May 29, 2006

podcasting

I have ventured into the podcasting realm.

I found a free podcasting service called Odeo a while back, but I didn't give it a try until last week. I titled my podcast The Goatee Speaks and did my first recording just to see if everything was working the way it is supposed to work.

Then I figured out that you can actually upload pre-recorded audio as well, so to see if that worked, I uploaded the first lesson in my Idols of the Heart series that I am teaching at my Church.

Everything seems to be working really well. If you get a chance to listen to the teaching, let me know what you think. I even have the notes available if you are really interested.

Anyway, thanks for dropping by.

the hat

I failed to mention in my last post that the skin grows back hat that I am wearing in the picture was purchased from my cafepress store. My dad beat me to it. He was the first person to buy something from my store. He bought one of the hats a couple of weeks ago.

Anyway. Feel free to visit my store. Everything in it has some meaning to something in my life. Swing on by and pick up a hat.

Later.

May 26, 2006

skin grows back

Yes, that is really what that hat says.

It is a mover's quote. I picked it up after hearing it on several different occasions from several different movers. The quote is referring to how a mover will keep his hands between the wall and the piece of furniture that he is holding to protect both the furniture and the wall. If you bump up against something, the furniture will be protected and the wall will be protected, even if your hand isn't. That is OK though, because... you guessed it... skin grows back.

I have to be honest, I really love this quote. I like passing it along to other movers. I like to tell them how to keep their hand in the right spot. After they crack their knuckles on the edge of a door or something, I like to say, "Hey, don't worry. Skin grows back."

I really enjoy saying it around non-movers as well. I like to watch the expression on their face when I explain to a non-mover the meaning of the saying. Most people give a little cringe and say, "oh... ow." I love that.

This little phrase has started to take on a deeper meaning for me though. I know that sounds silly, but it really has. I have started to think of this statement during times of difficulty.

You see, I believe that as a husband and a father, my role will many times put me in the position of the hand. I am to be there between the world and my family, to protect them as much as possible. When the need arises, I am to take the brunt of things. I am to stay strong and firm in my faith. I am to be unwavering.

But that is OK, because as you know... skin grows back.

May 16, 2006

Free Calls!

Have you heard of Skype?

I downloaded Skype almost a year ago, I think. I haven't used it much, because the only people that I know that are Skype users live on the other side of the planet, so when I might want to talk, they are sound asleep because it is the middle of the night for them.

For the most part Skype isn't much different that any of the other Instant Messengers. They have video and voice chat options. They also have the availability to purchase credits to make and receive phone calls to regular telephones and mobile phones.

Well, yesterday they announced that until the end of the year you can call any phone number in the U.S. or Canada for free! That's amazing!

Whe I received the announcement, I immediately had to try it out, and sure enough... it worked. I called my house from my computer at school. Then when I got home I had to call my own phone from my computer at home, just to talk to myself. Then I called my mom. She said that she couldn't even tell that I was calling from my computer.

Anyway, feel free to give me a call from your computer to mine through Skype.


Call me!

May 15, 2006

What are the schools for?

Here is a good quote that I saw on Douglas Wilson's blog.

"As the ongoing problem with illiteracy in the schools continues to plague us, politicians will continue to call for more programs to fight it. Of course, some of us are a bit slow about these things. We thought that schools were supposed to be the program to fight illiteracy."
(The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 21)

May 13, 2006

My Current View

This Sunday I am teaching one of the adult Sunday School classes. The class is a Biblical Counseling Class, and the regular teacher is on vacation. He asked me a few weeks ago to be the substitute teacher for him, and I gladly obliged. The topic that I was given was, The Idols of the Heart.

Since he asked me to do this, I have been doing some major studying on this whole concept. I have heard this topic taught more than once, but anytime you have to teach something yourself, you want to be as fully prepared as possible.

Today, I am finishing up the notes for the first lesson, and I decided to make my "office" the deck outside my house. Here is a video of my view while I work.



(Don't worry, I haven't decided to add a video to every post that I do from now on...)

Tiger Camera Time

I am trying out the You Tube thing. I have seen it on a couple of blogs already, and it seems to work really well. I like you you can put the video right on the blog, and people don't have to go to a different site just to watch the video.

Here is the first video that I uploaded. It is a video of my youngest son, who for some reason has decided that he wants to be a tiger. He has been wearing this costume around for over a week now, and has even instisted on sleeping in it on more than one occasion. When I decided to record him in it, with my new phone, my other son did the classic, "get in the shot" walk-bys. I thought it was hilarious, and wanted to share it with you. Enjoy.

May 11, 2006

PocketMod

I found this really cool little tool on the internet called, pocketmod.

Pocket Mod advertises itself as a disposable pda. Basically it is a way to print out a piece of paper so that when you fold it in the proper way, you get a six page organizer.

I have tried it a couple of times and it works really well. It has several different options for different pages. Everthing from calendars to lists to tip tables. It would work great for the person who likes to make those lists on the little pieces of paper anyway.

Check out the Pocket Mod.

Those crazy pleasure-seeking Puritans!

Thomas Watson (a Puritan) once wrote:

"God is the chief good. In the chief good there must be delectability; it must have something that is delicious and sweet: and where can we suck those pure essential comforts, which ravish us with delight, but in God? In God's character there is a certain sweetness which fascinates or rather enraptures the soul."


I usually think of the Puritans in a different light. When I think of them, the words like: delectability, delight, comforts, and enraptures; aren't the first words that usually come to mind. I would probably think of words like, stuffy and sad. So this quote goes against my perception of the Puritan. The Puritans weren't against joy and happiness. That is a false perception based on these pictures we have in our heads.

Regardless of perceptions, the Puritans had honed in on some deep truths. They had understood that true happiness and true joy come, not from the pleasures of this world, but from a true fellowship with God.

In the book of Hebrews, we hear of how Moses knew of this truth. Read Hebrews 11:24-25:
"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time."
(NIV)


The pleasures of sin are not satisfying. Moses knew this, and made his choices by faith in this truth. The Puritans must have seen this as well. They were not weak in their desire for pleasure, but they were not going to be fooled into a false satisfaction. One of them even said, the pleasures of this world "only satisfy the deluded."

Even then, no matter how deluded you are, I do not believe that the pleasures of this world will even satisfy the greatest of fools. There are some who might think in their hearts that they have been satisfied, but it is, without a doubt, a false satisfaction.

We can see this truth demonstrated on a daily basis. Just consider the efforts put into pursuing money or fame or pleasure. It doesn't matter how much one gets, there is always a lust for more.

In the Chronicles of Narnia, the White Witch gives Edmund some Turkish Delight. Edmund loves this and immediately asks for more. In the book, C.S. Lewis makes a notation that the Turkish Delight had the power to cause the one eating it to be consumed with desire for more Turkish Delight. He even said that this desire would become so intense that if anyone had been given access to enough of the stuff, they would immediately eat themselves to death.

As humans, we do have a desire for happiness and joy. There is no doubt about that, it is the way we were created. We seek after it in so many ways, but all of the pleasures of this world will never bring the satisfaction that we crave. When we try to fulfill our desires with these worldly pleasures, we are selling ourselves far short of what has been offered us. C.S. Lewis put it this way:
"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."


You see, God is not out to make our lives miserable. He is not making up commands to depress us and quench us. No! He is merely offering us the greatest good, the lasting good, the ultimate joy. He wants us to be happy, but He knows that the only way for us to be truly happy is through Him. He is the only one who can satisfy.

Let me leave you with two other quotes from Thomas Watson... The stuffy pleasure-seeking Puritan:

"[God] has no design upon us, but to make us happy."


~ and ~

"Who should be cheerful, if not the people of God?"

May 2, 2006

Idols of the Heart

When [Moses] relates that Rachel stole her father's idols, he is speaking of a vice that was common. From this we may gather that man's nature... is a perpetual factory of idols.
-John Calvin (as quoted by Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book Idols of the Heart)

I can remember as a child thinking about the whole idol concept. (I know... weird kid, right?) I mean, who was the guy who originally thought up the idol. There had to be a first guy that did this. There had to be some guy who thought to himself, "hmm... I think that I am going to make a god."

If you make your own god, how do you actually bow down to it. You know that it is just a piece of stone or some carved wood. I can understand how people generations later can live in a deceived state. Their whole lives they have been worshipping this idol, but what about the first guy.

Maybe, though, his original idea wasn't to make a god. Maybe it was to bring God to himself. Maybe, he was trying to understand the one true God, and decided to make an image to represent Him. That is what the Israelites did. When Moses went up to the mountain, and all of the smoke and thunder was going on up there, it must have been absolutely spectacular. It must have been something that was beyond their comprehension. So to try and understand this dreadful and awful God, they decided to make an image that they could understand.

The Israelites chose a calf, a golden calf. I can't say exactly why they chose a calf, or who decided it would be a calf. Maybe there was a committe formed, and after the manna and bird stew potluck, they took a congregational vote.

In their efforts to make God tangible, they picked a calf. The calf could have represented provision, because of all of that God had done for them. This calf was also controllable, unlike the God of the thunder and clouds that was at work in the mountain. The God that had said that if anyone even touched the mountain, that they would perish. Oh yes, a calf was much better for them. It would represent God to them, but in doing this, they had created their own God.

One of the matriarchs of the Israelites, so to speak, was Jacob's wife, Rachel. Many years earlier she had stolen some idols from her own father. We don't have all of the details as to why she did this, but Elyse Fitzpatrick makes some possible suggestions. Here is what she says of Rachel:

Perhaps she believed that there might be a god that ruled over the earth, but he was too far away and too unmanageable for her comfort. She couldn't trust him to order life as she desired. She needed a tamer, more docile god -- one she could control. She wanted a god that would give her what she needed. She wanted a god she could steal; one she could hide. She wanted a god she could keep in her purse.

She goes on to say that an idol isn't simply a stone statue or some carved replica, an idol is anything that takes the place of the one true God. I have heard others say that "...if you are willing to sin to obtain your goal, or if you sin if you do not get your goal, then your desire is sitting in the place that only God should hold."

Idolatry is not a dead concept in the lives of the civilized world. Maybe it is even more prevalent than ever. We might not have little statuettes sitting around our houses, but the idol might be there all the same.

Near the end of the Bible, during a time when you would have thought that idolatry was near extinction, the apostle John states in one of his letters, "Little children, guard yourselves from idols." (I John 5:21) I think that this warning is just as valid today as it was nearly two thousand years ago.

May 1, 2006

Crunch Time

Only three full weeks of school with one week of exams left. Amazing how fast time flies, isn't it?