Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Uh...does this make anyone else uncomfortable?

The Drudge Report today had some amazing links to the new Google street view maps. I have always thought that the satellite views of people's homes are pretty amazing...but this level of detail makes me really uneasy. Here is an example:,+California,+United+States&ie=UTF8&view=map&om=1&layer=c&cbll=37.786543,-122.493491&cbp=2,301.359472786112,0.597284478470746,3&ll=37.797475,-

Here is a link to two news story on the new map:

Google has a van that randomly drives around and takes pictures of people unawares and then plasters it on the internet? This is too weird. It does explain some things, however. Last week, several men barged into our house wearing blue jumpsuits that said "Google" and started taking pictures. We found this picture when we google mapped our house:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Preachers are "the bore of this age"

Here are some of the gleanings from my reading last week....

1. The boring preaching

John Stott in Between Two Worlds quotes the character Anthony Trollop from Barchester Towers:

"There is, perhaps, no greater hardship at present inflicted on mankind in civilized and free countries, than the necessity of listening to sermons. No-one but a preaching clergyman has, in these realms, the power of compelling an audience to sit silent, and be tormented…..
A member of Parliament can be coughed down or counted out. Town councilors can be tabooed. But no-one can rid himself of the preaching clergyman. He is the bore of the age, …the nightmare that disturbs our Sunday’s rest, the incubus that overloads our religion and makes God’s service distasteful" (53-54).

2. Tips to combat the borning preacher

Petter Fiddick “…learned to beat ‘the sermon problem by having mental debates with the preacher’, a technique which failed in a Chopin recital ‘since waltzes are not susceptible to argument’. Peter Fiddick probably imagines that preachers would be furious if they thought their listeners were having ‘mental debates’ with them. But surely, on the contrary, we should be delighted. We have no wish to encourage passivity in the congregation. We want to provoke people to think, to answer us and argue with us in their minds, and we should maintain such a lively (though silent) dialogue with them that they find it impossible to fall asleep” (62).

-Peter Adam, Speaking God's Words:

3. Fruitless debating

"My impression is that experience of that kind of thing [a debate] shows clearly that it rarely succeeds, or leads to anything. It provides entertainment, but as far as I am aware…it has very rarely been fruitful or effective as a means of winning people to the Christian faith.But more important still are my detailed reasons. The first is…that God is not to be discussed or debated. God is not a subject for debate, because He is Who He is and What He is. We are told that the unbeliever, of course, does not agree with that; and that is perfectly true; but that makes no difference. We believe it, and it is a part of our very case to assert it. Holding the view that we do, believing what we do about God, we cannot in any circumstances allow Him to become a subject for discussion or of debate or investigation" (47).

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers

Monday, May 28, 2007

For Star Wars fans...

My friend sent me a link to this video he and his son put together. It's a must see for dads who are Star Wars fans....

Saturday, May 26, 2007

If this is you, please don't shake my hand

A friend sent me this the link to this video. For those who don't know, I have...issues with people who don't practice proper hygiene. Fatherhood is obviously really tough on me. Last night as we were praying I felt this gooey, wetness on my arm. I opened my eyes to see my son wiping something off of his hand and onto arm. I asked him if he wiping his snot on me. He looked shocked and said no...he had just drooled on me and was wiping it off. I felt much better.

Little something for your Saturday morning...

Just finished the rough draft on my last paper. My vacation is over, but at least I got done all that I had to. Bill Murray is one very funny man.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Angry Mr. T

Anger...use it don't lose it.

Mr. T says Treat Your Mother Right

This week, I'm on vacation. Unfortunately, I'm spending my vacation working on papers for my seminar in June. During study breaks, in addition to hanging out with Whitney and the kids, I will be examining the profound ethical teachings of Mr. T.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Last night was D.A.T.E. night with Hannah. D.A.T.E. stands for “Daddy And The Elf (Princess).” Before you object to me calling my daughter an elf, realize I’m not being mean because 1) She is pretty petite, 2) Lord of the Rings proves elves are both beautiful and strong, 3) she has a great sense of humor, and 4) I call her an elf princess.

Back to the point, last night for our D.A.T.E. we went to see Iolanthe, an opera by Gilbert and Sullivan first performed in 1882. Hannah had decided that she didn’t want to know what was going to happen beforehand and instead wanted us to talk about it afterwards. I think this might have just been a ploy to get me to take her out for ice cream.

I kept notes throughout the opera. She occasionally would lean over to let me know about something she wanted me to write down (“Where did Big Ben get its name?”).

As we were watching Iolanthe, the thing that really struck me was the contrast between the laws of nature and laws of man. This plays out in the sparing between the members of the House of Lords and the fairies (or, as the subtitle of the opera refers to them, the peer and the peri…not quite so clever over a hundred years later).

The theme of laws of nature vs. laws of men plays out in a rather interesting way in a conversation between young Strephon and the Lord Chancellor, each who want the hand of the beautiful Phyllis in marriage. The Chancellor wonders why Strephon has continued pursuing Phyllis despite being ordered to desist:

LORD CH. Now, sir, what excuse have you to offer for having disobeyed an order of the Court of Chancery?

STREPH. My Lord, I know no Courts of Chancery; I go by Nature's Acts of Parliament. The bees--the breeze--the seas--the rooks--the brooks--the gales--the vales--the fountains and the mountains cry, "You love this maiden--take her, we command you!" 'Tis writ in heaven by the bright barbed dart that leaps forth into lurid light from each grim thundercloud. The very rain pours forth her sad and sodden sympathy! When chorused Nature bids me take my love, shall I reply, "Nay, but a certain Chancellor forbids it"? Sir, you are England's Lord High Chancellor, but are you Chancellor of birds and trees, King of the winds and Prince of thunderclouds?

LORD CH. No. It's a nice point. I don't know that I ever met it before. But my difficulty is that at present there's no evidence before the Court that chorused Nature has interested herself in the matter.

STREPH. No evidence! You have my word for it. I tell you that she bade me take my love.

LORD CH. Ah! but, my good sir, you mustn't tell us what she told you--it's not evidence. Now an affidavit from a thunderstorm, or a few words on oath from a heavy shower, would meet with all the attention they deserve.

STREPH. And have you the heart to apply the prosaic rules of evidence to a case which bubbles over with poetical emotion?

LORD CH. Distinctly. I have always kept my duty strictly before my eyes, and it is to that fact that I owe my advancement to my present distinguished position

Ultimately, of course, Strephon’s view of love is vindicated. Love is a force of nature, not bound by the stuffy peerage. In fact, {SPOILER WARNING—although I’m not sure if it’s possible to spoil an opera that is over 135 years old} it is interesting that at the end of the opera, all of peers turn into fairies. There is an ultimate victory of nature and passion over reason.

I find myself echoing the Chancellor’s words: “It’s a nice point…but…”

On our way to the Ice Cream Shop, Hannah and I talked about this understanding of love. I asked her what it meant to love someone. Hannah replied, “I think it means you really, really like someone.”

“Do you think Strephon is right? Can you help loving someone? Is it something that is outside your control?”

{Long Pause} “No, I don’t think so.”

“Well, Hannah, what happens if you don’t feel like you love someone anymore? Is that something you can control?”

“Yes. You should love everyone.”

“Right. So think about what it means to love someone. How do you know your mommy and daddy love each other?”

“They do nice things for each other.”

“Yeah, that’s one way. Hannah, how do we know that God loves us?”

“Because He takes care of us. And because He sent Jesus to die for our sins?”

“That’s exactly right. So love isn’t just really, really liking someone. It is deciding to do what’s best for them.”

“O.K., Daddy.”

“How do you know Strephon loved Phyllis?”
“I’m not sure.”

"Me neither. How do you know that Iolanthe loved her son?”
“She was willing to die for him. That was my favorite part.”

“Yeah, mine too. What do you think love really is?”

“Putting other people first.”

“I think you’re right sweetie. It's deciding to do what's best for someone else.”

I think it was important to talk with Hannah about this view of love because it is the default view of our age. And, what's more, it is far easier to view love as Strephon does than Scripture describes it. It is almost comforting to think that Nature herself wields the power of love as she will and we have no choice but to be swayed by her.
But this view of love will ultimately bring heartache. It was G.K. Chesterton who said something to the effect that meaninglessness in our modern lives does not come from being weary of pain but rather from being weary of pleasure. Meaning in life will not be found in indulging my desires but rather in fulfilling the needs of others. I pray that my little girl and my sons learn how to truly love.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wedding Vows

As an associate pastor, I don’t get to do many weddings, but this past weekend I had the privilege of performing the ceremony for some friends. For the charge to the couple, I decided to do a straight exposition of their marriage vows. I thought this would be good for several reasons. First, I had never heard it done before and I would like to be in an audience where that was done. Second, I think the vows are important and worth considering in more depth. Third, I think most people have no clue what the couple is saying to one another. They are just looking at how pretty the flowers are.

In fact, recently I was at a wedding where I thought the vows had been a little…off. When I asked other people who had attended the wedding if they had noticed the strange wording, they had no clue what I was talking about. The most important aspect of the wedding had completely gone over their heads. So, here’s some excerpts of what I said on Saturday.

L and J, there are many components of the vows you will be making today. I’d like to focus on four.

1. Your vows contain a recognition of God’s Sovereign control over your life and specifically your marriage.

The first thing you will each say is this: “Before God who brought us together/and before these witnesses.” When you say it is God who brought you together, you are not just acknowledging that He had a special role in beginning your relationship. Rather, you are recognizing that this relationship is part of His overall sovereign plan for your life.

God is surely sovereign in the huge, cosmic sense:

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3).

But he is involved in the personal details of our lives as well:

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them” Psalm 139:16.

Today is an important day, but according to the psalmist it is just like every other day in that God has ordained it from the time before you were born. The truth that God is sovereign over every day of your life should not to fill you with a sense of fatalism but rather with a humble trust in His provision for the future.

There will be good days in your future. There will be pay raises, promotions, perhaps children, sweet times of following after the Lord, fruit in your ministry, joy in your relationship. When these come, you will recognize that it is not your own hand that has brought you to this point but the omnipotent hand of God.

There will be bad days in your future. Some would argue that a wedding is not the time to speak of such days, but I believe we must. God promises difficult times for His children. In your future there probably will be huge bills, accidents, conflict, illness of some sort, and, if the Lord tarries, even death. Today can be a day you look back on as you continue to trust in the faithful hand of your shepherd.

{Your vows contain a recognition of God’s Sovereign control over your marriage.}

2. Your vows contain a commitment to leave and cleave.

You will each commit to take the other to be your wife or husband/to have and to hold from this day forward.

The covenant you enter into today is a watershed event. From this point on your relationship with every other person in this room changes, beginning with your relationship with one another as you cling to one another.

Scriptural basis for this marital holding is found in the record of the first marriage:

“But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:20b-24.

You are vowing to strive for oneness. This is not easy. To be one with another person you must die daily to yourself.

{Your vows contain a recognition of God’s sovereign control over your marriage; they contain a commitment to leave and cleave}

3. Your vows contain a commitment to fulfill your God-given roles.

There is a part of your marriage vows that will be unique.

J, you will vow to love L as Christ loved the church, to give yourself up for her, as Christ gave Himself up for the church.

L, you will vow to love J and submit to Him as the church loves and submits to Christ.

I have been to weddings where the couple’s vows have been identical. Your vows are not because you recognize that God is calling you each to something very different in this marriage.

J, Paul’s words to you in Ephesians 5 are strong: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”

J, you are committing to fulfill your role as a servant-leader. This is not the leadership as the world views it.

-The world says a leader loves himself; God says a leader loves others
-The world says a leader takes; God says a leader gives
-The world says a leader is strong; God says a leader is weak;
-The world says a leader is self-confident; God says a leader humbles himself
-The world says a leader has a strong personality; God says a leader meek
-The world says that leaders are in a position of prominence; God says that a leader is to be like Christ who traded the glories of heaven for the humility of earth and, what’s more, the humiliation of the death of a condemned criminal.

And there, in the humiliating death of a criminal, we see the essence of Christ-like leadership. J, be a Christ-like leader for your wife. This is the difficult vow you make today that we who are here will hold you to as your brothers and sisters in Christ.

L, your vow is not easier.

Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” Lori, these are not easy words to apply in your life. They are calling you to submit to John in everything as you would to God.

The world rejects this notion. It—and your own flesh—will encourage you to promote yourself. God calls you to promote your husband. The world calls you to find fulfillment in its pleasures; God calls you to find fulfillment in seeking Him. The world tells you to be independent; God calls you to Oneness.

Such submission is not always comfortable. Such submission is sacrifice.

{Your vows contain a recognition of God’s sovereign control over your marriage; they contain a commitment to leave and cleave; they contain a commitment to fulfill your God-given roles.}

4. Your vows contain a commitment to love and cherish the other in whatever circumstances you find yourself: for better for worse/for richer for poorer/in sickness and in health/as long as God gives us life

We have already talked about the various circumstances in which you may find yourself. But what you are saying here is that there will be a cherishing, a delighting, in one another.

We’ve talked a lot about vows and commitments, but these are not to be dry, obligation based commitments. They should be commitments that flow out of a heart that delights in the Lord Jesus Christ and loves to be obedient as you fulfill your wedding vows with great delight in whatever circumstances you find yourself.

A passage you were both wanted included in the ceremony speaks of the result of this sort of delight in God: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as stars in the universe”

God in His grace works within us the desire and ability to do that which He has called us to do. As we do those things, we stand out from those around us. We shine like stars for His glory.

May your joyful obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ in your sacrificial love for one another cause others to confess Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Who ripped off whom?

Does anyone else notice some strange similarities between these movies?

The Lake House:

and the hit Filipino movie, Moments of Love:

Coincidence? Does it matter?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Whit's Blog

Whitney has some really good posts. If you're on my site, you most likely got here by being referred by her, but on the off chance that you only know about are some of her recent posts that I thought were especially worth reading:

Here's one on why we want to adopt. It was good to read because after a recent afternoon where the three kids we already have were going insane, I had honestly forgotten:

This one gives the most recent update:

And this is my favorite post:

Since Whitney started her blog, I've been amazed at the tight-knit community she's become a part of. Her whole world wide web world has a much different (nicer) feel. Makes me nervous.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Volkswagen Big Day

You may recognize this ad from the 01 Super Bowl. Pacing, visuals, music...everything is amazing. Check out the previous blog and follow the link for an interesting theory about about what happened next. If it's right, those Apple guys are brilliant.

iDVD ad

The theory from the ad critic at Slate is that this lesser known ad (at least to me) is a follow up to the more famous VW ad. It uses the same actor and deals with similar themes. "Leslie" would be the one that got away. It's at least an interesting theory.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Softer Side of Russia

I always followed the career of Russian chessplayer Gary Kasparov with great interest. I would often get out my chessboard and replay his games, just astounded that anyone could think as precisely and as far ahead as he could.

Recently I was amazed to open up a newspaper and see a picture of Gary Kasparov being arrested. I wondered what sort of trouble a chessplayer could get into. In Russia, apparently plenty! Kasparov, I discovered, is a member of several anti-Putin opposition groups in Russia..

Omon is the special force in the Russian police that deals with riot control. In April, they came under fire for their brutality in suppressing some of the demonstrations against Putin led by Kasparov. In a desperate attempt at image control, this month they have held training events open to the media. Some of the members of Omon were even allowed to be interviewed--as long as they did not give their surnames. A description of the excercises can be read here:

These Omon guys are tough. I mean, they're really tough. How tough?

"Omon machismo dominated the show. One group displayed their strength by chopping flaming bricks in two with their bare hands. Another hardy individual performed stomach crunches on a bed of broken glass as his colleague dropped knives on to his washboard stomach."

But the riot police have a soft side as well:

"With lengthy demonstrations of Kalashnikov firing, grenade tossing and Chechen killing, the sensitive bit of the exercise seemed in danger of being drowned out.

"But then Ajax the attack alsatian appeared and Omon's cuddly side suddenly shone forth.
An officer placed a cat on the ground just yards away from the panting dog.

"If Ajax's soul was tormented by this feline temptation, it did not show. After all, this was a dog on whose shoulders lay the responsibility of reshaping Omon's battered reputation.

"To the orders of his handler, Ajax proceeded to lick and nuzzle the cat, whose expression of nonchalance only started to slip when the dog lifted it into the air in its jaws, carried it several feet and then gently placed it back on the ground.

"'You see,' said Maj Gen Alexander Ivanin, commenting through a microphone, 'our service dogs wouldn't threaten a thing.'"

And what about their brutal break ups of the peaceful protests? Total misunderstanding:

"The rally was forbidden," said Alexander, an Omon commander. "But our reaction was not aggressive. All we did was detain three or four hooligans. Our main role was actually to protect the protesters from, for example, pickpockets."

Actual number of "hooligans" detained: 170 + 1 Grandmaster. No word on how many pickpocketers were arrested.


I posted yesterday that Pope Benedict was involved in the ECT. That may be true, but the actual document that it is believed he was more involved with is "Ut Unum Sint", also a ecumenical document from 1995. I was confused. Sorry.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Is the Pope Catholic?

Well...he's certainly not Evangelical. According to several news agencies, his recent trip to Brazil was prompted primarily by concerns that Catholics in that country were abandoning the RCC and flocking to Evangelical churches. Here's a link to a BBC story and an excerpt:

"Talking to journalists on the flight [to Brazil], the Pope said his main concern in the region was the loss of millions of disaffected Roman Catholics to evangelical churches."

I find this very fascinating for two reasons. First, what about "Evangelicals and Catholics Together," a document signed by members of both groups in 1995? This document stressed commonalities between Evangelicals and Catholics and discouraged proselytizing. It was also said to have the current pope's fingerprints all over it.

Second, I would like to know...what are the primary concerns he has with Evangelicals? Is it doctrinal? Practical? Financial implications for the RCC? Political ramifications? Having a pope like Benedict, who I believe is a man of true doctrinal and personal integrity, could be very beneficial as it helps more clearly distinguish the crucial theological differences between Catholics and Evangelicals. My difficulty with ECT was that it failed to really address the crucial issue that separated the two groups: the essence of the Good News, the gospel.

One Other Issue:

Of course, there are many things I like about his pope, even though I believe we preach different gospel messgaes. Though he lamented the growth of Evangelical churches on the plane ride over, I have to admire what he did almost the moment he stepped off the plane: deliver a clear warning to RCC politicians who were seeking to enact pro-choice legislation:

"Pope Benedict XVI began his first trip to Latin America Wednesday by laying down church law on abortion, suggesting that he agrees with bishops who said Catholic politicians in Mexico had excommunicated themselves by legalizing abortion in that nation’s capital."

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Near-Death Experience

This is not a picture of me jumping…but it is a very accurate representation of the incredible jumps I was performing today. OK, it is very accurate except I was much, much closer to the ground. I’ve been at a pastoral retreat and after a grueling meeting this morning, as is the custom for pastors at retreats, we took a little time off this afternoon to ride some ATVs.

I hadn’t really ridden one on a course before and it was a lot of fun. The only down side of the whole afternoon was my near death experience. Did I almost die crossing the rivers? Did I almost die on the jumps? Did I almost die falling into a ditch? Did I almost die when my friend and I were racing? No, nothing so glamorous. At the end of the day, as I was turning into the driveway, I stopped for a moment. My friend, who was gunning his ATV trying to catch up, didn’t see me stop. As I watched him approach me, I had no idea what to do. He was going incredibly fast and had no intention of slowing down. In my brilliance, I was now facing him broadside. If I had died, I would have died turning into a driveway.

I had always wondered how I would face death. My secret plan had always been, if I had enough time, to get the really important things out of the way (affirm my love for God, family; encourage them to persevere) and then to utter some semi-humorous/sarcastic one-liner so that I would die laughing. Ideally, others would be able to hear the line, not perish with me, and have a good time talking about it at the funeral. Potential last words, obviously dependent upon the circumstances were: “In retrospect, that could have worked out better.”; “Now do you believe me?”/ “OK, you’re right. Satisfied?”; “Duck!”; “I sure did waste a lot of time wearing sunscreen.”; etc.

Well, good and bad news. First, the bad news is I found out my brain doesn’t work that well under pressure. I was unable to scream out a good one-liner. But the good news is that I was laughing pretty hard as he approached me. He saw me at the last moment and veered hard right. I can’t really convey in words how close we came to having a terrible accident. I was laughing because we had such a close escape and because it seemed so terribly funny.

So, when I die I probably won’t have time to say something dry, but at least I’ll be laughing on the inside.

On Preaching...

I just finished reading Speaking God's Words by Peter Adam for a seminar I'm taking in June at Southern. In it, he has this great quote from John MacArthur about how the church should treat her pastor:

Fling him into his office. Tear the ‘Office’ sign from the door and nail on the sign, ‘Study’. Take him off the mailing list. Lock him up with his books and his typewriter and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before texts and broken hearts and the lives of a superficial flock and a holy God.

When at long last he dares assay the pulpit, ask him if he has a word from God. If he does not, then dismiss him. Tell him you can read the morning paper and digest the television commentaries, and think through the day’s superficial problems, and manage the community’s weary drives, and bless the sordid baked potatoes and green beans, ad infinitum, better than he can.

Command him not to come back until he’s read and reread, written and rewritten, until he can stand up, worn and forlorn, and say, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Guest Blogger

Today we have a special treat. Hannah will be replying to some questions I typed up for her. This should be fun as her use of some keys (such as the shift key) is still pretty hit and miss.

1. Who is the most handsome man you know?

dad, $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

2. Could you tell us a story?


3. What do you think about the job President Bush is doing?

i don't now.

4. Which of my children is the stinkiest?

Noah Noah Noah ....

5. If I started tickling all of my kids at once, who would cry first?

hmmm. Noah.

6. Would you like me to buy you a pet spider so it could crawl all over you? What about 100 crawling spiders? Can that be your Christmas present?


7. Who is stronger...Mommy or Daddy?

daddy. but mommy is prettier.

8. What is the funniest thing you can think of?

you, daddy!

9. What are some of your favorite books?

the B - i -b -l -e and American Girl Books.

Friday, May 4, 2007


I've attached a link to the first debate for the Republican presidential candidates. I would advise you to only watch the following if you are a strong believer in the Sovereignty of God. If you don't believe that it is ultimately He who establishes governments, this will probably be too depressing. I'll have more thoughts later. If you want something more fun, watch the "Here it Goes Again" video again (


Thursday, May 3, 2007

Tuesday, May 1, 2007