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.