Of GPS and Preaching

Dad gave us a GPS for Christmas this year, and we immediately put it to good use.  I had a opportunity to preach this morning at Enterprise Baptist Church near Lake Gaston, so we let the GPS guide us there and back.  Worked like a charm.  Thanks, Dad!

Fishing the James River

Thursday evening Dad took Josh and I fishing under the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel at the mouth of the James River.  It was a perfect night to fish.  When the tide started coming in, the stripers and shad were everywhere.  For a couple hours there we averaged catching a fish every third cast.  I stopped counting after I had caught 20, but I must have caught somewhere between 60 and 75 fish.  The shad we weren't allowed to keep, so they were all thrown back.  The stripers had to be 18 inches to keep.  Dad caught 2 keepers and Josh 1, but all the rest were thrown back.  Fun, fun, fun.

Red Killer Bunnies

We've been playing the Killer Bunnies card game for several years, but last week we finally got a chance to use it with the red expansion set. Much fun! A couple observations: 1) More powerful bunnies keep more bunnies on the table, giving reason to bring out bigger weapons. At one point we had the cyber bunny, the ebola virus, and the cruise missile all going. 2) Some cards reset the carrots, effectively resetting the game, making it much longer. We played with 3 people, and it took 2 hours. Over all it was lots of fun, and we're looking forward to playing with the other expansions.

Photos: Climbing Around Southeastern

The kids and I went to campus the other day to drop off some papers I was grading.  While there the kids went climbing all around.  I've added some photos of their climbing to our Flickr page, so enjoy.

Commentary on Ephesians

As I mentioned earlier, I've been studying Ephesians in my quiet time for the last several months.  I've now finished publishing my notes on chapter one, and I've posted them as a PDF file the New Testament section of the website.  It's around 50 pages of material, designed primarily for small group teachers, though it has a bit of original language material in it for a seminary student or seminary-trained pastor to use.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Photos: Graduation

Graduation was today, so I officially have an MDiv now.  I've posted a few pictures on our Flickr site.

Christmas newsletter for 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."  Proverbs 3:5-6. We started out the year with this as our key verse; God has used this verse throughout the year to show us we really have to trust in Him in every area of our lives.

We began the year with James working some with his old company, MITRE. We were also able to take a family skiing trip to West Va. with some friends. This was Emilee’s first time to ski, and she loved it. James and Jacen also had a great time skiing, but I spent my time scrap-booking in the nice warm lodge with my hot coffee. We then started the spring semester with James taking a full load in seminary, which required him to travel back to campus one day a week. He also continued his internship with Calvary Baptist Church, where he learned much from the pastoral staff and taught an ABF class. I continued to home-school the kids—Jacen in 3rd grade and Emilee in 1st—where they both enjoyed reading so much. Some days I have to take their reading books away from them so that we can get other work done.

We finished the semester in late May and then took a trip to Texas and Illinois to visit with family. During the summer James continued working at Calvary several days a week and also working again for MITRE. We were also able to take several day trips to state parks in the area, including Pilot Mountain (Or Mt Pilot for you Mayberry fans) and Stone Mountain. At Stone Mountain, Emilee split open her chin, giving us a chance to learn about the wonders of Dermabond. We were also visited several historical sites, learned how to mine for gold and gem stones and how to shoot a flint-lock musket, and learned how the railroad influenced our nation at a transportation museum.

In August we packed up our things and moved back to Wake Forest for one more semester and graduation. James took classes three days a week and also worked as a grader and substitute teacher for his preaching professor. Jacen started 4th grade, and James continued teaching him Greek. We have discovered that he knows Greek sentence structure better than English structure; it’s fun watching him transfer his knowledge from Greek to his English language book. Emilee started 2nd grade and has enjoyed improving her reading skills and math skills. I also worked at our church as the MOPPETS coordinator, where I helped write the curriculum and get supplies ready for the children of the mothers who came to MOPS.

This will be the end of our seminary time with James’ graduation December 14th. We are looking forward to Christmas, but most of all we are trusting in God to show us what we are to do next. We plan on staying in Wake Forest for now, waiting to see what God is going to do next.

Software for your personal library

One of the keys to being an effective pastor and preacher is having a strong theological library.  Dr. Akin has even put together a list of over 1,000 books that would be useful to any pastor, including his recommended commentaries for each book of the Bible.  So what would you do if you actually had a library that big?  How you keep track of what you owned?  Here's the results of one couple's journey for software to help them with their personal library.  If you've tried any of these, I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments.

Finals are over

Ok, I took my last final this morning.  That's it!  I'm done with my MDiv.  Nothing left to do but walk the isle on Fri.  Wow, these last 3.5 years have really flown by.

Online tests

Online tests are a growing phenomenon at Southeastern.  For the first time ever, all of my finals are online, and I love it that way!  Why do I love it?  One, because teachers are more flexible.  One teacher gave us 24 hours to the take his exam, another 48, and another a whole week.  This allows me to spread them out so they're not right on top of each other.  Two, because I can take the exam the moment I'm ready.  I'm really more of a morning person, so I can get up, do a final review, and then take the exam by 10am while I'm still fresh.  Kudos to Dr. Akin for moving us into the information age!

Two finals down, one to go.  Woohoo!

Homeschooling info

Ann's been homeschooling our kids for several years now, so she's frequently asked how she does it.  To simplify things, Ann's compiled a bunch of useful info, which we've added to our family website.  Look here.

Photos: Emmy's new haircut

Ann cut Emmy's hair short again, so here's the new look.  Personally, I think it makes her look somewhat like Lucy Pevensie.  I guess you can be the judge of that.

Stick Figures Fighting

Have you ever seen those movies on YouTube of stick figures fighting and skateboarding and stuff?  I found the software they use to make it:  Pivot Stickfigure Animator.  It's simple to install and simple to use, and in a matter of minutes you can have your own animated GIF of stick figures doing whatever you want.  Here's my first (and probably last) attempt, which took about 15 minutes.

No iMac for me

I've decided it's time to switch back to using Macs.  I was a Mac user during and just after college.  I switched to PCs as Windows got more stable and because I could build my own computers, getting better parts for the money.  But it's time to go back.  Why?  Two main reasons:  Vista and multimedia.  First, I'm not doing Vista; everything I read says it's busted junk.  Second, we live a multimedia world.  We've got pictures, videos, DVDs, and so on; the Mac world does that better right now.

So I went to the Apple Store in Crabtree Mall to buy an iMac with the newest version of OS X, called Leopard.  Wow, the sales guy was pushy.  Gotta get the warranty, gotta got .mac, gotta get training.  I resisted it all, and the look on his face implied I was a moron.  I wish they wouldn't train people to be like that. 

After I bought it, I asked him to help me fire it, just to make sure I didn't get a lemon.  As we were unpacking, the sales guy casually pointed out my Leopard upgrade disc.  They hadn't sold me an iMac with Leopard, they had sold me an iMac with Tiger (previous version of OS X) and an upgrade disc.  Obviously that didn't work for me; if I'm buying Leopard, I should get an original Leopard disc.  Upgrading operating systems is always a pain.  But they couldn't (or wouldn't).  It appears that they had old inventory to get rid of, so I was out of luck.  Well, I promptly returned the iMac and got a refund.


When I don't know a word, I look it up in a dictionary.  But not a paper dictionary:  how's 90's is that!  I've been using dictionary.com, but I've recently found a better site:  definr.com.  It's fast, and the interface is clean and simple.  I love it.

Commentary on Ephesians

I've been studying Ephesians in my quiet time for the last several months.  I'm in the process of taking the results of my study and publishing them online as a sort of mini-commentary.  Check it out in the NT section.  Use it freely if you find it helpful.

Photos: Gift Wrapping

With Ann out of town, the kids bought her a Christmas present and wrapped it themselves.

Photos: Decorating

Ann had to go out of town for a funeral, so the kids and I decided to do some decorating for Christmas.  This apartment is not the biggest place in the world, but we found room for a tree and more.

Falling into your own pit

Proverbs 26:27 says, "He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him" (NASB95).  If I were teaching on that proverb, I would have a great, modern-day illustration of it.

Church Polity

This week our church had a panel discussion featuring Dr. John Hammett, a theology professor at Southeastern.  The panel fielded various questions on church polity, how a local church is organized.  The model generally advocated by the panel is a church that is led by a plurality of elders, ruled by the congregation, and served by the deacons.  This is the model that our church follows, and is perhaps most notably advocated by Mark Dever at Capital Hill Baptist in books like Deliberate Church.

Personally, I don't find sufficient information in the New Testament to say with certainty that one model is more biblical.  There are so few applicable verses.  So that's why the following was the money quote of the discussion:  With the right people, any model will work; with the wrong people, no model will work.

Reforming Pastoral Ministry, ed John Armstrong

I've added this book to my LibraryThing collection.  Here's my review:  In short, this book discusses the role of preaching as it relates to many different aspects of pastoral ministry. It's a collection of writings from various authors, so the quality of work is expectedly uneven. Some of the better ones include Jim Elliff's chapter on the cure of souls, how a pastor serves his flock; David Hegg's chapter on building real fellowship in the church (potlucks do not equal fellowship); and Mark Dever's chapter on building an evangelism-minded church.

Red Robin

A new Red Robin restaurant was built just south of our campus while we were interning in Winston-Salem, so we decided to give it a try last night. It's basically a fancy burger place, so Ann tried the Santa Fe burger and I had a guacamole and bacon burger. (For some reason we didn't understand, the kids wanted spaghetti.) The toppings were really good, but for $9, we were left with one question: "Where's the beef?!?" There was surprising very little meat, and what there was tasted like those pre-formed, mystery-meat patties instead of real ground beef. So when we want to go out for a really good burger, I think we'll go to Fuddruckers instead.

Driscoll's talk

If you're interested in hearing what Mark Driscoll had to say at the Convergent Conference at SEBTS, you can find the audio here.


On Saturday we had a first: we ate bison. Ann and I went out to Ted's Montana Grill and tried our first bison in the form of short ribs. A mild gamey taste and somewhat expensive, but thoroughly yummy. Definitely worth trying if you get a chance.

The Convergent Conference

I attended the first day of the Convergent Conference here at Southeastern. It's designed to understand what's going on the emerging church, both good and bad.

The best talk of the day was definitely Mark Driscoll. It was very helpful to hear him explain the sharp distinctions in theology between himself and guys like Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and Doug Paget. If I had to summarize what he said: Driscoll believes the gospel; these other guys believe another gospel which is not the gospel (Gal 1:6-7).

The money quote belonged to Ed Stetzer: "Never preach a sermon that would not be true if Jesus has not died!" Those are words that every preacher and teacher should consider before standing before their people.

Photos: New Townhouse

We've arrived, moved in, and settled down. Everything finally is in its place, and our new townhouse is home. We're back in one of the seminary housing complexes; this one is 2-level townhouses. We were fortunate to get one of the 3-bedroom units, so the kids get their own rooms for a change. That's the best part of this place. The worse? Really small kitchen and no dishwasher. Still, it works well, and you can't beat the price. Take a look at some pictures of the new place.

Photos: Moving days

My internship in the Calvary School of Pastoral Leadership has finally come to an end, and so we've moved back to Southeastern's campus for my last semester. I've uploaded some photos of our move, the packing at the old condo and the unpacking in our new townhouse.

Photos: Gold and a soldier

The summer is wrapping up, and so is my work for MITRE and Calvary Baptist. Our family is taking advantage of this temporary lull to see the sights of central North Carolina. On Tues we went to the Reed Gold Mine, where gold was discovered in the state that led to the nation's first gold rush. On Wed we went Ft Dobbs, a small outpost built during the French and Indian War. Pictures of both are on our Flickr site.

New books

I've added 2 more books to my LibraryThing account. As my summer has slowed down and we prepare to move, I've enjoyed having a bit more time to read what I want to read. I've finished 8 books in the last month (ok, only 7, I didn't finish McCullough's John Adams), though most have been fairly short books.

Photos: Baseball on the 4th

We were trying to figure out the best place to see fireworks on the 4th when Ann saw an article on the Warthogs. The Warthogs are Winston-Salem's minor league baseball team, and they were showing fireworks after the game. So we bought some tickets online (about $10 a seat) and went to see the game. It was a lot of fun, especially since the Warthogs whooped-up on the opposing pitchers for 13 runs. The evening was cool, our seats were good (actually, there are no bad seats in this small stadium), and the fireworks were nice. What a great evening!

Photos: Houston, we have liftoff!

The soda bottle water rockets launched! Yesterday afternoon we went out to a nearby lot and fired over a dozen rockets. We primarily used the 1 pint Aquafina water bottles, and when filled about halfway with water, they would get at least 25 feet off the ground. Fun, fun, fun.

Soda Bottle Water Rocket

I've been reading the GeekDad blog recently, looking for cool ideas of things to do with my kids this summer.  I came across their entry for making soda bottle water rockets.  It looked simple, cheap, and fun.  So we hopped over to Wal-Mart to buy a bike pump and an inner-tube.  It took us a bit, but Ann and I finally built a cork that would fit snugly in the bottle.  We were sorta testing it out and, uh, well, we accidentally launched in the kitchen.  Ooops.  Got water everywhere.  But it worked!  I can't wait till we try it outside tomorrow.


Social networking sites are the rage these days. I already use Flickr to keep track of my photos, and now I'm using a new site to keep track of my books. It's called LibraryThing, and it lets me rate the books I read and comment on them. So if you want to see what I've been reading lately, click on "books" on the menu. And then go to LibraryThing to start your own free account.

Free Books

One of the pastors in our church is downsizing to a smaller home. Less cleaning for his wife; more free books for me, since the new house has less library space. What did I get? Several classics:
  • John Calvin's Institutes
  • FF Bruce's Paul: The Apostle of the Heart Set Free
  • Jay Adam's Competent to Counsel
  • Faith Bailey's George Mueller
  • AW Tozer's Pursuit of God
  • Francis Schaeffer's Escape from Reason

I also got books by Ravi Zacharias, CS Lewis, John MacArthur, and Elmer Towns. Now I just need time to read them all.

Tower Defense

Every once in a while I find a simple game with a simple idea that's wonderfully challenging and addicting. That describes Tower Defense. It's a Flash-based game that you play in your web browser, no installation required. If you play, enter your name and the group name "Garriss" when you finish, and you can compare your score to ours.

Maps for photos

Flickr has an option to associate photos with a map. So I found Hanging Rock State Park and associated those photos with them. If you want to see where we took the photos at, click on the word "map" under the picture.

Photos: Hanging Rock

One pleasant surprise that we've discovered in central North Carolina are the great state parks. They've got some really awesome places to go hiking for the day, up and down mountains with huge rocks jutting out into the sky. Yesterday we went to Hanging Rock State Park and went hiking as a family. We walked and climbed for 4 hours, and I think we went 6 to 7 miles total. We were wore out, but it was beautiful and a blast. Take a look at some of the pictures.

Done for the semester

I finished my last exam this week, so I'm officially done with my sixth semester of seminary. One more to go! These last two semesters have probably been my least favorite semesters, mostly because I've been taking Hebrew. Whatever it is that people will confuse me with, it won't be with a Hebrew scholar. But I'm done with Hebrew now and looking forward to my last semester, when we'll be back on campus at Southeastern.

Inductive Bible Study Tutorial

I've posted the new version of my inductive Bible study tutorial. In response to some of the feedback I got, this one is more simplified and more structured than the last one. It's posted in my tutorials section.

Photos: Emmy's 6th Birthday

This week Emmy turned six. Time continues to fly. We had a small birthday party with some of her friends, and our family went out to Chuck-E-Cheese for dinner.

Scratch your itch

Much of the work I've done at MITRE has been programming. I still enjoy programming (even though God has redirected my career path), and I'd like to pass my love of programming to my kids. I've heard that kids need to be around 12 before they're ready to program. So I was excited to read about a project at MIT called Scratch.

"Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web.
Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design."

It's all graphical, almost like putting Legos together. I played around with Scratch for about an hour with Jacen looking on. The next day he used it to create his own project. Very cool. Download it and try it out.

Next step: the Lego Mindstorms.

Tutorial on using Libronix for Inductive Bible Study

I've created a new tutorial, one that helps you studying your Bible inductively using the power of the Libronix Bible software. It' s in the tutorials section on the Bible page.

Photo: High Winds in NC

For the last 3 days we've had some really high winds in North Carolina. Yesterday I got to see first-hand how strong they were. While I was in my New Testament class at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the winds blew down a massive tree on campus. It crushed a pickup; our mini-van was two parking spots in front of it. God was again gracious to us.

Photos: Pilot Mountain

This week was spring break, so on Monday we went to Pilot Mountain for a picnic and a hike.  It's a beautiful place, similar to Stone Mountain which we went to last fall, and great for climbing.

Photo: Our family

I've uploaded one picture of our family, taken after church last Sunday.

Photos: Tanglewood Park

My sister and her family were here for the weekend, so we took the kids out to Tanglewood Park in nearby Clemmons, NC.  They've got places for the kids to play, some trails to walk on, and some beautiful plants.

Photo: Emmy's 2nd tooth

Emmy pulled out her second tooth today, again all by herself.  Somehow, she can still whistle.

Photos: A bike and some roller-blades

I started teaching Emmy to ride her bike last fall, but she was tentative.  With the warmer weather, she started again, and wow!  she's got it down.  It's like a light switch was turned on.

Jacen found an old pair of roller-blades we got last year and started using them.  He can motor around pretty good.

Multi-Site Churches

There's a lot of interest these days in starting up satellite churches or multi-campus churches.  Although a lot of people are saying how neat it is, I'm not hearing a lot of talk about how biblical it is.  I understand that some pastors have figured out how to make it work pragmatically, but the question I have is, "What does the Bible have to say about this idea?"

I was very interested to hear that a book has been written about the subject:  The Multi-Site Church Revolution.  I was really hoping they would deal with the theology, but apparently I'm to be disappointed.  To be fair, I haven't read the book yet myself; but I have read John Hammett's review (Hammett's a prof at Southeastern).  In short, the book is high on pragmatism and short on theology.  Bummer.  So for the moment, I remain skeptical.

Video: James preaching on intercessory prayer

Pastor Al graciously asked me to preach this week on the subject of prayer, so I taught about intercessory prayer from Paul's example in Philippians 1:9-11.  Calvary videoed it, so I've put this video on YouTube as well.  You can find the links to it from my about page.

Meaningful Membership

If the church is the body of baptized believers, then it seems to me to be good to verify as much as humanly possible that candidates for membership are indeed believers.  Here's what they did at Spurgeon's church:

  1. One of the elders interviewed the candidate.
  2. If satisfied, Spurgeon met with the candidate.
  3. If he thought favorably of him, the name was announced at a church meeting. Members were appointed to make careful inquiries of the candidate.
  4. If the investigation was satisfactory, the candidate appeared at a church meeting where he was examined by the Spurgeon.  The one who investigated gave his report, and the candidate was proposed to the church for acceptance.  If approved, the Spurgeon gave him the right hand of fellowship.
  5. On the first Sabbath of the month the candidate was recognized before the whole church and again given the right hand of fellowship.

[Source:  The Unforgettable Spurgeon by Eric Hayden, p 37.]

Overboard?  Maybe.  But it's lots better than not making sure whether some is saved or not.

Video: James preaching

I've done lots of teaching over the years, both in the professional world and in churches, but I've not done much preaching.  I've preached bits of sermons in my preaching classes, but it was not until last year that I was asked to preach my first sermon, the parable of the shrewd manager from Luke 16.

Calvary was kind enough to video it and send me a DVD.  I decided it might be helpful to put the video on the internet.  So the last couple days I have learned how to rip a DVD, convert it to AVI, create movies with Movie Maker, and post the results to YouTube.  Unfortunately, because of YouTube's time limitations, I had to split the sermon into 4 parts.  And for some reason, the videos tend to get out of sync near the end; I don't know why.  But overall, it's pretty decent.

You can find the links in my about section.

Studies in James

I've very nearly finished my studies in the book of James; only 2 verses remain.  I've posted everything I've done in my section on the New Testament.  The highlight of the book was definitely 4:1-10, where James describes how my desires for pleasure can take over my heart and cause conflict; how God refuses to let me remain in spiritual adultery, moves in powerful opposition, but still holds out grace; and how I can be restored when I submit to God in humility.  The most amazing sentence in the book is in there:  "But He gives a greater grace."  As powerful as God's opposition to my sin is, his grace is even greater.  Wow!

Photos: Emmy's Lost Her First Tooth

One of Emmy's teeth has been loose for about 10 days, and yesterday it came out.  Or more precisely, she pulled it out.  Refusing all help, she slowly but surely yanked that baby out.  The funny thing is that she can still whistle.  A second tooth is also loose, so we'll see if she can whistle after it falls out.

Softball With Your Pastoral Candidate?

One of these dates I'm going to be a pastoral candidate, so ideas like this one from Bryan Chapell's "Christ-Centered Preaching" get my attention:

Effective ministry corresponds so much with the character of a minister that theologian John Sanderson advised people to play softball with pastoral candidates interviewing for a position.  'Then on a close play at second base,' Sanderson said (with his tongue mostly in cheek), 'call him out when he is really safe.  Then see what happens!'


The Lost Tomb of Jesus

Well, apparently Jesus' tomb has been found, and he's still in it.  The Discovery Channel has a documentary on it.  So is this a big deal?  Is my faith in a risen Savior misplaced?  Nah.  The "evidence" isn't very credible.  Here's Pulpit's response and a list of other responses.

Pictures: Anniversary

Wow, 14 years.  Can you believe Ann has stayed with me for 14 years?  No, neither can I!  It's by the grace of God.


I was listening to a sermon by John Piper on James 5:19, and he noted that the Bible asserts that there is absolute truth, contrary to our cultural worldviews today.  And since there is truth, there must, by definition, be non-truth, which we call error.  From this he defined righteousness as living according to the truth, and sin as living according to error.  I find that to be a very helpful definition.

Defiled worship

Responding to Saul's claim of obedience after sparing some of the Amalekites, Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams." (1 Sa 15:22, NASB95)

My OT professor, commenting on this verse, said that disobedience defiles worship, making it unacceptable to God. 

I wonder how popular it would be to stand in the pulpit on Sunday morning, look at the worshippers, and say, "If you've spent the week living in disobedience to the Lord, everything you are doing this morning in this worship service is defiled and thus unacceptable to the Lord.  Repent!"  I bet the personnel committee would love that.  And yet, it's the application of the text.

Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell

I just finished reading this book on expository preaching by Bryan Chapell.  The majority of the book is on the nuts and bolts of preparing an expository sermon.  It's good, but not anything amazing.  I still think Wayne McDill's 12 Essential Skill for Great Preaching is the best book on the mechanics of preaching that I've read.  But there were 2 chapters in Chapell's book that were outstanding; they alone made the book worth buying.

In chapter 2 he describes what he calls the fallen condition focus (FCF) that exists in every text.  It is "the mutual human condition that contemporary believers share with those to or about whom the text was written that requires the grace of the passage for God's people to glorify and enjoy him."  The FCF is the purpose of the text and thus the purpose of an expository sermon.  Finding the FCF points the preacher to the reality that biblical solutions to our problems must be divine and not merely human.

Chapter 10 is the heart of his book.  "Christ-centered preaching rightly understood does not seek to discover where Christ is mentioned in every text but to disclose where every text stands in relation to Christ...Each text manifests God's grace in order to prepare and enable his people to embrace the hope provided by Christ."  As Jesus described on the road to Emmaus, all texts point to him; our preaching must reflect this reality.  It's the only way to ensure grace is the solution offerred for problems, not our works.  Chapell offers some very practical steps for helping to identify how a text stands in relation to Christ.

This redemptive approach to preaching has been very helpful in my lesson preparation time.  I think every preacher and teacher should read these 2 chapters.

Sense of Humor

My Old Testament professor has a dry sense of humor.   Here's two recent quiz questions (sans the correct answers):

  1. In an attempt to kill David, more than once Saul:
    • d. forced David to participate in a meeting of the Building and Grounds Committee
  2. According to Hill and Walton (our textbook), the most important religious artifact in Israel was:
    • d. the "Prayer of Jabez" coffee mug

Greek for Homeschoolers

Last fall I started teaching Greek to my son, Jacen.  I've been using Dr. Black's book, Learn to Read New Testament Greek, but in the last few weeks I've grown frustrated with it.  The book is written for seminary students, not 3rd graders.  It moves too quickly, and doesn't have enough homework and review.  I've had to re-write the lessons so Jacen can understand them, and I've had to add extra homework, not to mention my own quizzes and tests.  I'm practically writing my own Greek book, something I don't really have the time or skill to do. 

So Ann began looking around on the internet to see if she could find any help.  Turns out I'm not the first homeschooling parent with a seminary background who's trying to teach Greek to their kids.  We've found two sets of curriculum for this purpose that might work.  The Elementary Greek: Koine for Beginners series by Christine Gatchell looks to have the best textbook, while the Hey Andrew! workbooks by Karen Moh seem to have the best workbooks (more translating).  We're going to buy some of each and try them out.  Hopefully I'll be able to keep teaching Jacen without having to spend time writing my own material.

Family Ski Trip

For the past 3 years Jacen and I have taken a father-son ski trip to Snowshoe.  Since Emilee is now 5, we decided to make it a family trip and all go together.  We rented a cabin with some friends and skied together.  As we hoped, Emilee loved skiing.  Her ski school instructor said she was "fearless" and ready for the next level.  She has nice balance and can manage the bunny slopes pretty much on her own.  In his class this year Jacen learned to control his speed by carving; I was quite pleased with his progress this year.  He is quite capable of skiing any of the blues on the mountain.  Ann spent most of her time scrapbooking and taking a well-deserved break.  Overall, it was a great family vacation.

Marble Machine

We built a new marble machine tonight, one that reaches to the ceiling fan in our living room.

XBox 360

Well, I have a 360 now.  A good friend of our family gave us one.  Yep, gave.  Their 360 died, but since it was after the warranty, they bought another.  Then Microsoft extended the warranty, allowing them to get their 1st one fixed and leaving them with a spare.  Neat.  Pardon me while I go shoot some bad guys...

Game: First Impressions of Through the Desert

Through the Desert is a pleasant mix of Ticket to Ride, Go, and La Strada.  You score points by building camel caravans (with pastel camels, no less!) that connect to water holes and oases and surround territory on the board.  There's never enough time to do what you want before someone else squeezes you out.  The game has been enjoyed by everyone who has played it so far.  There's no element of chance in the game, so it probably appeals more to the hard core gamer than the casual gamer.

Rating: good game.