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 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.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Free Audiobook for July



This month's free audiobook download is another incredible offer! Crazy Love, by Francis Chan, has sold over 200,000 copies in print during the last year and has been at the top of many people's recommended reading lists. Now, thanks to the generosity of Oasis Audio, you can download this audiobook from christianaudio FREE for the month of July. Crazy Love is a strong challenge to American Christianity, a call to be like Jesus and to 'be Jesus' to the least of those around us. It's also a heartfelt wish to be authentic and true in our relationship with Him.

Crazy Love is warmly narrated by Francis Chan himself, pastor of Cornerstone Community Church, in Simi Valley, CA.

The God of the universe is crazy about you! His love is the most powerful thing in the world and He wants to give it to you, so you can live for Him. If you have made a commitment to follow Christ, then listen to Crazy Love to be reminded and challenged in your walk. Sharing from his own life struggles and sacrifices, author Francis Chan issues a call for selfless, Christ-like living. Let the love you have received from God impact your life like never before. Foreword by Chris Tomlin.

Add the download format of Crazy Love to your cart and enter the coupon code JUL2009 when prompted during checkout.

Listen Enjoy Think Grow

Monday, June 29, 2009

Music Monday - Mr. Mom

Figured this would be an appropriate song for today. :D Enjoy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Review - This is Your Brain on Joy

Everyone wants to be joyful, to be happy. What if there was a way to “rewire” your brain to experience all the joy you could possibly handle? What if you learned doctors could, by taking a picture of your brain, tell you exactly what was wrong and how to fix it? Sounds like something you might find in Star Trek, doesn’t it?

According to Dr. Earl Henslin, this is not science fiction, but a medical reality. In his book, This Is Your Brain on Joy, Dr. Henslin discusses the diagnoses that are made possible through a brain imaging technique called SPECT imaging as introduced to him by his friend, Dr. Daniel Amen. Dr. Henslin gives a brief overview of the five main areas of the brain (“Mood Centers”) that control a person’s emotions. With the help of SPECT imaging, he also shows what each area looks like both in a well-balanced brain and in a brain that is not so well-balanced. He provides helpful tips in recognizing problematic symptoms of each Mood Center and gives a list of aids to assist in regaining the proper balance. These aids include eating a proper diet, getting lots of exercise, reading books, listening to music and even watching movies.

On a medical level, this book is rather fascinating in its descriptions of the varying “Mood Centers” of the brain. Using simple terms and nicknames for the more complex medical names, Dr. Henslin describes how each area controls certain moods. He also shows what the brain and subsequent mood would be if each area were damaged or out of balance. The aids at the end of each chapter are very helpful in learning to control or adjust each of the mood centers. Beyond the medical aspects, I found the book lacking in depth. Much of the book comes across as an infomercial for Dr. Amen’s products such as his research, his SPECT scanning technology or the medicinal supplements available through Dr. Amen’s web site and clinic.

For a book supposedly written from a Christian perspective, there seemed very little solid Biblical application in the underlying overall philosophy. One of the points that jumped out at me was found in the following statement: “Only God knows, see, and can judge how many of our errors are due to our free wills and how many are due to our faulty hardwiring. Let me repeat this: only God knows how much of our wrongdoing is the result of pure rebellion or evil intent and how much is cause by brain imbalances” (p.8). The author seems to be suggesting that some of our wrongdoing is simply not our fault, but rather the fault of a scientific imbalance. In other words, it’s out of our control. If we can figure out how to “re-wire” our brains, we will naturally choose good things instead of evil. This theme of using self-medicating remedies to fix our sorrow is repeated throughout the book.

A second concern, and perhaps the most important, is that the pursuit of happiness is seen as the ultimate end, that is, pursuit of happiness for the sake of happiness itself. For instance, on p. 45, Dr. Henslin, in noting that happiness is most often gained in a community setting, quips “It really does take a village to make us happy….It’s no wonder that many consider AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] the world’s largest church. More real church is probably happening in many of these meetings of honest people in rented office spaces than in some of our greatest and most beautiful cathedrals.” If we define “church” as a gathering of people to have a good time and feel happy about ourselves for happiness’ sake or even for community’s sake, than perhaps this might be true. But if church is defined as the visible gathering of the invisible church to worship God and to feed our spiritual bodies with the meat of God’s Word while at the same time fellowshipping with one another, then AA couldn’t be further from any resemblance of real church.

In the last chapter, Henslin attempts to bring Scripture back into the picture, but once again misses the mark. Henslin says, “Toward the end of this heartfelt thank-you [Paul’s epistle to the Philippians], the aging apostle wrote, ‘I have learned the secret…’ The secret to what? Inquiring minds want to know. ‘The secret,’ Paul writes, ‘of being content’ (4:12).” From this point, Henslin launches into his arguments for why being content helps us to be happier and he almost gets it right. Unfortunately, he takes Paul’s letter and almost completely ignores the gospel presented there, focusing only on how we can make ourselves be happier. Instead of the gospel being the foundation for our joy, it is viewed simply as a tool to help us along in achieving personal joy.

This is Your Brain on Joy is a good book for discovering a small part of the medical side of the brain’s operations and how we can influence our own moods. But aside from this and the suggestions for improving your mood (which, quite honestly, can probably be found in almost any self-help book of every sort), the book misses the mark of where our true and lasting joy can be found – in the person and work of Jesus Christ for the sake of the glory of God. 3/5 stars

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"You coming home, Papi?"

I love getting calls from my kids when I’m at work. The conversations usually include details about their day, what they’re eating for lunch, who did what to whom, etc. With Natalie though, there is usually one extra question, no matter what time of the day she calls:

“You coming home, Papi?”

The other day she called but this time, the question was a little different: “You coming home right now, Papi?”

Since it was only before lunchtime, I told her that I would be coming home, not right now but soon. Apparently, she didn’t quite understand this part. Sarah told me later that at lunchtime, Natalie prayed, “Dear Jesus, thank you that Papi coming home right now!”

Even though Natalie didn’t quite get the timing of my return, she nonetheless was excited about it and looking forward to my return. When Sarah told me about Natalie’s prayer, I was reminded of how we should be looking forward to Christ’s return. We don’t know when Christ is returning, but he has told us “Surely I am coming soon.”. With the apostle John, our prayer should be “Come Lord Jesus!” Rev.22:20

Monday, June 22, 2009

Music Monday - Africa

Once again, here is something a little different. Here is a group called Perpetuum Jazzile performing Toto's "Africa.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Book Review - Family Driven Faith

Something is missing in evangelical circles and that something is our children. Statistics show that children raised in evangelical (and I use that term as loosely as the statistical studies do) families are leaving the church at an alarming rate. In his book, Family Driven Faith, Voddie Baucham addresses this issue head on, placing the blame for these departures squarely at the feet of the parents. He begins by bringing the problem into focus by presenting the above mentioned statistics and illustrations from his own experience as a father, pastor and speaker. In today’s society, parents have failed to instruct their children what the Bible teaches, but have instead abdicated this responsibility to the church, the Sunday School, and the youth group.

Basing his book primarily on Deut.6:4-9, Baucham encourages Christian families to accept the responsibility that is theirs in raising children. We shouldn’t be satisfied in teaching our children how to accomplish things in school, sports, society, etc, but rather to instill the faith of the gospel in them through active, purposeful parenting and biblical discipleship. The responsibility of discipleship rests with the parents and should include instruction in such things as maintaining a biblical worldview. As Baucham states, “Teaching our children to think biblically in these five basic areas [our view of God, man, truth, knowledge and ethics] will go a long way toward establishing a foundation for biblical thinking in their lives” (pp.76-77).

While overall the book has many good, insightful things to say, the chapters focusing more on the family unit as a family (as opposed to the family unit as a part of a church) were quite good. The chapter on creating and maintaining a family worship time in the home is especially good and perhaps worth the price of the book by itself. In it, he discusses the need for a family worship time and gives the following seven very practical and sound steps to establishing this worship time (pp.139-142):

  • Family worship must be born of conviction.
  • Family worship begins with the head of the household.
  • Family worship must be scheduled.
  • Family worship must be simple.
  • Family worship must be natural.
  • Family worship must be mandatory.
  • Family worship must be participatory.
He follows these seven steps with seven blessings that are a result of family worship (pp.142-148):

  • Family worship honors God.
  • Family worship will draw your family closer to God.
  • Family worship will draw your family closer to one another.
  • Family worship will lay a foundation for multigenerational faithfulness.
  • Family worship will expose spiritual weaknesses in your home.
  • Family worship will serve as a training ground for smaller children.
  • Family worship will make corporate worship more meaningful.
There were a couple of things I especially appreciated in this chapter. The first was his pointing out that family worship serves as a training ground for little children. It took Sarah and I a little while to realize this. We would be trying to train Jeremiah to sit still in church, but weren’t requiring the same thing when we had our family prayer time. As a result, Sunday mornings were rather difficult to say the least. Once we started training him to sit and listen during our family prayer time, we found that his “sitting still” abilities were improving in church also.

The second thing I appreciated in this chapter was what he said about family worship laying a foundation for faithfulness in future generations. His statement that “Children who grow up in homes that had daily family worship will see it as the norm” (p.144) rung true for me. I can still very distinctly remember our family devotions we had while I was growing up. As each child was able, we would take turns reading the Bible, reading a little Bible story geared towards children, and praying for missionaries. The impact of this family tradition will perhaps never be fully known, but I am forever grateful for my parents teaching me the importance of family devotions.

Beyond this chapter, the author had some good things to say regarding the interactions within the family, the importance of the father leading in the home, and the vast importance of teaching children the Bible. Unfortunately, I found much of the book to be long on illustrations & sage platitudes but short on Biblical explanations or defense. For example, on pages 159-161, he discusses the need for men to prioritize our families, but he fills almost the entire two-page section with his illustration, devoting only one single, small paragraph to basically saying “Don’t sacrifice your family on the altar of prosperity.” He encourages men to ask the tough questions, but doesn’t give guidance as to what those questions are. Much of the book follows this style of being wide in its scope of topic, but quite narrow in defending the author’s stance.

Further, I found much of the book echoing the style of many an evangelist I’ve heard that would use illustration after illustration to back up his point or soapbox issue, but not going into Scripture to defend it. Even when he states, for instance on p.161 regarding the question, “Should Mom work outside of the home?” that we should first “seek to understand what the Bible teaches on the matter,” nowhere in the following 5-page section does he even bring what the Bible says into the equation. The one time he does quote Scripture, it is seemingly in support of women doing what they must do to be a Proverbs 31 woman, even working outside the home.

Perhaps the area where he misses the mark on a greater level is when he discusses the family in the context of the church, mainly in the last two chapters. He is very correct when he states his case that the current situation in American churches is incredibly bleak when it comes to what our children are learning. His question, “What role does the church play in the process [of discipling children]” is exactly the question we must ask ourselves. He focuses much of his effort in arguing against the current approach to family ministry and specifically youth ministry. However, in arguing against the current approach, he throws the baby out with the bath water, so to speak, in rejecting the segregated approach entirely. The three problems of the current approach he lists aren’t very well argued from Scripture, if at all. In discussing the first problem, that there is no clear biblical mandate for the current [i.e., segregated] approach, he doesn’t present an argument at all, but rather spends the section seemingly excusing those who do follow the segregated approach. In fact, as he correctly points out, Scripture doesn’t mention anything one way or the other on the topic. (Arguments for or against the regulatory principle is a whole other topic entirely!)

The second problem as he sees it, that the current approach may actually work against the biblical model, is a good argument. But here again, this same problem could be applied to any approach used. Any approach may work against the biblical model, but that doesn’t mean that it will. His argument from Titus 2 regarding older women teaching the younger assumes that this teaching is done in the context of a Sunday School class. His question, “How can the older women instruct the younger women if everyone is in a Sunday School class with people within nine months of their own age?” is a bit of a straw man argument. Further, the same question can be reworded “How can older women teach the younger women if they are not meeting together in a setting conducive specifically for this purpose?” Here again, he fails to draw upon Scriptural support to argue against the segregated approach.

Ironically, in the last chapter and perhaps without meaning to, he twice contradicts everything he said about the segregated approach being wrong. Up to this point, he has made statements such as “We do not divide families into component parts….We see the church as a family of families” (p.191); or “Another distinctive of the family-integrated church is its insistence on the integration of all ages in virtually all of its activities.” (p.193) But then on page 197, he begins an illustration of something that happened at a Father’s Council meeting, a monthly meeting just for men! The purposes of these meetings are for “fellowship, prayer, vision casting, church business, etc.” How can a church who supposedly includes the entire family in everything justify such meetings? Perhaps it is because they see the importance of a “segregated” time for men to learn how to lead. But this then begs the question, “If a segregated approach is unbiblical, where do they get the biblical support for such meetings?” and secondly, “Why are these types of meetings deemed wise, but yet meetings of older and younger women are not, or even youth meetings?” The second contradictory example is found on p.209 where, in discussing the fact that many homeschool families are not evangelical, he recommends that a church start a Sunday School specifically geared toward homeschoolers. This does not line up with what he espoused earlier regarding the segregated approach.

Overall, there are many things in the book that need to be said and said repeatedly and loudly. Unless we as Christians in general wake up to the reality that our children are not learning of God through either our direct teaching nor by indirect example through our lives, what hope do we have of their continuing in the Christian faith? I would recommend this book (with some reservation) since there are several things that can be learned from the book, especially in the area of family worship, which I thought was the best chapter in the book. However, unless our teaching and beliefs are lined up solidly with Scriptural support, we are simply following another fad or method, no matter how great it sounds.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New feature coming!

As frequent readers of this corner of the blogosphere, you've hopefully noticed the appearance every now and then of book reviews. I love to read and if I have a coherent thought or opinion on a given book, I like to share it. Previously when I posted a book review, it's been pretty much whenever I get around to writing it and subsequently there has been little consistency. With that in mind, going forward I'm going to try and make Fridays my "Book Review Day."

This coming Friday, look for my review of Voddie Baucham's Family Driven Faith. As a small preview of the book, here is an excerpt from the dust jacket: "Family Driven Faith equips Christian parents with the tools they need to raise children biblically in a post-Christian, anti-family society....This bold new book is an urgent call to parents--and the church--to return to biblical discipleship in and through the home."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ChristianAudio Sale

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Twice per year (and only for a limited time), christianaudio offers all our titles and most of our other publisher's titles for the incredibly low price of $9.49, which is a huge savings of 30 to 70% off our already discounted digital prices! However, this year's sale is a little different (and even better) than in year's past! Instead of $9.49, we've decided to sweeten the offer just a little and lower the sale price to save you even more! Starting now until July 3rd, most digital downloads on our site are only $7.49 each!

There has never been a better time to stock up on all the best and latest audiobooks from christianaudio and other leading publishers like Oasis Audio, Blackstone Audio, Crossway Audio, Focus on the Family, Fuller Theological Seminary, Treasure Publishers, and many more! Also, christianaudio now offers more than 1,500 of the best titles in Christian audiobooks, magazines, lectures, courses, and interviews!

Hurry! Sale starts now (June 15 at 11:59am PDT) and positively ends on July 3 at 11:59am PDT.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Music Monday - Come to Jesus

Chris Rice's Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) is perhaps one of the simplest, yet meaningful songs I've ever heard. In each verse, the song continually brings the focus back to Jesus, the source of life itself. It traces the path of the Christian life from beginning to end through struggles and victories, loneliness and joy, culminating in the joyful refrain to "Fly to Jesus and live."

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book Review - The Broker

I’m relatively new to Grisham’s work, but even I could tell that his book, The Broker, was not up to his standards. The story follows Joel Backman, a high-powered broker who gets himself into a lot of trouble and is sent to a federal prison to be kept in solitary confinement. What that trouble is exactly we don’t find out until about halfway through the book. When we are first introduced to Backman, he is described in such terms that make you glad he got caught. Surely, he is the bad guy in the book, right? As events unfold so painfully slowly, I thought perhaps that Backman would turn out not to be too bad and perhaps he was framed or something. Nope. He did everything and got everything he deserved. But yet by the end of the book, I got that feeling that I was supposed to like him, despite being the sleazeball that he is/was.

The story is set in Italy where the U.S. government has decided to hide Backman until they deem an appropriate time to leak his whereabouts to foreign nations in order to see who kills him first. I thought perhaps this was going to turn into a story of how Backman kept having to hide from either the U.S. government or foreign governments. Instead, way too much of the book is spent on Backman learning Italian or eating some lovely Italian delicacy or visiting some wonderful Italian architecture. The pace does pick up when the time actually comes for Backman to run, but even that doesn’t make up for the rest of the book. The professional, government-paid assassins sent to whack him are seemingly a side note, even though the whole premise of the book is that Backman is hiding from them and is supposed to be on the run.

It’s evident, as Grisham points out in his author’s note, that he greatly admires the Italian culture. I’m sure quite a bit of research went into describing the various Italian cultural tidbits. But reading how to greet one another in Italian over and over again is not the stuff a person usually wants to read in a Grisham book. Overall, it was slow and disappointing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Resolution progress

Rarely do I make a New Year’s resolution. No particular reason other than I don’t really see the point. This year, however, I decided to change that. I decided to try and read at least 12 books or an average of 1 a month. The halfway point of the year is rapidly approaching and I just realized that I’m already on book #12! Here’s what I’ve read so far this year:

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief, by James M. McPherson

Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God: The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest, by David McCasland

Escape from the Deep: The Epic Story of a Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew, by Alex Kershaw

I Am America (And So Can You!), by Stephen Colbert

Last Flag Down: The Epic Journey of the Last Confederate Warship, by John Baldwin & Ron Powers

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald S. Whitney

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World, by Tony Horwitz

This is Your Brain on Joy, by Dr. Earl Henslin (review still in process for Thomas Nelson)

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War, by Tony Horwitz

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, by Nathaniel Philbrick

Truman, by David McCullough.

Since I’m already on #12, I thought why not go for 24 books in a year. Here’s a list of books that I’m wanting to read.

His Excellency: George Washington, by Joseph J. Ellis

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Finding an Unseen God: Reflections of a Former Atheist, by Alicia Britt Chole (reviewing for Bethany House)

Family Driven Faith: Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God, by Voddie T. Baucham, Jr.

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, by Eugene Peterson

The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways that Jesus is the Way, by Eugene Peterson

God’s Passion for His Glory, by John Piper and Jonathan Edwards

The Cross of Christ, by John Stott

Outrageous Mercy: Rediscover the Radical Nature of Christianity, by William P. Farley

Tortured for Christ, by Richard Wurmbrand

Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence, by John Ferling

The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution, by David O. Stewart

Some of these I'm hoping to review, so stay tuned. Here's to a bookwormish remainder of the year!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We hold these semi-truths to be self-evident…

I love reading about history, American history in particular, but especially the period surrounding the founding of our nation. There are many books on the subject, a few I would highly recommend are David McCullough’s “John Adams” and “1776”, Joseph J. Ellis’ “American Creation” and Steven Waldman’s “Founding Faith.” When I choose a book on almost any subject, I like to check out reviews on Amazon to see how historically accurate the book is. I may not agree with an author’s interpretation of or opinions on the facts, but if the author presents true facts, it is most likely a book I’ll read. When it comes to history, the facts must be presented truthfully.

Which brings me to today’s topic of stretching, embellishing or otherwise distorting the facts surrounding that mythical period of our nation’s founding. In particular, I want to look at a widely circulated and oft quoted piece regarding the fates of those men who signed the Declaration of Independence (DoI) in 1776. Here are a few of the “facts” generally stated as follows:

• Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died.
• Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned
• Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.
• Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War
• Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife and she died within a few months.
• John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

The difficulty I have with such “facts” is that they are presented in a context of each one having undergone these hardships as a direct result of their signing the DoI. But as we’ll see, the true facts prove otherwise. (Courtesy of Snopes and other sources)

#1: Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died.

Right off the bat, this statement starts off with a verifiable truth (5 signers were indeed captured) but quickly goes downhill on the steep slope of fabrication. Four (Walton, Heyward, Middleton and Rutledge) were not captured as traitors or for their involvement in the signing of the DoI, but were taken as prisoners of war due to their military involvement. Richard Stockton was the only once captured specifically because of his involvement in signing, but he was also the only one of the 56 signers who violated the pledge to support the DoI. He was granted release only after recanting his signature and swearing allegiance to King George III. The four who were captured as prisoners of war were not tortured, but were given the same ill treatment given to all prisoners of war. They were later released.

#2: Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned

Taken at face value, this is a true statement. However, the implication that they were targeted as a result of their signing the DoI is false. A common part of warfare during this period was the seizure or destruction of personal property by both sides of the war. It’s also worth noting at this point that, at the time of the signing in 1776, the war had been going on for over a year.

#3: Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured
Abraham Clark had two sons captured and imprisoned. Only one signer had a son die in the Army: John Witherspoon’s eldest son was killed in the Battle of Germantown.

#4: Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War

Here, too, we see an embellishment of fact. Nine of the signers did indeed die during the time of the War, but none of them died from wounds or hardships inflicted on them by the British. Several did not even take part in the war. Button Gwinnett was the only one who died from wounds, but these were as a result of a duel against a fellow officer.

#5: Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife and she died within a few months.

Francis Lewis’s wife ignored an order to evacuate Long Island and as a result was captured by the British. However, she was later exchanged for wives of British officials captured by the Americans. She lived for a few more years (not months) after her capture and died (most probably due to the hardships she faced as a prisoner) in 1779. One note in this particular case is that Lewis and his family was indeed targeted for his role in signing the DoI.

#6: John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Hart’s wife Deborah was practically bedridden with sickness, probably due to the hardships incurred by the Hessians destroying their property earlier in 1776 (some accounts list their property as only being damaged, not destroyed.) Hart was on his way home from his duties as Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly on the day Deborah died on Oct. 8, 1776. It was not until later in the year that Hart was forced to go into hiding. Further, he was twice re-elected as Speaker as well as served numerous other offices before dying of kidney stones in May 1779, two and a half years (not a few weeks) after the death of his wife.

There are others, but these are ones that I want to highlight. The signers of the DoI fought long and hard over the issue of independence. When at last it was passed, those signing knew the risks they were taking in officially breaking away from what was then one of, if not THE most powerful empire in the world. As Benjamin Franklin quipped, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” They also knew they were founders of something monumental. However, we tend to overdramatize these men’s lives as well as the price they paid, almost to the point of deifying them and making them martyrs of a quasi-religious nature. The true accounts of these men’s lives are so much more fascinating than these blurbs (and others) really tell. Further, we don't see the struggles that they faced, either on a personal level or on the national level (such as the decision to almost completely sidestep the issue of slavery.) With such accounts as the ones above, we lose the human elements experienced, the uncertainties faced, the herculean decisions made and both the physical & intellectual battles fought. Don’t settle for “sound-bite media” when the full story is so much more worth the time to read.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Free Audiobook for June


Christ Plays in Ten-Thousand Places
by Eugene H. Peterson

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places reunites spirituality and theology in a cultural context where these two vital facets of Christian faith have been rent asunder. Lamenting the vacuous, often pagan nature of contemporary American spirituality, Eugene Peterson here firmly grounds spirituality once more in Trinitarian theology and offers a clear, practical statement of what it means to actually live out the Christian life. Writing in the conversational style that he is well known for, Peterson boldly sweeps out the misunderstandings that clutter conversations on spiritual theology and refurnishes the subject only with what is essential. As Peterson shows, spiritual theology, in order to be at once biblical and meaningful, must remain sensitive to ordinary life, present the Christian gospel, follow the narrative of Scripture, and be rooted in the “fear of the Lord” — in short, spiritual theology must be about God and not about us. The foundational book in a five-volume series on spiritual theology emerging from Peterson’s pen, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places provides the conceptual and directional help we all need to live the Christian gospel well and maturely in the conditions that prevail in the church and world today.

Enter discount code: JUN2009.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Music Monday - God With Us

Mercy Me, "God with us"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Practice of Confession

Tim Challies has an excellent article titled The Practice of Confession. Here's an excerpt, but I would highly recommend clicking through to read the full article.

Some time ago I was reading the site of a Roman Catholic apologist and read a statement that showed a misunderstanding of Protestant theology. And there may be good reason for this error. The author said simply, “Protestants do not believe in confession.” The statement is correct only insofar as Protestants do not practice auricular confession (confessing ones’ sins to a priest in order to receive forgiveness). That statement along with others I have heard and read shows that there is a misunderstanding about the Protestant view of confession. That God calls us to confess our sin is clearly supported by Scripture. The Bible offers us clear teaching on this subject. Yet this is not an aspect of Christian living to which Christians tend to give a great deal of attention. Today I want to look just briefly to the practice of confession.


Most Christians have, at one time or another, learned the acronym A.C.T.S. as a model for prayer. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication is a good and a logical way of ordering prayer. There is logic in this model. Giving God the adoration due his name will inevitably prepare us for confession. Focusing on God’s attributes will help us see where we have fallen short of his standards. A part of our adoration is focusing on the attributes of God that we shared with him before our fall into sin. For example, we may give God glory for being perfect in holiness. As we do this it opens our eyes to the fact that this perfection is God’s standard for us. He demands and expects no less from us. Once we have established who God is and what he has done we cannot help but see how our lives and character fall short of the perfection he demands. The reaction of a contrite and broken heart can be nothing other than confessing our sinfulness before him as we begin to pour out our requests before him.
I am reminded of Steve Green's song "I Repent"

I regret the hours I have wasted
And the pleasures I have tasted
That you were never in.
And I confess that though your love is in me,
It doesn't always win me
When competing with my sin

And I repent, making no excuses.
I repent, no one else to blame.
And I return to fall in love with Jesus
I bow down on my knees and I repent

I lament the idols I've accepted,
The commandments I've rejected
To pursue my selfish end.
And I confess I need you to revive me,
Put selfishness behind me
And take up my cross again.

And I repent, making no excuses.
I repent, no one else to blame.
And I return to fall in love with Jesus
I bow down on my knees
And I return to fall in love with Jesus
I bow down on my knees and I repent

I Repent - Steve Green

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


(I wrote this sitting at a basketball practice, but forgot about it until now.)

I have the utmost respect for little league coaches, basketball in particular. Right now, I’m sitting on a basketball court watching Carlos and his team practice. Ever tried to herd cats? Piece of cake compared to teaching little league sports. Here’s a play-by-play report of Carlos’ practice time:

Everybody is standing around the middle circle learning about the tip-off. The two guys in the center are listening attentively. Everybody else? One little guy is dancing around the circle. There’s another one picking his nose looking at some kids over the corner. Two others are having some kind of arm wrestling match in the air. So of course, the coaches have to get everyone’s attention (again) and repeat what they just said. Repeat this for every. single. different. activity. (and sometimes multiple times for the same one).

“No, hey, Nick, when the other team has the ball, you have to come down this end of the court!”

“Hey guys, you need to listen. Hold the ball, please. No, hold it, don’t pass it around and dribble it.”

“Donny, if you have your hands in your pockets, you can’t catch the ball.”

“Guys, stay in your positions. If everyone is in the same place, you can’t help each other out.”

“Donny, we’re playing basketball, not tag”

“Brian, you’re on the other team!”

“Carlos, where’s your man? Stay with your man.”

“Donny! Donny! Donny!!”

Respect. These coaches have mine.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Lest You Forget"

In honor of Memorial Day, reflect on this poem by Pvt. Andre P. Fallwell, who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge, 1944. (You can read more about the poem and Pvt. Fallwell here.)

Lest you forget --
We piled into assault boats bobbing high,
And charged the beach amid the thundering roar,
Meanwhile the winds and dismal rain whipped by
To watch us die
On Europe's battered, bleeding shore!
We fought our way to land;
We left there in the sand
Our native blood. Although the sea
Will drench it clean, we claim our hand
Released the forces soon to free
Old Europe's battered bleeding shore!

On, comrades, on! We stay behind --
The peace is yours to win.
The fight claims us, but you will find
Us here for all eternity;
As though we hadn't been
The price for our posterity --
Do you remember when?

Lest you forget --
Our fight is over now, and it is won;
But we are not alive to share the goal
Of glory, Only see that all your sons
Recall our guns --
Before the drums have ceased to roll!

Our standards lie amuck
Where last we falling stuck
Them waving proud. Although the next
Will take it up, we claim our pluck
Has written freedom's newest text --
Before the drums have ceased to roll!

On, comrades, on! We stay behind --
The peace is yours to win
The fight claims us, but you will find
Us here for all eternity;
As though we hadn't been
The price for your posterity --
Do you remember when?
And after war deserts our kind,
Will you remember when?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Music Monday - Mighty to Save

One more from Laura Story - here is "Mighty to Save"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trees and Forests

Tonight, Sarah and I decided to take Carlos and Jeremiah to see the new movie Earth. It was a very good movie showcasing God’s wonderful and beautiful creations on this planet. Shortly after the movie started, Jeremiah was still feeling a little traumatized from a movie preview (Ice Age 3, to be exact) and was sitting in my lap. We watched as thousands of birds took flight in a breathtaking array wings and feathers. About this time, I wanted to make sure Jeremiah could see the screen since he was sitting kind of scrunched down on my lap. I asked, “Jeremiah, can you see?” He answered rather indignantly, “No! All the birds are in the way!”

Monday, May 4, 2009

Music Monday - Grace

Here is a beautiful song by Laura Story about our relationship with God and his wonderful, unending grace.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pro-Life Pastor Chooses Jail

...over a plea bargain and finds an unexpected ministry outlet.

For 19 days in March and April, Walter Hoye was locked in a cell with 29 other prisoners at the Santa Rita jail near Oakland, Calif. There were times when he wished he could have stayed longer.

When the metal door first clanged shut behind him on March 20, Hoye, 52, decided the space was really more of a cage than a cell. A metal grid penning in prisoners. Fifteen bunks lining two walls. Two toilets and a urinal for all 30 men, and a shower that inmates had gradually transformed into a pornographic shrine.

As Hoye made his way to an empty bunk, a few prisoners, mostly black and Latino, dogged his path. "You smuggle in any drugs, man?" one of them asked.

"No," Hoye said quietly.

Then the veteran inmates left him alone, he told me, except for "one of the brothers who was kind enough to help me make up my bed."

A few minutes later, another man walked over to Hoye's bunk and jabbed his finger at a newspaper he was holding. "This you?" he said, eyeing Hoye skeptically.

Hoye peered at the Oakland Tribune headline: "Anti-abortion pastor chooses jail."

"Yeah, that's me," he said.

In the next moment, the inmate was striding up and down the length of the cell, announcing, "Hey, he don't have to be here! He turned down probation! He doing straight time for what he believed in!"

It was true: On Feb. 19, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stuart Hing sentenced Walter Hoye, a Missionary Baptist minister, to 30 days in jail after Hoye refused a plea deal that included three years' probation, a small fine, and an order that he stay at least 100 yards away from Family Planning Specialists, an Oakland abortion clinic.

Passionate about the sky-high abortion rate among African-Americans, Hoye began offering men and women assistance at the clinic in 2006. About one in three Oakland residents is black, compared with a statewide African-American population of 6 percent. And though blacks make up only 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for one-third of all abortions performed in the United States. More than three in 10 black women abort their unborn children.

According to the 2006 census, deaths now exceed live births among African-Americans. "We're no longer replacing ourselves," Hoye said. "So we're not using terms like holocaust and genocide just to elicit a response. It's the truth."

In response, once a week Hoye stood quietly outside Family Planning Specialists with a sign that said, "Jesus loves you and your baby. Let us help." When people approached the clinic, Hoye would ask their permission to speak with them about abortion alternatives; he also offered them pamphlets describing available help.

In 2007, pro-abortion clinic "escorts" began to show up in groups, surrounding Hoye and impeding his movement. They blocked his sign with sheets of blank cardboard and shouted down his low-key offers of help. When that didn't scare Hoye off, clinic managers lobbied the Oakland city council and in December 2007, the council instituted a "bubble-zone" ordinance applicable within a 100-foot radius of any Oakland abortion clinic. The law made it a crime to "approach within eight feet of any person seeking to enter" a "reproductive health care facility" in order to offer literature, display a sign, or engage in "oral protest, education, or counseling."

"This law is horribly unconstitutional," Hoye said. "It allows abortion clinics to decide which U.S. citizens are allowed to retain their constitutional right to free speech."

Represented by Life Legal Defense Fund (LLDF), Hoye challenged the ordinance in court. The case is still pending, but in May 2008, Oakland public attorneys acting in cooperation with clinic managers charged Hoye with "unlawful approaches" to women, and "force, threat of force, or physical obstruction."

What prosecutors did not know was that LLDF attorneys possessed four hours of uncut videotape documenting Hoye's activities outside the clinic on the dates in question. At trial in January 2009, the tapes impeached the testimony of clinic director Jackie Barbic, who claimed that Hoye repeatedly broke the 8-foot rule and that she and a patient had to put up their hands to fend him off. Instead, the tapes showed Hoye standing still as Barbic approached him; then they showed Hoye walking away. No incident shown on the tape matched Barbic's testimony, and even clinic escorts testified that Hoye was always cordial and never obstructed anyone's path or used threats or force.

Inexplicably, the jury still found Hoye guilty. At sentencing, the prosecutor recommended the probation and the clinic stay-away order—or two years in jail. When Hoye refused the stay-away order, Judge Hing appeared "surprised," Hoye said. "The judge was essentially asking me to stop trying to help men and women outside an abortion clinic, and I just would not voluntarily give up my First Amendment rights."

In February, Hing levied a sentence of 30 days and Hoye reported to the Santa Rita jail a month later. After the newspaper-reading inmate touted the Tribune article to the other prisoners—many of them inner-city drug dealers whose highest aspiration was to stay out of prison, they clamored to know why a man would choose jail over freedom. From that moment on, Hoye found himself in constant demand.

"I would be holding court with about 30 guys, explaining why I did what I did," he said. "I explained what an abortion actually does, that it takes an innocent human life. We held prayer vigils, we had Bible studies. I must have counseled and mentored guys all day and all night. It got to the point where we started talking seriously about Christ."

Most of the men in the cage at first mouthed pro-choice slogans, Hoye said. "But when I forced them to complete the sentence, 'I believe that a woman has a right to choose to kill an innocent life,' they couldn't do it."

One morning at about 2:30 a.m., a good-looking young man named Terrell approached Hoye's bunk and asked what actually goes on during an abortion. Using his fingers to simulate a woman's legs spreading, Hoye showed Terrell how the abortionist inserts a vacuum aspirator and sucks out the developing child.

Terrell, 18, told Hoye he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and that she had aborted. "She made the decision," he said. "It was her choice."

"Yes, I know that, but what did you do?" Hoye replied. "Did you offer to marry her?"

Terrell shook his head. "No, I didn't."

"Did you offer to help her raise the child?"

"No, I didn't."

"Did you tell her that you love her and that you were going to go the distance with her as a man should, even if she decided to give the child up for adoption?"

"No, no, I didn't," Terrell said, his eyes filling with tears. "I never knew. No one ever told me what an abortion is. No one ever made it plain."

When Terrell understood that he had, "perhaps because of his own lack of participation, been complicit in the murder of his own child, it really broke him," Hoye said.

Before Terrell went back to his own bunk that night, Hoye prayed with him. "I told him God could forgive him, that what he'd done wasn't an unforgivable sin."

But the conversation didn't end then. Terrell continued to visit with Hoye. "He began to understand that men have a responsibility to women, and vowed that, for him, an abortion would never happen again. He came to me a young man in jail for dealing drugs, trying to make some money and live the large life. I began to see him grow up."

Released from jail on April 7, Hoye rejoined his wife, Lori, in their Oakland home. Today, he is not sorry for his choice. "I've been a jail chaplain in jail before, and even had the privilege of being a guest preacher at San Quentin. Being an inmate is completely different. I was actually one of them and it gave me a different kind of credibility. I'm sure my adversary meant my incarceration for evil, but God used it for good."

HT: Challies

Friday, May 1, 2009

Free Audiobook for May

From ChristianAudio:

During the 16th and 17th centuries, many families owned two books: the Bible and Foxe's Book of Martyrs. This classic book arose during the Protestant Reformation and profoundly influenced many in the English Church. Beginning with Stephen and the earliest church martyrs and continuing through the French Revolution, Foxes details the sufferings of those who would courageously stand for Christ. Nadia May does a wonderful job narrating and her empathetic tone helps with the difficult subject matter.

"When one recollects that until the appearance of the the common people had almost no other reading matter except the Bible and Foxe's Book of Martyrs, we can understand the deep impression that this book produced." - James Miller Dodds

Beginning with the story of Stephen from the book of Acts, considered the first Christian martyr, the drama builds to the passion of the early Church's persecution under the Roman Empire. The hardy and radical faith of those first believers spawned medieval missionary movements that spread the gospel across Europe and into England, Scotland, and Ireland. As the story continues, it places a significant emphasis on the sufferings of the early Protestants during the Reformation.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Book Review - Bible Doctrine

In Bible Doctrine, a condensed version of his longer Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem provides an excellent resource for study groups, Sunday School classes or individual study. When I first purchased this book to use in teaching a youth Sunday School class, I was a little hesitant as most Bible doctrine books I had seen either oversimplified things or was so difficult to understand it made teaching from it almost impossible. However, Grudem’s writing style here was simple and quite easy to understand, yet at the same time did not sacrifice key elements of doctrine in order to obtain that simplicity.

Grudem covers what he views as seven key topics of Christianity: The Doctrines of the Word of God, God, Man, Christ and the Holy Spirit, Application of Redemption, the Church, and the Future. Each is divided up into several chapters that read very much like a class outline. There are review questions, application questions, special terms and Scripture memory passages at the end of each chapter.

What I especially appreciate about Grudem is the way in which he presents varying viewpoints on issues that have presented some disagreement. Because this book seems designed for classroom use, space does not allow him to dive into all the nuances of each argument, yet he still manages to present most, if not all sides quite fairly, presenting Scriptural arguments used to support each. While he divulges which view he holds to, he does it in such a way as to encourage the reader to further study the issue and decide for himself.

For example, while discussing the topic of Creation under the Doctrine of God, he briefly touches on the fact that many evangelicals disagree on the age of the earth. He presents arguments for both an old and a young earth, with Scriptural support and interpretation for each. His conclusion was that while “Scripture seems to be more easily understood to suggest (but not to require) a young earth view…. It should be said at this point that, with the information we now have, it is not at all easy to decide this question with certainty. The possibility must be left open that God has chosen not to give us enough information to come to a clear decision on this question and the real test of faithfulness to him may be the degree to which we can act charitably toward those who in good conscience and full belief in God’s Word hold to a different position on this matter.” (p.139)

It is with this wisdom that Grudem approaches many of the topics and one of the main reasons I would highly recommend this book, especially for beginners of theological study. It’s ease of use and understandability make it a valuable addition to any bookshelf.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dark Helmet

May the schwartz be with you!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You Get a Line and I'll Get a Pole...

I’m not sure what it is about fishing that little boys (and some big boys) like. I remember the few times that I went fishing when I was little. The first thing I caught? My dad! Yep, accidentally hooked him. Sorry Pops! Anyway, Carlos had been begging me for some time to take him fishing. Now, I’m not much of a fisherman. Actually, I’m not at all a fisherman! I don’t know the first thing about baits, lures, reels, or even what kind of fish I’m looking at even if it were staring me bug-eyed in the face.

But when I heard that Boones Mill would be having its 3rd annual Maggodee Children’s Fishing Rodeo last weekend, I thought it would be a great thing for Carlos, Jeremiah and I to go to and spend some time together while fishing. Jeremiah was very excited about his fishing pole, mainly because it was red and blue with a picture of Spiderman on it. Carlos insisted his pole was of Batman since it was all black. Saturday morning, we drove down to Boones Mill and joined many other families along the river trying to catch the unsuspecting fish. And since the creek was going to be well stocked with over 1,500 fish, I figured the chances were pretty good that we’d catch at least one. The fish, sadly, thought otherwise.

Although Carlos got a little nibble on his hook, we didn’t catch a single fish. He was rather upset because he saw lots of other people all around us catching them left and right. Lesson learned: fish don’t particularly care for fake worms. Next time we’ll bring some live bait. There were even a couple of orange fish right in front of us at one point, but try as Carlos might to get them interested in his plastic bait, the fish wouldn’t even blink an eye at it. Which was to be expected I guess since fish don’t blink.

But it was still a good day drowning fake worms and enjoying the beautiful weather. There was live bluegrass music, plenty of food, a couple of rides for small children, and even some duck races every hour. I think we just might do this again.

Such concentration...

If you look closely, you can see the two orange fish.

One of the ever elusive ninja fish