No fanfare here

Well, it is Friday and my mind is pretty much mush. I awoke at 2:30 this morning wide awake and could not go back to sleep until about 4:30. I was very, very tired but could not get back to sleep. Now at work I am trying to keep focused on the menial, but necessary, tasks and it is taking a little extra effort. :) I will not be in on Monday but I will post my review (so to speak) of Chapter 3 of The Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney on Tuesday. Man I love that book. I really want to get the Book Living the Cross Centered Life as well. I highly encourage those who happen upon my blog to check out the links "Together for the Gospel" as well as "Worship Matters". Very thought provoking (and sometime just plain fun) to read. Anyway, I pray that this finds each of you enjoying God's grace and mercy. May the presence of the Holy Spirit be ever felt and enjoyed by each of you and your homes. --- your brother in Christ Verse for today: Psalm 28, esv To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. [1] Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts. Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward. Because they do not regard the works of the Lord or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more. Blessed be the Lord! for he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The Lord is the strength of his people; [2] he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.


The Educating of my children

I have been struggling with a topic for today. Nothing would stick until I remembered an incident with my 8yr old son yesterday. Both he and his brother had pleaded to be dropped off early at school (!) so my beloved ensured they were there as asked. As background I will say here that he has been diagnosed with Asbergers - a 'high' functioning form of autism. Well, while waiting to be allowed back to his classroom he got into an altercation with another student. For him this will pretty much ruin the rest of the day. Then after he was in his class he somehow got into it with yet another student. As a result they called us to take him home. Now we've gone through the process of getting an individual education plan (IEP) in place for him. There are a lot of things about him and how his autism manifests itself, but that would be pretty intensive. But what I am trying to share today is my frustration with the school system. I am not one who shuffles my kids off to the schools system for them to educate and discipline. My wife and I take time to help with homework, etc. With my #2 though, we need help. We are needing the school system to help us teach him ways to cope with every day things most of us take for granted. Yet we continually run into teachers that just treat him as a behavioral issue - despite their own experts rating him as a "severe" case. Yesterday his assigned aide was out sick, and his regular teacher were out sick, thus they had no one there that knew how to deal with him - so they called us. On one level I understand this, but on another it angers me to some extent. How is my son ever going to learn how to interact when he is being set aside and treated this way (they have also moved his desk so that he no longer sits with the rest of the class). It will only further isolate him from his peers and eventually cause even more problems as his classmates start to treat him differently. I know what that is like because I was always an outsider in school. By God's grace I was able to deal with the situations - and I know God's grace is there for my son too - but it will be a catalyst for much more 'severe' interactions in the future. Oh well, if you are still reading thank you for listening to my venting, and BTW - shameless plug. Another short story has been posted on my other blog. Verse for today: Luke 7:1-10, esv After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.


Huskies & Clydesdales

Well, today is going to be brief. The group I work for has a big wig comming for a visit today. I know this happens to me as well, but it's fun to see normally sane people just seem to lose their minds when some one high up comes for a visit. One thing I've sort of learned is the VIP usually does not know all the intricacies of what we do at out levels. Nor do they realy want to know. They have enough things to worry about at their own level of operations. What they are concerned with is are we performing our tasks and what is the bottom line. There are times when they want to know what you are doing, but they will most likely not understand it. Even those that have worked their way up through the ranks (so to speak) will have forgotten a lot of what they used to do - or the procedures will have changed. IMO the visits are more to show that they are concerned about the people under them - or there is a really serious problem. In either case it is in the Lord's more than capable hands. This visit has reminded me of a funny story. When I was a fairly new Artillery Chief I had the Adjudant General for my state come to visit the gun line. Now I still had to put my helmet on, and pretty up the area, but I was pretty calm about it all. I secretly hoped that he would not come under my net - but of course he did. I did my little skit and while I was talking to him a fire mission was called down. I interupted my conversation and executed the mission, and went back to talking to him. During the fire mission one of my section noticed one of his aides smoking a cigar under my net which is a big no-no (no smoking within 50 ft of high explosives) and the soldier asked him to put it out, or leave! I did not know about that until afterwards and the guy was nervous. I told him he did exactly right and to not worry. Anyway, for me such VIP are for the 'officers' to concern themselves with. For me I just take care of my litte 'section' and all is right witht he world. Verse for today: James 4:13-17, esv Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.


Winding down

This past weekend I had my drill weeeknd for the National Guard. It was pretty mundane. Gunner's exams on Saturday morning, a change of command ceremony that afternoon, a physical fitness test Sunday morning, and the invariable maintenance. We got rained on during the gunners exam, which is not too bad. In the past we've had to do it in the snow (as seen on the left) so this was not too bad. :) This was the first time I was an exam evaluator though. The last time I took the section certification (which we do next month) my section score the highest in the battalion. The change of command is more for the officers involved. At first I thought, "why am I even here. I don't care who is at the top of the 'food chain'." But the more I thought about it I came to realize that it is important for us to be there. These men have been entrusted to lead those under them. Our standing there gives a visual representation of exactly what they have been entrusted with. Sunday morning we took the APFT (Army physical fitness test). Due to a variety of reasons (mostly excuses) I had not been training all that much for it - even though I'd known about it for many months. Because of my conditioning preperations I did not really push myself to do more than the minimum requirements. Which may have helped me pass the 2 mile run - the last event. About 1.25 miles in I was having a hard time getting enough air. Oh, I was breathing well, but it was not being sent to the muscles! :) I slowed to a walk for about 40-50 yards and resumed. Then again at the 1.5 and again at the 1.75 marks. I just couldn't keep my wind. I sitll made the time with 30 seconds to spare. Good thing I'm an 'old' man. The maintenance is getting to be very difficult to accomplish to standards. We have eight howitzers to maintain, but not nearly enough men to get all of it done in one afternoon. The men are very motivated, and they work very well and hard, but it comes down to mathmatics. Thank God it was a pleasent afternoon. The whole weekend I kept expecting to get called into the Commander's office to discuss a certain e-mail I sent to him (and others) expressing my intent on retiring this summer/fall. And at one point they did mention that "we need to talk", but the talk never came. As I walked around the armory and interacted with my fellow soldiers I seemed to take it all in. Twenty years is a long time. I am going to miss it. But when I got home and my kids 'bum-rushed' me, I also knew how much I was missing them when I am gone. Oh, before I forget. I got a regimental coin for my volunteering to go and help with the hurricane Katrina and Rita efforts. My 5th in my military career. Someday I might expound upon the "coin tradition", but not today. Two of the coins are special to me. This one is nice, but falls in between the group. Two others I see as "gimme" coins. That is everyone got one. But there is one military coin that I practically covet. It is the battalion coin. A lot of tradition and history in the battalion. Perhaps I will be able to receive one before I retire, but I am doubtful. Verse for today: Proverbs 25:2-7, esv It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable. Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel; take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness. Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.


What is Your Life Centered On?

I am finally getting to Chapter 2 of The Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney. In this Chapter CJ asks the above question. Just watch the media and we can see all kinds of causes that preoccupy a Christian. Some are good and some are, well questionable. And since the media is the major source of people's information it becomes the perception of what Christianity is about. At the start of the chapter CJ uses an illustration of the owner of a parrot. Almost daily the owner is going to the pet store to get things for the cage to try and make the parrot happy, but in the end the parrot dies of starvation. The pet store was working on the assumption that the pet owner had food, and the pet owner did not know what was missing - thus the vital communication of pet food never came around, and in the end the parrot dies (pg 18-19). D.A. Carson is quoted as writing, "I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far from idolitry." (1), pg 22. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, esv, states: "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. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" To quote CJ..."First impotance. The Bible tells us that, while there are many different callings and many possible areas that service in the kingdom of God, one transcendant truth should define our lives. One simple truth should motivate our work and affect every part of who we are. --- Christ died for our sins." (2) Even not in the site of the mainstream we are daily in danger of moving away from Christ and what He has done and focusing on the periphery. When we do focus on something other than the cross CJ points out that the tendency is to move towards legalism (basing our relationship with God on our own performance), condemnation (focusing more on our own sin rather than on God's grace), and/or subjectivism (basing our view of God on our changing feelings and emotions). (3) Like Paul says in Galations (6:14, esv), "But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Take time to consider these things that Mr. Mahaney points out. What is our life centered on? What do we take time, when we have it, to think about? What is our first passion? What passions and thoughts do we convey to the world around us if it was to be asked? Is there anything in our faith that is not tied to the cross, and what was accomplished there on our behalf. Nothing, and we need to convey this message not just to our children, our families, our churches, our communities, and unto the world. (1) Carson, Cross & Christian Ministry, 26. (2) pg 20 (3) pg 22-23 Verse for today: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, esv For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. amen


Nothing too deep

Well I am trying to keep my head above water here at work today so I don't have anything too deep today. Recently I was reflecting on almost 20 years of service to the Army National Guard and I have come to the conclusion that it is a pretty upstanding organization. Granted, it has its problems. But overall it has been used by God in my life. I have seen it build charecter in men and women. It has a proud tradition, and a cohesion in the units that I have not seen in active duty components - and I have trained and worked with many. Despite the troubles around the world and the turmoil (IMO) in the American culture in general I would recommend the National Guard to any young man or woman looking to get a head start on where they are going in life. I am not going to try and sell what it can, or can't do. But for me it helped me: 1) Get my head together in regards to my work ethic 2) Taught me to respect those in authority 3) Brought me in contact with men of God, and who had an influence on my salvation 4) Gave me a sense of pride in serving my state and country 5) Helped me to go to college, and will help me in my retirement There are others, but those are the ones that come to mind as I type. The military is not for everyone - at least career-wise. And the Army may not be the branch for those that choose to go military. But for me it has been a tremendous blessing. Well, that's all I have for today. I have reserve duty this weekend, maybe my last one where I will have to stay at the armory... "see you all Monday" Verse for today: Psalm 144:1-4, esv Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge,who subdues peoples under me. O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.



I just finished reading yesterdays entry over at Together for the Gospel, titled "A Plan for Reading and Study". Conviction (in a good way) just fell upon me. Especially in light of the encouragement of a good friend recently to get my nose back in His book more often. Good stuff...

What a difference a day can make

Throughout the day yesterday I could feel the prayers being lifted up and I could feel God's Holy Spirit helping give me peace. When I got home there was much to do, and after dinner I got to work on the lawn and garage. By the time a dropped into bed at 10:30 I was pretty beat tired. My beloved also helped me out and did some tasks that she normally does in bed, downstairs and I was down for the count within a very short amount of time once the lights were turned out. There are a lot of things that are not where I would like them to be, but God is good and He does provide. While I was mowing the lawn last night I had my oldest out helping me with a few things. He's still too young to man-handle the push mower, but I was thinking about ways I could teach him to eventually be confident in using such tools. And then, and this might seem strange, I thought it also might be a good way to teach him about how we can relate to God. Right now he (and the rest of my kids) fear things like the lawn mower. And with good reason - last night I accidentally clipped a cap to pipe from the water dept. and the mower disected this metal cap into at least 5 pieces (and caused my heart to stop). I think we can all have a healthy fear of God. His Word tells us that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Job 28; Psalm 111; Proverbs 1, 9, 15). But as Christians we do not have to remain there - an occasional visit will suffice ;-). Next it is good to respect the capabilities of the lawn mower. The same things that cause one to fear it, a spinning blade capable of destroying a hunk of metal (and other things), is also a very useful tool at trimming grass. Now God is not some tool that we humans can just whip off the shelf to pray for things (like prosperity), but we can come to respect His abilities - which are limitless BTW. Can say a word and command worlds into existance (Genesis 1). He can tell the enemy of our souls that he may do such and such, but nothing else (Job 1,2; Luke 22). I can go on and on, but I could never do Him justice. Once we resepct the abilites we can learn to accept and get comfortable with the tool. Once I learned to repect the power of the lawn mower I learned how I was supposed to use it. As long as I followed certain guidelines I was able to use it as it was intended. Once I learned that the lawnmower could cut grass neatly and easily and not metal (something I seem to relearn :D ) I was able to get the things I needed to get done - in this example getting the lawn cut. Once we accept God and the designs that He has for His universe we are able to interface with Him much more cohesively. When you fight with the lawn mower it will not work as well as it has been designed, and eventually disaster can strike. The same is true. When we try and fight with God things will not go as well as they could, and if we fight long and hard enough and eventually reject Him - disaster in the eternal sense of the word. Then we can come to 'love' and enjoy getting the task done when things are performed as designed. As we get comfortable with God, and all of His abilities we can come to love all that He has done. We can marvel at how well it all flows and works when it is functioning as the Creator designed it. Granted nothing in our relationship with God is as linear as I've outlined here. But I am now trying to think about how I can explain this to a 10, an 8, and a 4 year old. :) Verse for today: Isaiah 40:10-14, esv Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult,and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? I really wanted to quote more, but it would take up so much room. I highly recommend you all go and read Isaiah 40... :)


When Wednesdays are Mondays

Well, my day is off to a rotten start, and that's a shame since I just took a nice long weekend. I did not prepare for my review of Chapter 2 in "The Cross Centered life" so I am going to just push that back until next Monday. I was up too late last night, thus up too late this morning, and now I am late for work (still waiting for the PC to boot and download all of the e-mail I've missed the past 3 working days (oh-joy). I started the day with some "intense fellowship" with the wife. I've already had some questions about work and I don't even have my e-mail yet. I took too long to make a decision on going to a BB game with my dad and brother so he gave the ticket away. And quite a bit more that I do not feel like sharing today. It's shaping up to be a wonderful day. Verse for Today: Matthew 6:25-34, esv “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


Black Friday

Well today is black Friday for me for two reasons. The first, and lesser of the two, is that I owe the state some money and it is time to pay up. :) The second is this is the day we remember as the day Jesus went to the cross. The day He died for our sins. For me two emotions fight for 'control' today when I think about Jesus and the cross. The first I think is a natural one. I mourn for His death. I do not want to celebrate, I want to ask the big question - why. And yet I know why, and as I think about the what, and the affect it has had upon me I do so want to rejoice and dance. He has set me free! My sins are forgiven. Not because anything I have done, or even can do, but because He paid that penalty. I am free from guilt and condemnation. And not so that I can keep on sinning, but for when I do sin. Well, this is it for my blog today. I am not even supposed to be logged into a computer today. I have taken a day off form work to go spend in meditation and reflection of my Lord and Savior. May the Holy Spirit be with you all this weekend, and may you all feel His sense of peace and contentment this Easter weekend. your brother in Christ, verse for today: Romans 6:5-11, esv For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. & Romans 8:31-37, esv What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The Last Supper - and my own ramblings

I know there is a 'special' name for today - but the for the life of me I can't think of it. I know it does because my church is having a "Last Supper" service tonight, which I will not be going to. Things have been so busy around my house that my head is spinning. Tonight will be the first night in about 2 weeks that I do not have anything to do. But at the same time - today through Sunday are some serious days to contemplate what Christianity is all about. Last night after I took my oldest to Baseball practice I met the rest of the family at church where are two youngest are taking music lessons. There was a little boy who is known to be quite stubburn and we butted heads. Basically I let a four year old get under my skin. This morning my beloved and I had some "intense fellowship" over a shirt! I had bought a shirt for a special occasion (a date with her) not quite a year ago and she was wondering where it got to. Well for some reason I snapped. I am totally in the wrong and I know it. I'm just so tired of trying to chase down things. Anyway - I will call and appologize to her. I just have to track her down... Before I post my verse for today - shameless plug - I posted another chapter for my short stories... Verse for today: Luke 22:7-20, esv Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.


What to write about

Today I am totally clueless as to what to write about. So I will just ramble ramble ramble. :) A friend of mine, who happens to have encouraged me to move to where I live now, is starting a new job next Tuesday. This bums me a little because we live only 4 doors apart as it is, and we currently work in the same building. I understand why he sought out the new job and I wish him well, but my selfish nature wants him to stay here! :) It's not like we are tight. We don't even share very many common intrests. But his wife and mine are very close so we see each other quite a bit. Earlier this week I went ahead and sent an e-mail to my Battery commander and my First Sergeant to let them know about my intention of retiring from the National Guard this summer. I have so many mixed emotions and thoughts over this - but in the long run it is best for my family, and for myself. In so many ways I feel like I am letting the men of the unit down. They are in a difficult situtaiton with being at a low strength level as it is, they are in the middle of a transition, and the way big Army and the Guard Bureau are looking at things right now... I just have too many irons in the fire now as it is. My existing commitments and the responsibilities of being a good husband and father are weighing heavily upon me. It has been a good 20 years (almost) and it is always good to go out on a high note. With all of my words of encouragement to read the Bible, etc. I have been finding it difficult to make "quiet times" a priority. :( I know this is not a good thing and I am convicted in my spirit to not doing more - but by God's grace changes will take place - ever how slowly. There are so many times when I just want to immerse myself in His Word - to wholly devote myself to the the study of God - but then life just gets in the way. I need to eat, drink. I need to earn money to provide for my family. But then right now I am too busy. It is not the mundane that is holding me back. A wise man once told me "free time will never schedule itself". Powerful words. The same man once told me, "I know you don't think so, but you really can work faster". I was his apprentice at the time. :D I was reflecting on what it means to me to be a Christian samurai. The scene in "The Last Samurai" where Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe) is preparing himself to die with the help of Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) was the one that came to mind. We as Christians are to yield ourselves up completely to the Lord. Katsumoto was dedicated to his lord - his emporer - to the point of death. He belived that in his death he had done this. I as a Christian samurai should be willing to do the same for my Lord. There may be a time when the Lord calls me to be faithful unto death, but that is not likely. It is more likely that I will have to be more like Nabutada (Shin Koyamada) - Katsumoto's son - when he is confronted by the military, and they cut off his samurai's top knot. To the samurai that was a disgrace. My Lord, my God, may call me to a thousand such 'death's, but it is not the top knot that made Nabutada a samurai. It was his heart, his dedication. I am to serve my Lord - faithfully - in any circumstance - to whatever end He has for me. It is not for me to decide when and where I am to die (for example). It is not for me to decide how. I need to be of "no mind" to what the world thinks for that is the fear of man. When I yield to such fear I am in essence telling God that I fear them more than Him. That the world is more important than He is - yet one more stroke open those nails that hung Him upon the tree for me. Verse for today: Psalm 30, esv I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me upand have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment,and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackclothand clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! & Revelations 2:9-11, esv “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’


So many thoughts...

Well, I am not even really sure where to start - or what to write about. Today will probably be a mess of random thoughts so I appologize in advance. Last night was my 'deeper walk' meeting with my Pastor. We meet about once a month and he has been pretty much outlining different aspects of ministry. About good heart attitudes and expectations. One example he used was when he was discipling another man in a different church. "Once they got into they got into the meat" of the study this man apparently went out and put "clergy" stickers/magnets on his car, etc. Pastor Ed was warning us to not try and run out in front of what God is doing. I have always belived that our worship of God doesn't preclude the engagement of our emotions. We should be able to worship our Savior with heart felt tears, shouts of joy. But these should also be tempered with caution. Just as works do not produce salvation, but are a result of our salvation - so should our worship be. Emotion does not produce worship of God, but they are a result of our worship. We should never consider our emotions the basis of worship. A former worship leader of mine (see my link to Worship Matters) posted a blog about the song "Draw Me Close" and it made me think. There have been times that I have heard this song and - nothing. Othertimes I have been moved to tears of joy. I have always heard the words and thought of Christ, but Mr. Kauflin really made me think about this whole subject. Another friend posted what I would like to refer to as a parable about someone taking our place. Her blog was a different slant on another story I had heard that demonstrates Christ's substitution on our behalf. Very powerful IMO. It really does come down to pride in so many situations. We just don't want to believe that we cannot somehow amend our transgressions - make it "all better". I think this is why the Mel Gibson's movie can be so powerful. When we see what Christ went through on our behalf - taking our place - it brings it home. And yet it is not just the visible. What Christ endured as revealed in His statement, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, esv) is the ultimate cost. Praise God that it does not end with what Christ paid, but that He then draws us unto Him for all eternity as revealed in His resurection and ascention. And then another on-line friend has a very deep and thought provoking Blog from this weekend. Grace's 'Walk in His Garden" has been a thought provoking blog for me to read. Well, I am really just off on so many tangents today - not much else to say but I pray that you all have a great day. Otherwise my ramblings and nonesense will take up way too much space. :) Verse for Today: Matthew 6:25-34, esv “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


Restating the Obvious

Well today is the first day of my wanting to review and possibly discuss a book titled "The Cross Centered Life" by C.J. Mahaney and I would like to state here that most, if not all, of the material I will be presenting here is not original to me. I will be drawing upon much of what Mr. Mahaney has already presented in his book. I also have several copies of the book at home and for those that are interested I can probably get a copy in your hands for the cost of shipping alone. Just let me know and we will see what we can work out. Now on to my task at hand... George Orwell once said, "sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." (1) For us as Christians I have been taught, and I believe, that it is our first duty to examine the cross. Too often when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior we quickly move on to "more practicle" matters of Chrisitianity. But if we really examine all that Christ has accomplished for us in and through the cross we will see that it all ties back to the cross. There is nothing about our faith that is independant of it. It is the expressed thought of C.J. in this book (and his new book "Living the Cross Centered Life") that we should live our lives cross (and thus Christ) centered. Do any of the following questions describe you? * Do you often lack joy? * Are you not consistantly growing in spiritual maturity? * Does you love for God lack passion? * Are you always looking for some new technique, some "new truth" or experience that will pull all the pieces of your faith together? (2) If so, and I know from time to time I do, you are straying from the cross as the center of your life. In our walk with Christ the most important truth is the easiest to forget (3). What is our profession of faith? What is the gospel? That Christ became man. That He walked the earth revealing the Father and lived a completely sinless life. That He was crucified for our sins as our perfect substitute. He rose again to defeat death. And He then ascended to Heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father to intercede for those who have accepted Him. Most of us learn this from day 1. Sometimes it is what we have to "get over" in order to accept Him as our Lord. But too often once we profess our faith in Christ we are then lead on from the cross to learn about the "other aspects" of our faith. C.J. reminds me in this book that we should never forget where we have come from (4). "Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity." (Psalm 32:2 esv) Jerry Bridges is quoted as saying "The gospel is not only th emost important message in all of history, it is the only essential message in all of history. Yet we allow thousands of professing Christians to live their lives without clearly understanding it and experiencing the joy of living by it."(5) And another author, John Stott, is also quoted, "All around us we see Christians and churches relaxing their grasp on the gospel, fumbling it, and in danger of letting it drop from their hands althogether."(6) In the coming weeks as I continue to re-read and review here this book it is mostly for my edification as I try and digest it. Absorb it more, and turn it over and over in my mind. not to try and discern some new truth about my faith, but to learn and understand more about what makes my faith in God different and distinct from any other religion in the world. I share it here with those whom read my blog, and my friends, so that maybe we can all bounce ideas and questions off of each other, and this the body of Christ grows together. Even though we are seperated by miles and computer terminals, we can edify one another. Before I go on though - this is by no means a substitution for a local body of belivers. We should all be in fellowship with others that we can meet with, face to face. A group of brothers and sisters in Christ where we can be a part of each others lives. To celebrate each others joys and voctories. To come alongside one another in times of trial and woe. Although we can grow together via this medium, it is no subsitute for being a part of a local church. The rest of this week my 'normal' ramblings will continue - as well as my taking the time to review questions or comments from those who post them. God Bless you all. :) (1&2) pg 16 (3) pg 8 (4) pg12-13 (5) Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace (Colorado Springs, Col.:Nav Press, 1994), 46. (6) John Stott, Guard the Gospel (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 1973), 26. Verse for today: Acts 2:42-47, esv And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.


A Cross Centered Life

Last night my 'Biblical Community' discussed the book "The Cross Centered Life". A very compact, but thought provoking book. I have thought that I would like to sort of go over that book here. Mostly for my own edification so that I can digest the material some more. I would like anyone who reads these rambling thoughts to post comments or questions so that I can further turn them over in my own mind. And maybe the Holy Spirit will share something new with each of us. :) I will post my thoughts on Chapter 1 - hopefully - on Monday. The rest of the week will be my normal ramblings and/or go over points that come up. I hope you all don't mind - but I just want to share some things that the Lord is teaching me, and to help myself better understand some things. For me there is no better way to delve into a subject than to share it with others. :) For me the cross is central to all I am as a Christian. Nothing I do in my walk with Christ, or any part of my day, does not in some way tie back to the cross. I hope you all will help me digest this material even further in the upcoming days and weeks. Verse for today: Isiah 53, esv Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Hallelujah


Blogging Frustrations

Well, unfortunately I do not have anything deep to share this morning. Mostly because my life has been going about 90 MPH lately, but I go through phases. This is just a hyper-space phase. I did have a 'layer 8' issue with my blog yesterday. I had copied the "tag" list and got it posted. Well, my browser did some really crazy things with the layout of my blog (at least from my perspective) so I set out to fix it. Well, in the process of 'fixing' my blog I ended up deleting all of my links. AARRRGGGHHH!!!!!! :) Well, I did manage to get about 90% of the links restored, but I was also able to go ahead and add some new ones. I encourage people to look through the links as there are some really good resources out there IMO. I am always looking to add some new ones so please feel free to share any you may have with me! :) Some of the new links I have added are: John Piper - desiring God: - This man over came some serious childhood issues to become a mighty speaker for God. Some History of Christianity in Japan: - This site has some personal intrest of mine as I try and research the history of Christianity in Japan, and among the samurai in particular. Biblical Archaeology: - My bossman got me hooked on the search for Noah's ark. One thing led to another and I found this site. They have done some amazing research in regards to biblical archaeology. Worship Matters: - I have always loved to worship God with music. Since I am not particularly gifted I usually do so through other people's work. Listening, singing (with an untrained male voice), etc. This man was a member of the group GLAD and now leads worship at my old church. He has some really good insights into worshiping through this blog. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: - This organization is somewhat close to my heart. The Habitat for Humanity: - What better way to help people than to build them a place to live. And not just here in America, but they do work all over the world. I know I will have more links to post once I remember them. For example I will be digging up the website for Young Life - a very good ministry reaching out to the youth of our communities. I am by no means an expert or the single best resource for such materials, but I do seek to find quality and biblically sound resources for myself - and I desire to share the things I have found with those around me. If you happen to follow a link and it blesses you please let me know. Verse for today: Jeremiah 9:23-24 esv Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”


Being Tagged

Well, I was not really sure what to Blog about today and I was reading through several friends and net-aquaintences's blogs and found out I was "tagged". It was intrigueing so I went ahead and filled it out. In turn I would like to tag Bob and "Def Jeff" next. :) Well, here it goes... =============
How did you get the idea for your profile name? When I was first saved I was just learning about the samurai. I admire their dedication to their lords. That they sought perfection in all that they did, and would serve selflesly to the point of death – without fear What song are you playing now, or wish you were playing? Well, in the time it has taken me to answer this question (I am at work) I have listened to: Freestyle – P.O.D. – The Fundumentals of Southtown Be Thou my Vision (instrumental) – Kildare – Evening Dance Portrait by P.O.D. – Satelite Velvet Green – Jethro Tull – Songs From the Wood Flute Solo / Improve – Jethro Tull – Bursting Out Teachers – P.O.D. – Testify Pibroach, Cap in Hand – Jethro Tull – Songs From the Wood Cross Eyed Mary – Jethro Tull – Bursting Out For Unto Us - Handel's Messiah Jack in the Green - Jethro Tull - Songs from teh Wood Aqualung - Jethro Tull - Bursting Out I let the songs rotate while I work. I also have some Irish Folk Music, more Jethro Tull, more P.O.D., some Creed, and a lot of Praise and Worship music. Has the death of a celebrity ever made you cry? Um, no. Sad maybe – but not really cry. The closest I've come to crying is when the Astronoughts died over Texas in the Shuttle. What colour underwear are you wearing? Underwear? Do you want a baby? Not really. God has blessed me with 3 wonderful children, but I have my hands full as it is. What does your dad do for a living? He is a loan application auditor for a bank. What does your mom do for a living? She passed away in December of 2000. I believe God has her gainfully employed though. Just not sure what she is doing. What is/are your pet's name(s)? No pets at this time. Alergies. What colour are your bed sheets? Um, I am not 100% sure. What can I say, I’m a guy. What are the last 3 digits of your phone number? Which phone? Ha ha. Um, it is 659. What was the last concert you went to? Petra. It was in No. Virginia (can’t remember the name of the venue) in 1992. Who was with you? My soon to be wife, and several friends from the Christian Student Union at her college. What was the last film you watched? The Last Samurai What do you dislike most at this moment? Odd question… hmm, having to learn about a new network architecture. What food do you crave right now? A ham, egg, & cheese bagel Did you dream last night? Yes, and all I remember about it right now was that it was military related. What was the last TV show you watched? Deal or No Deal What is your fav piece of jewelery? My wedding ring. Not a big jewlrey kind of guy. What is to the left of you? Hmm, I have a – working from right to left – a cluster of 2 scented candles, a samurai sword shaped letter opener, and a small desk fountain – next a desktop PC for work, a cluster of mess (misc. papers, notes, my drink cup), a small whiteboard with a “to-do” list on it, and a small fan... What was the last thing you ate? A small powdered doughnut – yuck, but it was what was available. Who is your best friend of the opposite sex? My beloved wife. Who last MSN'd you? A coworker - and we used the Microsoft IM service internal to our work. Where is your significant other right now? She is at home. Working harder than I ever have. Do you have a crush? You betcha! Being in love is both the best and hardest thing in the world. What is his/her name? Witheld for personal reasons… but for this she is known as “my beloved”, my bride, my best friend, she is my "shulimite". When was the last time you had your hair cut? Hmm, don’t know the date, but it was just before my last drill day. Are you on any meds? No perscriptions, but I do take Prilosec and misc. vitamins pretty much everyday. Do you have a mental disease? Not officially, but I am told that I deal with depression regularly. What shirt are you wearing? A flannel shirt. Are you sexy? This is a matter of opinion. My beloved says I am. I have my doubts. What's your favourite store? I like eBay, does that count? Are you thirsty? Yes, but I will usually have some form of drink nearby at all times. Can you imagine yourself ever getting married? Well YES! Since Nov. 28th 1992! Before I met my beloved I was never really sure. Who's someone you haven't seen in a while and miss? This tends to vary from time to time. I really don’t dwell on it too much, but while reading this question my mother came to mind. Where do you work? I work for Department of Veteran’s Affairs as a contractor. The best medical system in the world! ============= Verse for today: Romans 1:16-17 esv For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”


Ah the joy of being a part of a community

Although I have never butted heads with an HOA I am learning how to deal with them now. Since I went ahead and put in my swing set I have to submit an after the fact "Architectural Change Review" form. *sigh* I am not overly worried, but the builder - who owns over 50% of the lots in my sub-division and has the approval authority - is not known for being a nice guy. The swing set looks pretty nice. I almost finished it last night but a thunderstorm chased my inside before I could complete the "child's horse" and get the anchors in place. One thing that I was pretty pleased with was I had the excuse to purchase my own power tools. Man, I am 39 and just getting my first power tools! What kind of man am I! ;-) I have two more projects to float by the HOA. The first one is for a patio. Nothing extravagent. About 350 square feet (at most). And the other is to put in some submerged drainage pipes to allow the water from my gutters to be sent away from the house. I live on the top of a hill and all, but in a few areas I am seeing some drainage issues so... Well, that's about it for me today. Pretty busy at work, plus trying to get my internal sleep clock reset. Take care. Verse for today: Psalm 16 esv Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Amen


Yet another early morn...

Well, I am here at work once more at a very early hour. Apparently the techs with whom I have a case open to help me with my IOS issue continnue to require more information. I am starting to get woried as they seem to be focusing in on something that I do not agree to be the issue. But, they ask for the information and I live but to serve. :) Anyway, while I am waiting for data nd reloads I will blog. :) The pinbox derby was a blast. Although I did get a little stressed out over the time keeping since this was my area of responsibility. I was given a laptop with some official software that was supposed to be able to connect to the track and give results. But I had what I like to refer to as a "layer 8" issue (those that deal with the OSI model, or even know what that is will probably get that joke). I just could not get the laptop to recognize the input from the track. So then I was determined to enter the results manually (there were only about 50 entries so...), but then I could not get the different "classes" to accept similar car numbers... So I set up seperate files... then, I can't even remember what happened then... with only about 45 minutes before the races were to begin I set up a spreadsheet in desperation. Then I was informed that the track would not be displaying times, just placements - 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Oh well. My children did pretty well. 2nd, 3rd, and 2nd respectively. Normally this would not be an issue - but when you have a child with Asbergers... Fortunately that did not take all day, and for the most part the kids really did have a blast. I let the kids paint their own cars. I did help with the wheels and the weights though. One funny thing to note. My own entry was disqualified because I was over weight! :) In my zeal to do my own car I picked out a nice pre-cut pickup truck. Bought the weights that you countersink into the body. I used wood gap filler to seal in the weights, filed, sanded, and primed it - and it weighed in at 7 oz! It was 2 oz weight! :) LOL @ myself. Oh well. It was still a lot of fun. I am already looking forward to next year. Oh, and Bob - thanks for the advice! :) I think it really helped me with the kids cars. :) Although I did fail to take the camera for pitcures. :( After much foot dragging on my part, I finally went out and purchased a little swing set for the kids to play on in the back yard. Nothing real fancy. Just a 3 swing set with a "kid horse". I spent pretty much all day today putting it together and it's still not fully completed. Although God was merciful - I only had to go back to the store for one thing. :) The frame is complete - all I have left to do now is to set the mounts for the swings and get it upright. Unfortunately I think we are going to have some thunderstorms later today so I may not get to it today. Well, it is not 45 minutes after I started this blog. My mind is pretty fried. I've been up since 8am EDT, got the family to church, spent all day in the sun getting the playset going, made sure the family got to AWANAs, got the kids in bed, spent an enjoyable evening with the wife watching "The Last Samurai" (her choice), then with only an hour to go till I would have to get up and come in here I opted to stay up... Only six more hours till I get off and can get home for a 4-5 hour nap. :) Complain, complain, complain. :) I promised a few friends that I would comment on my "lay leadership/ministry" discipleship course. I am going to miss tonights (Monday) meeting due to my oldest having a school thing. I spoke with my Pastor and he was totally encouraging and said I could get the materials from him later this week and I could go over it before our next meeting. Well, my eyes are getting tired and I still have to type up my follow up for the hardware providor as well as all the internal "paperwork" - and then get on to other projects. I pray that this finds you all well. Verse for today: Psalm 121 esv I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever more.