Saturday, May 31, 2008

More on my lettuce

Leatha just started to compost for our garden. In case you didn't know, we have an all-natural, chemical-free, non-genetically modified and organic garden...

As Leatha was chopping most of my orange hair off today, she said out of frustration, "I can't even use this in my garden...too many chemicals."

But I keep trying to argue (to no avail) that if we had a non-natural, chemical-laced, genetically modified, and synthetic garden we might actually have an abundant garden.

So for now I'm holding onto my orange hair, as I might secretly throw it in the compost bin (tonight?). If we get some freakishly big heads of cabbage you'll know why...

Money Habits 2

I received an email that I got permission to use (I made it the first comment under this post). You'll need to read it to understand the context of my response...

When it comes to money and possessions, we need to think more eternally.

I agree with the writer's take that there is a big difference between Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace" and Randy Alcorn's "Treasure Principle." In my assessment, Alcorn's book is a better application of Jesus' teaching.

Jesus makes it abundantly clear in the Sermon (Matt. 5-7) that we should not store up treasures here on earth. We ought to be so careful when it comes to storing up gold, IRAs, stocks, real estate... we are stewards of what God has given us.

It's sad to me how many Christians forfeit the joy of sacrificial giving in the name of conspicuous consumption. As you may have heard it said... "Have you ever noticed how big a 20 dollar bill looks when you're giving it as an offering and yet how small it looks when you're shopping for yourself at the mall?"

Dallas Willard goes yard (once again) in chapter 10 of his book "The Spirit of the Disciplines." The title of the chapter: "Is Poverty Spiritual?" He lays out the bottom line on this issue, which is stewardship.

So to answer the original question from this reader- Leatha and I try to ask ourselves...

Is our use of money going to yield an eternal reward?
Is our 'storing up' causing us to trust God or our storehouse of money?
Why are we amassing more money?
Are we making this decision so it will help us give more later?
Can we consider our present giving to be "sacrificial"?
Do we trust the leadership and vision of the church we are giving to?

Let me issue a warning related to this...

A famous Christian leader (now with the Lord) said "it's wrong to own a vehicle over $40,000." I think it's ludicrous to start making those kind of judgments. We are stewards who will all give an account before God, not each other. You won't have to give an account to me (so I feel no need to judge you), but to God (who will judge us all). "Who are you to judge the servant of another?" (Romans 14:4)

Do you drive a convertible BMW?
Do you own a 5 million dollar house on the beach?
Do you have 12 million in your retirement fund?

My response to you is twofold-

1. I won't hesitate to challenge you not to wrap your affections around those things, but God...and to be generous (1 Timothy 6).
2. Can I take my wife on a date in your car while vacationing at your beach house?

Friday, May 30, 2008

If I had to get two cds stuck in my player...

...this would be it (click here to for more info and to listen to samples). It was just released a few weeks ago. The Australians again show why they are paving the way for modern worship. God's favor is all over these guys.

Oh to have just a splash of this blessing on our ministry! I've especially enjoyed the new song "You'll Come." It's not the best song on the album, but because it is new to me, it has especially connected with my soul.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mark out duels Cameron

By rushing the kids off to bed, I nearly missed an incredible conversation with the kids.

Cameron: "I thought if we have Jesus we don't have to pay for our sins."
Me: "We don't"
Cameron: "Then why does God punish people by letting them get struck by lightning?" (more obsession with lightning)
Me: "Remember what happened in the Garden...we all have to die sometime. That was the punishment for sin that affects everyone. Then those that know Jesus Christ will go to heaven, and those who don't will go to hell."
Cameron: "Ohhh."

I was so proud, I stumped him tonight.

Current score:
Cameron 1
Mark 1

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Money Habits

I have previously talked about what has driven us (mostly Leatha) to coupon madness. I will be doing a series of posts about our budget and general convictions related to money and possessions.

This will be pretty general, but it starts with some principles. I haven't read a lot of books on money (Leatha has), but I'm sure anything by Dave Ramsey, Randy Alcorn, Solomon, or Jesus would be a good place to start.

1. Give, Save, and Spend what's left

There's so much more to say on this. Later.

2. Drive old, used cars (that get good gas mileage).

We currently drive a '94 Honda Accord with 251,000 miles, and a '01 Honda Odyssey with 105,00 miles. To get the Odyssey, Leatha had no car for 7 months (with 3 children) because we couldn't afford to pay cash for the van we wanted. When we shut the door on the Honda Accord with three car seats in the back, you could see all the kids crunch together.

New cars are over rated. After all, old or new- they're just metal boxes.

3. Wait as long as possible to make a purchase...

...Because you generally realize you don't need it. Or, if you wait and still think it would be a good purchase, then it might just be a wise purchase. The bigger the item, the longer you should wait.

There's no use staring at a 10 cent sucker for an hour. Just wait 10 seconds and you'll realize it's a waste of your dime.

Don't walk into Best Buy to "just look around." That's like the teenager who decides his limits of physical intimacy with his girlfriend while laying on the couch watching a movie at 1 a.m. You just might come out with a child... or HD TV. Usually married couples give much thought and prayer to something as big as conceiving or adopting or giving foster care to a child. In time you may decide an HD TV would be a good use of your money. Just don't decide it on a whim in the store.

4. Use cash

When you use cash, you think more about your purchase than if you use plastic. I've noticed that when I use a credit card, it doesn't feel like I'm actually spending money. I don't think about the money, I just get what I want. The 1% reward points are not worth it for me. Just try it- pay cash at the gas station next time instead of swiping your card. It will make you feel even worse for unnecessary driving.

Leatha has been waiting to buy a vacuum for months. When she wants to use one, she has to use her mom's, which is a big hassle. We're waiting until we have the cash to buy one.

5. Don't overspend on gifts, vacations, and eating out.

Most people feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to these things.
Exhibit A: Christmas.
Exhibit B: Summer Vacations
Exhibit C: Birthdays for 1 year olds, who get $15 toys and play with the boxes.
Exhibit D: Mark, "Let's just go out tonight." Leatha: "Let's just find something at home."

"Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich." Proverbs 21:17

6. Our only debt has ever been our home mortgage

College students, beware of student loans. You will have to pay that money back.

7. Buy stuff that's on sale, and with coupons if possible

If you're going to Coldstone, print off a BOGO (buy one, get one) online.
Go straight to the sale rack at the store. Sometimes Goodwill is more expensive than Old Navy.

More to come...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beck is 3!

We got the Hot Wheel set for $1 (coupon scheme), but it's all the same to a 3 year old. With that smile, you'd think there was a new Xbox in it.

Beck's day started with us bringing a cinnamon roll with a candle and waking him up to the "Happy Bday" song. Here he's trying to figure out how to tell people he's "3"- I can still barely get my fingers to do that (which I often have to do since I'm 31)

At my (Mark's) parent's house in Omaha.

Beck loves having people sing him the Happy Birthday song. He's 3 and on top of the world. Tonight we're going to do a movie night with popcorn and (gasp...) pop.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

This holiday has special meaning to me.

Not because I have served in the armed forces, but because I have fascination and appreciation for those who have served and those who are currently serving.

About 7 years ago, I read a book that sent me on a quest to know more about World War 2. Whenever I get around someone from that generation, I usually pull up a chair and ask lots of questions. Then I get choked up because of their sacrifice for our country. I just had that experience yesterday.

Here's my journey through some of the WW2 books I've read that have helped me come to appreciate the greatest generation of our history (they grew up through a depression, gave their lives in a brutal war, established businesses with great work and ingenuity when they returned, and then never asked for anything in return):

In Harm's Way by Doug Stanton- Excellent book, worth reading. Amazing how these men survived 4 days lost at sea

Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides- a solid read about the greatest rescue mission in world history (ok, there may be one that was better)

Citizen Soldier by Stephen Ambrose- Ambrose is probably the most accessible writer I've read in the historical nonfiction category. This book is incredibly detailed and yet I wanted to keep reading. Unrelated to the war theme, his book Undaunted Courage is also worth reading (the story of Lewis and Clark)

Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley- This was a NY Times best seller, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the others.

We Die Alone by David Howarth. Amazing story about how this dude survived in the Norwegian arctic to escape the Germans. However, I wouldn't put it at the top of your reading list on this topic.

D-Day by Stephen Ambrose. A spectacular and comprehensive look at the greatest land invasion of all time. We may never see anything like this again. O God help us.

A Time to Die by Robert Moore- about the sinking of the Russian sub, The Kursk. This taught me a lot about Russia's relationship with the rest of the world. We could've saved these men, but they refused our help.

The Terrible Hours by Peter Maas- A NY Times best seller about the man behind the greatest sub rescue in history. Obviously, it's a happier book than A Time To Die. Juxtapose these two books and you'll have the basic difference between American (We like happy songs in major keys) and Russian (they prefer the dirge in minor keys and seem more acquainted with sadness) worldviews.

Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. This is one book about which it must be said- the movie did justice to the book. In fact, the movie may have been better. I've already written something related to this- click here.

The Green Berets by Robin Moore- Of course it's about a brutal war (Vietnam), but it's more graphic and crass than the others I've referenced. It's true fiction about how the special ops went about business in Vietnam.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kid Conversation

Tonight I was stumped again by my 5 year old...

Cameron, "We had to come home from our bike ride with mommy because of the lightning."
Me, "I love lightning"
Cameron, "Why?"
Me, "Because it shows God's power."
Cameron, "Then why does it kill people?"
Me, "Hmmm."

Being a pastor, you'd think I'd have a better answer for my five year old. But I don't.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sports is Redemptive

Sports will always be the candy section of life.

But you'll often find me in the candy section, listening to Jim Rome.

Every once in awhile I hear something that helps me justify this distraction and waste of precious brain space (God knows how precious little there was to begin with). For example, the time point guard Steve Nash quoted Wayne Gretzky, "My greatest talent is my desire to be better."

That's almost Bibline (I counted it as my quiet time that day, which was a little bit of a stretch, I know).

I was doing my daily devotion on Monday (i.e. listening to Jim Rome), and Rome was interviewing sportswriter Ken Rosenthal. They were talking about Manny Ramirez (Red Sox outfielder known for his shananigans in left field- recently giving a fan a high five in the middle of a play) There was a memorable quote that I think informs the Christian life. Rosenthal said Manny may be the best hitter of this generation, because he has learned the following baseball principle: The art of trying easier. When you try harder, you slump. When you try easier, it comes more naturally.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

If words like "joyless" "burdensome" "boring" "self righteous" "judgmental" "guilt-driven" "languid" describe your life with God, try easier. Take up the burden of Christ- it's easy and light. Live by grace and love, not law and condemnation.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Children's Book

At night after Leatha falls asleep, I've been laying in bed writing a children's story on my laptop. For example, right now...10:47 pm CST.

(My laptop is a Dell, so I don't think I've been quite as creative as I would be if I had a Mac. I'm still that stiff, nerdy guy on the commercials. More "Puritan" than "Metro" in this area of my life.)

But I'm persevering with the story anyway.

I'm stoked about the storyline, I think it would be a great animated film. However, I'm going to need quite a bit of input from someone who has some experience with children's literature.

Video Games

About a year ago we were given a Wii. It's a very cool story.

But I'm pretty hesitant about letting our kids play it a whole lot. Actually, I rarely let them play it. But tonight, we went to a friend's house to try their new Mario Kart game. The kids loved it.

So now what?

Spend $50 on the game? And waste hours upon hours playing it? Fry the young, pristine brains of our children?

Count me in.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Legos and IQ- I hope not

Sometimes insecurities are justified.

For example, when you can't figure out which person built the following Lego space craft (the 5 year old or the 31 year old)...

To add insult to insecurity, Cameron said, "Dad, maybe next time we should have Jordan (TSC Artist) over to help you build your space craft."


Juno is a teen-cult movie, so I felt compelled to watch it.

Although it's neither in the same genre nor as amoral as Napolean Dynamite, it had the same indy feel and a similar cult following. Juno portrays a more accurate depiction of youth culture and view of sex and morality than I'd like to think.

I think the best summary I've read about this movie is found here...just read the "conclusion" if you're interested.

It reminded me that teenagers are generally clueless about two of the more important life principles (thanks, Ted Tripp, for the insight)...

Everyday we sow (Gal. 6) and store up (Matt. 6). Sow to righteousness or sin. Store up on earth or heaven. Sin seems harmless until you see its effect 1, 3 or 30 years later. Or, when you step into eternity.

This movie shows the total disregard current youth culture has for a fixed Moral Law. I'm curious to know what effect, if any, this movie will have long term. I wonder how teens are processing this movie.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Divide and Conquer

Leatha's day started at 4:00 A.M. when she got up to feed Makai then went to exercise. My day began a couple hours later.

The fact that Leatha got a lot done is quite an understatement. She grinds this special wheat that we have to go to Omaha to get and then makes this incredible bread. Whatever my day looked like, it wasn't half the work she did.

All that to say, we were exhausted by 5 p.m., and we were poised to get the kids to bed early.

After an early dinner, Leatha took the kids on a bike ride. I did all the dishes, cleaned the kitchen and listened to Ed Noble's podcast on my laptop. As soon as she got home, I put the kids to bed.

Divide and conquer was the key to our survival tonight.


Last night Leatha and I watched the latest Office episode on

I went to bed wheezing because I had been laughing so hard. has some free movies and tv shows and it seems to have fewer commercials than the network websites.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I think God speaks through dreams more often than we give him credit for...

Saturday at 1:31 AM it started pouring rain for literally 30 seconds, then stopped. It was enough to wake me up. When I awoke, I remembered that I was in the middle of a vivid dream. I wasn't sure what it meant, but I knew it at least meant I should pray for the people in the dream.

Last week my dad had a dream that came with a little more immediate and specific life application. He shared it with some family and friends, and everyone confirmed its meaning.

All that to say, I'm trying to become more aware of my life experiences to discern how God might be speaking.

Kids "Pray the Prayer"

Last night 3 of my kids prayed to receive Christ.

I don't want to minimize the fact that a sinner coming to repentance is the greatest of all miracles, but it was actually pretty funny. As I started to lead Cameron in a prayer, he quickly cut me off.

Apparently my prayer wasn't kid friendly enough.

He interrupted, "Dad, I'll just do it myself." He thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for his sins and expressed his desire to live as a part of God's kingdom. Ava and Beck repeated their prayers after me, although Beck only got the last couple words of each phrase- "...on cross for my sins" " to you" "...all the days of my life"

I can remember being confused at their age about this whole business of "accepting Jesus." I prayed every night from about age 6 until 14, "Jesus, in case you didn't hear me last night, tonight I accept you into my life."

Since then, I've matured enough to see that although personal repentance and faith is what brings entrance into the Kingdom of God, genuine faith is proven over time through a daily commitment. I don't go to bed anymore wondering if I'm a Christian. I've gained more assurance since I've been walking with Jesus for over 16 years.

As parents, we've decided to place less emphasis on the moment (i.e. the prayer), and more on the journey of faith. The question for us is not just, "Did Ava pray the prayer?" but "What path is Ava on?"

When I was doing youth ministry, I would come back excited that a teenager gave their life to Christ. After sharing our joy with the parent, they would say or imply something like, "Oh, Johnny already accepted Jesus when he was 6."

For all I care, my kid can "accept" Jesus everyday. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

Today I rejoice that my kids are evidencing a real desire to follow Jesus Christ!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Garage Sale 2

When Dude drove by our house 3 times at 1, 2, 3 and finally rolled in for good at 3:15, I knew we were in for a good day. (Garage sale started at 4) This garage saler had his plastic Wal-mart kicks with socks pulled up just under the knee.

His first line, "How much for these bed frames?"
Me, "Hmm [pause for one second to think]"
Garage Sale Dude, "You know, those are worth hardly anything."
Me, "1 Dollar."

Kuuhh-ching! Sold to the man in the tight cutoff jean shorts with black socks and velcro Pro Wing imitations (He was a close relative to the Dynamite family, for sure. I think I saw Kip and Napoleon arguing in the LTD parked on the street).

Seriously, it was amazing to see the place packed with people- most not quite as savvy as garage sale dude (almost everyone bought items for the marked price). After the first day (4-ish hours), we sold over $700 worth of stuff. Ava made $27 on her lemonade stand.

It was unreal. We are thankful to God for bringing people. Oh yeah, and all those people were at our house before I put up a single sign! "Low Prices" must've been the tag line in the newspaper ad that reeled them in.

Leatha just got off the internet looking for water purifier systems and I'm checking out Macs for her. I'm so proud she finally has some money to spend! I think she said something about being driven to coupon insanity, so I may have to spell out our budget in a future post...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Garage Sale

For the past few days I've been preparing for a garage sale I'll be having on Thursday and Friday. In general I'd say that I'm not a collector of things. I don't like to have stuff around that I don't use. However, after looking at these pics you might think that's not true. I'm not sure how I've managed to store all this stuff but I will sure be glad to get rid of it.

There is somewhat of a lengthy explanation for how and why I've acquired all the stuff in the last two pictures. If interested you can click here and begin to learn. I haven't done anything illegal. I've used coupons to buy all the things in the pictures (and a lot more not pictured) most of which I don't need. Often the coupons I use are of a higher value than the item I'm purchasing and thus with the overage I buy something I really need. Walgreens is the one store that always gives you the overage. Target and Walmart are fickle in that sometimes you get the overage sometimes you don't--it really depends on the cashier. In a later post, Mark or I will probably address what drove me to this insanity.


The kids have always wanted pets but due to Mark's allergies and my lack of energy, this is as close as we'll ever come to having any. On Monday we discovered one window well had 5 bunnies, another had 2 bunnies and two frogs. They are trapped. Mark left for a short trip a few days ago and when he returns he will take them out. Though I was kind of wondering how long they can live without food and water.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lessons from the skatepark

Since it's been so nice out these days, I have been spending more time in my outdoor office. Here are some of my reflections on my time there...

1. The older you get, the harder it is to learn new tricks.

At first I did my typical, thoughtless routine- skate around the park like I'm catching a good surf, occasionally busting a Japan air out of the quarter pipe (see pic below). But today I got fed up with my 31 year old ways. I was ready to go back to the days of 6th grade, where I would sit at my desk inventing new tricks during Mr. Wheritt's math lesson. Indeed, I would go straight from school to the skate park to learn them. Everyday I learned something new. But for the most part, I've been doing the same tricks I've done for the last 5+ years. But today, I learned a new trick- a 50-50 ollie shuv-it! Old people can learn new tricks- they just have to go out on a limb and break the comfortable, everyday routine of cruising through a risk-free, unexamined life (which Socrates says is not worth living). However, my risks are a little safer at the skate park these days.

2. We cannot live the life God designed for us without community

The skate park is not as fun when you're all by yourself. The park just isn't as cool without the preteen boys watching in awe, "Wow, that old guy with the red helmet is good." Granted, for the purpose of impressing others, pride wants community, too. But as part of our design, God wired us to live in community, as a way of completing our joy. I've recently written other thoughts on this (click here).

But the thing about the skate park- it's not merely a park, it's a community. It's an ethos. A culture. An identity. That's why people go. Sure they go to learn their tricks so their peers will tap their boards (a form of skating applause) for them. But more deeply, it's a place where people can be accepted. It's a sort of 13 year old version of "Cheers." You know the characters. I see them every time I go. The disturbing thing is, over the 9 (?) years I've been going, I've seen more and more younger kids smoking, doing drugs, etc. It happens to be a haven for the most insecure kids on earth. Why is acceptance is easier to get with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth and an attitude to go with it?

Either way, in 8 years I don't think I'll let my teenage boys go there unsupervised. Easy for me to say...I'll be looking for an excuse to get to the park. But I can't say skate boarding is something I want my kids to do (or rather, become).

3. The more kids you have, the less time there is for pursuing your hobbies

Often kids at the park will ask me, "Where have you been? We haven't seen you in awhile." Two reasons: not enough time, and I'm trying to give my wrists, hips, and ankles time to heal from previous skating wear and tear.

But all in all, trading my hobbies for family is a trade I'll take any day! As you can see from reading this blog, there are three main things I enjoy in life: God, Leatha, and my kids.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mothers, take hope (and pride)

Mothers of young kids should click here for some encouragement that raising children is a spiritual job.

Leatha and I have talked a lot about this. We both felt so much more "spiritual" in college than we do now. The long walks around the cross country field and sitting by a stream enjoying a calm spring day are replaced by the utter chaos that comes from little kids (i.e. screaming (we had some of that going on tonight!), poopy diapers, missing church because of sick kids, sleepless nights, fatigue from expending yourself meeting basic physical needs, emotional exhaustion, constant activity, etc)

Although we may not be as spiritual as we were then, we are more like Jesus. Serving others has a way of doing that.

For that it is all worth it.

Mothers, be proud of the noble task that is yours in raising children!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Anthem 2008 Report

It's hard to put into words what it's like to be on a stage staring out on a crowd of young people hungry for God. Yeah, I know, you don't put all your stock into a one night event. But it does say something. This generation is longing for God.

The past 3 Anthems have basically been a 1.5 hour worship concert. The first part of this Anthem had a similar feel to it, but we played 6 of our original songs. I think they are great songs, "Count the Cost" "Your glory" "Holy You" "Praise You Lord" "I adore" and "To do your will." You can judge for yourself when we release the Anthem DVD (late summer?). We're talking about a trip to Nashville to record an EP, as our drummer Clint has some connections with a studio there. Regardless, I think we've got a great team of songwriters who are just scratching the surface of their potential.

But for me, the coolest part of Anthem happened when the "concert" was over. Clint (along with drumming, he's a key songwriter) and Miranda (his fiance) were thinking it would be cool to end with prayer, rather than the typical drum crescendo and "thanks for coming!".

So we did, not knowing if anyone would stick around.

Mike Mogard set up prayer stations around the gym:
-communion table
-a place to get prayed for (we've already heard of some cool things God did while people were getting prayed over)
-a wall where you could write corporate sins (i.e. confession) and then use red paint to cover them
-a place to write out prayers of intercession on a black and white picture of a location from around our region (i.e. dormitory, school, building, etc). Then they were tacked up onto the shape of a cross on the wall.
-a whole corner was dedicated to prayer for the nations (names of countries on the wall)

During this prayer time, I told the crowd, "We'll be up here playing and singing songs on our acoustic guitars for as long as you want to stay and pray." People prayed alone, in groups, on their knees, standing up, arms outstretched, etc. Although some people left, the gym was still packed. Earlier in the day I got a word from the Lord (via my dad, which I already wrote about- click here), from Psalm 32, "let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found." It felt like the power of God was being released in that place. God was hearing the prayers of his people.

At about 11 pm, it was still going strong. There was still a contingent shouting "one more song."

It was a tough decision, but I sensed the Lord had brought us to a place where he was sending us out with "Shalom." In the back of my mind, I was trying to be sensitive to all of our servants who were going to be up late tearing down. The guitar players fingers were also bleeding. Not really, but it felt like it.

Maybe next time we should plan to go all night. I'm not sure. But my hunch is if students can stay up until 2am watching movies, we could at least do that for something with eternal impact. It's another reason college students will change the world! They, unlike me, aren't thinking about their kids waking up at 6 am to go potty.

So I'm not sure what the vision is for the future of this event. I only ask that God would capture the affections of the next generation, and in so doing, would get all the glory.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Beck helps with breakfast

It's our Tuesday routine... I start getting breakfast ready and Beck asks to help. You can see what a big help he is.

But I'm glad to enlist his services because of his willingness to serve.

Can't you see an illustration coming?

Oh the messes I make trying to accomplish the work of the Kingdom. But I imagine God's delight in including us in His work.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cameron Dickens

Cameron is five, and he has great reading/listening comprehension. He spoke in short sentences by age 1 and he likes to make up stories and songs.

But I was surprised when I came downstairs to put him to bed, and discovered he had written his first story on his etch a sketch.

"A cat was sad the cat was wet? Ben put the cat in bed."

Reading List

Here is the list of books I've been reading in the last few months, using food metaphors to describe them. The percentage in [] is how much of the book I've read, but is not a statement of how much I like it.

When it comes to books, this is how I roll: I start a lot of books and only finish the ones I really like, or the ones I have to (i.e. taking or teaching a class). Here we go (in no particular order)...

Unity of the Bible by Daniel Fuller [95%]- Shredded Wheat...dry but nourishing
- The theological Mariana Trench

Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller [15%]- Frosted Shredded Wheat
- Fun thoughts on how our faith is not boiled down to a formula. As you can see from my book list, this book provides the much needed levity and fresh thoughts about life with God.

Why God became man by St. Anselm [100%]- Brussel Sprouts.
- We owe much to Anselm. This book has shaped modern views of the atonement. It's a very tough read (Anselm is referred to as the "Father of Scholasticism." At one point he argues how the number of elect will equal the fallen angels... classic scholastic controversy.

On Christian Freedom by Martin Luther [100%]- Sweet Potato
- Sometimes the first person to make an argument (i.e. justification by faith alone) doesn't always make the best one. But, we are obviously grateful for Luther. I don't think he originally intended such a sharp break from the Catholic Church.

Biblical Preaching by Haddon Robinson [20%]- Carrots
- More stuff primarily for people who have the responsibility of teaching the Bible.

Kingdom Triangle by J.P. Moreland [1%]- Persimmons Fruit
- I'm only a couple pages into Dallas Willard's preface, which in itself is a formidable task. Persimmons fruit is great, but I've only had a small taste once. I'm excited to dive into this book that our elder team is all reading together to help us think through issues related to the supernatural.

Young, Restless and Reformed by Collin Hansen [35%]- Banana
- Thanks, Chris for buying this book for me! This book reads like a long magazine article, though not my favorite, is tolerable. The content is accurate and it is a sort of portrait of myself. I have many paragraphs underlined with "me" written in the margin. Although I spend more time trying to defend the Bible than TULIP, I definitely have reformed leanings. I was bit by the Piper bug (glory of God) at the very first Passion Conference in 1997. In 1998 I became very judgmental about it. I've grown a lot since then, hopefully enough to bless the kingdom on all sides of this issue. Go preterism!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Anthem and A must tool for cyber space travel

God's blessing is thick here, and I'm standing in the middle of it.

Anthem was amazing last night. "Revival-like" is a good descriptive. I can't put words to what I saw, although I will try in more detail later. But it was a gym packed to the gills with young people seeking God's face for 3 hours.


I first learned about Google Reader and utilizing RSS feeds from Chris' blog. It sounds more intimidating than it really is. Check out this post if you want to maximize your internet efficiency.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Word from the Lord

I hope you get to experience the kind of relationship I have with my dad at some time in your life. If you don't have it with your dad, maybe you'll have it with your son or daughter. And if none of those will ever be possible for you on earth, you'll get it in heaven.

Dad called and shared, "I got a word from the Lord this morning."

That's not altogether uncommon, because he reads his Bible every morning. He said, "Do you have a Bible?" I open my little pocket N.T./Psalms&Proverbs directly (no page turning) to the very passage he was about to share.

What a great word from the Lord, not only for him, but for me and 500+ young people who will be gathering tonight for worship and prayer (Anthem).

Psalm 31:24 "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD."
Psalm 32:6-8 "Let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."

A prayer for Anthem tonight...

Yes, Lord, we will wait for you. We will be a generation whose hope is in you. We will be strong and take heart. LORD God Almighty- fill us with songs of deliverance! Teach this generation to walk in your ways. Instruct, counsel, and watch over us in the name of the risen Savior, Jesus Christ, who pours out effectual prayers on our behalf. Amen.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Great news in cyberspace!

Just as I was about to ask him to be a contributing blogger to Metropuritan, my friend and spiritual mentor, Ed Noble, just started his own blog (click here). With his wit, humor, earthly spirituality, depth of knowledge of the Word and ways of God, you'll see why he has influenced many lives for the kingdom.

Ed, I'm sure your blog will stir us all on to love Jesus and people more. Blessings.