Thursday, April 28, 2005

Becoming a More Efficient Reader

I love to read but don't have nearly enough time to put into it. As I am writing this post I have three books linked on the sidebar to review, two more on my nightstand I'm in the middle of, another on the bookshelf I need to read plus I'm working through the Bible chronologically at the same time. That doesn't include all the newspaper articles, columns, and sports pages I try to keep up with on the Internet.

As a result, I need all the help I can get when it comes to being an efficient reader. Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason wrote a great article entitled "Why Settle for Merely Reading a Book When You Can Master It?" that provides some practical tools for becoming a more efficient reader. Thanks to Stacy Harp at Mind and Media for pointing out this article.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Father's Perspective on Modesty

As a father of two young girls, I am concerned with modesty in dress which today is a difficult issue for young women given the current state of fashion and lack of appropriate role models. Unfortunately, there are very few positive influences available.

While I believe it's important for mothers to instruct girls on how to dress modestly (and the reasons why modesty is so critical) it's not an issue that fathers can afford to ignore. Our daughters need to understand from us that there is more to the issue that simply what they should and should not wear.

The dilemma for parents is how to provide practical instruction on this issue without coming across as controlling or legalistic. The problem with taking the legalistic approach is that we end up sowing seeds of rebellion rather than seeds of obedience. If we don't give them the ability to make wise judgements while they are still under our roof then it's a sure bet they won't make wise judgements when they are on their own. It's important that we provide our children with the tools to make the right judgements about what they wear. It's also important that they understand it's not just about what they wear but why they are wearing what they wear.

Before focusing on specific do's and don'ts in dress, we need to make sure our daughters understand that what they wear says a lot about them. A woman who is dressed immodestly may be trying to call attention to herself or may be saying things like "I'm easy" or "I'm desperate". These are messages we don't want our daughters to be sending. Instead, we want their dress to reflect their both their beauty as women and their hearts towards God.

It's also important that they understand the effect that their dress can have on men. This is where fathers can play an especially important role. Within the larger context of male/female relationships, we can address issues regarding the effects of visual stimuli on men. Ultimately the man must decide how to respond to visual stimuli and deal with it in a healthy manner but women do bear a responsibility to not be a stumbling block for men.

We also need to make sure our daughters have practical tools that help them make wise decisions in what they wear. This brochure from Sovereign Grace Ministries is an example of a great teaching tool. (Hat tip: Proverbial Wife)

One of the tools I've given my daughters is what I call the "touchdown test". It's a simple way to show whether a shirt is long enough for them to wear. You raise your arms over your head. If any part of your belly shows then the shirt is too short. Just the other day my youngest daughter (who is 7) came to my wife and said "I did the touchdown test and the shirt I have on is too short so I'm going to have to go change".

My daughter is already taking the initiative to determine whether what she wears is appropriate rather than having to have me approve her apparel. That needs to be our goal in the instruction to our children.

This is cross-posted at Two or Three.Net.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Talkin' Baseball with the President

I just ran across this terrific interview by Hal Bodley of USA Today with President George W. Bush on baseball. The President still keeps up with what's going on in the game in spite of the fact he hasn't been actively involved with baseball since selling the Texas Rangers in 1994.

Perhaps what's more striking, however, is this comment the President made during the interview that was cited in Bodley's next column:

There's nothing President Bush would like better than taking in an occasional Nationals game at Washington's RFK Stadium, but it's not likely to happen.

The question was asked during our interview in the Oval Office last week.

"I'm mindful of the inconvenience a president causes when he goes to a game," he said. "I mean, we're talking magnetometers, and traffic jams. If I'm able to do so without being disruptive, I'd like to.

"There's nothing better than going to the game in person. On the other hand, I do have the tube, so I can watch. I truly am concerned about making it inconvenient for fans. When we shut down the traffic it's really a pain for the president to go blowing through."

It's really cool to see that the President puts the fans ahead of his own interests. I really respect that a lot.

Check out the new Two or Three.net!

We've moved our group blog, Two or Three.net, to a new host and have updated the design. However, the address is still the same: www.twoorthree.net. Check out our new look and let us know what you think.

Monday, April 25, 2005

A Precious Moment

Every once in a while my daughters will do something that completely blow me away. This morning my oldest daughter (who is nine) came into my office (I work from home) and had this note taped to her chin:

"Established in 1995 by the power of God."

She came up with this entirely on her own.

God uses the sweet moments from our children as a gentle reminder of when we're raising them up in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Friday, April 22, 2005

Is Homeschool the Best Choice for Kids?

I know I'll catch some flak for this post because I have friends who have their kids in public school. I respect their position but frankly have been covincted after homeschooling my own kids for several years that it's the best choice available for parents to make. Don't just take my word for it, though. Read this post from Agent Tim who debunks some of the myths surrounding homeschooling.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Book Review: The Jordan Tracks

I can usually tell whether I'm going to enjoy a novel within the first 20-30 pages. Whether I will finish a book can be determined by how interested I am in it by that point. The Jordan Tracks by Steven W. Wise grabbed me from the prologue and wouldn't let go.

Set in the small town of California, Missouri in 1968, The Jordan Tracks tells the story of the Bates family: Ernie, Christa, and their son Aaron. Ernie works in the local turkey processing plant, Christa is the faithful wife, and Aaron is a Marine serving in the combat zone of Viet Nam. The book does not dwell much on the politics of the day. However, the citizens respect for those in the military is healthy and is something that even today seems all too rare.

The main focus of the book is how each of the Bates as well as those who cross their path deal with daily life - especially when tragedy strikes. For Christa and Aaron, both see events as the working of God's hand in their lives. Though they do not always understand why things happen the way they do they know that God is sovreign and that sometimes things happen for reasons beyond our ability to understand. Ernie, on the other hand, carries the scars from a tragic and abusive childhood. He must deal with that emotional baggage as the story unfolds.

There is a sharp distinction drawn between the Christians and non-Christians in this book. The one thing they hold in common is that neither is invincible. Tragedy strikes everyone regardless of their faith or lack of it. However, their faith shapes how they respond to life's events.

The characters in this book are vivid and real as they should be. Mr. Wise drew extenstively from his own experiences and people that he knew in sketching the characters of this book. He even worked in a turkey processing plant as a young man. As he explains in an audio interview with Stacy Harp of Mind and Media, it was these experiences that helped shaped this book.

I'm also glad to see that Mr. Wise was able to incorporate the presentation of the Gospel into the book without it seeming awkward or forced. In fact, the Gospel is presented in a very natural fashion and within context of the events taking place in the book. Too often I find that Christian novelists are working so hard to communicate the Gospel that they sacrifice the overarching story of the novel in the process.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand more about how Christian faith operates in the ups and downs of daily life.

I do not receive any consideration for this review other than a copy of the book which has been provided to me through Mind and Media by a generous gift from Authorhouse, publisher of the book.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Baseball Fever Hits Washington, D. C.

Forget politics. Baseball is now king in Washington, D. C. with both the Washington Nationals (formerly Montreal Expos) and Baltimore Orioles atop their respective divisions.

Personally, I think moving the Expos to Washington was a brilliant move for baseball. The Metro D. C. area is more than capable of having two teams in close proximity to one another. Just imagine how interleague play will be with the Nationals and the Orioles facing each other?

Baseball's return to Washington has even caused non-sports writers such as Cal Thomas and Charles Krauthammer to return to the ballpark and pledge their allegiance to the Nats.

As Harry Caray was once said "Who'd of thunk it?" Let's hope the Nats continue to do well. It can only mean great things for baseball.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Retreat

The past few weeks have been a little chaotic and it's appropriate that our church retreat is this weekend. We're preparing to leave as I am writing this post. Normal blogging should resume on Monday. I'll be posting my latest book review next week along with some other good stuff. In the meantime, check out the blogs on my blogroll for worthwhile weekend reading.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Should Children Be Allowed in Worship?

One of the ongoing debates among evangelical churches is whether children should be part of corporate worship on Sunday mornings. If you survey different churches you are likely to find a variety of approaches to this issue. Not long ago, I ran across this article that really affirmed for me the importance of my children (who are 9 and 7) being with us in corporate worship.

One of the arguments that I hear against having children in worship is their inability to understand fully what is being taught. I've even wondered sometimes whether my children are really grasping what is being preached. Yesterday I was reminded that my children (and children in general) absorb a lot more than adults often give them credit for absorbing.

Not long ago we had a lengthy sermon series in our church on Creation vs. Evolution. We were blessed to have some men come in to speak who were very knowledgeable on the subject and provided a lot of good information to us. Several folks said they didn't need to hear the series because they had heard it before. Some of the information shared was very scientific and technical. My wife referred to it as an "eat your spinach" series. It wasn't necessarily enjoyable but something everyone needed to hear.

Yesterday, my 9 year old daughter was reading a book that we have on mammals. She asked me if she could write a letter to the publisher and send them a Bible because of all the evolution that was in the book. Based on what she had heard in church she had been able to discern that the information presented in her book (which was written specifically for her age group) was full of errors.

This episode only reaffirms for me the importance of our children to be participating in our corporate worship. The Christian faith is "caught" as much as it is "taught". If we expect our children to become believers then they need to be where they can "catch" the faith as well as having it "taught" to them.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Next Great Nike Commercial

If Nike were really smart, they would hire Jaffe Juice to develop their next commercial. Check out this spot that he created from a classic Tiger Woods moment from The Masters. (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin).

Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post (free registration required) has more on what may be remembered as Tiger Woods' greatest major tournament of his career. It was certainly one of the gutsiest performances in a long time.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Anchoress Has a New Home

The Anchoress, who is one of my essential daily reads (not to mention she was kind enough to add my blog to her blogroll) has moved to a new site. You can find her now at this link. I've also updated the blogroll so it will link you to the new site.

My question to The Anchoress is when we can start talkin' baseball?

Book Review: Seeds of Deception

In Seeds of Deception: Planting Destruction of America's Children, Georgiana Preskar documents her own battle with her local school district over a program called SEED which stands for Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity. Although on the surface it sounds like a program that is designed to promote "diversity" it is in fact a curriculum designed to condition school children to not only accept homosexuality as normal but encourages them to participate in homosexual behaviors.

Ms. Preskar does an excellent job in researching the history of the homosexual movement and its profound influence throughout history. She obviously put a great deal of time and effort into fully understanding the techniques that programs such as SEED utilize in order to accomplish their goals.

This book is not a book that you go into thinking that you will enjoy it. There is a lot of worthwhile material contained within the book. Parents may wish to consult this book to get a better understanding of the types of techniques both subtle and not-so-subtle that are being used to influence (brainwash, according to Ms. Preskar) America's children.

The message of this book is simple: parents need to be fully aware of what is being taught in our schools. If SEED is any example of what is being forced onto children by public educators then there is reason to be very afraid. Parents need to be willing to step up and take a stand against programs such as SEED.

This book was provided by Authorhouse through Mind and Media. I do not receive any consideration for this review other than the book.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Mind and Media Update

Stacy Harp from Mind and Media has just posted an interview with Steven Wise, author of The Jordan Tracks which I will soon be reviewing here.

Also, if you are interested in becoming a reviewer, just complete this survey and be sure to mention that you were referred by this blog.

Rethinking Prayer

I'll admit it - my prayer life stinks. By that I mean that I don't think I really pray the way God would want me to pray. Reading this essay by Rob Asghar only confirms that feeling. In fact, Mark Daniels' essay on prayer (which led me to Rob's post) offers some further direction on how we should really be praying.

Thanks to Rob and Mark's essays I'm going to be rethinking prayer and how I pray.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Become A Mind And Media Reviewer!

There are still opportunities for more bloggers to join Mind and Media as an exclusive reviewer. If you haven't signed up yet, take this survey (be sure to tell them I sent you) and you could win a copy of the new book Infiltration. It's a great way to get free books and build traffic for your blog at the same time.

The Tar Heels Are National Champions!

It was a basketball game for the history books. Number 1 Illinois, who lost only one game all year, facing Number 2 North Carolina for the National Championship. It was going to be a classic. Neither team disappointed.

The North Carolina Tar Heels triumphed 75-70 over the Illinois Fighting Illini with superior teamwork. There were moments throughout the game when one might have thought North Carolina was going to run away with it building a 13 point lead at halftime that would stretch to 15 early in the second half before Illinois stormed back the same way they had overcome the same deficit against Arizona nine days earlier to earn a berth in the Final Four.

Carolina's junior center Sean May, who was celebrating his 21st birthday yesterday, willed his team to winning this game.

Perhaps sweetest was the fact that this was Coach Roy Williams first National Championship. Of course, any Carolina fan would tell you that all Coach Williams had to do was come back to Carolina to be able to win it all.

Congratulations to the Tar Heels for a fantastic win. It truly was one for the ages.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Looking Forward to Opening Day

Monday marks Opening Day for Major League Baseball (yes, I know there is a game on ESPN2 tomorrow night but the Cubs don't start playing until Monday with most of the other teams) and I'm excited for the season to begin. Richard Kennedy from The Claremont Institute has a terrific essay entitled "Where the Game Is Played" that takes a look at one of the factors that makes baseball unique among sports: the ballparks. (Hat tip: Powerline)

I've been fortunate enough to visit five major league parks thus far (although 2 are gone): Memorial Stadium in Baltimore (gone), Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta (gone), Busch Stadium in St. Louis (a very intimate park despite it's cookie-cutter design), Comiskey Park in Chicago (now known as U. S. Cellular Field), and, of course, Wrigley Field in Chicago (my favorite).