Photos: Fishing with Dad

Dad took me fishing while we were in VA for the Christmas holidays.  We went out past the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, some 17 miles out.  The striper were hitting the bait fish on the surface, and we caught several.  My biggest was this 37 inch, 18 pound striper caught on a shad lure.  Thanks for the fun, Dad!

Game: First Impressions of Hansa

Eric and Karen also bought us the board game Hansa.  It's a buying and selling sort of game set in the 15th century Baltic cities.  The primary challenge of the game never having enough resources to do everything I want to do.  The rules are not really that hard, but they are a bit difficult to pick up.  We spent our first game just getting used to the mechanics.  I don't think my 7 year old could pick up this game. 

The game itself is both fun and challenging, but it is short-term, since you can't do much to prepare for the future.  And you can't even plan your next turn, since the board will probably change as the other players move.

Rating:  good game.

Game: First Impressions of For Sale

Eric and Karen bought us the card game For Sale for Christmas.  It's both simple and short.  The game has 2 phases.  The first uses a bidding mechanism to buy houses; the second uses a bluffing mechanism to sell them.  The mechanics are simple enough that my 5 year old should be able to learn, but there's enough complexity to keep adults thinking.  It looks to be both a great game for the whole family and for introducing non-gamer friends to the genre of German games.

Game: Keesdrow Deluxe

A friend bought our family Keesdrow Deluxe as a Christmas present.  We sat down today as a family to play it.  It's essentially Scrabble meets Boogle.  If you like making works like Boogle on a board that looks like Scrabble, you'll like this game.

Testing Windows Live Writer (Beta)

Although I own my own domain, I blog using Blogger, which makes posting my blog entries very easy.  The default way to post is to log in at the Blogger website and use their web-based editor.  But web-based editors like this are usually short on features, not to mention inconvenient.  What I need is a blog editor that is its own Windows program.

For the last couple years I've used w.bloggar.  It's ok.  It works.  But it's quirky to say the least.  And probably 20% of the time it tells me it can't submit the post to my website.  I have no idea why.  Maybe it's not even w.bloggar's fault, but it sure is annoying.  So I've been on the lookout for a new editor.

Then I found Windows Live Writer.  It's a new blog editor from Microsoft.  Although designed to work with Live Spaces, it works with a variety of other blogs as well.  So I'm giving it a try.  So far so good. 

Now let's see if this baby can actually publish to my blog...

Studies in James

I continue to study and write my way through the book of James. I'm writing my own Sunday School curriculum for the book, and then I'm teaching from it. I've finished through chapter 3. Hmmm, 18 lessons to get through 3 chapters - that's not exactly your typical Sunday School quarterly. But then, that's the point. ;-)

Photo: Jacen and Halo 2

We had some friends over recently, a family with two girls (plus one more that tagged along). Somehow Jacen persuaded all three of them to play Halo 2 with him. Unbelievable. But even 1-on-3 he took them. That's my boy!

Challenges to truth

John MacArthur sums up the challenges to truth from the last 45 years:
  • 60's & 70's - Inerrancy - The Bible has errors, said the liberals.

  • 80's & 90's - Sufficiency - The Bible needs help, said the charismatics and the Christian psychologists

  • late 90's & earlier 00's - Relevance - The Bible is not a priority, said the seeker-sensitivers.

  • 00's - Perspicuity - The Bible is unclear so truth is unneeded, said the emergant churchers.
Read the entire article, then look for more articles on the Emerging Church on his website, Pulpit Magazine.

Oyster dressing

Ok, I'm going to brag on my wife a bit. You see, yesterday was Thanksgiving, and Ann made the most yummiest oyster dressing. I think she's surpassed even my mom's skills in this area. But here's the coolest part about the dressing: Ann makes it even though I'm the only one who likes it. Neither she nor the kids care for oysters, so when she puts in the extra time to make it, she's doing it for just one person. Plus, she still has to make cornbread dressing for everyone else. My wife's the best.

Oyster Dressing

1 stick butter
1 onion -- chopped
5 stalks celery -- chopped
14 ounces pepperridge farm stuffing
1 can oysters -- chopped
1/4 cup parsley, fresh
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 eggs
6 cups turkey stock

Melt one stick of butter and saute in onion and celery. In a large bowl, mix pepperridge farm stuffing with water on package. Add fresh oysters. Add parsley, basil, sage, salt, paprika, eggs. Mix well. Add turkey stock. Add enough to make stuffing sloppy. Stuff turkey and bake as per turkey directions. Put remainder of dressing in casserole and bake one hour.

If only my husband were better...

Ok, read this blog post about one lady's experience in a Bible study where the wives were complaining about their husbands. This raises an interesting question. Given that all husbands are bad--whether it's a small bad like leaving dirty laundry on the floor or a big bad like beating them when drunk--does a bad husband make a wife sin? Of course this works equally well the other way around--does a bad wife make a husband sin? In fact, we can ask this of any relationship. Does a bad parent make a child sin? Does a bad boss make an employee sin? Does a bad neighbor make a neighbor sin?

Do you want the Bible's answer? Here it is: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." (2 Pe 1:2-3, NASB95) In Christ we have everything we need for godliness. A godly wife is a great asset to my godliness, but she's not required. Godly children are a great asset to my godliness, but they are not required. A godly boss and godly neighbors and so on are all wonderful, but they are not required. No one around me can make me sin. The Bible forbids this type of blame-shifting that permeates our culture (even our Christian culture). So where does the blame for my sin reside?

Here's the Bible answer: "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders." (Mt 15:18-19, NASB95) My sin is the result of my own wicked heart. And this is why I need the gospel. And so we find that Christine's conclusion is absolutely correct: "Being conformed into the likeness and image of Christ, living the gospel daily, and removing selfish pride from your life is essentially the ulitmate preparation to living with and respecting and loving a husband."


Around here they've introduced a new seasonal drink - maple frappuccino. Who knew that putting pancake syrup in coffee could be so good?

Emmy's kindergarten graduation

Emmy finished kindergarten this week, so on Thursday we had a small graduation ceremony and celebration. Dad and Mary and our intern friends, the Shaws, came over for the event. Ann prepared a short program where Emmy had to demonstrate some math, grammar, and reading skills. The finale was quoting several verses from Hebrews 11. Then we had some snacks and opened a few presents. I'm very proud of both my daugher's learning and my wife's teaching.

Scripture Memory

Is God prompting you to memorize more Scripture? Here's an approach to extended memorization of Scripture by Dr. Davis, the pastor at First Baptist in Durham, NC.

Studies in James

I'm continuing to study through the New Testament book of James and write curriculum for use in Sunday School. I've finished through chapter two.

Greek meets a homeschool schedule

I'm teaching my son Greek. Yep, a 7-year old is learning koine Greek. Not that we really much of a choice. If Ann or I knew Spanish or French or German, we'd teach him that. But the only language either of us knows at all is Greek, so that's what he gets. We began studying nouns this week, but I quickly realized Jacen didn't know what subjects, direct objects, and indirect objects are. That's a problem. He can't translate out of Greek into English if he doesn't know where to put the nouns. And that's where homeschooling is once again so cool. I simply went to Ann and asked that she shift his grammar schedule to start working on this. Between the two of us, he'll be translating the nouns in no time. Nice.

CueCard - flash card software

One of the "benefits" of going back to school is taking tests. Most classes at the master's level have just a midterm and a final. To help study for tests that are primarily short-answer, I wrote StudyMatch, which is a poor man's version of using flash cards. Last week a friend of mine pointed out a better piece of software called CueCard. It does everything my software does and then some. I recommend it.

Photos: Stone Mountain

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I added some photos of our trip to Stone Mountain State Park west of here in NC. We went back in August, but I was a bit slow posting the pics.


Ann and I were awoken at 5am this morning by a shaking bed. It startled us, but didn't really terrify us. Nothing was knocked off the walls or broken. It felt like a strong person shook our bed or a train drove by our building. Despite the fact that we've never felt an earthquake before, we knew that's what it was. The USGS agrees:

USGS details
USGS map

Teaching the book of James

I've been writing my own Sunday school material as I teach the book of James. I'm creating both a teacher's guide (the content to be taught) and a student's guide (preparation for interested students). I've finished the first chapter. You can either click on Bible in the menu above or click here.

How People Change

"How People Change" by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp is an excellent book that every Christian should read. It describes the biblical process of change (sanctification) in such a way that everyone can understand God's plan. It reveals that God is not satisfied with merely changing behavior, but he wants to change our heart as well. It is especially good at looking at how people change during the difficult situations in life.

Paper airplanes

Need to know how to build a paper airplane? Try this site. Lots of designs with written and video instructions.


They say you don't miss something until it's gone. I think we've experienced that this weekend. The water main in front of our condo sprung a leak, which forced the city to turn off all the water to our building until it's fixed. You don't realize all the things you use water for until you have none: washing dishes, putting in contacts, cleaning the table, doing the laundry, taking a shower, brushing teeth, making mac-n-cheese, brewing coffee, rinsing hands after peeling a peach, and on and on. Hopefully they'll get it fixed soon.

Photo: Whistling

Last week Emmy figured out how to whistle. Needless to say, she goes about the house all day whistling. Even better, no doubt, is the fact that her older brother can't whistle right now--he's still missing his two front teeth.

Photos: Overlooking the Mississippi River

On our drive back from TX to NC, we stopped at the Mississippi Welcome Center on I-20. Overlooking the river was a cannon, or more accurately a 42-pound rifled gun from Civil War times (according to the nearby sign). For our kids, the more accurate word is "climbing apparatus."

Photos: Playground in TX

Kathy (Ann's sister-in-law) took the kids to an indoor playground in Longview, TX. They had converted an old grocery store into a huge version of one of those playgrounds you find at Chik-fil-A or MacDonalds. They had a blast swinging and climbing and running around.

The Swedish Chef

Remember the Swedish Chef on the Muppets? Someone has uploaded a bunch of videos of the Chef to Google.

Dell gone nuts

Tuesday morning I was working on a briefing on D. A. Carson's book "Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church," an excellent evaluation of this doctrinally-deficient movement. Just after lunch, my Inspiron 5100 laptop got a blue screen of death. I attempted to reboot, but Windows couldn't find my hard drive. Even more telling, I was hearing unexpected clicking noises from my hard drive. This is always a really bad sign. I ran the built-in Dell diagnostics, and sure enough it said my hard drive was dead.

We know that it's never a matter of *if* your computer will fail, but *when.* Did I have a backup system? Yes! I use Second Copy to backup our files between our various computers. It's set to make an identical copy every two hours. Did it work? Yes! I only lost about 45 minutes of work, which I was able to reproduce. This $30 utility is worth every penny, especially if you have two computers in your house. Still, I'm thinking about buying a NAS, if I can find an inexpensive wireless one.

Then the fun began. A new hard drive was only $60 from Dell, which isn't too bad considering that this is an older computer. The site said that the drives usually ship in 3 to 5 weeks. That's longer than I would like, but it was acceptable since I have other computers that I can use. So I placed the order. Then we got the confirmation, which said the expected shipping date was 4 Dec 06! Yikes! That's not 3 to 5 weeks, that's 3 to 5 months! I googled around for a bit, but I couldn't find anyone else who sold the older hard drive that I needed, so I resigned myself to being without that laptop for a while. It wasn't that big of a deal, since I have a newer Inspiron 9300 laptop that Calvary gave me last year. I began installing all the software I need on it (stuff like Outlook and GAIM). This morning we got another email from Dell: the hard drive has already shipped. Sigh. How do they go from such extremes? I guess their ability to estimate has just gone nuts.

Photos: Beirut

We have recently returned from a trip to Beirut, leaving just before things got really "interesting." Look at our photos and read our journal.

Photo: 4th of July

Ann's father bought a nifty set of fireworks which we set off in his front yard on the 4th. The kids thoroughly loved the sparklers.

Home Again

We just in got from TX this afternoon. Thank you to Ann's Dad for dropping us off this morning and to fellow intern Tim Shaw for picking us up. We're glad to be back.

Photos: Fun in Ore City

We've had a fun and busy day today, including playing in the pool in Ann's parent's backyard and trying out the new playground built in town. Take a look at the photos on Flickr.

Photos: Border Collie

Ann's parents have a new dog, a border collie. She was an instant favorite with my daughter (surprise, surprise). She's also a lot of fun, deftly able to catch balls, frisbees, and other toys out of the air. I set Ann up with the camera and she was able to catch a new picture of Brandy catching a frisbee.


We got up at 4am on Saturday and began the long drive to TX. It took us just less than 17 hours, which included many pitstops, lunch, and dinner. That wasn't too bad, all things considered.

Several things made the trip go by fast:

1) We hooked our laptop up to the power convertor for a make-shift DVD player, which kept the kids busy for three hours. Tim, my fellow intern at Calvary, had the great idea of letting the kids use headphones to watch the movie. He loaned me an audio splitter, so Jacen and Emmy each got their own. This freed Ann and I to be able to talk up front.

2) Early in the week Ann downloaded "Robinson Crusoe" as an audio book on MP3. I burned it to 3 audio discs, and the kids listened to the first third of the book. That was another great idea that burned lots of time.

3) This was the first time I'd traveled to TX since the speed limits have been increased. Every state from NC to TX now allows 70 MPH on at least some parts of the interstate.

That strangest thing we saw was a couple of roadsigns in Birmingham: "Pollution levels high: please drive less." What? What do they expect people in Birmingham to do? "Gee, honey, the pollution's high, let's not go buy any groceries today."

Anyhow, we're glad to be in Texas for a few days visiting with Ann's family.

Photos: Swimming

Our condo complex has a small pool, and the weather has warmed up enough in the last couple of weeks to let us go swimming. It's often a challenge to find times when it's relatively free of other swimmers, but mid-day and later in the evening seem to work pretty well. It's a great way to play with the kids, get some exercise, and wear the kids out. :-)

Photos: Blackberries

We recently discovered a number of wild blackberry bushes growing not far from our condo. We've had family fun the last few days fighting thorns and tromping through mud to fill up little buckets with these tart berries. The reward, of course, is in the eating. One of the many wonderful things about Ann is her culinary talents. She has made 6 quarts of blackberry jelly, which we'll be enjoying for months. And let's not forget the blackberry cobbler. Yummy!

Cancel the Account

If you're looking for a good reason not to use AOL, here's a video of one as shown on NBC.

Dad's Wedding

I'm still behind in my blogging. Just over a week ago we went down to Greenville, SC for Dad's wedding. It was a very nice ceremony, and my father's now happily married. Brandon was jumping up and down during one of the prayers, but otherwise nothing too exciting happened. Someone made them a wedding cake that was cheesecake, and oh boy was that yummy. All-in-all it was a good trip. I've posted a few pictures on my Flickr site.

Emmy's 5th Birthday

I'm behind on my blogging, but now that the wedding and finals are over, perhaps I can catch up. Last week Emmy turned 5! I took her out for breakfast (Panera Bread has some yummy things to eat in the morning), we opened presents, and later we had a birthday party. Overall it was a nice for our growing young lady. You can find some pictures over on my Flick site.

Photo: Jacen's Third Tooth

Jacen and I were wrestling last week and kapow! I knocked out his third tooth. The picture is on Flicker.


Today I finished chapter four, and only chapter five remains. This has been a very rewarding study.


Things are progressing in my study of Galatians. This morning I finished chapter three. Feel free to use this work in any manner that helps you understand this delightful book.

The Bride of Jesus

One of the many lies in Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" was that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. "The early Church needed to convince the world that the mortal prophet Jesus was a divine being. Therefore, any gospels that described earthly aspects of Jesus' life had to be omitted from the particularly troubling earthly theme kept recurring in the gospels. Mary Magdalene...more specifically, her marriage to Jesus Christ." (p244) There are two ways that we know this assertion is a lie. First, there is no historical evidence of this marriage. No gospels, no history, and no church father recorded or even discussed a marriage of Jesus. It's part of the fiction of his book. Second, there is a theological problem. Now I've heard some theologians say that if Jesus were married, that would be no big deal. In particular, Darrell Bock, a professor at DTS, has said "...if Jesus had been married it wouldn't touch the theology one bit. Jesus is 100 percent human. Had he been married and had he had children, all it would have done would have been to reflect his engagement with his humanity--but I just don't think historically there's any evidence that Jesus was married." I was talking about this point with Pastor Gilbert last week, and he brought up an excellent point. Jesus could not have been married to Mary Magdalene. Why not? Because he's already got a bride!

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, Write, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are true words of God. (Rev 19:7-9 NASB95)

The bride of Jesus is his church, the one he is sanctifying to present to himself without spot or wrinkle (Eph 5:26-27). If Jesus had married, he would have been a polygamist. But he wasn't. He's waiting for me!

Light Saber Duel

Star Wars fan? You gotta check out this duel.

Photos: At the park

The winter was mild and summer's come early. We've had many days in the 80's already. I've uploaded a couple pictures of the kids at the park.


My studies in Galatians are continuing. You can now find my observations and interpretations through 3:18.

Spiritual Leadership

I have added a new paper to my list of point papers. It is a brief survey of ten selected passages that have implications and lessons for those who desire to be spiritual leaders.


I've just finished reading two biographies, C.S. Lewis and D.L. Moody. Both are part of the "Heroes of the Faith" series published by Barbour Publishing. These are rather short books, only 200 pages or so, so they move quickly and give a nice overview of their lives. I enjoyed reading both; in fact, I enjoyed them so much I'm thinking about changing my name to J.P. Garriss.

Virus Alert

Have you been infected with the calvinist virus? Read here for details.


I continue to work through Galatians, and the first nine verses of chapter 3 have been posted. I've started uploading these as PDF files to make sure more people can read them.

Multi-generational Faithfulness

Got kids? Then you need to listen to two sermons by evangelist Voddie Baucham on multi-generational faithfulness. The gist of the sermon idea is this: how do parents pass their faith in Jesus on to their children?

To download the MP3 sermons, go to this church's website, scroll down and look for the two sermons entitled "multi-generational faithfulness." They are not listed right next to each other.

Is church about technology?

In an interview with Church Production magazine, Chris Hinkle, the director of media engineering at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano TX, said:

"The pastors and leadership that realize that they are technically driven are the churches that are going to flourish, because people are technically driven. If they weren't, we wouldn't be watching the movies that we watch. People go to the movies to see the incredible effects. It's not so much the story line anymore; it's how exciting the movie is going to be. Technology is really driving a lot of the things in our society, and the church that embraces that - not to dilute the message, but to enhance the message - is a church that is going to move forward."

Three subtle mindsets concern me:

1) A church must be technically driven in order to flourish. Not driven by obedience to God's leading. Not driven by preaching the Word. Not driven by evangelism or missions or discipleship. Driven by technology. I agree that such a church might flourish numerically, but I wonder if it will flourish spiritually.

2) Church should be exciting. Movies are not about the story, they're about the excitement, and the implication is that church is the same way. It's not about worshipping God; it's about seeing how exciting the "Sunday morning show" is going to be. Church has become entertainment. Where do I buy a ticket?

3) The message of the cross can be enhanced, and in fact it needs to be enhanced. Oh my! This is dangerous. Paul said he would not enhance the message when he preached it (1 Cor 1:17, 2:1-1). Why? Because enhancing the message is the same as diluting it - it makes the cross of Christ powerless!

Photo: The ladies in my life

One new picture on Flickr of the ladies in my life.

The Me Church

We live in a consumer-driven society, and this mindset has infiltrated the way many Christians think. Church is less about "how can I serve others?" and more about "what do I get out of it?" Here's a video that illustrates; click on the picture of the couple holding the baby:

The Me Church

Spiritual Gift Assessment Tests

I have recently been doing some research on the various means to assess one's spiritual gifts. Far and away the popular mechanism is through a spiritual gift assessment test. The user answers a large number of questions, and the results tabulate their most likely spiritual gifts.

What has been more interesting to read is the undercurrent of those who place little to no value on these assessments. There are a number of different criticisms:

1) The Bible makes no mention of spiritual gift assessment tests. Although believers are commanded to use their gifts in service, they are never commanded to test themselves to determine their gifts.

2) Spiritual gift assessment tests do not truly assess spiritual gifts. If they did, one would assume that a non-believer who took the test would score a zero, as they have no spiritual gifts. And new believers who took the test would presumably score near zero, as they have not yet matured their gifts.

3) Spiritual gift assessment test are actually "spiritualized" personality tests; there is a fair amount of overlap with personality tests such as Myers-Briggs and DISC. It has been argued that spiritual gift assessment tests are attempting to utilize the humanistic theories from Carl Jung and others.

Those who do not approve of spiritual gift assessments offer a number of alternatives. A believer's gifts can be ascertained by their experiences as they serve among the church, their desires to serve, and their God-given opportunities to serve. The gifts can be confirmed by the results of their service and by the confirmation of mature believers. It's easy to see why these types of assessments are not used much. One, they are quite a bit more subjective. An assessment test gives you a convenient, objective score in 30 minutes. Two, they take a lot more time. A believer would actually have to be serving for some number of months or years before his gift could be assessment. And if this time of service were repeated to assess each of the gifts…oh my! Three, they rely upon experiences, and conservative leaders tend to shy away from basing objective reality upon an individual's experiences.

These alternatives are interesting, and it would probably be productive to study the Bible in greater detail to determine if it condones such ideas. If Scriptural authority is found, it would then be helpful to organize these thoughts into a format useful for churches and believers.

ESV - A modern Bible translation in the KJV tradition

I found an interesting page on the ESV's website. It gives a quick overview of the two dominant translation theories, and then it discusses various translations and how they compare to the ESV. Naturally, they leave the distinct impression that the ESV is the best translation ever, but it is their website after all. :-) Nevertheless they do an accurate job of representing the different translations. If you're interested in various Bible translations, take a look:

For it's worth, I use ESV during my study time, although the NASB is my preferred study translation. The ESV is a fine translation, and IMHO it would be especially good for someone who was raised in the KJV tradition but is looking for a newer and more accurate translation.

All I want for Christmas...

Our kids continue to grow. On Thursday Jacen lost his first tooth. Photos coming...

Office to PDF

Although I have the latest version of MS Office, I'm aware that not everyone does. So I'm going to convert some of my files to PDF format, which makes them more universally accessible. But here's the catch: Acrobat costs several hundred dollars, and I don't have that kind of money. Solution? PrimoPDF. It converts Office files (and others) into PDF. My initial tests reveal that it does a good job. So if you need to create PDF, check it out.


I've finished through chapter 2 in my study of the book of Galatians. This is the end of the section on Paul's defense of his apostleship by special revelation. I've also posted my historical context of the book. Take a look in the Galatians section if you're interested.

Inductive Bible Study

Part 4 of the tutorial has been posted; this one is on application. If you're interested, visit the tutorials section.


I'm continuing to study my way through the book of Galatians. I'm translating the book while doing lexical, grammatical, and syntactical analysis. I'm also providing an interpretation based upon my study and upon some excellent commentaries from Longenecker, George, MacArthur, and Bruce. I've finished through most of chapter 2 (and done a bit of 6), so if you're interested, take a look at the Galatians section.

Spiritual Leadership Book

Over a year ago I read Oswald Sander's book "Spiritual Leadership." It's a great book, describing what a spiritual leader does. It was my favorite book on the subject, but now I've found one even better. I'm reading Henry & Richard Blackaby's book "Spiritual Leadership." It describes not so much what a spiritual leader does as how a spiritual leader thinks. Here are three quotes: "Ultimately leadership is more about 'being' than about 'doing.' Leadership development is synonymous with personal development." [31] "The greatest area of concern for spiritual leaders is their hearts. When God sees people with righteous lives, he may exercise his prerogative to show himself strong in their lives in order to accomplish his divine will." [46] "God does not ask his followers to operate by vision. God's people live by revelation...Vision is something people produce; revelation is something people receive. Leaders can dream up a vision, but they cannot discover God's will. God must reveal it...It is critical for leaders to walk closely with the Father, so they are keenly aware of his revelation and are ready to respond in obedience to his initiative." [69-71]. Wow! I wonder how many pastors think like this.

Inductive Bible Study

Part 3 of the tutorial has been posted; this one is on interpretation. If you're interested, visit the tutorials section.

Was Phoebe a deaconess?

I've attempted to answer this and a few other questions from Romans 16. There are also a couple PowerPoint slides with structural diagrams (a technique to highlight the structure of the text). Visit the section on Romans if you're interested.

Of obligations and God's glory

I've done a bit more studying in Romans, this time looking at the first half of chapter 15. It wraps up Paul's discussion about the obligations of the strong to the weak by showing how the whole matter can bring glory to God. If interested, look on the menu at the left or click here.

Web shopping: Books-a-million vs Wal-mart

For Christmas we a got a nice gift certificate to Books-a-million's website. So we selected 4 CD's of acapella hymns from Glad and Acappella. Total, it's going to take Books-a-million over 3 weeks to deliver them. In contrast, when I've ordered books and CD's from Wal-mart's website, it usually arrives within a week. Don't get me wrong, I love getting free CD's (thank you Scooter and Cricket!), but Wal-mart sure seems to figured out this whole efficiency thing a lot better.

Want to hear samples of the music we're getting? Try here:

Glad's The Acapella Project
Glad's Acapella Hymns

Acappella's Hymns for all the World
Acappella's Hymns for all the Ages

Hmmm, why does Glad spell acapella with 1 'p' and Acappella spell their name with 2?

Inductive Bible Study

I've posted part 2 of my tutorial in Inductive Bible Study. If you're interested in learning how to study your Bible better, look to the "tutorials" section on the left or click here.

Family news

Two big news items from recent weeks. First, my father is engaged. Through some mutual friends, he met a woman from South Carolina, Mary Holovar, and they hit it off right away. The wedding is planned for May.

Second, well, the picture of my nephew says it all.

Of obstacles and stumbling blocks

I attended a teachers' meeting at Calvary last night, and there was discussion on what is meant by "obstacles" and "stumbling blocks" in Rom 14:13. I did a bit of study and wrote a short paper on the subject. If you're interested, check out the link to Romans on the left or click here.

Who is the lion?

I'm reading "The Chronicles of Narnia" to my children. [Soapbox: To those of you who are parents of young kids, let me suggest that reading good stories to your children is a most wonderful way to spend time with them. If you do, make sure you read expressively and act out parts of the story; that makes it come alive.] We just finished "The Magician's Nephew" tonight. At one part in the story there is a singing lion. When the lion sings, things come into being, things like grass, flowers, trees, stars, and other animals. I asked my kids, "who is the lion?" Jacen spoke up first and said, "It's Aslan." You see, he had read part of the next book, and so he knew the lion's name. He gave the right answer, but Emmy gave a better answer. She said, "It's God." I was stunned at her perception (the books is an allegory, and the lion does indeed represent God) and asked, "why do you think that?" She replied, "because only God can create." Wow! Talk about out of the mouth of babes! Is this not exactly what the Bible says?

Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all. (Mk 10:15)

Photos: From the birthday party with friends

We had Jacen and Emmy's friends over for some cake and ice cream. Check out more pictures from his 7th birthday party. And, yes, I am amazed that he's 7 already. It seems like it was just yesterday...

Inductive Bible Study

There are a number of good books on Inductive Bible Study (IBS) techniques. I read and studied a number of them last fall, and as a result I've begun creating a tutorial in PowerPoint on how to study the Bible. I've posted the first of 4 installments in my point papers section. Help yourself.

Photos of Jacen's 7th birthday

Ok, I'm trying something new. Instead of only posting 1 photo of an event, I'm going to try and post many. But I'm not going to post them directly here. I've created an account with Flickr, a website that allows you to share photos. This will allow me to post many photos. So here's my first try: Jacen's 7th birthday party. Let me know what you think, plz.

Christmas Pics

I'm behind in my blogging. Here are two more pictures from Christmas day of the kids playing with their toys. Jacen still loves Legos and Emmy has discovered Polly Pockets, a small doll figure.


We celebrated Christmas day at our condo here in Winston-Salem. It was a nice day of opening presents, attending church (no, ours didn't wimp out like many churches; in fact, it was packed), hanging out with family, and playing with presents. It's wonderful to be able to spend a holiday with family. Jacen's favorite gifts were the two remote control cars he got. Emmy's was her Polly Pockets mini-dolls. I'll tell you about our (Ann and I) gift later.

Marble Run Again

Dad stopped by the week before Christmas and spent a couple hours building marble runs with the kids. They got a second run for a Christmas and more marbles. If you're wondering, 200 marbles going down a 5 foot marble run is really, really noisy.