Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Change of Scenery

I’ve decided to move my blog from the Blogspot platform to WordPress. I like the look and feel of WordPress much better than Blogspot. I’m still working out some changes, additions, etc, so don’t mind any construction dust. Surf on over to http://eskypades.wordpress.com. Any comments or suggestions for improvement are always welcome. Any RSS users out there, don’t forget to change your settings.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review - The World is Flat

(I've had this one in my files for awhile).

In his book, The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman writes in such a way that makes it very interesting to read. Unlike some books on economic issues, The World Is Flat is easy to follow without getting too bogged down in the mire of economic lingo. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily a good thing since Friedman picks and chooses his facts and how he applies his logic. In the book, he admits that he is not an economist and this is evident, even to this non-economist reader. Additionally, he comes off sounding like a broken record, repeating his mantra of “the world is flat, the world is flat” as if praising himself for coming up with such a novel concept.

My first reaction to the book was with the whole concept of flatness. He continually compares himself with Columbus, who set out to prove the world is round, except Friedman comes to the conclusion that indeed it is flat and this flatness is due to globalization mainly through the benefits gained by the creation of the Internet. However, Friedman seems to be mixing metaphors and doing a horrible job of it. Yes, you could say that there might now be more of a “level playing field” in that countries such as India and China now have a greater opportunity to take on parts of the service industry. Yes, you could say that the world is getting smaller due to the ease and swiftness of communication and travel. And if Friedman meant these metaphors, then it makes more sense. But I was left wondering “What in the world has gotten flatter?” Even after Friedman discusses his 10 Flatteners, the metaphor still wasn’t clearly defined.

The other misgiving I had with this book is that Friedman, in his overzealous attempt to push the “fact” of globalization, makes it sound like all our jobs will be done by Indian or Chinese workers next week, so we’d better get busy in improving ourselves. Friedman does indeed have a point that the U.S., along with every other nation, should constantly be striving to educate better workers. But example after example is given of how this Indian company or that Chinese corporation has taken on so much of some particular aspect of an industry that you have to wonder if any Americans are left in the industry and when they’ll be laid off in order to offshore the work to India. Never mind the fact that while there is certainly some level of globalization, it isn’t nearly the amount that Friedman would like us to think.

Personally, I’m all for globalization and the competition it creates among nations and industries. However, I would certainly not point anyone to this book to learn the merits of it. I’m sure there are far more useful books than one that repeats the same nonsense over and over again. At least, I sure hope so.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Little Engine That (Thought it) Could

I've been reading Paul Miller's A Praying Life and so far it is an excellent book. The following paragraph really stuck out to me:
Time in prayer makes you even more dependent on God because you don't have as much time to get things done. Every minute spent in prayer is one less minute where you can be doing something "productive." So the act of praying means that you have to rely more on God.
Now, I know this should be very basic and obvious, but sometimes we need to hear (or re-hear) the obvious. In reading about great prayer warriors who spend hours in prayer each day, I somehow had gotten the subconscious impression that God somehow miraculously added that time back to their day. A spiritual time-share program, if you will. I give God time, he gives me time back. The obvious never occurred to me that, as Miller said, each minute spent praying is taking away from doing something else.

But the point Miller is making and that I need to learn is that prayer is a dependency on God. Yes, I've acknowledged that, but I think it was more of a theoretical ideal - I still wanted to cut my prayer time short (or out altogether, to my shame) because of other things that I wanted to do and well, if I prayed, then I wouldn't have time for the other stuff. In a sense, I was saying, "It's okay, God, I've got this. I'm good." And, like the little engine in the children's stories, I attempt to plug my way up the mountain, all the while missing the blessing that comes from admitting my true dependence on the one who made, owns, and put the mountain there in order to draw me closer to himself.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Music Monday - Revelation Song

Brand new from Philips, Craig and Dean, "Revelation Song" (originally by Kari Jobe) is an awesome song praising the name of God. With this song, I'm going to do something a little different. I usually try to include the lyrics when they aren't included in the video. This time, read the following passage from Revelation 4 while listening. May we seek to worship our thrice holy Lord!

"After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!'

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

'Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.'


Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Review - Loved By Choice

When an individual or couple chooses to embark on the journey of adoption, whether as birthparents or adoptive parents, the plethora of books on the subject can often be overwhelming. Most books deal with what to expect in the legal process, special considerations that some families or their children may experience or psychological analyses of adopted children. Although the literature choices are many, there are few books that approach the delicate subject of adoption from the perspective of virtually everyone involved. Loved By Choice does just that in a heartwarming and moving way with true stories contributed by birthmothers, siblings, adoptive parents, grandparents and individuals who were themselves adopted as children.

Packed with emotion, each story communicates a part of the adoption story. It’s the anguish a mother feels in choosing adoption for her little one. It’s the ecstasy of new parents receiving into their arms their daughter for the first time. It’s the grandparents struggling to come to terms with their daughter being pregnant, but join in support as their granddaughter is taken away, sometimes forever. It’s in the mystery surrounding the unknown past of an adult who was adopted as a child and searching for answers.

Through all the stories, the incredibly hard journey is chronicled through so many different lenses that you can’t help but wonder at the strength each person displays. But with each story, the marvel of the journey is presented with celebration and the fact that each child was loved.

As an adoptive parent of three beautiful children, each of their stories could very well have been one in this book. My oldest is always asking us to tell him the story of how he came to be our little boy and always likes the part about how he laughed and laughed during the very turbulent flight home. My hope is that just as the stories in this book celebrate adoption, so too my children will celebrate their story of adoption.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Squeak - Pop!

Ben has one of these little toys with buttons, switches, and knobs on it. When pushed, turned or twisted, a little animal will pop out of the top. Ben loves to play with this and while he hasn’t quite been able to get the toys to pop up, loves to swat them back closed.

Tonight, he carried this toy over to the couch where I was sitting, wanting to sit next to me. After I picked him up and sat him down, he started to play. But this time, he seemed quite determined to make the animals pop up. Try as he might though, the stubborn beasts wouldn’t make their appearance. I watched him for a minute then reached over and pressed the button. One small squeak later and out popped the panda bear. Ben of course immediately swatted it closed and tried to press the button himself. No luck. I reached over again and with a squeak & a pop, the bear reappeared.

That’s when Ben had an idea. He reached over and placed his little hand under mine and, guiding it towards the toy attempted to press the button. He knew he couldn’t do it on his own, but with my hand strengthening his, he was quite successful and very pleased with the resulting “squeak – pop!” He looked up at me and grinned from ear to ear. He repeated this several times, each time with just as much pleasure as the first.

It’s the simple things in life that are often the best.

I love being a dad.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Music Monday - Saved

Here's Third Day singing "Saved" a fun song to listen to and sing along with.

I was blinded by the devil, born already ruined
Stone-cold dead as I stepped out of the womb
By His grace I have been touched
By His word I have been healed
By His hand I've been delivered
By His spirit I've been sealed

Now I've been saved by the blood of the Lamb
I'm saved by the blood of the Lamb
And I'm so glad
Yes, I'm so glad
Now I'm so glad, so glad
I want to thank you, Lord
I just want to thank you, Lord
Thank You, Lord. thank You, Lord

By His truth I can be upright
By His strength I can endure
By His power I've been lifted
In His love I am secure
He bought me with a price
Freed me from the pit
Full of emptiness and wrath
And the fire that burns in it

Now I've been saved by the blood of the Lamb
I'm saved by the blood of the Lamb
And I'm so glad
Yes, I'm so glad
Now I'm so glad, so glad
I want to thank you, Lord
I just want to thank you, Lord
Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord

Nobody to rescue me
Nobody would dare
I was going down for the last time
But by His mercy I've been spared
Not by works
But by faith in Him who called
For so long I've been hindered
For so long I've been stalled

Now I've been saved by the blood of the Lamb
I'm saved by the blood of the Lamb
Now I've been saved by the blood of the Lamb
I'm saved by the blood of the Lamb
And I'm so glad
Yes, I'm so glad
Now I'm so glad, so glad
I want to thank you, Lord
I just want to thank you, Lord
Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord



Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Must Read for July 4th

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security....

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Book Review - Finding an Unseen God

Truth is dead.
God never lived.
Life is filled with pain.
Death is the end of life.

Whenever we as Christians hear these statements, immediately our defenses go up and we are ready to defend our faith against whatever else an atheistic, agnostic, or spiritually relativistic person can throw at us. We often forget the humanity of the person making these statements in our attempts to defend and go on the offensive against these principles. We simply switch into debate mode and steam headlong into our desire to win the argument at all costs.

Finding an Unseen God is part autobiography and part philosophical apologetics for the Christian faith as seen from the perspective of a former atheist. The above axioms guided author Alicia Britt Chole’s world until one day, unexpectedly, her world was broken into by a Person who had doggedly pursued after her for her entire life. She chronicles her journey into and subsequently her sudden departure out of the world of atheism. The chapters alternate between her story and her helpful, compassionate insights into the mind of an atheist. It is this compassionate, full-of-grace style that permeates the book while refusing to argue for the sake of argument. Her points come across simply yet profoundly and full of wisdom. In noting the tendency for both sides of the argument to become heated over the elusiveness or non-elusiveness of truth, she offers and expands on four filters for any belief system to be tested by:

• Is my belief system consistent (at its core)?
• Is my belief system livable (and not just quotable)?
• Is my belief system sustainable (through life-size pain)?
• Is my belief system transferable (to others)?

Although at first it seems that the manner in which the short, bite-sized chapters are presented is confusing, the disjointed writing style becomes welcoming as she flits back and forth between childhood and adulthood, one thread detailing her life before Christianity, the other thread discussing the philosophical whys and wherefores of belief. For example, when talking about her dad and his non-religious views, she breaks away to first delve into explaining atheistic thought-processes before returning once more to her dad. In a way, it gives depth to both lines of thought.

She closes with five “things I like about God” and again I was struck by the simple manner in which she writes about a God whose love has affected her life so dramatically. The book ends with a revision of the original belief statements that once again brings our focus to the true and living God who is Truth.

Truth is not dead.
God has always lived.
Life is full of pain.
Death is but a door.
And the God who is, aches to love us.