Monday, December 11, 2006

Equipping One Another

Last week I had the opportunity to get together with a friend of mine who is about to be a dad for the first time. This was a unique opportunity to talk with him about his fears and anxieties about becoming a parent. As we were talking I was thinking about how much it would have meant to me if someone was willing to meet with me before I became a dad. If we had known how much hard work was involved would we have decided to take the plunge?

We all have things that we learn about being fathers as well as about ourselves as we make the journey. One of the wonderful things about this site is it provides a forum for fathers to share their experiences and the wisdom they have gained as fathers.

If the opportunity presented itself, would you be willing to share your own experiences with someone who is about to become a father for the first time? Would those of you with older children be willing to be mentors for those dads who either are just getting started or whose kids are much younger? My hope is that you would be willing to accept this challenge whether it's someone in your church, workplace, or neighborhood. The best way we can ensure that we as fathers raise good kids is to continue to share what we have learned along the way: the things that God has taught us and the ways He has equipped us for one of the toughest jobs there is - being a father.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Ingenuity of the American Soldier

Although our soldiers have some of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced weapons at their disposal, a low-tech piece of equipment is becoming a valuable resource in Iraq (hat tip: Mary Katherine Ham):

In an age of multimillion-dollar high-tech weapons systems, sometimes it's the simplest ideas that can save lives. Which is why a New Jersey mother is organizing a drive to send cans of Silly String to Iraq.

American troops use the stuff to detect trip wires around bombs, as Marcelle Shriver learned from her son, a soldier in Iraq.

Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.

While the company that makes Silly String probably never envisioned this particular use for the product, they've agreed to contribute to Ms. Shriver's campaign.

Even though politicians may be looking for all sorts of new ways to lose this war, our soldiers are still doing everything they can to win.

Monday, November 27, 2006

If I Had a Hall of Fame Ballot....

The eligible candidates for this year's Baseball Hall of Fame voting have just been announced and a couple of the names on the list are no doubt going to spark some controversy: Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. (Hat tip: Tim Ellsworth) While Canseco's career numbers are not really what I would consider Hall of Fame caliber (and his tell-all book about steroid use in the majors published last year won't help his case any), McGwire will likely get some consideration from the voters given that he was at one time the all-time home run record holder. But will the dark shadow of possible steroid use during his career keep him out of the Hall?

If I had a ballot to cast, here would be my votes: Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Orel Hershiser. I would be willing to bet that Gwynn and Ripken will both be elected easily. Beyond that, I doubt that any other candidate will be able to muster sufficient support to make it into the Hall. It will be interesting to see how the voting turns out.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Developing A Biblical Worldview

I've read numerous articles and books that emphasize the importance of developing a Christian worldview but very few that actually offer any practical advice on how to do it. Thankfully, Joe Carter has come to the rescue with some excellent advice on how to change your mind.

As the infamous slogan says, just do it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Interview: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley always wanted to be a writer. But she also planned to become a research chemist. What she didn’t know was that one college class would make the difference between becoming a writer and pursuing another career.

“During my sophomore year, my roommate encouraged me to take an Introduction to Children’s Literature class, “said Mrs. Bradley. “The teacher of the class happened to be Patricia MacLachlan, who had just won the Newbery Award for Sarah, Plain and Tall. She not only encouraged me to write, but also helped me to get involved in the local chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Jane Yolen (who has authored many children’s books) ran the group that year and was a tremendous encouragement to me.”

She started writing for equestrian magazines and as a freelance writer through college. After graduation she worked as a research chemist (and still holds several patents for her work) but continued to write in her spare time. Finally, she got enough work writing that she quit her job as a chemist. But her first novel Ruthie’s Gift was originally supposed to be a picture book.

“When I started writing the book, I started writing as a picture book but I couldn’t quite get it in the picture book form. I tried twelve different variations. The book has to be under a certain number of pages long or there is not room for the pictures. You can’t put too much text on the page. All of the picture books are thirty-two pages long – all multiples of eight. It has to do with how they print it as one big enormous book. You really can’t just add two more pages. They don’t want to add eight because that adds a lot more cost to the book because you have all of illustrations, too. The standard length of text has to be a standard length, and I really could not get the story told in a shorter form. I could get close, and I am quite good at keeping things pared down, but, you know, I had two editors that were interested in it, and they were sort of thinking about it. While they were thinking about it, I wrote another picture book about how my grandmother felt the day the seventh child was born and turned it was another boy. That was even longer, and I could not get it pared down. I took it to my husband, and he said this is the best book you have written, but it is not a picture book. I know, and he said, ‘what are you going to do?’ I said, ‘I will send it to the editors and let them hash it out. I sent it off to Random Press, and they wrote back ‘Aha, now I see what you are doing’. This is not a picture book, this is a novel. Put these together and keep going.”

Since the publication of Ruthie’s Gift in 1998, she has managed to publish about one book a year, most of them novels geared towards middle-school aged students. But her latest book, Ballerino Nate, about a boy who wants to learn ballet, shows she has a flair for writing picture books as well. Most surprising, perhaps, is that the inspiration for the book was literally right next door.

“We live on a farm, and actually on the land where we built our house the land that it is on belonged to an old house in the 1840’s. The family that lives in that house is our closest friends. It is the one house that our kids can walk to. We have been friends with them since the younger children were infants, before my daughter could walk, so we have kind of grown up alongside of them. The two boys are in my children’s grades at school, and we have always been around together so when the older boys, Matthew and Ben, were in kindergarten, Diane, the other mom and I, were driving on a field trip to see The Nutcracker. We took our younger kids, both were just about three. Nate had turned three and Katie was not quite three yet. These little kids sat on our laps and watched a local production of The Nutcracker, and they were absolutely mesmerized, much better than the kindergarteners. We are all sitting there and Katie said, ‘Wow, I want to see that again’. Nate said, ‘Not me, I want to dance it.’ He was just completely enthralled with the idea of dancing from that moment on. He ended up taking ballet lessons and really loving it.”

Arguably her best book (and the one that she is proudest of) is one that she originally didn’t intend to write: For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy. The book chronicles the true story of a 16 year-old French girl, who after witnessing a gruesome bombing attack decides to join the French Resistance as a courier.

“Not only did I not intend to write it, but I had absolutely nothing to do with the plot, but I think it is my best written book. There is not a whole lot of inventiveness because it really is a true story.”

My husband came home one day and told me I needed to write a book about Tina’s mother (Tina works in his office). There are lots of people who tell me what I ought to write about. I tend to get really cranky about it. So I resisted the idea for a long time. But my husband kept pestering me until I finally called her.”

“I love talking to school kids about this book. I’ll ask them, ‘How many want to read a book about an opera singer?’ They just stare at me. Of course they don’t, being 13 or so. I say, ‘well come on a 16 year old opera singer is pretty interesting’. They all kind of shake their heads at me. Then I tell them she was captured by the Nazis. You don’t really get the feeling that they were rounding up the opera singers. They say ‘why did they capture her when she was an opera singer?’ It’s because she was a spy. One word changes the whole story. Any time I say that to a group of students, they all get very excited about reading a book about an opera singer that was a spy.”

“What I find so amazing about Suzanne is that at age 16 when she agreed to be a spy, she knew fully what it was she was agreeing to. She really understood how very slim the odds of her coming through the war were, and accepted that. I think that is an amazing thing to do at any age, but especially at that age.“

“I think probably the reason I am so proud of that book, is that I am really pleased we got that story done while we still could. Tina’s own family didn’t know the story because Suzanne (Tina’s mother) wouldn’t talk about what had happened to her. I’m glad I had the chance to share her story.”

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's latest picture book, Ballerino Nate, is published by Dial. To find out more about Ms. Bradley's books, visit her website.

This article was originally published at Blogcritics.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Speaker Pelosi? Maybe Not....

Even before the Democrats' victory in the mid-term elections last week, the media was referring to current House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Speaker-to-be. And while that might be a fairly reasonable assumption, it is not necessarily a lock, as Rich Galen points out.

We can only hope.

Friday, November 03, 2006

This Sums It Up Very Well

I haven't been blogging much mostly because I would be writing political stuff and always seem to find other people that are saying things much better than I could. This post from Dean Barnett is a perfect example. Go read it and then vote for your Republican candidates on Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Road Warrior

As I am writing this entry, I am sitting in a hotel room in South Florida. It's one of the few times I'll be away from my family on a business trip. I'm pretty fortunate that most of the time, my wife and kids can travel with me. But this time they couldn't come. As a result, I feel disconnected from them. It's only natural, and a feeling that many dads who do far more travelling that I do feel far more deeply.

What do you do to stay connected to your family when you're away from home? Well, one of the things we make sure to do is spend as much time together as a family before I leave home. My kids love for me to read aloud to them so before I left home this morning we spent some time reading a few chapters from the latest book that we're working on together.

Another thing we try to do is stay in touch while I'm away. Text messages, e-mails, and phone calls all mean the world to both them and me when I'm away from them. We even go so far as to plan when I'll call and when they can call me (they have a copy of my schedule so they know where I am at any given time during the day).

My wife tries to take advantage of the time alone with our daughters by having some special time with them doing the things that they love to do and only girls could do together.

I also try to bring a little something home for my wife and daughters. It doesn't have to be a big gift but enough to say "I was thinking of you and that's why I bought this gift".

So, fellow road warriors, how do you manage being away from home? What do you do to stay connected with your family while you're away from home?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Seeking Balance

Note: This is a recycled post from November 2004 when I first started blogging. We shared this story with a friend of ours this week who was feeling overwhelmed. As a result, I felt prompted to share this again.

A few years ago, I subscribed to a wonderful magazine (now defunct, unfortunately) called Life@Work Journal. The magazine was a Christian publication geared towards believers in the marketplace. Each issue would focus on a particular subject. One of the most memorable issues was the issue on balance.

In an article entitled "Juggling Life" (Life@Work Journal, November/December 2000), authors Thomas Addington and Steven Graves contend that we operate on an incorrect definition of balance based on ranking priorities of God, family, church, work and leisure. They contend that "balance is the ability to continually recognize and juggle the multidimensional assignments and opportunities of life". When we feel overwhelmed or stressed out because there isn't enough time to do everything on our "to do list" it's because our life is out of balance.

They go on to explain that balance is not a static issue. In other words, it is something we have to constantly strive towards. We also cannot do it alone as we each have blind spots that prevent us from seeing the total picture. As a result, we need accountability from family, friends, business associates, fellow church members, and others to help us see where we are out of balance.

They also contend that each individual has five multidimensions of life: family, community, church, work, and self. Each of these dimensions competes for our attention and energy. These are the balls that we have to juggle. Within each of these dimensions are assignments and opportunities.An assignment is "something that we have no control over or that we cannot say no to without violating a Scriptural command or principle". For example, I am a father and husband. I'm also the breadwinner for my family. As a believer, I also must be involved in a church. These are all assignments that I have been given. Assignments are not necessarily the same for every person.

Opportunities, on the other hand, are optional items. They are things that I can choose to do or not to do. Sometimes an opportunity can help someone fufill an assignment. For example, if I go to a parenting conference it should help me be a better father. However, an opportunity can become a problem if it interferes with my ability to fufill my assignments. A good example would be spending so much time watching football on television that it takes away time I should be spending with my family. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I don't spend much time watching sports anymore is because it takes too much time away from my wife and children.

When my wife and I were first married we moved to suburban Chicago. While we were there I got involved in a golf league with some of the guys at work. At least every other Saturday (and sometimes more often) I would be off playing golf with the guys at work and leaving my wife at home alone. Although it was a great opportunity, my marriage suffered because I was not devoting time to my wife and our marriage the way that I should have.

Juggling assignments and opportunities is not easy. It requires constantly evaluating where time and energy are being spent. It also takes a willingness to sacrifice my own desires in order to meet the needs of my family.

My wife once did this in a very practical way by taking Post-It notes and putting up on the closet doors everything she was doing. She started by putting every one of those notes on the left side of the doors. Then she would move the notes over to the right that represented the opportunities she was involved in. Once she was finished she realized she was involved in far too many opportunities and it was interfering with her assignments as a wife and mother. After praying over those opportunities for a number of days she decided to make some changes.

The bottom line is this: in order to keep our lives in balance we must first grasp what assignments God has given us. Then each activity we are involved in needs to be examined closely. We should be asking ourselves whether the opportunities we are pursuing are interfering with our assignments. If an opportunity is keeping us from completing our assignments then it's an opportunity we don't need to pursue.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bringing the Church into Politics

Democratic candidate Harold Ford, Jr. has employed an unusual tactic in his latest senatorial campaign ad: he filmed the commercial in a church sanctuary:

With a stained-glass window behind him, candidate Harold Ford Jr. strolls through the Memphis church where he was baptized to tell voters this is the place where he learned right from wrong.

Using a church sanctuary as the backdrop in his newest campaign commercial, the Democrat running for the U.S. Senate has picked an unusual setting. One expert on religion and politics said it was the first political ad he'd heard of actually filmed inside a sanctuary.

The pastor of the church didn't seem to have a problem with allowing his sanctuary to become the backdrop for a political ad:

"I think people would like to learn about a person's values, and if it was through a church setting, they'd like to know that," said its pastor, Melvin Charles Smith, who says Ford attends services whenever he is town. The name of the church does not appear in the commercial.

The commercial in question is available (at least as of this writing) on the Ford campaign's website.

Whether someone is a Christian should not only be evident by their words but their actions. In fact, their actions should speak louder than their words.

Candidates should know, too, that simply talking about faith is not going to be enough to persuade religious voters to support them. The question is whether the positions the candidates take on issues will be consistent with these "values voters" that made a difference in the last election. Given the current Democratic party planks on abortion, gay rights, and other "values" issues it's hard to see how they are going to be able to appeal to many religious voters no matter how far they go in trying to appeal to them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Another Great Awakening?

In a meeting with conservative journalists yesterday, President Bush remarked that we were experiencing a Third Great Awakening:

President Bush said yesterday that he senses a "Third Awakening" of religious devotion in the United States that has coincided with the nation's struggle with international terrorists, a war that he depicted as "a confrontation between good and evil."

Bush told a group of conservative journalists that he notices more open expressions of faith among people he meets during his travels, and he suggested that might signal a broader revival similar to other religious movements in history. Bush noted that some of Abraham Lincoln's strongest supporters were religious people "who saw life in terms of good and evil" and who believed that slavery was evil. Many of his own supporters, he said, see the current conflict in similar terms.

"A lot of people in America see this as a confrontation between good and evil, including me," Bush said during a 1 1/2 -hour Oval Office conversation on cultural changes and a battle with terrorists that he sees lasting decades. "There was a stark change between the culture of the '50s and the '60s -- boom-- and I think there's change happening here," he added. "It seems to me that there's a Third Awakening."

While I'm not entirely sure I would go so far as to say I agree this is another Great Awakening, it is fair to say that religious expression has become more common in the aftermath of 9/11. It's perfectly understandable that religious expression would become more prevalent in a time of crisis.

Eutychus' Window seems equally skeptical but makes a good point about the religious divide in this country:

It's been my conviction for some time that the great divide in our nation
isn't simply a political divide, or a divide between ideologies, or a cultural divide alone. The chasm that divides the nation is primarily a spiritual one. The major divide in America is between people of faith and radical secularists. The divide is between those who look to God and who incorporate their convictions into their opinions and their lives, and those who consider that the material world is all there is. The secularists rage over the influence (which appears to be growing) of faith and religious convictions in our national life. Secularists accuse the "religious right" of wanting to set up a theocracy as oppressive as the Taliban.

Secular materialism, on the other hand -- a worldview that rejects God and religious teachings in general -- has a poor track record when it comes to the affairs of men and nations. While the secularists appeal to what they view as "enlightment," to the elevation of reason, knowledge, and tolerance, history has shown that when the reality of God is dispensed with, and the belief that life has no special origin and no special purpose, and that man is accountable to no one but himself, mankind spirals down into chaos and unimaginable inhumanity and brutality. While secularism claims for itself enlightenment and tolerance, secularists are appallingly ignorant of religious conviction and are intolerant of people of faith.

Something has to give in this struggle between faith and secularism, and if I understand the signs of our times correctly, faith has the momentum at the moment, because what the secularists have to offer isn't enlightenment and tolerance, but nihilism. And the "weapons" of our struggle, because it's a spiritual struggle, are the resources of the Spirit -- praise, worship, prayer, and revealed truth. This struggle certainly shows up in the battles of the "culture war," and within our political contests, but the struggle is, primarily, spiritual in nature. And it's still unclear which viewpoint will emerge as the dominant one.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Road Less Traveled

When I have to travel for my job, the trip usually takes me places that are within a day's drive of where I live. Because we homeschool our kids, my family often will travel with me. This has provided us with some great opportunities to see different parts of the country.

Our road trips have taken us across numerous interstate highways. Although they usually provide the fastest way to get from one place to another, they don't always provide the most exciting journeys. In fact, I often find interstates to be tedious and boring. Most of the time, you'll see the same restaurants, the same gas stations, the same truck stops, etc. along the side of the road. Time after time it's the same boring drive.

On a recent road trip, we decided to do something different. We decided to get off the interstate and come home by the back roads: the U.S. highways that don't see much traffic anymore.

We happened to be driving through Kentucky and Tennessee and I'd be willing to bet we got to see more beautiful country in those two states than we would have ever seen if we had driven on the interstate.

We even managed to stumble on a place that makes some of the best fudge we had ever tasted and met some of the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet.

If we had stayed on the interstate we would have missed all that and much more.
Next time we take a road trip we may get off the interstate again and start travelling those back roads. Who knows what treasures we will discover along the way.

9/11 Five Years Later - A Personal Reflection

I will never forget 9/11. No matter how hard I try, I can't block out the memories of that day. They will be forever burned in my memory.

I was supposed to be attending a meeting in Bala Cynwyd (just outside of Philadelphia) on 9/11. My wife and two daughters (ages 4 and 5) went up a few days early to explore the Amish country as well as downtown Philadelphia. We had had a great time visiting an area that we had never visited before. But that Tuesday morning everything would change - in ways far greater than we could have ever imagined.

The day started normally enough. My meeting was supposed to start at 9:00 so I headed downstairs to the hotel restaurant early to eat breakfast. My wife and daughters were a little later getting ready.

Our meeting started on time and was underway for about an hour before taking our first break of the morning. Many of the folks in this meeting were from New York. While we were on the break, several guys tried to call the office but couldn't get through. One of them finally decided to call the operator and see what was wrong with the telephone lines. He would be the first one to share the news with us: the World Trade Center had been hit. Another person came in and said it was the Pentagon. It would be a few minutes before we realized that it was both.

By the time we managed to get a TV brought into the conference room we were able to see the replay of the South tower being hit. Moments later it collapsed. It took all of us only a split second to decide we needed to go home. The fourth airliner, United flight 93, would crash in Western Pennsylvania within the next few minutes.

My wife had taken the kids next door to Denny's to eat breakfast. A waitress told her that the Pentagon had been hit. Her sister's husband often worked at the Pentagon. Was he there? Frantically, she was calling her unable to get through. It would be much, much later before we found out he wasn't there and was completely safe.

My wife came back to the hotel not knowing how to find me. At the time, I didn't carry a cellphone (I have ever since). She was in the lobby trying to call her sister when I finally came upstairs. I looked at her and said "We're going home".

At the time we lived in Richmond, VA, almost directly due south along Interstate 95 from Philadelphia. Under normal circumstances, it would have taken about five hours to drive home. But Washington, DC is directly on Interstate 95. Due to the attack at the Pentagon, Washington was completely locked down. Our only choice was to head west and then south in a long circle along interstates through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virgina. It was a long drive home.

As we were leaving the hotel we turned on the local news on our radio. The mayor of Philadelphia was holding a press conference announcing the evacuation of the city. Everyone was being ordered home since at that time we didn't know where the hijackers intended to fly United 93. It was reasonable to assume that Philadelphia was a target.

One thing was clear: we were at war. We weren't sure yet who was responsible but we knew we had been attacked. The peaceful setting of Lancaster County was strangely appealing. Surely whoever this was wouldn't attack the Amish. We would be safe there, wouldn't we?

As we drove on there was this eerie feeling of not knowing what to expect next. Would there be further attacks? Who was responsible? Why had they attacked us?

Our daughters tahnkfully were oblivious to what was happening. At least until the announcement was made that Walt Disney World had closed (we had made our first visit as a family the previous year). Then it registered with them that something was wrong.

Everywhere we stopped along the way home people seemed to be trying to carry on with life as normal even though they all knew that life would never be normal again. Everything had changed.

By late afternoon we had made it to Harrisonburg, VA (about 3 1/2 hours from home). At first we thought we would just find a hotel room and spend the night but there were none to be found. Greyhound had ordered all their buses to stop wherever they were and as a result people had to find hotel rooms. Everything was closing down: restaurants, stores, shopping malls were all closed. We managed to find a gas station that was still open. When I went in to pay there was the extra edition of the local paper with the photo of the burning towers above the fold. This was not just a bad dream. This was real.

As we left Harrisonburg and headed towards home I can remember the eerie sight of a single jet plane crossing the sky. I knew it was a military plane since all civilian aircraft had been grounded much earlier in the day. This is what it felt like to be at war.

We eventually made it home safely that evening. But we knew that everything had changed. A couple days later we got another grim reminder of just how serious things were.

Where we lived, we never saw military traffic. But around 9:00 one evening just a few days after the attacks we were buzzed twice in the span of a couple of minutes by a pair of F-14 fighter jets. It was yet another reminder that we were truly at war.

There would be other reminders, as well. I went to Las Vegas for a meeting a couple of months later (a meeting that was originally supposed to take place the week after 9/11). The sight of armed soldiers patrolling the airport was a clear sign that things had changed.

While I was in Las Vegas I stayed at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino. As the name suggests, the hotel is supposed to remind one of the New York skyline. Even three months after 9/11, there was a memorial of flowers, posters, and messages of support for the police, firefighters, and people of New York City. I couldn't help but be struck by the sight.

Driving by the Pentagon several months after 9/11 and getting to see firsthand the devastation caused by the terrorists would be yet another grim reminder of the war we had been dragged into by our attackers.

I can't forget no matter how hard I try. We should never forget for this is why we fight.

Friday, August 18, 2006

NY Times: We're Not Biased...Wait, Yes We Are!

A correction that appeared in today's New York Times offers a hilarious example of their bias (hat tip: Best of the Web):

An article on Tuesday about President Bush’s defense of American policy in the fighting between Israel and Lebanon incorrectly described the planning that led to Mr. Bush’s meetings on Monday at the Pentagon and the State Department. Mr. Bush’s schedule for the day was prepared weeks ahead as part of the annual presidential review meetings; it was not devised last week as part of a White House effort to seek political advantage on national security after Senator Joseph I. Lieberman’s loss in Connecticut’s Democratic primary and news of a disrupted terrorist plot in Britain.

At least they had the courage to come clean.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Modesty and Purity

The other day I was in the grocery store with my youngest daughter (who is 9). As we passed by the magazines she asked me a question that totally floored me: "Don't you think people have better things to do than look at each others' body parts?"

With her simple question, she had hit upon one of the things that is so wrong with our society today: we are a sexualized culture that no longer sees modesty (or purity, for that matter) as something to be valued.

I wish I could take credit for a really snappy comeback to her question but I was caught completely off guard and didn't know what to say.

Her question, however, got me thinking onto the subject of modesty.

As a father of two girls, I want my daughters to grow up understanding the importance of dressing modestly. But I also want them to understand that it's about a whole lot more than not showing off their bodies. Modesty is part of living a life in pursuit of purity. Too often we don't frame a discussion about modesty this way. Instead, we define modesty as adhering to a particular style of dress and setting up rules to follow in how we are to appear in public. It's important, however, that our daughers understand that dressing modestly is part of keeping themselves and others pure.

As Joshua Harris says so well in his incredible book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, (Dads - do yourself a favor and read this book with your teenagers) purity is a direction, not a destination. Rather than drawing a line in the sand and say we're not going to cross it but moving as close to the line as possible is not pursuing purity. Pursuing purity demands that we flee from temptation (even those magazines in the store that we shouldn't be looking at). Teaching our kids this lesson can be one of the greatest legacies we can leave as Dads.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

9/11 Blog Memorial

Danny Carlton of has created a 9/11 blog memorial (you can see it in the sidebar) that will display the names and brief biographies of the victims of 9/11. It's one more way that bloggers can help us all remember the high cost of 9/11 and why we fight this war on terror.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Anti-War Left Completes Takeover of Democratic Party

Democratic leaders (including senior members of every congressional committee on military, intelligence and international affairs) have sent a letter to President Bush urging a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

The Anti-War Left has completed its takeover of the Democratic Party. By making the War on Terror the central issue of the upcoming election, they are only reinforcing their image as a party that cannot be trusted to keep America safe.

Many Americans realize that this war is going to be a long war. It's better for us to fight this war patiently and deliberately rather than sit back and wait to be attacked again.

Until Democrats accept the fact that we are at war and that they need to come up with a realistic strategy for winning instead of just cutting and running, they can expect to lose more elections. Perhaps getting soundly beaten at the polls a couple of times will help them see the error of their ways. But I wouldn't count on it.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Surfin' the Blogroll

Here are a few links that caught my eye this weekend while checking out the blogs on my blogrolls:

Doug posted an interesting item on the unreported consequences of abortion. Would abortion advocates be so enthusiastic if they paid attention to what the real cost of the procedure is on lives of women?

Here's an interesting twist on Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Intelligent Design blogging: check out's Designwatch Blog.

Tim Ellsworth reports on the growing anti-spanking movement. I spanked my kids when they were younger and they've turned out just fine. I've met too many parents who didn't spank their kids (or discipline them in general) to believe that the occasional spanking is wrong.

I haven't spent any time studying the issue of cessation of spiritual gifts. It's an interesting debate and one that invokes strong feelings on both sides. However, Ilona from Intellectuelle dove in and sums up her post with a very good point:

In the end it doesn't matter what we'd rather have or rather do in God's
Kingdom, but giving ourselves to what The Lord has for us. He is simply the only
one who sees the whole picture, and I think in many of our debates we tend to
forget that. Perhaps this is an emotional appeal, when a reasoned debate is
desired, but there have been reams of reasoned debates when sometimes what is
needed is true desire to reconcile and keep the fellowship of the faith.
Sometimes, I myself have been slow to see that, and mistook it for compromise.
But I think of how often Paul used the word, "beseech" and how highly he
recommended keeping peace and unity in our common faith, and I feel this is what
is called for when looking at these contested scriptures. I feel Adrian Warnock
was so successful in doing that in his post. And I'm glad it is being discussed,
but there is whole segment of Christians who have been hurt by the deployment of
some of the arguments. Because not everyone has been so even handed and kind.
And so it gets back to that.... what does it matter if I speak in the tongues of
angels if I don't show love?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Doctrines of Men

Thirsty Theologian has a great post on an issue my fellow Two or contributor Aaron has commented on previously: the Southern Baptist Convention's unbiblical prohibition of alcohol use by its membership. (Hat tip: Evangelical Outpost)

The argument that this resolution is a clear violation of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone is authority over the life of a Christian) is compelling. In fact, I'm not sure which is worse: the fact that the SBC would sink to such depths of legalism or that the passage cited to justify the resolution was ripped totally out of context and twisted to justify the convention's actions.
This is, of course, nothing new for the SBC or other churches, for that matter. Different groups have longed try to use Scripture to justify positions that are not directly addressed in God's word. These teachings are what Jesus referred to as the "doctrines of men".

When our attention becomes focused on issues of Christian liberty and practical applications of God's word (in which there can be legitimate disagreement) rather than Scripture itself, Christians run the risk of becoming irrelevant and losing our influence in a world that so desperately needs to hear the truth.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Vacationing in Lebanon?

Rich Galen has a great column today on the 25,000 or so Americans who are stuck in Beirut and waiting for the U. S. Government to come rescue them.

One question: why are they there? Sierra Faith has some answers.

Honestly, would you want to spend your vacation in a war zone? Personally, I prefer Walt Disney World.

Never mind the fact that the State Department has had warnings posted for six months about the dangers of travelling to Lebanon.

Mike Gallagher's analysis of the situation is right on the mark:

Once more, we’re confronted with the ugly image of people shirking their personal responsibility and wanting to blame everyone else for their decisions. If you make the choice to take a holiday in a place like Beirut, it sure seems like there’s a possibility that you might not enjoy it when the terrorists get antsy. At the very least, you might want to hold your tongue and not complain, gripe and moan about your country when it comes and rescues you.

These people likely learned a thing or two from the reaction to flooded New Orleans. Sure, there were some people who couldn’t leave when Katrina was on its way. But let’s face it, there were many people who became victims because they made a choice to stay in New Orleans despite being warned to get out of town. Their bad decision became the government’s fault.

Just once, I’d like to see an American on TV express some appreciation for their country during times like these. What a joy it would have been to turn on the television and see an evacuee from Lebanon say something like, “Boy, was I ever dumb for deciding to take a vacation in Lebanon. But thanks to the United States, I’m now safely sitting in the Baltimore airport and am I ever grateful. Thanks to the brave men and women who helped rescue my family and me, and God bless America. It sure feels great to be home.”

No, that wasn’t what these people said. Not even close. Their sense of outrage and entitlement is slowly but surely becoming the American way. And it’s positively disgusting.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Not So "Disproportionate" After All

So much for the criticism that Israel's response to Hezbollah has been "disproportionate" (hat tip: Mark Levin):

Israel has been willing to give up the element of surprise in its battle against Hizballah to warn civilians that they should flee areas where the Air Force is planning to attack, an army official said on Thursday.

Israel has been accused of using disproportionate force in its response to Hizballah attacks on Israel, and in some cases, of deliberately targeting civilians.

For the last eight days, residents of northern Israeli communities, including Israel's third largest city, Haifa, have stayed in bomb shelters and security rooms as more than 1,600 Hizballah rockets have crashed into the country. Twenty-nine Israelis have been killed and hundreds more wounded.

Israel has launched massive air strikes on what it calls Hizballah targets, including weapons caches, trucks that may be used to transport weapons, and other infrastructure that may be of use to Hizballah. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Wednesday that more than 300 Lebanese civilians have been killed in the last eight days.

But Israel said it is going to great lengths to prevent civilian casualties by warning civilians of impending attacks.

"We've taken numerous actions telling civilians to leave, [even] losing the element of surprise trying to not injure civilians," said Army Capt. Doron Spielman.

"[Hizballah] is imbedded within densely populated areas. We're losing [part of our] military might [by dropping fliers]," said Spielman in a telephone interview. "We're not always able to drop fliers," he added.

The Israeli army has dropped fliers in many areas where it intends to bomb Hizballah targets, warning residents -- sometimes hours in advance -- that they should leave the area because it will soon be attacked, said Spielman.

The fact that Israel is willing to sacrifice the element of surprise is amazing. It's no secret that Hizbollah imbeds their personnel among civilians making it extremely difficult to separate the terrorists from the innocent bystanders. Perhaps critics of Israel's tactics will think twice and realize who are the real villians.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Developing Discernment

The other day my daughters were watching a movie on one of the kids' channels on TV. Based on what they had told me about the movie (which was all that they knew from looking it up online) it sounded like it would be okay. But after it was over and they came to tell us about it, we discovered that there were elements of the story that were not necessarily things we would want them to be exposed to. In fact, if we had known about it ahead of time we probably would have told them not to watch it.

However, I was not angry with them nor did I get angry with them. Instead, I used the opportunity to discuss with them the issue of discernment and being able to determine whether something was appropriate for them based on what was contained in the program. We discussed specific examples of other programs we have told them not to watch and why we found them objectionable.

Our goal is not to police everything they watch or read. Rather, it is to help them to develop discernment and to understand what worldviews are being represented in different programs. Often, we find that material that is theoretically targeted towards kids our age (they are 10 and 9) has content that is really more suitable for older children. We've had to work with them to help them understand that they need to be aware of the messages that are being relayed through media and be able to understand the agenda behind the entertainment.

Developing discernment in my kids has not simply been about telling them what is right or wrong. Nor has it been to say "this is okay" or "this is not okay". Often, we have to go beyond simple right and wrong and explain the reasons why we object to something. By explaining this to them we are helping them to make wiser decisions on their own. That's really the point of training a child in the way they will go: so that they can make wise decisions when they don't have Mom or Dad to make them for them.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Creating Memories

The other day my parents took us to the circus. I knew this was a fairly costly endeavor for them. We had a great evening out and our girls were captivated by the different acts. But as we were leaving my mother siad to them that they needed to be sure to bring their own children to the circus.

The point really wasn't so much about the circus itself as it was about creating memories. She was encouraging them when they had families of their own to be sure to create special memories for their own kids. That was very good advice.

Making memories does not always have to be an expensive endeavor, either. It can be the simple act of spending time with our kids doing something special. As parents, we need to remember that the time we have with oru kids is limited and truly precious. We need to be sure to give our kids our time and provide them with memories that will not only stay with them but have an impact on them the rest of their lives. This is part of the legacy we can leave as parents.

Hopefully my kids will grow up remembering their dad as someone who wanted to spend time with them, play with them, and even be somone who was always there ready to listen when they wanted to talk about whatever was on their minds.

If I've learned anything as a father it is this: I can never spend too much time with my kids.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Book Review: Help! Mom! Hollywood's in My Hamper

Katherine DeBrecht has done it again. Following up on the wildly successful Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed, she brings a hilarious sequel in Help! Mom! Hollywood's in My Hamper. Once again, DeBrecht takes aim at liberal elites and has them dead to rights in this amusing satire of celebrity worship and the cultural influnence that we allow them to have.
Jim Hummel again provides the illustrations for this book and his caricatures of the different celebrities are so good it's impossible not to guess who is being skewered.

The story involves Janie and Sam, two sisters who want to start a babysitting business to save money for a new bike. But they are also big fans of certain celebrity shows (along the lines of Entertainment Tonight or just about anything you see on E! Entertainment Network). Soon Janie and Sam start paying attention to what these celebrities have to say about fashion, manners, and other things and that's when everything goes awry.

This is a great book that parents can use with their kids to show them the dangers of celebrity worship and also to make them more aware of how the media attempts to influence culture and values. Best of all, Ms. DeBrecht presents her message with a humorous touch that makes the book easy to enjoy.

Here's hoping that there are more Help Mom! books to come to help parents equip their children to be more aware of the influences around them.

This book was provided to me by Word Ahead Publishing through Active Christian Media. No compensation was received for this review apart from the book.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Christian Carnival CXX

It's a privilege to once again host the Christian Carnival, the weekly roundup of some of the best writing in the Christian blogosphere. This week. we have posts on politics, life, church, economics, and much more. Here are this week's entries submitted for your consideration:

Do faith and politics mix? Northern 'burbs blog continues a series on this topic by examining how Christians need to be salt and light in political involvement.

Cross Blogging explores why protecting marriage is important to protecting parental rights.

Jack Yoest asks whether America is trending pro-life and what that might mean for marketers.

In Chickenhawk Christians, Laura at Pursuing Holiness ponders the war and how a Christian can support it.

Meanwhile, Imago Deo takes a Baptist Protester to task for speaking out against the war.

John Bambenek at Part-Time Pundit answers the question of how to reconcile disagreements with government policy with St. Peter's teaching on obedience to the government.

What is a blog? And how does it fit into the realms of good and evil? Shaun Nolan suggests that if blogging is to be worthwhile, it must enter into, and remain in, the sphere of that which is “true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise.”

Thoughts of a Gyrovague wonders whether we are losing the art of linguistics in a post entitled The Art of Persuasion.

Kneon has a sneak preview of upcoming Christian comic book special to be given away at comic book conventions.

A Penitent Blogger reflects on the need for Christ to be heard in a culture that doesn't want to listen.

Kim from Life in a Shoe has a story about the preciousness of life in a post entitled Sarah.

Can faith and science co-exist? Thinking Christian examines whether belief in miracles is compatible with science.

Parableman tackles whether Intelligent Design is compatable with the laws of nature by examining the arguments of William Dembski.

Bruce at It Seems to Me... offers God and the Astronomers, a look at faith and science, specifically, the type of faith that scientific inquiry is likely to produce.

The Doctor Is In reflects on how the onslaught of modern medicine has prompted a decision to change in The Epiphany.

What should a church look like? According to Rev Bill, it should look like a biker wedding (and I'm inclined to agree with him).

Fresh from live blogging Together for the Gospel, Light Along the Journey looks at Two Ways a Pastor Must Die.

Crossroads looks back at history to answer the question of whether Control is Good?

In "Three Persons, One Substance" - Paradox or Solution, Kenny Pearce discusses the origin of this particular formulation of the Trinity, how much information it contains, and whether Protestants ought to regard it as a dogmatic definition, since the exact phrase does not appear in Scripture. In particular it discusses the question of whether the words 'person' and 'substance' in this formulation are intended to have their ordinary meanings, and analogous meaning, or no meaning at all.

Welcome to the Fallout has a three-way conversation about what went wrong with mankind and who's to blame in Hashing Out the Problem of Evil.

My God is not capable of lying; is yours? The doctrine of inerrancy, and why it matters, is the subject of this week's submission from The No Kool-Aid Zone.

Kehaar presents Count Your Blessings posted at Life Rebooted. This post had me thinking about the many ways that I have been blessed and should be more thankful than I am.

Sun and Shield has a review of Michael Wittmer's Michael Wittmer's book, Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God.

That's all for this week's carnival. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Next week the carnival will be hosted by Something Epic.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Southern Baptists and Public Schools

Last summer, it was the Presbyterian Church in America. Now it looks like it's the Southern Baptist Convention's turn to debate whether a resolution should be passed calling for members to withdraw their children from public schools:

Southern Baptist activists are again urging the denomination to remove its children from public schools, two years after a similar action was blocked.

The resolution calling for an “exit strategy” from public schools is co-sponsored by Texas lawyer Bruce Shortt and Roger Moran, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee. They plan to submit the proposal for a possible vote by the convention at its annual meeting in North Carolina in June.

The resolution says recent federal court rulings have favored public schools “indoctrinating children with dogmatic Darwinism” and have limited the rights of parents in deciding what schools can teach, including on matters of sexuality.

Shortt and Moran announced their resolution after 56 pastors and church leaders urged Southern Baptists in a letter last week "to speak positively about public education."

But the debate raises some interesting questions such as whether a denomination has the right to dictate to its members what choices they should make in educating their children.

Although I have chosen to educate my children at home, I find such resolutions troubling. As far as I know, there is no specific prohibition in the Bible against sending children to public school to receive their education. While that is not necessarily the best option that is available to parents, it's not up to the churches to dictate what is essentially a matter of liberty to its members.

Baptists would do well to stay away from debatable social issues such as this and focus on being salt and light in the world as Jesus commanded.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Taking Google to Task

In case you missed it, our friend Stacy Harp of Active Christian Media was on Fox News yesterday discussing Google's refusal to remove pedophilia blogs from their site. Click on this link to see the video.

Godd job, Stacy, and keep up the good work!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Time With Dad

I used to think that spending time with my kids meant doing soemthing elaborate or special with them. I’d take each of my daughters on “dates” which were special evenings out that we would go and do something they liked. While thse were good times (and I still occassionally try to have those dates with my duaghters), I was reminded this past week that sometimes that time with my kids doesn’t have to be anything elaborate at all.

Take my oldest daughter, for example. If I’m running errands (such as going to the grocery store) she willl invariably want to tag along not because she finds what I am doing so exciting but because she just wants to hang out with me. In fact, I asked her on one of these recent excursions why she wanted to go with me and she said that she just enjoyed hanging out with Dad. I also have discovered that these are her opportunities to ask tough questions of me. She likes to use these times together to ask me about things that she has been thinking about. It’s in these moments that I get glimpses into what’s going on in her world.

Although my youngest daughter prefers to hang out at home, she will also desire that one-on-one time with me. Like my older daugther, she’ll use the opportunities when we are together to talk to me about difficult things that she may not want to share in front of anyone else.

We have so little time to make an impact on our kids as fathers. By being intentional about simply spending time with them we are allowing for those teachable moments to be created and the door opened to the hearts of our children. For me, spending time with my kids is no longer just about doing something special. It’s about just doing something with them.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Political Correctness Gone Awry

In 2004, the United Methodist Church passed a resolution forbidding their convention to meet in a city with sports teams that have Native American nicknames because such nicknames are offensive. Until recently, the UMC had been planning to hold their 2012 convention in Richmond, Virginia. That is, until somebody pointed out that the nickname for their minor league baseball team was the Braves.

This is about politics: nothing more and nothing less. When the church (and particularly large demoniations) get sidetracked on political issues such as this, they lose their effectiveness as ministers of the Gospel. Suddenly the church becomes defined by the political stances that they make instead of lives lived according to Scripture.

I'll admit that I am biased since I lived in Richmond for nine years. It's a great city and a tremendous loss in not being able to host the convention. But the greater loss may be for the UMC and other denominations like it that make boneheaded political decisions such as this one. I cannot understand why they chose to focus on this one issue and turn their backs on many more pressing moral issues that have a greater affect on our culture.

In the end, the UMC is not the first large denomination to make a minor political issue a major point of contention. They certainly won't be the last, either. That is truly a shame.

Monday, March 20, 2006

What's Your Theological Worldview?

I don't normally put a whole lot of stock in quizzes, but this quiz seems to do a pretty good job of pegging a person's theological worldview. (Hat tip: sprucegoose)

Just for the record, here are my results:

You scored as Reformed Evangelical. You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.

Reformed Evangelical


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Neo orthodox






Modern Liberal


Roman Catholic


Classical Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Virtual Visitation

Yesterday's New York Times offered an interesting peek in to an evolving trend in the often-heated custody battles: visitation with Dad by computer (Full disclosure: my brother-in-law is profiled in this story:

With work and the school week behind them, Charles A. Mason III and his daughter, Arielle, who live more than 1,500 miles apart, prepared for their scheduled weekend visit. There was no packing involved, no plane tickets, no car rides or drop-offs. All it took was some instant messaging on their home computers and a little fidgeting in front of their respective Webcams, and father and daughter were chatting, playing checkers and practicing multiplication tables.

"It's funner than talking on the phone, because I can see him," said Arielle, 10, who lives with her mother in Longmont, Colo., but has regular "virtual visits" with her father as part of the custody arrangement her parents worked out after her mother moved eight years ago. "It's just like being in front of him, but with games and computer stuff added."

As for Mr. Mason, who lives in Warrenton, Va., the video chats are a vast improvement over telephone calls, during which his daughter — like many children her age — is often monosyllabic and easily distracted.

"I can barely hold her attention on the phone for five minutes," he said. "When we can play checkers and look at one another, I can keep her talking about school and life for an hour or more."

As divorce has remained a constant, custody arrangements have evolved over the last half-century. Increased awareness of the toll divorce can take on children and fathers' increased involvement as parents, combined with the demands of working parents who often have to move in order to get and keep jobs, have made for increasingly creative and sometimes complex custody agreements.

As the legal system begins to acknowledge the potential benefits of technology in bridging the physical and emotional distance caused by divorce and separation, more families are experimenting with computer-assisted custody sharing.

Although any separating couple can opt for virtual visits in their custody agreement, debate surrounding the issue is unfolding on the state level as advocates push to have the option spelled out in state laws in order to broaden awareness of the practice and enable judges to grant such visits where they see fit.

However, some say that virtual visitation is not necessarily a good thing:

But not everyone gives virtual visits a ringing endorsement. In addition to concerns that it may be used to limit in-person visits, some lawyers and noncustodial parents also worry that it may be used to bolster the case for a custodial parent's contested relocation.

In 2001 an appeals court in New Jersey overruled a lower court decision denying a custodial parent's request to move out of state, reasoning that the court did not consider computer-assisted visits as an option for the noncustodial parent who objected to the move.

A Massachusetts court ordered video visits in 2002 in another contested relocation dispute. The father in the case, who argued that video visits were being imposed to replace in-person visits with his children, lost his appeal to stop the move.

"The danger is that it will become a substitute for real time," said David L. Levy, chief executive of the Children's Rights Council, based in Hyattsville, Md., which advocates for children affected by divorce and separation. "Virtual time is not real time. You can't virtually hug your child or walk your child to school. We don't want this to be seen as an excuse to encourage move-aways."

The Utah and Wisconsin regulations specify that virtual visits should be used as a supplement to, not a substitute for, traditional visits. The Wisconsin bill also specifies that virtual visits should not be used to justify a custodial parent's relocation. The laws define "electronic communication" as contact by video conference, e-mail, instant message, telephone or other wired or wireless technology.

"I think that most judges understand that children require physical one-on-one contact with the absent parent," said Cheryl Lynn Hepfer, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Clearly, such technology offers both promise and peril for children of divorced parents. For such visitation arrangements to work effectively there needs to also be in-person visitation. The custodial parent needs to still be involved in the process of allowing their child to be online to ensure their safety. States need have specific requirements in place that do not allow custodial parents to use virtual visits as a reason to relocate far away from from the other parent. But in situations where the child is already living far away from the parent, the new means of communication available through the Internet allow parents to bridge the distance and spend more quality time with their children. That is something children of all ages and life situations need: time with their parents.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Driver's Education for Blind Students?

Chicago students are required to take drivers' education even if they are blind according to the Chicago Tribune (hat tip: Best of the Web):

Mayra Ramirez scored an A in driver's education this year, but sitting through the 10-week class felt like a bad joke to the Curie Metropolitan High School sophomore.

Ramirez is blind. She knows she's never going to drive. She can think of a lot of things she'd rather be studying than rules of the road, but she didn't have a choice.

Chicago Public Schools requires all sophomores to take the class and pass a written road-rules exam--a graduation requirement that affects about 30 blind and visually impaired students in specialized programs at Curie and Payton College Preparatory High.

"In other classes, you don't really feel different because you can do the work other people do," said Ramirez, 16. "But in driver's ed, it does give us the feeling we're different. In a way, it brought me down, because it reminds me of something I can't do."

State law requires that all districts offer driver's education, but does not mandate it as a graduation requirement. For the hundreds of high schools that do, there should be some exemption option for disabled students who cannot drive, a state education official said.

"It defies logic to require blind students to take this course ... and waste their academic time," said Meta Minton, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education.

Chicago's public schools have no such exemption. That is something the Curie and Payton students are pushing to change, through an advocacy program at the Blind Service Association.

Another fine example of taxpayer dollars at work in government schools. Perhaps this should be added to list of 101 reasons to homeschool your kids.

Welcome Home, Daddy

When my kids were younger (and I worked outside of our home) they would nearly tackle me as I came in the front door at the end of their day. Their enthusiasm was often overwhelming. They genuinely missed me and were glad to have me home.

That feeling is a little harder to capture these days since I'm at home all the time. I work from home and so there is not the same joyful homecoming that there used to be when I worked outside the house. My kids still remind me how much they miss me by coming in to my office at the end of the day (they know exactly what time I should be finished with work). The bottom line is they want my undivided attention at the end of the day. They want to be able to tell me about what they learned or what they did or read about or saw on TV or whatever was important to them. If I've had a particularly difficult day I have trouble switching gears and focusing on what they want to share with me. Sometimes I have to ask them to give me a few minutes to regroup and then I'm reading to hear all about what they've been up to all day.

There are many days when the stress of work can be totally exhausting and overwhelming. It can sometimes be a little too much to be assaulted at the front door with shouts of "welcome home, Daddy". But those times are also really precious. I've also found they are some of the most important times I can spend with my kids. Those end of the day chats are their opportunity to allow me into their world and to see what's happening in their hearts. Those are also sometimes the most teachable moments: times when they really want or need Daddy's advice.

If you find homecomings to be a less than sweet times for you, ask yourself if there are things from your job that you are bringing home with you that might be best left behind. I did this by using the time during my commute home (regardless of how long or short it was) to consciously shift gears and be prepared to hear from my kids all about their day.

We have only a short amount of time as Dads to have an influence on our children. What better time to teach them than when they are ready to be taught? What better time to show them love than when they need to be loved? These moments are precious. We should treasure them while we can.

Hall of Fame Snub Inexcusable

One name is missing from this year's class of Negro League players and executives that will be admitted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. One sportswriter believes this is inexcusable:

Buck O'Neil belongs in the Hall of Fame because he is the living history of Negro leagues baseball -- a decent enough player, five times a pennant-winning manager for the leagues' greatest franchise, the first African American coach in the major leagues and, for the past 50 years, a tireless, charismatic, endearing advocate reminding us that whatever differences of race exist, baseball brings us together.

When the first 18 men from the Negro leagues were elected to the Hall of Fame by baseball writers and the Veterans Committee, no one argued that O'Neil belonged alongside Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston and Cool Papa Bell. But now a select committee, charged with identifying Negro leagues Hall of Famers, has elected a group of 16 men and a woman -- five executives among them -- without electing Buck O'Neil.

That is an outrage.

It cannot stand uncontested.

O'Neil, who first became a national figure as a result of his appearance in Ken Burns' documentary Baseball has worked tirelessly to promote baseball and especially bringing attention to the rich history of the long-neglected Negro Leagues. The fact that the Hall of Fame is admitting these 18 individuals this year has a lot to do with O'Neil's efforts.

There's still time to correct this mistake. The Hall of Fame should admit O'Neil especially while he's still around to enjoy the honor. They should do it for the good of the game. They should do it because it's the right thing to do.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Random Thoughts

Blogging has been light here of late as I have been snowed under with work and dealing with lots of different stuff going on at home. We're slowing beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully posting can become more frequent in the next few weeks. I haven't had much time to follow a lot of what's happening in the news or in the blogosphere but here are a few things that have piqued my interest:

Tim Ellsworth has a post on an upcoming book on Barry Bonds that will detail his steroid use. If the story is as well documented as it appears then there's no doubt that Bonds' records should be wiped out. Bold prediction: Bonds doesn't make it through the season and Hank Aaron's career home run record remains intact.

More baseball: I was saddened by the sudden passing of Kirby Puckett. Although it broke my family's heart to see the Twins beat the Braves in the 1991 World Series (my wife and late father-in-law were Braves fans), we always enjoyed watching Kirby play. He was a class act.

Political correctness gone too far: read this story and see if you don't agree. (Full disclosure: I lived in Richmond for nine years and it's still a great city)

One more reason to shop at Target: Vienna Beef Hot Dogs on sale in the snack bar.

Bold prediction: Duke will not win the ACC tournament which gets underway tomorrrow. I'm picking UNC to win it all (and not just because it's my alma mater. Led by ACC Rookie of the Year Tyler Hansbrough (also the first freshman to be a unanimous All-ACC team member) and ACC Coach of the Year Roy Williams, this will be the team to watch in the tournament.

Movie Pick: Last weekend we went to see Nanny McPhee and it was an absolute delight. This was a well-cast and well-acted movie and fun for the entire family. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Book Review: Help Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed

One of the struggles that Christian parents face is finding appropriate books to read to their kids or to have kids read on their own. Just as Hollywood uses movies to push a politically liberal agenda, children's literature suffers from the same over-abundance of political themes running through their books. Thankfully, Katharine DeBrecht has decided to do something about it with her Help Mom! books.

The first title in the series, Help Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed, follow the adventures of Tommy and Lou as they try to earn enough money for a new swingset. Their parents believe (correctly) that the swing set will be much more special if they have to earn the money to buy it rather than it being bought for them. But as Tommy and Lou begin their enterprises they run into a number of liberal politicians who thwart them at every turn.

With an engaging and humorous manner, Ms. DeBrecht exposes the fundamental beliefs of liberal politicians that seem to frustrate many ordinary citizens. With this book, she has provided a valuable tool for parents to help their children recognize the pitfalls of liberalism.

I hope Ms. DeBrecht writes many more book in this series. This book was one that I will gladly share with my children.

This book was provided to me for review by World Ahead Publishing through Mind and Media. No other consideration was received for this review apart from the book.

Farewell to Don Knotts

Danny Carlton alias "Jack Lewis" has a tribute to Don Knotts who was known to many as Deputy Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show who passed away this past weekend at age 81. As Danny explains, Knotts' career reflected the changing values of Hollywood in the '60s and '70s.

Don, you will be missed.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Check out the new Wide Awake Cafe

I've been travelling all week and haven't had time to post anything new. If you're looking for a cool site to check out, take a look at Laura Lee Donoho's new and improved The Wide Awake Cafe. She's just moved to her new digs and the design looks terrific. Stop by and say hello to Laura.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Are You Getting Enough Rest?

I'm pretty tired all the time these days (or at least that's what I tell my wife). No matter how little or much I sleep, I can't seem to find a way to really rest. Then I discovered today while reading an article by Alex Kirk at Building Church Leaders that I haven't been seeking the rest that God prescribes for us. In the article, Alex mediates on Exodus 33:12-17 and finds some key lessons for us in this passage. Here's a brief excerpt:

In this conversation, God promised Moses his presence and rest. Rest is a significant word for leaders. Most leaders I know, including myself, aren't good at resting. We haven't worked out the spiritual discipline the way Scripture invites us to. Our culture holds out all sorts of promises for rest, but it simply can't give the soul-caliber rest that God promised Moses.

A couple of years ago, I was meditating on this passage in preparation for a conference that I was going to help lead. I would be speaking on this passage and wanted to make sure my points were tight and my presentation flawless. As I thought about this promise to Moses of presence and rest, the Holy Spirit convicted me. I wrote in big letters in the margin: Where do I go for rest? My honest answer? I had been living for days off and vacations. My sin of over-scheduling, controlling, and making poor decisions with my time had led to the sin of looking for rest in all the wrong places.

The world looks for rest from weekends, holidays, media, and vacations. Moses' assumption in this passage is that God's people are to be different. Don't misunderstand me—time off, holidays and vacations are all good things. God made the Sabbath, the original weekend. In the Old and New Testament, celebrations lasted for days and weeks, and one even lasted a whole year. These rhythms of resting and celebrating were God's idea from the start. But these times are gifts, intended to point us to the giver. To join in building our golden calves out of days off, computer games, DVD players and vacations is to cast our souls in with the tide of our culture's greatest vacuum. This world has nothing for us, even as it has everything. Ultimately and always, God is our good and our rest. Leaders must learn to enter into this rest and lead others into it as well, or they will burn out and descend into anger and bitterness.

It has been said that life is a marathon, not a sprint. However, I recently heard someone challenge that maxim. Life is not a marathon; it is a series of sprints. The key to surviving a series of sprints is to know when to push yourself, and when it's time to rest. When it's time to sprint, we need to have the energy and resources to do so. When we don't need to sprint, we need to build in healthy disciplines of resting and renewing our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energies. (Jack Groppel, Willow Creek Leadership Summit, 8/12/05). Where are you spending your best energies? When are you resting? In these Scriptures, Moses had just come down off of the mountain with the Ten Commandments. Commandment number four was the command to rest on the Sabbath. For the Israelite nation, a nomadic people, God built into every week one day to refuel, worship, and rest.

Sabbath rest was foolish. The Israelites were dependent on agriculture for survival. In farming communities when the conditions are right for the harvest, everything else stops. The window of opportunity is small and specific. Given this, it was madness to declare a regular weekly day of rest with no regard for the season. Sabbath rest was a reckless rest of faith. It trusted God to provide the crops in his good timing. Sabbath rest was a weekly faith-stretching exercise. It reminded them that God was the sovereign provider, and they were not. This Sabbath-rest posture of leaning into the provision of God was to carry them into the work of the other days of the week.

As the saying goes, read the whole thing.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Love the Lord

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. - Deuternomony 6:4-9

Recently, I ran across a song that was built around the familiar verse 5 in the passage above (Click here to listen). As I have been meditating on this passage, there were several things that God was revealing to me about what it truly meant to love Him.

First, loving God means to obey His commands with every aspect of our being. Humans are created not just with physical bodies but with an intellect (our minds) and a spiritual being (our soul). As verse 5 commands us, we are to submit to God's will for our lives in all areas. Nothing is to be withheld from God who created us. This is what sanctification is all about: bringing every aspect of our lives into submission to His will.

Second, obedience should be modeled and taught to our children (verse 7). It is not just our own duty to obey God but to teach our children to obey him as well. God is concerned about multiple generations coming to know Him.

Third, instruction in the Lord is continuous (verse 7). Instruction should happen at all times and at every opportunity. Instruction in the Lord is not just about what happens on Sunday morning or during school hours. It's also not just what we say but what we do that will teach our children. We've not only got to teach God's commands to our children but we need to show His love to them as well.

Fourth, our obedience should be visible to others (verses 8-9). In Jewish tradition, phylacteries were tied to their heads and left arms. These small wooden boxes would contain the Old Testament law. They would also attach mezuzot (small wooden or metal containers in which passages of Scripture would be placed) to the doorframes of their houses. By these symbols they would be proclaiming their allegience to God.

Does this mean that we should be tying boxes to our heads? I don't think so. Indeed, Jesus criticized the Pharisees for this practice because they were focused on gaining attention through the symbols and not obeying God's commands. But the principle behind the practice is still clear: If we love the Lord, it should be visible even to those who do not know Him. Our displays of love are a testimony to His power.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Book Review: God is the Gospel

When I first learned I would have the opportunity to review God is the Gospel by John Piper, I was really excited. I had heard lots of good things about his books but never had the opportunity to read one. Plus, I was intrigued by the subject of this book: an attempt to show the inadequacies of our understanding of the Gospel by showing that it's really about the all-satisfying gift of His love.

When I started to read the book, though, I had a shock. I couldn't get into it. There was no doubt that Piper was doing a good job of making his points by carefully working through Scripture to show that the Gospel is about more than simply salvation from the penalty of sin. Still, I struggled to work through the book until I finally gave up.

My struggles with the book had little to do with Piper or his writing style. Life has been rather chaotic of late in our household (as my infrequent posts here can attest). This is not a light read. It is a book that needs to be read and studied carefully. Unfortunately I haven't had the time or inclination to carefully read anything and as a result I really wasn't able to give this book a fair shake.

No doubt this is a book that I will need to come back to when I have time to carefully read it and think through the implications of Piper's arguments. Based on the subject matter alone, it is clear that this is an important book and one that should be read by every Christian. I plan on revisiting this volume and will post further thoughts here once I get the chance to give it a fairer reading.

Thanks to Crossway and Mind and Media for allowing me to review this book. No consideration was received for this review apart from the book.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Together for the Gospel Blog

C. J. Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, and Mark Dever who are the four men behind the upcoming Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, now have their own blog. This is a blog that you will definitely want to check frequently as these guys represent some of the brightest minds in evangelical Christianity.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Virginia to Vote on Gay Marriage Ban

My home state of Virginia is on track to hold a referendum this November on whether to amend the state's bill of rights to ban gay marriages:

The state Senate all but guaranteed on Wednesday that Virginia will hold a November referendum on whether to amend its 230-year-old Bill of Rights to bar same-sex marriages.

The Senate voted 28 to 11 to follow the House of Delegates in approving the amendment. Though each chamber still must pass the measure adopted by the other, their wording is identical and support among the senators and delegates is strong.

"The family is the foundation of our society, and it's been based on a union of a man and a woman since the inception of marriage," said Del. John A. Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake). "A constitutional amendment . . . will protect that."

Although constitutional amendment referendums are common in Virginia, it will be only the second time since 1970 that the Bill of Rights has been subjected to amendment.

There will no doubt be very vocal opposition to this amendment. But unless they can get state leaders (and particularly Democratic Governor Tim Kaine) to come out against it they are unlikely to be successful in defeating the measure.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Washington Post Twists Reporting on Assisted Suicide

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld an Oregon assisted suicide law in its decision in the case of Gonzales vs. Oregon. The Washington Post tied to twist the decision into an endorsement by the Supreme Court of the practice and a slap at the Bush Administration. Here is how the article leads off:

The Supreme Court upheld Oregon's law on physician-assisted suicide yesterday, ruling that the Justice Department may not punish doctors who help terminally ill patients end their lives.

By a vote of 6 to 3, the court ruled that Attorney General John D. Ashcroft exceeded his legal authority in 2001 when he threatened to prohibit doctors from prescribing federally controlled drugs if they authorized lethal doses of the medications under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act.

The ruling struck down one of the administration's signature policies regarding what President Bush calls the "culture of life" and lifts the last legal cloud over the state's law, which is unique in the nation. It also frees other states to follow in Oregon's footsteps, unless Congress acts to the contrary.

However, it's not until the tenth paragraph that the truth of what the case was really about comes out:

Although frequently described as a "right to die" case, Gonzales v. Oregon , No. 04-623, was not, strictly speaking, about the constitutional right to end one's own life. The court has already ruled, in 1997, that there is no such right and did not revisit that holding yesterday.

Instead, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy noted in the majority opinion that the question was whether Ashcroft acted in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act when he issued an "interpretive rule" in 2001, declaring that assisting suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose" for which federally regulated drugs may lawfully be prescribed. Ashcroft's successor, Alberto R. Gonzales, has continued the policy.

The Post is engaging in reporting that is at the very least misleading. It's also another prine example of "agenda journalism" where stories are used to push an agenda regardless of whether the actual news supports the agenda which in this case is bashing President Bush. Is it any wonder that people don't trust big media anymore?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

An Interview with Larry the Cucumber

Stacy Harp of Mind and Media has just posted a 30 minute interview with Mike Nawrocki, the man behind Larry the Cucumber and co-creator of VeggieTales. We were honored to be able to submit some questions to Mike. Click here to listen to the interview.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Pray for John Piper

John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church and author of many books (including God is the Gospel which I will be reviewing here soon) has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to John and his family. Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds has the text of the letter that was sent to his church announcing the diagnosis.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Carnival of Homeschooling

A new Carnival of Homeschooling is underway and has just offered it's first edition at Why Homeschool. Stop by and check out the great variety of articles on homeschooling. If you'd like to contribute to a future carnival, click here to find out more about how to participate.