being a good steward of my time will help me be more efficient and productive... especially during the school year. I chose this particular planner (it took a while to find one I liked) because it is actually a faux leather encasement around a spiral-bound planner insert. On most planners, the spiral binding was exposed, which I didn't like (kept getting caught on things). Also, size (length/width, as well as thickness) played a big factor in choosing this particular planner.

Life Saving Power: Allows you to not miss anything important, as long as you are not as forgetful about writing things you have to do in the planner as you are forgetful about where you need to be.

ESV Thinline Bible (Bonded Leather) -- This one should come as no surprise to anyone who is at least an acquaintance with me. I really like the ESV. I chose this particular bible to replace my previous ESV because that one didn't really fit well in my school bag along with my other books. Also, the leather was really soft, so when I did put it in there, I had to be extra careful that I didn't curl the corners of the cover. I ended up giving that bible to a friend who needed a personal-sized bible but was too money conscious to splurge for one. Plus, my current bible has a better feel and size to it. I call it the "marry and bury bible" since I could use it for weddings and funerals if needed... just plain black.

Life Saving Power: In this book are eternal truths that can ultimately TRULY save your life. This book contains the "power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." The fact its an ESV is just an added bonus. If you can only get one of the 3 books mentioned, get this one. Heck, if you can't get this one based on some financial or logistical issue, let me know and I'll get you one. EVERYONE should have one of these.

So these are the 3 books that will save your life. Ok, so maybe only one TRULY has the power to save your life, but all 3 can be very beneficial and helpful. As long as you are disciplined enough to use them all correctly (especially #3).

[Saturday, June 27, 2009]

Worship

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Sing to the King Who is coming to reign
Glory to Jesus, the Lamb that was slain
Life and salvation His empire shall bring
And joy to the nations when Jesus is King

Come, let us sing a song
A song declaring that we belong to Jesus
He is all we need
Lift up a heart of praise
Sing now with voices raised to Jesus
Sing to the King

For His returning we watch and we pray
We will be ready the dawn of that day
We'll join in singing with all the redeemed
'Cause Satan is vanquished and my Jesus is King


Christ, be the center of our lives
Be the place we fix our eyes
Be the center of our lives

Some perspective from Star Wars

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I've been keeping up on the development of a certain Star Wars game that I'm really excited about that will be coming out in the next year or two. Every Friday, the company developing the game releases something new that gives the gaming community some more information to make them drool. One week it might be the announcement of a new planet to explore, and next week maybe an article from a developer for a "behind the scenes" look at game development. I'm a frequent reader, but hardly post myself, since I don't really ever have anything useful to add.

However, I've noticed a trend that I'm sure applies to a lot of different areas, including my own life (more on that in a bit). Regardless of what the update is for the week, it seems anyone can find a reason to complain or ask for more. There is no sense of satisfaction. It seems that a lot of this gaming community feel entitled to "special" information that is always exactly what they were looking for... tailored specifically to them.

What often goes unnoticed though, is the fact that ANY update that gets made is totally at the discretion of the company. They don't HAVE to provide updates on a weekly basis... or at all. But they CHOOSE to provide updates to the community to allow them to be excited about the game, and to know that they, as a company, appreciate the community. They want the community to tell their friends about the game, to get them excited about it and to ultimately, look forward for the day when the game comes out and everyone can enjoy it.

These thoughts got me to thinking about my own life and my relationship to God. When things happen in my life that I'm not too particularly fond of, am I quick to tell God how things should have went, or am I thankful that there is a God who loves me who is with me throughout the rough time? Do I get excited about that God who sent his own Son to take my place, to pay for my debt so that I might someday enjoy life with God? Am I moved to the point that I tell, even implore others to follow the path I have taken and start living the Christian life? Am I actually looking forward to the day when Christ returns and this world is restored to the creation God had intended before sin and we spend eternity in His presence?

Or am I only excited or complaining about a computer game I may play for 6 months?