August 31, 2009

Sharing the wealth

American Idol has brought us some very painful auditions. But apparently these are not unique to the United States.

Here’s a stellar audition for Australian Idol.

August 30, 2009

Looking for God in America


fter 47 years of regular committed church attendance I have found myself to be somewhat cynical and jaded. The biblical characteristic traits that a student of scripture would expect to find among Christians are not often found in churches.

I have seen love displayed by members of the Kiwanis clubs. I have seen care for others above self displayed by folks who unite in protection of the environment. I have seen patience and understanding displayed by schools, and bowling leagues, and garden clubs, and hunting clubs, and fishing clubs, and knitting clubs, etc. But these traits are often the opposite of what one finds in local churches.

Of course, I should not cast all churches in the same light when I have attended just a handful of churches. Certainly there are some churches out there where one might find marks of the presence of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

The church we attended this Sunday

So now we’re in a new town and must find a new church in which to worship and fellowship. Last week we visited a church that proclaims the doctrines we hold dear and seems to live in a manner one would expect of those who love Jesus Christ and recognize the sovereignty of God. And this may be our new church home. But I have always been very careful to research the churches we have attended in the past. I have checked out their doctrinal statements, their constitutions, their mission statements, and their core values. I have questioned the pastors about their commitment to the ministry of the Word. But more often than not, I have put my family in churches that don’t seem very Christian once you get past the statements and creeds and begin to look at the conduct.

Not the sanctuary we’re accustomed to
Perhaps because we’ve not known sanctuary before?

So this week, to be careful, we tried another church—just to make sure we’re checking out the possibilities properly. While Baptist, this church is unlike any church we’ve ever attended. Much more liturgical in style, it actually felt somewhat Presbyterian. But the people were attentive to the Word, friendly to us and each other, and seemed to display the love of God. The pastor presented an excellent sermon titled “Uncomfortable With Jesus” from John 6. Kim commented after the service that she got more out of this message than she had gotten out of any sermon for quite some time. I felt the same.

Perhaps all my careful researching of doctrinal statements, adherence to creeds, and core values is not producing the fruit I was seeking. Perhaps I just need to wait upon the Lord and allow him to guide us limping into safe harbor.

Blog Header - August 30, 2009


took today’s header photo at the 7-11 that I pass just before getting on the highway to go to work. This gorgeous car was at the pump getting gas the day that we traveled from Lynchburg to Front Royal to look at the house that we now live in.

Kim and I took quite a few photos of this car and the driver even posed the car for a few of them. It was a lot of fun.

But when I got the photos onto my computer, it seemed that something needed to be done on a few of them. I experimented with black & white, sepia-toning, increased and decreased saturation, and eventually ended up with this photo that is a mix of a few different thing. The background is sepia-toned after I decreased the contrast a bit. I also added some noise to the background to simulate film grain.

For the car, I put the photo through my HDR software and tone-mapped it. I then bumped the mid-tone saturation significantly, which leaves the reflected 7-11 sign glowing in an almost fluorescent way. I kinda liked the resultant contrast.

August 28, 2009

Stop and smell the roses


any poets, philosophers, and regular folks have tried to point out the importance of being alert and enjoying the little pleasures in life. One of my favorite examples of this is the line from “The Color Purple” from which the movie gets its name. Two girls are walking through a field. The tall grass is brushing against their legs as they navigate through the weeds. Then one girl stops to look at a small purple wildflower. She says something like, “I think God gets really mad when we don’t notice the color purple.”

When we moved to Lynchburg, we began to take in some of the local flavor and quickly came to appreciate the small city. We found seemingly hidden gems tucked here and there throughout the city of Lynchburg. The gems came to characterize the city in our minds. Places such as the White Hart cafe that I’ve spoken of here on this blog, and places such as Daddy Bim’s Pit Barbeque formed my image of the city.

We now live in Front Royal and are beginning to find the same hidden treasures. Not really hidden; but hidden if you pay attention to the big city (Washington, DC) and don’t stop to notice the little splotches of the color purple scattered all around—little pockets of excellence that may frankly be found anywhere, if only we take the time to look.

I was reminded of this just today when I found a video of one of my favorite musical groups. This group isn’t well-known. And they aren’t rich and famous. But they are one of the best vocal ensembles I have ever heard.

More Return 2 Zero
Click here for more awesome music

But you won’t find them if you’re not looking.

If you happen to be in the right place (Disneyworld’s MGM Studios in Orlando Florida) at the right time (just prior to the presentation of Beauty and the Beast Live), you may notice a stage hand walking across the stage checking microphones. He looks the part—kind of geeky, looking a bit socially inept, and probably making a modest, if not poor, income for his age. If you pay attention to this geeky stage hand he will introduce you to his three friends—all dressed in MGM Studios staff uniforms. And then you will be in for the impromptu concert of your life.

You’ve just found the color purple in a quiet corner lot in one of the most bustling and talent-filled places you could ever visit. And you’re about to hear musical magic. Here’s Return 2 Zero:

Check out the great analysis of the words of this song at Lydia’s Extra Thoughts.

August 26, 2009

A new stage of life


new home. A new town. A new church. New friends. New neighbors. New schedule. New school. And on top of it all, it’s high school. Today is a very important day in my son David’s life.

Kim and David standing on the porch of our new home

This summer has been a time of many changes and of excruciating expectations. But the summer is drawing to an end and we are now living in our new home, which we love; in our new town, which we love; and we are beginning to settle in.

The entrance to David’s new school
—Skyline High School—

David was really looking forward to high school and was expecting early in the summer to attend a highly rated high school in Lynchburg. His favorite one-on-one assistant is the football coach at this high school, so David was very excited about actually going to Mr. Moseley’s school and being able to see him regularly.

But then God moved us to Front Royal.

God’s purposes are always the best and he promises that he will work everything to the best for those who love him. So we know that this is the best school for David at this point in time. And we have heard many good things about the school; we have been impressed with the school representatives that we have met so far; and we were amazed at the beauty and extent of the school grounds and facilities. It looks like it will be a good school.

One of David’s classmates’ cars

So now we place it all in God’s loving hands and pray that this will be a stellar year for David. He is entering a very important time in life and he needs to buckle down and make it all count. We’re praying that this school and the teachers and friends he makes will help him toward that goal.

August 25, 2009

Blog Header - August 25, 2009


n Saturday it rained. The rain provided us with a whole new experience here in our new home. It was wonderful to sit on the porch and listen to the raindrops fall. It was great to look out at the mountains shrouded in mist.

But we even noticed a big difference early on Saturday morning when we looked out of our bedroom window at the mountains. The humidity was high and some clouds hung low, like the cloud you can see in between the two mountain tops in this photos taken this past Saturday morning from our bedroom window.

God’s creation is truly magnificent!

Transmitting the Word

John Piper’s pointers for approaching the Bible

  1. Be open to the fact that it is the Word of God.
  2. Revere the Bible when you discover that it’s God’s Word.
  3. Have a sense of conviction that you are a sinner in the view of this Word.
  4. Know that the Bible meets you with forgiveness because Christ is at the center of the book.
  5. Have hope that you can press on in life because the Bible will give you all the guidance you need.


ohn Piper is one of my heroes of the faith. He’s an outstanding communicator of the Word of God and seems to be very genuine in his pastoral ministry—something that is uncommon in today’s world and is probably a primary contributing factor to the apparent success he has had.

The current issue of Bible Study Magazine features a very encouraging interview with John Piper about personal Bible study.

The interview covers such questions as:

  • How do you keep from growing indifferent to the Bible when you’re so familiar with the Bible?
  • How do you approach the Bible?
  • How can we make time for the Bible?
  • How do you memorize Scripture?
  • Is the Bible easier for you to understand than for other people?
  • What would you say to someone who hasn’t read their Bible in a long time?

Read the John Piper interview here (in PDF format).

August 22, 2009

Blog Header - August 22, 2009


oday’s header photo is of the gorgeous Barboursville Vineyards and Winery in Barboursville, Virginia (near Charlottesville). This vineyard produces some of the best American wines and boasts the Octagon wine that has been described by the Jefferson Hotel’s wine expert as “the best wine from any geographic location.” The wine may be good, but the scenery is every bit as good and is a great place for photography.

August 20, 2009

Unexpected fruit

In scripture we are told to comfort others with the comfort with which we have been comforted. At the end of a very difficult time for our family, God has provided comfort in an amazing way. This post is intended to share this comfort and to encourage others that God will provide at just the right time and the blessings will be overwhelming.


his past four months have been characterized by one of the most turbulent storms our family has ever gone through. A tempest took us to Lynchburg and a tsunami took us out. Both storms were sent by God. Both storms resulted in graces and blessings that took us by surprise. God is to be trusted and praised.

Our new home

God moved us to Lynchburg by the motivation of our son who had to be institutionalized for medical reasons. This was a terribly difficult time in our lives. Our son was nine years old; he stayed in the residential treatment facility until he was 11 years old. We were able to visit with him for two hours each Sunday afternoon, but were not able to spend any other time with him during the week. We were able to speak with him on the telephone for up to 10 minutes each night. We never missed a phone call and we never missed a visiting time—even though the treatment facility in Lynchburg, Virginia, was almost 200 miles away from our home in Stafford, Virginia.

David in our front yard displaying
his new white-wall bike tire

But in the midst of that tempest, God provided a shelter. We began driving super early in the morning so we could go to church there in Lynchburg before visiting our son at the treatment facility. A couple of the church members offered a room for the night so we could drive to Lynchburg on Saturday and get a decent night’s sleep before visiting our son and heading back to Stafford Sunday night. Eventually, the church offered to rent us a home that was donated to the church by an elderly member years ago. The rent that they charged was quite low. This was a tremendous blessing in that it allowed Kim to stay in Lynchburg all the time so she could at least be near our son. So Kim lived in Lynchburg during the week and I lived in Stafford and worked in Washington, DC, during the week. I drove to Lynchburg on the weekends and spent the weekend with Kim before driving back into town for the work week.

David’s new school—Skyline High School

During that time, we fell in love with the people of the church there in Lynchburg. We fell in love with the city. We fell in love with the Central Virginia area. And we decided to stay. We knew that we would have to move out of the church’s house at some point and we were casually looking to buy a home there in Lynchburg, but we had not made any strong efforts in that direction—especially since the economy plummeted.

So we were not prepared for the sudden request by our church to vacate the property. That request was also accompanied by the information that my ministry at the church (the web site) was being moved into the hands of a paid consultant. The change made us realize that we didn’nt really have roots there in Lynchburg. Knowing that it would be a good thing to be nearer to my downtown office, we decided to look in a new area, closer to DC, for a new place to live.

The removal of ministry (sans explanation) was hurtful. And coming, as it did, at the same time as the request for us to vacate the house added to the pain of wondering if we had done something wrong that for some reason was not being expressed by the church leaders—even when we asked.

Deer eating under our backyard apple tree last night

As time went on and we were unable to purchase a home, we switched our method of attack from buying to renting. Still we were unable to find a home. We applied for them, but they were offered to other folks who had also applied, or were given to a family member, etc. After we had applied for three homes and lost each one for odd and differing reasons, the church leadership demanded that we vacate the house by a date that we had discussed as being beneficial to their plans. We had no place to move to and the church was determined for us to leave. The pressure was huge. But we knew that God was in control and rested in his loving care.

The view from our bed early this morning

The church extended our move-out date to August 20 (yeah, that’s yesterday). They gave us this notice on July 21, exactly one month ago today. Still we were not able to secure a new home for another two and a half weeks. The tension was incredible. Our son began to ask if we were going to be homeless.

We finally managed to secure a new house to live in just two weeks prior to the moveout date. It was obvious that God had provided exactly this house and exactly at this moment. We had not even planned to look at this house, but it went onto the MLS system the morning that we were headed to Linden, VA, to look at another house. The “For Rent” sign had not even been placed in the yard yet when we looked at it. We fell in love. It is the perfect house for us.

John Owen

Did you never run for shelter in a storm, and find fruit which you expected not? Did you never go to God for safeguard, driven by outward storms, and there find unexpected fruit?

And two weeks later, I’m blogging from my new library, in our beautiful farm house just a few miles from the entrance to Skyline Drive (the scenic road that travels the crest of the Shenandoah Mountains). Our master bedroom looks over our large back yard, over our apple trees (that regularly have deer congregating under them) and onto an unobstructed view of the Shenandoah Mountains. The home was built in 1940 and has gorgeous hardwood floors, very large rooms, and floor-to-ceiling windows. It has a full wrap around front porch, a small side porch, and a full-width, screened-in back porch.

Although the old school charm has been maintained in the house, it has been upgraded with such things as central air conditioning, a Jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom, modern appliances (including a dishwasher!), and recessed lighting in almost every room. The house is within walking distance of a large train junction (our son loves trains). It is within walking distance of a baseball stadium and extended baseball park, a community park, a huge pool, a huge playground, a stream where you can go fishing, three restaurants that are considered excellent, multiple churches, and is less than a mile from the entrance to the highway that will take me to work. And yet it is a very quiet and peaceful neighborhood with almost no traffic. And with very friendly neighbors.

It is simply beyond belief. And it is evidence of God’s incredible desire to bless his children, even though we are sinful and don’t often do as we should.

The view from our bed about 15 minutes after the previous one

So today when I read the quote (quoted in the callout box above) from the Puritan, John Owen, it made me once again sing praises to our God. When he pulls us out of the storm, he shows us that he was not merely in control the whole time, but he was preparing for us blessings that overflow the cup and spill out all over the floor. And he doesn’t even ask us to clean it up.

4Him –The Ride of Life


took today’s header photo at Dollywood last year while we were on vacation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This roller coaster track is from the Veggietales Roller Coaster. I am posting the 4Him song below because we as part of our own personal rollercoaster ride we just moved and will be unpacking boxes for the next few weeks. I thought it was fitting.

The above embedded player will play only 30 seconds of the song. Click here for the full version.

Ride of Life

The wheels of life are turnin’
I feel like I’m rollin’ down this track
And I know down deep inside my heart
I can’t look back

And though it’s hard discerning all of the fiction from the fact
You led me to this truth and we have made a pact

So as we go through highs and lows
And all those in between
It’s good to know I’m not alone
On this big scream machine...

'Cause it’s a rollercoaster ride of life
Lifts you up and lets you down
It’s a rollercoaster ride of life
Spins you ’round and ’round and ’round
Heaven knows wherever you go,
I’ll be right by your side,
On this rollercoaster, rollercoaster ride of life
Rollercoaster ride of life

So when I hear you callin’
’Cause you have hit your all-time low,
I will hold you to my side and I won’t let you go
And when it seems you’ve fallen
’Cause life has got you on a road
I will take the wheel and hit the brakes,

We’ll take it slow
And as we go through highs and lows
And all though in between
The Lord alone is in control
Of this big scream machine

The Lord is faithful,
He’ll be right by your side on this...
Rollercoaster ride

August 18, 2009

Raising Teens


oy, have I ever been learning some things lately...

I’ve been sharing with my daughters and some of my young friends out of my “keepsake” box. That’s the place where I keep special poems, letters (both to and from friends), notes, and even letters to God. It’s fun to look back and see what I thought like as a teen and young adult, and to marvel at how God was at work in my life.

As I was looking for a particular poem the other day, I ran across this one, which is on a bookmark, and it gives me a sober reminder. It echoes Paul’s warning: Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. (Colossians 3:21 NASB)

What House Do You Live In?

by Badger Leionnare

“I got two A’s,” the small boy cried.
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very bluntly asked,
“Why didn’t you get three?”

“Mom. I’ve got the dishes done!”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother very calmly said,
“And did you sweep the floor?”

“I’ve mowed the grass,” the tall boy said,
“And put the mower away!”
His father asked him, with a shrug.
“Did you clean off the clay?”

The children in the house next door
Seem happy and content.
The same things happened over there,
But this is how it went:

“I got two A’s," the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee.
His father proudly said, “That’s great!
I’m glad you live with me!”

“Mom I’ve got the dishes done!
The girl called from the door.
Her mother smiled and softly said.
“Each day I love you more.”

“I’ve mowed the grass.” the tall boy said.
“And put the mower away!”
His father answered with much joy.
“You’ve really made day!”

Children need a little praise
For tasks they’re asked to do.
If they’re to learn to walk upright,
So much depends on you.

Let’s be sure to tell our kids what they are doing right at LEAST as much as we tell them what they are doing wrong. When we tell a child what they are doing right, it gives them clear direction and it motivates them to KEEP ON. But when they try hard to please us and we continually find fault, we send the message that they are a failure, and that they will never measure up. At this point, they finally decide it is not worth the effort anymore. Oh that I would avoid discouraging my children!!

Paul used this method in many of his epistles—he would say the hard things, but he made sure to tell the believers why he was proud of them, too! I want to make a commitment today to use words that "bless and build" rather than words that “sting and kill”—so that my kids will be ENCOURAGED and be motivated to aim higher!

August 14, 2009

Limping into safe harbor


few weeks ago the guest speaker at Mary’s church preached a sermon titled “Limping Into Safe Harbor.” Mary thought about my family and directed us to this sermon, which was posted to her church’s web site. It was good. It was appropriate. It was a gift from God.

The past few months have been very trying. We have seen and experienced many things we wish we could have shielded our son from—and ourselves. But God has moved us to the edge of the storm and we are about to pass through and land safely in the harbor. Our ship is wrecked. Our bodies are worn and haggard. But God has brought us through safely and we can see the harbor inhabitants coming to welcome us as we emerge from the wreckage. Just as the apostle Paul experienced when he was shipwrecked at Malta. Paul’s crew lost the ship. They experienced intense danger and the stress that goes along with that. But, by God’s grace, they limped into safe harbor.

This was the message of the sermon Mary directed us to. This is what our arrival in Front Royal, Virginia, felt like yesterday. We have arrived in the safe harbor. Praise God!

Yesterday we drove to Front Royal to sign the papers for the house we will be living in there. The day was characterized by a comfort and a peace about this move. A comfort and peace that we have not felt for quite some time. We are arriving at home.

While we signed paperwork, received the keys to the house, and learned about the various utilities and how the town handles such things, David went exploring on his bike. He had heard the sound of trains and went to investigate. I knew from Google Earth that a train track ran along the Shenandoah River, somewhat near the house, but David found something I had not expected.

He followed the sound of the trains for about three quarters of a mile and located a train crossroads where six different railroad tracks converge. The crossroads includes two bridges across the Shenandoah, five sweeping curves, and multiple track switching stations. It’s a train lovers dream. And David loves trains.

After we had finished with the property manager, David asked me to follow him on his bike as he took me to see this fantastic railroad crossroads. While I was there with him we saw two huge trains and I took these pictures (as well as quite a few others). We returned to the house and unpacked the car, which we had filled with boxes and other things. And then David wanted to show Mom the railroad tracks, so we headed back to the place he had found.

But this time I wasn’t the only person there with a camera. There were multiple cars there and quite a few people with high-end digital cameras and monopods standing in the middle of the convergence of train tracks. I grabbed my camera and went to where they were gathered to see what was up. A couple of the photographers work for Norfolk Southern Railways. But the whole group of photographers was there, some having traveled hundreds of miles to this particularly photogenic spot to take pictures of a prototype experimental train that was about to cross one of the bridges there. These train lovers (and railway employees) had chosen this spot near our new home as the best place to photograph this historic train.

What a wonderful place God has provided for our family. I will tell you about the neighborhood and the neighbors (we have already met a few of them) in upcoming posts. But I wanted to share this unique blessing of God that seems custom made for our son.

God is so good—looking out for each of his children individually and providing blessings that we don’t deserve just because he loves us and to the praise of his glorious grace.

Thank you, Lord!

Today we finish packing and pick up the moving truck. Tomorrow we move.

August 12, 2009

Be angry, and do not sin


e read a chapter or two of the Bible to our son every night at bedtime. Recently, as we have gone through the process of having to find a home under a deadline, many of these evening devotions have seemed incredibly apt for the situation we have been dealing with. Many passages have been sources of encouragement. Some have been passages of rebuke. Others have been seemingly promises that if we just leave things in God’s righteous hands, He will work to provide, to comfort, and to avenge.

Tonight’s reading was one such particularly apropos passage that I thought would be good to share with any of you who may be dealing with similar circumstances. I encourage you to stay in the Word. It is a vast source of comfort and blessing—especially in difficult times when evil seems to thrive


onight’s Bible reading when we put David to bed seemed particularly comforting. So I thought I would share it with you all. I encourage you to stay in the Word. It is a vast source of comfort and blessing—especially during difficult times when evil seems to thrive.

Psalm 4

  1. Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
  2. O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
    How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?


  3. But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.
  4. Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
  5. Selah

  6. Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.
  7. There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
  8. You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.
  9. In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

God prepares the way


am currently reading in Genesis for my morning devotions. This morning I read chapters 45 – 47, part of the story of Joseph, and I noticed something I don’t think most of us pay attention to.

We all love the story of Joseph—how he was sold into slavery by his brothers and eventually became the second-in-command in Egypt and his brothers had to bow before him to get food during the famine.

Genesis 50:20

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Those of us who rejoice in the sovereignty of God love this story because it so clearly shows that God works directly in our lives to bring his will to fruition—even decreeing evil deeds by some with the intention of fulfilling his plans. As Joseph says in Genesis 50:20, his brothers had evil intent toward him when they sold him into slavery, but God meant it it for good. God didn’t adjust it for good; God didn’t change it to make it work out for good; God meant it for good. He had the whole thing planned right from the start. In fact, He had planned it long before the start—before the world began. This is a wonderful and glorious truth! God is in full and total control, even of the things that seem to be going haywire in the world.

But the portion of this story that jumped out at me this morning is the fact that Pharaoh’s house rejoiced with Joseph that his brothers had come. They rolled out the red carpet for them. The people of Egypt opened their arms and welcomed Joseph’s family.

Genesis 45:16–18

When the report was heard in Pharaoh’s house, “Joseph’s brothers have come,” it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your beasts and go back to the land of Canaan, and take your father and your households, and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you shall eat the fat of the land.‘”

My family is moving to a new place where we don’t know anyone. We travel, Lord willing, to Front Royal tomorrow to sign the papers on the house. And then our moving day is two days later—this Saturday.

This could be a very scary situation. We don’t know anyone there. And we can’t afford to hire moving people to move our furniture. And my wife is not a weight lifting kind of girl. So the heavier furniture could be a real problem.

My parents were in Ohio this past week for a missions conference. My father was one of the speakers at that conference. He met a man there who traveled from Front Royal, Virginia, to Ohio with another one of the speakers at the conference. They talked about our situation and that man offered to help us find a house in Front Royal. He then met with us when we went to look at houses last Friday. He had a friend with him who attends a different church there in Front Royal. That church supported my parents when they were on the mission field in South Africa. Are you following all of this?

The pastor of this church in Front Royal has volunteered to organize a group of men to meet us at our new house in Front Royal this coming Saturday afternoon to help unload the truck. They have offered to help carry our heavier furniture.

God has prepared the way. Folks we don’t even know in Front Royal, Virginia, are rolling out the red carpet and welcoming us with open arms.

What a great and powerful God we have!

Postmodern greeting cards

August 11, 2009

Lt. Tyler Wilson


e have had some wonderful experiences in the 3 years we have lived here in Lynchburg. But one of our favorites has been getting to know some of the outstanding young people who come through Liberty University and who attend our church. Some of these Liberty students are impressive young people.

Taking the oath

Lt. Tyler Wilson, Chaplain, U.S. Army, is one such outstanding young person.

We met Tyler through church. He was a friend of a few of the college students we had over to our house on Wednesday nights and he began to visit from time to time with them. We had known only his name prior to these visits, but the visits allowed us to get to know him. And we are so much the better for it.

Tyler is a dedicated Christian, a talented and smart young man, and seems to exude good character. It’s an image that is not seen often nowadays, but I’ve heard it applied to some of the standout young men from my parents’ generation.

Tyler and his sister

Kim and I took photos of the big event when Tyler’s class became commissioned officers of the U.S. Military. But unfortunately, Tyler was not part of that event. Due to a leg injury, he was not able to pass his requirements. But he recently passed his PT test and has now been commissioned as a United States Army officer.

Congratulations, Tyler. We’re proud of you and honored to know you. And we expect big things from you.

Click here for more pics

August 09, 2009

Jehovah Jireh – our provider

God’s care will carry you so you can carry others.
                 —Robert Harold Schuller


has provided! As we knew he would. Although this has been a harrowing experience filled with trepidation as home after home fell through and we saw the move-out deadline fast approaching, all along the way we rested in God’s loving care and providence.

The front of our new house

That does not mean that we had it all together for that entire time. There were moments when our confidence faltered—especially mine. There were moments when we questioned what God was doing. But the whole time we knew that God had a plan and was moving things into place at exactly the right moment for all involved—including our current (now previous) landlord, the new family that is slated to move into the church’s house that we have lived in up until now, our new neighbors, our new landlord, us, etc.

One of the rooms

Last night at about 7:30pm we received a phone call from our real estate agent informing us that one of the two houses that we had applied for the prior day had been offered to us for rent. This closes a four-month process of diligent searching for a new home—a process that has seen more walls and dead-ends than I could ever have imagined. But each of these was an answer to prayer because right at the start of this we asked God to make his will clear by closing doors he did not want us to walk through and opening the one he had planned for us.

And so, God has now opened the door to our new home, a new community, new neighbors, new adventures, new blessings, and new opportunities to serve him and others. Soli Deo gloria!

The view from the back porch

The home is a 1940s farmhouse on about one acre of land in a quiet neighborhood in downtown Front Royal, Virginia. It has historic wood floors (that have just been refinished). The backyard is huge with well cared-for grass and a handful of large trees. A deep, full-width front porch and a full-width screened-in back porch looking at the mountains.

Ephesians 3:20–21

Now to him who is able to do far more abundant than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The home has three bedrooms, two and a half baths—with a Jacuzzi tub in the master bath. There is a large library on the first floor, a large dining room, and a large living room and an unfinished basement downstairs that opens out the back to the backyard, under the back porch. God has provided, as Paul proclaimed, “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), and we really love it!

I want to thank all of you who have been praying with us throughout this process. And please join with us in praise to our great and awesome God, who has worked his will in exactly his timing—as he always does.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

God’s providence


The Lord my pasture shall prepare,
      And feed me with a shepherd’s care;
His presence shall my wants supply,
      And guard me with a watchful eye.

                                 —Joseph Addison (1672–1719)

August 08, 2009

Blog Header - August 9, 2009

This photo shows the Dollywood water tower used to fill Klondike Katie, Dollywood’s wonderful steam engine. Our family was in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, at this time last year. We loved our week spent there and at Dollywood’s ajoining water park. The parks are fantastic, the rides are beyond belief, the employees are delightful, and the entertainment is outstanding and family friendly. It’s a great experience. Oh yeah, the food is phenomenal as well.

A lot happens in one year. One year ago we thought that our family had grown permanent roots in Lynchburg, Virginia. Now, a year later, we are moving to Front Royal, Virginia, where I will be close enough to drive into the office regularly rather than working from home as often as I have for the past couple of years.

We will miss Lynchburg. We’ll miss my flexible work arrangements. And we will miss the friends we have made here in Lynchburg. But God is moving us on to new adventures, new friends, and a new location.

We’re ready for the adventure to begin.

House hunting again

Y esterday we spent the entire day in the Front Royal, Va., area looking for a house to rent. It turned out to be a positive day. We looked at four houses and submitted applications to rent two of them. Of course, we don’t actually need two houses, but we are out of time to find a place to live and thought that maybe applying for two houses at once, in spite of the additional processing fees, would give us more of a chance of avoiding homelessness in about a week and a half.

The Indian Store’s teepee

Both of the houses we applied for are nice and we could definitely see our family living in either of them.

David at the Afton Mts. Overlook

They are very different from each other; our real estate agent seemed a bit confused as to why we would apply for two houses that were seemingly so very different. But we are not looking for the things most families look for in houses. Our needs are quite different from others’ needs, due primarily to our son’s medical issues. And we simply are looking for the house that will bring the most glory to God while providing us with our need of shelter.

The area we are looking for houses in is quite a distance from Lynchburg. It takes essentially all day to simply drive there and back, so we try to leverage our trips there to get as much accomplished as possible. And this trip was no different—we expected to spend all day with our agent looking at houses. But we actually found two houses with “For Rent” signs in front of them along the road on our way to Front Royal. We stopped and called the owners to set up appointments to see those houses as soon as we saw them. Then we continued on into town and met up with our agent. By early afternoon we had looked at the houses and put in two applications. We then met with a friend of my parents who thought he might be able to help us find a house to rent.

David jumping from rock to rock
with Kim waiting patiently in the background

We ended up leaving to head back to Lynchburg a good bit earlier than we had originally planned. We decided to stop at the Indian Store along the side of the highway so David could get out, play a bit, and see some of the cool stuff those stores tend to sell. It was a nice break in the trip, allowing us to stretch our legs and walk around a bit. We took another break at the Afton Mountains roadside overlook to get some more slight exercise. These two stops helped break the trip into manageable segments and made the trip more pleasant.

We are hoping that this will be the last trip we have to make until we hear that we need to come to do a walk-through of the home we will be renting. So now we wait ... and pray.

Show your strength, Lord, so that we may sing and praise your power.
—Psalm 21:13

Current events - the News in Summary

This is amazingly creative and fun.

August 07, 2009

Perpetuum Jazzile - Aquarela Do Brasil

Ultimate wedding dance

I don’t know if their marriage will survive the test of time. But they’re gonna have a blast while it lasts.

August 06, 2009

Striving together in prayer



ou’re not in it alone.

I have been convinced in recent days of the necessity for Christians to show love to one another. This may sound like an obvious thing, but I don’t think we do such a good job at it.

I have been somewhat self-focused for the past few months as we have struggled with finding a new home to live in. But along the way, many of my Christian brothers and sisters have gone through severe trials as well. Close friends of mine have made emergency trips to the hospital, others have gone through surgery, some have lost their jobs, some have seen severe illness hit multiple immediate family members at the same time. If I remain focused on myself, I am not able to encourage those friends and I forget to hold them up before the throne of grace.

James 1:2-7

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

My friend Meg McGinnis has been going through some tough times recently. She has written about it on her blog, Meg’s Journey. Meg posted a recent article in which she discussed The Testing of Our Faith. She quotes James 1:2–7 in that post. This is a great encouragement and something we all need to remember as we go through our own trials.

And then we need to remember to take the time to encourage others and to pray for them. I think it actually helps us to realize that others are in need of our support, our encouragement, our prayers, and our love.

Strategic actions causing sincere confusion

I have been a Sarah Palin fan ever since she burst onto the public scene when John McCain selected her as his presidential campaign running mate. I was not particularly interested in John McCain as a candidate. I have not been particularly thrilled with the Republican Party for quite some time. I am appalled at most of what I see from the Democrat Party.

But Sarah Palin seemed to me to be a breath of fresh air—primarily because she doesn’nt follow the expected course for a politician; she actually seems to care more about the people she is serving than her own political ambitions. This I applaud.

The American Thinker has published Palin and the Battle for the GOP’s Soul, an article analyzing Sarah Palin’s potential impact on the political world. It’s worth a read.

Beyond all expectation

Ephesians 3:14—21

I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.

August 04, 2009

Another hit

It is 10:47 AM and we have just been informed that we will not be able to rent the home in Front Royal that we were hoping to rent. Our landlords have told us that we must vacate the house we are living in by August 20. That gives us two weeks to find a house, get approval, and complete our move.

Please pray.

Update - 3:00 pm

Matthew 6:16-18

And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

I had a talk with my father and he shared with me Matthew 6:18, “Your father who sees in secret will reward you.” After I finished talking to my father, I looked up the verse in its context. This is a very well-known passage (The Sermon on the Mount), so I was quite familiar with it already, but I needed to read it again.

Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ. I have looked at this concept from only one side until the past year or so—that it is not up to us to force our convictions on other Christians. But until recently I have ignored the flip side of this issue—that we are not supposed to do our good deeds in front of others in order to show what great Christians we are.

I have recently been more and more convicted of this aspect of the personal relationship nature of Christianity. But my father directed me to this verse for an entirely different reason—to point out that God knows.

Ephesians 8:26-27
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

He knows our needs. We are to ask him to meet our needs and we are to solicit the prayers of others. But God knows. In fact, God knows much better than we know. And he knows much better than the multitude of praying saints that we may be able to engage in praying for our unique situation.

According to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the Holy Spirit fills in the gaps in our prayers, praying for things that we don’t even know how to pray for. Who could possibly be a better prayer partner in a time of need than God himself?

In that letter to the Ephesian believers, Paul goes on to say (in the well-known verse 28): “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

This will all work out in the end. And my heavenly Father who loves me enough to send his Son to die for me will make it work out to my good. The darkness will lift. I will see Jesus’ lovely, and loving, face.

By whose power are you living?

Amos 9:9

For behold, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall to the earth.


t is very important to be able to distinguish between things that differ, for appearances are not to be relied upon. Things which seem to be alike may actually be the opposite of each other. A scorpion may be like an egg and a stone like a piece of bread, but they are far from being the same. Like may be very unlike. This is especially the case in spiritual things, and therefore it behooves us to be on our guard.

It would be very difficult to say how far a man may go in religion and yet die in his sins. He may very well look like an heir of heaven and yet be a child of wrath. Many unconverted men have a belief which is similar to faith, and yet it is not true faith. Certain people exhibit pious affections which have the warmth of spiritual love but are quite destitute of gracious life. Every grace can be counterfeited, even as jewels can be imitated. As paste gems are wonderfully like the real stones, so sham graces are marvelously like the work of the Spirit of God. In soul matters a man will need to have all his wits about him, or he will soon deceive his own heart. It is to be feared that many are already mistaken and will never discover their delusion until they lift up their eyes in the world of woe where their disappointment will be terrible indeed.

The dead child of nature may be carefully washed by his mother, but this will not make him a living child of grace. The life of God within the soul creates an infinite difference between the man who has it and the man who does not. The point is to make sure that we have this life. Are you sure that you have it?

It will be an awful thing to cry, “Peace, peace,” where there is no peace and to falsely prophesy smooth things for yourself. This may make your heart easy, but it could lull your conscience into a slumber. You might never wake out of the deep until a clap of the thunder of judgment shall startle you out of presumption into endless horror.

I desire to help my reader in the business of self–examination. I actually want him to go further than examination. He needs to realize that he can attain such an abundance of grace that his holy and happy state shall become a witness to himself.

[This article] is meant to be a sieve to separate the chaff from the wheat. Let my reader use it upon himself. It may be the best day’s work he has ever done. He who looked into his accounts and found that his business was a losing one [dollar] was saved from bankruptcy. This may happen also to my reader. Should he, however, discover that his heavenly trade is prospering, it will be a great comfort to him. No man can ever lose by honestly searching his own heart. Friend, try it at once.

According to Promise, C. H. Spurgeon

August 02, 2009

We are commiting it to God

Psalm 37:4–5

Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.

Laying fear aside, Lord, we commit our way to you. Act as you will to bring glory to your name.

August 01, 2009

Blog Header - August 2, 2009

I took this photo at the Lynchburg Market last year. These hot peppers look so good and I thought the font on the blog title fit the hot pepper theme. God’s products sure are beautiful, aren’t they?

Perpetuum Jazzile - Mas Que Nada