exploring the riches of grace in Christ


My 2011 Reading List

This year my resolution (although a loose one) is to get through my NEW ESV study bible (thanks mom!) and to read two books a month. So, in no particular order, here is the 2011 reading list:

Church Planter- Darrin Patrick
Elders and Leaders- Gene Getz
God is the Gospel- John Piper
Peacemaking- Ken Sande
Brothers, We Are Not Professionals- John Piper
Why Johnny Can’t Preach- T. David Gordon
The Gagging of God- DA Carson
Planting Missional Churches- Ed Stetzer
Viral Churches- Ed Stetzer
Worship By The Book- DA Carson
Soul Searching- Christian Smith
The Cultural Creatives- Sherry Ruth Anderson
Bowling Alone- Robert Putnam
Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students- C.H. Spurgeon
Breaking the Missional Code- Ed Stetzer
9 Marks Of A Healthy Church- Mark Devers
The Master Plan of Evangelism- Robert Coleman
Starting A New Church- Ralph Moore
Worship in Spirit and Truth- John Piper
Christ-Centered Worship- Bryan Chapell
Pastoral Counseling- John Macarthur
Above All Earthly Pow’rs- David Wells
The Supremacy of God in a Postmodern World- John Piper
Transforming Mission- David Bosch

If you have read or are planning on reading any of these, let me know your thoughts! It’s my intent to work through them here. (no promises though)

A Brief Update

So it’s definitely been a while since I last posted!  There have been several factors involved in that.  Primarily a non-profit organization that I’ve been a part of starting.  It’s aim is to reach statistically at-risk youth in our community through sports, arts, educational, and human needs assistance. (among other things)  I’ve been working on getting a site up and running as well as planning and fundraising.   If per chance, you do read this blog… check it out.  It’s THE HOPE PROJECT.  

Along with that, I’ve been considering collaborating with the blogger formerly known as Politically Correct and doing a blog a more theologically oriented blog. Who knows though.

Either way… go check out The Hope Project and see how you can get involved or support us!

Declaration of Intent (a resolution by any other name)

I have a love-hate relationship with New Years.  I love the celebration, the innate recognition that nothing is promised.  New Years is a time when people come together and collectively sigh… “We made it, somehow.”  Whether they know it or not, the New Years celebration is at heart a celebration of grace and mercy.  I love that.  Still I hate New Years.  I hate the resolutions.  I hate the “new beginnings”.  I don’t hate it because it’s a bad thing.  I don’t hate it because resolutions are made to be broken.  I hate it because it is an almost innate recognition of depravity.  We are lacking something.  This is utterly true, I know it, but being confronted with your own depravity is never fun.  Still it’s vital.  I look back at the past year (as well as the sum of all the years prior) and find that I don’t know how to love, especially my wife.  There are a bevy of excuses I could use but the reality is that my broken, cursed heart seeks itself and its good over all else and must be trained to do otherwise.  

I love my wife.  I love the compassion that drives her not only to travel around the world, but also to sit at home and make bead necklaces to sell for orphans.  I love how passionate she gets about little things and how she’ll stay up late at night painting a room or mod podge-ing felt birds to a canvas.  I love how smart she is and how she sees things in Scripture and in movies that I just don’t see and have to pretend like I did.  I love how competitive she is and that she’ll get mad at me for throwing a game of scrabble.  Mostly I love how she loves my daughter, so much so that she gets up at 5:30 am everyday and goes to work with Hazel to supplement the rest of our income needs.  I love that I couldn’t survive without her.  I love my wife.

Still, in spite of all that, I don’t do the things that love does.  It’s like love is a language so foreign that my tongue no longer even has capability of making all the sounds necessary for intelligible speech.  New Years reminds me of that. It reminds me that it takes discipline and diligence to love.  It reminds me that I have to be taught to love.  It forces me to come to grips with those things and even, to do something about them.  It is in fact what you do to the people you say you love that counts. I hate resolutions and so I won’t make one.  Still I will do the things necessary to love her.  I will train my tongue to speak love.  I will love my wife.

VP Debate Breakdown Oh 8

It’s time to straight talk.  Can I call you Joe? I know the “political analysts”, pundits, and media elite have already broken down the VP debate for you.  They did it the night after.  I know there was a McBama (it’s kind of like TomKat or Brangelina) debate last night that is fresh on your minds, but I’m telling you that an analysis worthy of your consideration takes time.  I could write about the McBama debate but why?  There still another one left.  Its like giving the final breakdown of a football game two minutes into the fourth quarter with the score tied.  Dumb.   So we’re gonna look at the VP debate.  We’re gonna break it down, we’re gonna go play by play.  If I had one of those TV’s that lets you draw on the screen as you go like John Madden, I’d do that too.  Boom! 

Now while others use opinion and gut feeling to determine debate winners, I have created an empirically flawless scorecard that allows you to just plug in numbers and determine exactly who won.  Its like the BCS only more refined.  First of all, let me go ahead and give you the formula my system uses for determining the winner.  It’s a simple algorithm that goes as follow:

(B+ R4 – M2)/W=LQ à LQ x 100=DS à DS + X= DT 

The candidate with the highest DT wins.  Simple.

Just a run down on the equation.  B= Buzzwords.  The heart of every true campaign and debate is the buzzword.  They rally the troops and confound the enemy.  R= Relate-ability.  We don’t need Washington Elite belittling us with their jargon.  I endlessly need to know the candidate is a one of us.  The more they speak of their small hometown (like Scranton), how they were middle class, and use the term “Joe Six-Pack” the more I know they are just like me.  M = Miscues.  These are just your basic gaffes, saying that the opposing candidate supported a bill they didn’t or the like. W = Words.  I need to know that a candidate can use their words effectively. The more buzzwords and relate-able phrases they use per words, the higher their Likeability Quotient. (LQ) That multiplied by 100 is the Debate Subtotal (DS)  it’s like a batting average for words.  I don’t want “facts” or “proof” of a “basic understanding of economics”, I want quotables.  Maverick.  Change.  Washington Elite.  4 more years of the same.  X, however, may be the most important aspect of the debate, the X-Factor.  It’s the intangibles, the je ne sais quoi. So with that out of the way, let’s break it down.

Buzzwords: I thought for sure Palin had this in the bag.  Terms like “maverick” and “washington insider” and “media elite” seemed to have this category clinched.  However, Biden had some tricks up his sleeve.  He actually used “maverick” more the the Maverickess herself.  When it was all said and done though, Palin won the “reform” battle and took home the glory.  Palin 35, Biden 21.

Relate-ability: Again, on paper, Palin has this category in the bag.  Her uncanny knack for switching the vowels around in nuculer (nuclear) and to relate to families is remarkable and honestly, Biden is, well, a vacuum of personality only exceeded by John Kerry.  Plus, did anyone else notice that he looks like he could be Joel Osteen’s dad.  Still, he’s from Scranton and knew Joey Danco from a gas station and that was enough to clinch it.  Biden 6, Palin 5.

Miscues:  I’m gonna be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from either candidate.  Biden joked on a dude in a wheel chair and Palin… yeah.  Still, the miscues were a minimum and basically revolved around confusing votes and skewing bills and words.  There were no major blunders still Palin out-gaffed Biden.  Palin 13, Biden 8.

Word Count: They both talked way too much for only saying “change” and “maverick” 100 or so times.  Palin 7740, Biden 7145

Finally, the X-Factor.  Let me tell you this.  This one was not easy to score.  Everytime I thought Biden had the X Factor locked up, Palin winked and reminded me that I was a Joe Six-Pack.  Still, it’s hard to out X the man who knows what it’s like to be a single mom.  I think what finally got me though was that Palin never took her eyes of the camera when she spoke.  It was like she was talking to me!  And I got it.  Palin 4, Biden 2.

Debate Totals:

Sarah Palin (R) 25.7 (Projected Debate Winner)
Joe Biden (D)   25.4

According to the flawless equation, Sarah Palin won this thing by a landslide, although I think I speak for everyone when I say the real winner was Gwen Ifill.  Whose book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, releases on inauguration day.  Until next time.

[Editor’s note: The Obama/Biden camp has filed a formal complaint based on the fact that Biden’s LQ (.234) was actually better than Palin’s (.217) and therefore deserving of the number one spot.  The Debate Scoring Commission (DSC) stands by the ranking, noting that computer based scoring systems are intrinsically perfect.]

Oh It’s Coming…

VP Debate Breakdown Oh Eight

You Gotta Love It

Just when I thought that PETA was the most ridiculous organization ever, they do this… and completely prove me right.  All I ask is that you read the actual letter that they sent.  Wonderful!

Throw Convention to the Wind: Ron, Pallbearer of Two-Party Dominance

A couple weeks ago, I turned to PBS, anxious to watch the beginning of the Ron Paul’s [non]convention, Rally for the Republic.  Just for consistency’s sake, I do not endorse Ron Paul, his rally, or his Republic. (although I do enjoy its Battle Hymn).  I do not endorse third parties or extremists in first or second parties. It was about noon and I was excited because I would only have missed a small portion of Howard Phillips’ speech.  I turned to PBS…  Arthur.  I hit the power button on the remote control… Arthur.  Then again… still Arthur.  It turns out this does not change the programming but rather only turns the television on an off. Okay, it’s PBS.  Fine.  They do kids stuff first, no problem.  So I pulled out my MacBook (a little blog product placement) and went to CNN.com.  Nope.  Fox News is both balanced and fair so certainly they’d have coverage.  Yeah… not so much.  MSNBC.  Not even an article. Finally in a moment of desperation, I did something I would not recommend ever.  I went to C-Span. [BOREDOM ALERT] I’m not proud of it, but like I said, I was desperate.  Well, wouldn’t you know.  C-Span 2 was covering it and streaming it through their website.  I immediately knew I was in trouble.  I was right. There were no videos. NO VIDEOS. How could I trust anything they said?  Not that it would have mattered.  There were no syllogisms.  Very little spontaneous chanting.  No change. No mavericks.  No appeals to God or MLK.   What’s worse is that what they did say was so stinking confusing. It was all policies, constitution, and personal responsibility, blah, blah, blah.  Now I’m no Samantha Jones, but even I know thats no way to throw a convention-party.  Seriously guys.  Stick to the issues; gay marriage, the war, Barack and Sarah’s inexperience, John’s age!  Thats it!  The Federal Reserve, American sovereignty, and did someone mention von Mises?  Thats Austrian, not American buddies.  Get with the program!

There was one ray of light though.  Jesse “The Body” Ventura, a former WWF superstar and co-star in “Predator”.  Certainly he could get rowdy and bring that convention-tension that keeps me watching.  I even watched footage of him body slam Hulk Hogan to remind me of his credentials.  Even still, I couldn’t feel it.  While he did scream and get the crowd all riled up, he didn’t even bring up the fact that Sarah Palin is a mother of five or that if Barack Obama wins, so do the terrorists.  I expected more from the second coolest Governor in the history of the United States that acted in the movie Predator.   I expected more from Ron Paul.  I expected more from… what party is it?  It did, however, make me realize the great importance and dedication of the media.  They knew the people didn’t want to watch this.  They knew that two parties and two conventions are enough!  They had a choice and they made a gut decision, a good gut decision.  I like that and I thank you CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and PBS, you make my decisions much less complicated and I promise to trust your judgment.  From here on out, if you’re not covering it, I’m not watching because its not important.


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