May 31, 2008

An Inconvenient Deception

Some scientists and other doomsayers such as Al Gore have been telling us that our use of fossil fuel is causing the earth to get warmer. They call us to give up our American way of life and get back to nature by walking, riding bicycles, and just staying home when we don't have to go out and drive.

My sister and brother-in-law recently saw Al Gore's hyperbolistic fictional documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," and are now quite worried that their country (Bangladesh) will be completely under water in the next 10 years.

I have found a method to eliminate some meaningless chatter and worry from my life. Whenever a liberal speaks, I assume that they are lying and accept whatever they say as a lie. That way I don't have to worry about figuring out what their agenda is or what actual truth may lie at the bottom of their never-ending agenda-driven falsehoods. So I did not waste any time watching Al Gore's movie. But my sister and her husband did and were taken in by the things that have already been proven false by many others.

On the other side of this issue, many conservative talking heads and some religious leaders have disputed the global warming concept. Since these folks typically have a strong political agenda also, even though I agree with them much of the time, I can't completely accept their assessment at face value.

So is there global warming or not?

Professor Bill Gray of Colorado State University says that global warming exists but that it is not caused by us. This is an interesting middle ground between the two opposing sides.

Revelation 16:8–9
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

As Christians, we know that global climate change was predicted nearly 2,000 years ago by the Apostle John—some of which you may read in the callout box to the right.

I don't know if global warming exists at all or if it is the preparation for this intense heat that will be part of the Great Tribulation, but it certainly may be. And if it is, then those who are pushing the Global Warming agenda are pawns in Satan's deceptive plan.

And I think Professor Gray has it right. We are not as important as we like to think. God is still in control of the temperature. And man should tremble in fear of Almighty God instead of congratulating himself on how much damage he has done to the planet.

May 30, 2008

Calvinistic Synergism

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Calvinistic synergism. No—it's not an oxymoron. Let me explain.

Synergism is the belief that God and man cooperate in the process of salvation. Man contributes his part (faith) and God contributes his (grace). This view of salvation has been condemned as heresy by Church councils dating back to the time of Augustine and Pelagius (around the 5th century A.D.).

The opposing view, typically called Calvinism, holds to a monergistic salvation, in which God alone performs the actions necessary for the salvation of man. God reveals himself to the sinner, calls the sinner to himself, gives the sinner (dead in trespasses and sins) a new heart that is inclined toward God, grants the sinner faith unto repentance, and seals the new believer in eternal relationship with himself. The latter view is the view I espouse.

However, I was struck with a peculiar notion while reading Romans 6:23:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This verse shows that man and God both contributed something to the situation. Man sinned, thereby requiring his death to pay the penalty for sin. God gave the gift of life to all the believing ones—something man had already thrown away in the Garden of Eden.

Thus, Calvinistic synergism.

I know this was a weird post, but then again, that's what makes the internet interesting. It lets us know we're not alone in our weirdness.

May 29, 2008

Paying attention to ourselves

I found the following passage from The Imitation of Christ to be particularly poignant. It is so easy to grow agitated about what other people are doing wrong, or even what other people are doing in a way that we would not do it ourselves, when all the time we should really be paying attention to our own actions and attitudes rather than worrying about others.

WE MUST not rely too much upon ourselves, for grace and understanding are often lacking in us. We have but little inborn light, and this we quickly lose through negligence. Often we are not aware that we are so blind in heart. Meanwhile we do wrong, and then do worse in excusing it. At times we are moved by passion, and we think it zeal. We take others to task for small mistakes, and overlook greater ones in ourselves. We are quick enough to feel and brood over the things we suffer from others, but we think nothing of how much others suffer from us. If a man would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly, he would find little cause to pass severe judgment on others.

The interior man puts the care of himself before all other concerns, and he who attends to himself carefully does not find it hard to hold his tongue about others. You will never be devout of heart unless you are thus silent about the affairs of others and pay particular attention to yourself. If you attend wholly to God and yourself, you will be little disturbed by what you see about you.

Where are your thoughts when they are not upon yourself? And after attending to various things, what have you gained if you have neglected self? If you wish to have true peace of mind and unity of purpose, you must cast all else aside and keep only yourself before your eyes.

You will make great progress if you keep yourself free from all temporal cares, for to value anything that is temporal is a great mistake. Consider nothing great, nothing high, nothing pleasing, nothing acceptable, except God Himself or that which is of God. Consider the consolations of creatures as vanity, for the soul that loves God scorns all things that are inferior to Him. God alone, the eternal and infinite, satisfies all, bringing comfort to the soul and true joy to the body.

Thomas à Kempis
The Imitation of Christ

May 28, 2008

Destroyed without remedy

Proverbs 29:1
He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

I have found that when my son and I read the Bible at night when he goes to bed that quite often I find myself rebuked by the scriptures just about at the time that I notice that something applies to him. Last night was one of those nights. Let me set the context first.

After a very good day at school, David came home with an attitude of wanting his way and not being willing to follow any instruction. Within about two hours, he had pushed the limits of my patience and I told him that the only thing he was going to do the rest of the evening was his homework, eat dinner, and go to bed.

He immediately began to negotiate and expressed his desire to fix things. I told him that the time for "fixing things" was passed—that he had passed the point of no return for the night. Much pleading, anger, and acting out followed.

When I went into his bedroom to read the Bible with him, I left our regular course of reading (the Gospel of John) and turned to a random chapter in the book of Proverbs. The very first verse read: He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. Of course, we immediately discussed that this is what had happened to him today. He understood. Then my wife and I explained to him that a continuation of this "stiff-necked" behavior could result in permanent damage to his entire life ("without remedy").

David prayed and we kissed him goodnight. Then I drove to the gym to get in some exercise. As I worked out I considered what this verse means to me. There are things that I continue to do even though I know I am wrong in doing them. This seems to me to be hardening my neck, as is mentioned in that verse.

I need to make sure that I don't harden my neck to the point when there is no longer any remedy to the issues I have created for myself and my family and friends. May God give me the grace to repent.

Blog Header - May 28, 2008

This photo was taken after a Lynchburg Hillcats baseball game as we exited the stadium. This tired little girl looked back at us through sleepy eyes over her mother's shoulder. I lifted the camera and snapped the photo.

I had forgotten that the camera was set to black and white mode, but I think this photo is particularly nice in black and white.

May 26, 2008

Memorial Day - Thank you for your service

© Richard D. Gelina

Today is Memorial Day. I've never really known the best way to observe this holiday. As a child, growing up in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, my family visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the Changing of the Guard on Memorial Day. Our church typically recognized our military servicemen and veterans on the Sunday prior to Memorial Day. And we have visited Arlington Cemetary on Memorial Day. But none of this seems like a proper tribute to those who have given their lives in the service of our nation—ensuring that our nation is "the land of the free" because it is "the home of the brave."

Memorial Day was original enacted by Congress to honor the Northern soldiers who had lost their lives in the War Between the States (described by the invading nation as the American Civil War). This would not necessarily encourage me to observe this holiday since those soldiers lost their lives attacking my country. But after World War I the observance was expanded to honor all those who had lost their lives in military service to the United States. The hard question remains though: How should we best observe this holiday?

© Richard D. Gelina

Having been raised in the shadow of Quantico Marine Corps Base, Andrews Air Force Base, Ft. Belvoir Army Base, and quite close to Norfolk Naval Base, I have great respect for our military men and women. Their sacrifice is amazing ... and necessary.

So not knowing the best way to observe this holiday leaves me with what seems to be a very good thing for all Americans to do today. Simply say thank you to those who serve our nation—each of whom may one day be called to give their lives so that we may live in peace.

Thank you. You are greatly appreciated.

The photos in this post are at desktop wallpaper resolution (1024px x 768px). Click the photo for the high-res version. Please use these photos for desktop wallpaper only.

Momma's little buddy

Roger eating from Kim's hand

Our little wild bunny that David caught has become a favorite family member. We enjoy watching him run around his cage in the evenings. We enjoy watching him timidly peek out of his house in the mornings and then come out and stretch his body. We enjoy his antics when he plays But he has been a little skittish when we get too close to him. He just doesn't like to be touched.

But recently he has begun to eat food directly from Kim's hand. In fact, he seems to be comforted by this. It's very cute to watch. He even asks for the food sometimes. He goes to the edge of the cage that is closest to where Kim sits, stands on his hind legs and looks at her. Then when he has her attention, he goes over to the spot where she usually feeds him and looks at her again. And now he's even letting her pet him every once in a while.

May 25, 2008

A teenager in the house

Our teenager (with a mouth full of frosting)

Yesterday was a big day at the Gelina house. It was the day our son became a teenager. He has been looking forward to this day for quite some time. In fact, he's been telling us that he is 13 now for the past six months. But yesterday was actually the big day. And we made the most of it.

David invited quite a few friends. We were pleased that his friends included children from our church who are quite a bit younger than David but who he really enjoys as well as kids (girls, to be exact) from his school who are in some of his classes. David also invited his wonderful friends Peg and Dave Hunt and Peg's mother Mrs. Walker. David looks at Peg, Dave, and Mrs. Walker as extra relatives. They have always shown him lots of love and he really was happy that they were able to come to his party. I think David looks at Peg and Dave as grandparents. And that's a wonderful thing since he doesn't get to see his real grandparents very often.

Space shuttle piñata

The party's theme was NASA, especially the space shuttle and Kim did a great job of decorating for the party. She ordered t-shirts and hats for Kim, David and me directly from NASA. She ordered space shuttle sipper cups that the kids were able to take home with them after the party. She ordered blowup space shuttles that we hung off of shepherd's hooks all around the patio. She got some balloons with space images on them. She even ordered a space shuttle piñata, which the younger kids thoroughly enjoyed wacking away at.

But the most amazing thematic element was the space shuttle cake made by our good friend from church, Stacy Wilson. As you can see by the photograph, she is an amazing cake decorator. She also made cupcakes that had brightly colored toothpick things stuck into the center of them. The toothpicks looked like a burst of fireworks coming out of the cupcakes. The kids loved them.

Space shuttle cake - by Stacy Wilson

But the space shuttle cake was by far the thing the kids got the most excited about. And it tasted fantastic too! Stacy is truly amazing.

David has always had a tendency to make friends with some less-than-savory characters. We have been pleased to see this change over the last year or so. But the friends that he invited from school were absolutely wonderful young ladies. They were polite, well-behaved, very nice to the younger children, and (as David kept pointing out to us) very pretty. I was also quite impressed to hear one of the girl's sing along with an Earth, Wind & Fire song when it came up on the playlist. Any young teenager that knows Earth, Wind & Fire music is at the top of my list.

Two of David's schoolmates

David invited five of the girls from his school. Four of them had planned on coming to the party, but one of those four had to cancel at the last minute because something else had come up. But the three young ladies who were able to come encouraged us greatly as to David's choice of friends. This is a huge area of improvement in his maturity and we are very proud of him for surrounding himself with friends such as these.

David and his girls, eating in the yard

In the evening, we had our newlywed friends Joe and Abigail over for a pizza dinner and a movie (Alvin and the Chipmunks). It was a wonderful ending to a wonderful day. Joe and Abigail are such a great couple. After they left David said that they both chose well. He said that Joe and Abigail were made for each other. I believe he's right.

David's friends Lydia and Emily

We talked to Joe and Abigail about the day we brought David home from the hospital. That was 13 years ago today. It was a very stormy night with heavy pelting rain that beat against the windshield. I drove very careully because we had the most precious cargo in the car we could imagine and we wanted to get him safely to the destination.

It strikes me now that we have never finished that trip. Although the storms have varied—they have never abated ever since David entered our lives. And we still drive very carefully—not just in the car but in all of life—trying by the grace of God to protect our precious cargo and help him arrive safely at his destination. Yesterday's party held evidence that he is getting there.

May 24, 2008

Blog Header - May 25, 2008

This blog header shows my son (13 years old as of yesterday) photographing our hometown baseball team, the Lynchburg Hillcats. The Hillcats games are wonderful family outings. We always sit in the seats all the way in the front, right next to the dugout so David can talk to the players. We've met some great families there—families that attend regularly so we've gotten to know them and they've gotten to know us. So it's like hanging out with a bunch of friends each time we go.

The Hillcats' normal jersey color is green. So why are they (and David) wearing pink jerseys in this photo? This was breast cancer awareness night. The players wore pink uniforms. Each fan received a pink t-shirt with a message about breast cancer on it. Even the bats were pink.

Lynchburg as a whole shows great care for its citizens and the Hillcats fit right into that mold.

If you're ever in Lynchburg during baseball season, look up the Hillcats and see if they're playing in town while you're here. If they are, go to the game. You'll have a blast. We'll see you there.

May 23, 2008

Kids these days

So ... my son is eating us out of house and home. We've already covered that. But last night my son came up with a new one for me and I just had to share it with everyone

Remember when you refused to eat your carrots (or brussel sprouts, or whatever) and your mom said, "finish your dinner; there are starving children in China"? Of course, you, as a dutiful American child responded with, "well send it to them 'cause I don't want it."

I vowed that I would never tell my child that he had to eat something "because there are starving children in China." But God has a sense of humor. I maintained my vow, but....

Last night my son wanted more food. He had already eaten and wasn't going to get any more last night. After much belly-aching about how he was starving and was in "severe pain from the hunger" (His words, no kidding!), I told him that there are many children in poverty-stricken nations who go days without any food at all. He responded: "But they're used to not having food so it probably doesn't bother them as much."

How exactly do you respond to that?

How I long for the days of "Dad, where do babies come from?"

May 22, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter dies in accident

Contemporary Christian singer and songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter died yesterday as a result of injuries sustained when her brother accidently hit her with the family car. [news story]

UPDATE:   Meet this precious little girl in the video below. She is now in the loving arms of Jesus.

2 Cor 1:3 - 7   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

From Steven Curtis Chapman's web site:


NASHVILLE, TN...5/21/08... At approximately 5pm on the afternoon of Wednesday May 21st, Maria Sue Chapman, 5 years old and the youngest daughter to Steven and Mary Beth Chapman was struck in the driveway of the Chapman home in Franklin, TN. Maria was rushed to Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital in Nashville, transported by LifeFlight, but died of her injuries there. Maria is one of the close knit family’s six children and one of their three adopted daughters.

More than five years ago, Chapman and his wife MaryBeth founded The Shaohannah’s Hope Ministry after bringing their first adopted daughter, Shaohannah, home from China. The ministry’s goal is to help families reduce the financial barrier of adoption, and has provided grants to over 1700 families wishing to adopt orphans from around the world. Chapman is a five-time GRAMMY ® winner and 54-time Dove Award winning artist who has sold over 10 million albums and garnered 44 No. 1 singles.

Meet Maria:



Please pray for the Chapman family.

May 22, 2008

Today's header photo was taken from the outdoor patio on the back of the Sequoia restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C. The header is actually the bottom portion of a photo of an airplane rising above the beautiful sunset over the Potomac River. I couldn't include the plane in this header, but thought that the sunset was worth placing on my blog.

For those of you who are familiar with DC's Potomac waterfront, this is very close to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and less than half a mile from the famous Watergate Condominiums.

May 19, 2008

Another reason to love Lynchburg - Anniversary date

Kim and David in front of Crown Sterling

Last Saturday my wife and I went out on a date (our 22nd anniversary date). We have wanted to visit Crown Sterling ever since we moved to Lynchburg a couple of years ago. We've been told how good the food is and we have smelled the wonderful aromas wafting about the area near the restaurant, but we had not visited as patrons yet—until this past Saturday night when we decided to celebrate our 22nd anniversary by eating at Crown Sterling. It was wonderful!

David took the opportunity to try lobster for the first time. He has been asking for lobster for a couple of years now and we have not wanted him to try lobster at a cheap restaurant because lobster needs to be enjoyed at its best. Although I don't like to admit my Yankee heritage, I was born in Maine and have high standards for lobster.

Kim enjoying David's appetite

Kim recommended that David order the lobster and fillet so he would have a steak to eat if he didn't like the lobster. He ordered the surf & turf. He prepared for the entree by visiting the outstanding salad bar three times and returning with very full bowls of salad (including many, many sardines—yuk!). When the waiter brought our food, David loved the lobster. He loved the baked potato. Then he loved the fillet. Then he loved the remaining half of my rib-eye. Then he loved the Brownie Volcano desert. The staff was enjoying watching this boy who had obviously never had a meal before. As we paid our waitress, David went to the front of the restaurant to see if he could see any trains go by on the nearby railroad track. As we walked past the hostess station on our way out, our waitress good-naturedly teased us that they had cut David off from the candy. Yes, he had grabbed a handful of candy from the hostess station candy dish on his way out the door. The boy never stops eating! But it was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed watching him enjoy it.

When we got home, we watched one of our favorite romantic movies—A Walk to Remember. This movie has a lot of chick-flick aspects, but is such an inspiring movie that I think even men who are not as romantically natured as I am would enjoy it. I highly recommend it—especially for the men who would like to treat their wives to an enjoyable movie night watching something other than John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, or Monty Python.

Here's the trailer:

Win a free candle from Virginia Candle Company

My wife's blog is six months old as of yesterday. In celebration of six months of blogging, she is giving away a candle from the delightful Old Virginia Candle Company of Forest, Virginia. All you have to do to be entered into the contest is leave a comment.

Civil disobedience - When is disobedience right?

You must read the incredible story of Irene Sendler at my friend Sandy's blog (Run With Patience). This is an amazing story of a woman who committed her life to saving a Jewish children from extermination by the Nazis.

I pray that I would have the courage to do what this woman did given similar circumstances, but my fear is that I would lack that courage.

Read the story here.

May 18, 2008

Blog Header - May 18, 2008

David loves trains! In fact, he loves anything with wheels. When he was a tiny baby, he would lean over the side of his carriage in order to get a good view of the carriage wheels as they turned. He loves cars, trucks, trains, skateboards, wagons, wheel chairs.

In this blog header photo, David is watching a train go by. This railroad crossing is at the bottom of the road leading down from Liberty University to the main drag through the shopping district of Lynchburg. David could spend all day sitting by the side of a railroad track just watching the trains go by.

He'll give you the full scoop on his blog: Train Collector

May 17, 2008

She's close enough to perfect!

A tribute to my wife—the best wife ever

The best wife ever

Twenty-two years ago today I stood at the front of the church I had grown up in. I stood in front of a gathered assembly of more than 300 people—most of whom had known me since I was a toddler, many others who had driven hundreds of miles to observe the most lopsided example of someone marrying out of his league that has ever happened in history.

At the appointed moment, my beautiful bride entered the back of the sanctuary. All heads turned and then the people stood in respect as she walked the aisle towards me.

Twenty-two years ago today

My father (our pastor) began the ceremony by telling some personal anecdotes about the two he was marrying. First he talked about his son (me!) and told some stories that would have been embarrassing had everyone not already known them. Then he started to describe my bride. He got choked up as he talked about her character. At the time I was surprised that he was able to talk so easily about me and then got choked up talking about Kim. But looking back from 22 years in the future, I realize that he was struck with what a gem my bride really was.

Kim is extremely intelligent, committed, bright, energetic, a great cook! and an amazing artist in many ways. She has patience beyond measure and a strong desire to promote those things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. She is known for her virtue. She is the very embodiment of the biblical virtuous woman.

My wife (now)

I don't deserve her. In fact, no one does. But God saw fit to give her to me. And she has put up with me for more than two decades now—showing that in addition to all the things I've already mentioned, she has immense stamina.

Thank you, Kim, for twenty-two fantastic years. I'm looking forward to the next 22.

Happy 22nd anniversary, my love

I thought I'd try to tell you
How much I love you in a song
But found out very soon
That that would make it last too long

I started it last evening
When the sun was going down
I'd barely just begun it
When the sun came back around

I'd really like to tell you
I'd really like to show how much
I'd really care to share this life with you
I'd really like to tell you
I'd really like to show you
But I'm afraid I might not ever quite get through

If every star that's in the sky
Could scream, "I love you!" girl
And if I sent a rose
For every flower in this world

It would only start to tell
The things I long to say
The stars will fall and the rose will die
But my love won't go away

I'd really like to tell you
I'd really like to show how much
I'd really care to share this life with you
I'd really like to tell you
I'd really like to show you
But I'm afraid I might not ever quite get through

Happy anniversary my love. I love you.

May 13, 2008

Blog Header - May 14, 2008

Today's blog header features my son riding his bike down the street in front of our house. He loves his BMX bike and tries to do cool tricks on it. Putting his feet on the front pegs is not one of the more exciting tricks—but it is one he loves to do.

My soul waits for God alone

Psalm 62:1-2
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

I find it so hard to wait in silence. I like to shout and complain when things seem to be going wrong. It really doesn't make any sense since God has all things under his control and I am able to control very little. And yet, despite my lack of control and my propensity to mess things up when I do control them, I still have trouble simply relaxing and letting God handle things. I try to jump ahead, make plans, set plans into action, and then think through all the things that may go wrong and worry about it all.

Psalm 62:5-7
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

But this is not the way we as Christians are to do things. We are to wait on the Lord. We are to have complete trust that he is in control and that he will take care of things. But many Christians throughout history have had terrible things happen to them. So maybe this isn't such a comfort. If Christians can be burned at the stake by their church leaders, is waiting on the Lord in silence really comforting?

I think the issue comes down to where we derive our comfort and our satisfaction. If we are looking for our own personal fulfillment and pleasure then losing our lives or going through particularly tough times will not be seen as a good thing. If we idolize our families then our children turning from God will be a terrible blow to our happiness. If we desire a luxurious life with all of the amenities that are available to use today, we are not likely to willingly accept poverty, disease, or pain.

Psalm 62:9
Those of low estate are but a breath;
    those of high estate are a delusion;
    in the balances they go up

As seen in Psalm 62:9, we are not that big a deal. It's not truly about us. Whether we're big shots in the eyes of the world or nobodies in the eyes of the world, we are "but a breath." In fact, those of us who are well off would be wise to remember that this verse tells us that "those of high estate are a delusion."

So how are we to view things in a way that allows waiting on the Lord to be a comfort?

Psalm 62:11-12
Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
    that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
    For you will render to a man
    according to his work.

I think the answer to this is all in our own attitudes. We are responsible for ourselves and must leave others to God. We cannot be the Holy Spirit for those around us. This simple realization will take away a lot of our worry.

We also need to make sure that we have the heart of God. Of course we will have desires—but if our desires are God's desires, we will be satisfied no matter what may come. Psalm 37:4 says Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. If we find our delight in the Lord, we will get what we desire (the Lord). This is a radical concept but is found throughout the scriptures.

So when the storms come—and they will—we may wait in silence on the Lord knowing that he is in total control. And whatever he wants to happen will happen (Isaiah 46:10   I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure')

But those who wait on the Lord
  Shall renew their strength;
  They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
  They shall run and not be weary,
  They shall walk and not faint.    – Isaiah 40:31

May 12, 2008

Gourmet feast

I've heard people talking about how much food their teenagers eat. "It's like he has a hollow leg." "He's eating us out of house and home." "He eats enough to feed an army." "I don't know where he puts it all."

Serious dogs

So ... my son is about to turn 13 in less than two weeks. And the feast has begun. The boy puts down more than his weight in food at every meal. It's truly amazing.

The remains of the meal

This past weekend we grilled out on the patio. My wife and I were not particularly hungry and have been working out in an effort to get into shape, so we didn't eat much. Our son had a different viewpoint—as is evidenced by the accompanying photographs. He's never been a big bread eater, so he tends to leave most of the buns behind, but within about an hour of eating these five hot dogs, he was begging for more food because he was starving.

The upside of all of this is that he'll be a teenager for just seven years. Hopefully his appetite will diminish by the time he hits his 20s.

May 11, 2008

Thomas a Kempis on Purity of Mind and Unity of Purpose

A man is raised up from the earth by two wings—simplicity and purity. There must be simplicity in his intention and purity in his desires. Simplicity leads to God, purity embraces and enjoys Him.

If your heart is free from ill-ordered affection, no good deed will be difficult for you. If you aim at and seek after nothing but the pleasure of God and the welfare of your neighbor, you will enjoy freedom within.

If your heart were right, then every created thing would be a mirror of life for you and a book of holy teaching, for there is no creature so small and worthless that it does not show forth the goodness of God. If inwardly you were good and pure, you would see all things clearly and understand them rightly, for a pure heart penetrates to heaven and hell, and as a man is within, so he judges what is without. If there be joy in the world, the pure of heart certainly possess it; and if there be anguish and affliction anywhere, an evil conscience knows it too well.

As iron cast into fire loses its rust and becomes glowing white, so he who turns completely to God is stripped of his sluggishness and changed into a new man. When a man begins to grow lax, he fears a little toil and welcomes external comfort, but when he begins perfectly to conquer himself and to walk bravely in the ways of God, then he thinks those things less difficult which he thought so hard before.

Blog Header - May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

This week's blog header features my son's mother—and my wife. We are both very blessed. Thanks, Kim, for being awesome.

Oh yeah ... these photos were taken on our honeymoon in St. Thomas, US Virginia Islands.

May 10, 2008

Great video

I realize this video is a bit old, but I really love it and wanted to share it with the few of you who have never seen it. Okay - it also helps to be as old as I am. That way you grew up watching these Happy Days episodes.

May 09, 2008

A night of excitement

Last night, while I plugged away at a proposal, a weather report broke into the normal television programming to tell us that our area had been placed under a tornado warning. At least one tornado had been spotted.

I was actually reading a bedtime story to our son at the time. My wife called me out of his room to inform me of the situation. We spent the next 3 hours in the basement. Fortunately, I was able to continue to work on my proposal on my laptop while we were down there and Kim and David watched cartoons online on her laptop. It's a good thing we installed that wireless router last year.

It was actually kind of fun, although we'll all be pretty tired today—especially David.

But this gave us an opportunity to teach. David was concerned about our safety. So we discussed the fact that God is in total control and that nothing will happen unless he commands it to happen. David wanted to know if God might want us to die if a tornado hit our house. So we discussed that this was a possibility, but that if God wanted us to die we wouldn't be safe anywhere and then we would be in heaven with God, so that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Then David wanted to know why God made tornadoes. Kim explained that perhaps it was to show us his power and to remind us that we are not in full control and must cling to him for our safety.

It was a good time. And apparently God did not want us to die. We got some rain and some thunder, but our house is still standing. In fact, I doubt that we even lost any roof tiles.

C.H. Spurgeon, in Daily Help said:

We do not observe God's hand as much as we should. Our good puritan forefathers, when it rained, used to say that God had unstopped the bottles of heaven. When it rains nowadays, we think the clouds have become condensed. If they had a field of hay cut, they used to plead to the Lord that He would bid the sun to shine. We, perhaps, are wiser as we think, and we consider it hardly worthwhile to pray about such things, thinking they will come in the course of nature. They believed that God was in every storm, in every cloud of dust. They used to speak of a present God in everything.

Last night provided us the opportunity to "speak of a present God" in the storm. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

May 07, 2008

Pipe Dreams

This is an amazing presentation of digital animation. Simply outstanding!

Now my son wants to build one of these. We may be busy for a while.

Download more video clips (some custom encoded for use on iPods and other portable music/video players) and order the DVDs at

May 06, 2008

Liberty or license? A little balance

Recently on this blog I have discussed the need for us to reject legalism. This is a main theme of Paul's epistle to the Galatian believers. But this concept must be seen in balance with the biblical calls to live a holy life. The obvious application of this that lives right out on the surface of the issue is the fact that the Bible calls us to focus on our own personal sanctification—not to be concerned that others are doing the things that we are convicted we must do to be holy.

Walter Cradock
I would do a hundred things that Christ hath not commanded, and leave undone a hundred things that Christ hath not forbidden, rather than be tied to one thing by men that Christ hath not commanded.

But when we dig a little deeper below the surface of this issue, we realize that an overemphasis on our freedoms in Christ could give the impression that the Christian may do whatever he pleases—that he must not live by any rules, that he may sin with impunity. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" This is the question that the Apostle Paul rhetorically asked when traveling the periphery of this topic. And his answer? "Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?"

So then, we Christians are free in Christ—not bound to man-made rules and regulations (in fact, advised to not follow man-made rules and regulations), but we are also told that rather than joining the mob mentality of following regulations we are to hold ourselves to a personal standard that reaches far beyond what the man-made laws could ever demand.

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

Consider this:

Jesus made the point that the Christian is to focus on his own personal attitudes when these things arise. And he revealed the hypocrisy we are so prone to by showing that outward obedience to God's laws does not necessarily indicate actual obedience.

Mat 5:27-30   “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

The passage continues as Jesus lays out many ways that we should "go the extra mile"—following the spirit of the law rather than limiting ourselves to the letter of the law. And why are we to do this? Jesus continues:

Matthew 5:44-48   That you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

We are not called to flaunt our freedom in Christ. We are called to be perfect. You can't have a higher standard than perfection. But notice that all of these directives are for us to be intent on the state of our own heart—not to be concerned with forcing others to comply

Training others is the crux of the balance that we must be vigilant to maintain. If we get lazy and don't portray the full picture we doom the next generation to liscentiousness or to legalism.

Creating Legalism.   If we teach extra-biblical standards without explaining to our children or those under our care that these are personal standards—not Bible standards, they will quite likely use those things as measuring rods to condemn others who don't hold to those standards, even though we realize that they are extra-biblical, personal standards—not Bible mandates. I believe this has contributed to the strong and growing current movements that feature ultra-modesty, tight frugality, and "militant fecundity" (making babies non-stop). Many of the people in these movements look down their noses at those who disagree with them on these extra-biblical traditions.

Creating Liscentiousness.   If we preach our liberties in Christ without carefully teaching our children and others that the Christian life is a continual process of personal sanctification, guided by their personal study of the Word and prayer, they are likely to become liscentious adults. I believe this is one of the things that has contributed to the Emergent Church's penchant for foul language (even from the pulpit), alcohol abuse, disrespectful dress, and total acceptance of all forms of entertainment.

John Milton
Honest liberty is the greatest foe to dishonest license.

The Christian life is an all-out effort of pressing further into conformity with Christ. This passion must be driven by a personal desire to be more Christlike. When we allow our own passions—rather than Christ's passion—to motivate our actions, we lose our balance and fall by the wayside.

We began this discussion in Paul's letter to the Galatians, so it would be appropriate for us to look at how Paul handles the needed focus of our hearts in this matter:

Galatians 6:7-10   Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

May 05, 2008

Top 15 Biblical Ways to Get a Wife

  1. Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. - (Deuteronomy 21:11-13)
  2. Find a prostitute and marry her. - (Hosea 1:1-3)
  3. Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock. - Moses (Ex 2:16-21)
  4. Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. - Boaz (Ruth 4:5-10)
  5. Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife. - Benjaminites (Judges 21:19-25)
  6. Have God create a wife for you while you sleep. Note: this will cost you. - Adam (Gen 2:19-24)
  7. Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right. Fourteen years of toil for a wife. - Jacob (Genesis 29:15-30)
  8. Cut 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law’s enemies and get his daughter for a wife - David (I Samuel 18:27)
  9. Even if no one is out there, just wander around a bit and you’ll definitely find someone. (It’s all relative, of course.) - Cain (Genesis 4:16-17)
  10. Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. - Xerxes or Ahasuerus (Esther 2:3-4)
  11. When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have seen a … woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your decision, simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.” - Samson (Judges 14:1-3)
  12. Kill any husband and take HIS wife (Prepare to lose four sons, though). - David (2 Samuel 11)
  13. Wait for your brother to die. Take his widow. (It’s not just a good idea; it’s the law.) - Onana and Boaz (Deuteronomy or Leviticus, example in Ruth)
  14. Don’t be so picky. Make up for quality with quantity. - Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3)
  15. A wife?…NOT? - Paul (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

HT: Light, from a True Womanhood comment.

May 04, 2008

Blog Header - May 4, 2008

The fantastic Point of Honor in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia, is today's blog header photo. This mansion belonged to a doctor who during the War Between the States treated fallen soldiers. He was known for treating the soldiers no matter which uniform they wore, blue or gray. When asked why he gave just as good treatment to the Yankee soldiers as he did to the local southern troops he said that he took it as a "point of honor to treat anyone in need."

That is how this beautiful downtown Lynchburg house got its name. Lynchburg is full of wonderful people and wonderful stories if you just take the time to look. Perhaps all towns are like that. Maybe it would be worth it to take a look and sit and listen from time to time.

May 03, 2008

Somewhere along the road

I got a new MP3 player today. As I imported songs to the new player, I stumbled across a song I hadn't listened to in quite a while, but that meant a great deal to me many years ago. It brought back sweet and painful memories.

I searched YouTube and found this video—a tribute to Dan Fogelberg...

Should Christianity be tolerated?

With the recent news about polygamist abuses and other outrageous acts perpetrated by religious folks, the question has arisen in many conversations, "Will this cause our society to turn against religion completely and to come after all of us next?"

I Samuel 5:1–4
When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.

Treating all religions equally

"Tolerance for all" is the clarion call of our society. We are told that no one's opinion should be belittled. Everyone has the right to think and believe as they see fit. This may sound reasonable at first hearing, but it is a far cry from the early Baptist doctrine of Individual Soul Liberty; the belief that each person is responsible before God for his own understanding of the scriptures and each of us should be free to follow those things we have been taught by the Holy Spirit through our personal study of the Bible. Individual Soul Liberty never taught that all beliefs are equal and should be treated as such without discrimination. It taught that we are all responsible to dig into God's Word and to sincerely seek the truth. And, further, that the government should not impose restrictions on the carrying out of the truths that we have found in God's Word.

This gave rise to the concept of Freedom of Religion. If each of us is responsible before God for holding to the truths of the scriptures, a state-mandated religious liturgy or creed is unacceptable. The state cannot decide what the Bible teaches; it must be determined by faithful study of the scriptures.

Today, we see Protestant Christianity falling from it's prominent place in the United States to a place that is less influential in the affairs of our nation. We are asked to view all religions as equal and to not show a preference to one or another religious viewpoint—at least in the public square. So we no longer find manger scenes decorating the public grounds at Christmas time. We now must have a Santa Claus (deemed less offensive than a baby in a manger) alongside a menorah (for those of the Jewish faith), and Frosty the Snowman (for the atheists among us), and a rainbow cone (for the Gay and Lesbian lobby), and a Buddha (for the Buddhists), and a Tree of Knowledge (for the Baha'i faith and the few remaining Aztecs who now live in the US), and a variety of other symbols that represent everything from Islam to UFO-worship.

In the scripture passage above we read a story about what God thinks about placing worship of the True God equally next to worship of false gods. If you read that passage through to verse 12, you'll see that God struck the people of the land down. He cursed their health and killed many of them. They eventually realized what was up and the people demanded that the ark be returned to Israel.

Could a curse against the US be a good thing?

This brings to my mind a question that sounds a little bit crazy: Should we be open to the possibility that the United States is desitined to be cursed by God? I don't think we should hope for that or pray directly for that, but I don't think we should stand in opposition to that possibility.

Another question is: Should we fight for equal rights for Christianity? The answer to that, in my estimation, is NO. Yes, Christians themselves should have equal Constitutional protections under our form of government. But Christianity as a religion, in other words the worship of Jesus Christ, should not be consider equal with other religions in public displays or in public discourse or in any other manner. Our God is a jealous God; He will not share his glory with another.


Perhaps it would be good for the souls of our national leaders and the people of our country for this nation to fall under the curse of God. For God to turn our people over to the lusts of their own hearts, pursuing what is unseemly. For God to send natural disasters against our nation. For God to curse our nation with incurable diseases. For God to allow our nation to be overrun by an enemy. I believe that the first three things have already happened. The final thing has not happened yet, but may soon—if the Christians in this nation don't repent of our wicked ways and seek God's face. Perhaps falling under the full curse of God, though, would wake all of us up to the fact that "every knee will bow" before the Holy God.

The I Samuel passage made it clear that even those who were not God's people understood that God was cursing them. They sought the True God for relief from the curses they were under. The honored God by acknowledging his power and authority.

This is what the people of the United States need to do today. May God grant our nation repentance. Before it is too late.

The remaining text from 1 Samuel (5:6–12):

The hand of the Lord was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.” So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” They answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath.” So they brought the ark of the God of Israel there. But after they had brought it around, the hand of the Lord was against the city, causing a very great panic, and he afflicted the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. But as soon as the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought around to us the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people.” They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people.” For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there. The men who did not die were struck with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven. [Emphasis mine]

May 01, 2008

Improving Your Serve

We Christians are told regularly that we need to serve God, whether it is our vocation or "volunteer."

Acts 17:24-25
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything

Allow me to challenge the accepted view of this. We should serve God, but in the way that God demands. The thing missing from this, however, is that we need to let God serve us. The Son of Man came not to be served (Mark 10:45).

How do we let God get the glory of serving us even in activities in which we are serving God? We pray and acknowledge the fact that we can do nothing without Christ. We ask for God's help when we need it (always). We ask God to use us to further His kingdom and to give us the competance to successfully accomplish the task at hand. This brings glory to God and keeps us from thinking that we have something to offer to God.

To God be the glory in heaven and earth forever.