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.