Friday, December 26, 2008

Proud Papa

Every time someone in our family has a birthday, Mrs. Underdog makes a giant banner for that person that is displayed in a prominent place in the house. This grand announcement of the birth of that child is one of the highlights of the day.

I slept in on Christmas Day. Mrs. Underdog did too. It was a great gift to us that would not fit under the Christmas tree. When we finally got downstairs after looking at the story of Jesus' birth, we found a giant banner next to the tree. Yes, the Pups had spend the time when we were sleeping producing a Happy Birthday banner for Jesus.

I have never been prouder.

Maybe a few things are sinking in after all...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

If you are reading this post, I pray that that Baby in the manger will "bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."

Praise God for Immanuel.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I am guilty of much hatred.

Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller fame):

“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward’…How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?”

Penn is an atheist.

Three things

  1. As me and two of the Pups were out today, we noticed that the prevalence of the word "want" increases exponentially in the month of December. Christmas has become all about "wants." I think that when every need has been fulfilled without much thought to its Source, we lose perspective on what defines a gift.
  2. I managed the worst diaper in the history of mankind yesterday. The Nation Weather Service suspected it could develop into an F5 event and issued a Warning for our particular address*.
  3. I think that last year I stated that I wanted to learn to play the guitar. One year later and everything is still accapella. I really just want to know enough chords to lead our family in worship during evening huddle time. I am afraid learning an instrument may require effort on my part.

*Fortunately it was trash day. But the guy that drives our route smelled the offending underpants and told us to expect an extra charge on this months bill. Okay, not really, but it was pretty awful.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Must be amateur poetry nite.

Once a child named Xavier,
Desperately needed a Savior.
A Lamb died for sin,
And cleansed him within.
Despite his poor behavior.

Dumbest Xmas song ever

By the title, you are probably expecting some tirade on the Spanglish embarrassment known as Feliz Navidad. Close, but no. I actually listened closely to the The Little Drummer Boy tonight. Really listened to the story within the song.

I have been an active observer of six live births. And I can tell you this: If a pre-pubescent boy with a drum kit had decided to play a solo anywhere near Mrs. Underdog and her newborn baby, she would have punted that kid into the next county.

And one other thing, most of the newborns I know only smile when they are passing gas. That would not fit within the theme of the song, but I have to think a little gas is a more probable reason for the smile than some kid beating a drum.

That's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

22-word kid story

Abraham Piper has a challenge on his blog this week that is pretty interesting: This week tell a 22-word kid story on your blog.

So here is my feeble entry:

The boys had completely missed the point and began discussing who would win a fight between Goliath, a bear, and a lion.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This made me laugh

Best t-shirt caption ever

I saw this caption on a t-shirt in a store:

"I am the Wretch the song refers to."

Almost bought it. But this wretch doesn't have $15 for a t-shirt.

Three things

  1. I am confident that God knows what he is doing when He gives children to people. But knowing what I know about my natural parenting abilities, I am not sure that I would have entrusted me with a litter of ferrets to raise. Lord Jesus, help me.
  2. The worship team at my church makes the Sunday song services one of the highlights of my week. I had heard about people just getting lost in worship of the Saviour, but yesterday as we sang to Jesus, I finally understood it through experience. There is a song on the Sovereign Grace Saviour album called "Christ the Lord is Born Today" that is simply beautiful.
  3. Interesting that the theme of "home" is what is dominating my study of the Christmas narrative this year. Jesus, the maker of all things, left his home to take on flesh as an alien and stranger on the planet He created. And when He left this earth, He went to prepare a place for those that belong to Him. I can't wait to go home.

Think about this for a moment.

It is estimated that a week's worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dumber? Absolutely.

"Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like
a guy on a Jet Ski. "

I think that dumbness has been stalking me. And this week, I got confirmation that I have been infected with a increasing level of intellectual dullness. And evidently Google is to blame for this sorry state of affairs. I read this article this week and it has really opened my eyes to my own self-imposed attention deficit disorder. My attention span is losing its already slim shadow.

As an experiment yesterday, I sat down with a book with the goal of reading for thirty minutes. I had easy access to my Blackberry, my cell phone, and my laptop computer. I read for about five minutes and then the gravitational pull of "the need to be current" began:

"I wonder if anyone has emailed me?" "Did I check my fantasy football team?" "How far down are my stocks today?" "What did John Piper preach on last week?" "I should really watch some movie previews." "Blog. I have to blog or Aaron Mayfield can't comment."

And I struggled to concentrate for just five minutes on a book that is important to me.

Every January, our family takes a bread from media. No TV. No movies. No talk radio in the car. In the past, this has been a very painful goodbye. But this year, I find that I am looking forward to the media vacation. I feel like maybe I will listen more and learn more. Perhaps even my relationships with flesh and blood people with grow.

Maybe I will be able to read again for longer than just five minutes.

And recover some of the ground that dumbness has taken by force.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Just plain wrong

I want to interrupt this blog to complain about something for the edification of all three of my readers.

The second most irritating thing in the world is being late to an appointment and watching a school bus zoom past your the midst of a flashing school zone.

Read and be amazed

“The wonder is not that God chooses some and not others (Abel not Cain; Isaac, not Ishmael; Jacob, not Esau). The wonder is that God chooses any. Certainly God does not choose an elite. Israel is a chosen people, but not a choice people. God’s elect have no ground for pride. On the contrary, God chooses not the wise, the mighty, or the noble, but the foolish, the weak, the despised (Paul says, indeed, the ‘zeroes’). No-one may boast before him.”

–Edmund Clowney

Monday, December 8, 2008

Worth a few moments...

Sometimes I questions whether the Gospel and technology are compatible. Then I find a website like this one:

If Brian Welch can be saved by God, then there is hope for everyone.

Sola Deo Gloria.

Cats + Slide = Kitty Treadmill

This made my kids giggle like crazy people:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Three Christmas things

  1. Joseph is one of my favorite people in the Bible. I have so many questions for him. For instance: Joseph, how many times in your parenting did you realize that your wisdom was vastly inferior to your Sons? Did you see crosses along your journey? Were you horrified at the sight or were they so commonplace that you barely noticed?
  2. Cute images of angels make me sad. At one of the big pastor's conferences last year, one of the speakers (I think it was RC Sproul) said that if you saw an angel, you would probably pee your pants. He is probably right.
  3. My newborn daughter just started smiling at us. I bet that, as first time parents, Mary and Joseph were blown away by Jesus' first smile. I am on baby number six and those first smiles still take my breath away. The only thing better is the first laugh. I praise God for laughter.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This quote is absolutely crushing me.

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusement, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our giving does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our commitment to giving excludes them. --- C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bonus blog!

From the archives of my Homeschool Blogger blog:

Dec. 10, 2007 - Questions for Christmas

I love great stories. And most of the time, there are cracks in great stories that allow the hearer to fill in the blanks. I believe that is one of the reasons that God gave us imaginations. As I have read the Christmas story this year, new questions have arisen. The answers are not important to the purpose of the Nativity saga, but for me pondering them adds depth to the narrative and only makes the text more beautiful. Did you ever wonder:

-If Mary and Joseph passed crucified men on the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and thought, "I hope that never happens to anyone I know"?
-Did Mary and Joseph's parents know they went to Egypt with their new grandson? Did they fear the worst?
-Were the angels that appeared to the shepherds there all along?
-When the angels sang "Glory to God in the Highest", were they surprised to be singing to exalt a human baby in a manger?
-Gold, okay. Frankincense, yep. Myrrh, though? An embalming substance? That must have been confusing. (Try taking that to your next baby shower.)
-What was the first thing that the shepherds said to Mary and Joseph? Did the new parents believe their story at first?
-Why don't we ever refer to the Virgin Joseph in the Christmas story?
-Did Herod feel better after killing all those kids?
-Did Herod's scribes know the prophecy about the Messiah's birthplace off the top of their heads? Did they know the prophecy about "Rachel weeping for her children" when they told Herod?

That's all I have for now. I hope that your Xmas season is leading you back to the Cross.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Three things

  1. I was given the opportunity yesterday to teach a group of elementary school children about Jesus. We walked through the Old Testament and talked about the importance of shepherds - - -Abram, Moses, David. And how those guys were just a foreshadowing of the Good Shepherd that would lay down His life for His sheep. When I teach Sunday School, I feel God's pleasure*.
  2. I guess that the weekend was not that great for retailers. Think we will see the CEOs from the retail industry asking for a bailout from the government?
  3. There are over 1000 versions of Away in the Manger on iTunes. It makes my heart hurt to hear artists sing about sacred things that don't consider them sacred. We allow more levity in songs about the Incarnation than we ever would permit with our National Anthem.

*Yes, I stole this from Chariots of Fire. I can't run very fast, so I have to stick with teaching Sunday School, okay?

Knocking the Props Out From Under Our Lives

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bored boys

What happens when 4 boys get a hold of a digital camera with no female supervision:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Slacker Thankgiving post

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Three things

Three things I am thankful for:
  1. Jesus' steadfast love for ungrateful losers like me
  2. Dessert
  3. Family
  4. Cars that drive even though the 'Check Engine' light is on
  5. Football games
  6. Small groups at great churches
  7. The gift of reading
  8. The gift of peaceful sleep
  9. Second chances
  10. Wrestling with toddlers
  11. Icepacks (after wrestling with toddlers)
  12. Hardships
  13. Comfy Denim's consistent comments on this blog
  14. iPod that I received completely without merit from one of my favorite people
  15. Laughter
  16. Windex
  17. Third chances
  18. God's Sovereignty
  19. Cold breakfast cereal
  20. Sunsets behind mountains
  21. Andrew Peterson
  22. Kleenex
  23. Running
  24. Eyesight
  25. A super cold beverage at the end of the day
  26. The great crew at my local Starbucks
  27. The jukebox in my head that plays only songs that I like
  28. The anticipation of an infant's first smile
  29. Tennis shoes
  30. The promise of life with God after death

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Three things

  1. So many people from our church have brought us food over the past couple of weeks. It has been great, but I have gained four pounds. What do you do about returning the dishes to people? Do you think it would be wrong to drop them in the mail with an old Newsweek magazine and try to get the Media Mail rate? Just thinking....

  2. I am looking forward to a much more quiet Christmas this year. I hope to accomplish this simply by complaining less.

  3. They are starting to advertise all of the Christmas TV specials. There is only one worth watching in my opinion: The Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Linus' speech makes my eyes misty every year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Most important post ever?


James Grant:
We are facing a cultural crisis if President-elect Obama brings into legislation the Freedom of Choice Act. This law, if enacted, would wipe away every restriction on abortion nationwide.

The Fight FOCA Website explains, This would eradicate state and federal laws that the majority of Americans support, such as:
-Bans on Partial Birth Abortion
-Requirements that women be given information about the risks of getting an abortion
-Only licensed physicians can perform abortions
-Parents must be informed and give consent to their minor daughter’s abortion

FOCA would erase these laws and prevent states from enacting similar protective measures in the future.

There are also other things you need to be aware of about FOCA. It will allow taxpayer funding of abortion, and it will also force faith-based hospitals and health facilities to perform abortions or go our of business. It doesn’t matter what your political leanings are or who you voted for, if you are a Christian, it is your moral duty to oppose this. Go to the Fight FOCA Website to read more, and click on the link to sign the petition.

We live in amazing times...

A small dose of perspective on the amazing times we live in. Mrs. Underdog approved this message. Note: One bleeped word.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Being revealed

The past few weeks, Mrs. Underdog has been either on bedrest or recovering from a rather difficult birth. This dire scenario left me in charge of the Pups for two weeks. This was not without its challenges. A couple of observations from the battlefront:
  • Evidently my wife works hard during the day when I am gone. Who knew?

  • The requirements for managing our brood: the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and the grace of a loving God.

  • An active two-year-old male child is like a terrible tornado: leaving nothing but mass destruction and broken crayons and sand and food remnants in its wake.

  • Speaking of food, we eat a lot of fa-foo. There is breakfast, first snack, pre-lunch complaining about hunger, lunch, second snack, griping about the time between second snack and dinner, dinner, and questions about what is for breakfast tomorrow.

  • Mrs. Underdog does the grocery shopping in just over two hours. I clocked in a just under four.

  • My children average ten questions per hour. Multiple that times five children. If I hear the question "Where are my shoes?" ever again, it will be to soon.

  • Children under the age of four host a permanent odor that defies description.
Finally, trying to do my day job, care for Mrs. Underdog, and shepherd the Pups revealed something very ugly. It was revealed that I am a very, very self-centered person. Here I had this great opportunity to selflessly give myself to my family and all I could do was anticipate my next break from the action. I simply couldn't free myself from the bonds of self focus. Oh, I did a lot of the right thing. But I rarely did them with the right attitude.

The fact is that under durress, it became apparent what I really am: a naturally self-centered man in desparate need of grace and mercy. Under that woolly disguise, I am just a scrawny sheep.

Thank God He saves us.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Three things

  1. I have been reminded this week of how small and fragile we are at the start of life. And maybe our smallness and fragility never ends.
  2. Question of the week from the Pups shortly after our baby was born: "Dad, how come God didn't make people be born in eggs?". Dad's answer: "God knew Mom wouldn't like to lay eggs."
  3. I learned this week that I too often think of others when I read the Scriptures. When I read "hypocrite", that verse is about me. When I read a commandment, it is for me to obey. The Bible is so much more damaging to my pride when I insert my name into verses.


Random Penguin Picture!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Life is good.

Happy Birthday, littlest girl.

I am glad you are here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Three things

Baby Ashley's due date is today. In just a few hours, she will be officially late. Three things:
  1. I am amazed at the 3-D images that we can see of a baby in the womb. I saw today that they can also make a sculpture of the baby in the womb using a 3-dimensional printer. Very cool. But little Ashley has never been hidden from the eyes of God. Even more amazing is that God has carefully knit her together.
  2. Long before her parents even met, He knew that Ashley would need a Saviour. God sent His Son to die for Ashley. I love that fact.
  3. Becoming the parent of my sixth will be no more difficult than becoming the parent of my first child. It is not about the number or personalities of children that makes parenting the hardest. It is my self-centeredness.

The reminder of the stars

I am on the ambitious mission to read through the Bible in a year. I am currently reading a lot about Abraham and the wild, "soap opera like" story of his life. And although there were moments of tremendous excitement, I have found that there is one theme that is a consistent thread in Abraham's narrative.


When we first meet Abraham, he is seventy five years old and childless. And God promises Abraham offspring. If Abraham is like me, he starts thinking about a nine month timeframe. Pregnancies last nine months, right? But nine months come and go. And then nine years. Eleven years later, his wife offers him a young Egyptian woman and they try to fulfill God's promise without God involved. Finally, after twenty-five years, a son is born to Abraham and Sarah. Twenty-five years.

I have wondered: what kept Abraham believing? When Sarah cried over her childlessness. When servants bore son after son after son. When their poorly planned plans failed. When God did not appear for years at a time.

I think that it was the ever present visual reminder of the promise that God made represented in the night sky. And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5) I think that every time Abraham's mind began to question if he had heard God right, the night sky served to remind him of the promise. If God could fill the darkness with a million points of light, surely he create a son for Abraham.

All of creation serves as visual proof of God's power and his nature. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. (Romans 1:20)

That's all I have to say about that.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Humble hatred

Fighting sin requires hatred and humility. Last night we discussed hating our sin and humbly asking for God’s help to fight. Only by God's grace can we “abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

God grant us eyes to see and the will to fight.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mental lint

-I posted about three months ago that I was starting my own company. By God's grace, we are still solvent and even a little profitable. The best part has been the flexible work hours.

-Is it just me or does the media seem a little confused now that the Election is over? One of the lead stories around here is the effect of the economy on pet shelters. We've gone from bickering bureaucrats to homeless cats in just 24 hours.

-It is strangely comforting to me to see just how messed up some many of the Biblical patriarchs were. Adam, Noah, Abraham...all have problems. Grace abounded in the OT.

-Pup #6 is due anytime now. Supposed to be a girl. I think I need a budget envelope labeled "Cute Stuff".

-Paid $2.01 for a gallon of gas today. I should be happy about that, but it still seems high to me.

-Christmas has started for the retailers. It really bothers me that Silent Night is blaring over the speakers in the Men's Room at a local Mart in early November. This year I am renewing my pledge to never enter the doors of any mall for the remaining two months of 2008.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Joy on display

This is easily one of the greatest videos I have ever viewed. My admiration for Nick Vujicic is beyond words. Nick's situation is an avenue for true Greatness to be displayed. Watch:

His website:

Three things

Post election thoughts...
  1. I am so happy that the campaigns are over. Didn't it get to the point where it felt like democracy was a punishment? If our new President really wants to earn some brownie points, limit the campaigns to six months.
  2. Listening to the media this morning, there is a lot of excitement about the historic nature of yesterday's vote. It is amazing that we have an African-American in the highest office in the land. But let's tap the brakes a little on making him out to be a great leader before he has done anything at all. After all, Saul looked pretty good in front of a crowd and we all know what kind of leader he turned out to be. (See I Samuel for more information)
  3. The sun rose this morning. God's mercies were new once again. There were prayers to be prayed, diapers to be changed, and coffee to be consumed. Somehow, after all of the drama of last evening, God still reigns over all things.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Life begins....

This article from Dr. Robert George is very important. An excerpt:

Treating the question as some sort of grand mystery, or expressing or feigning uncertainty about it, may be politically expedient, but it is intellectually indefensible. Modern science long ago resolved the question. We actually know when the life of a new human individual begins.

A recently published white paper, “When does human life begin? A scientific perspective,” offers a thorough discussion of the facts of human embryogenesis and early development, and its conclusion is inescapable: From a purely biological perspective, scientists can identify the point at which a human life begins. The relevant studies are legion. The biological facts are uncontested. The method of analysis applied to the data is universally accepted.

Your life began, as did the life of every other human being, when the fusion of egg and sperm produced a new, complete, living organism — an embryonic human being....

Why, then, do we seem so far from a consensus on questions of abortion and embryo-destructive research?
Perhaps because the debate over when human life begins has never been about the biological facts. It has been about the value we ascribe to human beings at the dawn of their lives. When we debate questions of abortion, assisted reproductive technologies, human embryonic stem cell research and human cloning, we are not really disagreeing about whether human embryos are human beings. The scientific evidence is simply too overwhelming for there to be any real debate on this point. What is at issue in these debates is the question of whether we ought to respect and defend human beings in the earliest stages of their lives. In other words, the question is not about scientific facts; it is about the nature of human dignity and the equality of human beings....

A prayer for today


Grant me the wisdom to accept Your discipline as love. And give me humility to learn quickly what you desire for me. Provide joy so that I am not a grouch in the midst of your molding me.



Friday, October 31, 2008

Your thinking thoughts

Think back to your waking up this morning. Remember the first thing that passed through your little mind? What was that initial dim thought that emerged as consciousness assaulted your slumbering senses? Coffee? Children? Exercise? Snooze button? Mercies? If you are alive (and you must be if you are reading this), then you thought about something first thing this morning.

Now consider that there are around seven billion people in the world. Most of them slept last night and then awakened this morning to a first thought. If my math is right that is seven billion first thoughts. That is a lot of thinking people. Think about that fact with this verse in mind:

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
---Psalm 139:2

When you woke up this morning, God knew your first inkling. He discerned the garbled notion that was the genesis of your day. And He did that for seven billion people.

What blows my mind is that He knows every single thought that followed for every person on earth! As I am typing this poorly written post, God knows that I have doubts about its quality. He knows what you are thinking as you read this.

My God is immeasurably knowledgeable. And so seeing the ongoing thoughts of seven billion people seems unfathomable to you and me, to Him it is easy. He does not strain to do what seems impossible.

He is great indeed. Don't you think?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Be kind to toddlers

We don't do anything for Halloween, but if we did, this costume would end up on one of our toddlers:

I would dress up as the Swedish Chef:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Three things

Three things for your consideration:
  1. Mrs. Underdog is the most pregnant person ever. With the impending birth of Pup #6, I am more impressed that Ashley's second birth will be more important than her first. She must be born again. I can't wait to see her.

  2. I can't believe they stopped the World Series in the middle of a game because of RAIN! Why not play it out? This is why football is a better sport. Rain. Sheesh. Can you imagine this conversation: "Gee, Coach Landry, it's snowing pretty hard and the wind is stinging my hands." "Yep, Roger, you're right. Let's just stop and we can play the 4th quarter on Tuesday."

  3. The Half-Price-Books clearance section is nearly my favorite place in the world right now. Every week, they have brand new books in the Sports and the Theology sections for just a buck apiece. I have the greatest collection of great books I don't have time to read in the entire city!

Bonus picture:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tragic Flash Owee

I am still running. I am very fast. Well, fast in a thirty-five year old, non-athlete type way. Fast like a scooter is fast, not like a Ferrari is fast. You get the point.

So I am running the other night and the following thought pops into my head: Have you ever noticed that The Flash never pulls a hamstring or cramps up?

I wish I was a superhero. Maybe I just need a cool costume to wear.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Lightning hits the earth an average 100 times per second, or 8.6 million times a day. Each spark of lightning can reach over five miles in length, soar to temperatures of approximately 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and contain 100 million electrical volts.

And this:

Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass? --- God asking Job a few questions (Job 38:25-27)
God has. (And does.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Voting for Blue

Mrs. Underdog and I voted last night. We were still trying to decide who we would vote for on the car ride to the voting place and the discussion was pretty depressing. As we were getting out of the car, my 3-year-old, the Linebacker Starter Kit, said "Dad, why don't you vote for Blue?"

"Blue?", I replied.

"Yeah, the dog in Blue's Clues."

"You know, son, that is not a bad idea. Maybe I will."

A few minutes later I stood before the voting screen and stared at the choices before me. There was a button for "Write In Vote." With high hopes, I clicked on that button, desperate that perhaps a cartoon puppy would make my decision simple.


Just Ralph Nader.

I voted, but I didn't like it. Probably because Blue seemed like a better choice than any of the one's on the ballot. At least Blue has a Clue.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What I really want for my children....

We homeschool because we believe that it is the best option for shepherding our little flock. But I found this verse in my Bible reading this morning and I think that this is what I truly desire for my kids:

"All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children."
---Isaiah 54:13

I have not given enough meditation to this yet, but it is profound to me......

Random grab bag of fluff

A free dose of brain lint:

-Is anyone really convinced that either of the Presidential candidates will change things that much? I can't question their committment to change, but they are still constrained by a system that resists significant change.

-I have never seen any preacher so compelling, so captivating, so clearly Spirit-filled as John Piper was this last weekend. His message on Job and God's Sovereignty over all things is changing the way I look at my life and the world.

-One of the most incredible statements Piper made this last weekend: "Satan must obey God." I think that most Christians would agree with this statement, but we don't act like it is true.

-I am so tired of the television. I know it makes me dumber, but I am continually sucked in by its mindlessness.

-Andrew Peterson's new album arrived yesterday. It is good but not great. The song "Hosea" nearly brought me to tears the first time I heard it.

-If you write a lousy review for a publishers book, I wonder if they let you do any more?

-Where is the A-Team when we need them?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Elect Kermit the Frog

Two weeks. Just two more weeks......

I thought this was interesting though:

"Presently, the bottom 40% of income earners pay zero income taxes. The top 20% pay 80% of all the federal income taxes. Therefore, it is not possible to give the bottom 40% a tax cut because they pay no money to the government. So this begs the question: How is Barack Obama proposing to give a tax cut to 95% of Americans? The truth is that he is not going to give a tax cut to most Americans; it is not possible. Instead, he is going to give welfare subsidy to the bottom 40%. This subsidy Obama is calling a ‘tax cut,’ but in reality it is a tax increase in an attempt to redistribute wealth."


Monday, October 20, 2008

Laughing funny unless you're a Dad

The children begged for a bunny rabbit, and after the usual fervent vows that they alone would care for it, they got one. They named it Danny.

Two months later, when Mom found herself responsible for cleaning and feeding the creature, she located a prospective new home for it.The children took the news of Danny's imminent departure quite well, though one of them remarked, "He's been around here a long time--we'll miss him."

"Yes," Mom replied, "But he's too much work for one person, and since I'm that one person, I say he goes."

Another child offered, "Well, maybe if he wouldn't eat so much and wouldn't be so messy, we could keep him."But Mom was firm. "It's time to take Danny to his new home now," she insisted. "Go and get his cage."

"With one voice and in tearful outrage the children shouted, "Danny? We thought you said Daddy!"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Three things

I had the privilege of listening to Pastor John Piper talk about Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. Three things that I learned at the Regional Desiring God conference this weekend:

  1. God grants specific people with gifts that are simply extraordinary. When Piper was preaching, I didn't just hear it, I felt it. What an amazing gift.
  2. In Job, we learn that God is doing more for us and around us than we could ever comprehend. Combine that with the fact that God is good and we have nothing to fear in our limited perspective. "God is not just doing one thing in your life. He is doing ten thousand things in your life right now, most of which you will never fully comprehend."
  3. Going to a conference by yourself has pros and cons: Pro: You are alone to think and meditate on the content of the teaching you receive. Con: You are alone to think and meditate on the content of the teaching you receive.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Churched: A book review

Like a lot of people, I grew up in a church environment that was dysfunctional. Naturally, a dysfunctional church is comprised of a lot of dysfunctional people. And the church of my youth had a significant impact on the development of my worldview and my relationship to God.

So when I received the offer to review a book with the subtitle "One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess", my interest was piqued. Churched is a collection of essays about growing up in the tangled labyrinth of the fundamentalist church culture. The author picks several quirky fundamentalist practices (fire and brimstone preaching, the broad brush condemnation of all cultural influences, etc.) and flamboyant personalities (the fire and brimstone pastor, the over zealous Sunday School teacher, etc.) to explore in a David Sedaris-like manner.

The author does a decent job of describing the basic fundy shortcomings. The reader comes away feeling like that Ned Flanders would have felt right at home at the author's church. And I imagine that most people that grew up in a strict, tradition-oriented church will be able to relate to many of his experiences.

But I never got to the part of the book where the there was anything more than a critique of a bad church. It takes very little courage to take shots at any church. It requires great courage to help people get past their bad church experiences. In the end, Churched fails to provide any hope beyond the cynicism. There is no mention of the Gospel or the Risen Saviour that the author's church clearly was missing. And absent the "journey towards God", the book simply leaves you with a front row seat to watch another person's "holy mess".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

If only every flight had a Marine

The peace is shattered in an airplane by a five-year-old boy who picks the moment after the plane has taken off to throw a wild temper tantrum. No matter what his frustrated, embarrassed mother does to try to calm him down, the boy continues to scream furiously and kick the seats around him.

Suddenly, from the rear of the plane, a man in a Marine uniform is seen slowly walking forward up the aisle. Stopping the flustered mother with an upraised hand, the courtly, soft-spoken Marine leans down and, motioning toward his chest, whispers something into the boy's ear.Instantly, the boy calms down, gently takes his mother's hand, and quietly fastens his seat belt. All the other passengers burst into spontaneous applause.

As the Marine slowly makes his way back to his seat, one of the cabin attendants touches his sleeve. "Excuse me, sir," she asks quietly, "but could I ask you what magic words you used on that little boy?"

The Marine smiles serenely and gently confides, "I showed him my pilot's wings, service stars, and battle ribbons, and explained that they entitle me to throw one passenger out the plane door on any flight I choose."

The brilliance of true fellowship

I have historically been very grouchy towards the church. Some of the churches I have attended over the span of 34 years probably contributed this grouchiness, but I am confident that my personal sinfulness was equally at fault. It is undeniable that God used my experience with the church to form my character and sanctify me in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. But all in all, my experience with the church has been wanting.

Until now. God has provided a group of people to our family that have defied my low expectations of the church. We are able to love people and receive love in kind. Self sacrifice for the good of others is common. The Gospel is central. And God is being glorified.

And Sunday mornings are filled with laughter and joy. In my history with church, that is an amazing distinction. Joy. On Sundays in our church people are happy to be in God's house with those that worship the risen Saviour. We sing with enthusiasm and we listen to preaching with great anticipation that God will open our eyes to see Him more clearly.

We are a big herd of servanthood oriented sheep. And that is very cool.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hope in another Treasury

I have been a little surprised at the mass panic over the downward movement of the US stock market. Somehow, there is a segment of the population that thinks that the market will always go up. Never down, just up. Up. Up. Up. Like a Zepplin. I realize that there has been a very abrupt and rapid downturn and that is a little unsettling for most. But I think the level of concern about this temporary decline is a pretty good barometer of what people have placed their trust in. For those that follow Christ, your treasure is not supposed to be here on earth anyway.

A couple of other thoughts:
  • What if we gave the trillion dollars to the middle class and the lower class? This would seem to make better sense than providing a bailout to the greedy fools that created this mess?
  • There is a report that someone punched out the former CEO of Lehman Brothers when he was working out. This CEO is a guy that made $400 million and led his company right into bankruptcy. He should probably get used to that type of reaction.
  • One confirmation that the US is still the dominant force in the world is that when we go down, everyone else goes down with us.
  • Who in their right mind is selling stocks right now?! If you are wise, you bought part of a great company, not placed a bet. Hang in there and wait. Never sell low.
  • The brilliant investor Warren Buffet said, "Be fearful when others are greedy, be greedy when others are fearful." The time to buy low is coming for the patient.
  • It is easy to commentate when you have very little money!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Three things

Three reasons why it is better to watch an NFL game on TV instead of going to Texas Stadium to view it live:
  1. Texas Stadium is really, really smelly. I took my 7 year-old with me to the game and the first words out of his mouth as we entered the stadium: "Hey, Dad, what's that smell?"
  2. Unbridled passion + excess consumption = unexplainable stupidity. Why go to the game and drink so much that you cannot control yourself? You can get sloshed at home without paying $100 for your ticket.*
  3. Instant replay. It is almost embarrassing to admit that I don't know how anyone enjoyed sporting events before instant replay. The game moves so fast that the human eye cannot capture everything that happens.

*I used to be against the building of new sports venues that would make it impossible for the common man to attend a game. But if the common man acts like a fool, maybe the ticket prices that will keep the cheap drunks from public displays of indecency are appropriate.

The infrequency of stillness

I have started reading a new book published by Sovereign Grace Ministries entitled Worldliness. It is, appropriately, about worldliness and our propensity to become drawn to the temporary things of the world and not to the all satisfying Saviour. My own issues with worldliness can be traced to the infrequency with which I am truly still and quiet. I seem to have this need to have the radio or the iPod or a magazine or the Tivo to entertain me. And I think that this robs me of the peace of soul that I often say I want, but refuse to sacrifice anything to attain.

I am grateful for grace all over again.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I would like your input.

Is it better to defy your conscience and vote for a candidate you don't agree with or cast that same vote for a candidate that is not popular enough to ever win?

(I'm the Underdog and I approved this message.)

Gives me the Heebie Jeebies

Here was the first line of the story:

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)—Anquan Boldin has a fractured sinus as a result of what he acknowledges was the worst hit he’s received in his football career.
My question is this: What happens when you sneeze? Ouch.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Piper cometh

God willing and the baby don't come, I will go to Austin, Texas in a couple of weeks to the Desiring God regional conference. John Piper will be teaching on the book of Job. I am thrilled at the prospect of getting to learn in person from one of my heroes. This video just whetted my appetite even more.

Although today stinks...

In dark darkness, You are the Light.
Out of black blindess, You give me sight.
In glaring weakness, You are might.
Constantly wrong, You are my Right.
And these mercies are new every morning.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Three things

The first in a series of one. The following are three sayings* that our family uses often that I think are quite useful.
  1. A good portion of the book of Proverbs wrapped up in one tidy saying: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
  2. The proper form for an apology is four lines: "I'm sorry. I was wrong. I hurt you when I (name the gruesome offense). Can you please forgive me?"
  3. The members of our family often believe everything is about them, when in reality God is the most important person in the universe. The constant reminder that we are not as important as we may think we are: "I'm sorry, but its not your party."

*none of these are originally from me. I am standing on the shoulders of nameless giants.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Prayers of the young

As a family, we have been listening to a sermon on prayer called "Pray Like Jesus". This has resulted in some great prayers from the Pups. A few examples:

"Dear Heffenly Fader, Thank you for Jesus and He died on the cross. Oh, yeah, and the beans too. Amen." --- 3-year-old at the dinner table

"Dear Heavenly Father, Please help Daddy's business to do well so we can go to SeaWorld. Or maybe just Arkansas. That would be okay too. Amen." --- 5-year-old

and my favorite:

"Dear Heavenly Father....Oh, never mind. Amen." --- 9-year-old

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

After that last post.... deserve something a little lighter from me. For more opinions, go flip on FoxNews. Here is a great picture to make you giggle snicker:

The utter stupidity of this financial crisis

(Be careful if you dare to read this. I am really ticked off.)

So let me get this straight. Over the past two years, the largest financial institutions in the world have created schemes that were so complex that only a few people could understand them. These schemes were built on a faulty and risky premise that prices in the housing market would go up for ever. They were aimed at giving housing loans to those that should not have even received consideration based on their past stewardship of their finances. These really risky loans were then packages up and spread around to all sorts of banks and financial institutions at a significant markup - - - and huge bonuses for the executives involved. Then, when the people that should not have qualified for the loans in the first place defaulted on their loans when housing values tanked, the banks that held the loans found they had little or no value any longer. The banks took on high risk and it turned out to be a very bad bet. Their short term money making schemes failed and there would be a price to be paid. Logically, those that made the bad bets should lose their business and their elevated standard of living.

But, no, wait! Our STUPID government leaders decided that the free enterprise system is no longer valid. They decide that instead of letting the natural consequences for absolute business foolishness take effect, they would bail out the foolish! No failures based on poor performance. No, instead they make me and you pay for the saving of poorly run businesses - - -to the tune of $700 billion dollars. And so there is no consequence for being a financial moron, as long as your company is well connected and well known. It gets better! The government doesn't really have the money! So either taxes will have to increase or we will have to go into greater national debt!

And just wait, this is only the first domino! As long as we are bailing out the financial industry, thre are other poorly run industries out there as well. Who's next?! How about several hundred billion for the auto industry? How about the airlines? Let's bail them out too! A bailout sets a very bad precedent for future foolishness.

My solution? Let bad companies fail and strip their leadership of any personal fortunes they gained. Yes, there would be a lot of short term pain. Maybe even 1929 type pain. But it would be short term. Companies that were wise in their decisions would rise to the top and assume the business that the foolish companies lost. In the long term, the market would correct itself and we would be better for it. New laws would follow that would protect the average American and provide new regulation for future business transactions.

That's all I have to say about that.


Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.
---Proverbs 13:11

Thursday, September 18, 2008

All things?

And we know that for those who love God all things
work together for good, for those who are called
according to his purpose.
---Romans 8:28

This verse is stuck in my head. Like an old LP that keeps skipping and playing the same few notes over and over, this verse is on repeat in my little brain. I have heard this passage a hundred times, and usually it is quoted in the context of some disaster or tragedy that we cannot explain.

I have been thinking about this verse on a personal level. It is easy for me to apply Scripture to other people's lives, but when it becomes personally applicable, the results can be shockinng. The word "all" is the hardest word in the whole verse for me. All things? Really?

Things that must therefore be working for good:
-Dishonest business people
-Mouthy children
-Migraine headaches
-Rapidly declining retirement account balances
-The rotting wood on my backdoor frame
-The Check Engine light in my car

This is just a short list, but they must be working together, under God's sovereign gaze, for my good. There has to be a plan for my spiritual formation, for my sanctification buried in the intertwining events of my life. And it also means that nothing is random. There is nothing that happens to me that is without purpose---even migraines.

Or all isn’t all.

Fatherhood in three panes.

(Just double click on it if you can't see it. If you can't read, you're just out of luck.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A marriage building experiment

In the spirit of the ever present election season, I decided to try a little marriage building experiment last night. After every sentence I said to Mrs. Underdog, I followed with "I'm Chris Tryon and I approved this message."

I think I lost her vote.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Laughing for fun

I might actually use #3. Oh wait, I am management. Never mind.

Automatic Out-of-Office Replys

1. I am currently out of the office at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Please be prepared for my mood.

2. You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn't have received anything at all.

3. Sorry to have missed you, but I'm at the doctor's having my brain and heart removed so I can be promoted to our management team.

4. I will be unable to delete all the e-mails you send me until I return from vacation. Please be patient, and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received.

5. Thank you for your e-mail. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first 10 words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message.

6. The e-mail server is unable to verify your server connection. Your message has not been delivered. Please restart your computer and try sending again. (The beauty of this is that when you return, you can see who did this over and over and over....)

7. Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system. You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.

8. Hi, I'm thinking about what you've just sent me. Please wait by your PC for my response.

9. I've run away to join a different circus.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Why Apple and Nike are better than dessert.

I have been prepping for the race that I have in early October. I have lost six pounds. I am no longer sore. And I might just make the time goal that I had set for myself. Mucho progresso.

So it would reason that just as things were going well that my treadmill would just give up. In the middle of a run. With no provocation.

So I turned to my Nike/iPod thingy. This is a really cool device. You place a small chip inside specially constructed Nike Shoes. There is a second piece that attaches to your iPod and measures your distance, speed, etc. by connecting wirelessly with the pedometer in your shoe. It rocks. Unless it stops working in the middle of a run.

Dead treadmill. Dead Nike/iPod thingy. So I go to the Apple store with my Nike/iPod thingy and tell thing that it doesn't work right.

The Apple guy goes over to the shelf, takes a Nike/iPod thingy off of the shelf, and tells the manager that mine isn't working right. So the manager looks at me to make sure I appear to be the type of person that might exercise. Seeing that I might probably run, he hands me the new one, took the one that didn't work, and told me to have a nice day.

That rocks. I actually felt like a customer.

Playing the violin while....

....Rome burns?

Death is dead to me.

But for those that are in Christ:

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

---I Corinthians 15:51-53

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ike is coming....

This is the coolest storm tracker EVER!

Palin is making my head hurt.

Mrs. Underdog and I had a long discussion about Sarah Palin last night. The overbearing, over coverage of this lady is making my head hurt. A few of the thoughts that we chewed on last night:
  1. Palin is running for political office, not a church post. What difference does that make?
  2. Its great that she decided to have Trig, but what about now parenting Trig? Isn't that equally as important?
  3. Why are Christians (even prominent pastors) so divided in their opinion about Palin?
  4. Is is better to not vote than to vote against your conscience?
  5. I bet that the Bible character Deborah has never received so much attention.
  6. Deborah did a pretty good job as far as I can tell.
  7. I wonder what Palin's husband thinks about her aspirations?
  8. Her inexperience in Washington is a positive, not a negative, attribute.
  9. God was not surprised by Palin's nomination.
  10. If everyone adopted the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" rule, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and the political conventions would completely disappear.

Any form of government run by foolish, self-centered individuals will gradually become a platform for those least qualified to govern. Our fledgling democracy has reached that point in a record amount of time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Car roof + coffee = rats (sigh)

There is perhaps nothing more defeating than the sight of hot coffee running in little streams down the rear windshield of your car. It somehow managed to balance while you were backing out, but when you put the car in drive and hit the gas, the hot cup of java that you carefully doctored lost it balance and spilled all over the top of your car. And you really need that coffee. You need the warm, milky, caffeinated goodness to jumpstart your nervous system and bring you back to life. But you stare in despair at the drips of light brown that run down the glass. Mocking your drowsy incompetence.

So you pull the car into another parking space and retrieve the cup that once contained such promise. And you ask yourself "If I go back into the coffee shop, can I use this cup again and get a free refill?" As you ponder this question, you decide that the need for a hot beverage is superior to any potential guilt that might result from working the system. So you slink into the coffee shop and redo the coffee making drill.

And as you back out of the parking space, the pool of coffee that had settled on to your roof flows in tiny rivulets on to the windshield, a subtle reminder that you have trouble waking up.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I did not know this about Mr. Obama.

Perhaps this is why he is so liberal in his thinking....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Are you the penguin or the bear?

Be brave. Be of good courage. But try to be wise....

Have a great week.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Conventional foolishness

After two weeks of political conventions, a few random observations:

-Most of the people at the highest levels of our government think that the general population is stupid. They make promises that they never plan on keeping because it is what is required to get elected. Either that or our political leadership is optimistic to the point of foolishness in believing that they will be the ones to change Washington.

-Sarah Palin was the only one of the nominees that did not sound like a seasoned aristocrat. The other three haven't been any where near blue class working family in a long time.

-Long experience and wisdom are not synonomous.

-If we are at war, our leaders should be required to have a child or grandchild on the battlefront. It would influence the way they make decisions. A little skin in the game, you know.

-Being in the Senate does not make you a leader.

-Has John McCane done anything since he was a POW? Sure would be nice to hear something about what he has done in the past, say, forty years.

-I wonder how much those balloons that they dropped from the ceiling cost? Bet there are a lot of better uses for that money.

-I hate that I will cast my vote for someone that I do not believe in. Pooh and Diego might just get my vote.

-Barak Obama is an empty suit, but he is great at articulating ideas. And the unthinking masses like to be entertained by great orators.

-Barak cannot believe that his perspectives on life issues align with anything close to Christian.

-I fear that young people with little knowledge of the politicians will turn the election by simply voting for the "coolest" candidate.

-I hated seeing Invesco Field at Mile High hosting that big Obama speech. It's is the Broncos home turf, not a theater for political speeches.

-I miss Mike Huckabee.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Toddler's Nominees for Prez

I had a discussion with my 3-year-old this evening about the nominees for President. He does not know who he will vote for in November. But he does have some very strong opinions about who should lead America. I asked him who he would like to see on the Presidential ticket. The Linebacker Starter Kit said that he would be most likely to vote for....Diego and Winnie the Pooh. I think that he might be on to something....



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Super Bowl prediction....

You can mark it down. It's official. By your tickets now. Because I am announcing my official Super Bowl prediction. You can expect to see these two teams playing in February in Tampa Bay....

One more reason to love hockey....

Each player on the team that wins the NHL's championship gets to have the Stanley Cup to himself for a day. And he can do pretty much whatever he wants with it....

Here is one possible use:

Or perhaps this:

They are gathered around the Stanley Cup, knee to knee, a father, two daughters and his son, the fabled bowl filled to the brim with chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cookie dough ice cream, all topped with a calorie-pounding amount of chocolate syrup and sprinkles.

The McCarty kids bust into laughter as dad Darren clutches his head in mild agony. Frozen brain. Oh, no.

Sure, there were the guys from the Rite Aid pharmacy who strolled in, not believing the Stanley Cup was next door at Stroh's Ice Cream Parlor. ("I thought, sure, nice joke. The Stanley Cup? You wish," one shocked employee said.) And there were the complete strangers, wide-eyed, who were handed white plastic spoons to help out with this mother of all sundaes.

But if you could hold this moment in your hand, a father and his children laughing and dripping ice cream out of the Stanley Cup, it gives you pause to consider just what is possible in a world that sometimes feels all out of possible. (Source)

Funny for your laugher

just looking

That must be the most common phrase spoken in retail settings. From a very early age, we learn that if you claim to be "just looking", then the retail helper guy/girl will leave you alone. It is often a sentence uttered to disguise the fact that we have zero dollars to spend. If we had money, we wouldn't be in The Sharper Image browsing, we would have gone to the movies.

I fear that my Bible study all to often falls into "just looking" mode. I take a Scripture or hear a sermon and I learn something about my Creator and about me. I am given a Divine perspective on something that I had not noticed before. And there is the opportunity to buy into the truth, to do something about what I have learned. To change. But the pattern I see in myself is one of consistently unapplied knowledge. Like the man that looks in the mirror and then, when he turns around, forgets what he looks like, I have a short memory. And typically do nothing.

And this is why I am deeply grateful for God's mercy. My Father is always providing me with love and acceptance that I do not deserve. He knows that I am a little sheep that needs shepherding. He knows that if I am left to my own means, real meaningful change will probably stop when the pain begins. But by His patient hand, I will be sanctified. I will be changed.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brain fog potty mashing

Random stuff:

-Who isn't curious about a blog entry with a title like that? I am afraid that it is false advertising though. I don't even know what potty mashing means.

-I think that I miss the Olympics. They were a welcome distraction on a nightly basis. Except for badminton. It was simply annoying.

-I went to an event last night where a panel of CEOs spoke. They admitted that luck was a part of their success. They said that you have to be prepared for the moment when luck presents an opportunity. I think luck is a term that was made up because God's mercy was too difficult for some to accept.

-Andrew Peterson's new song makes me tear up. I am quite the wuss, I am afraid.

-I think that when you find a place that is really quiet, you become very aware of just how loud our lives are. Selah.

-And then you turn on the radio.

-I have committed to run a 5k on October 11th. I like food more than my training regimen. But as long as I beat my small group leader's time, its all good.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just call it what it is, okay?

An old fashioned lady, always quite delicate and elegant, especially in her language was planning a camping trip in their Motorhome with her husband. While writing a letter to a campground to learn about their facilities, she became concerned - she could not bring herself to write the word "toilet" in her letter. She needed to know about the campground toilets.

After much deliberation, she finally came up with the old-fashioned term BATHROOM COMMODE. But when she wrote that down, she still thought she was being too forward. So she rewrote the letter - this time referring to the bathroom commode as BC; "Does the campground have it's own BC?", she wrote.

The campground owner was puzzled when he got the letter, he just couldn't figure out what the woman was talking about. That BC business really stumped him. He showed the letter to several campers, but they couldn't imagine what the lady meant either.

The campground owner, finally came to the conclusion that the lady must be asking about the local Baptist Church. He sat down and wrote the following reply:

Dear Madam:I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take pleasure in informing you that a BC is located nine miles north of the campground and is capable of seating 250 people at one time. I admit it is quite a distance away, if you are in the habit of going regularly, but no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches along and make a day of it. They usually arrive early and stay late. It is such a beautiful facility and the acoustics are marvelous...even the normal delivery sounds can be heard. The last time my wife and I went was six years ago, and it was so crowded we had to stand up the whole time we were there. It may interest you to know that right now a supper is planned to raise money to buy more seats. They are going to hold it in the basement of the BC. I would like to say it pains me very much not to be able to go more regularly, but it surely is no lack of desire on my part. As we grow old, it seems to be more of an effort, particularly in cold weather. If you do decide to come down to our campground, perhaps I could go with you the first time you go, sit with you, and introduce you to all the other folks. Remember, this is a friendly community.

Sincerely, (Campground Owner)

Integrity on display

I thank God for examples like Joe Gibbs:

You may have seen ads for an insurance company touting its commitment to responsibility. They feature people doing the right thing, such as returning lost property and helping strangers, simply because it is the right thing to do.

The ads have struck a nerve with the public—probably because personal responsibility is not one of the defining traits of our age.

There is another, equally important, aspect of good character and responsibility: that is, owning up to your mistakes and transgressions. Happily, there are real-world examples of this kind of responsibility in, of all places, the race track.

Earlier this year NASCAR ordered one team to reduce the horsepower generated by its engines in an attempt to make races more competitive. That team had won more than half of the races this season.

Compliance with the order was determined by what is known as a “chassis dynamometer” test—or “dyno test” for short.

In the competitive world of auto racing, where money, prestige, and pride are always on the line, such an order does not go down very well. Mechanics and technicians who have spent countless hours perfecting their cars might resent this attempt to level the playing field. They might even put a kind of moral spin on the issue: It is “unfair,” maybe even “un-American,” to “punish” excellence in this way.

So it comes as no surprise that someone might try to disobey the order while appearing to be in compliance by fooling the dynamometer. And that is exactly what happened: During “chassis dyno” tests after a recent race in Michigan, NASCAR inspectors found that the team’s mechanics had rigged the cars to appear as if they were in compliance when they were not. In other words, they cheated.

While the cheating is not surprising, the name of the team is: Joe Gibbs Racing. It is surprising because Gibbs is an outspoken Christian who has gone into prisons with me. I know Joe well and respect his character and integrity—they are unimpeachable.

That is why I was not surprised at what followed: While neither Joe nor his son J. D. had any clue as to what their employees were doing, they took “full responsibility” for their employees’ actions.

Joe said that the incident “goes against everything we stand for as an organization.” He added that “we will take full responsibility and accept any penalties NASCAR levies against us.”
That’s it: no evasion, no excuses, no spin. It stands in marked contrast to the evasions and “damage control” we hear and read about all the time. People caught breaking the law or behaving badly blame everything from dyslexia, their disadvantaged upbringing, and even acid reflux for their failings. When they do acknowledge fault, they seek to mitigate their responsibility by citing “extenuating” circumstances—or, as we see with politicians, regularly they call sin just a “mistake.”

It is not just celebrities and politicians. Americans talk about responsibility, but we are all-too-eager to pass the blame along, especially if there is punishment involved.

That is why I so admire Joe Gibbs’s willingness to take his punishment without qualifiers. Joe and family are not only doing the right thing, they are setting a real-world example for the rest of us to emulate. Thank you, Joe, for your Christian witness and teaching the rest of us a lesson.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Be brave, Bobo.

There once was a bear named Bobo. And Bobo like boating. When Bobo went boating in the bayou, he banged his belbow on the bait bucket. Bobo got a bad boo-boo. So Bobo took his bad belbow boo-boo to dad for a band-aid. And Bobo Senior, a big bad bear took one look at Bobo Junior's bump and banished him to bed. Why? Little bears that bemoan small boo-boos become big bears that lack bravery.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Be grateful for every swing of the bat...

Parenting is about hope

I met with a good friend of mine this morning and we talked about how parenting is about hope. No matter what you do in your parenting, ultimately God has to be graceful to you (and your children) for them to turn out "okay".


In a completely unassociated note, I came across this Calvin & Hobbes cartoon this morning:

Monday, August 18, 2008

The coolest last name

Mrs. Underdog is reading the biography of William Wilberforce. What a cool last name. I think that any last name can be cooler just by adding "-force" to the end of it. Try it:

Michael Jordanforce.

Barak Obamaforce.

Kermit the Frogforce.

I might change my last name. For my boys, of course.


I have been reading stuff that is smarter than I am. I struggle and I wrestle with the language and my little brain sweats and strains to understand. But the effort is made worthy in moments when God rewards the work with insight into His ways. The work and the revelation are both gifts.

I was reading this last week as someone wrote about the purpose of the Christian life. What is it that God wants us to do? It was a swift kick in the head when the author proposed that the Christian life is more about affections than it is about decisions. I have been chewing on this for a few days and I think that I believe it to be true.

Think about the commands that Jesus said were most important. Jesus commanded an emotion, an affection. Jesus said that the Law and Prophets were summed up in loving God and loving our neighbors. He did not choose one of the Ten Commandments or some ceremonial sacrifice, he commanded love. I think that Jesus' command pushes any self righteousness to the side and makes us depend upon God to help us love when love is not natural.

I think that our decisions will be based on what we love most. I find that most of the time, I love me more than anything else. So I make decisions that are purely motivated by what is best for me. If my affections were for my God and my neighbor, my decisions and actions would reflect that concern.


Thought provoking

I am not a political guy. And although I think it is our duty to vote, I believe that voting for a candidate based on a single issue is a little shallow, Obama's stance on "life issues" has me deeply concerned. This statement was in the comments section of Justin Taylor's blog today:

Let me propose a thesis, and I'd be interested in your response. Evangelicals who support someone like Obama do not truly believe that the unborn are human persons deserving full human rights. I know that sounds both provocative and unfair. But imagine that we were not talking about the unborn but about toddlers. If 50 million--50,000,000!--toddlers had been brutally executed in our country, wouldn't it be utterly unthinkable to vote for a candidate who had a 100% record of voting for toddler execution and who never once in his career voted for a single restriction on toddler execution--and who promised that his first order of business as president would be to sign a bill that would codify the laws in favor of executing toddlers, and in fact would make sure that taxpayer money supported it?

If you object to the analogy, then you have to explain the morally relevant difference(s) between an unborn person and a toddler. Appearance? Stage of development? Size? Degree of dependency? Location?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Greatness in retrospect

I think that greatness is best measured after the fact. It is hard to define something or someone as truly great as they are performing their craft. It is in reflection upon past events that gives us the best view of something brilliant. In referring to Abraham Lincoln, Carl Sandburg started one of the final chapters with the statement that "A tree is best measured when it is down."*

We have watched more TV as a family over the past week than we have in the three previous months. The Olympics have captured our collective attention. I think that some of this is due to the unique nature of some of the sports we have witnessed. I mean, how often do you get to see competitive badminton?

But the single most intriguing figure in the games has got to be Michael Phelps. When he gets prepared to swim, my entire household stops to watch. He is freakish in his ability to move through the water. Among the best swimmers in the world, he stands apart. So much so that my kids assume he will win every race he enters, it is simply a question of the margin of victory and how much he will destroy the world record.

In my lifetime, I have seen a few great athletes perform. But I would consider very few of them dominant. Jordan, Gretzky, Armstrong, and Woods would have to top the list. (I suspect that Thorpe and Jim Brown would make the cut, too. Before my time, you know.) I think that when the Olympics are finished, we will have to add Phelps to the roll of dominant athletes. And maybe he will top the list because he will have set world records in at least five seperate events in just a week's time.

Is there anyone else you would add to the list of dominant athletes? (No Dallas Cowboys, please. Yes, I am talking to you, Aaron.)

*I am not predicting that anything will happen to Michael Phelps. It's just a quote, okay?

Friday, August 8, 2008

A historic post from recent history

Mar. 31, 2008 - What are the odds?

What are the odds that a father and son would decide to play wiffle ball in a backyard on Saturday afternoon?

What are the odds that they would position themselves so that the batter was facing the house?

What are the odds that they would leave the back door of the house open on this particular Saturday afternoon?

What are the odds that, due to the father's brilliant pitching, the son would whiff on the first eight pitches?

What are the odds that he would crush the ninth pitch launching a screaming line drive?

What are the odds that mom would be walking through the kitchen with a skillet of newly scrambled eggs?

What are the odds that the mom with the eggs would be walking ten feet inside the backdoor at the exact moment that the aforementioned line drive burst into the kitchen?

What are the odds that the wiffle ball would strike the mom on the knuckle of the hand holding the skillet?

What are the odds that she would somehow manage to hold on to the skillet despite the searing pain from the well hit wiffle ball?

What are the odds that the wrong thing for the father to say to just hit mom is "Why didn't you catch it? If a ball hits you in the hands you should be able to catch it."?

The odds are pretty good around our household. Pretty good, I tell ya.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

French, but funny anyway.

I can still hear my seven-year-old son giggling.

No one is immune... the effects of high gas prices.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

China is beautiful

I found these picture at the site that is linked below. China is a beautful place. But as the Olympics get started, let's not forget that among all the fanfare, the government in China hates the church of Jesus Christ. Pray for the persecuted church.
My friend Aaron (commenter ranking: #1, sorry, Nate) will be in China for the next couple of weeks. There is a chance that he will get to interact with people that have never heard the Name of Jesus. Never. It is simply stunning to me that there are people that have not heard the Gospel.
Godspeed, Aaron.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quotes like this scare me.

“…the lowest common denominator in all of the missional-incarnational practices is discipleship and the difficulty of discipling people in the midst of a consumerist culture. The story of the middle class in America is one of safety, security, comfort and convenience. In other words, American Christians have overwhelmingly chosen the story of the American way rather than the way of Jesus.”

-Brad Brisco from his “Alan Hirsch in New Orleans” entry from his blog, Missional Church Network

Big picture

I am a man of severely limited perspective. All around me, millions of little events take place that are beyond my awareness. Many of these events will have an effect on me, yet they lie beyond my short reach of influence. But God has each little action within his view. He is not unaware of even the tiniest incident that will touch my life. He has a limitless perspective on things that is simply beyond my ability to comprehend. And with a childlike trust that my Father loves me and sees me, I am at peace with that fact.

Fear not, for I am with you;be not dismayed, for I am your God;I will strengthen you, I will help you,I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ---Isaiah 41:10

A post for my friend

Mr. Scaggs, if you still read my blog, this post is dedicated to you...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What sin looks like

Pure avian rebellion.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Dark Night

So Mrs. Underdog and I went to the theater last night to see the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight. I am an unusually hard critic when it comes to movies. Of the hundreds of movies I have seen over the years, I think that maybe ten of them would fit in the "great" category. Maybe less than ten. But Batman Begins is one of those "great" movies, so my expectations for The Dark Knight were very high.

I am still digesting the experience, but a few thoughts on what may turn out to be the highest grossing movie of all time. (It is so pathetic that Titanic, Titanic!, is number one.)

  • Heath Ledger as the Joker is brilliant. I kept waiting for him to slip out of character, but it never happened. His portrayal of the Joker is sinister and evil and mesmerizing. It had to be a tremendous strain on the guy to descend into that character for days at a time.

  • This is a violent, but bloodless movie. There was a seven or eight year-old kid sitting two seats down from me and I couldn't understand why he was in the theater. The intensity of the film alone should have earned it an R-rating in my opinion. But the violence in the movie is nearly bloodless.

  • Long. This movie is long. Don't fill up on pop during the previews or you will never get through the whole thing. Just when you think that things are drawing to a close, another plot twist arrives. Greatness.

  • There were three moments that just took my breathe away. Those moments are what separates a great movie from just a good movie.

  • I am in the market for a Batcycle if anyone is selling one.

Like Batman Begins, I think that there are a lot of details that will require a second viewing to absorb. Each of the villians (and the heroes for that matter) displays a very distinct worldview that they then live out. This adds a certain depth to the characters that is rare in the blockbuster movie industry.

I would only recommend this movie for people that have a very strong constitution. You will likely be exhausted as the credits role. And if you decide to see it, do so in the theater. Unless you have a home theater like my friend Richard, you will need the big screen to absorb the full effect.