Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One Truly Amazing Act

I want to share with you what was for me a very profound thought, or series of thoughts, that I had today. A thought that I believe was given or directed, by the Holy Spirit (a big claim I know, but I don't think I could have come up with this on my own). I'm not sure how well I'll be able to put this into words; hopefully I will be able to accurately convey the thought(s) I had.

First, a little background to set the stage. Over the last month and a half, I've been slowly making my way through A.W. Tozer's "Knowledge of the Holy". One of the attributes or characteristics of God is His infinitude - He has no limits. This goes hand in hand with His power - His power knows no limits.

Alright, back to my story. On my commute home tonight I was listening to our local K-Love Christian radio station. They have these 60-second, "Parable Big Change Moments" on once a day (or at least I only hear it once a day). I don't remember what the point of today's was but it used Daniel in the lions' den as an illustration. The narrator mentioned how King Darius was a witness to the amazing act of God in closing the mouths of the lions.

I started thinking about what an amazing God we have who could shut the mouths of lions. Then the thought occurred to me that the act was only amazing from my human view point, because it is something that no human could do. But stepping out from the bonds of humanity's finiteness and looking at it from God's perspective (not that I can really know what God's perspective is), this act did not require any effort on God's part. He willed it and it was done. He did not have to strain, did not break a sweat and did not have to wonder if it would work. His power knows no limits and therefore doing this miracle took nothing more than an act of His will and cost Him nothing - no effort, no work and no energy.

Then I started to think about other amazing miracles and acts of God in the Bible, such as healings, the man who came back to life after touching Elisha's bones, the sun moving back on the stairs, the sun standing still, fire and brimstone falling on Sodom and Gomorrah, the parting of the Red Sea and finally, the act of creation. All of these are amazing and awesome to us and God should receive praise and glory and honor for them. Yet they all took no effort on His part and cost Him nothing.

It was after thinking over all of this that a very profound thought came into my mind - the one truly amazing act that our all-powerful God has done is the redemption of mankind. In this act God gave of Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. It cost Him His Son and it cost Jesus His life. It was a sacrifice. A sacrifice which He did not have to make but did so out of love.

1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)
"9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (NIV)
"3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."

John 1:14 (NIV)
"14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

I hope no one has been offended by this post and feels that I have been disrespectful to the wondrous works of God. I have tried my best to avoid the appearance of that, for that is the last thing I would want to do. For me, His works have not been diminished in the least, just put into perspective - what I can best imagine as God's perspective of His acts. We have such an awesome, powerful and big God and I am frequently guilty of, in my mind, making Him less than He really is. The workings of God and His miracles are amazing to us and we should praise Him for them. However, they pale in comparison to the one truly amazing act of self-sacrifice performed by God to redeem His sinful creation. I feel awed and humbled by this truth.

Thank you Father God and Lord Jesus for mankind's redemption. To You be the glory, honor and praise.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Who Was That Unknown Commenter?

Have you ever had that experience where you know you've seen something a million times before but only just really took notice of it?

Yesterday, as I was catching up on my back log of blog reading and posting comments where appropriate, I really "noticed" on the Blogger comment forms the section titled "Choose an identity" with a list of about four options. I couldn't help but feel a little like Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible - "Hmmm. Who shall I be for this comment?"

How would you like Harrison Ford to post a comment on your blog? Or Catherine Zeta-Jones? Both can be arranged, given the right price.

Of course, being a lazy commenter, I just stuck with my Blogger ID since I was already logged in and it defaults to that. But, you never know what the future may bring. Keep a weather eye out for comments from VIPs. :-)

Scriptural Follow Up

I realized that I did not mention an important part of the "No TV" journey I posted about yesterday. That part is the Scriptures God has used during the journey to keep me focused and to keep me from turning back.

The first one that He has often brought to mind is Romans 12:2 (NIV):

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
There are two commands in this verse: 1) stop being conformed to the pattern of this world (i.e. stop eating the garbage of the world) and 2) continually be transformed through the renewing of your mind for the purpose of testing and approving (confirming rather than giving approval to) what God's will is (i.e. feast yourself on the rich, healthy food God serves at His banqueting table). For my journey, getting rid of the TV falls under part 1. You cannot just eliminate part 1 and not implement part 2. That would leave a vacuum in your life that would eventually get filled and if you're not intentional about it, it will not be filled with Godly things. For me, part 2 has been reading good books, listening to good messages/sermons on CD and hosting a Bible Study in our home.

The second Scripture is Romans 6:11-14 (NIV):
"11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace."
Verse 11 is the one that most often comes to mind as I have to continually die to myself. See Luke 9:23-24 to see what Jesus says about dying to yourself. For me, it has been easier to count myself dead to sin if I am not exposing myself to the temptations of sin. On the converse side, counting myself alive to God is easier if I am intentionally participating in activities that glorify and honor God.

Below are some additional Scriptures that God has also used in this journey. Any emphasis is mine. All these are from the NIV. I think it's fairly easy to see how these can apply to not watching TV.
James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The "No TV" Journey

This post is in response to a comment by Mr. E. This is an update on my family's journey into the strange and unknown land of "No TV". You can read the first two chapters here and here.

To answer the most obvious question first, yes, we still do not have a TV and have no plans to get one. We, however, are not completely lacking in media entertainment. Our laptop has a DVD drive in it and on an occasion, we will put on a DVD for the kids and on even rarer occasions, put one on for us.

Me eldest, Will, still has completed the TV withdrawal process in that he has accepted that we don't have a TV. However, he has not completed the canned entertainment withdrawal process. He asks weekly to watch something on the afore mentioned laptop.

As for me, I cannot imagine still having a TV. When would I find the time to watch it and get the other stuff I do now done (and still get any sleep)? I have enough stuff keeping me busy that I've pretty much relegated blogging to a weekend-only activity. The down-side of that is that I now have either lots to blog about, lots of reading on others' blogs to do, or both. Which is why I'm typing this blog at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night.

From the spiritual aspect, I know having no TV has definitely helped keep a lot of worldly influence out of my mind. Not that I don't have to deal with that in my day-to-day life, but it's not adding to load - less of my day is spent exposed to that. It has been a very good thing to do.

For those who wonder how they are going to keep up with current events, there's such things as reading the news! While I don't read a physical newspaper, I do go to new web sites a lot. While I may miss some things, the major ones I see. And who needs to keep up with the current events of the entertainment industry and its celebrities? You don't need Entertainment Tonight or other such shows. Also, if you are truly a die hard fan of a TV show and cannot live with the thought of giving it up, there are a couple of options: 1) most of the networks have their major shows on-line after they air, or 2) wait for the DVD of the season to come out.

For those who have game consoles, I say try board games, card games or reading. You can have a lot of fun without the electronics.

So, for those like Mr. E who are considering having no TV, I heartily say, "Do it. It's worth the sacrifice." In fact, after the crying and gnashing of teeth has stopped and the feeling of isolation has subsided, you will probably discover, as I have, it's not really a sacrifice but a blessing.

Of Snow and Snowmen

We did it. We built a snowman. I use 'we' loosely because it was mostly me. Will did help with making the middle snowball. The snow was not nice and sticky. It took a lot of work and a long time to build up the snowballs to make up the pitiful looking snowman below. I probably spent an hour doing it. We had gotten some freezing rain during the night, so there was a nice crust of ice over the top of the snow. You either had to crush the ice into powder to use or just pull off the crust and use the snow below it. Despite the hard work, it was worth it because the kids are really happy with it. They don't care that it's small and misshapen. The hard work was broken up by some sporadic snowball throwing. For my part it was always a defensive action in reaction to an attack, of course :).

The boys are "helping" me form the second snowball for the snowman.

The kids and the snowman.
The hat came from a birthday part that the boys attended for a friend. The eyes, nose, pipe, buttons and scarf came from a snowman kit we got from Lands End years ago. It has served us well.

Stephanie, the kids and the snowman.
Because the snowballs were pack so tight to get them to stick, I had a hard time getting the eyes, nose, etc. stuck into them without causing the snowballs to break. That's why some of them may not appear in quite the right position - I had to try multiple locations for some of them.

Me, the kids and the snowman.

Here's Ellie sitting in the toy truck that lives in the back yard. Love that smile.

Friday, February 22, 2008

He's Three!


Today is Ben's third birthday. It's hard for me to believe that he's three already. Most of his presents today consisted of Thomas the Tank Engine wooden railway stuff, which he really loves. He was so excited and, of course, we went right downstairs after opening presents so that we could play with all the Thomas stuff, new and old.

*** Below are some pictures I added today (2/23/08) from yesterday. We will have an actual party for Ben in a couple of weeks when some of his good friends get back from traveling.

Ben blowing out the candles on his cake.

Ben enthusiastically opening his presents.

My two ladies helping to lay out Thomas track. I love this picture.

It's Snowing, It's Flaking, The Old Man is Shoveling

In case you didn't get it, the title is a variation on the old kid's song, "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring".

It is indeed snowing here. It's pretty much snowed all day. But it's been relatively light most of the time so there's not been much accumulation. I shoveled this morning before going to work. I'll have to shovel again tomorrow.

The good news is that, based on the forecast, the snow will not be melting away tomorrow and so the boys and I will get to make a snowman. I've made one so far this winter but have not had the chance to make one with the boys. It should be fun. Hopefully the snow will stick together well enough for the building. Will wants to make a snow house (I think he means igloo) but I told him there was not enough snow for that. I'll see if some pictures can be taken to be posted.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Goings On, 02/16/2008

Not much going on today. We had pancakes. I played with the kids. We had lunch. I played my computer game while Stephanie went grocery shopping. We had supper. I cleaned the bath tub and gave the kids a bath. And now a brief bit of blogging.

This week I spent time in the free evenings reading and going to bed at a reasonable hour. It has helped me get up earlier in the mornings so that I can have a longer quiet time.

We only have one more week left for our Homebuilders Bible Study. It's hard to believe it's almost over. We will have a fellowship the first week of March as the last week of February has some of our members out on mission trips.

And that's about it.

Results: Favorite Cartoon Character Poll

Here are the results of the Favorite Cartoon or Cartoon Character Poll.

Nine people voted.

  • Scooby Doo: 2 votes = 22%
  • Animaniacs: 1 vote = 11%
  • Bugs Bunny: 1 vote = 11%
  • Taz: 1 vote = 11%
  • The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote: 1 vote = 11%
  • Tweety: 1 vote = 11%
  • Goofy: 1 vote = 11%
  • Johnny Quest: 1 vote = 11%
Thanks to the eight others who shared their opinions.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What's Your Favorite Cartoon or Cartoon Character?

I've placed a poll in the right-hand side bar on what's your favorite cartoon or cartoon character. Please vote. And leave a comment if you want to express your opinions more fully. If your cartoon or cartoon character is not mentioned, then vote Other and definitely leave a comment telling me who is your favorite.

*** Just as a note for future readers, I had the poll up for two weeks. This post was future dated so that it would stay at the top of the front page until the poll ended.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Oral Update, 02/08/2008

I went to the oral surgeon on Friday for a quick check up. Everything looked good, just like he wanted. So I go back in August for another check up and x-rays. Thanks to everyone who has been praying.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I Can Hold It, I Hope

*** Disclaimer ***
The story re-counted below is true. It may gross you out, so read on at your own peril.

At work today, one of the guys on my team came back from the men's restroom and recounted what he had just observed. When he went into the restroom, the janitor was in the process of cleaning. He, the janitor, had a wad of paper towels in his hand (with a latex glove on) and was wiping the urinals clean. He proceeded next to wipe down the outside wall of the first stall, located right next to the last urinal. Then, using this same wad of paper towels, he began to wipe down the sink counter!!

Eewww! Yuuuuck! Grooooss! I'm not terribly germaphobic but this makes me not want to use that bathroom ever again. In fact, it may rule out all the men's restrooms in the office since the same janitor is probably cleaning those too. I hope my bladder is strong.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Header: Still a WIP

I'm getting closer to figuring out the header. After fiddling around with both the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets - it controls the look of the page by controlling how HTML elements behave) and the JavaScript (programming language run within your browser that can perform actions and make decisions based on conditions), I've now gotten the image centered above the blog. In doing this, I found the magic width - 765 pixels.

Now I will just have to make sure to create my header image with that width. The one there now (on the night of 2/5/08) is significantly wider and taller than the space it's been compressed into. So it does not look as sharp as the full image.

Can you guys tell what the image is of? It's the top of our monitor. Stephanie thinks I should show more of it so that it's easier to tell what it is. If I show more of the monitor, then that means the image must be smaller and so I have less room to write the title in. What do ya think?

I'm not set on this design, it just seemed to be a little more original than some of the other things I was thinking of, mostly grabbing some clip art and composing an image with that. I can't draw, so that's out. I guess I'll just have to mull it over some more.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Header: WIP

As you have probably noticed, I'm playing with my header. This is not the planned final state. In fact, I have no real plans other than to see what I can do.

It's not as easy as all the articles I have read say it should be. There was no "width" for the header specified in my template. So I had to guess. I was a little off. When I used the built in function to put my image as a header instead of the title and description, it was off center, with the old header image still in view behind it. So I had to comment out some pieces of the CSS code, add a reference to my tile background and modify some of the padding values to get it as centered as it is, without the old header image showing up.

I used the GIMP program to create the header image. I saved it to a jpeg format but that does not look as nice (i.e. image quality not artistic quality) on the blog page as it does in GIMP. So I may try saving it as a different format. I don't think that the browser would be able to handle the default image type for the GIMP, but I may be wrong. I've got to figure out if it has a spell checker because I obviously need one.

Stay tuned, it may get worse before it gets better, or goes back to the default.

P.S. By the way, for those who don't know, WIP stands for Work In Progress.

A Walk in the Park

This past Saturday morning it was a warmer day, around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so I decided that we, as a family, should get out and go to the city park for a walk. It was not as warm at the park as at our house because the park is located on the edge of the bay and the wind blowing off of the water cooled things down. Despite that fact, we had a good time, at least until it came to the walk back to the van. At that point some members of the family were cold and tired and ready to be back in the van.

Here's Ellie and I walking down the path.

Ellie and I again.

Ellie on the playground equipment. I love that smile.

Will was selling me ice cream, for $50. Wouldn't you buy ice cream from him?

Will and I on the swings.

My beautiful family, including Will the clown.

All Packed

Last night during supper, Stephanie happened to mention that we should begin to think about what we want to do for vacation this year.

Will and Ben picked up on this. After supper, the boys, lead by Will, began to pack for the "trip". They pulled clothes out of their dresser and packed them into an assortment of "suitcases". These included the briefcase-like container for some blocks, a toy drum (has a removable top to place other toy instruments in for storage) and some plastic bins used for storing toys, emptied out and retrieved from the basement.

When I questioned Will about where he thought we should go on vacation, one of the suggestions he gave, which caught his fancy, was California. I asked what would we do in California. "Make new friends", was the reply.

A little while later, he announced that they were "All packed", and that they had packed a lot of clothes because we would be in California for a looong time (imagine the hand sweeping from one side of the body to the other as he said this), in order to make lots of friends. Can you tell that he's a people person? :-)

*** This morning (2/4) Stephanie took a picture of some of the "suitcases".

Saturday, February 2, 2008

On the Customization Band Wagon

Inspired by my wife and the changes she's made to her blog, and by Scott at Honey, I Fed the Kids!, I too have jumped on the "customize your blog" band wagon.

Tonight, I started off small by changing the background of the page around the main content (tile pattern obtained from and by changing how the blog formatted an ordered list. Tomorrow and beyond...who knows? As my blog sub-title states, "You never know what the output will be." I think the next thing I will tackle is my header/blog title graphic.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Stephanie and I are leading a Homebuilder's Bible study on Thursday's right now. Between sessions there are assignments for each of the couples to do. This past week, part of the assignment involved looking at your wedding photo album together. I enjoyed the walk down memory lane as we looked at our album and one from the same time period. I thought I would share a couple of pictures from those two albums.

First up is a picture of me taken about three days before the wedding at the lake near our university.

The thought that comes to my mind is, "Who is that young kid?"

The second picture is of me (again) and my groomsmen. From left to right they are Sean, Marc, Mr. Kid, Tim (the best man) and Kieth.
Two thoughts come to mind, "Look how young we all were." and, "Wow, I'm short."

Ah, good memories. But I wouldn't want to go back and have to give up where I am now, with my wonderful wife and three wonderful kids.

P.S. Click on the pictures to see a larger and/or clear, view of them.