Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Prayer at Year's End

Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness.

Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead.
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the pilot of my future as of my past.

I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.

If thou has appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;

If I am to die, I shall see thy face the sooner;

If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not.

Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

Adapted from The Valley of Vision

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers

Pastor Andy Perry explains:

Let me suggest a new kind of reading plan for 2010, one that writer Margie Haack calls ‘The Bible Reading Plan for Slackers and Shirkers’ (I love that title!). Advantages to this plan include:

Removing the pressure to ‘keep up’ with getting through the entire Bible in a year. Providing variety throughout the week by alternating genres. Providing continuity by reading the same genre each day of the week.

In a nutshell, here’s how it works:

Sundays: Poetry
Mondays: Penteteuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy)
Tuesdays: Old Testament history
Wednesdays: Old Testament history
Thursdays: Old Testament prophets
Fridays: New Testament history
Saturdays: New Testament epistles (letters)

Many Bible reading plans are good, but I find this one unusually helpful, for it combines two biblical values which seem to diverge in most plans: discipline and grace.
You can download the plan from Ransom Fellowship.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dave Barry's year in review: 2009

My favorite line from this year's report, "President Obama, speaking on health care before a joint session of Congress, is rudely interrupted by Kanye West, who grabs the microphone and declares that Beyoncé has a better health-care plan."

It's a guilty pleasure, but Dave Barry's report is too funny to pass up.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fighter verses

I focused on Scripture memory this year more than I have any other year. I'm slow at it, but what I found most surprising is how a new insight from a verse I had learned would emerge during a review months later.

Below are links to 5 different sets of verses; each one will keep you busy for a whole year. All are in the English Standard Version.

Option 1

Option 2: Some emphasis on Psalms 91 and 103

Option 3: Some emphasis on Psalm 96

Option 4: Some emphasis on Psalms 34 and 139

Option 5: Heavy emphasis on Matthew 5-7

Sunday, December 27, 2009

There's got to be something more

(Author: Jon Bloom)

Each year Christmas night finds members of my family feeling some melancholy. After weeks of anticipation, the Christmas celebrations have flashed by us and are suddenly gone. And we're left standing, watching the Christmas taillights and music fade into the night.

But it's possible that this moment of melancholy may be the best teaching moment of the whole season. Because as long as the beautiful gifts remain unopened around the tree and the events are still ahead of us, they can appear to be the hope we are waiting for. But when the tree is empty and events are past, we realize we are longing for a lasting hope.

So last night, as Pam and I tucked our kids into bed, we talked about a few things with them:

Gifts and events can't fill the soul. God gives us such things to enjoy. They are expressions of his generosity as well as ours, but gifts and celebrations themselves are not designed to satisfy. They're designed to point us to the Giver. Gifts are like sunbeams. We are not meant to love sunbeams but the Sun.

Putting our hope in gifts will leave us empty. Many people live their lives looking for the right sunbeam to make them happy. But if we depend on anything in the world to satisfy our soul's deepest desire, it will eventually leave us with that post-Christmas soul-ache. We will ask, "Is that all?" because we know deep down that's not all there is. We are designed to treasure a Person, not his things.

It is more blessed to give than receive. What kind of happiness this Christmas felt richer, getting the presents that you wanted or making someone else happy with something that you gave to them? Receiving is a blessing, but Jesus is right—giving is a greater blessing. A greedy soul lives in a small, lonely world. A generous soul lives in a wide world of love.

It's just like God to let the glitter and flash of the celebrations (even in his honor) to pass and then to come to us in the quiet, even melancholic void they leave. Because often that's when we are most likely to understand the hope he intends for us to have at Christmas.

From Desiring God

Friday, December 25, 2009

Chrismas memories 2009

It was the night before Christmas, but it was not a silent night.

THE DAY finally arrived. The children were either levitating or salivating, depending on the age.

Isaiah unwrapped his Nerf Tommy Gun, featuring a 35 dart magazine.His rate of fire averages 2.5 shots per second, and the range is about 25-30 feet. So if you visit our house, come prepared to eat some Nerf.

Faith, on the other hand, may ask you to model for her latest Play-Dough sculpture.

My Gracie Poo looks way too old in this photo. I'm gonna have to get me a Tommy Gun soon.

Eli's spy vehicle, with its remote-controlled audio/video feed, may come in handy as a parental control tool in the days ahead. Any gift for a boy in this family is also a gift for me.

All Zeke needed for Christmas was one more train. Always just one more. This little gift earned a happy dance from Z (wish I had the video camera handy).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

As far as the curse is found

As I've looked through the Christmas cards and have prayed for our church family during this season, I see much reason for sadness behind their pleasant faces. Many of our friends continue to parent children with serious disabilities. Some are grieving the death of loved ones. Others face debilitating bodily pain and question what the future may hold. One in particular is experiencing the anguish of a broken home for the first time.

But the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Jesus tonight. He came to earth to taste our sadness. When life beats us down and the difficulties exasperate us we remember our Elder Brother who was made like us in every way, yet without sin, and know He has promised mercy and grace to help in time of need.

That's why I'm glad to see the smiles on the faces of those I know have had a difficult year, and in many cases, another in a long line of difficult years. For I know that even in their suffering and sorrow, God has been faithful to get them through. And His faithfulness continues forever! No matter what the future may hold.

Joy to the World! He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A show for east-siders

If you live on the east side of Albuquerque, the Speake's house is worth a visit. They have approximately 130,000 lights elaborately synchronized to holiday music. Even the two old guys from the Muppets get into the act.

All the Speakes have a part in putting the show together. I spoke to the son who told me he spent up to 85 hours per song programming the light show. Since the dad is a disabled veteran, the mom uses a rented cherry picker to hang the lights. The dad walks around passing out candy canes. Quite the Christmas spirit!

The house is located at 7124 Eagle Canyon Road NE in Albuquerque. Weather permitting, the show is from 6:00 - 9:45 PM every night beginning Friday, November 27, 2009 through Saturday, January 2, 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's the most difficult time of the year

It's the most difficult time of the year for a supervisor--annual assessment time! These assessments determine a civilian employee's salary which can create some strong reactions.

One civilian has been particularly livid about this year's assessment, and it has brought to light a good analogy to evangelism.

Adam* doesn't realize the situation he is in. If his performance doesn't improve in the next year I expect he will be removed or have his salary significantly lowered. This is not just my opinion but the collective decision of all the managers in our organization. As his supervisor, it falls to me to explain this to him and when I did he reacted with tears followed by anger. After a week he's still angry; we're scheduled to talk some more about his situation soon.

The most uncaring thing I could have done in my feedback to him would be to avoid telling him the truth about his unfavorable job situation. There's a strong temptation to take the easy way out of these face-to-face feedback sessions and to soften the truth to avoid offense. If I were to do that, however, a year from now he could be out of a job. But by telling him now about his situation, he has the opportunity to change and stay employed.

Do you see the analogy to evangelism? We know the truth about what happens to people without Christ. It falls to us, in God's providence, to inform those around us about their situation before it's too late to change. Will we do that, or will we take the easy way out and fail this test of tough love?

*Not the employee's real name

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Lord's promise

Why are there so few books about the sacraments on my crowded bookshelf and so many books on parenting, marriage, and other topics? To some degree, it shows how little value baptism and the Lord's Supper have among evangelicals today.

So I was pleased to read a little book on baptism that packs a lot of content without being dry. John Murray was a renowned "Old-School Presbyterian" theologian at Princeton Seminary, and all who desire a better understanding of baptism will benefit from Professor Murray's 90 page treatment of this topic titled Christian Baptism.

What the book did for me was present a clear picture of what my children's baptism means for them and me, and how God's promises in baptism square with God's sovereignty in salvation.

But this concise book gives clarity to broader issues of the Christian faith as well. Murray quips, "Faith severed from obedience is presumption, just as formal obedience severed from faith is self-righteousness." This principle applies to more than just baptism but to all of life.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More blessed than Mary

Kristin and I are reading through Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus* together and today's reading was especially good.

Jonathan Edwards preached a message titled, "To be more blessed than Mary" from the account in Luke 11:27-28 of a lady in the crowd calling out to Jesus about how blessed is the womb that bore him. Jesus responds with, "Blessed rather are those that hear the word of God and keep it!" Nancy Guthrie edits Edwards' sermon on this text down to a short reading, but it still punches beyond its weight. Especially good is this one-liner from Edwards, "'Tis more blessed to have Christ in the heart than in the womb."

*A collection of 22 short meditations to focus you on the wonder of the incarnation of Jesus, drawn from the works of classic theologians and writers such as Martin Luther, Augustine and Jonathan Edwards as well as contemporary theologians and Bible teachers such as John Piper, Tim Keller, J.I. Packer and Randy Alcorn. A similar volume is also available for Easter season.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kids don't need Santa to love Christmas

The Pipers explain why they don't focus on Santa:

First, fairy tales are fun and we enjoy them, but we don’t ask our children to believe them.

Second, celebrating with a mixture of Santa and manger will postpone a child’s clear understanding of what the real truth is. It’s very difficult for a young child to pick through a marble cake of part-truth and part-imagination to find the crumbs of reality.

Third, we think about how confusing it must be to a straight-thinking, uncritically-minded preschooler because Santa is so much like what we’re trying all year to teach our children about God. Santa is omniscient, omnipresent, gives good gifts, but he also rewards you if you're good.

Kids still love Christmas, even without Santa; read more about the Pipers' experience here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Free Christmas songs

Justin at Between Two Worlds has received permission to offer several free Christmas songs for download.

The first two are from Isaac Wardell and the folks at Bifrost Arts. Their album is Salvation Is Created: A Christmas Record From Bifrost Arts. Kevin Twit, founder of Indelible Grace Music, describes the project this way, "This is an exquisitely beautiful record. The string arrangements are lush and creative. The sonic quality of the recording and the mixing is superb. But it is not a light sappy project at all—Thomas Kincaid and his ilk had nothing to do with this music, and for that we can be thankful."

Joy Joy!!! (Featuring Devon Sproule and Paul Curreri) [5:15]
Download the mp3 (right-click then “save as”).

Veiled In Darkness (Featuring Matt Bauer and Maeve) [5:19]
Download the mp3 (right-click then “save as”).

The next set is from Sovereign Grace music. Their Christmas album is Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man.

Savior contains twelve truth-saturated songs, suitable for worshiping God year-round. Each song ponders and celebrates the reason for Christ’s coming.

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
(Download the mp3)

(Download the mp3)

The third set are from the folks at Red Mountain Music and their album, Silent Night.

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent
(Download the MP3.)

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
(Download the MP3.)

The final set are from Sojourn Music and their album Advent Songs.

Joy to the World
(Download the MP3)

Hosanna in the Highest
(Download the MP3)

Thanks to Justin Taylor and especially these talented musicians!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Eli!

He's 12 today!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Breaking a habit

Poor girl! Faith will be wearing casts on both legs for the next several weeks. For as long as I can remember Faith has walked mostly on her tip-toes and the orthopedic doctor noticed that her calf muscles were shortening such that she couldn't fully extend her feet. According to the specialist casts are the best way to break the habit of tip-toe walking before her calf muscles or ankles are permanently damaged. She looks sad in the picture but that's mostly because of the extra attention she's getting. She can still run and play, she just can't tip toe all that well.

I guess sometimes our problems in life can get to the point where only a strong forcing function can correct it before real damage occurs. It's worth asking yourself, where is one needed in my life?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Getting into shape

As the year draws to a close it's about time for the gyms and jogging trails to fill up with people and their New Year's Resolutions. Whether or not you're inclined to that, I'd ask you to consider this statement, "Bodily training is of some value, but godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also the life to come." (1 Tim 4:8)

So how about a resolution for "spiritual training" (godliness) in 2010? Here are some helps to consider using (most of them courtesy of Challies).

For the Love of God by D.A. Carson. This two-volume devotional contains a systematic 365-day plan, based on the M’Cheyne Bible-reading schedule, that will in the course of a year guide you through the New Testament and Psalms twice and the rest of the Old Testament once. To accompany the reading plan Carson has also written comments and reflections regarding each day’s scriptural passages. “And, most uniquely, he offers you perspective that places each reading into the larger framework of history and God’s eternal plan to deepen your understanding of his sovereignty—and the unity and power of his Word.”

Daily Readings from the Life of Christ by John MacArthur. This two-volume set is recently published by Moody and focuses on the life of Christ. “In this daily devotional by highly acclaimed author John MacArthur, your hungry heart will be focused on God and His Word. With insights on the life of Jesus, thoughts to ponder, and wisdom gleaned from years of careful study, this devotional will feed your daily walk.”

Voices from the Past edited by Richard Rushing. This volume, brand new from Banner of Truth, offers daily devotional readings from the Puritans. It does not follow any particular order (that I can see) in the Scripture passages accompanying each devotional.

Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. This is a classic devotional that offers two daily readings, one for the morning and (you guessed it) one for the evening. Again, the accompanying Scripture passages do not follow any set order. If purchasing it as a gift for someone else, there are attractive gift editions of it available.

Through the Bible Through the Year by John Stott. “John Stott has assembled a new book that will guide readers through the Bible according to the church calendar. Seeking to renew a Trinitarian approach to Scripture, Stott divides these daily reflections into three sections. From September to December, Stott focuses on how God the Father revealed himself in the Old Testament. From January through Pentecost, he focuses on the life of Christ in and through the Gospels. And between May and August, Stott looks at the Holy Spirit in Acts, the epistles, and Revelation.”

DayOne Publications has an ongoing series that offers readings from the writings of a number of well-known Christian pastors or theologians. Currently available are:

365 Days with Calvin edited by Joel Beeke (brand new).

365 Days with Newton edited by Marylynn Rouse .

365 Days with Spurgeon edited by Terence Peter Crosby (there are 4 volumes available).

Walking with God Day by Day by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. “Walking with God Day by Day offers brief daily devotionals that engage the mind and the heart. You will not just find spiritual nourishment in its pages; you will learn about God and the great themes of the Bible. Robert Backhouse has compiled excerpts from choice passages in the writings of Dr. Lloyd-Jones according to monthly themes. By reading this devotional, you will grow in your understanding of God and learn to apply the truth of His Word day by day.”

Faith Alone by Martin Luther. “Freshly translated from the original German into today’s English, this book contains a treasury of devotionals taken from Luther’s writings and sermons (1513 to 1546), conveniently divided into daily readings to point readers to the Bible and a deeper understanding of faith.”

Daily Dose of Bible Knowledge. Though I have this book, I have not yet read through all of it. I mention it, though, because I really like the idea behind it. The book “helps you start every day with a fascinating exploration of the Bible. The book includes 365 inspiring one-page articles that delve into everything from the Ark of the Covenant to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The articles are grouped into 52 weeks, with each day of the week dedicated to a particular subject area.” So it is not a devotional, per se, but still a helpful day-by-day kind of book.

Tabletalk Magazine by Ligonier Ministries. If you’d rather receive a monthly publication than buy a book, consider Ligonier Ministries’ Tabletalk. In each monthly issue it offers daily devotionals along with a good number of articles written by many respected pastors, theologians, authors and the occasional Canadian blogger.

Prof. Horner’s Bible Reading Program. He’s a professor from the Master’s College. In this program, you read in ten different places every day.

J.C. Ryle’s Daily Readings from All Four Gospels: For Morning and Evening. You will find his writing clear and easy to follow, and simple and warm. This Daily Readings is based on Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Providence Pageant

The children of our church put on a great Christmas pageant last night under the able direction of Mrs J.
We were all impressed with how much work went into this one-night only performance. From the set to the costumes everything looked great. But most impressive was the focus on the Scriptures, with many of the children reciting substantial passages from memory or singing solos of Christ-centered Christmas carols.
This also turned out to be a great outreach event to our neighborhood and friends. So it was a win-win for evangelism and for nurturing the faith of our covenant children.
This will be one of the highlights of our time at Providence.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Blind Side

When WORLD magazine ran a cover story on the movie The Blind Side, which tells the story of a very shy, large, and homeless boy from the projects and his adoption by an upper class family in Memphis, Kristin and I were itching to see it. Thanks to visiting grandparents last night we were able to.

After reading WORLD's gushing review our expectations for the movie were so high I was concerned it would turn out to be a let down. In terms of some of the casting choices, dialog, and basic acting skills I doubt it will be a contender for an Academy Award. Yet the story in this movie is indeed a rare jewel. The fact that the story is true gives it power. The scenes from the projects and the contrast with affluent Southern culture is accurately done.

But what sets this movie apart from other true stories is that the love this family showed to one orphaned child could also be shown by you and me, right where we are at, right now. The end result would certainly be different than this movie's ending, but it need not be any less glorious in God's eyes. The reality of poverty and children in desperate need in our own backyard is undeniable. This movie reveals the joy of sharing with those in need and how it transforms both the giver and the receiver.

I hope you'll see it. Its effect on your heart and mind will last long after the credits roll.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Isaiah's world

The older boys and I were treated to dinner out tonight by their grandfather. They were excited to go to Golden Corral. If you haven't been there in a while, they've changed to a new business model which seems to be working well for them--serve as much B-quality food to as many people at one time as you can.

While we were sitting at a table eating Isaiah was yammering on about all kinds of things. (His role in our family is to single-handedly get our daily word count up to the national family average.) But I do try to listen to him and when he said, "I've eaten at fancy restaurants before," that one got to me. Maybe we don't take this boy out enough.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Over Mt Sinai

For those parents that plan on teaching their children the Westminster Shorter Catechism, here are a few fresh memorization tips.

You'll need to prepare for a long hike over Mt Sinai; to get through the 10 commandments you'll cover 42 questions. Two of my children have been bogged down here for months; but one has made it through and for that I'm thankful. The material is wonderfully applicable to everyday situations.

Two tips on a positive note. First, try to catechize your older children in the presence of the younger ones. You'll find that the younger children will already be familiar with the material when they get to it, and in some cases already have it memorized without any direct catechizing.

Second, once you get far along in the catechism you'll need large blocks of time to get through the material. To help keep the boys' attention we toss a ball back and forth between the question and answer. Some weeks to save time we'll just do the even numbered questions, the odd ones, or every third one.

We've been at this for years now and the only two regrets I have is that I haven't been as faithful as I could have been and I haven't been able to talk about the answers as much as I like. I hope to remedy that second regret in the years ahead.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble Gobble Ping Pong Day

The turkey is putting me to sleep early tonight, but before I give out I wanted to mention we had a great Thanksgiving. A total of 14 people spent most of the day at our house either playing games or preparing a great meal.

We staged a ping pong tournament, played chess, dodgeball-freezetag, and Isaiah's favorite, Stratego. Then we feasted! It was a great day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

An American Marriage

Mars Hill Audio sheds light, in their latest volume, on why Americans want to marry more than Europeans and why Americans much more often than Europeans end up divorced, too.

It comes down to twin commitments--marriage and individualism--both of them uniquely dear to Americans, and incompatible over the long haul.

It seems like everyone in America wants to marry at some point in their life, even gays. Not so in Europe. But here it's still seen as a sign of the good life, regardless of whether it happens after co-habitation and children.

However, America is also the land of expressive individualism. If your marriage doesn’t fulfill you, you are almost obliged to leave it. What matters most is self-fulfillment.

It doesn’t seem to matter that we are such a religious nation; individualism trumps faith commitments. In fact, the churches that have grown the most are those that have learned to cater to the individual with a self-fulfillment message.

What should we do? Learn what marriage is for. To put it briefly, marriage is for the mutual help of husband and wife, for bringing up godly children, and for preventing immorality. (WCF 24.2)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A new invention

To keep children awake in the car


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy 10th to Grace!

We're supposed to wrestle

On decision making:

"Proverbs, and the wisdom literature in general, counter the idea that being spiritual means handing all decisions over to the leading of the Lord. The opposite is true. Proverbs reveals that God does not make all people’s decisions for them, but rather expects them to use his gift of reason to interpret the circumstances and events of life within the framework of revelation that he has given. Yet when they have exercised their responsibility in decision-making, they can look back and see that the sovereign God has guided.”

—Graeme Goldsworthy, in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (IVP 2000), p. 210. See also Gospel and Wisdom in the Goldsworthy Trilogy.

(HT: The Shepherd's Scrapbook via Z)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rio Grande Enrichment Studies

Talent shows during my elementary school days consisted of 5th graders strumming air guitars and pounding air drums while lip synching to something in the Top 40. By high school the talented ones were break-dancing. That was about it; the rest of us were happy to finish our school days in obscurity.

So last night I was blown away by the performances at the Rio Grande Enrichment Studies' version of a talent show. My older two children attend this "help the homeschooler" school that has been around for 15 years.

A 5th grader, who was too short to use the lectern, recited a lengthy poem with verve and a vocal mastery unknown to most adults. Another male student, this one teen-aged and recently named to All State choir, sang a Handel piece solo with great affection. Then came a series of short persuasive speeches from seniors down to 6th graders. All of them were given with precision and passion.

My hat's off to the staff of RGES and the parents of these children. They are doing a fine work; one that gives me hope in the future generation.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bud & Me -- Boys of Adventure

In 1909, five year old Temple and his nine year old brother, Bud, rode horseback from Oklahoma to Santa Fe, New Mexico – ALONE!

That was just the beginning. Their most famous horseback adventure was their record-breaking ride from New York to San Francisco. The two boy wonders crossed the rugged North American continent, once again without any adult presence (much less a GPS)! Despite a series of hair-raising adventures, including losing their horses and being on foot for three days in the deserts of Utah, the young adventurers galloped into San Francisco to a thunderous welcome.

Bud and Me, co-written by Temple’s wife and his daughter, is a story of bravery, perseverance and remarkable character. It is a rare tale of adventure that will be enjoyed by the entire family.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Misfires from the Christmas photo shoot

I enjoy posting embarrasing pictures of the family on the blog. It's my payback for having to wear the matching red sweater in public.

Here are some of the photos that won't make it on the Christmas card this year.

Looks like Zeke has gone back to the bottle.

Who knew that Faith really likes throwing leaves?

The most uncomfortable photo I've ever posed for. I'm half the man I was.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

What to expect in seminary

It may be helpful for some considering seminary if I briefly describe a typical week's worth of work for an introductory class. Here was last week's assignment from Introduction to Reformed Theology, a 3 credit hour course at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary:

1. Attend class (for me, listen to the audio)

2. Make an outline of three chapters in the Westminster Confession of Faith

3. Memorize four questions and answers from the Westminster Shorter Catechism

4. Read 3 hours in John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion

The total time spent each week is about 8 hours.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A touch of persecution

I started a Bible Study at work two weeks ago. I took great care to be above reproach with this: secured approval from my boss, used no government resources in announcing the study, scheduled it during lunch time, etc.

But today I was told that because I am a supervisor some people are saying that I may start to unfairly reward those that attend the study. These same people called one of the attendees a kiss-up, insinuating he attends the study only to gain favor with his boss.

None of this should be surprising, but it has been a while since I've tasted a bit of slander for obedience to Christ.

Of course my anonymous accusers are right about me. I'm a sinner and so it could be that I may show favortism. But this is not unique. Any supervisor who does anything outside of work with some of his team faces the same temptation. So I'll heed the warning from my accusers and press on as long as God allows.

School age boys

Sometimes I can agree with this quote from an unknown school teacher:

"What is sin? [Answer:] What is boy?"

Marvin Olasky, during a recent speech, about the difficulty many boys have adjusting to a schoolroom environment.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall and Winter all in one weekend

It was a nice 65 degrees in the city but only 35 degrees on Sandia peak, which means we were able to enjoy the best of both seasons this weekend.

Pumpkin carving in the backyard.

And fun in the snow in the mountains.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The World As Best As I Remember It

While looking for some music to enjoy during dish duty tonight I reached to the back of the CD drawer and pulled out an old Rich Mullins album. Brought back sweet memories of my first years as a Christian. I haven't followed Contemporary Christian Music for years, but I can't imagine it's gotten any better than this doctor of my soul.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Land of Enchantment

en·chant·ment: n. 1. The state of being frozen in fear when in the New Mexico desert

I dodged a large tarantula on the way to a meeting today. That's the 7th one I've seen this season. The camoflauge on it's back looked remarkably like a set of desert BDUs!

On a bike ride later in the day a large bull snake was sunning himself in the middle of the dirt road I was traveling. Bull snakes, I'm told, can be aggressively mean, and since I was far from my car I didn't want to pick a fight. With a rock wall on my left and a precipice on the right, my only option was to "calmly" walk around the tailside of his body with the bike between him and me. As I passed by he twitched at me but that was all, thankfully.

Just another day in New Mexico.


On a long flight recently I had the window seat and two ladies had the middle and aisle seats. They didn't know each other but quickly struck up a conversation that turned surprisingly personal and to me, as a captive of the conversation, painful.

One lady was middle-aged and the other was nearing 70, as I recall her saying. The subject of their conversation turned to their children and then, surprisingly, it turned to their abortions--they had both had at least one. To my dismay here is what was said by the younger lady:

"I have no problems with the abortion. No nightmares, nothing. But the child I gave away that bothers me. Someday I'm going to look him up on Facebook or something. But the abortion didn't bother me at all. I've got to be happy!"

A sad statement about the brokenness and hard-heartedness that selfishness brings.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

McCall's Land and Cattle Company

Every fall we head to McCall's just east of the East Mountains.

A pumpkin a person.

Atop the tower of hay.

A forehead shot? Actually it's a fivehead.

If that last shot was corny, this one is really bad...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family

(briefly reviewed by Kristin)

“Mothering in general involves a certain amount of chaos.”… “The key is to find ways to deal with it…..”

This book is about organizing the chaos of life as a mother -- from toys to doing the laundry for a large family and parenting and family advice thrown in, too. I like how Mary shares openly about how they do things at their house – although some things I do not agree with her about (sleep issues for example).

Each child is a unique individual even in a large family –a gift from the Lord. Mary shares some great ideas for celebrating each child as a blessing to your family.

Think one child is troublesome and tiring? If you can’t stand your one child whining (or fill in the blank), you need to deal with the unacceptable behavior before you end up with 10 whining kids! And Mary shares some ideas for that too.

She also has advice for new moms. I recommend the Sane Woman’s Guide to you moms that are considering adding another to your family.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Balloon Fiesta 2009

We had a great time at the Special Shapes Rodeo tonight.

Faith joined the Dark Side.

This year's Christmas Card photo?

Tweety and friends after dark.

THE BUS ride there and back was a huge time saver and the kids loved it. The Park & Ride is definitely the way to go!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Witness to divorce

I went to the courthouse today to testify in an emergency custody hearing. The family court occupies a large part of the stately downtown county courthouse and is teeming with bustling attorneys and their bitter or broken clientele.

Perhaps most surprising to me was the upbeat, helpful court staff. I would have thought that dealing with such depressing domestic matters day after day would cast a thick gloom over the whole place, but I watched one needy or hardened person after another receive cheerful assistance from the waiting room clerk.

But the courtroom itself was a different feel altogether. The plaintiff and defendant, who you would never guess are actually husband and wife, sat shielded by their attorneys who exchanged meagre greetings and then shuffled papers waiting for the judge. The tension was palpable and even my pulse raced, waiting and hoping I wouldn't interfere with justice being done. Cruel lawyer games were played by the wife's attorney, apparently calculated to rile up the husband and cause doubt in the judge's mind about his parental fitness. The most intimate of relationships was mined for ammunition in a hideous, hellish, pitiless contest to destroy the husband and secure custody of the child.

I would say that the husband won the first round today, but there can be no winner in what I saw. I left the courtroom praying that my loved ones will never experience such a painful result of the Fall.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dazzle me gradually

Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind---*

Open my eyes that I may delight.
But open them gradually,
Lest Your glory blind my sight.
Dazzle me gradually!
That I may look long upon You in delight!

*from Tell All the Truth but Tell is Slant
by Emily Dickinson

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall in New Mexico

Kristin took the kids to the state fair again this year. The best thing there is the McDonald's farm and trying to figure out why the prize chicken is the best when it looks just like the rest of the chickens. Another strange thing is some of the acts (dancing pigs, white tigers) are the same that we saw in Georgia over 5 years ago. What a strange career it must be to go from state fair to state fair telling the same jokes and doing the same routine over and over!

Eli and I also hiked the La Luz trail this weekend; that's the trail that goes up to Sandia peak. We started at the lower tram, took the connector to the La Luz and then ended at the upper tram and rode it down. It's about 10 miles hiking all in all. He did well despite the long distance and still recovering from a cold.

Next stop, Balloon Fiesta!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sons and Daughters

I highly recommend this album. It is a musically enjoyable and theologically delightful tool to remind yourself of God’s adopting grace. It will put a song in your heart to remind you of what God has done in Christ--while none of us were naturally God's children, God, in his grace has made us his own sons and daughters through the death of his beloved Son.

I have several Sovereign Grace albums and this one is right up there withValley of Vision and Savior.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Back to school

Two weeks ago I traveled to South Carolina to attend orientation at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. So I'm back in school again, but barely, since I'm only taking one course a semester. My hope is to slowly progress through the curriculum so that if I retire from the AF in a few years I will have less to complete in residence before, Lord willing, being called to a pastorate somewhere.

Happily, there are many good seminaries to choose from, but I decided on GPTS because it offers a unique combination: 1. Good academics, 2. Theologically conversative professors and curriculum, 3. Affordablility ($150 per credit hour versus $300+ for other places). It's also distinctly Presbyterian which suits me well and on top of all that it's very close to home, a place I long for more after being away for so long. In God's providence, my brother lives about 5 minutes from the seminary and my mother is less than an hour away.

I'm only in the second week of class but the reading and class discussion (I listen in on class each week by downloading MP3s) has been the most enjoyable of any school I've been part of (and it seems that I've been in a lot). My classmates have started a message board and have shared e-mail addresses so that also helps mitigate some of the drawbacks of being a distance student.

As my time in the Air Force draws to a close, I'm more and more interested to know what the Lord has for our family in the days ahead.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Choosing Thomas

Here's an exceedingly powerful example of caring for the least of these, and doing the right thing no matter the emotional cost.

This video is from the Dallas Morning News and chronicles T. K. and Deidrea Laux, an evangelical couple who decided to give birth to their son, Thomas, despite the fact that he had the DNA abnormality Trisomy 13.

Watching this video will probably leave you in tears but also should bring deep affirmation that here is a good and hard thing to do.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Family Camp

Our church joined the other PCA churches of Northern New Mexico (and Durango, CO) for the 9th annual family camp in the beautiful Jemez mountains.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Faith's 4!

And she chose Chuck-E-Cheese for daddy's birthday lunch date.