Merry Christmas

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when [1] Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, [2] who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” [3] When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:1-20, ESV


Preparing for "battle"

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any [katana], piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:11-13, esv - note: actual text uses 'two-edged sword' )

I need to confess something (even knowing that some people who I know and live near, actually read this). I do not read my Bible enough. I do not pray enough. I do not study enough. And I am a poorer man, a poorer Christian, a poorer disciple for it.

The picture of the samurai of old have been blurred by time, distance, and my American cultural bias and influence. I know they were not perfect, and for the most part, not men who followed Christ and his teachings (even after the Portugese missionaries arrived). But, to reuse a bit of scripture from yesterday for an anology: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Philippeans 4:8, esv)

The first image that comes to mind of a samurai is the katana, or long sword. We (Americans at least) think of these men as masters of the sword. From a very young age they train to master it. As a Christian what is my sword? The Bible tells me that it is the very Word of God. If I am not in His word, if I am not studying His word, if I am not making His very word a part of me, then I am not learning how to use His word. Not for my own purposes, because if I am truly following Christ than I have laid down my life, but for His purposes and glory.

A samurai lived to serve his lord. He was about his lord's business, and in everything he did, it was an effort to not dishonor his master. I don't know if the Daimyo actually knew his samurai personally, and with them still being human, this is probably not the best example. But my Lord, Christ, desires to know me personally. He wants to spend time with me. How do I get to know my Master? It is done in spending time in prayer, in thinking and meditating about what His word is showing me. About looking around and weighing it against what He has revealed to me.

In my opinion, I am a rather weak 'samurai' in the service the Lord Jesus Christ. But even the weakest samurai was to be of use to his lord to the Daimyo. And I further can benefit in that in my weakness, He is revealed to be strong. But that can only be possible when I yield myself to Him.

Verse for today:
2 Timothy 2:15-19, ESV
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, [2] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”


Concerns about the term "Christian Samurai"

Recently a fellow Christian who also refers to himself as a 'Christian Samurai', brought to my attention an article from "The Berean Call" titled "Samurai Christians". In it they expresses "concerns" regarding Christians trying to be seen as 'samurai'.

Mainly they raise three points:


I would like to put forth my own reply, for what it's worth.

Item 1 - As Christians there is an obvious answer to this concern. When I refer to myself as a Christian that means I believe in the Bible, and the Bible is very clear. "“You shall have no other gods before [or besides] me." (Exodus 20:3, esv) This is the #1 of the Ten Commandments. As a Christian I believe that there is but one God in heaven, and that 'the heavens' is not God. As a Christian I also believe that there is only the resurection of the dead to stand before God on the final day, there are no 'extra turns'. "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment..." (Hebrew 9:27, esv). As Christians we cannot be 'double minded' - just as a house divided cannot stand, nor can a man be double-minded (or divided of mind) and still be able to serve God.

Item 2 - I am not God, therefor it is not up to me to determine when I am no longer of use to my Lord. There are a lot of Christian teachings concerning suicide and I don't think I need to beat this horse. No where (that I can find) in the Bible is suicide condoned, and therefor - where my desire to be like a samurai, and the ways of the samurai may contradict the teachings of the Bible, I must conform my thoughts, beliefs, and actions to the Bible.

Item 3 - This is just plain sick in my mind. First and foremost as Christians we are to submit to the rulers that God has established over us (so long as the very same do not 'encourage' us to contradict or go against God). The laws of the United States, and most (if not all) of the world agrees. This is strictly forbiden and there are consequences for such actions.

I consider myself a "samurai Christian", but I am a Christian in the service to the Lord Jesus Christ first, above everything else. I have read Paul Nowak's book "The Way of the Christian Samurai", and I can find no mention of his support for the items listed as "concerns" (my term) mentioned in the aformentioned article. He is quite clear, and I agree, that what we are trying to espouse are the areas of the samurai that can show us ways of being more sincere, more dedicated, more 'single minded' if you will, Christian.

The enemy of our souls is crafty. It is not beyond him to insert strings of Truth wihin his web of lies and disception. This is true of anything we can encounter here on Earth.

I will wrap this up with two quotes from scripture:

1 Thesselonians 5:12-24, esv (emphasis mine)
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, [3] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.


Philippians 4:4-9, esv (emphasis mine)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

So, in essence, I consider myself "Kurisuchan" (クリスチャン侍), or a samurai who has the mind of a Christian - or the mind of Christ. Just as I do not feel that any one person, or denomination, has it all perfect in their pursuit of Christ, I know there are things that the samurai of old may have done that I will NOT do. But that does not mean that there are things that they did, that were not praise worthy and worthy of being emulated.


Christmas traditions here at the Dojo

I was struggling with an idea to blog about, when a fellow blog-buddy suggested "Christmas traditions". I had to think hard about this one because growing up, no two Christmas' were the same. But then I remembered the ones I've sort of started with my own family.

The first one is regarding our tree. If you note, the picture on the left is a fine example of symetry. A good amount of lights, pretty decorations. Not our tree! We have a lot of home made orniments that were assembled by our children. We also have home made garland made of red yarn. The amount of lights varies from year to year because it depends a lot on which strings I can get to work. For example, this year we are strictly a white light household. LOL. DS1 even makes new Lego ornaments every year.

My beloved's family has a tradition of eating Fondue at Christmas. I mean, there's turkey at Thanksgiving, and a big meal for New Year's, Easter, St. Patrick's day, but it just feels like it's too soon to eat another big bird. Although we have not made it a tradition in our home yet, I think we will starting this year. My beloved was actually suprised when I suggested it for our dinner.

Here's one that I have brought in from my own childhood. When I would wake up on Christmas morning, my mother would lay out our stockings on our beds. This, I later learned, was to encourage my brother and me to stay in our beds a little bit longer. ha ha ha One Christmas eve, I can't remember how old we were, my brother and I were told that we could not open ANY presents until the morning. That night we dozed off anxiously expected the next day. Well, my brother woke up a three in the morning! And he new what time of day it was! He starts walking around the house yelling, "It's the morning!"

I know one tradition that did indeed start with our first child, especially once he knew what Christmas was and all that. We open one present on Christmas eve now, and have done so since he was born (this being the eleventh year).

Some traditions I would like to start, but haven't yet...

* I would like to start reading the account of Christ's birth from Luke.
* Waiting until after breakfast to open presents.
* Having my children pick out a present (either new, or from a working part of their 'horde') to give away to a family in need each year.

May the spirit of the Lord fill each of you with the joy of what this season truly represents.

Verse for today:

Psalm 91:1-2, ESV

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most Highwill abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say [1] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,my God, in whom I trust.”


Yet more ramblings

I'm not really sure what to blog about so I thought I'd just put down some random thoughts... * My beloved had an eye exam at the request of our primary care provider. No change in her vision, so we still do not know what is causing her headaches. More follow visits to come. * So, I am almost asleep while watching the end of Monday Night football last night when ESPN cordially informs me that the Panthers are still in the playoff hunt. (See my blog entry on what their real chances are) Ok, I'll buy into it - after all, I believe in miracles. * Speaking of football... somehow, the team I am playing in my church fantasy football team has made it to the 'Championship' game! What makes this so blog-worthy was that my team was 6-7 going into the 'playoffs', and since then I've taken out the #1 and the #4 seed. This weekends game is against the overall #2... to be honest, I'm just happy to be there. :-) * We had some pretty severe storms over the weekend. Sometime Sunday-night/early-Monday morning a tree in my side yard went down. It didn't just lay over, it snapped at about six feet. And, I am not talking about a bending kind of break, but a complete break. By God's grace it didn't hit the house, or my neighbor's fence. It practically fell parallel to the property line. Now I get to play lumberjack. :-) * Last night my beloved went to a cookie exchange with a bunch of friends. She had a great time, but because so many ladies participated, whe came home with eleven dozen cookies. A funny image came to my mind... what if at these things they did things like at a 'wine tasting' party. You know, you take a cookie, nibble on it, and then spit it out into a spit bucket so you don't end up getting too full by eating too many cookies and ruining your dinner. LOL * I am done with the shopping part of Christmas, but that does not mean I might not have more gifts to buy. There are some gifts for my family that my beloved usually takes care of. Now, to be fair it is not her job to buy gifts for my family, it's just that I've gotten spoiled over the years. :-) And there is also all of the wrapping that still needs to be done. I was sitting at my home computer getting ready to type up our family letter when it hit me... there are only eight (seven now) more days until Christmas! * A friend of mine got some really good news! By God's grace she has been able to eliminate most (if not all) of her debt! Just in time for Christmas! \o/ Praise God for His mercy and kindness. * Facebook is both a blessing, and a curse. I joined up to network with someone who invited me to join so that we could network with some others with similar interests (he's Catholic, and I am protestant, so there is some oil in the water, but that does not mean we don't have similar interested - especially in our Lord and Savior). Since then I have become totally hooked. So many widgets and gizmo's. It's becoming my second favorite thing to do on the web (Blogging is still #1, and Webkins has been dropped to #3). One great thing about it has been that I've been able to connect with some Army buddies who are not able to be home for the holidays. * I have started the early stages of working with my friend to see if we can add a little 'trimmings' around the Dojo blog here. Seeing how fast this is coming along, it might be next summer before it's ready. LOL - BTW, if any of you guys (especially Linda and Susan) know how to update the template via the new Blogger platform, I would love to hear how. Also, if you have suggestions I'd be happy to hear them. Verse for today: Psalm 86:11-13, ESV Teach me your way, O Lord,that I may walk in your truth;unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me;you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.


Musical Monday

For some reason I am having trouble coming up with a song in just my second week of wanting to do a recurring 'theme'... Hmm... well, I am going to go with a song that I find myself whistling even in July... Silent Night:
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born
Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
For as along as I can remember this song has held my heart pretty dear. I know that it is a romanticized vision of the night Christ was born, but for me it envisions what I would have liked it to be. A great article on Worshiping God can be found at Worship Matters. Ultimately Praise & Worship music is to declare glory for God. Verse for today: Luke 2:8-14, ESV And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” [3]


Theological Thursdays

Ok, so I'm a day late... I have a good reason... really. :) Which is why, before I dive in, I would like to ask who ever stumbles across this blog, to pray for my beloved, and our family.

On Wednesday my beloved called me from the Chyropractor's office - which is one town east. She was having difficulty seeing (blurry peripheral vision), and feelins light headed. I drove out to get her and then to the Family Practitioner's office. The doctor ordered a CT scan that night, which praise God \o/, came back normal. There are a lot of possibilities, but nothing for certain. Since then she's still had episodes where she is light headed, and there are some minor spikes in her blood preasure (low-mid 130's over mid to upper 80's). She is on some 'good' pain relievers, but that just leaves her semi out of commision. Anyway... that's all for now.

When I started thinking about "Musical Mondays", I also had the idea of starting a "Theologial Thursdays" thread of blog posts. This way, I know I am at least attempting to visit something resembling a Christian post once a week. LOL. Not really knowing where to start I decided to read, and review "Living the Cross Centered Life" by CJ Mahaney. I will not pretend to know, or have as much passion, about this subject as Mr. Mahaney, but in many ways I hope to draw close to his firey passion on this subject, in the hope that "sparks" may fall on me, and that perhaps God would use it to ignite a flame in my own heart as well.

This book is first is a follow on to the 'original' titled, "The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Main Thing, the Main Thing", but where the original was an fresh start, this book helps delve into the practical. There are 14 Chapters, and I hope to review one a week.
The Forward in "Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Main the Thing, the Main Thing" is written by Dr. Albert Mohler, in there he writes, "...reading this book will not be a safe and static experience."(1) How can it be? As we get ready to celebrate the arrival of Christ is the form of a human baby, I feel that it is of utmost importance to remember why it was that He came. The journey began when He was concieved by the Holy Spirit in Mary's womb, and the history began when he lay in that manager... but it ends with the culmiation of of God's plan of redemption, and payment for my (our) sins on the cross, and his resurection three days later. Through the history of the Lord Jesus we see a the plan and provision for a perfect Mediator to represent us before the throne of God.

As Dr. Mohler writes, "...this book is a manifesto for turning your world upside down." (2) I truly hope that this is the result in my own life... may God use these meager efforts to do the same with others.

Verse for today:
Romans 3:21-28, ESV:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

(1) Mahaney, CJ (2006), Living the Cross Centered Life. Multinomah Books, 9 p.
(2) Mahaney, CJ (2006), Living the Cross Centered Life. Multinomah Books, 11 p.


Is there ever a 'break even' point?

I am a firm believer that God allows trials and troubles to come along. I am not going to profess that I know all of the reasons He might do this, but I do know that it is ultimately allowed (i.e. Job), and used by Him for His glory (Romans 8). I guess what I am trying to say is that when I have been in financial need money seems to appear out of 'nowhere', but never enough to really get me over that hump. By God's grace I (by that I mean my family) do not live paycheck to paycheck, and we have never not paid a credit card off in full at the end of the month. Well, I need to cut this short for now...


Face book... what's that?!?

Well, I finally joined Facebook... not sure why really. I keep hearing stories of how the authorities (i.e. the Police) gather information about certain people using things like MySpace, and FaceBook. I know it's a social networking site, but I've never joined such a thing before. Today's been crazy - work, joining and learning about Facebook... so there's not much more to today's post... my appologoes... One thing though... i did confirm that what I had learned about the Kanji charecters for "Christian Samurai" was correct. Apparently - クリスチャン侍 - does indeed represent what would closely represent "Christian Samurai". The first six charecters represents "someone who has the mind of a Christian", while the last one represents "Samurai", thus these kanji charecters says something to the affect of a "samurai who has the mind of a Christian". May God pour out His abundant peace and grace upon you all. :) Verse for today: Acts 2:42-47, ESV And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe [4] 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.


Musical Monday

Welcome, this is the first of what I hope to become a tradition here at my humble 'dojo'. I really enjoy music. I could have it on in my house, car, work place, where ever - pretty much 24 hours a day. The type of music I listen to will depend on what mood I am in, and generally what is the easiest to get into my ears.

Music is a powerful thing. It is not merely entertainment. It has power to shape your mood. It has power to affect your thoughts. It is my belief, that it can even penetrate to your very soul. I believe that because I can notice changes in my emotions, and thought patterns that deviate from (what I consider) my norm. Sometimes right away, sometimes not for days. While many of you may, or may not, agree with me on this last point - it is the primary motivator for me to begin what I will call 'Musical Mondays'. While my blogging skills are not very well developed, I am always willing to learn and grow, so I am also hoping that this will help in that regards. For now, I am limited to jsut text. In the future... who knows. (One things for sure, it will never include me singing... that would just drive you all away ;-) )

The very first song I wanted to blog about has got to be my all time favorite, Amazing Grace. Since I do not have to worry too much about copyright on this classic hymn here they are:

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T'was Grace that taught...
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.

When we've been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

As a born again, evangelical, reformed, charismatic Christian these words stop me in my tracks pretty much every time I hear them, no matter what form I hear them in. I remember as a very 'young' Christian "hearing" these words for the first time (you know when you actualy feel the words, and not just listen to them...) I actually cried. Although, I still don't cry at this song, it does still bring me to a point of meditation and reflection.

Now when I listen to it I think of me... "...that saved a wretch like me...", lost then found, sight, fear, hope, protection, promise, hope. When I hear this song it moves me like no other song has. God's grace... even now I am distracted as I try and write this.

When I respond to the question, "How are you", and I respond like my old pastor and modern day example of a man I would aspire to be like CJ Mahaney - "better than I deserve" - too often (in my opinion) I will get some kind of response like I am being too hard on myself. That I deserve only the best things in life. But if one is completely honest with oneself do we really deserve anything?

From God's point of view what am I on my best day, apart from Christ's work on the cross, what am I? A sinner. Uterly contemptable in God's sight. It was only by His grace that the plan of Christ coming to the earth, and the revelation of God to my heart and mind. It is God's grace that even helps me in the daily struggles that I experience when I stumble and sin. This song reminds me that it is not only God's grace that saved me, but that it is His grace that sees me through the daily struggles of life. And that is not all. There is the grace that will see me through to spend all of eternity in His presence, enjoying Him, and being given to continually enjoy the gift of music, singing His praise.

Verse for today:
Revelation 5:11-14, ESV
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.


Only 56 more hours until Monday

... today just flew by. I was working on a set of switches that "absolutely, positively, have to be there..." - you get the idea. A lot of "layer 8" issues, but I managed to get through it. They will "burn in" over the weekend and ship out on Monday.

I finally have some new story ideas so I've been taking notes (but I left my notebook at the Chyropractor's office last night) and I hope to begin outlining what I hope to be abother 10,000 words or so for my continuing charecters (see my writing blog if interested). It will mostly revolve around action and sci-fi adventure - not much romance despite my own affinity for those kinds of movies. Speaking of which...

I've seen a trailer for the movie "Atonement". This movie shows a lot of promise, but with it being in limited release, and having learned a few things about it... I am not sure I will want to make the extra effort to go see it. I will not try an bias anyone's opinion...

I've been thinking about starting a pin collection of sorts. You know, like people sometimes do on hats and the like. These are the pins I think I would put on it...

US Army pin - because it sort of represents my school of 'higher learning'
Air Assult - because this was one of my 'high marks'
Honorary Order of St Barbara - because it is another 'high mark'
The Tron Pin I reference on Wednesday - because I am a geek like that

I was thinking about some kind of Huricane Katrina pin, because that meant something to me as well. There are others, but my mind is failing me right now... no surprise there.

Well, I want to treat my beloved to some kind of date night, but our budget is pretty tight... I may have to settle for NetFlix... :)

Tha Panthers travel to Jacksonville on Sunday... although I will not be able to watch it, I really-really-really want the Panthers to win this one. If they have no more upsets the rest of the year this would make my year. :) Jacksonville is the better team this year, and although the Panthers beat the 49ers last week - I am not going to get my hopes up.

Oh, before I forget... I am 'keeping track of' a few movies that are rumored to be coming out...

The Hobbit
And the next Tron movie

That's all I have for now... hope you all have a blessed weekend...

Verse for today:
Psalm 31:3-5, ESV
For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.


One more blog about Disney and then I move on...

There were three shows that my beloved absolutely "had" to see while we were at Disney. They were "Fantasmic" at MGM Hollywood Studios, "Wishes Nightime Spectacular" at Magic Kingdom, and "IllumiNations" at Epcot. The first one we were able to get to was the "Wishes" at Magic Kingdom. It was only our second day in the parks, but by the time it started it was around 8:30 PM. We had been out and about for 13 hours (we started the day by taking our DD3 to a Princes Breakfast over at Epcot), so my fuze was getting a little short. In the end I was not very... patient, for lack of a better word. Long story short, I missed that one because I tooko the kids back to the room and a quick dip in the pool. The next one we went to was "Fantasmic". That one was crazy to get into. It is way back in the corner near the "Twighlight Zone Tower of Terror", and it was highly recommended to arrive 45 minutes prior to showtime. We arrived 60 minutes, and it was still PACKED! Now, DD3 was terrified through through the entire show and I had a squirming 6 year old - but there was no where to go. I put in her set of ear plugs, and covered up her ears/eyes/whatever to help her through it. From a technical point of view the show was fantastic! I am running out of time for today so I am not going to be able to adequetly describe... live charecters on a stage, spouts of water in time with music, vidoe and laser light shows all using the water as a screen... fireworks, special effects... it was a phenominal show. The storyline for the show I was not as enthusiastic about. It was basically a battle between good (Mickey, and his imagination) and evil (practically every Disney villian you can imagine). In the end it is Mickey's imagination that wins the day and the world is saved (or at least Mickey's dreams). It is a great show. The last one we caught was on the second to last night we were there. My beloved and I had wanted to try out a Japanese resteraunt (tempora... yum!), but when we could not find Lo-Mein on the menu DS2 and DD3 basically boycotted that idea... we ended up spending way too much money at the Chinese sit down resteraunt on the other side of the lake at Epcot's World Showcase. "IllumiNations" started kind of late, but it was a pretty good combination of fireworks and oratory, not to mention some good lightshows. The story line was basically "peace on Earth, and goodwill towards men". Does that sound familiar to you?

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:8-14, KJV)

The show is distinctly devoid of reference to God, or any religion for that matter. But I understand the intention. Although these shows were not exactly the message I would like to see/hear, and they can easily be interpreted from a distinctly humanistic point of view. Mickey winning the day by over coming evil with his own imagination. The world uniting under the prospect of peace and goodwill towards one another. I worry about these messages only because it is devoid of Christ in being the source of these solutions. We can use our imaginations to overcome evil, both in our minds (dreams) and in our surroundings. We can extend goodwill, and peace to the world. But in and of our own efforts, this will not be enough. The sin in the world cannot be overcome just by our good intentions, it must include God. Someday these things will be accomplished, and we - as Christians - need to do our part. I had more, but I am out of time for today... Verse for today: Romans 12:14-21, ESV Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. [8] Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it [9] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


My how the time flies!

Well, after a lot of planning (mostly by my beloved), I took the family down to Disney World for a vacation. With limited time, because I am trying to catch up on so much here are a few quick points...

1) Pay close attention to the times of all parades in each of the parks. I don't care how (not) crowded it is, these always draw crowds - and they make it very hard to move around. On the flip side... the wait times on most rides drops WAY off! ;-)

2) I highly encourage everyone to plan, plan, plan. Even though we had to rearrange our plans, knowing which rides were maybe a little scary (especially for DS2 - my Aspergers, or Aspie) was very helpful. Also knowing what rides might be closed. Also, unless you abszolutely have to... don't go to the sit down resteraunts all the time. A lot of the 'counter services' had about 75% of what the sit downs did, for a pretty good bargin. Also, my beloved and I split most of our meals. We saved a LOT of money this way.

3) One of our friends had warned me about the pin trading thing (as he and his family went about 18 months ago), but I was not fully prepared for what it was all about. For the most part I kept my kids away from this 'experience', but one can hold back the tide only so long. :) One day we all went to the Indiana Jones "Stunt Spectacular", but for some reason this freaked out my little darling, so being the dutiful father I am, I took her with me to wait outside until the show was over. She was crying so hard (and this was only five minutes into the show), that I walked over to a nearby vending area (these are all over the park BTW) to just try and distract her. Well, she saw the Princess 'starter' lanyard and four pins, so I bought it for her (I also bought her a 'Belle' pin because she is her favorite princess - and she had a Princess breakfast with her the day before). Well, DS1 kind of caught on and he asked for one too. He was a little more genaric in his choices, opting for one that showed all four of the theme parks, and a pin of his favorite ride - The "Twilight Zone Tower of Terror". (I later bought him one for "Expidition Everest" because we rode that together - twice). Finally I caught some interest in it, but my desires were a little more specific. I wanted a "Tron Pin". Unfortunately, we travelled to Disney about 6 weeks too late. :*( That has not stopped me though... As soon as I got home I went to eBay and sought out what might be available. Since then I have purchased this beauty -->

What can I say... I am a geek. I also bought a pin lanyard, not to display pins on (although the Tron one might find it's way), but to use for my ID badge at work.

4) Make sure you try and see it all, or at the very least know that it may be impossible to see it all - slow down, enjoy what you can. It really is an amazing place. The details they put into everything. The building exteriors. The decorations that adorn the wait lines for the various rides... we deliberately went during a 'non-peak' week, and there is a (very) small part of me that regrets that we did not have longer waits for some of the rides. I am one who likes to look and read things, but there just wasn't enough time.

5) There is something at Disney for pretty much everyone. From the Dumbo ride, to a Carousel, to live shows, to interactive features (the Laugh Floor was great!), to roller coasters, to just scenery. And they do a great job of keeping it clean. I saw families with little babies and toddlers having a great time, and I even rode a bus with three elderly people (a husband and wife, and a mother of one of the two) - they were all there having a good time.

6) If God so provides (the only reason we went this year was because it looked like I was going to be deployed, and my beloved really wanted to make sure she had a trip to remember for the kids - in case I was not at home), I would love to take the family back down. I'd really like to take just a time for just me and my beloved (probably when the kids are grown). It is very expensive (although there are some great deals to be had so shop around), and there are a lot of better ways to use the resources God has provided... but it was a highly memorable journey.

And in other news...

I was able to catch about half of this weeks Heroes episode. Hiro suprised me... I have had nightmares (as a kid) about what he did to 'Kensei'... I still like the Hiro charecter... but what he did disturbed me.

I am about 75% of the way through last weeks 'The Unit' episode and I must say... I am liking Bob (aka "Cool Breeze") more and more as this show goes on. I am interested in seeing how he deals with his troubles. Although the Chaplin (CPT Lantz) has only made two appearences - but I am liking him as well.

The WV Mountaineers really embaressed me while I was on vacation... *sigh*, but then again, they seem to choke when on the national stage. They had two bowl appearences where they choked both times... it will be interesting to see what they do this year.

Well, I am going to wrap this up before it takes until tomorrow to complete. I'll probably have more to say about my trip in the coming days.... but I will leave you all with the one pin I was most desperate to find for my own collection - even more than the Tron pin... God bless...

Verse for today:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I'm back!

As a means of explination... my beloved, myself, and our three lovely children took a short holiday (ok a long one), but it is back to the old grindstone today. ... more to follow... soon. :)