Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Different Direction For My Career

Most of you are aware that I have been pursuing a degree in ministry and have been for some time. Since it has been taking so long, I thought maybe I would try a different direction in life. I mean, really, there aren't any good choices out there for candidates--I might as well throw my lot in!

HT: Thanks, Jim!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Gospel. Not the ABC's of Getting Saved.

Tim Keller, a pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, has written a very helpful article/study called "The Centrality of the Gospel." In this article, he helps you think out the practical ramifications of the Gospel to so many areas of life. He begins, though, by showing how the Gospel is not just the ABC's of getting "saved":
In Galatians 2:14, Paul lays down a powerful principle. He deals with Peter’s racial pride and cowardice by declaring that he was not living “in line with the truth of the gospel”. From this we see that the Christian life is a process of renewing every dimension of our life-- spiritual, psychological, corporate, social--by thinking, hoping, and living out the “lines” or ramifications of the gospel. The gospel is to be applied to every area of thinking, feeling, relating, working, and behaving. The implications and applications of Galatians 2:14 are vast. ...

First, Paul is showing us that that bringing the gospel truth to bear on every area of life is the way to be changed by the power of God. The gospel is described in the Bible in the most astounding terms. Angels long to look into it all the time. (I Peter 1:12). It does not simply bring us power, but it is the power of God itself, for Paul says "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation" (Rom.1:16).

Second, Paul is showing that we never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced”. The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.

We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience, but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal.3:1-3) and are renewed (Col.1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom.1:16-17). It is very common in the church to think as follows. "The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience." But Col.1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and "hard work" that is not arising from and "in line" with the gospel will not sanctify you--it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them "to the word of his grace, which can build you up" (Acts 20:32)

The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel--a failure to grasp and believe it through and through.

From The Valley of Vision, "The Gospel Way" (p62):
Glorious Trinity, impress the gospel on my soul,
   until its virtue diffuses every faculty;
Let it be heard, acknowledged, professed, felt.
Take me to the cross to seek glory from its infamy;
Strip me of every pleasing pretence of righteousness by my own doings.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Funny Wife

There are so many things about Audrea that I love. One of them is her quick wit and sometimes all out silliness. Last night she said something that had us in tears...

I try to pretend that I'm somewhat of a coffee connosieur. I don't like to settle for your regular, run-of-the-mill coffees. The problem is--I honestly don't have a trained palate that can distinguish the nuances between fine coffees. Oh, I can usually tell if I'm drinking the good stuff, but I couldn't tell you the particular differences other than dark and bold versus light and mild.

So last night, Audrea and I were feeling pretty exhausted and goofing off looking at Facebook. She gets up to go put her empty coffee cup in the sink, and I tell her, "You know, these beans I bought today are from Mexico." And she replies, "Oh yeah, you can just taste the chihuahua."

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I hate having to preface a post with apologies, but I probably should just so my own family and friends affliated with PCC won't be offended. So, Cory, Jonathan, Amanda, Megan, Karen, Rob, and anyone else who I've left out: sorry, ahead of time. :)

Check out the new innovation coming soon for Fightin' Fundies!
You can read all about the details at TBNN.

Bonus points go out to anyone who can correctly identify the man in the "Sermons" icon and the theologian in the "Theology" link!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Dark Side and Golf

Some people just have an unfair advantage!

HT: C Michael. Patton

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Call Me Paranoid...

But Audrea and I are going to go with our intuition which we pray is being Spirit-led on this issue. Many of our friends feel that Miley Cyrus--aka, Hannah Montana--is harmless and at this point, simply fun for their girls. She may appear harmless at this point, but honestly, we think she's a wolf in sheep's clothing. Stay far away. Far, far away. The following are our sentiments on a recent article from Fox News:
Miley Cyrus wants to do a "younger, cleaner version of 'Sex and the City,'" the 15-year-old superstar told TV Guide. Cyrus previously told Vanity Fair that the HBO series is her favorite show. She later issued a statement clarifying that she only watches the edited, TBS version.
Oh, phew, that makes me feel better! Now she won't be exposed to the sex itself, just the ideas, values, and art of leading up to it. Here's more...
But while she may like "Sex and the City," she won't be having sex anytime soon. "I like to think of myself as the girl that no one can get, that no one can keep in their hand," she tells the magazine. As a testament to her virginity, Cyrus wears a purity ring.
Hey, it's cuter than one of those campy woven WWJD bracelets! Like the arrogance in the virginity statement? "I'll woo you like a plaything until I decide when"--I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she mentioned something about wanting to love God above herself somewhere else and that went unquoted.
“Even at my age, a lot of girls are starting to fall,” she says, “and I think if [abstaining] is a commitment girls make, that’s great.”
We're left struggling with the weight of what she didn't say...

We want our girls as far away from her as we can get. We don't trust her in the least--she sounds like a new Jessica Simpson who's all "pure" until she's 18 and daddy's not her manager and at her press releases anymore. Think about it: Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears both professed to be Christians early on in their careers. And need we further think on the Disney darlings Christina Aguilera, Vanessa Hudgens (of High School Musical fame), or Lindsday Lohan? All of these purported to be "clean and harmless entertainment" for pre-teen girls and all presented a worldview (while in their "innocent" period) that was not a God-centered worldview.

I seriously challenge you to think about what values are being portrayed by Miley Cyrus through her TV show, music, clothing, etc. I think it'll be a real stretch to say that it is anywhere near a Gospel-driven/God-centered worldview.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt.5

Savannah has to wear this brace for 23 hours per day. It's a nuisance in the sense that it seems so uncomfortable and because of its inconvenience. Yet, we would be wrong to let Savannah have her way and not wear it. This brace should prevent the curve from getting worse and further, may, and already has, help correct the curve. We didn't see this coming though.

We knew Savannah was growing up like a weed, fast and tall, but it wasn't until someone outside of our family--our family doctor--examined her and pointed out what was so obvious to her: She has a crooked back. Even once we found out about the crooked back, there was nothing we, in and of ourselves, could do to stop the crookedness. Having a crooked back doesn't automatically correct itself. You don't wake up one morning with a curve in your spine and then another morning later, months down the road, wake up and find the curve is gone. We needed someone else who was much more capable of fixing the problem step in and address the issue. We needed a brace.

But purchasing a brace and having it custom-fitted to Savannah was not enough to fix her back. Accepting the brace into her life as something she owned was not enough. Everyday, every hour (of course with a few exceptions--baths, swimming, sports, etc--but hey, work with me on this!) she has to keep the brace on her. Her act of simply putting the brace on though, is not what fixes her back. The brace itself is what fixes her back.

It's an analogy and all analogies break down, but I think you can see the picture pretty clear (at least I hope so, otherwise, I'm praying that God will give you eyes to see and ears to understand):
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain.

We need a Savior. He is the One who picks us up from our state of deadness, changes our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, places within us faith to believe, and causes us to repent and believe continually until the end. Dear friends, "continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard..." (Colossians 1:23)

Read about Savannah's Scoliosis
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 1
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 2
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 3
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 4

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt.4

Yesterday, I mentioned in passing that one of the ramifications of scoliosis is social stigma. The researchers tend to gloss over this saying there isn’t any real danger to the patient’s health, yet there is a real issue here that must be faced: "As for the cosmetic concerns, the researchers state that the untreated people 'can develop significant deformity, and the cosmetic aspect cannot be disregarded.'" (Ref) In the article from the University of Maryland Medical Center, the real impact on the whole person is brought out: "The emotional impact of scoliosis, particularly on young girls or boys during their most vulnerable years, should not be underestimated. Adults who have had scoliosis and its treatments often recall significant social isolation and physical pain." The bottom line is—scoliosis can result in incredible shame and ridicule. And the Gospel speaks to this. Dramatically.

Hannah knew about shame—she was unable to have children and in those days that was the ultimate shame for a woman. 1 Samuel 1:6-7 said, “And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.” Then God rescued her from her shame and brought her a son.

Hannah’s deliverance is such a beautiful picture of what God does for us through the Atonement. There are two kinds of shame: the shame from being sinned against and the shame that comes from sinning. Christ became a man and fully realized what it meant to be shamed—sinned against. (Hebrews 2:14-18) But then He also took on all of our sin-shame and bore that in His body on the Cross. He who knew no shame because of sin became shameful for us that we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)

We’ve talked with Savannah much about this and she realizes that when she’s made fun of about the brace to remind herself that Christ experienced the shame of being sinned against. But more importantly, though we are sinned against, our biggest problem is that we have sinned against God.

The emotional pain that comes from being made fun of should never be dismissed. There is much comfort knowing that in the end He will right every wrong that has ever been done to us. But there is even more comfort in knowing that if we are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, every wrong we’ve ever committed against Him has already been punished and hence, forgiven.

Read about Savannah's Scoliosis
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 1
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 2
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 3
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 5

Friday, July 11, 2008

Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt.3

What can happen if scoliosis is left untreated? According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, with...
Severe Scoliosis (over 70 degrees). If the curvature exceeds 70 degrees, the severe twisting of the spine that occurs in structural scoliosis can cause the ribs to press against the lungs, restrict breathing, and reduce oxygen levels. The distortions may also affect the heart and possibly cause dangerous changes.

And with...
Very Severe Scoliosis (Over 100 degrees). Eventually, if the curve reaches over 100 degrees, both the lungs and heart can be injured. Patients with this degree of severity are susceptible to lung infections and pneumonia. Curves greater than 100 degrees increase mortality rates, but this problem is very uncommon in America.

So in general, with more severe cases, scoliosis left untreated can be very dangerous. However most people with scoliosis simply experience back pain and social stigma (more on that tomorrow). For most, it comes down to a "quality of life" issue.

But what about sin? What happens if we leave sin "untreated"?
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In our world, we tend to think, I'm okay with a little sin in my life but God has something else to say about that...

Read about Savannah's Scoliosis
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 1
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 2
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 4
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 5

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt.2

In order to be considered as scoliosis, the spine must have a curve on the xray at least greater than 10°. That's according to the Orthopaedic Surgery department at Massachusetts General Hospital. Our doctors have told us that once the curve is around 24 degrees or greater they start looking at what needs to be done about it. However, in the case of children growing very quickly, they will sometimes be proactive and introduce the brace earlier than that. Savannah's s-curve is 26° and her c-curve is 24° as you can see in her xray on the left. At the rate of her growth and with that degree of curvature, they were concerned enough that we should introduce the brace.

But for others, if the curve is less than 20° and the individual is done growing, the scoliosis can be left untreated. ...So being a little crooked is okay. That brings me to the second way that we as a family have observed that the Gospel applies to scoliosis: How crooked are we as humans and how crooked can we be and still be considered "ok"?

How Crooked Are We?

Psalm 14:1-3 tells us clearly how crooked we are as humans:
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

We're not just people who do bad things occasionally--we're thoroughly sinful people. In and of ourselves we will not do anything good that pleases God. Even the charitable actions we see of people in the midst of crises are acts enabled by the common grace that God gives to both the believer and unbeliever. In fact, we are so crooked, we are outright rebels. As C.S. Lewis put it, "Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms."[1]

How Crooked Can We Be?

But even knowing that we are crooked people, we tend to think, "Well, I'm not as crooked as so-and-so. I mean look at him: he sleeps around on his wife." But that misses the point of how depraved we truly are. When the Bible says that the heart is desperately wicked and without cure (Jeremiah 17:9), it means that we are just as incurably sinful as the sinner next door. In fact, if left to yourself, you will destroy others around you and yourself. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. has said, “Any sin that any sinner ever committed, every sinner under proper provocation could commit.”[2]

How Crooked Can God Allow?

But we say, "Well, the doctor says being a little crooked is 'ok'." And we tell ourselves that: "God will accept me since I'm only a little crooked." But we've already said that we're not just "a little crooked"--we're thoroughly sinful people. And in fact, James says that if we have broken God's law in one point, we have become accountable for all of it (James 2:10). God cannot simply overlook any sin at all out of a so-called "love". He is holy and just and if He would overlook any sin, He would be unloving to His Son on whom He poured out all His wrath for all my sins. It would be entirely unjust for God to simply overlook any of our crookedness. Our crookedness deserves eternal punishment.

And this is how scoliosis reminds us of the Gospel: When I look at how crooked I truly am and realize that Jesus Christ paid the perfect sacrifice for my crookedness, I am overwhelmed at the amazing love shown to me. This is truly Good News--the Gospel.

Read about Savannah's Scoliosis
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 1
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 3
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 4
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 5

[1]C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1952), 59.
[2]Dr. Bob Jones Sr., Dr. Bob Jones Says (radio talks)—Psalms tape series number 9 (ca. 1949)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt.1

The fact that our children are being dealt this condition of having a crooked back has a direct relationship to the Gospel. How? First, realize that sin in the Garden resulted in alienation between God and all of His creation. Paul states clearly that because of sin, creation itself was subjected to decay in Romans 8:-19-21:

Romans 8:19-21 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

What is amazing here is that Paul says that creation is waiting for redemption just like man waits for redemption. All of the pain and suffering we experience here in the now is intended to remind us that things in this world are not the way they’re supposed to be. As C.S. Lewis put it in Till We Have Faces, “Nothing is yet in its true form.” And when we realize this, it should stir up within us a longing for the restoration of all things when Christ will make all things new (Rev. 21:5, Psalm 102:25-27).

However, not everyone puts the problem of pain as being the work of the hand of God. If we take the materialistic approach to creation (i.e. believing that bad things just happen outside of God’s control), then as Vern Poythress puts it, “… that means that evil and suffering are inherent in the very nature of things, so there is no hope of finally eliminating wickedness. This is futility indeed, leading to despair.”

But God has not left us to despair—there is an actual connection to the Gospel. On the cross, Christ accomplished not only our salvation, but also secured the future restoration of all things. This is what Paul means when He says that God was pleased to reconcile all things to Himself by “making peace by the blood of His cross.” (Colossians 1:16-20). And just as in Christ we will be resurrected, because of Christ, all of non-human creation will be restored:

“Christ's resurrection is the pattern for our resurrection. And according to Romans 8:21 our resurrection is the pattern for the liberation of creation. Thus Christ is at the center, both for us and for creation. This should not be surprising, when we realize that he is Creator and Lord of the entire cosmos (Col. 1:15-17). Since he is Creator, he is also Savior and Lord who redeems the entire cosmos from “futility,” the effects of the Fall (Col. 1:18-20). First comes creation, then redemption as the restoration of creation, and finally consummation as the goal of creation. All three hang together in the purpose of God. He accomplishes all three through his Son, the one Mediator.” (ibid. Poythress)

So how does the Gospel relate to Savannah and Sabrina’s scoliosis? It reminds us that infirmities are the result of the curse and that because of what our Saviour accomplished on the Cross, all of our infirmities will be eliminated in the end. Our focus then is not on the present pain and suffering of life, but on the end goal for which we were created—eternity with God, enjoying Him forever—and which was made possible by Christ’s perfect sacrifice for us!

Read about Savannah's Scoliosis
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 2
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 3
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 4
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 5

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Scoliosis is a condition where your spine has an unnatural curve in it and results in a misalignment of nearly every other bone in your body. The curve can be either an "s-shaped" (a thoracic) or "c-shaped" (a lumbar) curve.

At Savannah's last well-child doctor visit in Minneapolis, the doctor discovered that she has scoliosis and is bad enough that she should be x-rayed. After checking the x-rays, she recommended that Savannah go to the Twin Cities Spine Center. We went there and they did some initial checking and said that with her current degree of curvature, given her rate of growth, she could have a very bad case of scoliosis by the time she is done growing.

Once we moved here to Louisville she started going to the Norton Spine Institute and working with a doctor who trained under her doctor in Minneapolis. If the scoliosis is advanced enough there are only 2 treatment options--bracing or surgery. Surgery is reserved for very bad cases. Savannah's curve is not bad enough to warrant surgery but is enough to require a brace. There are different kinds of braces made depending on the type of scoliosis you have. Savannah has both thoracic and lumbar and was custom fitted for a brace that she must wear 23 hours per day (except for when athletic activities are too difficult to perform with it--then she can remove it).

Below you can see Savannah sporting her new equipment. The point of the brace is to stop the curve from getting worse while she grows--so she has to wear this brace until her body stops growing. It is uncomfortable at times and can be hot to wear in this humidity, yet if she doesn't wear it, the results can be dramatic.

Sabrina has also been diagnosed with this condition and is being monitored to see if she will need a brace. While being monitored she is undergoing chiropractic care to help her remain flexible and potentially help improve the condition.

This has been a very interesting trial in our life. If you read my blog at all, it shouldn't come as a surprise to you, though, that I believe there are connections between the Gospel and Scoliosis. I hope to expound in those in the coming days. In the meantime, you can read more about scoliosis at these links:

Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 1
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 2
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 3
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 4
Scoliosis and the Gospel Pt. 5

Saturday, July 05, 2008

My Electronic Pablum

I mentioned yesterday using an online service called Quantum Link by in the 80's. I was curious about what there was out there on the Internet about it and found the video below which an advertisement for it from 1986. What was amazing about this service was that it provided the basic services that the Internet browser brought to the public 2 or 3 years after the first browser was launched around 1993.

I used a Commodore 64 computer like the one pictured in this post and connected to the service using a 300 baud modem. (For those of you who aren't real tech aware--your old modem that you used to dial-up your Internet provider was likely a 56,000 baud modem!) Notice all the basic services that are described in this video. There's even a reference to a virtual world which is the same concept behind the current rage of SecondLife.

Enjoy the laughs!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Just When You Thought You'd Seen Everything...

I've been using the internet since 1989 (back before there were browsers there were connected communities--I used Quantum Link which later became AOL) and have been using the Internet proper since 1996 for work virtually every day. I've seen a lot of crazy and often amazing things on it. So it's very rare when I come across something new on the Internet that I don't say "oh yeah, I've seen that before." Tonight, Josh Harris posted a link to an amazing video that was one of those things I hadn't seen! I looked up the url at the end of the video and read about this guy named Matt Harding. Apparently, Dancing Matt has been around for a while! You can visit his site here. In the meantime, here is the amazing video:

From Matthew Harding on Vimeo.