Friday, December 30, 2005

Rob's Place

Rob of the Orangejack blog has a new web address. He is now located here. Link. Nice looking blog Rob!

I can't believe you thought Michigan would beat Nebraska on the Bowl Mania pool! I guess that is as stupid as me believing Colorado would knock off your Clemson Tigers. Oh, well, so far it has been a fun pool. Who is in first place?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Finding God In The Land Of Narnia #1

I just started the book Finding God In The Land of Narnia by Bruner and Ware. I zipped through the introduction this morning while on a short break. Wow, is it ever an incredible read (I don't ever remember saying that about an introduction before!) . I am a pretty right brain dominated person, I guess I don't have a creative bone in my body (call me boring). So, I haven't thought too deeply before on how a persons faith can be linked to fantasy. I guess it is a natural link, but I didn't understand it much before. C.C. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were certainly gifted and I have enjoyed their works for years. They created so many opportunities to explain the gospel in new and creative ways that people who are insensitive to religion and Christianity can absorb.

I want to push the limits and explore the possibilities of explaining the gospel in new ways over the next year. I suppose many of those who live in a right brain world won't understand, but I have a feeling the world is a lot more left brained that I am.

On page xv in the introduction the authors use a quote from Lewis that I loved. It states,

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected information about child-psychology and decided what age group I'd write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out "allegories" to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way at all. Everything began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself of its own accord. It was a part of the bubbling.

This reminds me of another favorite quote from a Pastor friend, "Too many pastors prepare so hard to preach a sermon. Prepare your life and preach from your life".

Maybe sometimes we just try too hard to push the gospel to the point it becomes an unnatural part of ourselves. It should flow out of us naturally as the Lord fills us.

I'm looking forward to making my way through the book, it sounds awesome.

Resolution Thoughts

Last night as we were worshipping the Lord our worship leader said something that made me reflect on New Year's resolutions. He said, "Let this song be our New Years resolution for 2006." After thinking about it for a while I agree. Here goes:

Lord prepare me to be a Sanctuary
Pure and Holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You!

I can't think of a more meaningful New Year's resolution for 2006.

But, in addition, I will still do the meaningless, selfish, pointless task of establishing resolutions that are measurable sometime during the next week. Have a great New Year's Day.

Just for grins, here's a list of my goals for 2005. They came out of my posts from last January. Link, and Link. I didn't do very well in attaining them. An even mixture of accomplishment. The ones in Green I accomplished, the ones in Red are still in progress:

My Goals for 2005:

1. Family:
Develop deeper relationships with my wife and kids:
- Start a weekly family Bible study
- Marilyn: Have a night/lunch out with Marilyn at least twice per month
- Matthew: Go with Matthew to Student Life Camp. Support him better at Boy Scouts (Although I supported Matthew he is in the process of dropping out of Boy Scouts)
- Bethany: Take Bethany to lunch monthly

2. Faith: Take the love of Christ to the unchurched:
- Find a compassion oriented organization for The Gate to partner with for student ministry projects
- Continue to direct The Gate student ministry
- Continue to pursue church planting directions. Become an ordained minister (I am on the way; I get licensed next month) and an approved Acts 29 church planter this year (in progress, but not complete)

3. Physical: Take better care of my body:
- Average at least 10 minutes per day exercising. Be able to run the Scott Air Force Base running trail loop (6.5 miles) nonstop by August 1.
- Stop eating ice cream after 6:00pm. I can't go cold turkey on ice cream, but I can limit my intake.

4. Community: Foster relationships in the real world and in cyberspace:
- Average at least 1 blog entry per day. (I only have 91 so far this year)
- Continue developing a deeper relationship with the brothers and sisters in the Acts 29 network

5. Intellectual: Make a major push to complete my PhD:
- Complete my PhD dissertation by Christmas 2005 (I am sadly very far behind)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Digital Cartography (Map Making)

Here's a good article on about map making in a digital world. Link. It is a little bit different from what I do for a living, but the principles are still the same.

Christmas Vacation?

When we moved to Illinois 11 years ago it had been a long time since we lived in a neighborhood. The last two places we lived (Dover, Delaware and Sacramento, California) we lived out in the country with plenty of land and not many neighbors, and we loved it. But at that time we didn't have any children. So, when we moved to Illinois we had two small children and we thought for their sakes, and against our own desires, we should move into a neighborhood so that they would have an easier time building friendships as they grow up. We looked in several neighborhoods and finally found one we thought was good. And to top it off it was in the school district of the top rated elementary school in Illinois, Wolf Branch Elementary School. The elementary school taught students from grades K-8 and then passed them on to the local high school.

Wolf Branch is a great school with some wonderful teachers. But one of the reasons the school district was rated so high is because they pile on the homework.

The neighborhood has grown quickly and two years ago, right across the street from the elementary school Wolf Branch Middle School opened. My children moved right across the street, along with about half of their teachers to the middle school. The middle school has had a couple of problems with misuse of funds by the administrators (like purchasing PalmPilots for every student and then realizing the students can cheat by using the IR beaming function and as a result not handing the PalmPilots out, but keeping them in the book storage room) but in general it is the same high quality education that we found at the elementary school. Unfortunately, along with the teachers the pile of homework followed the students across the street too.

I am not against homework at all, but the school has gone way overboard. Almost every night I come home from work and my wife and I spend from dinner until bedtime helping my son and daughter with their homework. It has gotten to the point where I am seriously questioning my ability to finish my PhD dissertation. This year on Christmas vacation my son has been inundated with projects that are due the day the students return from school. I'm sorry, but it isn't much of a vacation for the students or the parents if there is 4 hours of homework to do every night even when school is out.

Anyhow, I am ranting. but if you can't rant on your own blog where can you rant?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

2006 Bible Reading Plans

Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

One of the programs I have participated in for the last 10 years is the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. Discipleship Journal has several plans to either read the entire Bible in one year or to read the New Testament in a year. I will be starting another reading plan on New Year’s Day and wanted to invite each of you to participate. Nothing replaces in-depth Bible study and prayer for growing and deepening your walk with the Lord and increasing your knowledge of God’s will, but I also enjoy the daily reading programs to help me get a better overview of how the Bible is written and how it flows together into one story, a love story of God’s love for us. I once read that the average Christian only reads 2 chapters of the Bible per year, so it is no wonder that we get chewed up and spit out by the world when we try to relate our faith to those living around us.

This webpage includes highlights of the plans that Discipleship Journal offers. They are all free and downloadable off the web:

The main plans Discipleship Journal offers are:

1. The 5 x 5 x 5 Reading Plan located at:
This plan is a New Testament reading plan that only requires 5 minutes a day for 5 days per week. If you haven’t tried a Bible reading plan before or have never committed yourself to reading the Bible daily this is a good plan. It requires minimal amount of time to make it through the New Testament.

2. The Book At A Time Reading Plan located at:
This plan takes you straight through from Genesis through Revelation in a year by reading 6 days per week, two readings per day. It requires a little more time and dedication (3-5 chapters per day), but still helps keep you on track. The plan is printed out on a paper and folded to insert into your Bible.

3. My favorite and the one I will do again next year is the Original Bible Reading Plan located here:
There are PDF and Word versions for you to download. The Original Plan gives you four readings per day; one each from Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and Gospels. The amount of reading is also between 3 and 5 chapters per day. The plan uses 25 reading days per month, so there is time to get caught up if you fall behind. I like this plan because it keeps me fresh from reading from four different places.

One of the cool things about the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plans is that they are dated, so if something happens and you miss a few days you can pick right back up and start the program again.

Take care and God bless you as you begin the journey into god’s Word. If you care to join me please let me know in the comments section below and we can keep a running dialog going all year.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Part 2

As I said in an earlier post FBC O'Fallon rented a local movie theater and we all went to go see the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Thursday night. It was a fantastic time. I've read several reviews on the movie and most of them are very positive. The symbolism of Aslan as a Christ sacrificing Himself for our sins, and his subsequent resurrection was wonderful. But even if you don't have a relationship with the Lord this is an awesome movie to go to.

1) The plot of good versus evil is well played out. Although both the White Witch's and Aslan's forces are made up of animals that have quite unusual traits, such as Tomnas who appears to be part goat and part human, the animals of Aslan's forces seem to act and live much more consistently humanlike than those of the White Witch.

3) The costumes are incredible. I expect that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe will win several oscars for costumes.

4) There is some violence, but it isn't overdone. It is part of the plot and is necessary in the development of the movie. Aslan's death and the final battle have some violent scenes in them.

5) The scenery is fantastic. My wife now wants to move to England! I have lived there a couple of times for short stints, and it is beautiful. Marilyn has been there once, and loved it, but she now believes that it would be a great place to live again. This is a major step for Marilyn, as she has never wanted to live anywhere else but here in the US.

I highly recommend this movie. But, I also recommend you do what my kids did before seeing the movie. They both read the book and it helped them underdstand and enjoy the movie even more.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


With final exams going on this week at McKendree College our collegiate ministry didn't meet last night. So, I had the opportunity to speak to our church's Junior High youth group (called 610) last night. I spoke on "The Life of a Spiritual Salt Shaker", which was a sermon on missional living taken out of 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Matthew 5:13-16 targeted at the Junior High age level. I was very encouraged being in the same room with so many on-fire young believers. They really want to reach their friends with the message of the gospel. I was lucky enough to spend a week of my vacation last June as a leader at Student Life Camp with this same group and some High Schoolers also. They will be a great group to pass the leadership baton to as they begin their lives of service to the Lord.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Our church has rented out the local movie theater for us to all go together and see The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe tonight. The tickets sold out in a day. I haven't read the Chronicles of Narnia series since I was in college and I am looking forward to going tonight. My kids are excited, they have been reading the series and love it, and the critics are saying good things about it. I'll let you know how it goes in a post tomorrow.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Free WiFi Hotspots

Thanks Yahoo for a good article on free WiFi hotspots. Here's the link. Link.

It is good to see Panera Bread/St Louis Bread Company get recognition for providing free WiFi. I visit there all the time and have had a link to their site off to the right for over a year. I love holding ministry staff meetings there, it is such a great place.

Here's a link to a good free WiFi hotspot finder. Link.

Erin, they even have Canada listed. Is there a location near you?

I don't see The Gathering at First Baptist O'Fallon, Illinois listed. We will get The Gate listed as soon as we have WiFi installed.

PS: I just sent WiFi Freespot an E-Mail to add The Gathering.