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.


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


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.


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....


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.


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


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.


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

Monday, June 8, 2009


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?

* 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.

* 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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I love bunnies.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The poor, the lepers, the lame. Really?

I was reading Matthew 11 this morning. In this chapter, John the Baptist's disciple approach Jesus and ask him on behalf of the incarcerated John if Jesus is the One Who Is To Come. Because, frankly, He is not really doing what anyone expected of a Messiah. When is Jesus going to ride a stallion into battle with the Romans and spill the blood of Israels enemies? When is He going to act Davidic? When is He going to rebuild the glory days of the kingdom of Israel and make every other nation sorry for crossing them?

Jesus responds and tells them to tell John that they lame and the lepers are getting healed. The dead are being raised. The poor are hearing the kingdom news. Oh, and sorry if this approach is offensive to people. The Messiah is taking a little different approach than people might have expected. This kingdom will be more about exalting servanthood and less about a making war against the Roman occupiers. Jesus will seek to conquer people's hearts.

The Promised One was a Lamb whose purpose was sacrifice, not a king intent on conquest. I bet that was really tough news for John.

Just thinking out loud.....

Monday, June 1, 2009

This is really good. You should read it.

This was part of an interview that Abraham Piper did with Paul Tripp. Very wise:

What is the greatest hindrance to cultivating community in the American church?

The first thing that comes to mind is frenetic western-culture busyness.

I read a book on stress a few years back, and the author made a side comment that I thought was so insightful. He said that the highest value of materialistic western culture is not possessing. It's actually acquiring.

If you're a go-getter you never stop. And so the guy who is lavishly successful doesn't quit, because there are greater levels of success. "My house could be bigger, I could drive better cars, I could have more power, I could have more money."

And so we've bought an unbiblical definition of the good life of success. Our kids have to be skilled at three sports and play four musical instruments, and our house has to be lavish by whatever standard. And all of that stuff is eating time, eating energy, eating money. And it doesn't promote community.

I think often that even the programs of a local church are too sectored and too busy. As if we're trying to program godliness. And so the family is actually never together because they're all in demographic groupings. Where do we have time where we are pursuing relationships with one another, living with one another, praying with one another, talking with one another?

I've talked to a lot of families who literally think it's a victory to have 3 or 4 meals all together with one another in a week, because they're so busy. Well, if in that family unit they're not experiencing community, there's no hope of them experiencing it outside of that family unit.

We have families that will show up at our church on Sunday morning with the boys dressed in their little league outfits, and I know what's going to happen. They're going to leave the service early. Now what a value message to that little boy! Do I think little league is bad? I don't think it's bad at all. I think it's great. But they're telling him what's important as they do that.

You can't fit God's dream (if I can use that language) for his church inside of the American dream and have it work. It's a radically different lifestyle. It just won't squeeze into the available spaces of the time and energy that's left over.

Its a small world after all....

Someone in the Sahara Desert read my blog. Unbelieveable.

Three thoughts

  1. Most interesting comment of the weekend: I was talking with a new friend at a party that we attended and the conversation turned to music. She asked what kind of music I prefer, which provided me with a platform to espouse the breadth and depth of my musical appreciation (my iPod is a living tribute to musical variety or indecisiveness, depending on your viewpoint). She made the comment that she was at the age now (47, I think) when she values silence over the sound of music. That is difficult for me to comprehend, but maybe I am just not old enough.
  2. I am excited that the newest Pixar movie, Up, has received such great reviews. One even said that the movie made them love their wife more. We won't get to see the movie until my parents visit later this month. I have a little bit of doubt because Wall-E got great reviews too and it was pretty pedestrian in my opinion. For $8.50, a movie better be brilliant.
  3. I have to wonder about all the concern about Social Security. Two hundred years ago, there was no such thing. But now, the expectation is there that the government will pay people for an indeterminate amount of time based on deposit over finite period of time. Did anyone really think this would work? In my lifetime, Social Security will be over $40 trillion in the hole. Just another example of our country thinking we can buy something now and pay later. Sigh.