Saturday, January 31, 2009


I feel like leaving a message is just one of those things. You know... those things that when I call someone and they don't answer, I feel awkward. If their phone was on, they now know that I called (missed calls). Do I leave a message? Do I hang up and try again? How long do I wait before trying again? Do I leave a message the second time? Can I expect them to return my call?

Maybe they left their phone at home. Maybe they can't hear it buried in their purse (oh man, my sister is totally this one). Maybe they're busy and they'll call back later. Maybe they won't call back unless I leave a message. Maybe they won't call back unless I ask them too in my message. Maybe....

My solution: always return the call.

And hope that others will do likewise.

Conversations In My Head

I think a lot. I often think more than I talk. Some do the opposite, but I'd say they both have the potential to be put in the "problem" category.

I say it's a problem because the thought comes at the expense of action. This is not good. I generally want to speak up, but am to afraid to take whatever risk is associated with my words. I'm getting a lot better at this balance.

And guess when this happens the most; when I'm angry. I get really frustrated at someone and walk away (not having said anything). As I walk, I realize "that would have been the perfect comeback!" I then run back to them and shout it in their face. Actually, I don't do that last bit, but I always wish I would have been thinking on my feet a little better during my argument. Of course, I am ultimately grateful that I'm not the witty slanderer that I imagine myself being, since that is a sin (I could find more).

Other occasions for these conversations to take place are when I want to encourage someone, when I'm waiting to pray in a group, when I am infatuated with a girl, when I am driving, etc. Basically, if I regularly have conversations with you, I've probably had a few that you weren't around for. So the next time you see me, ask what I said. Maybe I'll actually get it out. :-)

p.s. I don't know why I'm all about James tonight.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why Blog? - Part 2

Why do I blog?
  1. Collect my thoughts.
  2. Express my thoughts.
  3. Be heard.
  4. Share things I've found valuable with others.

Lately I've only been using this to share others thoughts that I enjoy, as someone pointed out., really neglecting the main reasons that I started this (1 and 2). This is probably because I'm a poorly focused perfectionist (a.k.a. things get started but never get done). I start a lot of posts, but rarely finish them.

Part of this is just an experiment, how will the blog evolve. Of course, in posting this I fall into a trap. I have my own ideas, and at least I'm not being apologetic.

Oh yeah, I love hyperlinks!

It's interesting to see how some bloggers spit out tons of posts every day, while others only post sporadically. The quality vs quantity issue is quite the dilemma (I was tempted to hyperlink some examples, I restrained myself).

So I guess we've discovered that I really enjoy sharing the thoughts and content of others with whoever may read this. I really enjoy this stuff. It's interesting, fascinating, challenging, hilarious, etc.! But as the title says, this is the Blog of Scott. So going forward, that's what it'll be.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

John Updike Is Dead

What is with my fascination with this man?? I will most likely be reading some of his books in the near future. You should read this article about him by Russel Moore. It's really interesting.

(via Between Two Worlds)

What Marketers Actually Sell

From Seth's Blog:
Not powder or chemicals or rubber or steel or silicon or talk or installations or even sugary water.

What marketers sell is hope.

The reason is simple: people need more. We run out. We need it replenished. Hope is almost always in short supply.

The magical thing about selling hope is that it makes everything else work better, every day get better, every project work better, every relationship feel better. If you can actually deliver on the hope you sell, there will be a line out the door.

Hope cures cynicism. Hope increases productivity. Hope needs no justification.

Read it there.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ask Pastor John

The latest Ask Pastor John, dealing with the question "How would you counsel someone who blames their temptations on God's sovereignty?" is amazing!

Please listen to this clip!

You Have To See Your Need

From Take Your Vitamin Z:
"One of the great faults of the contemporary church is the tendency to soft-pedal sin and judgment. Like false prophets we 'heal the wound of God's people lightly' (Jer. 6:14, 8:11). This is how Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it: 'It is only when one submits to the law that one can speak of grace... I don't think it is Christian to want to get to the New Testament too soon and too directly.' We must never bypass the law and come straight to the gospel. To do so is to contradict the plan of God in biblical history.

Is this not why the gospel is unappreciated today? Some ignore it, other ridicule it. So in our modern evangelism we cast out pearls (the costliest pearl being the gospel) before swine. People cannot see the beauty of the pearl, because they have no conception of the filth of the pigsty. No man has ever appreciated the gospel until the law has first revealed him to himself. It is only against the inky blackness of the night sky that the stars begin to appear, and it is only against the dark background of sin and judgment that the gospel shines forth.

Not until the law has bruised and smitten us will we admit our need of the gospel to bind up our wounds. Not until the law has arrested and imprisoned us will we pine for the Christ to set us free. Not until the law has condemned and killed us will we call upon Christ for justification and life. Not until the law has driven us to despair of ourselves will we ever believe in Jesus. Not until the law has humbled us even to hell will we turn to the gospel to raise us to heaven."
- John Stott, Galatians, p. 93
Read it there.

Reviewing 101: John Updike's rules

This John Updike seems to be much more interesting than I originally thought.
"My rules," he writes, "shaped intaglio-fashion by youthful traumas at the receiving end of critical opinion, were and are:

1. Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.

2. Give him enough direct quotation--at least one extended passage--of the book's prose so the review's reader can form his own impression, can get his own taste.

3. Confirm your description of the book with quotation from the book, if only phrase-long, rather than proceeding by fuzzy precis.

4. Go easy on plot summary, and do not give away the ending. (How astounded and indignant was I, when innocent, to find reviewers blabbing, and with the sublime inaccuracy of drunken lords reporting on a peasants' revolt, all the turns of my suspenseful and surpriseful narrative! Most ironically, the only readers who approach a book as the author intends, unpolluted by pre-knowledge of the plot, are the detested reviewers themselves. And then, years later, the blessed fool who picks the volume at random from a library shelf.)

5. If the book is judged deficient, cite a successful example along the same lines, from the author's ouevre or elsewhere. Try to understand the failure. Sure it's his and not yours?

To these concrete five might be added a vaguer sixth, having to do with maintaining a chemical purity in the reaction between product and appraiser. Do not accept for review a book you are predisposed to dislike, or committed by friendship to like. Do not imagine yourself a caretaker of any tradition, an enforcer of any party standards, a warrior in an idealogical battle, a corrections officer of any kind. Never, never (John Aldridge, Norman Podhoretz) try to put the author "in his place," making him a pawn in a contest with other reviewers. Review the book, not the reputation. Submit to whatever spell, weak or strong, is being cast. Better to praise and share than blame and ban. The communion between reviewer and his public is based upon the presumption of certain possible joys in reading, and all our discriminations should curve toward that end."
(at Critical Mass)

Guilt Trips

Over at Stuff Christians Like:
My greatest source of shame, the record I like to spin the most is called, "The Ways Jon Lets God Down." Have you ever heard that one? It's got some jams on it, including:

1. Jon should know better by now but still makes the same mistakes.
2. Jon gets arrogant when something good happens and only comes to God when life is raining.
3. Jon wrestles with the simplest elements of faith and will never be a good enough Christian.

I could go on and on, it's an album I'm really familiar with, but lately, it’s getting harder to play it. Lately, as I've started to explore my shame with God, I've started to think that maybe God sees my shame and desire to beat myself into submission with guilt differently than I do. Maybe if I asked Him, what He thought, He'd say:

"What if you struck yourself in the head with a chain every time you felt guilty or ashamed for letting me down? What if, you physically punished yourself every time you were not perfect? What if the self abuse was physical and external, instead of mental and internal? Would the scars cry for help? Would the pain you were causing yourself seem cruel and unnecessary? Would your heart break if you watched that person? This is what I see when I watch you Jon.

My son, my son, who told you that the crucifixion was not over?
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Anticipating Surprises

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11)

Growing Dominion, Part 160

"A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished" (Pr 27:12).

A prudent man sees it coming. A prudent man is not quick to defer maintenance. There are certain things coming which are predictable and scheduled, and others which are predictable but unscheduled. Just because something is unscheduled does not mean that it is not predictable. A business that depends on a fleet of cars needs to take into account the fact that the vehicles need maintenance, as well as the additional fact that a certain number of repairs will have to be anticipated as well—even though the breakdowns are not scheduled. A prudent man sees all this. You don’t have to tell him twice. But the simple pass on, expecting tomorrow to go swimmingly, just because today did.

(via the cleverly titled Blog and Mablog)

This one makes me think "so am I prudent or simple?" Sadly, I don't fare as well as I'd like to...

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

(via Between Two Worlds)

The author, John Updike, died this morning.

Monday, January 26, 2009


This is the kind of father I want to be:

(via a 22 Words comment)


I find these things to be very therapeutic:
  1. A few wise words from a friend
  2. Really loud music
  3. Accelerating really fast
  4. Praying through the Bible
What do you do?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Authors@Google: Tim Keller

This is an amazing apologetic talk.

Tim Duncan

"Well that was an acting job! If I was a ref, everytime Tim Duncan looked at me I'd give him a technical." - Cloid (my roommate)

Gianna Jessen: Abortion Survivor

Part I

Part II

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Don't Be That Guy

I love the phrase "Don't be that guy." Who is "that guy?" Oh you know, he's that guy... who does that thing.... Yeah, don't be him...

Friday, January 23, 2009

I Love To Sing

I was working today and was struck by a thought: I don't sing at work.

It's not that I can't sing at work, but that there are appropriate places to sing and inappropriate places to sing. If I just sang all day at my desk, I'm sure someone next to me would ask me to stop. It's not because they think I sound atrocious (I hope). It's more because it's distracting them from their tasks.

That got me thinking. I heard something not too long ago that really caught my attention: Christianity is a singing religion. I can't remember where I heard this (probably from Bob Kauflin), but the person compared Christianity with some other religions and showed some differences between the motivations to sing. I love singing, especially when the songs have some awesome meaning or truth behind them. I sometimes love the singing more than what I'm singing, and get so caught up in sounding good that I miss the weight of the words.

Last Saturday I went to some friends' house for a birthday party. We hung out for a while, just socializing, but then we all got together in the living room and started singing. It was so good to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with each other!

The moral of this story:

Is there any room on your plate?

Caryn has a great post over on her blog Defining Moments. A little preview:
If you were to write down all your activities, would they weigh heavier on the self-focused side - all about me, myself, and my family or the others-focused side - looking beyond yourself to the needs of others?

Check it out.

Facebook Friend Suggesting Jesus

A couple paragraphs from a post on evangelism at Stuff Christians Like:
It’s kind of like a Jesus drive by, me just spraying folks with the name of Christ and hoping it sticks. I don’t think that’s a particularly good thing. I can’t imagine that’s what God had in mind when He gave us the great commission. So what can we do to change that? How do we not just “friend suggestion” Jesus?

I don’t know. I’m all out of silver bullets, and to be honest there are about 3700 other blogs that have better advice about sharing your faith. But I have started to do something differently in the last few months. I’ve started to ask people questions I genuinely want answers to. Instead of asking a question and then forcing the conversation back into my framework regardless of their answer, I’ve tried to just listen and let people talk and remain engaged in what they have to say. The more I’ve done that, the more I’ve been amazed at how willing people are to open up when you actually listen. And sometimes, when I feel like God is cool with it, I get to ask my favorite question of all, “Who is carrying all that with you?”
Please read the whole thing.

What Marketers Actually Sell

From Seth's Blog:
Not powder or chemicals or rubber or steel or silicon or talk or installations or even sugary water.

What marketers sell is hope.

The reason is simple: people need more. We run out. We need it replenished. Hope is almost always in short supply.

The magical thing about selling hope is that it makes everything else work better, every day get better, every project work better, every relationship feel better. If you can actually deliver on the hope you sell, there will be a line out the door.

Hope cures cynicism. Hope increases productivity. Hope needs no justification.

Read it there.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

When God Comes To Church

An excerpt from Bob Kauflin's post on the book When God Comes to Church by Ray Ortlund, Jr:

The Proof that the Spirit is With Us

So what is the proof that the Spirit is being poured out on us? The voice of the church rings with prophetic clarity. The people of God are no longer passive, intimidated, unresponsive, uncertain. They are no longer preoccupied with self, convenience, comfort. They are no longer complaining, whining, griping. Instead, they become outspoken in God’s praises and gospel truth, “declaring the wonders of God” (Acts 2:11). (87)

To turn us from self-exaltation to Christ-exaltation, from self-focus to Christ-focus, is a true mark of God’s presence in our midst.

Active, but Not Alive

The church is to be set apart by spirituality. Revival triggers a firm rejection of the foolish devices of carnality firing up the engine of the church and a joyous rediscovery of the awesome power of simple, biblical spirituality. The revival of a dead church occurs through spiritual awakening granted by God, not through our programs and devices. If a church is invigorated with other animating forces, it may be active but it is not alive. (120)

May God protect us from having the appearance of life in our churches and ministries - activities, programs, busy-ness, full schedules - and no true life, which can only come through the gospel and the power of God’s Spirit.

What are You Expecting?

God is not limited to our past experiences, our traditions, or what we think the church’s next step should be. We must leave room for divine mystery, for surprise. God never acts out of character but he does exceed our expectations. (31)

What are you expecting God to do in and through your life this year? Are you anticipating that you might be surprised?

Obama's Speech Wordle

Vitamin Z has a Wordle of Barak Obama's inauguration speech. Lots of buzz words.

Keep On Driving That Used Car

Lifehacker links to a neat article on saving money by driving an old car:

I recently had a talk with a friend about why I haven’t purchased a new car. He can’t understand why I still drive a 1995 Geo Prizm. I can afford to buy a new car, but I choose not to. The fact is, driving an older car saves me money!

To prove my point, I ran some numbers. I was surprised by how much money I’ve saved by driving this car for so long. [...]

Read the whole thing here.

I really like the bit at the end by the blog owner:
Though I complain incessantly about how much I want a new Mini Cooper, the fact is I’m following Joel’s plan, too. I’ll drive my Ford Focus into the ground.
I totally want a Mini Cooper.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Being Pro-Life Christians Under a Pro-Choice President

At the DG blog:

January 20, 2009 | By: John Piper
Category: Commentary

That is the title of a sermon I preached January 17, 1993 three days before Bill Clinton was inaugurated president. It is just as relevant—or more—today.

The text was 1 Peter 2:17, “Honor the king.” I closed with eight ways to honor a pro-choice president. The seventh was this:

We will honor you by expecting from you straightforward answers to straightforward questions. We would not expect this from a con-man, but we do expect it from an honorable man.

For example,

  1. Are you willing to explain why a baby's right not to be killed is less important than a woman's right not to be pregnant?
  2. Or are you willing to explain why most cities have laws forbidding cruelty to animals, but you oppose laws forbidding cruelty to human fetuses? Are they not at least living animals?
  3. Or are you willing to explain why government is unwilling to take away the so-called right to abortion on demand even though it harms the unborn child; yet government is increasingly willing to take away the right to smoke, precisely because it harms innocent non-smokers, killing 3,000 non-smokers a year from cancer and as many as 40,000 non-smokers a year from other diseases?
  4. And if you say that everything hangs on whether the fetus is a human child, are you willing to go before national television in the oval office and defend your support for the "Freedom of Choice Act" by holding in your hand a 21 week old fetus and explaining why this little one does not have the fundamental, moral, and constitutional right to life? Are you willing to say to parents in this church who lost a child at that age and held him in their hands, this being in your hands is not and was not a child with any rights of its own under God or under law?

Perhaps you have good answers to each of these questions. We will honor you by expecting you to defend your position forthrightly in the public eye.

You have immense power as President of the United States. To wield it against the protection of the unborn without giving a public accounting in view of moral and scientific reality would be dishonorable. We will honor you by expecting better.

I thought #4 was a little over the top, but does convey an important point.

Church Swearing

This really cracks me up. Especially #1.

Occasional Swearing at Stuff Christians Like

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Terrible Statistic On Abortion

This was terrible to read:
These precious unborn children have been deprived of life without due process of law. More than 3,300 abortions per day, or 138 per hour, happen in clear violation of the Constitution and the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, which makes it plain that our liberty comes straight from God and that our first right is the sacred right to life.
via Justin Taylor

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Finding Jesus In A Russian Orphanage

Russell Moore:

This article will run in today’s Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches (Crossway).

When my wife Maria and I at long last received the call that the legal process was over, and we returned to Russia to pick up our new sons, we found that their transition from orphanage to family was more difficult than we had supposed. We dressed the boys in outfits our parents had bought for them. We nodded our thanks to the orphanage personnel and walked out into the sunlight, to the terror of the two boys.

They’d never seen the sun, and they’d never felt the wind. They had never heard the sound of a car door slamming or had the sensation of being carried along at 100 miles an hour down a road. I noticed that they were shaking, and reaching back to the orphanage in the distance.

I whispered to Sergei, now Timothy, “That place is a pit! If only you knew what’s waiting for you: a home with a Mommy and a Daddy who love you, grandparents and great-grandparents and cousins and playmates and McDonald’s Happy Meals!”

But all they knew was the orphanage. It was squalid, but they had no other reference point. It was home.

We knew the boys had acclimated to our home, that they trusted us, when they stopped hiding food in their high-chairs. They knew there would be another meal coming, and they wouldn’t have to fight for the scraps. This was the new normal.

They are now thoroughly Americanized, perhaps too much so, able to recognize the sound of a microwave ding from forty yards away. I still remember, though, those little hands reaching for the orphanage. And I see myself there.

The doctrine of adoption doesn’t simply tell us who we are. It is a legal entitlement, one we are prone to forget. “If children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,” the Spirit tells us (Rom 8:17).

I don’t know about you, but “inheritance” was something I, growing up in my working class world, never imagined would apply to me. An “inheritance” was something rich people left for their kids-for the spoiled trust-fund heirs who might speed around Malibu in their sports cars. It’s hard for us to imagine the place of inheritance in the world in which our Bible was first revealed.

In the world of the Bible, one’s identity and one’s vocation were all bound up in who one’s father was. Men were called “son of” all of their lives (for instance, the “sons of Zebedee” or “Joshua, son of Nun”). There were no guidance counselors in ancient Canaan or first-century Capernaum, helping “teenagers” determine what they wanted “to be” when they “grew up.” A young man watched his father, learned from him, and followed in his vocational steps. This is why the “sons of Zebedee” were right there with their father, when Jesus found them, “in their boat mending their nets” (Mark 1:19-20). When your father died, the vocation belonged to you, to pass on to your son.

This inheritance structure is a picture of something deeper, more real. The Bible identifies Jesus as the One who inherits the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. He is the One of whom it is said, “You are my Son” (Psalm 2:7), who is given “the nations as your heritage, and the ends of the earth as your possession” (Psalm 2:8).

The Bible speaks, paradoxically, of our adoption in Christ as a past event, but also as a future one. “We wait eagerly for adoption as sons,” Paul writes, and he tells us what that looks like: “the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23).

We legally belong to our Father. But, as long as our bodies are dying-as long as the universe is heaving in pain around us-it sure looks like we’re orphans still. We know that we’re children by faith, not yet by sight.

This is why “suffering” is so important. It isn’t some self-flagellation, as though someone in a monastery in the Sahara is necessarily any holier than someone who’s not. All believers in Christ, the Scripture teaches, will suffer-all of us. You will be glorified, Paul says, if you suffer with him. The problem with too many of us is not that we don’t suffer, but that we assume that only Third World Christians or heroic missionaries are suffering. My boys didn’t know that they were suffering in Russia; they would feel it as suffering now.

We get too comfortable with this orphanage universe, though. We sit in our pews, or behind our pulpits, knowing that our children watch “Christian” cartoons instead of slash films. We vote for the right candidates and know all the right “worldview” talking points. And we’re content with the world we know, just adjusted a little for our identity as Christians. That’s precisely why so many of us are so atrophied in our prayers, why our prayers rarely reach the level of “groanings too deep for words” (Rom 8:26). We are too numbed to be as frustrated as the Spirit is with the way things are.

“I know you think this terrestrial orphanage is home,” our Father speaks through prophets and apostles and consciences and imaginations, “but it’s a pit compared to home.” Or, as the Spirit says through the Apostle Paul’s adoption teaching: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18).

I want to see that orphanage one more time. When the boys are a little older, maybe twelve or fourteen, I plan to make the trip again, with them. I want them to see, to feel, where they came from. It’s hard to imagine now what they’ll think of it. They’ll probably hate Russian food as much as I do-and look forward to slipping off with me to the McDonald’s in Moscow when we can find it.

At the orphanage, I’m sure their eyes will widen as we walk up those cracking steps into that horror movie-looking front door. They’ll probably go limp inside, just like I did, when they see all those abandoned toddlers peering out from the corners of the doors inside. Maybe they’ll try to replay in their minds the circumstances of the nights they were born. I’m not sure what all they’ll think of the orphanage.

But I’m quite sure they won’t call it home.

Bob Kauflin

A number of things bring this man to mind.

  1. Some of the girls at 2520 are a little obsessed.
  2. It was his birthday yesterday.
  3. He spoke at the Desiring God Conference this year.
  4. He leads worship.
I really appreciate this man. When it comes to effective and Godly leadership in worship, he is the best I've ever seen. Listening to Bob speak about worship --it's role and implementation-- you can sense a deep maturity. His was definitely my favorite talk at the DG conference.

Praise the Lord for blessing us with men like Bob Kauflin.

Loving = Listening

This thought has been incredibly evident in my life lately. I love so much more when I listen.
"Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives us God’s Word, but also lends us God’s ear.

We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them. So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to "offer" something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God. The death of the spiritual life starts here, and in the end there is nothing left but empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension which chokes on pious words. Those who cannot listen long and patiently will always be talking past others, and finally no longer will even notice it. Those who think their time is too precious to spend listening will never really have time for God and others, but only for themselves and for their own words and plans."

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

(HT: Koinonia)
Via Take Your Vitamin Z

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Abdication of Adults

A few paragraphs from an article on some of the effects of technology on our culture:

Contrary to claims that computer use enhances functional literacy, Bauerlein cites research suggesting that screen time actually inhibits language acquisition by limiting exposure to complex or unfamiliar words. Even “software god” Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, dismisses the world of blogs and gaming as “encapsulated entertainment”—adding, “If I was competing with the United States, I would love to have the students I’m competing with spending their time on this kind of crap.” So much for “digital intelligence,” says Bauerlein, if even technophiles recognize time spent at this generation’s idiot machines as largely wasted time.

But are the machines themselves the villains in this story? Could technology, on its own, spawn an entire mindless culture of flirting, gossiping, photo-uploading, and virtual navel-gazing—all in service of flipping off the phonies out there who don’t get that every passing emotion experienced by Tarquin D. Pebbleface and set down in textspeak is, like, “wry and hilarious,” dude? If, as Bauerlein claims, “the genuine significance of the Web to a seventeen-year-old mind” is “not the universe of knowledge brought to their fingertips, but an instrument of non-stop peer contact”—well, how did we get here?

The answer lies in the same dismal territory already traversed by Diana West in her recent book The Death of the Grownup: the wholesale abdication of adults, not only parents but teachers, in favor of adolescent self-government—a culture that nurtures its present at the expense of its past.

via Take Your Vitamin Z (Please read the whole article. It's long but so worth it.)

This "abdication of adults" is something that has been grating on me for a while. It seems like this rejection of responsibility is at fault for so many cultural fallacies in modern day America.

The one that springs to mind most forcibly is abortion. There is a tremendous amount of sexual irresponsibility that occurs in most relationships. People want to feel good and they don't want to deal with the natural consequences of their actions. Namely, people like sex, but don't want the kids. So they kill their children. I realize that the issue of abortion is multifaceted, but through all of my thinking on the subject I cannot find a more fundamental problem than the avoidance of responsibility.

I am also concerned with how folks don't appreciate responsibility. I recently transitioned from life in a classroom to the working world. This transition has been painful at times, and almost always difficult, but I have learned to love responsibility through it all. The maturity that comes as a result of responsibility is exactly how I want to be growing and improving my own life.

It makes me so sad when I see people who have no desire to grow, to better themselves, to pursue some goal, to accomplish some purpose. What is life without these things? Your thoughts?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's Cold

No wonder my car didn't start this morning.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Biblical Productivity

I have really been enjoying C.J. Mahaney's blog posts on Biblical Productivity, specifically the latest of this series dealing with Roles, Goals, and Scheduling. Check it out, if you've got time.

On Great Quote, One Sad Quote

"Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central event the humility of its God."

- Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, p. 3

via Take Your Vitamin Z

"The most eminent American universities have become centers where sexual license and depravity are praised and the only conduct that meets with official rebuke is open disapproval of immorality" (Harold O.J. Brown, The Sensate Culture, p. 207).
via Blog and Mablog

An Ironic Thought

Seth Ward shared something that would be very tragic:
Wouldn't it suck (for the Calvinist) if, at judgment day, all the predestined were the Arminians, even though the Calvinists turned out to be right???

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Love Hymns

We sang a bunch of hymns this weekend at small group and it was wonderful. I had this beauty swimming around in my head for a couple days:
Praise ye the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to his temple draw near,
join me in glad adoration.

Praise ye the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
granted in what he ordaineth?

Praise ye the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee!
Surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
ponder anew what the Almighty will do,
if with his love he befriend thee.

Praise ye the Lord, who with marvelous wisdom hath made thee,
decked thee with health, and with loving hand guided and stayed thee.
How oft in grief hath not he brought thee relief,
spreading his wings to o’er shade thee!

Praise ye the Lord, O let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him!
Let the amen sound from his people again;
gladly for aye we adore him.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Jesus Knows

When I am estranged
When I don't fit in
When no one cares
When I'm alone

Christ Jesus knows all
He knows what's in man
He knows me best
He knows my worst

And I am a chief
Of sinners that is
From what I know
I am the worst

Yet still in my sin
I read this in awe:
"Christ died for us"

Church On Saturday

It always freaks me out when I get home after church on Saturday. I start thinking about work tomorrow...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blog Comment Success

I can help but share this. Whenever you say or do something that others really appreciate or resonate with, it makes you feel really good. I had a moment like that today. I posted the second comment, and people actually quoted me later on. They liked what I said. My comment = validated.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this sounds completely ridiculous, but I don't care.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Gospel!

I'm on a DG kick right now. Here's Pastor John Piper again, speaking the Gospel! Oh man, I love hearing this news!

via Timmy Brister

Swords Are For Killing

Pastor John Piper shares a good word about the sword of the Spirit over at the DG blog:

In New Testament times swords were not for digging, shaving, or whittling. They were for killing. The only reason Peter cut off Malchus’s ear was that he missed (John 18:10).

But Herod didn’t miss: “He killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:2).

Many saints have felt the full force of the sword: “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword” (Hebrews 11:37). So it was and will be: “If anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain” (Revelation 13:10).

That’s what swords are for. So when Paul calls the word of God the “sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:17, he is serious—something must be put to death. And it is not people. Christians don’t kill people to spread our faith; we die to spread our faith.

The link in Paul’s mind is given in Romans 8:13.

If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. The Sword is for putting to death. And by the Spirit we put to death our sinful deeds. So I conclude that the way we kill our sins is with the Spirit’s sword, the word of God.

All temptations to sin have power by lying. The are “deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). They tell us that the pleasure of the sin is worth it. The killing blow against these lies is the power of God’s truth. Hence the sword of the Spirit, God’s word, is the weapon to use.

As John Owen said, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” That is what swords are for, especially the Bible.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What Movies Are You Watching?

An article on the reformation 21 website had a paragraph that was particularly striking to me:

I am also struck by how Christian talk of cultural engagement has coincided with a watering-down of Christian standards of behavior and, ironically, thought. I have lost count of how many times I have been told in recent years that Christians should be able to watch any movie, providing they do so with a critical, Christian eye. There are several obvious problems with that kind of statement. For a start, such a categorical, sweeping statement has little, if any, scriptural or exegetical foundation and indeed seems not to take any account of texts such as Mt. 5: 27-30, Eph. 5: 1-3, Phil. 4: 8, etc. Second, even those making the case rarely mean exactly what they say: ask them if Christians can therefore watch child pornography, and none that I have spoken to have been prepared to go that far, except in the necessary cases of those professionally involved in the detection and prosecution of paedophile crime. No, Christians shouldn't watch child porn, they'll say; but the problem, of course, is that definitions of what is and is not pornography, even child pornography, are changing all the time and are driven, by and large, by the wider culture which increasingly mainstreams such material. Witness the new Kate Winslet movie, involving a sex scene between her character and a fifteen year old boy. Specious distinctions involving the actual age of the actor notwithstanding, it is arguably child pornography. Frankly, there are films rated PG-13 today which my grandparents would have considered as porn. Is the standard of what is and is not obscene set by biblical truth or by cultural accommodation? Talk of `Christians can watch anything as long as they do it critically' is as daft, unbiblical, soft-headed, ill-thought-out, and confused as anything one is likely to come across. In fact, I have a suspicion that for some it might simply function as a rationalization for watching whatever they like and not having to feel guilty about it, the Christian voyeur's equivalent of the `I only do screen nudity and sex when the script demands it' excuse of so many `serious' actresses whose bank balances have been boosted by the occasional flash of on-screen flesh.
What an excuse for a Christian to use! "It's ok to watch this terrible stuff because I am resisting the ideas it represents". That's simply not true. This article was convicting primarily because I saw Grand Torino yesterday and I honestly should have left. The racism was so terrible that it would have been better for our souls to not have watched it. I feel guilty because during the movie I was led to ask my friend if she wanted to leave, but I didn't speak up. Praise God that this is a godly grief that is leading me to repentance, but it is still a grief. May I be more faithful to Gods leading going forward.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Grand Torino

This was an intense movie. It leaves you with a question; what do I think about this?

First off, everyone is intensely racist, sexist, and all sorts of vulgar. That said, there are people like those portrayed in the movie. While this story has probably never unfolded in reality, I'm sure the initial situation exists. The guy is a Korean War veteran who nobody likes and who doesn't like anybody. Since it's a movie things change and he eventually gets friends, but throughout the whole thing there are so many racial slurs that are used it is almost unbearable (more unbearable because some folks laughed at these situations, hopefully because they were too startled to know how to react).

Secondly, terrible things happen. I mean just awful, gut wrenching, evil things. You can't help but pray that these things do not happen in reality. Please Lord, don't let people go through that. These terrible things demand justice. Demand it. You will yearn so much for justice, I guarantee it. And you wonder if or how it will be accomplished, since movies these days seem to let the bad guy off so much and it's too easy to have a vigilante hero who does things you don't really approve of.

Basically, Grand Torino is a really heavy movie that many folks will dislike and others will love. It is very intense. I think in the end, you have a respect for most all the characters who matter, but it's a tough one to watch. Email me if you want to hear about the religious tones of the movie.

Thinking Versus Doing

I've recently come to the realization that I think too much. Thinking is good, but not at the expense of doing. I must do also. This idea has lit up James 1:22. Not taking away from it's intended meaning, but enriching it.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

How Can Your Church Battle Biblical Illiteracy

Take Your Vitamin Z is pretty much my favorite blog. He said this today:

Ray Ortlund with some ideas for how the church can decrease Biblical illiteracy:

1. Memorize the Bible together, as a church. One verse per week in your service. It can be fun, and it provides a moment of connectedness and participation together. It says a lot to guests about what your church is passionate for.

2. Gather a small group of eager men and go deeper. I believe every man should be able to think his way through the argument of the book of Romans, for example. That can happen, with great effect, in a small group.

3. Read the Bible in every worship service. Is this too obvious to say? I don't think so. And end the reading with the faith-filled declaration, "This is God's Word." That solemnizes the moment in a gentle, non-spectacular, factual way. It's a tactful way of saying, "Okay y'all, now we've got to deal with this for what it is."

4. Preach from the Bible, and from the Bible only. Again, does this need to be said? One thing's for sure. The Bible is fascinating, disturbing, offensive, sweet, alarming, comforting, stretching, shocking, controversial, caressing, strengthening. No way are you and I that interesting. Let's put the Bible front and center and let it be itself and do its thing, whatever the impact. Submerging the Bible for the sake of our cool personas isn't really cool at all. It's a way of avoiding risk, chickening out.

5. Approach church problems and opportunities with explicit reference to the Bible, chapter and verse. Some may expect us to preach from the Bible but will be surprised if we lean hard on the Bible when everything is on the line. A corporate experience of realigning ourselves with the help of a specific, powerful and relevant verse of Scripture at an important moment in a church's journey can be unforgettable.

6. Saturate your church's children and youth with the Bible faithfully and enthusiastically, week by week, year by year, and they will still be drawing strength from it fifty years from now. They might not remember our names, but we will still be there in their lives, speaking the Bible into their hearts and minds and consciences.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Personal Questions

How do you respond to personal questions asked in a public medium?

I try to use email.

Guitar Picks

I greatly appreciate the versatility of the medium guitar pick (the orange ones). However, I have recently come to love the heavy picks even more. The crisp sound is just too good for me to let go. It helps a lot that the one that I am currently using is the best color ever (everyone knows that this is green, I'm only saying it for the sake of young children and the color blind).

Also, my mandolin sounds about 4 times better when I use the heavy instead of the medium. I'm just sayin'.

After further comparison, I see that heavy picks are not well suited for playing quietly. Maybe I should just say that I love how different picks give a different sound and stop with that.

Theology Changed My Life

I was at home today to celebrate my dad's birthday. My mom wanted me to clean my room (even though I don't live there), so I walked in and there were a bunch of Knowing God Personally booklets from my Campus Crusade for Christ days. My sister, who is currently involved with them on her campus, made a comment about them. I then told her that I had found a better way to share the Gospel; know it.

This really got me thinking. Throughout all college I never really had a confidence in explaining what the Gospel is. However, since I've started getting involved at BBC and really delving into theology, my understanding and appreciation of the Gospel has exploded! To think that the Son of God, God himself, would come, take a human body (Christmas anyone?), suffer and die a vicious, cruel death all for the sake of his people! That is good news indeed! By his sacrificial death, I can now approach the throne of the Almighty God with confidence, knowing that Jesus' righteous life counts for my own and the wrath that all my many many many sins deserve was poured out on Christ on the cross. And that Jesus did this out of love, a love so intense that physical pain was no obstacle, that the constant resisting of temptation wasn't too much to bear, and that his death was not too big a price to pay for my salvation. I heard the song "Jesus Paid It All" today on the radio. It was well timed.

All that just to say that theology has so enriched my relationship with God that I would commend really studying the Bible to everyone. The Gospel has come alive like it never has before. I love Jesus.

New Years Parade

There is a fun story at Donald Miller's blog. I mainly like it because I continuously fight against boredom in my own life, and it's encouraging to hear a story where they have so much success. Here's a little excerpt:

One of my favorite stories was told to me by my friend Bob Goff. It’s a true story and it’s about a parade.

Bob lives in San Diego, and when his three children were young they were sitting around on New Years Day, bored. And Bob thought it was a crime anybody should be bored on New Years Day. (Let’s face it, unless you are a football fan, there’s not a whole lot to do.)

Bob asked the kids what they could do to honor the fact God gave them a day. And eventually Bob and his wife Maria, and their children, came up with the idea of a parade. So they set out to have a parade on their street. They went house to house telling their neighbors they were going to have a parade. And the neighbors must have indulged the children by saying they would watch. But the Goff’s had a better idea than just a parade people would watch. They decided nobody could watch the parade. They could only be in the parade.

Read the rest.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Church Discipline

I thought that this article was a really good look at church discipline in action. I respect a church willing to follow through on their commitments. Make sure you read the letter the elders sent before you make your own judgement.

Scripture Memory

I was very touched by the sermon at BBC this weekend. Pastor John preached on John 15:1-8 but really focused on verse 7. "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you". He began the sermon by quoting scripture for 10-15 minutes. It was beautiful. It was especially poignant for me because the night before I heard the sermon, I was convicted of how I do not store up God's Word in my heart. So in light of this, I have a proposal.

Lets all memorize scripture together! A passage per week sounds good to me, but what's especially important is that we speak it to each other when we see one another. I'll probably go along with the BBC Fighter Verses usually, but this week I really wanted to use a passage that was very meaningful from my small group.

9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks [4] to the Father, who has qualified you [5] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:9-14

When you finish, write it in the comments from memory!

Random Update

I have not been posting as regularly as I have committed to. I repent of my sin and will now explain what was distracting me. I was just on a family trip to Montana for skiing (where I skied the best that I have in my life), followed by a family get together (where I did not win the Cribbage tournament for the second year running), followed by a week of laziness and random activities. I've been off work for the last two weeks, so it'll be good to get back into the swing of things.

I resolve to join the YWCA by my house on Monday, get a haircut tomorrow (Sunday), and ask a girl to this movie that I have free tickets to. I would have already asked, but for my cowardice. I rationalize by claiming a lack of opportunity, but this is a lie. I fully expect an excuse, but would rejoice if a "yes" were obtained. If you know her, please convince her to say yes (or something to that effect).

I just watched Almost Famous at 2520 and can fully relate to the last scene with the other rock critic where they discuss being "uncool". This is my life. I am uncool.

And why does my house smell like summer sausage??