April 30, 2006

Where He Dwells

An absolutely amazing verse:

For this is what the high and lofty One says—
He who lives forever, whose name is holy:
"I live in a high and holy place,

(pause)

...but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite."

Isaiah 57:15 (NIV)

That THE GOD, the High and Holy One, would dwell in a high and holy place... well, that just makes sense. Where else would He dwell? Surely He wouldn't dwell with... ah yes, but He does. He also dwells with the contrite and the lowly.

What an amazing God we serve.

April 29, 2006

The purpose of the war... Peace

I have been reading several different books that I have started, but haven't quite had the time to finish. So, before I start any new books, I have purposed in my mind to finish these. One of the books that I am almost done with is How to Overcome Evil by Jay Adams. I have already written one post on this book titled, the other cheek, which was an eye-opening moment for me, regarding Jesus' statement about turning the other cheek when you have been struck on the first one.

The book itself is a practical exposition of Romans 12:4-21. So far it has been about our responsibilities in overcoming evil. (Hence the title.) As Christians, we have a Biblical command to make war against evil. War against evil doesn't involve evil though, it involves good. This goes contrary to the world's view of conflict. In the world we pay back evil for evil, but according to God's way of doing things we pay back evil with good. This is the only way that evil can truly be defeated.

Today I read a chapter in the book titled, Make War, Make Peace, which gets us to the goal of the war, which is peace. Romans 12:18 says, "If possible, so far as it depends upon you, be at peace with everybody." See, after all of this warring, fighting speech in the previous verses, there is this statement to, "...be at peace." That is the end statement of the war, its purpose.

Jay Adams says that if you set this as your goal at the outset of the war, "...it will condition even the way that you conduct the war. You will be careful to see that no unnecessary destruction takes place." For, you see, the true enemy is the evil, not the actual person.

This other person, with whom you might be in conflict with, may not have peace in mind though. That is why the verse says things like, "If possible..." and "...as far as it depends on you..." In some cases it is not possible to obtain peace, but this does not mean that you can give up on the goal. You are seeking peace because God has commanded it, not because of what you are going to get out of it. Many people's motives become clear at this point.

Some start out with peace in mind. They begin doing good in response to the evil that is coming their way, but when the peace doesn't come, they begin to fight fire with fire, so to speak. If you seek to do good and things don't turn out the way you think they should, don't give up. It is God who you are seeking to please, not yourself.

Anyway, it is an excellent book, and I would like to encourage you to check it out. I have put a link here from Amazon.com. It is amazing how cheap some of these books are when you purchase through them.

Check it out:

April 27, 2006

A Joyful Noise!

This post is a little late, but I had to post it eventually.

On Easter Sunday, both of the kid's choirs performed on stage. They were both extremely well done, and they even had live accompaniment, complete with a piano, a couple of guitars, and even a harmonica!

I thoroughly enjoyed the group that my older son Samuel was in, and I was even able to hold up my new cell phone and record the last little bit of their song. They were so excited and sounded awesome. I know that God was pleased with these small children.

Here is that audio clip. I am sure that you won't enjoy it as much as I did (being the dad and all), but I hope that it will bless you.

By the way, I have made this my new ringtone and I love it every time the phone rings.

Blogger Keyboard

Need help getting those weird/odd characters to show up on your blog post? Here is the perfect solution, the blogger keyboard.

Just click the link and give it a whirl.

I can't take credit for it. I don't remember exactly how I found it, but it belongs to this guy, and he gave me permission to host it and add a link to it on my blog. Anyway, I found it to be very useful so I thought that I would share it with my fellow bloggers.

April 26, 2006

Practice of Enmity

Here is part of a paragraph that I recently read in the book, The Chase, by Jerry Bridges:

If you were to say that a Christian can continue to live in sin over and over, you'd be crazy! It goes against God's plan for us as Christians. A writer three centuries ago put it like this: "What a strange kind of salvation do they desire that care not for holiness... They would be saved by Christ and yet be out of Christ in a fleshly state... They would have their sins forgiven, not that they may walk with God in love, in time to come, both that they may practice their enmity against Him without any fear of punishment."


The Chase is a book that I bought for my sister for Christmas. When she finished it, she graciously allowed me to borrow it. It has been a great book so far, and has been a really easy read. It is based on another book by Jerry Bridges called The Pursuit of Holiness.

This quote came from chapter 3, which is titled, Holiness Isn't an Option. This is such an essential point in any generation, because there are always those who will try to support the teaching that you can be saved by God, yet never live it. In fact, the author of the quote that is within this quote is Walter Marshall, who lived in 1692. You could even go even further back in history and find others who have battled against this concept.

Many want to believe it too. They want to get that ticket to heaven, but they do not want to follow the savior. Jesus himself said, "...if you are not willing to take up your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple."

Anyway, it is a great book, check it out.


April 25, 2006

blooks?

Here is a news piece called, "Blooks" Are In Bloom. It has to do with blog writers that are being published, and like anything it seems any more, we had to give it a nice little name: blooks.

Even though I am sure that nearly every true blogger dreams of some big publishing company finding their blog, being amazed, and asking them to write a book, I think that we can all agree that not every blog should actually be a book.

April 22, 2006

take me out to the ball game

I took my eldest to the new Greenville Stadium tonight. A friend of mine had two extra tickets that he wasn't going to be able to use, so he offered them to me. They were corporate seats, so we were up on the top level.

They were great seats, and we were up where all of the "rich people" sit. We had our own little room next to our seats. There was a flatscreen TV, fridge, and a waitress. (Ridiculous, if you ask me.)

Almost in spite of the "rich people" seats, I decided to have a great time anyway. We did the typical popcorn and drink. Of course Samuel had to have the ice cream in the little hat.

Sam caught on right away to what was going on, and we had a good time rooting for the home team, The Greenville Drive. We chanted, "We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher" and "...hey batter, batter, batter... swing, batter!"

Overall a good time, and I wanted to share it with all of you.

ESV Bible RSS Feeds

The English Standard Version of the Bible is an excellent translation, from what I have heard.

The ESV Bible RSS Feeds have several different daily Bible readings that are available. From daily verses to memory plans to reading through the Bible in a year.

If you are looking for some daily reading, you should check it out. Especially if you are already using Bloglines, or another feed reader. I have already added the Verse a Day, the Weekly Memory Plan, and the Through the Bible Plan to my Bloglines.

If you want an extremely exceptional blog, that features a verse a day, then you should check out Let Me Not Wander.

April 21, 2006

perfectly good blog material...

I was referred to this comic by Pearls and Dreams, and I just had to share it here as well.



If you are any kind of blogger at all, then this comic has to really hit home.

April 20, 2006

The Oxymoron of Good Affliction

I have noticed in my own life that when things are going well, when everything in my life is functioning the way it is supposed to... Those are the times that my study of God's Word tends to fall to the bottom of my to-do list. I don't intend for this to happen, but reading my Bible and praying are at the back of my mind.

Now, this doesn't make any sense at all. You would think that when things are going well, I would have more time and more energy to spend in prayer and Bible study, but the exact opposite thing usually happens. Oh, I get comfortable and all, and then I forget to make these things a priority. I forget their importance to my daily life.

Once, when Jesus would have been hungry, his disciples offered him bread, but instead of taking the bread, he replies, "...man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word of God."

Yet here I am, living on the bread and forgetting the Word. Then along comes some trial.

You know what I am talking about don't you? Everything seems fine when all of a sudden, wham! It hits!

Now things are different in your head. At the very forefront of your brain is the thought, "...I must read my Bible! God I need you! I need to hear from you!" So, you begin to read your Bible, but not just casually anymore. You are reading it fervently, desperately, hoping to find some glimmer of hope and some semblance of comfort. Your being cries out to hear from God.

David experienced this often. You can't read through the Psalms without noticing it. Once he put it this way,

My eyes fail for your Word,
While saying, "When will You comfort me?!?"

(Psalm 119:82 - Jay Adams Translation)


You are reading your Bible and praying like there is no tomorrow. Your eyes are drying out, your body is weak as you seek after God. Your conscience is suddenly a little bit more tender, so you start eliminating those things from your life that you always knew you shouldn't have had there to begin with. In your desperation, you find that you are adhering to God's word because they are the Words of Life.

You may even be able to say with David,
Before I was afflicted I went astray
But now I have kept your word.

(Psalm 119:67 - Jay E. Adams Translation)

Affliction has brought so many of us back to God. Our thoughts, which have been meandering away from the truth, are throttled back into place. Our view is now changed. Affliction is good to us because of the good God that we serve. Consider two final verses before you go.

68 You are good, and what you do is good;
     teach me your decrees.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
     so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
     than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

(NIV)


Check out the book,

Counsel from Psalm 119
by Jay E. Adams

April 14, 2006

Today.

11:30pm Thursday, April 14, 30 AD to 1:00am Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Garden of Gethsemane - Jesus waits for his arrest

1:00am-1:30am Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Confrontation in Garden and Jesus' Arrest

1:30am-3:00am Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Trial 1: Annas, former Jewish High Priest for 16 years - Jesus receives initial physical abuse.

Trial 2: Current Jewish High Priest, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin Court - Jesus bloodied by abuse.

3:00am-5:00am Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Imprisonment at Caiaphas' palace.

5:00am-6:00am Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Trial 3: All the Jewish elders, including the High Priest, scribes and whole Sanhedrin. They decide to ask the Roman government to kill Jesus.

6:00am-7:00am Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Trial 4: Hearing before Roman governor Pilate, who declares, "I find no guilt in this man."

7:00-7:30am Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Trial 5: Hearing before Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, who had jurisdiction over Galilee. Jesus refused to answer any questions so Herod returned him quickly to Pilate.

7:30am-8:30am Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Trial 6: Pilate repeatedly tried to release Jesus but the Jewish leaders continued to object. Pilate physically tortured and beat Jesus beyond recognition seeking to satisfy the Jewish leaders. However the Jews demanded that Jesus be crucified. Pilate resisted but eventually gave the order to execute Jesus.

8:30am-9:00am Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Pilate's Roman soldiers take Jesus into the court ("Praetorium") and enjoy mockery and continued torture, including driving thorns into his skull.

9:00am-12:00noon Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Jesus forced to carry his own cross, then actual crucifixion.

12:00 noon - 3:00pm Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Momentus final 3 hours on the cross.

Words: "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."

Words: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Jesus (quoting a line from the Jewish scriptures) cries out at a moment in time when he is not just physically punished, but spiritually separated from God, his Father. God separates Himself from Jesus because all of the evils of mankind are placed on Jesus. This spiritual separation is the heaviest sacrifice which Jesus pays of behalf of mankind, so that mankand does not need to suffer spiritual separation from God.


Words: "It is finished."
Once Jesus felt he had borne the penalty for the evils of mankind, he declared his mission as accomplished. This relates to Jesus' earlier mission statement to sacrifice himself for others: "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Jesus quoted by Matthew 20:28)


Words: "Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
These words, spoken to a thief also being executed with Jesus, indicates Jesus' belief that Jesus would continue to live in paradise (heaven) and that Jesus can choose who will be there with him.


Words: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."

Event: Earthquake (recorded in Matthew 27:52)

Event: Skies Darken (recorded in Matthew 27:45 and Luke 23:44)

Event: Temple veil splits in half (recorded in Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:44)
This event signified that there is no more division between man and God. In the Jewish temple, a veil blocked the area known as the "holy of holies." It was recognized as a place where God might be present. Only once a year was the chief priest able to enter the area to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. The symbolism of the veil being torn in two is that with Jesus paying the penalty for mankind's sins, sacrifices were no longer necessary, and everyone can enter the presence of God.


Event: Spear thrust into Jesus' side (recorded in John 19:34) Roman soldier confirms Jesus is dead.

Statement by witnessing Roman soldier: "Certainly this was a righteous man!" (recorded in Luke 23:47) Jesus' innocence is recognized.

Statement by witnessing Roman soldier: "Truly this was the Son of God." (recorded in Matthew 27:54 and Mark 15:38) Jesus' prominence is recognized.


3:00pm Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Death

Later that day. Friday, April 15, 30 AD
Burial


(The information for this timeline was found at this site.)

Blogger's Fuel


I haven't tried it yet, but I just signed up to receive the complimentary coffee reviewer's kit from Boca Java. They have a program for Bloggers called Blogger's Fuel.

I was directed to Blogger's Fuel by a blog called Coffee Swirls. I was inspired to click on the link because of my love for coffee.

Anyway, whether you are a blogger or not, please feel free to click on the link and check out the coffee. Once I get a taste of the coffee myself, I will be posting my review of it.

Thanks.

April 10, 2006

New Phone!

I finally got a new phone! It is a Sony Ericsson Z520a.

It has been a long time since I got a new cell phone, and it was getting a little embarassing. Most of my students had nicer phones than mine, and mine was starting to look more and more like one of those oversized phones from the 80's. (Which, when I was in the 80's, those phones didn't seem all that huge at the time.)

April 8, 2006

Would you have invested?

A friend of mine sent this picture to me in an e-mail. It was one of those that had been forwarded on from person to person, so I can't give credit to the originator of this photo, but it looks authentic enough that I wanted to pass it on to all of you.



I probably wouldn't have invested, but I sure would have liked to interview for a position.

mars rocks!

Get it, mars rock?!? (double meaning...)

nevermind.

Anyway. Here is my current favorite picture of the surface of mars.

mars_rock_monster


It kind of looks like a face. The two dark blue spots are where the abrasion tool on the rover took some samples for study.

April 7, 2006

Ah...The Wonderful Discovery!



It finally clicked today for Sam...the joy of reading books!

So far, reading has been on a demand basis only, required of him by his teacher (mommy) and accomplished through a few minutes at our kitchen table so we can move on to the beloved subject-Math. I will never understand that, but...oh well!

I was straightening the house and I happened upon little boy Harmless engrossed in the comic book of his choice without prompting!

Good for you, Sambo!

No, it's not the classic literature I would hope for him to read but for now, Dad's old comic books will do!

(Final note- Lest you fear that this indoor hobby will turn him away from his outdoor adventures...double click on the picture and look at his feet! DISGUSTING! Boys really are gross!)

April 5, 2006

weakened morals (or) weekend morals

Last week I was discussing with some of my students the topic of cheating. A couple of them had been accused of cheating on a quiz and they were not happy about this kind of accusation. I wasn't exactly sure if they weren't happy about being accused falsely of the cheating or if it was just that they had been accused. Their responses didn't exactly clear this up.

But the accusation did lead into an interesting conversation about cheating. I started off as a passive listener, but then I overheard one of the students in the room state plainly, "...oh, it's just the quizzes, it isn't that bad. I mean, I would never cheat on a test. But cheating on a daily quiz, that isn't wrong."

When I heard those words, everything else in the room kind of zoned out, except for this one student. Then the phrase, "...isn't wrong..." which was still bouncing around in my mind, finally came to rest right on top of my sense of reason.

I snapped out of passive listening mode and said, "I'm... I'm sorry, what did you say? Um... Did you say that it isn't wrong to cheat on a quiz?"

Now, I knew that there were numerous reasons why I should get to the bottom of this philosophy that was being presented by these students of mine. And one of those reasons was because I occasionally give these students quizzes, and if they don't think that it is wrong to cheat I was going to have to keep a better eye on them.

"Well, yeah." The Student replied, very matter-of-factly. "Everybody does it, it isn't wrong." And though not all of them agreed, several of her classmates did, in fact, agree with her!

Being at a Christian School, I thought to myself, "hmm... I don't know. Let's bring the Bible into this discussion." So, I casually replied, "Well, what do you think the Bible says about that?" (Because, frankly, that is the only thing that matters anyway.)

I figured bringing the Bible into the situation would change the course of the conversation a little, but with the mention of the Word of God, they didn't altogether change their tune. They flinched just a little, and then they said, "...Um, well... I know that the Bible says that sin is sin, but... you know... It's just a quiz."

You might be asking why I am bringing this up, and I can tell you that the only reason why I bring this up (on this blog) is because I believe that this is an all too common mentality regarding things like cheating.

Let me share some research to back that up:
Statistics show that academic cheating among high-school and college students has risen dramatically during the past 50 years. The results of the 29th Who's Who Among American High School Students Poll (of 3,123 high-achieving 16- to 18-year olds – that is, students with A or B averages who plan to attend college after graduation) were released in November, 1998. Among the findings:

  • 80% of the country's best students cheated to get to the top of their class.

  • More than half the students surveyed said that they don't think cheating is a big deal.

  • 95% of cheaters say they were not caught.

  • 40% cheated on a quiz or a test

  • 67% copied someone else's homework


According to the results of a 1998 survey of 20,829 middle and high school students nationwide conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, 70% of high school students and 54% of middle school students said they had cheated on an exam in the last 12 months. According to Josephson, the same question asked of high schoolers in 1996 prompted 64% to admit they had cheated. This demonstrates a 6% increase in only two years.
(This information came from this site.)

These statistics are alarming. Mostly because of the rapid increase of cheating, but also because of that second statement, that they do not think that cheating is a big deal.

But the real concern that I have is that this mentality is seeping in amoungst the people of God. That those who would claim the name of Christ, and choose the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, that those people would slide in their morals.

We have known for a long time that Christians sin. (There is absolutely no question about that.) We have hypocrisy flowing through our veins. But when we begin to actually justify the wrong things that we are doing and begin calling those things right, that is a whole different story.

Isaiah 5:20 says,
Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.


Cheating is wrong. It is a form of lying and a form of stealing. The world has forgotten that.

As Christians, may our morality remain as firm and as strong as the Bible that it is built upon, and may it remain in our lives and in our thoughts, affecting our decisions, not only on Sunday, but through the rest of the week as well. I hope that we can me as much of a Monday morning Christian as we are a Sunday morning Christian.

April 3, 2006