Friday, November 27, 2009

Parent Deficit Disorder

Another favorite from my old blog:

In an office, thirty years in the future, with a thirty something young man on a couch and a pastoral looking guy:

“Is this your first counseling session?”, asks the pastoral looking guy.

“Yes”, replies the young man (who is strikingly handsome like his father).

“Well, why don’t you tell me why you’re here?”

“Well, ever since I graduated from Yale Law, I have been kinda, um, listless.”

“Listless?”

“Yes. After I graduated, I spent some time traveling, then organized goat rodeos, then was a meat artist, and now work at Shoneys. I think I have issues.”

“Listless indeed.”

“Yeah. Can you help me?”

“Maybe. Is your dad still alive? Tell me about your dad.”

“Uh-huh. For years wrote this blog under a pseudonym – Uberdog, Innersmog, Outerfrog, something like that. He had a nervous breakdown a few years ago. A lot of times, he just mumbles a lot about needing another Grande Mocha. He just stares into space for hours and with a pained look on his face ask the same questions over and over, ‘How could two toddlers poop in their bath on the same night? How is that possible?’. Its just sad.”

“And your mom?”

“She’s fine. She’s brilliant. Just saw her at Christmas. She loves dad a lot. Buys him a lot of Mochas.”

“Well, I think that I know what is going on.”

“You do?”

“Yes, you have a all the symptoms of ‘PDD’.”

“PDD?”

“Yes, you have what is known as Parent Deficit Disorder. You had parents, but they were just not with the programs. Just had a very similar case of PDD this morning. A Harvard grad. Calls himself the ‘Linebacker Starter Kit’.”

“Really? Blonde guy? About 6’1, husky build?”

“Yep. How did you know that?”

“Sounds like my brother…..”

----------------------------------------------

It’s 2008 and parenting is still humbling. We seem to go in and out of seasons where we gain a little confidence only to be confounded by some unforeseen challenge. Some days are better than others. It turns out that “Shepherding Your Child’s Heart” sounds poetic but does not come easily most days.

Ranching My Child’s Brain? Sure.

Coercing My Child’s Bladder? Check.

Driving My Child’s Hiney? Got it.

Shepherding My Child’s Heart? Not nearly enough.

But as I read the Scriptures and see that my sanctification is progressive, that my maturity is gradual, and that my Father is patient, I also have hope. There is hope in the fact that God loves my children more than I ever will. That God uses even my parenting mistakes to accomplish His purposes. That His will for my children is not trumped by my inabilities as a father.

And in the far distant future, as I suck down Mochas and reflect on sad reality of past toddler poop in the bathtub, I will look back and know that God used even my meager parenting skills to achieve His glorious ends.

Thank God that He gives grace to the humble (including parents!).

Questions for Christmas


This is a repost from my other blog:

December 10, 2007

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:

1. 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"?
2. Did Mary and Joseph's parents know they went to Egypt with their new grandson? Did they fear the worst?
3. Were the angels that appeared to the shepherds there all along?
4. When the angels sang "Glory to God in the Highest", were they surprised to be singing to exalt a human baby in a manger?
5. Gold, okay. Frankincense, yep. Myrrh, though? An embalming substance? That must have been confusing. (Try taking that to your next baby shower.)
6. What was the first thing that the shepherds said to Mary and Joseph? Did the new parents believe their story at first?
7. Why don't we ever refer to the Virgin Joseph in the Christmas story?
8. Did Herod feel better after killing all those kids?
9. 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?
10. Were any of Joseph's relatives on the road to Bethlehem?

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

So my Dad can be even more thankful this year

This post is for my Dad, who had despaired at checking my blog for several weeks and always finding the Prosperity Gospel guy's shoes....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three things

  1. Lying in bed, believing that all of the forces of evil have conspired against your happiness in a mean spirited effort to suck the very life force from the very marrow of your already barely breathing social life....is just a little extreme. It may be true, but come on, lighten up a little, okay?
  2. From my Facebook status: Tonight, at the dinner table, during a break in the conversation, my 2 year old son abruptly announced, "I'M PREGNANT!". I just want to say for the record: Josiah does NOT have a bun in the oven.*
  3. I am so tired of the healthcare debate. Here is my healthcare bill: let's start with a little self control. Turn off the TV, get some exercise outside, stop eating like crap, and lets see what that does to our healthcare crisis. I may be a simpleton, but I can't be more ridiculous than most of the talking heads in Washington.

*Mrs. Underdog is pregnant and on bedrest. There has been a lot of pregnancy talk around our house lately......

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Moments of Illumination

As a father, I live for the moments of illumination in my kids. This cartoon is a good illustration:

Monday, October 19, 2009

These were interesting

These did not orginate with me, but they seemed like a good way to start the week:

Nothing stinks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you're going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you're crazy.

The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again.

Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the "people you may know" feature on facebook people that I do know, but i deliberately choose not to be friends with?

There is a great need for sarcasm font.

I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be a problem....

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day.

Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.

There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

While watching the Olympics, I found myself cheering equally for China and the US. No, I am not of Chinese descent, but I am fairly certain that when Chinese athletes don't win, they are executed.

I wonder if cops ever get ticked off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey -but I'd bet a million dollars everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time.

(Source)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It starts early...


Three things

This is the "on the mend" edition of Three things:
  1. On Monday of this last week, Mrs. Underdog got put on bedrest after only a few weeks of pregnancy, we had six kids in some stage of the plague, and the downstairs bathroom was flooded with two inches of water. It was kind of a difficult way to start the week. Thus, the limited posting.
  2. I really miss our church. Not in the "wonder-what-the-new-flannelgraph" way, but in the "I-didn't-get-to-see-people-I-love" way and the "better-is-one-day-in-God's house" way. We have missed a couple of weeks due to the plague and it is a real drag. Sundays have become my favorite day.
  3. I think that we would all have to admit that the world would be a more interesting place if dinosaurs were still around. Not only would we be a little more cautious just walking around, but we would have a lot more diverse choices for burgers. Stegasaurus burgers.....Tyrannasaurus burgers....Pteradactyl burgers. Makes me hungry, I have to tell you.....

Animal Cruelty


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Don't Be Fooled

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Worst joke in the world

I haven't had time to post anything recently, but here is something awful for your edification:

A couple go for a meal at a Chinese restaurant and order the 'Chicken Surprise'.

The waiter brings the meal, served in a lidded cast iron pot. Just as the wife is about to serve herself, the lid of the pot rises slightly and she briefly sees two beady little eyes looking around before the lid slams back down.

'Good grief, did you see that?' she asks her husband. He hasn't, so she asks him to look in the pot. He reaches for it and again the lid rises, and he sees two little eyes looking around before it slams down.

Rather perturbed, he calls the waiter over, explains what is happening, and demands an explanation.

'Please sir,' says the waiter, 'what you order?' The husband replies, 'Chicken Surprise.'

(You're going to love this. You're going to hate yourself for loving this!)

'Ah! So sorry,' says the waiter, 'I bring you Peeking Duck'.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Three things

Three things that I admire in my wife, Mrs. Underdog:
  1. Love. Her love for me has matured over the years. I am a difficult person to love. I have weaknesses aplenty. Yet she has loved me faithfully despite those deficits. Sometimes her love has come through calling out those weaknesses as sin and gently encouraging change. Sometimes she has waited patiently for the Lord to have His way in sanctifying me.
  2. Humility. She is pursuing humility as a mom. I see her on a daily basis seeking wisdom from the Lord and older women about how to lead her flock. She desires good for her children, that they would follow Jesus and love Him.
  3. Passion. She cares deeply about certain things - - - children, food, health, Christmas, etc. Her passion for these things drives her to act and imagine and pursue excellence. And her drive is something I want to emulate. I thank God that someone in our marriage gets things done.

Maybe there is nothing sweeter on this earth than the exquisite knowledge that we are loved far better than we deserve.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wow

"There was no badness in Jesus. None." --- John Piper, in a podcast.

Think about that for a moment.

Just for you.

You know who you are. You are having a really bad day. You don't quite understand why things are going the way that they are. This whole thing does not align with your plans. And that stinks. But I want you to know, that even as you are reading this, that one thing will always be true:

God loves you with a love that you cannot imagine.

He created you with a specific purpose and has you where you are to achieve that purpose. He will use even this circumstance to mold you and sanctify you. And He is for you. Since the moment He adopted you, He has been on your side, shielding and protecting and providing and watching you. He is doing ten thousands thing outside of your awareness to draw you to Himself.

You are not alone.

Relish the thought that one day, ten thousand years from now, you will be with your Father in the place that Jesus has gone to prepare for you. And no eye has seen and no ear has heard what awaits you in that place.

These are just momentary struggles and He will be your strength.

Hang in there.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Things I have learned as a parent...



  1. Children are a blessing from the Lord, except for the hour before dinner and the last two hours of the return trip home from vacation.

  2. Children do not recognize the rights of anyone else outside of themselves.

  3. For toddlers, items that have the words "flourescent" and "permanent" in their description have the gravitational pull equal to a black hole.

  4. Never leave your laptop open to a toddler with his plastic play tools.

  5. It is amazing the amount of damage that a child can do with a set of fine quality plastic play tools.

  6. A child's faith has not been diminished by experience. Neither has it been emboldened by experience.

  7. To a child with a favorite NFL team, every game of the season is the Super Bowl.

  8. Children respond with tremedous grace to a humble parent.

  9. A child's hissy fit is simply the outward manifestation of something I do in my heart all of the time.

  10. It is important to remember that it is hard being a parent and it is hard being a child, just in different ways.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sobering.

From John Stott in the Cross of Christ:

The kind of God that appeals to most people today would be easy-going in his tolerance of our offenses. He would be gentle, kind, accommodating. He would have no violent reactions. Unhappily, even in the church we seemed to have lost the vision of the majesty of God. There is much shallowness and levity among us. Prophets and psalmists would probably say of us, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." In public worship our habit is to slouch or squat; we do not kneel nowadays, let alone prostrate ourselves in humility before God. It is more characteristic of us to clap our hands with joy than to blush with shame or tears. We saunter up to God to claim his patronage and friendship; it does not occur to us that he might send us away. We need to hear again the Apostle Peter's sobering words, "Since you call on a father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives. . in reverent fear." (I Peter 1:17) In other words, if we dare to call our judge our Father, we must beware of presuming on him. It must even be said that our evangelical emphasis on the atonement is dangerous if we come to it too quickly. We learn to appreciate the access to God which Christ has won only after we have first cried, "Woe is me for I am lost." In Dale's words, "It is partly because sin does not provoke our own wrath that we do not believe that sin provokes the wrath of God.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This is powerful.

I wonder if the church would consider adoption more if we were simply wiser with our money?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Impossibility

Sometimes things I read are too familiar for me to interpret them in the right manner. I was reminded during our family huddle tonight as we were reading the Gospel of Mark that:

Changing the weather is impossible.

Halting chronic illness with your coat is impossible.

Restarting the heart of a dead kid is impossible.

Giving sight to a 35-year-old blind Dad is impossible.

Except for Jesus.


Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” --- Mark 10:27

Three things

1. Mrs. Underdog had a complaint about a post from last week. She wasn't sure that I should have posted the video clip with Will Farrell about sympathy for the insurance companies. I thought it was funny, but I am open to input from others. Anybody else think it was unwise?

2. My thoughts about God and life have changed as I have meditated on the simple fact that God had no beginning.

3. My friend and Commenter Numero Uno on this blog, Aaron went to the Desiring God conference this last weekend. The theme of the conference was John Calvin and his influence. As I have started to study John Calvin and the Reformation in more detail and see the current state of the church in America, I wonder if we are in desparate need of a second reformation. I will probably write a longer post on this later this week.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A microcosm of our school


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Somebody's grandma....

An elderly Florida lady did her shopping and, upon returning to her car, found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle. She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at the top of her voice, "I have a gun, and I know how to use it! Get out of the car!"

The four men didn't wait for a second invitation. They got out and ran like mad.
The lady, somewhat shaken, then proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and got into the driver's seat.

She was so shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition. She tried and tried, and then it dawned on her why...For the same reason she did not understand why there was a football, a Frisbee and two 12 packs in the front seat...

A few minutes later, she found her own car parked four or five spaces farther down.

She loaded her bags into the car and drove to the police station to report her mistake. The sergeant to whom she told the story couldn't stop laughing.

He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale men were reporting a car jacking by a mad, elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, glasses, curly white hair and carrying a large handgun.

No charges were filed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Necessary Public Service Announcement

All along I thought that I would get the short end of the healthcare stick. But one unintended victim that I overlooked was the insurance companies.

Mr. Big Bucks Insurance Guy Man, I guess I owe you an apology.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Three things

1. I am doing a lot of reading about great saints from the Reformation. One of the questions that this has raised for me concerns the almost total lack of suffering in the American church. More personally, the fact that I suffer little for the gospel. I think that all too often, I confuse the idea of suffering with life being difficult. But life is difficult for everyone, Christian and not. And I just wonder if I am missing something important....

2. In my continuing analysis of the music we sing on Sundays, yesterday we sang "And surely goodness and mercy will follow me...". And I couldn't stop thinking about my shadow. My shadow follows me wherever I go, whether I see it and recognize it or not. So it is with God's goodness and mercy.

3. With the opening of the new Cowboys stadium here in Dallas (kindly referred to as the Death Star), the media was in a tizzy. And I thought about the Roman Coleseum and the greeting that it must have received upon its opening. And you look at it now and although it is still big, it is well on its journey to becoming dust. And its architects are long forgotten. And so the Cowboys Stadium will one day be obsolete.....

....but I would still like to get a glimpse at that big HDTV that hangs over the field.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A little CS Lewis for you....

"We all serve God inevitably, but it makes a great difference whether you serve like Judas or serve like John." --- (Problem of Pain chapter 7, Anthology, p 910, cf. p 80)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The finish line

Oh, the sweet victory of the saint who finishes well and runs into the arms of a pleased Saviour. I am ever hopeful that my funeral is full of joy and hope and many followers of the Risen Lord. That, mixed with the tears of those that will soon join me with Christ, their is laughter that can only come from those that have been redeemed. I thank God for songs like this one and the portrait of grace that emerges from Mrs. Graham's life and death.

Fernando Ortega - "Give Me Jesus" from Adamson.TV on Vimeo.

*This reminded me of a quote from CS Lewis that said that our first words as we cross over to our eternal home will be....."Of course."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A small prayer

Heavenly Father,

I read this quote this morning from Pastor John: 'On tactfulness: "There is a big difference between saying, 'Your foot is too big for this shoe" and 'This shoe is too small for your foot.'"

Please let me be more tactful and encouraging as a Husband and Dad.

Amen.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Quote

"The world’s idea that everyone, from childhood up, should be able at all times to succeed in measurable ways, and that it is a great disgrace not to, hangs over the Christian community like a pall of acrid smoke.”

--J.I. Packer, A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom From the Book of Nehemiah, p. 206.

Friday, September 11, 2009

There is a "Lucy" in every group.



Is it you?

Troublemaker question

We sang this lyric in church last week:

Before the Cross, I humbly bow,
I place my trust in the Saviour.

Should we bow to anything but God (Exodus 20:4-5)?

Does this turn the Cross into an object of worship?

Pretension

There was at one time a lot of talk in Christian circles about the need for "authenticity". I never really got a good definition from anywhere for authenticity, but I suspect that my self-proclaimed idiocy might qualify as authentic.

And although I am not sure what authenticity is, I have started to see the opposite in a lot of different venues: pretension. Pretentious-ness. Now, this is a big word and I am far too simple minded to know the definition off the top of my head (the dictionary says that it means characterized by assumption of dignity or importance or making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious). But I think that I know it when I see it.

I find that pretension is most prevalent in men in a business setting. I was at a networking event last night that was attended by the best and brightest entrepreneurial minds and the money guys. (I was the exception.) And as I did my best to mingle, I found that most of the conversation was barely veiled bragging. The big deal that they just closed for a billion dollars with Mega-Corp. The vacation they just took when they rode the Loch Ness Monster. The new car, house, girl, etc that was simply better then yours.

And as I listened, I began to formulate in my mind what super (self) important stuff I could bring to the conversation. I got infected with the desire to be bigger and better and more significant. The true things I know about myself did not seem appropriate or impressive. And I knew that nothing I could say would survive the next guy's comments about himself.

As I was driving home I was reminded of these verses from a guy that could have boasted a lot, but chose not to:

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” I Corinthians 1:28-31

That's all for now.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Right between the eyes

This quote was a both a threat and a joy. I hope it hits you the same way it did me....

. . . whereas to the Puritans communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing. The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not. The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it. When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God. Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service—but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God. Our sermons contain much sound doctrine—but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour. We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters. Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us. But how different were the Puritans! The whole aim of their ‘practical and experimental’ preaching and writing was to explore the reaches of the doctrine and practice of man’s communion with God.

JI Packer, A Quest for Godliness, p. 215 (chapter 12).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

That's all I have to say about that.

According to the laws of aerodynamics, the bumblebee can't fly. But the bumblebee doesn't know that. So it flies.

The Looming Spectre of the Bathtub

I have a lot of kids.

And with the number of kids that I have, we have a proportional number of what I like to call hissy fits. For the sake of clarity, a hissy fits is a burst of energy that spontaneously erupts from one who lacks self-control. Commons symptoms that accompany a full fledged hissy fit are kicking, screaming, "bad attitude", grunting, moaning, crying, sorrow, and diarrhea. Okay, not diarrhea usually, but when we have an F5 on our hands, anything is possible.

In our family, when one chooses to initiate a hissy fit, they get to sit in the bathtub until they are ready to repent. The bathtub is ideal for several reasons. First, not even a full scale kicking, hitting, head butting (yeah, I know, but it only happens once), toddler can damage the inside of a bathtub. Second, our house has three evenly distributed bathtubs, providing easy access and room for multiple, concurrent hissy fitters. Third, sitting in a dry bathtub is ridiculous and the hissy fitter quickly understand that their position is completely absurd, hastening the end of the fit.

With the beginning of our school yesterday, though, I felt the presence of the bathtub more fully. Things did not always go the way that I wanted them to go. The children did not do everything that I wanted them to do. In short, the universe shifted and did not revolve around me. I think that this is probably true in general, but the occasional reminders affirm that I lack gravity.

So I had hissy fits.

Not the out of control, kicking F5 type of fit. But the subtle, internal hissy fit that cost me joy and led me to question whether the Lord really had my best interests at heart: Lord, do you really think that giving me six children was wise? The kind of hissy fit that begins with a tightening in my chest and ends with me yelling at someone as they threaten the comfort I think I deserve.

And so, this morning, my Heavenly Father put me in the Proverbial bathtub:

A soft answer turns away wrath,but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

Good sense makes one slow to anger,and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

A man of wrath stirs up strife,and one given to anger causes much transgression. Proverbs 29:22

I think I am done now. Can I please get out of the bathtub?

Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Token Holiday post

"Fear and worry are not mere emotions; they are expressions of what we hold dear. They reveal the loyalties of our hearts. If we know Christ and have affirmed our allegiance to Him, worry is a sign that we are trying to have it both ways....Worry, therefore, is not simply an emotion that erodes our quality of life or a pain to be alleviated. It is a misdirected love that should be confessed. It is trying to manage our world apart from God. It is making life about our needs, desires and wants."

- Ed Welch, Running Scared, pp. 161 & 163

Friday, September 4, 2009

Three things

1. I am amazed at the furor over the planned Obama speech to kids. A couple of random thoughts: First, doesn't the most powerful man on the planet have better things to do than talk to kids about staying in school? Second, if kids are in a public school, aren't they being impacted by the things the government wants them to learn anyway (ie. evolution)? Just thinking out loud....

2. I was in a restaurant recently where they had classical music in surround sound.....in the bathroom. It was nice and all, but trying to create ambiance in the potty is probably overkill.

3. I am starting to see the slow creep of inclusiveness sneaking into the church-at-large and it really bothers me. There are certain principles/standards that the Bible sets forth that are simply not negotiable. If one does not adhere to the clearly articulated biblical perspective on a particular issue, should that person claim to be a part of the church? If you are in the army and your Master Sargent commands you to march and you decide to spin around in circles, you will not be in the army for long. There are orthodox truths that simply are not negotiable. Does this make me sound like a jerk? Probably.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That's all I have to say about that.

Celebrity is not a virtue.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Voice

Pastor Rob spoke this morning about John 17. John 17 is one of many prayers that we have from the life of Jesus. In this particular prayer, Jesus is praying for me. And if you placed your trust in Jesus for salvation, he is praying for you too.

As Rob was reading the passage, I thought about what it must have been like to hear Jesus pray. Jesus had no sin to hinder his prayers. He did not lack faith in His Father. He had perfect wisdom about what to pray for. His prayers were never self-centered. His prayer life was perfect. His praying was so amazing that after one prayer session, one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). I almost sense that there was a "I want to pray like THAT!" tone to the request.

I anticipate that one of the most incredible moments of my existence will be hearing the voice of Jesus for the first time. I wonder about his tone of voice during prayer. Was His voice full and deep when He was making a request? Did He laugh with the Father when the prayer was joyful and triumphant? What did the adoration sound like when He praying was full of praise? Was the simple thankgiving for food exciting to hear (The Son thanking the Father for what they created together!)?

I can't wait to have glorified ears....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Choosing Thomas

I don't know what to say about this....except watch:

http://www.dallasnews.com/s/dws/photography/2009/thomas/

A Saturday night pointless rant

I read Time magazine. I know, I know, it is not the high minded reading that you expect from someone with such obviously brilliant writing chops. But it is the dessert at the end of the week that is nothing less than a mental guilty pleasure. This may come across as a rationalization for poor behavior on my part. But lets try and get to the point....

In the past several weeks, a couple of very well known people have graced the cover of Time magazine. One was a severely dysfunctional dancer/singer that entertained millions with his God-given abilities. He was as popular for the bizarre nature of his lifestyle as he was for his musical performances. He never had any privacy and his life was a train wreck, full of enablers, drug habits, and emptiness.

The second guy to grace Time's cover was the ultimate politician. Born into riches and pedigree, the expectations upon his life were never in his control. Although he was influential and powerful, he never grasped that final rung of the country's highest office, and so, with his death, his life is commonly being portrayed as a destiny unfulfilled. He never had any privacy and his life was a train wreck, full of enablers, drug habits, and emptiness.

And as I have learned more about these two individuals, I have wondered about the allure of fame and our culture's obsession with celebrity. We seem to have completely disregarded the importance of character in those we idolize. There is an insatiable appetite for information about people we are not associated with in any shape or form. And I question if we would even like the celebrities we worship if we knew them personally.

Evaluating their lives through the lens of their deaths, it seems to me that the cost of popularity far outweighs the benefits. Disappointment and chemical dependency seem to be the theme in most celebrity stories. And I wonder if most well known people would trade all of the recognition they receive for just a few years of anonymity and peace.

-------------------

Oh, yeah, and by the way: I love you.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Three things

  1. I keep hearing that Ted Kennedy survived brain cancer longer than most. I suppose that is to be admired. But then he wasn't fighting the disease while on Medicare, was he? Didn't think so.
  2. Speaking of healthcare....I don't usually recommend other blogs, but this one has me fascinated. Probably because I always wanted to be a doctor, but was never smart enough. Or scientific enough. And, you know, I really don't like dealing with pain (mine or others). So I am living vicariously through this blog.
  3. I have six children at 35 years old. And so, we now have people that will ask us for parenting advice. Although I am sometimes flattered by this, more often I want to tell them that having a large flock only has made me realize how little I know. But there is one thing that I know for sure. I find that most people are looking for an easy way of parenting that will produce brilliant, well behaved offspring. So what I usually tell them is that they need to work at it. Anything that my kids have that is admirable is not because I have some great formula for parenting, but because we invest a tremendous amount of time in correcting and guiding and praying and talking about Jesus. Many times I would rather be doing something else, but raising kids is my foremost priority right now. So we put in the work. There is no shortcut.*

*I am not done parenting yet, so I could be wrong.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

But for the Grace of God

This made me shudder....as good preaching should from time to time.

Even Jonathan Edwards

This is from a book about Jonahan Edwards. I often feel terribly inadequate as a father. To read something like this about a man whom I have the greatest of admiration....well, its like cold lemonade. Enjoy.

By far the greater burden of childrearing fell to Sarah....On one occasion, when she was out of town in 1748, Jonathan was soon near his wits' end. Children of almost every age needed to be cared for. 'We have been without you,' Jonathan lamented in a letter, 'almost as long as we know how to be!'

Monday, August 24, 2009

Three things

1. There was a guy talking about torture on the radio today. He seemed to think that it was a pretty good idea, especially if the US needed some information or felt threatened. But I wondered if he would feel differently if it was a US Marine being tortured by our enemies because they wanted some "strategic information". I am just not sure that I could ever biblically justify torturing anyone.

1a. That's what I get for listening to news radio.

2. I once was at one of those specialty bagel places and they had one type of bagel called the "Everything Bagel". That sounds pretty good, I thought, kinda like the ultimate in bagel satisfaction....like the Ben & Jerry's of bagels....like the bagel Superman prefers.....like a perfect bagel fantasy. Boy, was I disappointed.

3. The reality of football season without a TV is setting in. Instead of looking forward to the "game of the week", I am finding out that there was a game and going "Man, I bet that was great." Then I start reading my book again.

I love you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Three things

1. The healthcare debate is giving me tired head. But I would like to go to one of those townhall meetings with the President. I would have two questions:
a. Mr. President, what about Tort Reform? Can we place limits on the amount that medical lawsuits can pay out?
b. Mr. President, would you, your Cabinet, and Congress commit to living with Medicare/Medicaid as your healthcare program for the rest of your lives?

2. This weekend, me and a buddy used a water balloon launcher to launch balloons at about 90 miles an hour. We then tried to hit said water balloons with a baseball bat. It was so fun that we laughed for about an hour (until we ran out of balloons). Conclusion: Inside every adult male is a boy willing to do stupid things just for the thrill of it.

3. I am having lunch with the senior pastors from our church today. I think that there are three possible outcomes:
a. Promotion to some elevated Usher post.
b. Request to rock the morning services with my spiritual gift (I play the Kazoo...with enthusiasm).
c. Ex-communication.

Possibility C. will bother me less if they pick up the check. If I sense that is coming, I will probably order a whole pie for dessert.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Third post of the day...

I know. I am completely out of control. But this joke made me snicker.

A lady is walking down the street to work and sees a parrot in a pet store. She stops to admire the bird.

The parrot says to her, "Hey lady, you are really ugly."Well, the lady is furious! She storms past the store to her work.

On the way home she saw the same parrot in the window and the parrot upon seeing her says, "Hey lady, you are really ugly."She was incredibly ticked now. The next day on the way to work she saw the same parrot and once again it said, "Hey lady, you are really ugly."

The lady was so furious that she stormed into the store and threatened to sue the store and have the bird killed. The store manager apologized profusely and promised the bird wouldn't say it again.

When the lady walked past the store after work the parrot said to her, "Hey lady."She paused and said, "Yes?"

The bird said, "You know."

This is uncomfortable

Denny Burk:

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine for a moment that you are walking down the street, and you pass a small boy sitting on the curb. He looks to be about eight years old. You do a double-take when you notice that he has a cricket in his hand. Just as you pass, he grasps the cricket by the legs and yanks them off. How do you respond? Perhaps you would think, “That’s a little cruel. I guess boys will be boys.” Would you even stop to say anything to the boy? Maybe so, but maybe not.

Rewind to the beginning of the story. This time as you pass the boy, however, he’s pulling the legs off of a frog. How do you respond? Perhaps you might think, “That’s uncalled for. I’m going to find and tell his parents.”

Rewind again. This time as you pass the boy, he’s pulling the legs off of a small dog. How do you respond? This situation calls for a little more immediate action, doesn’t it? Perhaps you would try to rescue the dog while being careful not to manhandle or mistreat this little boy that you don’t even know. After intervening, you would certainly feel compelled to inform his parents.

Rewind one more time. This time as you pass the boy, he’s trying to pull the legs off of a human baby. How do you respond? You would move heaven and earth to save that baby, wouldn’t you? Even if you had to physically restrain the boy, you would do it. Not only would you inform his parents, you might also inform the civil authorities. After all, his parents may be negligent, and someone has to protect other babies from falling into his hands.

Do I have this about right? Wouldn’t you be more willing to take coercive action to save the baby than you would to save the cricket, the frog, or the dog? Why is that? The “sin” was the same in all four scenarios; the boy was simply pulling the legs off. So why would you react one way with a cricket and another way with a baby? For most of you, the answer is self-evident. The heinousness of the crime is measured not by the crime itself but by the nobility and virtue of the one being assaulted. There’s a world of difference between a cricket/frog/dog and a baby. A human baby—which is created in the image of God—has a dignity that no other kind of creature possesses. Thus only the most morally perverse person would think to do less for the human baby than he would for the cricket/frog/dog.

Why is it in our culture that there is almost universal disgust at Michael Vick’s dog-killing, but at best only ambivalence toward the nearly 50 million unborn human babies that have been cruelly and legally killed in America since 1973? Only the most morally retrograde culture would be outraged by the former while thinking very little about the latter. God help us.

This is worth your time......



You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

-----------------------------

Father, Wean me from my obsession with trivial things. Amen.



Sunday, August 16, 2009

August has been bad for us, but.....

This August has been a banner month for bad stuff. We have been consistently smacked around by one unhappy event after another. So far this August:

- The air conditioner in one car went kaput.

- I rammed my father-in-laws camper with our new van, damaging both.

- Pup #4 got his hand slammed in the van door, breaking and slicing open his finger.

So I was feeling pretty bummed about the month. But then I sat down with Maria, a business associate of mine. She listened to my story and then told me about her August. The highlight? They returned from a 10 day trip to a family reunion in Canada. About three houses down from theirs, they used the remote to open their garage door. The smell that creeped from their house was indescribable. It was worse than awful. The culprit? The freezer in the garage had stopped working and the contents sat in the 90+ degree heat for several days.....

It gets better (worse?): Two days before the left for Canada, they had received a $1000 delivery of meat. Enough bison, pork, and beef to last them for over a year. And where did they put the meat? In the garage freezer, of course.

They had to spend the night in a motel until the could get a "specialist" to haul off the freezer and all of its contents.

She said the smell still lingers a week later.

I immediately felt better about our August.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This is awesome

As a follow up to an earlier post, this was one of the most encouraging, courageous things I have ever heard a pastor say:

METRO ATLANTA, Ga. -- Last weekend an Atlanta pastor made a promise that stunned his congregation and most of the people who heard it.

In a speech that discussed abortion, the President, and the sanctity of life, the most provocative statement from Pastor Vic Pentz of Peachtree Presbyterian Church came towards sermon's end:"I make a promise to you now and I don't want you to keep this a secret," the pastor pronounced, "the Peachtree Presbyterian Church will care for any newborn baby you bring to this church.

"We will be the family to find a home for that child, and there's no limit on this. You can tell your friends, you can tell your family, you can tell the whole world ..."

Reflected Pentz a week later, "I seem to have touched a nerve by saying that to the congregation."

It's a speech he repeated this past Sunday, and it can be found on the church's web site under the sermon title, "Ethics of Life".

Sweet.

Source

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I didn't understand Cash for Clunkers...

....but now I do:

Cash for Clunkers has the following elements of spectacle:

Americans destroying perfectly functional cars
Americans whose skills are uncompetitive in the global marketplace driving around in fancy new cars.

Somewhere in China and India they must be having a good laugh.

The deeper issues are more troubling. Cash for Clunkers only makes sense if we believe that our #1 problem is that we don’t drive sufficiently fancy cars.


Source

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Abortion Paradox

Life is life. No one should have the right to stop life.



"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
---Edmund Burke

Our duty as Christians is not only to vote in line with our consciences. Our obligation is to fight against evil. Abortion is the most heinous of sins and yet most Christians are not willing to do anything to stop it. Slowing abortion is not a matter of overturning a law. Abortions will slow when good men care enough about the unborn to risk time and resources to help individual women.

Find your local Crisis Pregnancy Center and volunteer.

Consider adoption.

Do something.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Classic exchange

In honor of John Calvin's birthday this year, I am working my way through my Calvin & Hobbes collection. (We can't all be John Piper, right?)

I came across this classic exchange yesterday:

Calvin: Dad, Are you vicariously living through me in the hope that my accomplishments will validate your mediocre life and in some way compensate for all of the opportunities you botched?

Dad: If I were, you can bet that I'd be re-evaluating my strategy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Amazing to think about....


The other day, my six year old looked me in the eye and asked, "Dad, how does my brain know what my eye is seeing?". To which I gave the cop-out Dad answer, "Because God made it that way." Lame answer, but true and evidently satisfying to six year olds.

But it got me to thinking about other things that are simply wonderful that point us to a great Creator. Consider these:

Taste: How does your tongue know that some things taste good and others do not?

Laughter: Why are the only creatures that laugh? How do you know something is funny? Why are certain things funny to some and not to others?

Personality: Everyone has one, but just what is it? How does it emerge and when? Are our personalities and our souls linked?

Skin: It is durable, reacts well to heat and cold, and constantly recycles itself. How is it that my skin can tell the difference between hard and soft?

Fingerprints: If you commit a crime, they are specific to you so that the authorities will use them to nail your identity. How is it that they are unique like snowflakes?

Balance: How does the toddler brain learn to balance on these silly looking feet? How can we shift our weight to keep from falling?

Heartbeat: Science cannot explain what starts your heart beating. There is a spark that "jumps" the heart so that it continues beating until it is time for it to stop.

I praise you, Jesus, for I am fearfully and wonderfully set apart. Wonderful are your works; oh, yes! my soul knows it very well.
---Psalm 139:14 (Tryon Paraphrase)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Three things

1. The internet has helped me hear preaching that otherwise would remain hidden. Every Monday morning I can access hundreds of sermons that are less than 24 hours old. I am very selective in the ones that I choose to listen to, but I am amazed at the access that we have to quality teaching. I suppose that this phenomenon is both positive and negative. Just as the gospel can go forth at the click of a button, so can heresy....

2. It will be a very different football season without a TV. But as Mrs. Underdog and I spoke about the lack of TV last night, we realized that our lives have re-centered on other things. I would like to think that we are using the time we got back wisely.

3. I went to a birthday party over the weekend. It reminded me that I probably have about 60 years of life left. Life truly is a vapor. I better get after it.....

Don't Waste Your Life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

God is great.

Consider this from Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God,and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,and night to night reveals knowledge.

And then consider this:




Image above: How Big is the Milky Way? Imagine that our entire Solar System were the size of a quarter. The Sun is now a microscopic speck of dust, as are its nine planets, whose orbits are represented by the flat disc of the coin. How far away is the nearest star to our sun? In our model, Proxima Centauri (and any planets that might be around it) would be another quarter, two soccer fields away. This is the typical separation of stars in our part of the galaxy.
I put my hand over my mouth. Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Simple, but vital

Thought this little tidbit in Peter King's weekly column was interesting:

I'm sitting on the edge of a hospital bed in Massachusetts General Hospital-West when my surgeon approaches. It's Thomas Gill, the Red Sox and Patriots orthopedist. He's the third person out of eight or nine who would ask me the same question that day: "Which knee are we operating on today?'' I tell him the left one, and he takes a marker and writes "YES'' above my left kneecap. "The reason we don't put an 'X' here,'' he says, "is because if you put an 'X' there, how do you know that's NOT the one to operate on?''

You have to know that there was an event at some point that made this necessary. I can just hear the surgeon saying, "Okay so the left knee...now was that his left or my left? Scapel, please...."

Another Three Things

Before I get to the three things, I would like to offer a special thank you to Comfy Denim. Your careful consideration and comment on the Smurf-Care Bear throw down question was very helpful. Our family will consider the matter resolved.

Or not.

1. I do not take enough risks and it has crippled me as a Christian. I value comfort and quietness over helping people and winning souls. I have often used the "I-need-to-know-God's-will-on-this-matter" excuse for inaction. I heard someone say over the weekend that we will use that excuse when considering working with the poor or volunteering at that abortion clinic, but when is the last time you needed to know God's will in order to go see a movie or take a roadtrip. Yeah, sometimes I use "knowing-God's-will" as a delay tactic.*

*I am not trying to belittle knowing God's will, but if it is unclear then simply obey and serve
someone, right?

2. I now have a new phobia. We found a dead rat in our garden this morning. He was dead, but I hated him anyway. Snakes? No problem. Spiders? Okay. Roaches? Well, I guess. But RATS? DEATH TO THOSE FILTHY RODENTS! I wish they had been late to the launch of Noah's ark.

3. I haven't followed the news that closely, but I think that the healthcare debate is not really about health. It is about money. And greed. If it was really about health, we would shut down McDonald's and Wendy's.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Deep Thoughts

We have some really interesting dinner table conversations. Last night, we tried to sort out the following question: If there was a fight between the Care Bears, the Smurfs, My Little Ponies, and the Strawberry Shortcake gang, who would win?

Mrs. Underdog said that the Care Bears would win, because bears eat other animals. This seems like good logic until you consider that there are thousands of Smurfs. The Shortcakes are named after food, so they would be the first to go down. And My Little Ponies? Come on, when is the last time you heard of a pony winning any sort of conflict?

This is a debate for the ages, I suppose.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spin class

I have grown accustomed to the pain of doing spin class with Lance Armstrong as our instructor.

I have trained my body to arise before life begins at 5:30am to get to class.

I have built sixteen gallons of water into my daily routine to combat dehydration.

But this morning, on that blasted bike, I encountered something that I never could have prepared for. Something that destroyed my workout and left me questioning my very existence. Something that emerged amid peddling and brought tears to my eyes.

What was it?

Mid-workout salsa burps.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sentences

I was listening to a John Piper sermon while I was painting this weekend. One thing in particular stuck with me. Piper said that we all must have sentences. Sentences that we consistently return to. Sentences that we retrieve when we encounter difficult times. We cannot remember whole books. Most of us cannot remember paragraphs. But we can remember sentences.

This got me thinking: What are my sentences? What are the bedrock truths that I run to when I don't understand life. I was able to think of three.

1. God is sovereign over all things and he is doing ten thousand things around me that I am not aware of. This shapes my worldview. Romans 8:28 must be true---all thing are working for my good, whether I can see it or not.

2. This is not the end. This life is merely the preface. There is nothing that I cannot endure in this life that will not be worth what my Father has in store for me in eternity. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,nor the heart of man imagined,what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Cor. 2:9). Life is but a vapor.

3. People are more important than things. This is an easy truth to say, but a hard truth to live out. I preach to my kids to "consider one another's interests ahead of their own", but their dad often places a premium on keeping things "nice". This is an area of sanctification for me.

So what are your sentences?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Recent meditation

I have been thinking a lot about these verses in Proverbs 30:

7 Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

What a really gutsy thing to ask of God. Lord, just give me enough for this day. Not more, not less........

Because You are the bread of life.

Because You have written my name on the palm of Your hand so that you will not forget me.

Because You love me more than the sparrows and they have all that they need.

Because You hate it when I worry about tomorrow.

Becuase Your mercies were new this morning.

Because they will be new again tomorrow morning.

Because You command thanksgiving.

Because You are faithful to Your children.

Becuase You know what I need before I ask.

Because You want me to desire you more than a full stomach.

Because You are good and work all things for my good.

Because you never fail and Your steadfast love endures forever.

Barely a post

Sorry for the lack of posting. Mrs. Underdog had the Strep throat and the rest of us suffered too.


I would like to dedicate this cartoon to Mrs. Underdog:


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Picture

I changed the picture. It was a close contest between the picture you see at the right and the following images. You probably see the image more than I do, so if you think one of these is more fitting, comment and let me know.












Don't Waste Your Life

Will you regret the risks you did not take when you stand before Jesus?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Three things

1. I was in a Barnes & Noble the other day. They have this section with coffee table books at really low prices, but they are such bad coffee table books that I'm afraid that you might not be able to give them away. They had one entitled "Evil Serial Killers". Do you really need the adjective? Isn't being evil kind of a pre-requisite to serial killing?

2. I think that maybe we need to set some parameters around the sale of athletic jerseys. I saw a gentleman that was tipping the scales at somewhere over 300 lbs. wearing the jersey of one of the Dallas Cowboys cornerbacks. There is just something unbalanced about someone that is not fast wearing the jersey of someone that is fast. I propose that we not produce XXXL replica jerseys with the numbers and names of small, speedy players. "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't have any Deion Sanders jerseys in 3XL. Maybe a nice Leon Lett for a gentleman of your size...."

3. The 4th of July is now over. I often wonder what the origniators of a holiday would think of our celebration. I think that our nation's Founders would approve of our fireworks and feasting, but I bet they would question what we have done with the independence they purchased with their blood.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A recent conversation with a toddler

Dad Underdog: "Jojo, did you hit you sister (7 months old) in the head with that water bottle you have in your hand?"

Jojo, the two-year-old son (cue the voice inside Jojo's toddler brain----if I say yes, there will be discipline, probably a spanking, but if I say no and lie, there will be discipline, probably a spanking.... RATS!....this is not good....it wasn't even as fun as I thought it would be!.......all she did was scream and cry: what a woos!...and why didn't I hide the bottle? Duh!....okay, dad is waiting for an answer....what other words do I know....c'mon, vocabulary, c'mon....EUREKA! I got it...this will puzzle the old man....he will have to let me go becuase of the brilliance of my reasoning...tone is everything here, just squeak it out, sound innocent......okay, here it goes.....): "Maybe?"

Spanking commences forthwith.

Bad

Amazon has a bad policy that is forcing me to go to Half-Price Books. You see, when I want a book, I usually go to Amazon and find it. It is usually available as a used book from a second-hand bookseller for around a dollar. But they charge a $3.99 shipping fee no matter the size of the book or it origin. So my $1 bargain book now costs $5.00. And it doesn't matter if you ship several books from the same bookseller---$3.99 per book.

This is a bad thing - like abrasive parenting and speed bumps and unnecessary zippers - except about books.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Simply amazing....

How much free time would you have to invest...

Three things

1. Today is my 13th wedding anniversary. A few observations:

a. (Good) marriage requires effort. Not as much effort as children, but since it involves sinners and time, someone is bound to get offended at some point.

b. We have learned the art of fighting well. We did not know that this was important 13 years ago, but it is....

c. We produce a child an average of every 790 days. God has been good.

d. We have a real shot at fifty years. Maybe even sixty if the Lord tarries (I hope He doesn't).

e. I love Mrs. Underdog now more than ever.

2. I had a fever last night. One of those fevers where you just cannot get warm and you shiver a lot. Although I was sick, it was kind of interesting to experience that again.

3. In all of the Michael Jackson coverage, I have tried not to watch, but alas, I find it fascinating. Mr. Jackson denied himself nothing and found nothing that satisfied his soul. I wonder what Solomon would have said to Mr. Jackson? What about Job? What about Jesus?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunday

I think that I have mentioned before on this little blog that the song service on Sunday morning is one of my favorite times of the week. I love the joy that arises from expressing love through music---he intimate view of God that takes place as creation repeats the truth that the Creator reveals to us. I am convinced that the Lord Jesus in His complete Sovereignty has specific songs planned for specific people in tomorrow's service. He will reveal Himself to those people in the way that most fits their needs. They will sing the lyrics to a song and God will speak to them.

Worship.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Three things

  1. This Father's Day will be especially cool because my Dad is here. Once you are a Dad, you Dadship is never revoked.
  2. We are going to Sea World San Antonio this week. I was a little disappointed to find out that it is a water park/amusement park and not just a super aquarium. If I want rides, I can go to Six Flags. But I want sea creatures in all of their diversity and wonder. Anyone that reads this little blog been to Sea World before? Any advice?
  3. This is an amazing quote that has me thinking: Sadly, it is commonly said among Christians that “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” This is as stupid as saying God loves rapists and hates rape, as if rape and rapists were two entirely different entities that could be separated from one another. Furthermore, it was not a divinely inspired author of Scripture but the Hindu Gandhi who coined the phrase “Love the sinner but hate the sin” in his 1929 autobiography.The love of God is in fact true but sadly has been so overly emphasized in most Christian teaching that one wonders if God is love or if love is now God.- Mark Driscoll, Death By Love, p. 128

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Brilliant Fatherhood post

This is not my content, but I can't tell you how these paragraphs resonated with me. Fatherhood is the most grueling, most rewarding, most humbling thing I have ever done. Within hours of one another I have both questioned God's judgement in giving someone like me offspring and rejoiced in singing because of some evidence of grace in one of my children. Things can turn just that quickly.

Check this out:

Most fathers-to-be suppose that their old ego-centered lives will continue more or less unabated after the child arrives. With the exception of a few more obstacles and demands on their time, their involvement with their children is envisioned as being something manageable and marginal. Nothing like a complete transformation—an abrupt end to their former life—really enters men’s minds.

But then the onslaught begins, and a man begins to realize that these people, his wife and children, are literally and perhaps even intentionally killing his old self. All around him everything is changing, without any signs of ever reverting back to the way they used to be. Into the indefinite future, nearly every hour of his days threatens to be filled with activities that, as a single-person or even a childless husband, he never would have chosen. Due to the continual interruptions of sleep, he is always mildly fatigued; due to long-term financial concerns, he is cautious in spending, forsaking old consumer habits and personal indulgences; he finds his wife equally exhausted and preoccupied with the children; connections with former friends start to slip away; traveling with his children is like traveling third class in Bulgaria, to quote H.L. Mencken; and the changes go on and on. In short, he discovers, in a terrifying realization, what Dostoevsky proclaimed long ago: “[A]ctive love is a harsh and fearful reality compared with love in dreams.” Fatherhood is just not what he bargained for.

Yet, through the exhaustion, financial stress, screaming, and general chaos, there enters in at times, mysteriously and unexpectedly, deep contentment and gratitude. It is not the pleasure or amusement of high school or college but rather the honor and nobility of sacrifice and commitment, like that felt by a soldier. What happens to his children now happens to him; his life, though awhirl with the trivial concerns of children, is more serious than it ever was before. Everything he does, from bringing home a paycheck to painting a bedroom, has a new end and, hence, a greater significance. The joys and sorrows of his children are now his joys and sorrows; the stakes of his life have risen. And if he is faithful to his calling, he might come to find that, against nearly all prior expectations, he never wants to return to the way things used to be.

The whole article is great.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dear Spring....

Dear Spring,

I really miss you. In fact, although you came and went in the blink of an eye, I developed a special affection for you. The way that you rained teardrops of rainy goodness every few days made a permanent impression on me. The days were long and filled with walks in the tender warmth of moderate temperatures. The flowers budded with your arrival and the birds sang their songs with a new joy....

Yet you left me, you wretched season! And your evil twin brother, Summer has moved in. Like the hot fires of fiery hot fire, Summer's heat and pressure has wilted my spirit and given my soul second degree burns. You brought such happiness, Spring, but your brother has made me feel like a bad haircut that will never grow out. Like a polar bear at a salad bar. Like something worse than Shredded Wheat with no milk. The rays of your sunshine that made me feel refreshed now power down on my poor head like a comination of super sharp needles, lasers, and angry porcupines. Ouch, you know?

Since you left, Spring, the rain drops never fall on my head. The birds seem bitter. Everything is worse. And did I mention that it is humid? Its like the whole state is one great big armpit after a collective marathon. You were pleasantly moist, but Summer's humidity is like having a wet cat permanently stuck to your head. It's not good.

I am pleading with you Spring, please come back. Vanquish Summer and bring balance back to the weather. I love you.

Seasonally insecure,

The Underdog

Friday, June 12, 2009

A better closing

Just about everyone I know had to learn the parts of a formal letter at some point in their schooling. You have the heading, the salutation, the body, etc. I have decided that I am going to revolutionize the closing. I feel like Sincerely Yours or Yours Truly just are not getting the job done. We need to make better use of the closing. Try this for instance:

.....I am pleased that we have been able to bring this matter to a mutually agreeable solution without involving attorneys. Please find our final payment on Invoice #3010 enclosed.

Liking cookies a lot,

Chester Knucklefinger

Or maybe a little honesty:

Gassy from too many burritos,

Fergus McBurgerhead

Or perhaps something confessional:

Regifting everything you give me,

Bernard Ickyimples

I think that this will really help a lot of letter writing be more effective. You know, really help the writer connect with their reader.

Just thinking out loud....

Independence

One of the things that I despise about myself is consistent underlying current of independence. I have to consciously remind myself that I am anything but independent. I have nothing that was not given to me. Even the rhythmic contraction of my heart was not started by me, nor can I determine when its beating will stop. The worst part is the lie that greater independence will lead to greater happiness. Only an increase in my dependence on the One who created me and sacrificed His Son to redeem me will bring true Joy.

Stupid sin.

Sigh.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Three things

  1. We had some incredibly powerful storms last night. 80 mph winds and tornado sirens led to all eight of us (and Harley, the wonder dauschund) hiding in the closet under the stairs. It is times like those that you appreciate the indisputable fact that melting ice cream should never go to waste.
  2. I take some comfort in the fact that Jesus had to tell seven parables before His disciples understood what He was talking about in Matthew 13. And even then I am not sure they really got it. I would have made a poor disciple---"Um, Jesus, I just am not getting the whole kingdom thing and I am really bad at parables. When are we going to eat?"
  3. My little blog got more traffic for the Super Cool dog video than for anything else I have ever posted. Further proof that things are going to the dogs....(Rimshot, please.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Heaven

I have been thinking about heaven a lot lately. Everytime someone famous dies, my mind drifts to the matter of the first few moments after we stop breathing. When Norman Brinker or David Carradine breathed their last, what were the next thirty seconds like? Unspeakable joy? Unholy terror? Noisy? Quiet? Colorful?

I seem to remember that CS Lewis said that our first words upon arriving in heaven will be "Of course!". That resonated with me last night as I tried to convince my eight-year-old son that heaven will be great. He is stuck on the notion that we will simply sing to Jesus in one big white-robed conga line for all eternity. And I must confess that this concept of heaven does not sound all that intriguing.

But as I read the end of revelation and think about heaven, I wonder if language is not sufficient to capture what awaits those that God has redeemed. Maybe our imaginations are simply to finite to understand the beauty of absolute perfection. Jesus talked more about hell than heaven. I think he did that probably because heaven is just to much for our little brains to comprehend.

John Piper says that the greatest thing about heaven will be that God will be there. We will experience God in all of His endless glory and perfection and joy and love. And we will be His people and He will be our God for eternity. And Jesus will have prepared a place for me. And I will have a newname that is special and specific to me. And I will see His face. And His Name will be on my forehead. And I will drink from the spring of the water of Life without payment.

Forever.

And that sounds a lot better than a conga line.....

Monday, June 8, 2009

Funny

Reminds me of Calvin & Hobbes:

A reminder about parenting

My mom and dad are coming to Texas in a couple of weeks. I am concerned about how well they remember what young children are really like. So I wanted to post this so they might get a refresher course before they get here:

Preparation for parenthood is not just a matter of reading books and decorating the nursery. Here are 12 simple tests for expectant parents to take to prepare themselves for the real-life experience of being a mother or father.

1. Women: to prepare for maternity, put on a maternity shift and stick a 30 pound sack of potatoes down the front. Leave it there for 9 months. After 9 months, take out 10% of the potatoes.Men: to prepare for paternity, go to the local pharmacy, tip the contents of your wallet on the counter, and tell the pharmacist to help himself. Then go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their home office. Go home. Pick up the paper. Read it for the last time.

2. Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels, and how they have allowed their children to run amok. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and overall behavior. Enjoy it - it'll be the last time in your life that you will have all the answers.

3. To discover how the nights will feel, walk around the living room from 5pm to 10 pm carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds. At 10 pm put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1am. Set the alarm for 3am. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2am and make a drink. Go to bed at 2.45 am. Get up again at 3am when the alarm goes off. Sing songs in the dark until 4 am. Set the alarm for 5am. Get up. Make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

4. Can you stand the mess children make? To find out, smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a fish stick behind the stereo and leave it there all summer. Stick your fingers in the flowerpots then rub them on the clean walls. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

5. Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems. First buy an octopus and a string bag. Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this - all morning.

6. Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and a pot of paint turn it into an alligator. Now take a toilet tube. Using only scotch tape and a piece of foil, turn it into a Christmas ornament. Last, take a milk jug, a ping pong ball, and an empty packet of Coco Puffs and make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower. Congratulations. You have just qualified for a place on the playgroup committee.

7. Forget the Miata and buy a Taurus. And don't think you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that. Buy a chocolate ice cream bar and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a quarter. Stick it in the cassette player. Take a family-size packet of chocolate cookies. Mash them down the back seats. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There. Perfect.

8. Get ready to go out. Wait outside the toilet for half an hour. Go out the front door. Come in again. Go out. Come back in. Go out again. Walk down the front path. Walk back up it. Walk down it again. Walk very slowly down the road for 5 minutes. Stop to inspect minutely every cigarette butt, piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue and dead insect along the way. Retrace your steps. Scream that you've had as much as you can stand, until the neighbors come out and stare at you. Give up and go back into the house. You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.

9. Always repeat everything you say at least five times.

10. Go to your local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a pre-school child - a fully grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goats eat or destroy. Until you can easily accomplish this do not even contemplate having children.

11. Hollow out a melon. Make a small hole in the side. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side. Now get a bowl of soggy cereal and attempt to spoon it into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane. Continue until half the cereal is gone. Tip the rest into your lap, making sure that a lot of it falls on the floor. You are now ready to feed a 12-month old baby.

12. Learn the names of every character from The Wiggles, Dora the Explorer, and Teletubbies. When you find yourself singing "Backpack" at work, you finally qualify as a parent.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Buy this for your dad....

Got this on Justin Taylor's blog:

From R.C. Sproul's new book, The Prayer of Our Lord (p. 15):

There are really only two rules that you have to keep in mind when you're in prayer, two things that should drive and govern and control your prayer life with the Almighty.

You should remember who is being addressed and who is doing the speaking.

That is, the first thing you are to remember in prayer is who it is you're talking to, because nothing will condition your prayer life more deeply than remembering that you're in conversation with God, the sovereign Creator and ruler of the universe.

Second, you are to remember who you are. You are not God. You are a creature. So prayer is not a conversation between peers; it is not a fireside chat among equals. This is the creature speaking to his sovereign Creator.

I have been thinking about prayer a lot recently. I pray, but not as a habit. Lots of room to improve. But even I can remember two things...

Friday, June 5, 2009

This tongue in cheek (kinda)

The Evolution of Motherhood

Your Clothes

* 1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.
* 2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
* 3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

The Baby's Name

* 1st baby: You pore over baby name books and practice pronouncing and writing combinations of all your favorites.
* 2nd baby: Someone has to name his or her kid after your great-aunt Mavis, right? It might as well be you.
* 3rd baby: You open a name book, close your eyes, and see where your finger points.

Preparing for the Birth
* 1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.
* 2nd baby: You don't bother practicing because you remember that last time, breathing didn't do a thing.
* 3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your 8th month.

The Layette
* 1st baby: You cherish your newborn's clothes, color- coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby's little bureau.
* 2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
* 3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?

Worries
* 1st baby: At the first sign of distress-a whimper, a frown-you pick up the baby.
* 2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.
* 3rd baby: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.

Activities
* 1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.
* 2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
* 3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.

Going Out
* 1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home 5 times.
* 2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.
* 3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

At Home
* 1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.
* 2nd baby: You spend a bit of every day watching to be sure your older child isn't squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.
* 3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.

A few thoughts on social media...

The growth of social media is making my head hurt. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogger, mySpace, YahooGroups.....Aspirin, please*. It seems to me that we have reached the point where you can have a circle of "friends" without developing any friendships. This may seem a little out of date, but I think it is a bummer that the art of conversation is becoming a lost art. Instead, we can broadcast the inane details of our day without investing any thought to make it interesting to our audience. There are certainly exceptions to this statement, but does anyone really need to share that they are about to park their car or shave the cat or read a book?

Perhaps this blog just contributes to the pile. And I do use Facebook as an outlet for smart alec one-liners that I find amusing. But I am wondering how these things might be better used to glorify God?

*Conan O'Brien had a good line the other night: "If you were to combine Facebook, Twitter, and mySpace, you would get MyTwitFace.