Sunday, December 31, 2006

I am Father, Hear me Roar!

This was a morning that would've been a disaster even with a full contingent of parents. First, we woke up 30 minutes late--after the alarm went off, I set it for a self-indulgent/begging for trouble 15 minutes later. And apparently turned off the alarm entirely while doing so. Oops. So like I said, we're 30 min late.

While they're eating breakfast (Arnold and Samwise were uncharacteristically slow), I prepared the church bulletin (forgot to do it last night). Get Frodo in the shower, start printing bulletins. Shuffle Samwise into the shower, and while I'm doing so, Frodo and the Princess start yelling for me. Pullups can sometimes be a wonder of engineering, holding much more of that smelly stuff than you'd think was possible--at the same time, you can't help but think--and it can't hold a little more? So I'm soon cleaning carpet, cleaning kitchen floor, trying to get Samwise's hair under control, trying to prevent the mess in the kitchen from spreading, trying to clean Arnold...ack!

Anyway, make it through that, 2 additional baths, etc. Get out the door on time. Actually ready early. No major discipline issues, no yelling, no tempers flaring. Times like this I almost feel up to this job :)

Anyway, here's the results:

if only I could get him to look less goofy when there's a camera on him

(apparently, she's taking lessons from Samwise)

okay, day could've gone better, could've gotten all 4 to be ready for a picture at the same time

see what I mean?

Quick Pic

Just a quick shot of me with my grandmother taken yesterday. 89 years old--and most days, still kicking, still grinning, still sharp as a tack, same sense of humor... It's her line that I seem to match up with most genetically (at least when it comes to things you can see/observe). Maybe there's hope for me making it past 60 yet, eh?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

This is probably in poor taste

but I haven't been able to get this sketch out of my mind since I heard the sad news about President Ford.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Lie to Me

Buffy: Does it ever get easy?
Giles: You mean life?
Buffy: Yeah. Does it get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: Lie to me.
Giles: Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.
(After a moments pause)
Buffy: Liar.

that most wonderful(?) time of the year

For years now, I've celebrated Christmas for my wife's sake. This year, I'm doing it for my kids' sake. One day, when I grow up to be a Rock or an Island* and will be able to live like I want. But until then, I will continue to bow to pressure and pretend that Dec. 25th means more than Dec. 26th or Dec. 1st, or even May 4, 2007 (pshaw, right, as if...)Anyway, this wonderful thing we called the Internet (which is not a bunch of tubes, I believe we learned this year) has exposed me to some of the best explanations of the true meaning of/observances of Christmas here's a sample:

  • In all the hustle and bustle of shopping and whatnot, let's not forget the true meaning of Christmas. From How I Met Your Mother's "How Lily Stole Christmas" episode:
    Ted Mosby: " that really what Christmas is about?
    Marshall Eriksen: H***, yeah--what else would it be about?
    Ted: uhh, try the birth of Christ. Uh, you know, Christmas...Christ-Mas, which means 'More Christ' to our Spanish friends."
  • This from Over the Hedge (actually, the series from the weeks before and after is worth the time while you're at it)
  • One of my favorite Christmas traditions is Darlene Love's annual performance "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on the Letterman show. Here's this year's version. One of my fave bands, Anberlin, does a pretty-good-for-not-being-Darlene-Love-version themselves, here.
  • Frazz weighs in on the two big symbols of the day: Jesus' Birth and Santa Claus
  • And of course, this gem: Charlie Brown Christmas as performed by the cast of Scrubs (rating: TV-MA)

* That's a Simon and Garfunkel reference, kiddoes.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Photos 12/22/06

'cuz I haven't done this in awhile...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Really? Really?

from Sci Fi Wire:

J.K. Rowling announced on Dec. 21 the title of her upcoming seventh and final Harry Potter book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, according to her British publisher, Bloomsbury. The publication date has not been set, though it's expected in 2007.
Deathly Hallows? uhhh. oookay. If you ask me, it doesn't have the ring of and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone; ...and the Chamber of Secrets; ...and the Prisoner of Azkaban; or ...and the Goblet of Fire.

Ah well...who cares what it's called? It's one step closer to being here!!

Blog Posts on Covenant Membership

Have a few friends who've been kicking around the idea of 'what does covenant membership mean?', 'who's in the New Covenant', etc. Rather than trying to remember to point them to these posts individually, will just put them here for their edification when they get around to reading the Noise (assuming they care...hard to know, since they rarely, if ever, comment).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Special Times that Require Extra Effort in Keeping the Heart, pt. 2: Going Outside Ourselves

The series thus far, Keeping the Heart; What the Keeping of the Heart Presupposes and Signifies; Some Reasons Why Keeping the Heart Needs to be "The Great Business" of our Lives; and Special Times that Require Extra Effort in Keeping the Heart, pt. 1

The first two seasons that Flavel explored had to do with how things affected believers personally, the third and fourth seasons on his list look to the world outside us--The Church and our Country.

3. The third season that calls for more than ordinary effort--extraordinary diligence--in keeping the heart is "the time of Zion's Troubles." When the church is persecuted and oppressed, or otherwise troubled.

Eli died when he heard the ark had been lost, Nehemiah could not enjoy the pleasures of the court because of Jerusalem's woes. And God's saints will react that way naturally.

yet it will not please [God] to see you sit like pensive Elijah under the juniper tree. 'Ah, Lord God! it is enough, take away my life also.' No: a mourner in Zion you may and ought to be, but a self-tormentor you must not be; complain to God you may, but complain of God (though by the language of your actions) you must not.
How ought we to not be overwhelmed with the burdens of Zion's troubles? Zion ought to be our chief joy, so it would make sense that our heart sink when it is oppressed and troubled, but that should not go too far.

Settle this great truth in your heart, that no trouble befalls Zion by the permission of Zion's God; and he permits nothing out of which he will not ultimately bring much good to his people.
Saints like Job, Eli, David and Hezekiah were comforted by this, we ought to be as well. "That the Lord did it was enough for them: and why should it not be so to us?"
consider that God's permissions all meet at last in the real good of his people, this will much more quiet our spirits. Do the enemies carry away the best among the people into captivity? This looks like a distressing providence; b but God sends them thither for their good....The end of his so doing is 'that he may accomplish his whole work upon Mount Zion.' If God can bring much good out of the greatest evil of sin, much more out of temporal afflictions; and that he will, is as evident as that he can do so.
B. Meditate on this--whatever troubles fall on Zion--her King is in her.
What! hath the Lord forsaken his churches? Has he sold them into the enemy's hands? Does he not regard what evil befalls them, that our hearts sink thus? Is it not shamefully undervaluing the great God, and too much magnifying poor impotent man, to fear and tremble at creatures while God is in the midst of us?
Caleb and Joshua's argument is as true today as it was then: 'The Lord is with us, fear them not.'
Discouraged souls how many do you reckon the Lord for? Is he not an overmatch of all his enemies? Is not one Almighty more than many mighties? 'If God be for us, who can be against us?'
Let then his presence give us rest; and though the mountains be hurled into the sea, though heaven and earth mingle together, fear not; god is in the midst of Zion, she shall not be moved.
C. Think about the great advantages that attend the Church in an afflicted condition. Our dejection about the afflicted and low state of the church "is not only irrational, but ungrateful" if that is what's really best.
if you estimate the happiness of the church by its worldly ease, splendour and prosperity, then such times of affliction will appear to be unfavourable; but if you reckon its glory to consists in its humility, faith, and heavenly-mindedness, no condition so much abounds with advantages for these as an afflicted condition. [Almost, thou persuadest me to be a Amillennialist].
Experience teaches us that the afflicted condition ordinarily blesses God's people with spiritual fruits more than others.
It is indeed for the saints' advantage to be weaned from love of, and delight in, ensnaring earthly vanities; to be quickened and urged forward with more haste to heaven; to have clearer discoveries of their own hearts; to be taught to pray more fervently, frequently, spiritually; to look and long for the rest to come more ardently....Is it well then to repine and droop, because your Father consults the advantage of your soul rather than the gratification of your humours? because he will bring you to heaven by a nearer way than you are willing to go?

D. We must be careful not to overlook "the many precious mercies" God grants in his people's trouble. "pardon of sin; interest in Christ; the covenant of promise; and an eternity of happiness in the presence of God, after a few days are over."
Oh that a people entitled to such mercies as these should droop under any temporal affliction, or be so much concerned for the frowns of men and the loss of trifles. you have not the smiles of great men, but you have the favour of the great God; you are perhaps diminished in temporal, but you are thereby increased in spiritual and eternal goods....Will you grieve so much for these circumstances as to forget your substance? Shall light troubles make you forget weighty mercies?
there is much matter of praise; for electing lovehas distinguished, though common providence has not.
E. However low the church may be oppressed and troubled, she shall rise again.
There is no reason to fear the ruin of that people who thrive by their losses and multiply by being diminished.
F. Look to Church History--see how God has cared for his people in former troubles. Wave after wave of persecution has come upon the church and she stands. Nothing that has risen against her has prospered. God is as able to save now as before, he cares for the church as much now as before.

G. If none of these work--think of this: your heart being troubled by this is evidence of your spiritual health. If you didn't have a great interest in Zion, you would not be troubled by the danger she is in. And if you are so concerned about the church--you can be assured that our Lord Jesus Christ, her groom, is far more concerned. "And he will have an eye of favour upon them that mourn for it."

4. The fourth season calling for special care for our hearts "is the time of danger and public distraction." Everyone who can remember the difference between September 10th and September 12th of the year 2001 knows exactly what Flavel is talking about here--that sense of fear, first blush, "public distraction" seems like an odd phrase--but tell me it doesn't fit after some thought. Even Paul, he points out, complained of "fightings within" and "fears without."

But that shouldn't be our frame of mind. We should be like David, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps. 27:1)
Let none but the servants of sin be the slaves of fear; let ahem that have delighted in evil fear evil. Let not that which God has threatened as a judgment upon the wicked, ever seize upon the hearts of the righteous.
Yes, there is natural fear in every man, and it's impossible to remove that totally. Flavel insists he isn't commending "a stoical apathy" or that fear which serves as a "cautionary preventive." That which enables us to see danger coming and to find a lawful use of means to prevent it. But he does want to persuade us to keep our heart from
that tyrannical passion which invades the heart in times of danger, distracts, weakens and unfits it for duty, drives men upon unlawful means, and brings a snare with it.
Some rules to keep our heart from sinful fear:

A. Think about every creature as in God's hand, managing all their actions--"limiting, restraining and determining them at his pleasure." When the horses of Revelation 6 are "prancing and trampling up and down in the world, here is a consideration that may quiet our hearts; God has the reins in his hand."

B. Remember that this God who holds all creatures in his hand, is your Father. He is "much more tender of you than you are, or can be, of yourself." Ask the most timid woman if there isn't "a great difference between the sight of a drawn sword in the hand of a bloody ruffian, and of the same sword in the hand of her own tender husband?"

C. "Urge upon your heart" Christ's specific prohibitions against this. "And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified" (Lk. 21:9); "and not frightened in anything by your opponents." (Phil. 1:28)--in Matthew 10, within six verses we're told three times not to fear man. "Does the voice of a man make thee to tremble, and shall not the voice of God?"
We cannot fear creatures sinfully till we have forgotten God: did we remember what he is, and what he has said, we should not be of such feeble spirits.
D. Remember how much trouble your fears have brought you before without anything actually happening.
And here I cannot but observe a very deep policy of Satan in managing a design against the soul by these vain fears. . .he acts as soldiers do in teh siege of a garrison, who to wear out the besieged by constant watchings, and thereby unfit them to make resistance when they storm it in earnest, every night rouse them with false alarms, which though they come to nothing yet remarkably answer the ultimate design of the enemy.
E. Even if that which we fear will happen comes to pass, there is more evil in our own fear than in the things feared.
and that, not only as the least evil of sin is worse than the greatest evil of suffering; but as this sinful fear has really more trouble in it than there is in that condition of which you are so much afraid. Fear is both a multiplying and a tormenting passion; it represents troubles as much greater than they are, and so tortures the soul much more than the suffering itself.
F. Remember the many precious promises in Scripture, given for comfort and support in times of trouble. Both the general promises and those fit for particular times and situations--these are refuges to which we ought to fly. Plead them to God like Jacob did--"But you said, 'I will surely do you good'" (Gen. 32:12).

G. Record and reflect on our past experiences of God's care and faithfulness in former troubles. Flavel brings up, time and time again, the importance of remember how God has acted in the past--and if you consider all the memorials that saints of the Bible would erect, that makes sense. We need these ebenezers to help us make it through hard times.

H. Be content, satisfied even, in doing our duty--"and that will beget holy courage in times of danger." If we're doing what is right, what is our duty--we can commit our selves to God's care fully and trust the results to him. This will give us great courage.

I. Guilt upon our conscience makes cowards of our spirits, so if we have our conscience sprinkled with the blood of Christ form all guilt, our hearts will not fear.

J. "Make it your business to trust God with your life and comforts, and your heart will be at rest about them." Ps. 112:7, "[The righteous] is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD." It's not that he'll be kept from bad news, but his firm heart trusts in the Lord even when he receives bad news.

K. Concern yourself more with the honor of Christianity than your personal safety. Seeing Christians "as timorous as hares to start at every sound"--what message does that send to the world? The world is more likely to judge Christianity in what we do than in our principles, so however much we talk of assurance and commend faith--if when the troubles come, if we don't trust in those things more than the unbeliever, what is the world to think of our religion?

L. If our soul is secured in the hands of Christ, our heart can be secured from fear.
The assured Christian may smile with contempt upon all his enemies, and say, 'Is this the worst that you can do?'
M. We need to learn to quench all slavish fears in the reverential fear of God--Flavel calls this "a cure by diversion."
It is an exercise of Christian wisdom to turn those passions of the soul which most predominate, into spiritual channels; to turn natural anger into spiritual zeal, natural mirth into holy cheerfulness, and natural fear into a holy dread and awe of God."

"Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall regard as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." (Is. 8:12-13)

N. Prayer is the best outlet to fear--so pour out our fears in prayer in times of danger. Look to Christ himself--what did he do when the hour of his danger and death grew near? He went to the garden and prayed--prayed unto agony!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Before The Daily Show

Carell and Colbert were cracking me up on The Dana Carvey show. Just stumbled onto a couple of my favorite sketches.

Germans Who Say Nice Things:

Skinheads from Maine: more time than MS Solitare or MineSweep

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yippe Ki Yay II: Ki Harder

Live Free or Die Hard trailer!

And, yowza--Justin Long is along for the ride! Who could ask for more?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Book Recommendation

On Ref21's blog, Carl Trueman pointed to this new book being sold at the WTS bookstore. Having not read one word of it, seeing only the cover, I encourage you all to pick it up--will very likely be the most edifying thing you read all year. (esp. if you take a year to read it like you should).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Need for Ballast

It's only just beginning to occur to me that it's important to have something going on somewhere, at work or at home, otherwise you're just clinging on. If I lived in Bosnia, then not having a girlfriend wouldn't seem like the most important thing in the world, but here in Crouch End it does. You need as much ballast as possible to stop you from floating away; you need people around you, things going on, otherwise life is like some film where the money ran out, and there are no sets, or locations, or supporting actors, and it's just one bloke on his own staring into the camera with nothing to do and nobody to speak to, and who'd believe in this character then? I've got to get more stuff, more clutter, more detail in here, because at the moment I'm in danger of falling off the edge.
- Nick Hornby, High Fidelity

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What happened to the

In short, look at my stats for the month thus far:

I'm glad you all like it and all...but wow! Cost me $20 just to keep my site from being suspended Saturday, and at the rate it's going, next Saturday will be the same.

Soooo, for a little while anyway, taking it down. (and yeah, too lazy to bother tweaking the template)

This one's for Lucy

Alistair Begg gets interviewed by local news dorks. His initial answer to "what is heaven like?" is probably exactly what Lucy'd say. Typically good stuff from Begg.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Special Times that Require Extra Effort in Keeping the Heart, pt. 1

The series thus far, Keeping the Heart; What the Keeping of the Heart Presupposes and Signifies; and Some Reasons Why Keeping the Heart Needs to be "The Great Business" of our Lives

Now, it's clear that this is a duty we are always obligated to perform--it's always to our benefit to keep our hearts. However, there are some specific times--"critical hours"--that require more than the usual amount of vigilance. Flavel outlines twelve of these. I'll probably break this up into a few posts.

1. The first season requiring extra vigilance is a time of prosperity, times of "happy providences". Where one is tempted to grow confident in himself, in his life, in the world. When one can think of finding security and hope in worldly things. As the Lord himself warned Israel on the verge of the Promised Land,

And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you--with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant--and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Deut. 6:10-12)
And of course, we know, that Israel did not heed that warning as they ought. How then can a Christian? Flavel has a few suggestions:

A. "Consider the dangerous ensnaring temptations attending a pleasant and prosperous condition." We cannot go into a time of prosperity blind--we must know the dangers, the pitfalls, the temptations that lie all about. We must remember how easy the camel headed for a needle has it in comparison to a rich man heading to heaven.

B. Consider that many Christians have been the worse for their success.
Outward gains are ordinarily attended with inward losses.
He, indeed, is rich in grace whole graces are not hindered by his riches.
Yes, there was Jehoshaphat, who "had great riches and honor" and whose "heart was courageous in the ways of the LORD". (2 Chron 17:5,6). But he is an exception, as a brief survey of the OT--or history--will readily show.

C. Remember that God is not concerned with worldly glory, or outward excellencies. God is concerned with internal realities, internal graces.

D. Consider the bitterness with which many have "bewailed their folly" in putting worldly success first in their life as they are on their deathbed.

E. Consider how earthly things can impede, or burden the soul heading to heaven.
If thou consider thyself as a stranger in this world, traveling for heaven, thou has then as much reason to be delighted with these things as a weary horse has to be pleased with a heavy burden.
F. Remember on the Day of Judgement, our accounts will be reviewed. We are but stewards of all the mercies God has given us and "to whom much was given, of him much will be required."

2. The second season that requires more than typical diligence is the time of adversity. "Troubles, though sanctified, are troubles still." So we are to look to our heart, keep it from "repining against God, or fainting under his hand."

Some helps in this situation:

A. Remember that afflictions come by God's determined counsel. The afflictions come as he works his purposes--our sanctification--in our lives. Flavel tells us to think,
"My Father is about a design of love upon my soul, and do I well to be angry with him? All that he does is in pursuance of and in reference to some eternal, glorious ends upon my soul. It is my ignorance of God's design that makes me quarrel with him."
B. While God will afflict his people, he has tied his own hands by promise never to take away his loving kindness from them.
If he had cut off his love, or discovenanted my soul, I had reason to be cast down; but this he hath not done, nor can he do it.
C. Call to mind the fact that the afflictions are not just working according to God's purpose, but every aspect of them is ordered by God. "Not a creature moves hand or tongue against thee but by his permission."

D. God regards you the same whether in high or low condition.
Men may look shy upon you, and alter their respects as your condition is altered; when Providence has blasted your estate, your summer-friends may grow strange, fearing you may be troublesome to them; but will God do so? No, no: 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.'
What if by the loss of outward comforts God preserves your soul from the ruining power of temptation?
Earthly pleasures are cause for temptation, cause for stumbling, cause for shrinking in times of trial. If God preserves us from those because of adversity, there is only reason to rejoice.

F. (Personal favorite: this was so helpful to me when I read it.) Consider this: these adversities may be God's way of answering your prayers to be kept from sin, to find out the depths of depravity in your heart, mortifying your flesh, etc. This is so good, let me just quote:
Wouldst thou be kept from sin? Lo, he hath hedged up thy way with thorns. Wouldst thou see the creature's vanity? Thy affliction is a fair glass to discover it; for the vanity of the creature is never so effectually and sensibly discovered, as in our own experience. Woudldst thou have thy corruptions mortified? This is the way: to have the food and fuel removed that maintained them; for as prosperity begat and fed them, so adversity, when sanctified, is means to kill them. Wouldst thou have thy heart rest nowhere but in the bosom of God? What better method could Providence take to accomplish thy desire than pulling from under thy head that soft pillow of creature-delights on which you rested before?

And yet you fret at this: peevish child, how dost thou try thy Father's patience! If he delay to answer thy prayers, thou are ready to say he regards thee not; if he does that which really answers the end of them, though not in the way which you expect, you murmur against him for that; as if instead of answering, he were crossing all thy hopes and aims. is this ingenuous? Is it not enough that God is so gracious as to do what thou desirest: must thou be so impudent as to expect him to do it in the way which thou prescribest?
G. If you could see God's designs in our life, we would rejoice over them! God is working the best method for our salvation, "did you but see this, I need say no more to support the most dejected heart."

H. Our own discontent does more damage than all our afflictions. "Did you but lie quietly under the hand of God, your condition would be much more easy than it is."

I. Compare your condition with that of those in hell--which is where you deserve to be.

Monday, December 04, 2006

This one's going out to someone special

...thinking of your Mt Dew Hangover, the '95 Road Trips and everything else.

From Free iTunes Downloads, it's "Guy Love"

this is too good...

not everyone who stops by here has figured out they should start their days with Challies' A La Carte. So wanted to make sure you saw this youtube link. Too funny to be missed.

What is up w/my internal clock?

Woke up freakishly early this morning. Took the opportunity to free up some space on my DVR's hard drive. Random thoughts...

How I Met Your Mother--ahh. Wayne Brady being something other than Wayne Brady. Great! Ted and "Aunt Robin" still together in a year? hmmmmm. Who cares? Marshall and Lilly are hitched. That's what's important. Funny, funny stuff. The "Single Stamina" bit--ahhh, those were the days.

(About his brother)
Barney: He's the awesomest, most best-lookingest, greatest guy ever!
Lily: He's exactly like Barney.
Barney: That's what I just said.
Battlestar Galactica--played lots of catch up here. Only one ep behind now. Ooh, ooh! Carl Lumbly--yay!--Dixon/J'onn J'onzz!! The premise for "Heroes" really caught me off guard--esp. after the moralizing of "A Measure of Salvation." When're they just going to make Lawless a cast member? Number 3 is more interesting than the rest of the Cylons who aren't Six put together.

House--okay, as interesting as it is, I'm so ready for this Tritter storyline to be over. It's best when Tritter and House are on screen together--but that hasn't happened for ages. Finish it up. The Cuddy-meltdown was a nice touch. Sets things up for Wilson to come to her rescue on the whole pregnancy thing.

and last, but in no way least, Veronica Mars: the end of the first arc of the year. Not nearly as satisfying as the season-long mysteries were, but hey, I'll take what I can get from Thomas/Bell/and everyone else. Good ending. Great use of a unicorn. Logan is making me see the appeal of the bad-boy (and he's available now! mayyyybe....) My only complaint is that Mac, Wallace and Weevil don't get to do more. I was about to say, esp. Mac. But then I thought, "nah, it's Wallace that's missing." Followed by "need more Weevil." So I'm just going to let the original sentence stand. Very glad that Parker got to come to the rescue tho. Really nice touch. Biggest complaint: Veronica hasn't learned from Buffy. You need your Scoobies around to watch your back when you go after the Big Bad. Calling Dad at the second-after-the-last doesn't count. While en route to the dorm, why not call him before the dud of a bomb threat idea? And I thought you were smart... Do I really have to wait til Jan 23 for more? ugh.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The CD Player in my Mind on Shuffle...

Have been getting some off-blog comments about my lately. Which has inspired me to, y'know, update the stupid thing. Give the people what they want. That's my motto.

So what's the theme to this one? Is there a theme? Is there a Theme Song for the theme? How about a motif?

Basically, it's songs that for no reason whatsoever, or a very compelling reason, have been stuck in my head for the last couple of weeks. (up until the recent Bolton-debacle)

Lemme know what you think!

Oh, and Micah, finally remembered to fix the width. Know how much that was bugging you.

Somebody Shoot Me Now

Frequent readers will know how seriously I take music. Now, I don't know why. But ever since 11 last night, I've got Michael Bolton's Soul Provider playing in my head.

Such "classics" as "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You," "It's Only My Heart," "How Can We Be Lovers," "You Wouldn't Know Love." AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Some Reasons Why Keeping the Heart Needs to be "The Great Business" of our Lives

For the first two posts in this series, see Keeping the Heart and What the Keeping of the Heart Presupposes and Signifies

Having considered what keeping the heart is, what it means, what it implies, etc. Flavel moves on to ask--why do we need to focus on this? Why is this important? It doesn't take long before you really understand why.

1. Heart-evils are "sins of deeper guilt" than outward sins. If you doubt,

"He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog's neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig's blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. Isaiah 66:3
Flavel says,
Such is the vileness of mere heart-sins, that the Scriptures sometimes intimate the difficult of pardon for them
Great incentive indeed to keep the heart inclined as it ought to be.

2. It's a sign of the sincerity of our profession.
Most certainly that man who is careless of the frame of his heart, is but a hypocrite in his profession, however eminent he be in the externals of religion.
That's quite the attention-getting idea. Flavel uses Simon Magus and Jehu as his examples for this.

Think of everything Jehu did against the house of Ahab. The great feats he accomplished--and for which God greatly rewarded him. But he took no heed to walk in the ways of the Lord as he did so. And therefore he was a hypocrite and God rejected him (not his work) for it.

Flavel offers this timely comfort,
If any upright soul should hence infer, 'I am a hypocrite too, for many times my heart departs from God in duty; do what I can, yet I cannot hold it close with God;' I answer, the very objection carries in it its own solution. Thou sayest, 'Do what I can, yet i cannot keep my heart with God.' Soul, if thou does what thou canst, thou hast the blessing of an upright, though God sees good to exercise thee under the affliction of a discomposed heart.
Partly through laying up the word in our heart to prevent wayward thoughts, etc.; party in our efforts to engage our heart to God; and party in our asking God to graciously keep us from sin in a duty, we can take heart that we are fighting hypocrisy as we fight "some wildness in [our] thoughts and fancies." It is an evidence of right standing before god if we oppose these thoughts as they arise. Not after they've done damage in our hearts.
If with Hezekiah thou are humbled for the evils of thy heart, thou hast no reason, from those disorders, to question the integrity of it; but to suffer sin to lodge quietly in the heart, to let they heart habitually and without control wander from God, is a sad, a dangerous symptom indeed.
Saints shine as the lights of the world; but whatever lustre and beauty is in their lives, comes from the excellency of their spirits' as the candle within puts lustre upon the lantern in which it shines.
It's out of the heart, after all, that evil thoughts, murders and so on proceed. The converse is true as well, when our hearts are in order, our lives will be as well.
When the heart is up with God, and full of God, how dexterously will he insinuate spiritual discourse, improving every occasion and advantage to some heavenly purpose! Few words then run to waste. And what can be the reason that the discourses and duties of many Christians are become so frothy and unprofitable, their communion both with God and with one another becomes as a dry stalk, but this, their hearts are neglected?
Flavel rightly points out that this is a great measure lost in his time (can't imagine what he'd say about ours), which is "to the unspeakable detriment of religion." He closes this section with a stirring call:
Time was, when Christians conducted [their lives] in such a manner that the world stood gain at them. Their life and language were of a different strain from those of others; their tongues discovered them to be Galileans wherever they came. But now, since vain speculations and fruitless controversies have so much obtained, and heart-work, practical godliness is so much neglected among professors, the case is sadly altered: their discourse is become like other men's ; if they come among you now, they may 'hear every man speak in his own language'. And I have little hope of seeing this evil addressed, and the credit of religion repaired, till Christians do their first works, till they apply again to heart-work: when the salt of heavenly -minded ness is cast into the spring, the streams will run more clear and more sweet.
4. Assurance depends on it. Yes, it's the work of the Spirit to grant assurance, but we must "take pains" with our hearts if we ever attain it in the ordinary way God grants it.
You may expect your comforts upon easier terms, but I am mistaken if ever you enjoy them upon any other: give all diligence; prove yourselves; this is the scriptural method.
(he's so good on this The Spirit testifies to our adoption (which is what assurance consists of) in 2 ways:

The first is objectively--by producing the "graces in our souls" that match the promise, you might say by producing the fruits of the Spirit. You can where He is by the effects of his presence--"in his operations." How you can tell that the Spirit is producing those things without serious searching and watching of the heart doesn't seem possible.

Secondly, the Spirit witnesses to our adoption "by irradiating the soul with a grace discovering light, shining upon his own work." In other words, He shows us that He's working in us.

5. The improvement of our graces, the bearing of fruit depends on our hearts being kept. Fruit isn't borne on a careless soul. As we seek to improve our graces, we have to keep our heart focused properly. Conversely, as we keep our hearts, we shall bear much fruit.

6. Finally, if our hearts are not well-kept, they will be more susceptible to temptation. Satan's "principal batteries are raised against the heart; if he wins that he wins all." As the fortress which is well-guarded is harder to conquer, so is the heart.
it is the greate3st wisdom to observe the first motions of the e heart, to check and stop sin tehre. The motions of sin are weakest at first; a little care and watchfulness may prevent much mischief now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Light Appetizers to Hold you Over

Got some bigger things in the works...installment 3 in my Keeping the Heart series, a response to the kind folks over at dlsworldtravels where for some reason I cannot post a comment, so have a big one I'll just put riiight here. Oh, and if I can figure out how to get the pictures off my phone, a guided tour of my wanderings yesterday (up til the torrential rain storm started while I was miles away from my van).

Appetizer #1. Someone pointed out these very handy, and critically important safety tips to me today. You shouldn't leave the safety of your home--er, the safety of your well, anything without having these memorized.

Appetizer #2. Nutria Boy gave me this link to Weird Al interviewing Eminem. Ahh, thanks to Marshall Mathers, Al TV will never be the same. 10 minutes of comedy gold there...

Friday, November 24, 2006

A different day...

Well, like the song says:

Life's like a road that you travel on
When there's one day here an' the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
(and sadly, I'm quoting the sad little cover by Rascal kids love it. Wish I could get them to see the quality of Cochrane's original)

Say what you will about yesterday--I sure have said a good deal. But, yes, Scarlett, today is anotha' day. Was back to routine--which helps. Less extra people around--which helps. The kids and I had a decent day. There were some tensions between Frodo and Sam, Sam and the Princess, the kids and me. Too many minds on the weekend, not enough on the day in front of us, etc. But on the whole a decent day.

And then.

We got in the van--and I don't know what it is about automobiles and music, but whoever thought about combining them was a frackin' genius. We're driving along listening to the Cars soundtrack--like we have everyday for weeks now--and all the sudden I notice we're all singing along--top of our lungs, throwing everything into it. Biggest, dumbest smiles on our faces. Pure joy.
Slow down, you're gonna crash,
Baby you're a-screaming it's a blast, blast, blast
Look out, you've got your blinders on
Everybody's looking for a way
To get real gone
Real gone.
Real gone.
Real gone.
The kind of moment you couldn't get if you planned for weeks. Wouldn't give up those few minutes for a million bucks--a million five, on the other hand....(hey! I've got student loans to pay off--don't demonize me!)

Thursday, November 23, 2006


So, it's Thanksgiving today. Been a very up and down kind of day for me. On the one hand, I cannot count the number of ways the Lord has blessed me this year. On the other hand, all those blessings have come in the shadow of some truly horrible events.

My life right now doesn't even remotely resemble what it was one year ago. And the amount of tears, fears, doubts, and trouble that have gotten be from Point A to Point B is simply breathtaking. There's a part of me that's shocked that I'm still breathing (smaller part was disappointed for a while that I was). So I don't want to be thankful. I don't want to feast. I want to be angry. I want to be depressed. I want to be resentful.

And then I'm trying to get Arnold down for that nap that he so wants and so needs. So I'm singing softly to him (anyone would rush towards unconscious state to avoid my voice). But I'm mangling the standards--shuffled so many lines around in "Be Thou My Vision," I might have conjured up a demon. Couldn't remember the "new" tune for "Rock of Ages." So I reach for my mental psalter, since I'm pretty sure that showtunes wouldn't do the trick--I know "Love, unrequited, robs me of my rest" would just rile him up (especially if I do my killer Mandy Patinkin impression) Stop laughing, girlfriday, Lucy and Huck!

Ahem. Where was I? Oh right.

So there I am singing to my boy, and I say these words.

Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale,
Yet will I fear none ill,
For thou art with me; and thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

My table thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.
-from Ps. 23
(via the Scottish Psalter 1650)
and then I stop and think about what I just sang. I think about the table covered in food we'd just left--and that wasn't even in front of my enemies. hmmm.

Yeah, but what about all that craptactular mess my life is so full of? What about the trials? It's then that my old friend, my constant companion of late, James 1:2 comes to mind, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds." And I remember the words of Geoffrey Thomas on that verse,
This is a command. It is as much a command as, "Thou shalt not steal" or "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." We are under obligation to the Lord we serve who told our brother James to tell us 'we must count it pure joy whenever we face trials.' That is our duty. We are sinning if we disobey these words.
And I know I agree with those words, because I quoted them when I preached on the passage a couple of years ago. :)

And if I'm counting something as joy...what should me reaction be to it?


So we're back where we started.

Thank you Lord, for all the skubalon in my life. Thank you for the discipline. Thank you for the trials. Thank you for the hardships. Thank you for the long, dark nights of the soul. If for no other reason, I'm thankful because in your wisdom, You have determined to bring them into my life. I'm thankful because I'm reminded that "testing of [my] faith produces steadfastness." And when that has its full effect, I will "be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

More than that, I'm thankful for the blessings you've granted in the midst of this mess. Thank you for the comforts--materially, emotional, and spiritual You have granted. I thank you for the means by which you've brought them to me--Your Word, Your Spirit, my kids, my family, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ. For those who make me laugh, those who distract me, those who support me, those who encourage me, those who pray for me. Particularly for the few who do all of those.

Thank you, Father.

How good it is to thank the Lord,
And praise to thee, Most High, accord,
To show thy love with morning light,
And tell thy faithfulness each night;
Yea, good it is thy praise to sing,
And all our sweetest music bring.
- from Ps. 92
(via The Psalter, 1912)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No 7 Year Itch Here

Samwise, it was 7 years ago that I met you, and you've been a constant source of frustration, amusement, aggravation, joy and pride since then. As much as you drive me crazy, if you weren't bouncing off the walls and grinning like a goof around me, I don't know how I'd make it through the day.

I love you. I am proud of you. I thank the Lord that he brought you into my life, and I cannot wait to see what He makes of you.

Happy Birthday, Son.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

So simple, yet so easily forgotten: The glory of Christianity

This is the glory of Christianity: that we are saved not just from our sin but also to the blessings for which God first created us and now has redeemed us through the blood of his only Son.
- Rick Phillips

Monday, November 20, 2006

How has Rusty not Blogged this Yet?

Seriously! The dude's slipping.

Oh well, I've got his back. Released last week: the first poster.

(click to enlarge)

'bout sums it up for me...

For commentary and the official site, click here.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

God Moves In A Mysterious Way - William Cowper

a little something to sing and think about this Lord's Day afternoon...

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

- William Cowper
if you're in the singing mood (and even if you're not, might want to give it a try) Dundee is the tune normally employed.

...and btw, people, that's not pronounced COW-per, it's COO-Per. Don't let me year you say it the wrong way.

I can see clearly now, the rain has gone...

well, not really. There were a few patches of blue here and there the last couple of days, but not what you could call

a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.
Just figured I needed to follow up with another song-related post that showed an optimistic streak. But then I realized that was pushing it--me, optimistic?--so I went with something more upbeat, but not Katrina & the Waves level. But Jimmy Cliff level, sure.

It seems like I've turned a corner in the last week or so. Am writing something. Not sure what'll become of it. Pretty sure won't be posting it here. (or a link to it) But it's good to get the ol' creative juices going.

Am sleeping, too--willingly (well sometimes). Losing weight. BP's under control. In short, I'm getting healthy. Long time since there was anything close to that said 'round here.

Homeschooling is going great this year--esp right now. It's really a joy to do this. Esp. on those days when I can convince Samwise to keep his focus for more than a couple of seconds. :) When that's like...magic. Frodo is just a dedicated worker. The Princess is just soaking up everything I toss at her. But Samwise...getting him to the point where he gets into his work...that's teaching :)

Still not sure I'm at the happy level I talked about last Lord's Day. But I could see that happening.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hazy Day

Time, time, time, see whats become of me
Was not a pretty day around here today...downright ugly. Cold, windy, and overcast. Not incredibly surprising for this time of year, but today seemed worse. Not sure why. The sky wasn't just gray, it was a foreboding gray, if that makes sense. If my life was a Hemingway novel (and I cannot think of enough reasons to be happy it's not!), a romance would be ending, someone would be about to die (no rain today, so no death)...something like that.
While I looked around
Before I had to run errands this afternoon, I stopped by the trusty stack o'CDs and pulled out Simon & Garfunkel. It was the kind of day that required listening to "A Hazy Shade of Winter." If I had more coinage in the bank, would've swung by iTunes store and picked up The Bangles' version, too, just to cover my bases. Thankfully, I had some restraint. (something I'm trying out)
For my possibilities
And it fit, perfectly, I should add. Even rolled down the windows so I could feel the cold as I sang along. Really I should've gotten out and walked through the leaves or something, but who has time for that? The bitter cold, the dreary sky, the dreary lyrics...
I was so hard to please
The environment was enough to merit S&G's treatment. But the events of my day required it. This afternoon, I got an email from a close acquaintance. I'd recently told him about some rather devastating events in my life, and his reaction was enough to make me want to apologize. "Wow, sorry my life crumbling around me was so hard for you to read about..."
But look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
And then I hurt someone I care about. Not physically. But in an attempt to help, my words were misunderstood and stung instead of salved. Actually, seems like the words came out like a mace across the face. More I think about it, that alone would turn a bright sunny August day into something needing Garfunkel's mournful tones.
Hang on to your hopes, my friend
Thats an easy thing to say, but if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend
That you can build them again
Look around, the grass is high
The fields are ripe, its the springtime of my life
Supposed to rain tomorrow. Am hoping the day reminds me of Douglas Adams, or Paul Levine or even Jim Butcher instead of Hemingway.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Reformation Impact

For those who didn't pick up on his shameless self-plug in the comments below, my good friend, Pastor Polymathis celebrated Reformation Day this year with a good series of articles on the impact of the Reformation on various spheres of our culture, cleverly entitled, Reformation Impact.

I commend them to you all.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Musings on HC's Lord's Day 1

Q1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A1: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.

Q2: How many things are necessary for you to know, that in this comfort you may live and die happily?
A2: Three things: First, the greatness of my sin and misery. Second, how I am redeemed from all my sins and misery. Third, how I am to be thankful to God for such redemption.
Today in Sunday School, we reviewed The Heidelberg Catechism's Lord's Day 1. Again, as I think practically every time I read those questions, really, Ursinus could've put the pen down and walked away at that point--and he'd still have done the Church much good.

Not that I'm not happy that he kept going, mind you, just don't think he needed to.

This morning, as our elder read the first question, my reflex was to object to the word "only." There are many comforts in this life (the Westminster Standards say so, so neener). Really, think about it--a nice cup of hot chocolate on a winter day, ice cold beer on a summer afternoon, blanket fresh from the dryer when you've just need to sleep, a well-timed hug from a friend, a kind word spoken in season...and that's just a handful. Those are real comforts in this life--temporary, to be sure, at best. But real. So did the boys in Heidelberg get it wrong?

Nah. First of all, for the believer--where do you think the comforts come from? They come from Christ! If not for His grace, we wouldn't be able to enjoy any of the blessings--small or large--that He gives. I could go into this big thing stealing from Doug Wilson's sermon series on Ecclesiastes. But I'll hold off on that from now.

And secondly, note that it's a comfort in death as well. That's the part that made me accept this question as valid. Granted, I haven't died yet--but a couple of times I wondered if I was in the vicinity. And no cup of hot chocolate was gonna do much for me then. There's only one comfort that will work in life and death. And that's knowing that I belong to Christ. Nothing else is any good then. The love of a good woman, hug from your first-born, that might make you feel a little better--but it won't be a comfort when the final enemy is at your door. Only the knowledge that you belong to Christ.

And what a real comfort we have in life and death! We are not our own. We have been bought. We are owned. And not by just anybody. But by our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. If it comes down to being owned, I'd rather be owned by Him than by me. For one thing, I know He'll take better care of me. Body and soul, in life and death, He owns me, He paid for me, He will take care of his own. As long as I live my faithful Savior will protect, care for, watch over my body. And He will continue to do so when I'm dead and this corpse is rotting in some grave, "being still united to Christ" (WSC 37) He will show the same care and attention He does now.

Not that such things are important to 20th and 21st century Christians; we know that the body is just a prison house of the soul. Which is why I prefer 16th and 17th century theology :) God created us body and soul, Jesus purchased both body and soul, the Spirit works in both body and soul, and we will be raised both body and soul.

Not even a hair would fall without the will of my Father! Now, in my case, that's been plenty. But our Father cares enough to plan each follicle's demise. That’s the level of attention He pays. If He goes to that level of trouble, over such inconsequential things (even though we humans obsess over it), what attention He will pay to the major things in our life! How can that not be a comfort?

Arguing from the lesser to the greater--if He's taking care of little things like my hair, He is fully capable of making sure that "indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation"! Another translation puts some additional flavor to it by rendering that line, "all things must be subservient to my salvation.” (Sidenote: varying translations of confessional standards...ugh. Another reason to go Presby, baby!) Every trial, every 'hard providence,' every up, every down, every moment of rejoicing, every moment of despair, every injustice, every just end, everything is subservient to my salvation. Everything is working for my salvation. Everything in my life. Great comfort indeed.

Answer 2's three things we are to know are so spot-on. Can't help but notice that it's not just those nasty, small-minded Puritans that reduce Christianity to propositions, either, btw. These three points are so profound, so precise, so to the point, it's a shame they've been reduced to the silly mnemonic: Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude (almost as bad as TULIP, but will spare you all that rant for now). Anything that doesn't describe the Christian life in those terms, IMHO, just isn't gonna cut it.

The question is interesting itself. We're to live and die, what? Contentedly? No. Stoically? No. Somberly? No. Grimly-Determined? No. Dourly? No. Happily. What?!?!

We're to live and die happily. That's the result of our comfort in life and death--happy living. And then happy dying. But...but...but...Calvinists are nasty and dour! Christianity is hard! (narrow path and all that) What about dying to self? Mortifying the flesh? Living a holy life? Not denying all of that. But if we really, really grasp the greatness of our sin and misery; how we have been redeemed from all of it (sola gratia!), we will be thankful--even more thankful when we see that God has directed our expression of our thankfulness. And that will all make us happy.

I'm sure not there. Why aren't I? Initial thought: 'cuz while I'm not my own, I keep trying to act like I am. Other guesses: I don't really get the greatness of my sin and misery and how I've been redeemed from them both.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Was playing around on Chabon's website and read his essay, "Our Nabokov" I would give just about anything (short of my kids) to be able to write a sentence like this (much less like the writer he's describing):

It's a conundrum that for me approaches the absurd opacity of a Zen koan to try to imagine how English written by a Russian sounds to Russians reading in English, but to our ears, Nabokov's English combines aching lyricism with dispassionate precision in a way that seems to render every human emotion in all its intensity but never with an ounce of shmaltz or soggy language.
This, btw, is probably the best description of what draws me to Nabokov,
"He has an amazing feeling for the syntactic tensility of an English sentence, the way an ironic aside or parenthesis can be tucked into a fold with devastating effect or a metaphor can be worked until it is as thin as gold leaf."
I can distinctly remember telling my friends (engineering, educatation and architecture students) around the dorm's dining room table about Lolita, and the joy and wonder I was experiencing. They all (without exception) reacted with horror and revulsion to the premise of the novel and couldn't understand what was wrong with me. Maybe if I could've expressed myself like Chabon just did, they'd have not written me off as insane. At least not that day.

Misc thoughts/links/etc for Friday

  • Michael Chabon has taken my breath away again. I finished Summerland last night. And wished I hadn't. I just loved visiting that world he'd created in that novel. It's not as creepy as Wonder Boys, wasn't as moving as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay , but it was magical. I felt like a child first entering Narnia, the Land of the Wangdoodle, or taken the first ride to Dictionopolis--but it's not a kid's book. It just makes you feel like one. This one's going back on my "to read" pile. This book deserves a several-part series of reviews. Maybe I'll do that one day. Until then, go read it yourself.
  • Afterwards, I took a stroll down Amnesia Lane and watched the BSG miniseries that launched the new series. Was struck by the change in Kara Thrace over the years. Literally did a double-take when she did her little victory-dance/song when she won the card game with "full colors." Can't see her doing that now. But it's not that the show's been dishonest with the character, they haven't radically changed her. She's grown. Just happened so seamlessly, really didn't notice it. Like I've said before, BSG is at the same time the absolute best about TV right now, and the close-to-the-absolute worst.
  • ...speaking of TV, Studio 60 got a full season pick-up. PHEW! Now, if the show can find it's footing. Maybe if Sorkin watched some old Sports Night eps...
  • Challies pointed to MLB's This Year in Baseball Awards, check out the Play of the Year category. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays' nomination is not to be missed. Really.
  • Couldn't stop laughing at the whole running Swarley gag on How I Met Your Mother this week. This show keeps getting better and better. Not blockbuster good, but top-notch, charming, and only thing that makes me think of Friends Season 1 since I started pining for it in mid-Season 2.
  • ...oh and for those of you living under a rock at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, new Spider-Man 3 trailer

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Well, tonight I found myself writing a poem. Really didn't intend on it, but started typing away and viola, a poem emerged. Haven't written on in about 13 years. And man, did it show. I'd planned on posting it here originally. But after a few drafts, I decided the only noble thing to do was bury it in a shallow grave the way they do in Mob movies.

The metaphor was strained, and horribly obvious. It was tragic in that sort of despondent highschooler/college freshman way that all your friends will say is "deep" or "honest" or "artistic," but is actually a lazy and sloppy sentimentalism dressed up in whatever the fashion of the day is. A real hack job.

On the other hand, it was a good exercise--I think. Got some stuff out of my system. Helped me deal with some issues I needed to deal with. Reminded me that one of the greatest desires of my life is to be a prose writer :)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge

Well, this weekend we hit Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge for a dose of environmental science, nature (since we're talking kids here, nature is roughly defined as "dirt"), and taxidermy. Which makes it sound not as fun as it was. Everyone had a good time, maybe (maybe) learned something, and wants to come back in the spring to see some of the nesting, etc. that will be going on. Afternoon well spent.

cute science girl
they look like they're up to something--but I promise you, they weren't
planning his next fishing trip?
that's stuffed, right?
on the Nature Trail
not fans of Craisins

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What the Keeping of the Heart Presupposes and Signifies

(NB: all italics original)

Naturally, to keep the heart presupposes regeneration. For without it, there will neither be the ability or desire to keep it. Unless grace has made the heart right, it cannot be maintained.

Man, by the apostacy, [sic] is become a most disordered and rebellious creature, opposing his Maker, as the First Cause, by self-dependence; as the Chief Good, by self-love; as the Highest Lord, by self-will; and as the Last End, by self-seeking.
This soul-disorder is reset through regeneration, "the renovation of the soul after the image of God."
self-dependence is removed by faith; self-love, by subjection and obedience to the will of God; and self-seeking by self-denial. The darkened understanding is illuminated, the refractory will sweetly subdued, the rebellious appetite gradually conquered. Thus the soul which sin had universally depraved, is by grace restored.
That's basic. Every Christian knows that to some extent--maybe not phrased as nicely as Flavel gets it, but the meaning is known. Given that, it's pretty easy to figure out what he means by keeping the heart.
nothing but the constant care and diligence of such a renewed man to preserve his soul in that holy frame to which grace has raised it.
Even tho' the soul has been rectified, been restored, given "an habitual heavenly temper," sin often disturbs it...gets it a little off course, and it needs to be set right again.
To keep the heart then, is carefully to preserve it from sin, which disorders it; and maintain that spiritual frame which fits it for a life of communion with God.
Flavel lists six parts of this, some of which seem self-evident...others, not so much:
  1. "Frequent observation of the frame of the heart." Not a morbid introspection, but an honest appraisal of the state of your heart. "The heart can never be kept until its case be examined and understood."
  2. "Deep humiliation for heart evils and disorders." Sin affects our hearts. Period. We have to it for what it is--disgusting, disturbing, something to be mourned over and ashamed of before we can move on.
    if a small dust get into the eye if will never cease twinkling and watering till it has wept it out: so the upright heart cannot be at rest till it has wept out its troubles and poured out its complaints before the Lord.
  3. "Earnest supplication and instant prayer for purifying and rectifying grace when sin had defiled and disordered the heart." Repentance is essential. It comes, as the catechism says, out of a true sense of one's sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ. Flavel prays as an example to his reader,
    'O for a better heart! Oh for a heart to love God more; to hate sin more; to walk more evenly with God. Lord! deny not to me such a heart, whatever thou deny me: give me a heart to fear thee, to love and delight in thee, if I beg my bread in desolate places.'
    May I learn to pray like that.
  4. "Imposing of strong engagements upon ourselves to walk more carefully with God, and avoid the occasions whereby the heart may be induced to sin." It is frequently helpful to be like Job who made a covenant with his eyes. Maybe you have a different organ of 5 to make a covenant with--maybe just your mind, but to guard against some special sin, such a covenant can be "very useful." "By this means holy men have overawed their soul, and preserved themselves from defilement."
  5. "A Constant and holy jealousy over our own hearts." We must be on constant watch for the stirrings of affections, the beginnings of temptation, and react against it. Be on guard from the stirrings.
    Happy is the man that thus feareth always. By this fear of the Lord it is that men depart form evil, shake off sloth and preserve themselves from iniquity.
  6. "The realizing of God's presence with us, and setting the Lord always before us." When we remember we are living coram Deo (thanks, Dr. Sproul), when we meditate upon what that means--"we dare not let out our thoughts and affections to vanity."
These are the ways in which Christians express the care they have of their hearts. Preventing corruptions from erupting in times of temptation, careful to keep the sweetness and comfort received in religious duties.
This is the work, and of all works in religion it is the most difficult, constant, and important work.

this has nothing to do with anything, but isn't the phrase "refractory will" a keeper?

Keeping the Heart

The heart of man is his worst part before it is regenerated, and the best afterward; it is the seat of principles, and the foundation of actions. The eye of God is, and the eye of the Christian ought to be, principally fixed upon it.

The greatest difficult in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God. Here lies the very force and stress of religion; here is that which makes the way to life a narrow way, and the gate to heaven a strait gate.
So begins Keeping the Heart by John Flavel. The publisher tacks on the subtitle, "A Puritan's View of how to Maintain Your love for God" [sic]. I'd picked that up on a recommendation from a friend last time I was in Greenville, and finally got around to reading it last Lord's Day afternoon (great way to spend the afternoon, btw). Wonderful book--Christian Heritage puts it in a very easy to read paperback. Track it down and read.

Been digesting the work since then, and think I'll try to talk about bits of it here over the next little while. Hope that's okay with all 4 of you.

"The greatest difficult in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God." Ain't that the truth? Each of us has tasted this struggle (unless we're self-deluded, I guess). Why is that? Well, obviously, sin is a part of it. But that's the easy answer. Why is it that we allow--yeah, allow--ourselves to move our hearts away from our Savior, Lord, and King?

I'm sick...

So I'm stocking the shelves with some Previously Viewed titles for sale tonight, and in the general neighborhood of something I'm stocking (maybe Crash) I see an unnerving sight: David Hasselhoff on a horse.

Yeah, Hasselhoff on anything is pretty unnerving. But there's something about the horse that makes it worse.

Movie's called Cowboys Run--don't bother looking for it on, it's not there. That's how obscure it is. Yahoo! Movies has it, tho. Click here to see the details. After my discount, would cost me $4 or so.

Heaven help me...I almost shelled out the bucks. How sick is that? Like a moth to the flame, I was drawn to what has to be a cinematic nightmare.

I need help :)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Life is a Highway...

Finally saw Cars last night. Like many others have said, not Pixar's best. But Pixar on an off day is still better than most movie fare.

Decent story, great animation. Good characters--why doesn't Bonnie Hunt get more work? Seriously, can anyone explain this? Overall well done, and the kids loved it (of course). Good way to kill a couple of hours. The little bit they did during the credits with John Ratzenberger is almost worth the rental price alone. (that's probably the movie geek in me talking)

It was still a little strange to watch Pixar sans Randy Newman (tho he did do the score). Other than Rascal Flats' weak, weak cover of Cochrane (why mess with that track?!?!?), the soundtrack was great. Sheryl Crowe rocked out, Braid Paisley got in 2 tunes (a sure-fire pleaser for Frodo and I).

Grade: A-

Friday, November 03, 2006

Want to Blog on Something

...just not sure what.

Finished Ed Burns' Looking for Kitty last night. But don't want to write on it too much. Typical Burns--great characters. Feels like people you've met (or could). Dysfunctional families. People who should be together, but aren't. Or are together, but aren't. And by the end, not sure what to say...other than Burns pulled off a near-miracle: Rachel Dratch didn't annoy me at all.

Could be like everyone else in the world and write about the tragedy that is Ted Haggard. But, bleh. Not sure I have anything to add. Read Ref21 instead.

Thought about writing some poetry. But that resulted in me just reading Donne.

Thought about giving a shot at NaNoWriMo, but...nah. Can't type that much this afternoon :)

Am trying to move data off my dad's Win 95 PIII system. But that's about all I have to say about that.

No cute kid pics, today. (you're welcome)

No TV shows are making me want to write about them at the moment. Well, one...Sorkin :where's the fun? Think Sports Night. Really. Love Perry's work in this show. Just don't want it to be a tragic waste of time.

hmmm...'bout it for now. If anyone has any suggestions to inspire a post or two, well, comment away.

Feeling Poetical (but can't write poetry...)

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
by John Donne

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
The breath goes now, and some say, No:

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move,
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did and meant,
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assur'd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

All Hallow's Eve '06

BatBoy! (can't move the camera fast enough to get the cowl on--which is a shame, 'cuz it looked very cool)
A very pretty Kitty Fairy--Dig the wings
A noble warrior, the Red Ninja loses a little of his mystique when the mask comes off.
The menacing figureLord Vader--he sure has the anger down. Shame I didn't record the breathing noises.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sorkin's New Show

mostly for girlfriday & taj...or anyone who's been watching Studio 60. If Aaron Sorkin wrote a show about baseball.

(via Alan Sepinwall and Lee Goldberg)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jonathan Edwards and Friends is Dead

For good reason, TEXpresby had to take down alas. I'm going to try to resurrect it in some form over at

Monday, October 23, 2006

Been Chewing on this for a While Now

GreenBaggins posts this very good quotation on Genesis 45, dealing with forgiveness and God's sovereignty. I'll copy the sentence he highlights, and then urge you read the rest.

Reconciliation comes through forgiveness, and forgiveness through the recognition of God's sovereignty.
Click. Read. Meditate.

My Favorite Wise-Cracking PI

On Oct 23 in Chillicothe, Ohio, Archie Goodwin entered this world--no doubt with a smile for the pretty nurses--and the face of American literature was destined to change.

I'm raising a glass of milk in his honor.

Somewhere I have a long list of wonderful things that Archie has said, but (and I've quoted this before here) this is the only one at my fingertips. Am sure one or two of you could add some in the comments section. But I think this tells enough about the gumshoe that one can understand why he's my favorite, and maybe even want to read some of him themselves.

I would appreciate it if they would call a halt on all their devoted efforts to find a way to abolish war or eliminate disease or run trains with atoms or extend the span of human life to a couple of centuries, and everybody concentrate for a while on how to wake me up in the morning without my resenting it. It may be that a bevy of beautiful maidens in pure silk yellow very sheer gowns, barefooted, singing Oh, What a Beautiful Morning and scattering rose petals over me would do the trick, but I'd have to try it. -- Archie Goodwin

Pumpkin Fest 06 - UPDATED

After a little chat about how part of the image of God is creativity--and the differences between God's creating power and our abilities (ex nihilo vs. using materials; affect of the curse, etc), the kids decorated some pumpkins this weekend (for those keeping score, not the same ones from the trip last week--don't go accusing me of altering images). Carving was thought to be too messy (as opposed to the inherent tidiness of black paint, I guess), so we went with paint.

Kids had a blast.

Samwise with Monster Tracker's Blockhead, his latest obsession
How can someone so sweet create a scary looking witch like that--and look happy about it?
Portrait of a Young Man as an Artist
Got him to sit still long enough to pose!

Will try to update later with a picture of Arnold and his masterpiece, assuming I can get him to pose.

Random Weekend Pic

Friday, October 20, 2006


One of the things I'm working on is admitting when I was wrong. I was with my thumbnail review of Over the Hedge. I've seen Over the Hedge a few more times, and have to cop to the fact that I like it. Guess I wasn't paying enough attention the first time. This is a fun flick. Not Shrek or Pixar-level, but better than Madagascar and Shark Tale. Still, story isn't perfect--but the characters, voice-work and individual scenes make up for it. I've become quite taken with Bruce Willis' RJ and Steve Carell's Hammy (tho' very little of Hammy has to do with dialogue--mostly animation). There's one particular scene toward the beginning where RJ introduces the rest of the animals to the relationship of Humans and Food. Utterly priceless (the words alone won't do it, gotta have the images).

Not unlike this:

RJ: That is an S.U.V; Humans ride in then because they are slowly losing their ability to walk.
Lew the Porcupine: Wow it's huge!
Hammy the Squirrel: How many people fit in there?
RJ: Usually, one.
...the voice-overs on the credits are great, too.

Revised Grade: B+/A- It's going on my shelf.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yay Capitalism!

Up in Smoke: Smintair, an Airline for Smokers, Takes Off

Smokers around the world are celebrating the emergence of a new airline, Smintair, or Smoker's International Airlines. The brainchild of German businessman Alexander Schoppmann, the smoker's airline, based in Düsseldorf, Germany, is scheduled to begin flying in March 2007.

Smintair isn't just about lighting up, however. According to the airline's Web site, Smintair "will treat its passengers like the guest of an international Grand Hotel . . . to bring back the exclusivity in flying encountered in the 1960s and [which is] dearly missed by so many." Such things as "telephone, TV, DVD, MP3, Internet" and other in-flight entertainments are being "envisioned" for all passengers.
Not saying I'd fly that airline if given the choice. But I really like the fact that someone's trying it.

Psalm 19:1 in action

(H/T: bluewoad)

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

(click on the picture to be taken to the full-sized picture and explanation)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Not really my kind of movies, but...

Okay, a couple of films I wouldn't normally throw on the top of the pile (and one that I would). But based on what's coming out over the next couple of weeks, I guessed I would be talking about them all a lot at work, so previewed them, and figured I'd share a thumnail or two.

We start off with the Aniston/Vaughn's The Breakup (the movie one, not any of the actual breakups they've been involved with lately). Cute movie. Sucky ending. Aniston was really good--she wasn't Rachel--just a nice, confused gal in a lousy relationship. Vaughn...who will always be Trent Walker to me...was pretty good, too. Really felt for his character--and I almost think we were supposed to root him on more than Aniston. But maybe it's a gender thing. The speech he gave towards the end was eerily like one I've worked on lately. Almost word for word in some places--definitely the same outline. Creeped me out. First Sandler, now Vince Vaughn. I'm going to find myself as one of the Owen brothers before too long.

Best thing about this movie tho? The supporting cast. Always good to see Joey Lauren Adams, even if she's under-utilized as she was here. Justin Long was great (even if he did have a certain Bronson Pinchot-Beverly Hills Cop-rip-off vibe). Jon Favreau was excellent as the best-friend (nah, he wasn't excellent...he was sooo money, baby)--he had the best scene in the flick. Unless he's behind the camera, he needs to be the best friend in everything he does--he can't carry a leading role (outside of Swingers), but he's perfect as best bud. John Michael Higgins was perfect--this guy needs to work more (but he's so off-beat probably hard to find much to put him in)--2nd best scene-stealing here. Judy Davis was her typical self, great. Vincent D'Onofrio reminded me that he's really funny when he's not freakishly-intense. You take these guys out and replace them with whoever from Central Casting and yawn. Without them, Aniston and Vaughn are

Grade: B

Okay...Over the Hedge was pretty much a paint-by-numbers computer animated flick. I really don't know what to say about it. Wasn't thrilled with anything, but I really enjoyed it. Most of the voice talents (Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, William Shatner, Nick Nolte, Thomas Haden Church, Allison Janney, Eugene Levy...) rocked. That's what carried the film, the characters' voices/expressions. Story Animation was okay. Standard Dreamworks stuff. But my kids liked it, and I thought it was miles better than The Wild.

Grade: B

American Dreamz...ummm, wow. What do I say? It was cute. It was occasionally funny. But direction-less. It couldn't decide what it was: Political satire? Reality TV satire? Was it Dark Humor? Light Humor? Just silly? It was a little bit of each, but not enough of any one of those to be really good. Any one of those things done better, and it could've been saved.

Dennis Quaid/Marcia Gay Harden were a decent First Family Knock-Off. Dafoe stooped too low for his broad (overly broad) for faux-Cheney. Hugh Grant's self-loathing Simon Cowell Martin Tweed was a bit too much. Mandy Moore was okay as a self-obsessed, calculating wanna be Carrie Underwood-type (actually more of a Kelly Pickler with a touch more talent). Chris Klein was too cartoony as her rejected boyfriend (ditto for Jennifer Coolidge as her mom and Seth Meyers as her manager). Okay, so I haven't had anything positive to say since "cute." So here it is: Sam Golzari. Perfect. The only redeeming factor, and he's almost enough to make it worth the $3.99 to rent.

Grade: C+

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Not as catchy, IMHO, as the Lego-head stuff, but thought it was sorta fun.

Post of the Day

Today's must read is over at the Macks' stomping grounds, God Change (note to self: add that to blogroll soon): Cheerful Religion.

So, brethren...are you like Whitefield? Why not?

I'm sure not...need to figure out why....