Semper Reformanda

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

[Tuesday, June 30, 2009]

Mmmmm! Taco Bell!


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

[Sunday, June 28, 2009]

Books that will save your life


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]



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


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?

What I did last night...


Book Review: The Blue Parakeet


First off, let me set some ground rules. I highly respect Scot McKnight and what he does to teach and write. I subscribe to his blog and read it regularly. I believe him to be a strong man of God who is honestly seeking Christ in his daily life.

That being said, when I first heard about The Blue Parakeet, I had mixed feelings. I'm not really into the more "popular" Christianity books, and it seemed this one was being marketed that way. I'd heard a lot of people really liked it and it was offering fresh perspective on stale topics. I'd also heard some negative press from some trusted sources, so after someone recommended the book to me, I thought I should see what all the fuss was about.

To start off, what is a "blue parakeet?" Simply, blue parakeets are the passages in the bible or issues that we tend to shy away from or rationalize or apply strict rules to. McKnight lists some such topics on pages 13-17:
  • Sabbath
  • Foot Washing
  • Do we conform the Bible to science, science to the Bible, or...?
  • Should women be ordained? Can they preach and teach?
  • What do we do about abortion?
McKnight's goal in this book is to get the reader to start asking questions about these topics and working them out. He also presents 3 ways to read the bible. 1.) Read and retrieve (literally applying every aspect of the biblical story onto your life), 2.) Read through tradition (follow the pattern of the church throughout history), or 3.) Read with tradition. McKnight's view expounded on in this book is the third method. As he says on page 34: "...we need to go back to the Bible so we can move forward through the church and speak God's Word in our days in our ways."

The first half of this book is devoted to laying out the framework for reading with tradition. The second half is devoted to practicing that technique on a current hot-topic: women in ministry.

The first half started off really quite nicely. He talked a lot about the bible as story, rather than just a rule book, promises, or a puzzle just to figure out. These are stories written by several different authors with different takes on the world that they lived in, yet still all tied into the grand narrative of the bible.

However, when we got out of how to read, and into how to interpret, that's where we began to part ways. On page 57, he details a bit about how it works:

In reference to Lev 25:35-38 --

You probably read this prohibition of interest the way I do: that was then, and this is now. Reading the Bible like this is reading the Bible as Story. It unfolds and propels us to live out the Bible in our day in our way.
In principle, this makes sense and I can agree with what he is saying, however where to draw the line becomes a messy ordeal. What can be considered a "blue parakeet?" I'm sure some would say Jesus Christ himself is a blue parakeet. In which case, do we say that the resurrection story is a that was then, and this is now topic? Honestly, I think a lot of my disagreement with McKnight comes from what he doesn't say versus what he does say. These statements need to be qualified... we need fences to guard against the central truths of Christianity that, if we aren't careful could be swept under a rug due to cultural differences between the biblical age and the present age.

As an example of this, check out page 120, beginning with a paragraph from an email he got from one of his blog readers:

How can we take a Bible that forbids sex outside of marriage, that was written in a time where there was little or no time that passed between sexual maturity and marriage, and apply it to today's situation? I see this as a significant challenge in ministering to the emerging generation, and I don't see it discussed much.
McKnight goes on to say that these are complicated topics, and that we need to be thinking about them more, but offers no defense for abstaining from premarital sex beyond the cultural trend of the biblical era where people married younger, so the sexual temptations single people in their 20s feel now weren't an issue then. So then, what is to stop someone from reading this, researching the passages discussed on premarital sex, decide that was then, and this is now, and engaging in premarital sex, citing that this was for cultural reasons so it doesn't apply to him/her. This is a very slippery slope.

To sum up my thoughts on the first half of the book, I did want to mention something I just thought was in poor taste, although it is his book so he can write what he wants. Chapter 8 is titled: "The Boring Chapter (on Missional Listening)." The subtitle reads: "What Does God Want to Happen to Listeners." In the first paragraph, he talks about his wife who found this chapter to be boring, more theoretical and thus, this is where the name came from. He even says that if the reader gets bored, they should skip to the next chapter. Did he just discount everything he wrote in this chapter? What is the point of the chapter if you don't even need to read it? The sheer fact that the chapter is about what the Bible calls us to do with our lives should be reason enough to read it, and deem it important.

The second half of the book was devoted to the debate of women taking leadership and teaching roles in the church. I don't really have much to say about this because I'm not sure how I feel about it. I do believe in gender roles (God creating men and women for specific purposes), however I don't think the box is closed in that their roles can be used cross-gender.

I will say, I was dissappointed in the scholarship of the book. I know that the type of book it is doesn't lend itself to having exhaustive exegesis behind it, but it was pretty darn light on biblical interpretation and exposition.

In summary, I appreciate the attempt by Scot McKnight to open up a fresh perspective on hot-topics in the church and how to approach them, however I was left wanting. I'd need to sit and talk with him personally to find out if my interpretation of what he was saying is actually what he was trying to get across. The problem is he doesn't offer any "this is what I'm NOT saying..." types of statements to belay such feelings.

I think that we should always be re-evaluating our faith and working to refine and stregthen what we believe, so I would say this book is worth reading for that. However, I would be careful who I tell to read it because of the implications for some who might not understand the context and take this to mean you can take or leave any part of the bible you want.

I've not given up


Don't worry, just because I haven't posted in a few days doesn't mean I'm gone for good... I've been swamped at work lately and haven't had much free time to write. For the next few weeks its going to be pretty light, but I hope to get back in a groove soon.

[Monday, June 22, 2009]

For sale: slightly used house


Anyone want to buy a house?

My first spaceship


You can click the pictures to get a larger view.

Left view:

Front view:

Isometric view:

Hobbes... a tiger after my own heart


The Great Adventure


Saddle up your horses... the guy that is taking pictures of my house just called. This time tomorrow I should be officially "on the market."

The Great Adventure of home selling has begun!

What are your guesses for how long I'll be for sale?

LEGO Re-awakening


Ah yes, LEGOs... the object of countless hours of satisfaction, frustration, creation, destruction, and just plain awesomeness. I recently found this great blog which is devoted to the creative community surrounding LEGOs and their creations like the one on the left.

"How," you might ask, "can these people be so creative and precise?" Well, that is a wonderful question. LEGO has developed a free LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) program that is basically a virtual playground with LEGOs. You can select from hundreds (if not thousands) of pieces to snap together on your computer.

The cool thing is that when you make a model you really like, you can send it off to LEGO themselves and they will (for the applicable price) send you back the kit of LEGO pieces and even instructions to make the model!

"But Tim, I've noticed not all pieces are in the LDD program! Where is --insert random obscure LEGO piece that you really need--?" I'm glad you asked! For those more technical people out there, there is an open source version called LDraw that has a lot less rules to play by. In fact, I've heard that if a piece you want doesn't exist, you can fashion it yourself!

So far, the only problem I've ran into with this whole thing is that now I want to spend hundreds of hours and dollars on LEGOs. What a problem to have!

What kind of model should I make? After I decide on something semi-basic yet really cool, I'll post my progress as I go.

[Saturday, June 20, 2009]

Good people


Anyone got a friend or two that you can talk to about anything? Even if its nothing. Those types of friends are great because your friendship goes beyond common interest... you have a genuine caring for them, and they you. You can do something to upset them and instead of dwelling on it, they tell you about it and you work through it... not because of some obligation, but because you actually care about their well being. Friends like that are hard to come by, so if you have one... don't take it for granted. And if you come across a relationship like that, hold on to it as hard as possible because that's how life should be lived. With people who actually give a crap about you.

Hall & Oates + Keyboard Cat = Awesomeness


Who ever thought a light blue t-shirt with rolled up sleeves and a mustache was "cool"?

[Thursday, June 18, 2009]

Movie Review: The Hangover


I'll put it short and sweet...if movies like Super Troopers, Old School, or Wedding Crashers aren't your thing, then you probably won't like The Hangover. But honestly, if you thought this was going to be a tame movie from the previews or title, we should probably talk.

Actually, all in all, this movie surprised me for not being as "bad" as I was expecting. Yes, strong language, yes, nudity (more male than female if you can believe that!)... but honestly, those weren't the defining moments of the film.

The story, as you can guess, is about a bachelor party gone wrong. Three friends wake up the day after what they assume was their best night ever not able to remember anything, and to top it off: the groom is missing. The rest of the movie is devoted to these three guys trying to remember what happened and figure out where the groom is.

The acting was pretty well done and well casted. I became a fan of Bradley Cooper after his appearance as a crazy crazy man in Wedding Crashers. It was nice to see him play the semi-good guy role here. I've never really been a fan of Zach Galifianakis nor his comedy, but he really shined in this movie. Ed Helms has always had a spot in my heart, so I was happy to see him get a lot of face time and do well in this movie.

Basically, this movie works because it gets more and more ridiculous the farther you get into it. Lets just say that a movie that can work Mike Tyson and Phil Collins into the same scene has got something going for it.

[Tuesday, June 16, 2009]

Gospel Smackdown


Blues, buddies, bed


I made a very rare appearance out and about last night for our friend Joel's 30th birthday. We went to BB's Jazz, Blues, and Soups... a bar downtown. I had no idea BB's was known for it's soups... I guess you learn something new everyday.

The band, Audra & The ContinuOhm, was great. Sort of a mix between soul and blues, with some hints of jazz. All of them could play/sing, so it was just a lot of fun to listen to. I am continually impressed with the quality of musicians we have here in Saint Louis. Made me miss dancing some.

(Stole this picture from Rob's album)

However, today I got up late, was late to work, and I feel quite tired. Oh well, I'm going to do things like that more often. I miss it!

[Monday, June 15, 2009]

Ahhhh Square One...


[Sunday, June 14, 2009]

Believing lies, rejecting truth


I stole this from Tim Challies' blog... Its a quote from Horatius Bonar (1808 - 1889), a Scottish preacher, poet, author and hymn writer. I found it to be a powerful reminder of our own tendency to make much of ourselves and our tendency to diminish God.

In all unbelief there are these two things--a good opinion of one's self and a bad opinion of God. Man's good opinion of himself makes him think it quite possible to win God's favor by his own religious performances; and his bad opinion of God makes him unwilling and afraid to put his case wholly into His hands. The object of the Holy Spirit's work (in convincing of sin) is to alter the sinner's opinion of himself, and so to reduce his estimate of his own character that he shall think of himself as God does, and so cease to suppose it possible that he can be justified by an excellency of his own. The Spirit then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to make him see that the God with whom he has to do is really the God of all grace.

But the inquirer denies that he has a good opinion of himself and owns himself a sinner. Now a man may SAY this, but really to KNOW it is something more than SAYING. Besides, he may be willing to take the name of sinner to himself, in common with his fellow-men, and yet not at all own himself such a sinner as God says he is--such a sinner as needs the cross, and blood, and righteousness of the Son of God. It takes a great deal to destroy a man's good opinion of himself; how difficult it is to make a man think of himself as God does! What but the almightiness of the Divine Spirit can accomplish this?

Unbelief, then, is the belief of a lie and the rejection of the truth. Accept, then, the character of God as given in the gospel; the Holy Spirit will not give you peace irrespective of your views of God's character. It is in connection with THE TRUTH concerning the true God, "the God of all grace," that the Spirit gives peace. That which He shows us of ourselves is only evil; that which He shows us of God is only good!

Diminish me God. I pray that every day I would but fall humbly at your feet and say "I cannot do this without you."

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:1-10

[Friday, June 12, 2009]

Summer reading


Well, I'm out of school for the summer, but that doesn't mean I'm slacking off on the books. I've got a pretty full lineup of reading... some for pleasure, some to get me a little bit better prepared for next semester.

From bottom to top:

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright
Far As The Curse Is Found: The Covenant Story Of Redemption by Michael D. Williams (about 1/3 of the way through)
The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight (Reading this now)
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan
The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis

Man I miss being a kid


[Thursday, June 11, 2009]

Star Wars: The Old Republic


Yes, I'm a Star Wars nerd... I'm ok with that. This has become one of my favorite websites on the internet. It's just so useful!

Yes, Star Wars: The Old Republic is a computer game that is coming out in maybe a year or so... I'm super excited. Basically, if there is "Star Wars" in the title, and it has something to do with lightsabers, I'm there.

Plus, Bioware is at the helm, which means good things. They are basically awesome when it comes to telling a great story that draws you in. And they work with George Lucas quite a bit.

After this comes out, you might not see me for a while since I'll be living out my Jedi fantasy.


[Wednesday, June 10, 2009]

Pay-check to pay-check


I found Francis Chan's video blog yesterday... I don't think he updates it anymore, but what I've watched so far, its still pretty applicable.

This movie was one I just randomly watched, and it makes a lot of sense for where I'm currently at.

My world has changed quite a bit over the last year or so... I bought a house last year knowing I'd be staying in St. Louis for a long while. I have a steady job that I mostly enjoy and I'm involved in a wonderful church where I'm being invested in and I get to invest in people as well. Things seemed to be shaping up rather well. Then, I decided to start seminary and everything changed. Almost immediately I started feeling the pull towards full-time ministry and the corporate world was losing it's grip on me. But I knew if I were going to make this happen I'd have to offload my house and live pretty simply since working in the "religious sector" isn't really known for their high salaries.

Some people think I'm stupid to sell my house about a year after I bought it (almost spent a year looking as well); heck I think my realtor thinks I'm a bit crazy, but he understands why I'm doing this. It is scary and a little nerve-racking to be going through all of this real estate stuff again (especially with the economy now), but I feel like this is where I should be going to put myself in the best position possible.

The debate between equity in a house versus throwing money away in rent did make me think a bit... but to me, it goes like this:

With the money I'm not spending on my mortgage (probably 2-3 times what I'll pay in rent), I'll be able to start paying off my student loans, get a decent vehicle, and maybe even eat better (I might just swear off ramen, but I'll have to pray about that). Heck, it even allows me to start saving for another house, when hopefully I'm married and actually need one.

But honestly, I think I want the mobility not having a house offers. Recently I went to a Wycliffe Associates meeting where we got to hear from missionaries doing Bible translation work in Africa and India. I'm not gonna lie, I want to sell my house so doing something like that becomes one step easier.

I'm not really interested in a high-paying job, as long as my family is provided for and I enjoy what I do. And although I do *enjoy* my current job, I know that I don't really want to be in IT or the corporate world forever.

[Tuesday, June 9, 2009]

Gray matters...


I've been in a pretty gray place lately... just very blah. I think a lot of it has to do with dissatisfaction with my job and desiring to be somewhere else doing something else. If it weren't for my friends, I'd be in a pretty bad place right now. I remember a while back I was reading a few Psalms and came across Psalm 43:

1 Vindicate me, O God,
and plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.

2 You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?

3 Send forth your light and your truth,
let them guide me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.

4 Then will I go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Verse 5 especially reminds me that regardless of my gray state, I should put my hope in God and yet praise him; if only solely for the reason that he is my Savior and God. The sheer fact that he has raised me from death into life with Christ is an amazing thought that should modify our daily mindsets... but I feel like I forget the gravity of this oh so very often. I feel like I need this somewhere I'll see it everyday.



This being my first blog post, I'm rather unsure what to write about. I've always wanted to write, but never felt like anything I said would be worth reading. I don't really know what direction this blog thing will go in... or if I'll even log in past this first post. But, I've enjoyed reading some other people's blogs so I thought I'd give it a try.