Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

This Day In History

Today, December 25th, marks an important world-changing event in history. Times were dark, and hopes were dim, and then...

This Day In History.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Cat Man is Getting a Dog

Let's get this straight -- I'm a cat guy. I'm not a dog guy. Cats play it cool, never letting their emotions get the best of them. Well... almost never. I mean, there are those times when the cat is suddenly overcome by it's catness, and is forced by nature to stalk and attack something. But other than that, they just kind of hang around and chill with me. Dogs, on the other hand, are always shaking their tails and slobbering like drunken fool. And they always want to play. Dogs just aren't my speed, I guess.

My dear wife and kids have wanted a dog for a while now. Well, today's the day. We're getting a cockapoo puppy. He's being gifted to us by some friends of ours, so there's no money being spent up front. So that's a plus in my decision to go ahead and get a dog. Another factor is that as cool as my cat is, he's not real good and waking me up so I can get my gun. A dog will do that.

Ok, ok, I'll confess. The dog is cute. There, I said it. Now leave me alone.

I'll post pics when we get some.

So, are you a cat person or a dog person? Post a comment and let me know.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

No Little Sin

"In a strict sense, there is no sin little, because no little God to sin against." -- Thomas Brooks.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Art of Receiving.

"A manner of drinking and spitting is either hard or soft." -- from the Code of Isshinryu Karate.

An action, and indeed it's opposite action, can be done in either a hard manner or a soft manner. One can swallow softly, or gulp. One can spit softly, and one can spit in a forceful manner. The same goes for breathing: One can inhale softly, or in a sudden gasp, and one can exhale softly, or force the air out in a hard manner. Amazing, huh?

The word used in Okinawan/Japanese martial arts to describe a block (as in blocking a punch) is "uke." "Block" sounds quite hard, doesn't it. Here comes an attack... get that arm up there to meet it and BAM! Funny thing is, the word uke actually means to receive, as in receiving a gift. The attack comes, and with step to the side, or a circular motion, the defender says "thank you for this gift!" (or as the kids say today, "You just got pwnd.").

One can block an attack in a hard manner, meeting force with force:

Or, one can receive the attack softly:

Or even softlier!

There's a time for both hard and soft receiving. The art of receiving is knowing when our response ought to be hard or soft. Despite what one may think, this post today is not about martial arts.

Consider, how do we receive insults? Compliments? Handshakes? A smile? The "evil eye"? A kiss on the cheek? A smite on the cheek? A hand gesture? A hug? A gift? Words of encouragement? Words of correction? God's good providence? God's dark providence? Ought we to receive all of these things hard, resisting with all of our might, returning force against force? A slap to meet the smile? Or, can we sometimes receive with a "thank you," with non-resistance and passivity, with softness?

"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).

Hard or soft -- the art of receiving.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dark Providence

Did I say dark providence? I mean DARK providence. I previously mentioned an "ice storm" that was very pretty, but not very menacing. Well, late Saturday night we had another ice storm... this time it was also pretty, but VERY menacing.

It was about 5am on Lord's Day morning when the explosion lit up our bedroom and woke us up with a BOOM...CRACK... fitz...fizz...crackle...ffffttt. The transformer across the street blew up, and our power was gone. Darkness. Silence. Oh well, nothing you can do about it. Back to sleep. The power company will have it fixed by the time we wake up.

Problem... we were one of about 100,000 people in Pennsylvania that lost power from that storm, though we had no idea. It was Lord's Day, and we did our regular Lord's Day stuff, just with a kerosene heater and candles. By 5pm, it was quite dark, and we did Catechism and sang Psalms in the dark. We spotted a crew at the power line where the transformer blew, so I walked over to ask if we might get power back that night. "Umm... who knows? We have a lot of people with no power today, and this transformer only serves this small neighborhood." In other words, there were other priorities, and we had no guarantee that we would have power that night. So, we went to bed a little early, with hopes of having electricity the next day.

Monday... no power.

Tuesday... no power.

Wednesday... no power.

Each morning we woke up and immediately started the kerosene heater and the propane grill. We made coffee and scrambled eggs on the grill every morning. And we ate by candle light by night.

Then, Wednesday evening, the power came back on, and I'm told my wife did a joyful dance. I was at work, so I didn't get to see it. But we have our power back after about 4 days and 3 nights, and we are quite grateful for things we will certainly be more careful to give thanks for from now on.

In all of this I learned some things. Amongst those things --

1. Although my house was cold, I'm thankful our home was warm, with love.
2. Although my house was dark, I'm thankful for the light in our home, the light of the God's Word.
3. Although we had no power, we still had power, from above.

I understand there are still more than a thousand people in my county without power even today. If you are inclined to pray for them, I'm sure they have a little dance of joy awaiting them when their power is eventually restored too.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hitting the weights

Well, after almost a full year of laying off the weights to dedicate my time and energy to getting my black belt, I did my first all-out workout on Wednesday evening. I did two workouts prior to this, but they were light -- a kind of gradual getting used to lifting again. Wednesday, I decided to go for it, and friends, I AM SORE. It didn't help that the very next day I went to Karate class and did a bunch of grueling pushups ("press ups" for my English friends!) and squat variations. It's a good sore though. My plan is to lift heavy (for me anyway), lower reps (6-8), for one working set only (after a warm-up), with profoundly compound exercises, and rest about one full week. Yep, I'm going for strength. Here's the current routine I came up with:


Dumbbell Bench Press (well, a variation of it where I hold both dumbbells up, and then alternate lowering one down and pushing it up... kind of simulating a punch).

Dumbbell Bent-over Rows

Military Press

Dumbbell Curls (an isolated movement, rather than compound)

Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Standing Calve Raises

And some weighted cruches.

I plan on doing that for a few weeks, and then switch things up a bit.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This may speak to some precious hearts out there...

A little inspiration (LOL @ the guy on the left!):

I have to say...

This may be the nicest "ice storm" I've experienced. The icicles on the trees look so beautiful, but there's virtually no ice on the roads!

I understand that this storm isn't so nice elsewhere, but right here where I am, it's pretty cool.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground

A fine blues moan, with some of the best bottleneck guitar ever recorded, Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" was deemed worthy to be one of the recordings placed on Voyager and launched into space! Ry Cooder once called this song, "the most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music."

Our time with a real life Covenanter minister

I dropped (Covenanter) Pastor Derek Edwards off at the Philadelphia International Airport yesterday, thus ending his visit with us. The visit was just over a fortnight long, covering three consecutive Lord's Days. The last week of his visit was spent in my home. Having an Englishman as my guest was fascinating. We were often serving up tea, and stopping the car to look at every Jaguar we happened to pass by! He's a delightful man, and was a perfect guest. My children took to him instantly, and it appeared this was mutual.

If only more Covenanters were like him, we'd be seen as a pleasant and loving bunch, and not as if "being a jerk" was our 7th Term of Communion.

This past Lord's Day, Pastor Derek Edwards baptized all of my seven children!

Below is a picture of the most recent Covenanter minister to visit Pennsylvania, standing at the grave of the very first Covenanter minister to visit Pennsylvania (John Cuthbertson):

Please forgive the fact that this post was written like a junior high kid trying to get a paper done quick before he hands it is this morning. Even though our time spent with Pastor Edwards was refreshing, encouraging, and exciting, there were also some things going in over the past couple weeks that were draining, agitating, and wearifying (I made that word up), and now I must take my burdened mind to work at the "Nervous Hospital" where I will no doubt be unloaded upon with various troubling tales and ugly stories. And I see that it's soon time for me to leave for work.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Banner of Truth Visit

Today, visiting pastor Derek and I took a trip over to Banner of Truth in Carlisle. What a nice bunch of people over there! Steve, the manager, gave us a short tour of the place, and spent a good bit of time talking to us about a wide range of things. He's a gracious and wise man. We also got to spend some time at the secret bookshelves. Did I say spend time? I meant spend money. Amongst my purchases:

Jonathan Edwards On Knowing Christ.

Ralph Venning's The Sinfulness of Sin, and Learning in Christ's School.

Thomas Brooks' Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices.

Thomas Watson's Doctrine of Repentance.

And, Sinclair Ferguson's A Heart for God.

All for half-off the regular price!

If you're ever in the area, make sure you stop by and meet the nice people and buy some great books at Banner of Truth.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Some quotes I found online, by Bruce Lee

Sometimes wise words come from an unexpected source:

"A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer."

"A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough."

"A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at."

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."

"If you don't want to slip up tomorrow, speak the truth today."

"If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of."

"If you make an ass out of yourself, there will always be someone to ride you."

"If you think a thing is impossible, you'll make it impossible."

"If you want to do your duty properly, you should do just a little more than that."

"If you want to learn to swim, jump into the water. On dry land, no frame of mind is ever going to help you."

"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."

"It's not what you give, it's the way you give it."

"Out of chaos, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony."

"Real living is living for others."

"Showing off is the fool's idea of glory."

"The mind is like a fertile garden in which anything that is planted, flowers or weeds, will grow."