Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Still Reforming on Reformation Day

Listen to the MIDI melody here.

You know Gummby, you can't ask me to mind the store and then expect me not to post bad blank verse and strangely unsatisfying melodies.

Still Reforming
Still reforming, still entangled by sin
Sanctification is taking longer than I
Expected but
there lies the real problem
Reformation of my life cannot succeed using my steam

Still reforming, but now trusting Jesus
Who said He would be with me
To the end of the age
And that’s all I’ll ever need.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Okay, so I'm a guest here

It's a very daunting thing to be a guest blogger anywhere, let alone someone the blog of someone you respect. One does not want to have the blogger come back to a barrage of comments objecting to the content provided by the guest. Add into the equation that I'm a woman posting on a man's blog. While I won't regale you with stories of things my children did (they are all 12 and over now, and what they do isn't cute anymore), I won't be able to sound like one of those Very Astute Male Theologian Types.

I tried to think about what it is that I know of Gummby, and what would be interesting to his readers. Nick suggested that I write a poem in Greek, but I don't know enough Greek to do that. And besides, the bad poetry is Nick's department.

No, I won't go into Greek today, but later this week I might just talk about the benefits of teaching Greek to the Little Ankle-Biters in your family.

What I want to say today is inspired by a group of teenagers who were in my home last night for a bible study. We are studying Philippians. We dealt mainly with the first eleven verses or so, and talked about fellowship and partnership in the gospel. It was good. The second part of the evening, the kids wanted to possibly discuss a book together. We haven't decided which one. My suggestion was the book Thinking Like a Christian, by David Noebel. They looked thoroughly bored when I gave a brief overview. Then the suggestion was made to read the book Don't Waste Your Life, by John Piper. I have that book, and it is good. However, it was decided by one of the students (a female one) that she didn't find Piper all that appealing. She finds him harsh at times. I think this is a female thing. I find him a little harsh at times, too, but the longer I am a Christian, the longer I realize that we need people who are good at saying hard things. A seventeen year old girl who is fairly sensitive and tender may balk at what Piper says. I think someday she will be ready to hear his message. She took exception mostly to his discussion of suffering, something she heard him discuss in a video series she watched. This is a sensitive issue. We decided that since we could not be all agreed, that we would not discuss it.

The next option was to discuss a book called Growing Up Christian, by Karl Graustein. It talks about the dangers of becoming complacent as Christians because we grow up in the fish bowl of the church. It is an excellent book. One of the chapters that I described to them was about the danger of Christian kids becoming insensitive to their sin. Because Christian kids tend to be monitored by their parents closely, have fellowship with other Christians, and are taught the Scripture regularly (or at least, they ought to be), they can become lazy about sin, and compare themselves to the world rather than Christ. This led to a discussion about sin, and a realization on my part that these kids need to understand their sin.

All of the kids at the bible study have been raised in Christian homes. They have attended church, Sunday School, and other events since birth. They are already becoming insensitive to sin. When I mentioned how the Puritans viewed sin, they all objected to the Puritans as a whole. The Puritans didn't recognize God's love (not true); the Puritans were legalistic and harsh (possibly true), and the Puritans were kind of "messed up" (maybe some of them; I'm thinking of those dudes in Salem, MA, example). However, the Puritans did indeed see their own sin. Read the Valley of Vision when you have a chance, and you will see in their writings very clear understanding of who they were before God. Their lack of love for the Puritans aside, I did sense a real reluctance to admit the seriousness of sin.

"Why don't we just focus on the goodness of God instead?" was the plea. "Because we can't appreciate God's goodness unless we recognize our own sin," was my response.

These kids live and were brought up in a world that is so politically correct, it hesitates to use the word "sin." Most of the have attended public schools, a place where self-esteem is the highest calling. Even my own daughter, a member of this group who has only been in public high school for a year now balked at the notion of her own sin.

Home school families have the distinct advantage of having the freedom to teach that their children are sinners. There is no one telling them that if they don't stop it they will mess up their kids. There is no teacher telling them that their tendency to lash out at people is because they are having a "bad day" or they are "misunderstood." Don't be afraid to teach your kids that they are sinners, regardless of where they attend school. Learning to understand my own sin has helped me immeasurably in understanding why I do things, and in responding to others. We don't use it as an excuse, but we use our understanding of our sin to emphasize daily our need to depend on God. We are helpless to battle win without it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Potatoes, Oil, and Salt

A brief defense of the potato chip, in honor of Potatofest 2006.

Potatoes, oil and salt.

That's it. That is all the ingredients in my bag of potato chips.

Perhaps some folks find this kind of disappointing when they think about it. I mean, where is the polyunsaturated whoseit? Whaddabout the diglyceridewhatchamacallits? How can anything have that few ingredients? (Even my Sam's Purified Water has Magnesium Sulfate, Potassium Bicarbonate, and Potassium Chloride [no BHT added for freshness, though].)

And then there is "the problem"--all the oil and salt transform the noble potato into something far less healthy (but oh, so good).

So where is my defense, you may ask? It's simply this: in a world where it seems that nearly everything is processed, where food isn't food without additives and preservatives, the potato chip arrives upretentiously, not trying to be something it isn't.

Potatoes, oil, and salt. As it should be.

And with that, I will turn over the blog to Nick and Nora Charles. You are in capable hands.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles in Charge

The commercial real estate appraiser has gone missing, which is nothing if not distressing.

Yes, we have a note that says he's in Florida, but it's an internet note. If you think that's reliable then I have a friend in Burkina Faso who would like to use your bank account to transfer the million dollar fortune of the widow of the prime minister. You will receive a generous commission, of course. Trust me, it is all on the up and up. It's how Mrs. Charles earned her fortune, such fortune being by far her most endearing feature.

But back to the mystery of Gummby... There has been a suspicious dearth of blogging by someone who was formerly known as a prolific writer. We must ask... when did the desertification of Still Reforming first begin? And we must answer...
Not drawing conclusions mind you, merely observing facts... The only thing of which we can be certain is that the northern bug and the snow princess are entirely innocent in this matter.

Nay, this is all a little too dark to be explained by a fictional trip to Florida. Gummby has either absconded, or has been absconded himself. But be of good cheer. Nick and Nora Charles are on the job. Well I am anyways. Mrs. Charles has never worked a day in her life.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Play Chess Against Shredder

The Chess Engine, not the foe of the TMNTs.

Bad enough that the internet has introduced me to new people who can beat me--now I can get beat remotely on my lunch (half) hour.

They ought to have a 20 minute or less guarantee.

Where's Gummby?

Ok, no one has actually asked where I am. I don't know if I should be worried or relieved.

Anyway, here's a brief retrospective on the first 45 days of work, and what I'm up to now.

It has been an interesting few weeks. I'm thankful for the opportunity God has given me to do something new, and it has been a real challenge.

Perhaps the most challenging thing is wanting to do everything right and perfect when I don't always even know what I'm doing to begin with. That must be God teaching me patience.

I'm teaching a class at church on stewardship, and this week's lesson included a discussion of rest, and WHAM! I realized,"I'm not doing this--I'm violating the very thing I'm trying to teach others. I'm not trusting God to help me finish what I need to get done; I'm trying to do all of this with my frail arm of flesh." That, my friends, was a real eye opener.

So I've been trying to get enough rest to go with my work.

Up next: a training class in Florida. Yeah, I know what you're thinking--"oh, I feel really bad for him; he's probably staying right on the beach." As a matter of fact, I am...with some friends I met from my former job. Chances are, I won't even get sand between my toes, I'm going to be so busy. Not much time for blogging either, so this will be the last post for awhile.

Oh, and just to show you my rotten timing, er, God's providence, a little birdy Wrigley told me that I'll be missing an opportunity to meet Mr. and Mrs. Pyro while I'm down in Florida.

If you care to, you can pray for God to work out my logistical issues. I inadvertantly scheduled my flight at noon of the day I take my final exam. Not too smart--next time I'll pay extra to have a travel agent make my arrangements.

More importantly, I would appreciate prayer for my family--particularly my wife, who will be home with all five kids (ages 7 to 6 months) for nearly a week by herself.


Monday, October 23, 2006

And the Winner Is...

Don't I look like a Calvinist?

The Eight Point Calvinist.
(Was there ever really any doubt?)

Thanks again to all who participated.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another Week Gone

I've been pretty worthless this week in the blogging category, but I've been writing quite a bit. I'm up to about 80 or 90 pages on my latest appraisal.

Anyway, to make it up to you faithful readers, I will point you to a cool piece of software to help your blogging and other writing.

CoolPlayer. This is a free stand-alone MP3 player that offers OGG support (hard to find, trust me). It's also tiny--584k, and it minimizes to the tray (on default, it also spins while playing something, which is kinda cool). Finally, it lets you save playlists with a touch of a button--nothing complicated about it.

Download it to your hard drive, or throw it onto a USB drive or data CD with MP3s/OGG files and you're good to go.

As a bonus, here's the first cool tune you can listen to on CoolPlayer: a flamenco rendition of the (original) Spiderman theme, by David Gillis.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Is There Anything More Hideous Tasting Than Kid's Toothpaste?

Seriously! The Tweety Bird toothpaste we have for the kids can't even really be classified as a flavor. I'd say it was more of a punishment--kinda like what Liquid Dial probably tastes like.

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's All Over But The Voting

Thanks to all who participated in the naming contest. As soon as I can call a meeting of those in the office, we'll render our decision.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Check this video out

It's nine minutes long. Then ask yourself--is having something like this safe for anyone? Um, what if the computer makes a mistake?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Monday, October 09, 2006

TIWIARN-My New Office


This is a picture of my new digs. I got the premium seat--right beneath the deer head (the guys spared nothing in wooing me into this new job).

But here's my problem: my deer needs a name. So, I'm asking you, my faithful readership, to help me christen said venison.

Multiple entries ok. Contest closes end of the week.