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Showing posts from 2006

Cappuccino: Culinary Learnings of Starbucks for Make Benefit Glorious Mocha of Raspberry.

At what is now the tail end of the Christmas season, I am reminded of another Manspeak blog “man law” inconsistency. The law states a supposed rule about men drinking coffee: “if it ain’t black, take it back.”

Some background information is pertinent to our discussion. Manspeak is a product of several members of Cornerstone Church of Knoxville (of which I am a member). Cornerstone, in turn, is a part of Sovereign Grace Ministries, a family of churches in six countries. Bill Kittrell is the senior pastor of our church. CJ Mahaney is the head of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Both of these men are godly, wise, and humble leaders. Both would be considered by anyone in SGM to be real men.

Both of these men get their coffee from one place: Starbucks. If you’re familiar with our group of churches, you will know that church leaders in Sovereign Grace have a strong affinity for Starbucks (to put it mildly). Now, one of CJ’s favorite Starbucks concoctions is the raspberry mocha. His has declared th…

Merry Christmas

I’m signing off until after the holidays, so here’s my (early) Christmas post...

In the last few days, I’ve heard from several people who are experiencing major difficulties in their lives during this holiday season. I know that suffering and Christmas cheer don’t seem to mix too well.

Then again, the very fact that we have Christmas points to the darkness that clouds human history. After all, the reason a Savior came to us is because we needed saving in the first place. A dark Christmas (or any other dark holiday) may provide a context for us to appreciate God’s grace all the more, albeit in a painfully unwelcome manner. To borrow a quote from my last post, “it is in the darkness where the light is most appreciated.”

The reason Christ’s birth is an occasion for joy is that He came into a dark world to save sinners. And by “sinners” I mean people radically depraved and spitefully opposed to their only source of hope. The “good news of great joy” proclaimed by the angels paved the way for…

The Christian Hedonist’s Playbook (Part 4)

Today, let’s look at Psalm 130.

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.
Letting go of idols isn’t easy. Sometimes God makes things even harder by simply taking away an idol even as we try to keep from losing our grip on it. For example, when I lived in California I placed too much importance on my best friend, Peter Bogosian. He and I did everything together. I treated him better than I did my own brother. His friendship meant the world to me.

Then my stepfather decided t…

CHARLOTTE’S WEB (2006)

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From the trailers, it really looked like the filmmakers had gotten it right. The classic children’s story was about to get an upgrade. But as it turns out, the live action version of Charlotte’s Web is a disappointment. The 1973 cartoon is far superior in almost every way—especially in plot, voice talent, and character development. Only when it comes to the musical score does the new film come out on top.

Charlotte’s Web is supposed to be a family film, the main thematic element being the importance of friendship and keeping one’s word. However, most of the promises the main characters make are rash, without much thought given to how they will follow through. (Not the best illustration of genuine commitment.)

An even bigger problem is an implicit message that runs through the film: in the case of rebellious children, parents are usually wrong. At least in the cartoon the parents didn’t allow any disrespect from their children, including headstrong Fern. In this new version, Fern repeat…

Christmas Lights – Knoxville Edition

Fellow blogger Gabby Dalton recently posted a link to a rather impressive Christmas lights display. Well, if you’re in the Knoxville, TN area and want to witness such spectacle firsthand, check out the Johnson Family Christmas Display. They have set up a gazillion lights in their yard that blink on and off in sync with a variety of songs. Simply drive up to their house, tune in to 93.7 FM and enjoy the show. You can get more information (and watch a short snippet of the show) at their website.

Actually, there are two separate displays. I’ve visited only Mark’s display, and it was amazing. I still need to check out Everett’s display.

Special thanks to Michael Claytor for letting me know about this spectacular Christmas treat.

The Christian Hedonist’s Playbook (Part 3)

One of my greatest temptations as a single has been to place my hope in the promise of a spouse and not in the God who designed marriage for His glory. That, of course, is only one struggle among many in which idols of the heart have attempted to usurp the rightful place of Jesus Christ. It is in the midst of struggles like these that reading and memorizing the Psalms has become invaluable. They speak to the heart of my problem and call me to seek refuge in God alone.

We’ll limit ourselves to just one verse today:

One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
(Psalm 27:4)
I love how David’s example encourages me to have singleness of heart. There are, of course, many good things I can desire from the Lord. However, when all is said and done what I really need is nothing less than God Himself. If I can just see and savor the beauty of His glory (which we n…

POTUS and SGM

This is what it might look like if President Bush visited a Sovereign Grace Church. Hilarious. (And there I go with that word again.)

The Christian Hedonist’s Playbook (Part 2)

One of the passages from Psalms that I have most benefited from memorizing is Psalm 62:5-8:

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
When I am tempted to trust that something other than God will bring fulfillment in my life, I often recite this passage. In these four verses is found a plethora of nouns used to describe God: rock, salvation, defense, glory, rock of my strength, and refuge. These vivid descriptions reveal God as the idol-antidote, the Original that makes all substitutes look pitifully insufficient to bring me joy.

I especially like the first two lines because they speak to the future-oriented nature of faith. My hop…

These Quizzes Are Really Fun

What American accent do you have?Your Result: The West Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.The Midland Boston North Central The South The Inland North Philadelphia The Northeast What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Indelible Grace – Free Preview

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For a limited time, Matthew Smith’s new album, All I Owe, can be heard in its entirety online. The album consists of ten hymns, including “None Among,” “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing,” “My Lord I Did Not Choose You” (an excellent song!), and the title cut. Visit Indelible Grace’s website here.

And You Think YOU’RE Having a Bad Morning?

Suffering from Mondayitis? Check out this video. Quite funny. (I’d say the video is “hilarious”—which it is—but I use that word too often. Of course, now I used it again. Dangit!)

The Christian Hedonist’s Playbook (Part 1)

First, a little background information. I used to think Psalms was one of the most boring and useless books in the Bible. I didn’t get what the writers were whining about because I couldn’t identify with their struggles. That was before God decided my life was too comfortable and that my sinful self needed an extreme heart makeover. (Ugh. Sorry, that was lame.) He helped me identify with the Psalmists by allowing my family to go through some serious trials. During that time, the Psalms became a lifeline to me and taught me how to cry out to God for mercy.

Fast-forward several years. As God began to deal with me on the topic of idolatry, the Psalms once again spoke truth to my heart. They helped me see more clearly the root of my sin. Idolatry is not just a sin of the human heart, it is the sin of the human heart.

Focusing on specific sins is important in pursuing holiness, but it also helps to know the underlying problem that leads to those specific sins. David Powlison explains it well…

Reading Quiz

What Kind of Reader Are You?Your Result: Dedicated Reader You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Overcoming Sin and Temptation

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Many of you are familiar with the Puritan John Owen, whose works are still read today. Well, just recently a new book has been released: Overcoming Sin and Temptation. Compiled and edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor, this book combines three of Owen’s works on the topic of overcoming sin. For right now, I will limit my comments to the first book in this three-part volume: Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers.

The Mortification of Sin is divided into three sections. Part 1 deals with the necessity of mortification, in which Owen stresses the seriousness of the battle. “There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so while we live in this world.” In fact, “not to be daily mortifying sin is to sin against the goodness, kindness, wisdom, grace, and love of God, who has furnished us with a principle of doing it.” One cannot think he is growing in the Lord if he is not seeking to kill the sin in his life: “Let not that man think he makes…

Happy Feet—er, Thanksgiving

Gratitude isn’t an attitude I find easy to cultivate. Too often I think I am entitled to God’s goodness, and when troubles litter the road ahead of me my inclination is towards self-pity.

Sometimes God shows His goodness by igniting our hearts with a delight in Him so passionate that our joy almost seems effortless. Other times He shows His goodness by revealing our sin and calling us to fight for the refreshing spring of joy in a seemingly endless desert of depravity. I’m not a fan of being in the latter category, especially during the week of Thanksgiving.

Nevertheless, God’s goodness remains true and constant. I must not think of God as being good only when pleasant circumstances come my way. Primarily, God’s goodness is revealed to me through the cross, not the lack of adversity in my life. The Psalmists explain God’s goodness like this: “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (See Psalm 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 29 and 136:1-26.)

How do I know God is…

Choral Magnificence

I hope your musical appetite was whetted with last week’s film score clip from Edward Scissorhands. Yes, I love choral music more than just about any other form of aural enjoyment. There are numerous musical instruments that bring delight to my ears (strings—especially the violin and cello—come to mind), but none of them compares to the emotional power of the human voice. I’m particularly fond of female and boys choirs, both of which emanate an innocent aesthetic beauty.

Danny Elfman has written some of the best choral work I have ever heard. He’s a film score composer (surprise, surprise) who has used choral elements in numerous films, the standout being his masterful work in Edward Scissorhands. I simply cannot explain how wonderful the music is; you must hear it for yourself.

So, below you will find an eight-minute suite from Edward Scissorhands. Sit back and enjoy! (And as an added bonus, there’s a short-but-sweet segment featuring some kickin’ violin work.)

Edward Scissorhands Suite

Emoticons: Cultural Learnings of Technology for Make Benefit Glorious Nuances of Communication

(Note: the above title is not an endorsement of the Borat film.)

Some friends of mine (most of them from the Manspeak blog) have criticized men’s use of emoticons. Evidently, they believe the utilization of technology to enhance communication is somehow unmanly. I find their stance disconcerting, especially since they purport a pursuit of genuine masculinity. I have been repeatedly persecuted by them for using emoticons and have decided a refutation is in order.*

Before the invention of computers and cell phones, modes of communication were simplified. People conversed with each other face to face. Phrases like “Thou milksop,” “A Pox on thee,” and “Thou art a misbegotten son of Beelzebub” were easily understood.

Nowadays, words aren’t always enough. In some cases, signs and symbols must be added to words to clarify their meaning. How much more important are signs in the technological age in which we live, when many forms of communication lack necessary elements of physical expression (po…

Read the Sandwich

I just stumbled across a great website: The Sacred Sandwich, a “periodical for small town Christians in the big bad world.” The mock news headlines are creative and entertaining. For example, check out WARREN UNVEILS THE R.I.C.K. PLAN ON HUMILITY.

Here’s a quote from the disclaimer page: “Despite the tongue-in-cheek style, The Sacred Sandwich’s main objective is to herald the sufficiency of Scripture as one of the surest means in which the visible Church might humble herself to God’s will and enjoy true spiritual revival.”

Other sections of the newspaper include the following:

Food for Thought, with numerous articles by authors—living and dead—that call the church back to sound doctrine.The Twin Theologians, where Maruice and Emmett answer questions sent in by readers (and yes, hilarity ensues).The Bohemian Baptist: Correspondence from a Postmodern Heretic, a column with articles such as, I DON’T BELIEVE THAT ANYONE CAN BELIEVE IN A NON-BELIEF SYSTEM.Photo Gallery. You have to see the co…

Capster’s Dictionary / Word Entry: “Lunch”

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Kris Love (evening DJ at Love 89.1 FM) and I have come to a realization: “Lunch” and “Copper Cellar” are synonymous. To call any other meal at any other restaurant “lunch” would be a gross insult. Lunch just doesn’t get any better than this. I need not recount the myriad of culinary pleasures that accompany eating the Copper Cellar hamburger because I have already done so here. Suffice it to say there is no better lunch than that of which we partake every Wednesday at Copper Cellar (“we” being half the staff at Love 89).

Therefore, I have resolved to refer to any other mid-day eat-out excursion as a “meal” or glorified “snack.” The term “lunch” has been redefined by the life-altering succulence of the Copper Cellar hamburger. Eden has come to Knoxville, Tennessee—just a small foretaste of the restored created order described in Revelation.

I remember one Tuesday when I passed Kris in the hallway at work. All I said was, “Tomorrow.” He just nodded and replied, “Tomorrow.” No other words …

Baby Panda Allergic to Hay?

One word: hilarious. The more I watch this, the more I laugh.

The Measure of a Man

Another aspect of the men’s conference that stood out to me were the videos shown that honored specific men from the different churches that had come. One person honored was Jeff Hutchison, a member of CrossWay Community Church. As I watched the video, I was reminded that I have too often thought of marriage in selfish terms (i.e., what is my future wife going to bring to the table to serve me?). Like many of the events of the conference, this video was a grace-filled slap in the face. Jeff Hutchison is a real man. You can watch the video by going here.

(And for those who don’t know, the messages from the conference are now available for download here.)

The Summit

I joked about going to the Sovereign Grace men’s conference and coming back a man. Well, the joke was on me. To say the conference was a means of grace would be both an oversimplification and an understatement. It was, in fact, a milestone in my Christian walk.

God used the messages (especially the first one, which dealt with denying yourself and following Christ) to point out certain areas of sin in my life—you know, those areas where you think you’re doing well and then you realize once again that you’re a complete sinbag dripping with depravity. As the light of God’s truth exposed selfishness and pride in my life, my heart fought to hold onto its illusion of autonomy. There were a couple of times where I freaked out at the prospect of relinquishing my “right” to organize my life according to my wishes and not God’s will. But by His grace I was able to see the folly of refusing to submit to the Lordship of Christ. After all, self-denial is not an end in and of itself; it is simply th…

Brief Sabbatical

I’ll be heading to Charlotte, NC tomorrow for Sovereign Grace’s mid-south “Making of a Man” conference. Hopefully, I shall come back a man.

But seriously, please pray that this time will be a means of grace for those of us who are going.

Let Dead Men Feed You

In an age of theological ambiguity, it’s refreshing to sit at the feet of saints long gone. One thing I appreciate about dead theologians whose works are still read today (Martin Luther, John Owen, etc.) is that they centered their lives on the gospel. Nothing on which they taught strayed from the cross. Even topics like discipleship and the pursuit of holiness were firmly grounded on the finished work of Christ. For example, here’s a quote from Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar (1808 – 1889):

Every plant must have both soil and root. Without both of these there can be no life, no growth, no fruit. The root is “peace with God”; the soil in which that root strikes itself, and out of which it draws the vital sap, is the free love of God in Christ. “Rooted in love” is the apostle’s description of a holy man. The secret of a believer’s holy walk is his continual recurrence to the blood of the Surety, and his daily intercourse with a crucified and risen Lord. All divine life, and all the pre…

Holiday Causes Moral Dilemma for Area Teen

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KNOXVILLE, TN – Halloween is upon us again and 13-year-old Knoxville native Martin Erasmus Hinn is in turmoil. “I always hate this time of year,” he told the Doxology Press during an interview on Sunday afternoon. “Each year, I face the same problem: how can I get through October 31 without offending at least one of my parents?” You see, Martin’s procreators are both confessing Protestants, but while Mr. Hinn adheres to Reformed doctrine, Mrs. Hinn is a staunch Arminian. “Opposites attract, alright,” Martin mused. “They attract controversy. I mean, my parents couldn’t even agree on what name to give me. The anomaly they came up with is a twisted compromise that haunts me to this day.”

Named after Desiderius Erasmus (proponent of free will) and Martin Luther (proponent of free grace), Martin Erasmus Hinn (who prefers to be called Mr. H) has been plagued with identity issues ever since he can remember. “My father wanted me to attend the local Lutheran school, while my mom preferred the …

Appreciating Film Score Music

Film scores are usually composed in a matter of weeks and the most ambitious films contain no more than 20 or so major themes. Composer Howard Shore, however, spent a minimum of twelve months on each of the Lord of the Rings films. In translating the rich tapestry of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth into musical expression, Shore also incorporated more than 50 different themes and motifs. The amount of research that went into creating this superb music defies comprehension. Consider this one excerpt from the “Music of The Lord of the Rings Films” booklet:

Gollum’s wretched theme is intertwined with the music for the History of the One Ring, which sighs the films to life with two prolonged rising pitches, a half-step apart. This same rising half-step can be heard in the Evil of the Ring/Sauron theme and, inverted, in the martial, clangorous music of Isengard. Isengard, however, inverts the figure, dipping down a half-step, then returning upwards, a figure that dead-sets it against the Fellowship …

Sola Scriptura, Part 2

In chapter 8 of When I Don’t Desire God, Piper discusses how to “wield the word” in the fight for joy. One key strategy is Bible memorization. He quotes author Dallas Willard:

Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our mind with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization.
Piper then says,

The joy-producing effects of memorizing Scripture and having it in my head and heart are incalculable. The world and its God-ignoring, all-embracing secularism is pervasive. In invades my mind every day. What hope is there to have a mind filled with Christ except to have a mind filled with his Word? I know of no alternative.
A few pages later, Piper explains why he places so much emphasis on this practice:

I spend this much time on B…

How Hopeless Are You?

For a period of about three years (back in the mid-90’s), Bob Kauflin woke up every morning with the same thought: Your life is completely hopeless. Click here to discover what God showed him about hopelessness.

Spam: the Silver Lining

I think we can all agree that spam is evil. If Adam and Eve had been created in our age, the first result of the Fall would have been Adam’s inbox being flooded with spam.

Well, I recently received an unsolicited email that is well worth reading. It is filled with garbled sentences that make absolutely no sense, albeit in a hilarious fashion. I have posted a few examples below for your reading enjoyment.

When an orbiting buzzard trembles, a wheelbarrow hides.When a garbage can is ridiculously feline, another chessboard over a wedding dress graduates from a highly paid carpet tack.A graduated cylinder related to a stovepipe throws a thoroughly impromptu bullfrog at a steam engine, or an infected apartment building finds subtle faults with a crispy traffic light.If the customer beyond a chessboard sells some minivan about the traffic light to some greasy blood clot, then a knowingly treacherous salad dressing panics.If a non-chalantly incinerated insurance agent plays pinochle with an oft…

“Together for the Gospel” This Is Not

In a unique display of symmetry, John Piper and Michael Jackson have teamed up to espouse the Biblical doctrine of total depravity. Okay, not really…but kind of. Check it out.

(Thanks to Tony Carter for providing the link on his blog.)

Sola Scriptura

Over the past few weeks, God has been working on my heart in a couple of areas. One of them is a growing appreciation for Scripture.

I think it started when I picked up John Piper’s book, When I Don’t Desire God, which I’m still working through. This book is phenomenal and I would highly recommend it. (And if you’re completely strapped for cash, you can read the book online at the above link.) Chapter 7 is entitled, “The Worth of God’s Word in the Fight for Joy.” In this chapter, Piper details ten reasons why Scripture is so valuable. I don’t think I have ever read any other work that has so impressed upon my heart how valuable God’s Word is—and how desperate I am for it. (I won’t share the ten points here because I think you would most benefit from reading the chapter—and book!—yourself.) For it is in Scripture where God most clearly reveals Himself to me as my ultimate goal and my ultimate joy. As Piper says,

God can and does show himself in other ways, especially through the works of…

Back to the Future—er, Past

I have been consistently and notoriously behind the times since, well, forever. (Maybe that’s a contradiction in terms.) I have yet to purchase an iPod or any form of portable audio device, unless you count the Walkman I owned a couple hundred years ago. The only reason I have a DVD player is because someone gave it to me for free. I still do my writing on a glorified Etch-A-Sketch. (Granted, it’s a bona fide computer, but not much of one.) And as you all know, I recently—or finally—purchased my first cell phone. I guess you could say I’m stuck in the past.

It may come as no surprise, then, that I bought my first video game soundtrack only last week. I’ve loved film scores for over a decade but I haven’t dabbled in any related subgenre. So yeah, purchasing my first game score was pretty exciting. I felt like I had burst onto the stage of the Modern Age.

The CD is Mercenaries, composed by Michael Giacchino and Chris Tilton. And yes, it rocks. Great themes and orchestration, and some magn…

The Doctrine of (Political) Election

I’ve been finding it hard to decide on who to vote for in the upcoming elections. If you are a registered voter (and if you’re 18 or older you should be) and are struggling with the same dilemma, here are some thoughts from Robert P. George. Keep in mind that he grew up Democrat and “still feels twinges of nostalgia” for the party.

So, however much one might dislike Republican policies in other areas, it’s clear that the death toll [of unborn children] under the Democrats would be so large as to make it unreasonable for Catholic citizens, or citizens of any faith who oppose the taking of innocent human life, to use their votes and influence to help bring the Democratic party into power.

I find no cause for joy in this. I wish that it were possible for pro-life citizens legitimately to support Democratic candidates. I wish that the party of my parents and grandparents had not placed itself on the wrong side of the most profound human rights issue of our contemporary domestic politics. I …

Spreading the Love

Many of you have probably heard the news, but Love 89’s Sharathon was the most productive Sharathon in the radio station’s history. Our goal was $560,000. By the final evening, listeners had pledged over $590,000. This means we not only have our budge for this year, but we can also begin the process of building two new transmitters (one in Morristown and one in Lenoir City), with a possible third tower sometime later. Everyone on staff has been greatly encouraged by God’s abundant faithfulness.

It’s That Time of Year Again…

Love 89’s 3-day Sharathon is in full swing, which is especially good for me. Why? Well, because my one responsibility is food quality control. (Technically this is a self-appointed responsibility, but it is a burden I willingly bear.) In other words, I officially test all the catered food that comes in. Nothing is left untouched—er, untasted. Even the Krystal burgers brought in this morning by Krystal Meyers herself were not above inspection. So far, all the food has been approved—even Krystal’s Krystals. (As a side note: try having a conversation about Krystal burgers with someone with Krystal Meyers standing a few feet away; she’ll keep looking over at you, wondering why you’re calling her while not looking at her.)

Here’s to two more days of fabulously free foraging.

Wisdom for Today (or However Long it Takes)

Below are Charles Spurgeon’s thoughts for the day. Quite an encouragement to me, being the impatient person that I am.

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Let Trials Bless

Knowing that tribulation worketh patience. (Romans 5:3)

This is a promise in essence if not in form. We have need of patience, and here we see the way of getting it. It is only by enduring that we learn to endure, even as by swimming men learn to swim. You could not learn that art on dry land, nor learn patience without trouble. Is it not worth while to suffer tribulation for the sake of gaining that beautiful equanimity of mind which quietly acquiesces in all the will of God?

Yet our text sets forth a singular fact, which is not according to nature but is supernatural. Tribulation in and of itself worketh petulance, unbelief, and rebellion. It is only by the sacred alchemy of grace that it is made to work in us patience. We do not thresh the wheat to lay the dust: yet the Rail of tribulation does this upon God's floor. We do not t…

The Vacation, Part 3

After a couple days at Rose and Dale’s house, we set out to visit my grandmother in Yakima. Dale was quite gracious in lending us his car for the round trip. (He and Rose were unable to accompany us.)

In between us and our destination was Mount Rainier National Park. Mount Rainier is an active Cascade volcano encased in over 35 square miles of snow and glacial ice. As you can tell from these pictures, the mountain is a wonderful example of God’s creative splendor.

We drove up to Sunrise, the highest point in the park accessible by car. The road was precariously dangerous, with a steep drop to one side that threatened certain death should the car veer off the road even a slight bit. I had made the mistake of drinking a lot of water during the first leg of the journey, so by the time we began the windy trip up the mountain I had to use the facilities. Badly. Of course, there were no facilities—well, other than nature itself. We couldn’t really stop by the side of the road, though, because…

The Path to 9/11

My apologies for not posting about this earlier. I really should have.

A five-hour ABC movie entitled The Path to 9/11 recently aired over two nights of commercial-free broadcasting. It’s a docudrama based on the 9/11 Commission Report, as well as a few other sources. It begins with the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and ends with the events of September 11th. The movie details the numerous failures of both the Clinton and Bush administrations in the investigation of the growing terrorist threats against the United States.

The film is outstanding. Kudos to everyone involved on the project, both behind and in front of the camera. John Cameron’s score is especially effective—what little there is of it. (Most of the music in the movie is source music and not original score.) The main theme hauntingly and powerfully accents the film’s final act. As I have said elsewhere, I think this is the best film music theme for 9/11 yet.

If you missed the movie, you can view it o…

The Vacation, Part 2

My sister’s house is the flipping bomb. Let me explain.

We arrived late at night, so we couldn’t see much of the scenery. The next morning, I was the first to wake up and wander into the living room, which has a couple large windows looking out at Hood Canal. The vista that met my eyes almost took my breath away. The house is right on the beach, overlooking the mile-and-a-half-wide canal and the mountain ranges on the other side. The other three sides of the house are nestled in the woods. Yes, the house is on a beach in the middle of a forest—a little snapshot of Heaven itself. (You can view a live-cam shot of the canal here.)

One day, Dale (my brother in law—although not the Dale in the website above) took Danny and me out in his little motor boat to go crabbing. We baited and set the traps and took an extended tour of the canal, stopping short of the restricted waters that surround the nearby naval base. (Although Dale tells us the military is very friendly—they’ll come out and visit…

Mural in Smoking Area

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I’m sorry, but this is funny.

Sensational Southern Sweetness

As y’all know, I ain’t no Southerner. I was a (forced) transplant. One thing I’ve had trouble understanding is how the words “sweet” and “tea” can go in the same sentence. When I think of tea, I imagine Oriental music and herbal aromas, not Rocky Top and mounds of sugar.

[Insert David Crowder’s I Saw the Light]

Well, I have had a “beverage epiphany.” Mcalister’s Deli catered a meal at work a couple days ago. Among other things, they provided a hefty amount of sweet tea. With one sip, I became addicted. This drink is gloriously delectable. In fact, there are several containers of tea still in the fridge in the break room…and I’m drinking the stuff by the gallon.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go visit John (or, as he is often called, The John).

The Vacation, Part 1

My recent vacation was so outstanding that I must share the experience. So, here we go…

The trip became memorable even before we took to the skies. My brother, mother, and I made it through security and to our gate with a couple hours to spare. (My philosophy is simple: if you’re not early, you’re late.) Mom decided to go on a walk through the airport and ended up gaining a reputation with the security folks. She absentmindedly passed back through the security checkpoint and realized her mistake a few seconds too late. Having crossed the checkpoint by only a few feet, she asked the nearest guard if it was necessary for her to go through the entire security procedure again. Well, it was. As she went through the process a second time, one of the guards said, “Ah, Mrs. Stewart, coming through again I see.” Thankfully, she got back to our gate before the plane left.

It surprised us to find that our plane from Nashville to Denver wasn’t very large—somewhere around thirty seats. Small planes …

Go West, Young Man

So many words could describe my trip to the West Coast. Stupendous. Amazing. Thrilling. Chronological. In short, my vacation was AWESOME! I’ll be posting about my experiences next week, dividing my trip up into different sections/posts. I carry pictures and video from the trip with me on my trusty cell phone, so ask me to show them to you.

As stated before, I haven’t visited my sisters and grandmother in Washington State in almost a decade, and I forgot how much I absolutely LOVE the West Coast. Real mountains. Real forests. Real oceans. I’m convinced that when God created North America He began on the West, and as He moved farther East He started running out of ideas. (That’s just my opinion, but it’s true.)

One thing I’d like you guys to pray about. One of my sisters has been trying to get me to move out there for quite some time. Until my trip, I hadn’t really considered that an option. Now, I have to say it’s officially on the docket as a possibility. In fact, if Sovereign Grace had…

Laborious Weekend

Okay, not really. I’m finally getting the chance to fly to Washington State after about a decade of absence. I was born there, much of my family is still there, my father’s ashes are scattered on Mount Rainier (which I will be visiting/hiking). It’s going to be great! See you guys next week.

What Makes a “Christian” Video Game?

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I’m becoming more and more familiar with the Biblical doctrine of vocation, especially since I started reading the Lutheran blog Cranach. In the words of Gene Edward Veith:
Luther’s doctrine of vocation says that God gives each of us different gifts, interests and capabilities. He also gives each of us an external calling to a particular avenue of service. We are to use all that in love and service to our neighbor and service to God…. In addition, the doctrine of vocation tells me that I don’t have to be a pastor or missionary or always doing church activities to be effective as a Christian. I’m called to live out my Christian faith in my calling in the secular world. The doctrine of vocation helps us see the danger of creating a Christian subculture. For example, what makes a video game “Christian”? Blog poster Pastor Matt has this to say:
Where does the doctrine of vocation fall in all of this? I say a first person shooter about a US (or any nation's soldier for that matter) ma…

Christian Hedonist Upgrade

John Piper’s website, DesiringGod, has been revamped. Now, all his sermons are available in audio format for free—yes, all of them. On the main page, there’s also a Resource Highlights section, which includes audio files of “Today’s Radio Broadcast” and “This Week’s Question.”

On a related note, a couple spots have opened up on Joy 62’s programming, and I’ve asked if John Piper’s radio show could be one of the replacement programs. We are in negotiations to see if that is a possibility. Would it not be awesome to have Piper on a Knoxville radio station every stinking day?! Nevertheless, please pray for the Lord’s will to be done in this matter.

Movie Trailer Music Euphoria

The group Immediate Music has created a lot of original music for movie trailers, including Lord of the Rings, Spiderman 2, King Kong, Superman Returns, The Chronicles of Narnia, and X-Men: The Last Stand. Until recently, this increasingly popular sub-genre of music has not been made available to the general public. Now, the CD “Epicon” has been released for all to enjoy. This is from the official press release:

Ever since director John Boorman had the brilliant idea to track Carl Orff’s rousing ‘O Fortuna’ piece from ‘Carmen Burana’ into his 1981 film ‘Excalibur’, the sound of movie trailer music has never been the same. “Back-end music”, as it’s often called, follows a formula that any moviegoer will instantly recognise: a eclectic mix of orchestral music underscores an often dizzying array of moods steadily building to an overpowering sonic explosion that stirs audiences into a near-euphoric state of anticipatory frenzy.
The Globus Music MySpace page has several samples from the albu…

Piper Quote for the Day

“…The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours.”
(Future Grace, pg. 174)

Monday Morning with Mike Moeller and Miracle Morgan

(Yes, one of my mottos is “avoid alliteration always and allow alternative articulations.”)

As some of you know, I had the privilege of helping produce a documentary about Morgan Moeller, a Knoxville girl who suffered from DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) with cerebral edema in 2001. Well, this morning I got to join Morgan and her father Mike on the Bob Bell Show (on Joy 62, WRJZ). Mike and Morgan shared some of their family’s story, which Mike has written about in his book Above the Clouds.

One area of the story Michael Cummins and I chose to omit in our film (because of thematic and time constraints) was Morgan’s interaction with the spiritual realm. During her coma, she went “above the clouds” and met her three guardian angels: David, Jacob, and UM. Yes, the third angel’s name was UM.

During one of the breaks, Mike explained to us a recent development of Morgan’s story. Mike got a call from a stewardess who had read his book. She told him, “I know who UM is.” She explained that when young …

Dude, Where’s My Post(s)?

Sorry for the lack of updates (and the bad grammar above). Sometimes real life happens real fast, and last week was one of those times. I’m going to try posting a lot this week, especially since I’ll be taking an extended Labor Day weekend to go on vacation. Speaking of which, isn’t it funny how we celebrate Labor Day by not working? It should be called Lazy Day.

Hollywood Heavies Publicly Condemn Hezbollah

With Tinseltown’s current propensity to excuse and even dismiss terrorist actions, it’s encouraging to read this report. Way to go Nicole Kidman (et al)!

Puritans with Mad Skills

Last night, I watched the season finale to America’s Got Talent. (Evidently, America’s talent doesn’t include grammar). Among the finalists was a juggling team comprised of two guys named John and Owen. I found them amusing, and not just because of their names. Their act was quite funny.