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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- One of the elders interviewed the candidate.
- If satisfied, Spurgeon met with the candidate.
- If he thought favorably of him, the name was announced at a church meeting. Members were appointed to make careful inquiries of the candidate.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!'
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.
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.
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.
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.
My Old Testament professor has a dry sense of humor. Here's two recent quiz questions (sans the correct answers):
- In an attempt to kill David, more than once Saul:
- d. forced David to participate in a meeting of the Building and Grounds Committee
- d. the "Prayer of Jabez" coffee mug
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.
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.
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...
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.