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.