Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Repost - Thank Who

Two years ago, I wrote a post about thanksgiving, and the idea that being thankful is not a general thanksgiving, but actually being thankful to someone. Moving into my fourth year of self-employment, I have found myself being even more thankful, to God and to others for their help.

Have you ever stopped to consider that the phrase "thank you" is directed at someone? By implication, when we celebrate Thanksgiving, we are giving thanks to someone.

Certainly this creates a dilemma for the atheist. Who is he thanking, himself? Blind, stupid luck? Perhaps atheists are never thankful for the circumstances they find themselves in. Or, perhaps they just have that feeling of generic thankfulness which is never directed anywhere or to anyone. Whatever the case, they are not able to be thankful in the proper way.

Those of other religions are not better off. Since God commands us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, someone who doesn't worship Him in that way has created his own God, and committed idolatry. His thankfulness only brings more judgment on himself.

For the Christian, this should be no problem. Yet often times I find myself slipping into that same type of "thankfulness" that is directed at no one in particular.

This year, spend some time considering not only what you are thankful for, but also to whom you are thankful - God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Blurb

John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, Doxology, is out for the Kindle, and was available for free on Monday. Here's my brief take on it, including why it's worth getting.

Imagine that someone went to every Reformed conference in the past year and gave this assignment: "Write about what you think is one of the most significant and overlooked contributions of John Calvin. You have 30 minutes."

Yeah, it's like that. The paper copy was put out last year by Ligonier, during the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth. The list of contributors to the book is who's who of Reformed pastors and academics.

So far I've just had time to skim the Iain Murray introduction and read the chapter by Phil Johnson on Calvin as a writer, but it has already prompted me to take advantage of the sale at Olive Tree on Calvin's commentaries ($20.99 for electronic vs. $120 for the paper version @ CBD), and I've been out on the Banner of Truth website looking at their Calvin offerings (Phil's suggestion is The Letters of John Calvin.

If all you know about Calvin is the stereotype of rigid theologian, you owe it to yourself to get this book and find out a bit more about the man who, probably more than any other, has influenced Protestant thought and theology.

Friday, October 15, 2010

When “Our Side” Misses the Point

Here's a One News Now article telling pastors they don't have to worry about losing their tax exemption for speaking out on politics because as a church they are they are constitutionally exempt.

I think this really misses the point, though. The pastor's pulpit should be used to preach the Word, and so political discussion should be in this context. On the other hand, even if the IRS is allowed to punish a church, shouldn't the church fear God and not men?

There's a related poll, which is what prompted this post in the first place.

What would most likely result if more pastors fearlessly spoke of political candidates and issues from the pulpit?
1) More Christians would vote
2) More Christians would run for office
3) America would truly become a Christian nation

I'm gonna say "none of the above." What I hope that pastor is doing is fearlessly proclaiming the Word of God, bringing it to bear on all aspects of life (yes, including politics), and that if God is glorified, that is the correct result. Even if more Christians don't vote or run for office, and even if America never becomes a "Christian nation."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekly Family Question

Our church has discussion questions which are published each week in conjunction with the sermon. We also get questions for the family. I'm gonna try to throw out one each week which will hopefully be helpful in your family worship.

Spend some time coming up with 4-5 groups of choices you will ask your family to make. Find pictures of each item to display. These should be groups of 3 (possibly 2) items that include one item that is not desirable (i.e. a horse, a beautiful dog, and a very mangy cat; a fancy new car, a big new pick-up truck, and a wagon without wheels; a gallon of ice cream, a picnic spread, and a pile of rotten lettuce). Tell everyone they need to make a choice in each group of the item they would like most. When they finish, ask which ones they chose, and ask why no one chose the "yucky" items. Then Read Deut. 7:6-8 and Eph. 1:3-6 and teach your family about God's calling of His people and that He called no one because of what they looked like, or because they were so good, but so that His calling would be to the praise of the glory of His grace.

Friday, October 08, 2010

An Alternative to Writemonkey

One thing I forgot to mention about NaNoWriMo this year is that I might try one alternative to WritemonkeyScrivener.

Scrivener has been available on Mac for about for 5 years now, I think. Based on the original website, it seems to have a bunch of nice writing features.

They are just now coming out with a Windows version, which is done by a different programmer. Although the public version won't be available until early 2011, a beta version will be made available for NaNo sometime in February.

They are still field testing, hoping to get some bug reports, so it may not be a good choice for everyone. But I've read lots of good things about the program, and the final version will be available for purchase during NaNoWriMo at half price.

That makes it something I've at least gotta try.



Matt

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Preparing for NanoWriMo 2010

It's October, so it's time to start thinking about NaNoWriMo.

I managed to complete the task in 2008, using primarily old DOS wordprocessors. In 2009, I wasn't able to participate.

Now comes 2010. The new web badges are out. Time to dust off my copy of No Plot, No Problem (and I've gotten a copy to give to a friend). And now I'm setting about trying to figure out what I'm going to write with.

This year, I wanted to use software that could integrate a bit better with newer computers. But I wanted to keep some of the useful things from the last time. Some of those things were a word count, full screen to work with, a program that makes backups, but also not be tied to any proprietary format.

I've found that and more in WriteMonkey. It has quite a few features. Some of my favorites are the multiple backups, the ability to customize colors and fonts, save profiles, and a text repository, which allows you save all your cuttings.

It also saves in plain text. I used plain text when I wrote last time. Using Markdown allows the usefulness of text to be extended, but it remains completely portable.

With all that said, I think this NaNoWritemonkey will be my 2010 badge.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Praise of MarkdownMail

I'm experimenting with cloud access to my documents across 3 computers and the iPhone. As part of this grand experiment, I've cobbled together a complicated network of tools which include Dropbox, Simplenote, and Resophnotes. I'll have more to say about these apps in the future.

(Quick note: the Dropbox link is a referral link. It gets you and me an extra 250MB of storage space. But if you don't want that, use this link instead.)

I've also discovered Markdown, a lightweight markup language intended to help specifically with making writing HTML easier. In conjunction with my network experiment, I decided to start using Markdown in the hopes of increasing the efficiency, portability, and usefulness of many of my documents.

What I didn't have was an easy way to convert Markdown to HTML on my iPhone.

Enter MarkdownMail.

MarkdownMail allows you to use Markdown syntax and then converts it to HTML, which can then be e-mailed. It also includes a built-in web link to the syntax page on the Web (note: just checked, & the pseudo-browser works for previewing web links in your text as well!).

For $1.99, I would have been happy just to use it as a portable Markdown viewer. In fact, that was my intent; I didn't plan on even using the e-mail feature. But I just realized that using the remote blogging feature of Blogger, I could use it for blogging as well, saving the steps of converting the text to HTML, logging on to my Blogger account, creating a new post, and so on.

The word on the street is that MarkdownMail2 is coming, and the price will be going up to $3.99. However, according to the Second Gear Twitter Feed, it will be a free upgrade for existing users.

The app is limited to one message at a time, and you can't save drafts in it. But you could always use a different app to compose, or you could save drafts in your e-mail program.

Even with these limitations, if you use Markdown at all, you will probably find this app useful. In conjunction with a cloud app or as a blogging tool, it's value will be much greater.

Testing Markdownmail

This post written completely in Markdownmail.

If this works, I will be a very happy camper.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Frank Turk on the Local Church

In keeping with my vain attempt to keep a semi-regular posting schedule, I'm putting this out there.

Here's a link to a post from Frank Turk on Saturday. You might have (dis)missed it, given that it was posted on the weekend, talked about the SBC, and was surprisingly TIWIARN in nature.

Except it wasn't. Oh, it had all those elements; but at it's core, there is something else. The main thrust was how the local church needs to be the local church, something that Frank has written about in the past, and is very passionate about.

Read it, and then, if you haven't had a chance yet, check out his video from The Nines. I'll be back (hopefully soon) with more to say about that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who's Bad?

From Pastor Rob Davis's sermon this past Sunday in Colossians 3:1-4...(full sermon available from our church audio page or at Sermon Audio.

This is important now. Movies are not bad--in and of themselves. Music, is not bad it's a gift from God. Food--not bad. Work, jobs, cars, houses, beaches, not bad. All of those things are good--they're gifts from God.

Can I tell you what's bad? Put your hand up. You're bad! I'm bad! We are sinful. We take good gifts from God and we make them sinful because we make them our god.

...If what you do with God's gifts cause[es] you to sin, then it's not by faith, is it. So what is it? Sin. So you get rid of it. You cut off your hand, you pluck out your eye. That's what we have to do.

But it's not because they're bad it's because you're bad, and if we don't get that, what we'll do is we'll go out of this place, and we'll start living and walking and we'll start doing certain things and think we're good, instead of doing what we're supposed to do and realizing we're bad, and God is good in us through Christ.

P.S. Bonus! The John Piper "Bad" video.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"10 Tips on How to Write Less Badly" Article

Al Mohler tweeted this article on how to write less badly. His favorite line was #5, "Everyone's unwritten work is brilliant."

My favorite was #2, "Set goals based on output, not input." No matter how long it took me to write this post - 10 minutes or 10 hours, the results are the same: my result is one post.

The genius of this simple statement is easily applied to a wide variety of tasks, writing-related and otherwise. Definable goals based on output make a big difference.

I'm sure I'll be revisiting this, oh, about November 1st.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Ye Are Complete In Him" - A Hymn for Sunday

Rebecca has a wonderful tradition of highlighting hymns on Sundays. I came across this one in a public domain hymnbook from Google, searching for "prophet, priest, and king." No idea what the tune is, but it can be sung to O For A Thousand Tongues...

Loved the words, so I thought I'd post it here.

Ye are complete in Him

I've found the pearl of greatest price;
My heart doth sing for joy;
And sing I must for Christ is mine--
Christ shall my song employ.

Christ is my Prophet, Priest, and King:
My Prophet full of light;
My great High Priest before the throne;
My King of heavenly might.

For he indeed is Lord of lords,
And he the King of kings;
He is the Sun of Righteousness,
With healing in his wings.

Christ is my Peace: he died for me,
For me he gave his blood;
And, as my wondrous sacrifice,
Offered himself to God.

Christ Jesus is my All in All,
My comfort and my love;
My life below, and he shall be
My joy and crown above.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Why Buddhism isn't the answer for Tiger Woods

Here’s a snippet of what the Bible says about trying to reform yourself by practicing self-denial.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations- "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used)-according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20-23, ESV)

These verses speak plainly about man’s ability to reform himself. It doesn’t matter what label these efforts wear - Buddhism, moralism, or legalism, the result is the same. Aceticism looks good—it looks like holiness—but it doesn’t deal with the root issue, the sinful desires which come from the heart. Only God can do that.

Yes, I mentioned Tiger Woods. But whether I’m talking about him, myself, or anyone else, it doesn’t really matter. Human efforts to reform ourselves fall short of perfection, and perfection is not just a goal, it is the standard of righteousness required for entrance into heaven.

Brit Hume got it right - Tiger Woods needs Christianity. So does everyone else.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Again, Mobile Blogging

Think I've finally got it. This is one more time around.

If it works, I will be standing up to do the hot dog dance. Too bad you can't be here to see it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

One more thing about mobile blogging

Downloaded a cheapie app to try one more time.

In the meantime, I'm celebrating a perfect record - 100% failure rate for posting via e-mail.

Oh, well.

Not yet

Tried to post something from my iPhone, but doesn't seem to be working. :(

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pitiful

Yeah, not only am I posting on the last day of the month, I'm retroactively posting after the last day of the month just so I don't have another gap.

When did life get so busy?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Is Firefox the New Bloatware?

Is it just me, or is Firefox running slower than ever lately? Maybe it's the extensions I have installed, maybe that I've got an old computer, or maybe it's just that I've gotten spoiled by Chrome, but man, is Firefox slow. On my older home computer, if I leave it open overnight, it starts growing in memory usage, until it takes up 100% of CPU power.

Anyone else had this issue? If so, any suggestions?

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Pastor

Thrilled to announce that after many months of searching, our pastor search is complete. We have called a new pastor, and he has accepted. We are so blessed, and praise God for His hand during this whole process.

Or, as our new pastor put it, "We give God great praise for all that he has done through this process, and it has been obvious at every turn that He has orchestrated every detail to bring Himself glory and to provide good for all of us! We also praise Him for all of the confirmations He has provided along the way to the search committee, our family, and the elders. What a joy to serve a sovereign God who works His will into the lives of His people!"

Friday, April 30, 2010

Thankful

I'm unavoidably frustrated at the fact that I've found so little time to blog these days. Yet I find myself quite thankful at the circumstances.

There are two circumstances I'd like to highlight. The first is work. To say that I'm too busy working is an excuse, not a reason, yet I find myself thankful to have as much work as I do, in the current economic environment. I know of others who are struggling, and I'm thankful to God for how He has provided for us through my job.

The second circumstance that I wanted to highlight is our church's ongoing search for a new pastor. For reasons only He knows, God put me on the pastoral search committee. It has been a lot of work, but our work appears to be nearing an end, as we have extended an offer, and we are going through the congregational affirmation process beginning this week.

And about #2, I would just say that even though only God knows His reasons, we have seen His sovereign hand throughout the search, including several things about our final candidate, and we are trusting Him to bring our search to fulfillment.

So although I've not had time for much blogging, I'm thankful for God's work and His provision in my life.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Freebies from the 2010 Shepherd's Conference

The 2010 Shepherd's Conference was at the beginning of this month, and it looks like the audio has been made available on the website for free. 38 different downloads at last count. You can also download the speaker notes to go with it. (There is video, too, for those of you who have more bandwidth and disk space than I do.)

As if that wasn't enough, you can also go back in time (so to speak), and download audio from Shepherd's Conferences all the way back to 2001.

You can also get a bunch of sermons from the Grace Community Church Sunday School classes.

Should be something there for almost everyone.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Here is the beginner's class from O'Donovan School of Irish Dance, dancing for the 2010 parade. My little Gummball is on about 2:20.



Sunday, February 28, 2010

Congrats to Team Canada

And congratulations to all my Canadian friends who are hockey fans out there. What a great game!

There was a great final shot as the flags went up, where the Canadian flag was just over the scoreboard. If anyone sees a picture of it, throw me a link in the comment box.