Friday, December 18, 2009

Staff Christmas Party - Silent Night

I love this time of year! Singing Stille Nacht in German here in Austria where the song was birthed makes for such a beautiful and meaningful time. Our staff is singing it here and I get teary eyed every time. We will always remember these Christmases spent here in Austria.
Frohe Weihnachten!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Smoothie boys

My boys love Smoothies! It's a great way to get good vitamins in them that they wouldn't normally eat. I know I've posted about them before... but here's our Christmas smoothie!
Did you know you can put spinach in the smoothie and you cannot taste it at all?! Seriously, it only makes the smoothie green which is soo cool to little boys.
So celebrate the season with green smoothies!
Here's to your health...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I surrender!!!

I know when I've been beaten, or at least when my wife has gotten a new camera and so I've decided to take my ramblings elsewhere. I have also managed to bring several friends of mine with me and we have launched out on our own. And so, I give you...

Don't judge us based on the title alone, go and check it out for yourself.

And now, I take my leave.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Thanksgiving with family

One of the many booths worth looking at

Thad & Ian

Ian, Thad, Helen & Breck

The Rathaus with the advent numbers on the windows.

After our big thanksgiving day meal... we headed out the next day to the markets in Vienna. It was so beautiful as always! The kids had fun eating candy and pastries while we enjoyed hot punsch austrian style.
Enjoy the festive photos and wish so much you all could have the chance to visit us here during this season. It really is beautiful and charming.

Cousins having fun at the Christkindl Markt

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom - Follow Your Heart?

*** This post is interactive. Please scroll down to the bottom of the post and hit play on the youtube clip. We hope you enjoy your interactive experience.***

"Living from the heart is business — the business of caring for self and others. Understanding this will take us past the age of information into the age of intuitive living." - Doc Childre

I think Solomon and the rest of the Bible might disagree.


The concept of following your heart is something that has become increasingly common within our culture, specifically pop culture. From children's videos to movies and music, this is an oft repeated saying that is rooted in a certain view of humanity.


The idea that man is basically good arose in reaction to the over emphasis on man's depravity during the Middle Ages. While it should be noted that man is a valuable, image bearer of God, the fact remains that he is still marred by sin. This biblical truth is almost universally dismissed as archaic by most. Almost all recognize that mankind has issues, but those are believed to be the result of nurture rather than nature.

As we move into Ecclesiastes chapter 2 we get a glimpse into Solomon's decision to follow his heart. What we come to find is that, contrary to Doc Chidre's comment, when Solomon followed his heart he was self-absorbed rather than concerned with others. He served his own needs and pursued his own desires and, rather than being fulfilled and happy, what he found was only disappointment and despair.


The Test of Pleasure
Chapter 2 begins with Solomon's decision in his heart to "test" himself with pleasure. Following the flow of the text from chapter 1, this was clearly in response to his pursuit of academic knowledge. These intellectual pursuits only served to provide him with greater knowledge of the broken and crooked nature of the world (1:15, 18). Since intellectual endeavors didn't satisfy, perhaps gratifying his physical desires would.

He began by examining laughter and worldly joy. These were meaningless and accomplished nothing (2:2). He then turned to alcohol to intensify his experiences. In the midst of this drunken revelry he seemed to analyze himself and his experiences using the wisdom that God had given him (2:3). The analysis of his condition revealed that this too had failed to deliver the satisfaction and joy that he was seeking.


CRIBS: The B.C. Edition .


In 2:4 Solomon explains that he turned from revelry to great building projects. These would provide clearly attainable objectives that would give him temporary purpose and would lead to even greater sensual experiences and enjoyment upon their completion. He built a great palace that we know from 1 Kings 7 took 13 years to complete. The palace was furnished with gardens, vineyards, parks, and all kinds of fruit trees (2:5-6). This palace was stocked with servants he had purchased and his wealth included more flocks of animals than any other king to come before him (2:7).


Within this palace he fully indulged himself in sensual pleasures. He had wealth and treasure to feast his eyes upon as well as musical performers to keep him entertained. On top of that, he indulged himself sexually. The second half of 2:8 tells us about his harem. This was a group of women, probably wives and sex slaves, whose task was to satisfy the king's physical desires. There is no need to go into detail here but Solomon had the opportunity to indulge himself in every possible sexual experience.


Temporary Enjoyment

2:10 is a really important verse that is sometimes not emphasized when Solomon's experiences are referenced. Solomon very clearly states that he enjoyed all of the things he was doing. It's shocking I know, but apparently sex feels good, getting drunk is kind of fun, and being rich gives you the chance to own really cool stuff. There was definitely a short term gain for Solomon. He states that his heart took delight in all that he had done. The problem with the heart is that gratifying it's desires can only offer enjoyment in the short run.

"Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun."

Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure?"

The problem with following our hearts is that they don't lead us to God. Proverbs 20:19 asks the above question. The answer, according to scripture, is that no one's heart is pure. We see this especially when it comes to relating to God. In Romans 1:18-32 tells us that man suppresses his knowledge of God and chooses to worship created things rather than the Creator. When man does this, his worship will almost always be directed towards himself. This worship manifests itself in many ways but especially sexually (Rom. 1:24-27).


As Solomon looked back on his pursuit of wealth and pleasure he honestly assessed the long term results. Nothing was gained and he was filled with an overwhelming sense of emptiness. He failed to see God as the giver of all good things and to enjoy the experiences of life from a position of worship. As we live a life of true worship we can enjoy life within the boundaries that God sets for our protection. As soon as we begin to live outside of worshipping the Lord we open ourselves up to long term disappointment and misery even if the short term of worshipping ourselves through sensual pleasure is enjoyable.


How has our thinking been impacted by the idea of following our hearts?

Are we enjoying the experiences of life from a position of worshipping God or ourselves?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ok, so he was French and a 5 Point Calvinist (ha ha ha), but he also had some really good things to say. Continuing with our study of the Reformers in World History, we have now arrived at Calvin. I'll share some selections with you guys over the next few days.

"Read Demosthenes or Cicero, read Plato, Aristotle, or any others of that class; I grant that you will be attracted, delighted, moved, and enraptured by them in a surprising manner; but if, after reading them, you turn to the perusal of the sacred volume, whether you are willing or unwilling, it will affect you so powerfully, it will so penetrate your heart, and impress itself so strongly on your mind, that, compared with its energetic influence, the beauties of rhetoricians and philosophers will almost entirely disappear; so that it is easy to perceive something divine in the sacred Scriptures, which far surpasses the highest attainments and ornaments of human history."
-Taken from Institutes, Volume I

I love that Calvin doesn't say not to read the famous writings of the secular world. He encourages us to read them and to appreciate them. He does, however, point out that we must always be captivated by the scriptures. When we study the Word and understand who God is based on His revelation, we can more clearly see Him in the writings of the secular world.

Who, no matter their field of study, could ever compose poetry, portray emotion in a novel, write of the natural world, or analyze human history without intentionally or unintentionally portraying some element of the divine? We can only come to this appreciation when we are allowing our minds to be transformed (Rom. 12:2) by the scriptures.

"These absurdities...are good trade, and procure a comfortable income to such priests and friars as by this craft they get their gain...What can be said bad enough of others who pretend that by the force of such magical charms, or by the fumbling over their beads in the rehearsal of such petitions (which some religious impostors invented, either for diversion, or, what is more likely, for advantage), they shall procure riches, honors, pleasure, long life, and lusty old age, nay, after death, a seat at the right hand of the Saviour?"
- Taken from In Praise of Folly (1512)










It's fascinating to me that the words of a man who lived so long ago can still ring so true today. Perhaps those of us who are followers of Jesus should be a bit more careful about who we give a mic. Maybe the church should spend more time reading dead guys than watching live ones.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom

"What is twisted cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted."

Solomon's Advantages
Solomon closed the first section of Ecclesiastes with a lament about being forgotten after his death. This pessimistic look into his future is followed with a look back into his past. He reminds us of his high position in Israel as king (1:12) and goes on to explain that he sought to explore with his wisdom everything that a person could pursue in this life (1:13).
Solomon's wealth and power afforded him virtually unlimited resources to undertake this quest. There may be some alive today who have the wealth of Solomon, but none wield the absolute power he had. When he speaks to us about his search for meaning using unlimited power and means, we should pay attention. Unfortunately for Solomon all of this searching did not bring about the desired result. We have already been given his conclusion (1:2) and verse 13 begins his systematic overview of all of his areas of seach as well as things he learned along the way.
His careful examination of the human condition revealed what he considered to be a great burden (1:13). No matter what a person pursues in this life or how hard they pursue it, the ultimate result will be a sense of emptiness. A key phrase here again is under the sun. Meaning cannot be derived from experiences of this world alone.

The World is Jacked Up
If you don't believe that, you haven't watched a Tom Cruise movie lately. If you think the world is a great place, let me suggest you watch War of the Worlds or Mission Impossible 3. Terrible.
Solomon points out the messed up nature of things in verse 15. When we examine the world, we can't help but notice something is wrong. Things don't feel right. How did they get this way?
We are told in Genesis that after man sinned God cursed the ground. Romans 8:20 sheds more light on this curse. There we are told that "the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the one who subjected it." Our experience of reality, the world around us and our lives, has been "twisted". As 1:15 says, what is lacking cannot be counted. The life that God set before Adam and Eve was like a road that was simple to traverse. Man was to cultivate the Earth and his life which would be a joyous process inwhich man would partner with creation. Unfortunately, as a result of man's sin, the creation was cursed and now works against him. Despite the good that can be expereienced in the world, the road of life has been twisted and made crooked. That fact is, for Solomon and us, a tremendous frustration and burden (1:13).
Solomn's Pride/Wisdom/Disappointment
After Solomon observes the condition of the world, he returns to the recounting of his quest. In pride, he examines himself and concludes that he is more wise than any who have come before him (1:16). This scene is remeniscent of Nebuchadnezzar's prideful declaration that he had built Babylon the great with his own strength (Dan. 4:29-30). That statement preceded a great fall that eventually brought brokeness and humility. The humbling of Nebuchadnezzar involved him living life in madness as an animal. Interestingly, Solomon's experience would be somewhat similar and would bring humility and a turning towards God.
Solomon tells us that he decided to pursue both wise and foolish living (1:17). This verse is really a summary of all that is to follow in the book as he will go on to describe each of these pursuits in detail as well as the lessons he learned along the way. His ultimate conclusion is again repeated, all of his efforts were akin to attempting to catch the wind. The chapter itself concludes with a terribly sad but true statement.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief."
The more we come to know about the world around us and the older we get, the more we come to see the fallen condition of both the world and ourselves. Solomon pursued happiness, pleasure, and meaning in this life with limitless resources and power. All he got in return was misery and disappointment because this world and nothing in it can ever fully satisfy our deepest longings. C.S. Lewis made a similar observation in Mere Christianity.

"Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exist. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was meant for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not mean that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing."

Solomon mistakenly believed that he could find enjoyment and satisfaction through the various pursuits of life. He learns the hard way that the world is a broken place that cannot be enjoyed or truly experienced apart from knowing the one who made it.

I heard a preacher say it this way: Life is like a can of peaches. It can be sweet, delicious, and enjoyable as long as you can get to it. You can look at the picture on the outside and imagine the taste, but without a can opener you can't truly experience the peaches. Life is like a can of peaches, but apart from God giving us the ability to enjoy it, we will only experience a shadow of what it could be. Solomon came to the conclusion that he had to acknowledge God to find meaning and purpose but took the long, hard road to make that discovery.

Do we look for satisfaction in this world?
Do we believe that our wisdom, or wealth, or power will bring us joy in this life?

May we look to the Lord as the one who gives our lives meaning and may we in turn enjoy the work of our hands that He has placed before us.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sermon Idea

I was sent this by my good friend Herr Reynolds and I thought it would be worth sharing because of its wit and wisdom (kind of a theme here). I teach something similar in my 9th grade Bible curriculum and I feel sure that at some point in the future I will preach a sermon on it. Until then, I'll leave it to the great theologian Craig Ferguson. He uses one or two "colorful" phrases so don't watch this with your kids.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My World History class is currently studying the Renaissance and the Reformation. This is a facinating time period in Christian history because of the unique individuals that were working towards new movements in theology as well as church reform.

One of these men was Desiderius Erasmus. Born in Rotterdam as the illegitimate son of a Dutch priest, he managed to become one of the leading Latin scholars of the Renaissance period as well as a covert church reformer. As I have been reading some of his writings I have come across several notable quotations that I thought would be interesting to share with you guys. Enjoy.

"Would that the farmer might sing snatches of scripture at his plow and that the weaver might hum phrases of scripture to the tune of his shuttle, that the traveler might lighten with stories from scripture the weariness of his journey."
Taken from the preface of his 1516
version of the Greek New Testament.
What a convicting quote. We have come so far in our access to scripture, and yet we take that priviledge so lightly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom - Life: What's the point?

"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."

After identifying himself as the author, Solomon gets right to the point in 1:2 and shares the conclusion of all his efforts and pursuits. Not really a recipe for a best seller is it? Especially considering the titles of certain books that you find on shelves nowadays. So what is the role of such brutal honesty in our world of best sellers and self help gurus?
The world we find ourselves in today is an existential mess. We are constantly bombarded by messages that focus on our individual worth and desires. "Just do it", "Impossible is nothing", "Be yourself", "Have it your way", and others. We are also told by pop psychologists that self esteem is the primary thing we lack in dealing with our personal and relational struggles. The problem is that, with all of our focus on the individual, we have failed miserably to provide people with any life purpose or meaning that transcends their life experience or helps them to answer the big questions of life: Who am I? Where am I going? How should I live? Does any of this matter?
Right from the beginning, Solomon takes a sledgehammer to all of these ideas. Does life here on Earth have any meaning? The answer from Solomon is a resounding "NO!" If the message stopped here than we would have to question whether this should even be in the Bible. Solomon, however, qualifies this proclamation of meaninglessness by connecting it to an important concept.
"What does man gain for all of his labor at
which he toils under the sun?"

The concept of "under the sun" is vitally important to understanding the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes. The phrase itself is used 29 times throughout the book and illustrates that anyone searching for meaning within the realm of creation will remain unfulfilled despite his many pursuits. Real meaning can only be derived from outside of the temporal. The infinite must give meaning to the finite and therefore, in our quest for meaning, we must look to God alone.

Man vs. Wild
In verses 4-11 of chapter one Solomon takes up a lament for the finite nature of human life when compared with the seemingly infinite natural world.
"Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever."
Scientifically and theologically we know that the world is not eternal. Solomon's point is that people are born and people die, yet the earth they inhabit continues as if nothing has happened. When the lifespan of a person is compared with the "life span" of the earth, the earth wins. In a competition of man vs. nature, nature always wins.

Solomon's overview of various natural phenomena is meant to show that even in nature, nothing is ever really satisfied. He moves from there to illustrate this point about the longings of people. Just as nature is never satisfied and fulfilled, neither are people, especially when it comes to seeing and hearing (1:8). Because of this, people will continually search for something new even though their really is nothing that is new under the sun (1:9).

Exhibit A

I give you...dum dum dum dumb...THE RETURN OF 80's FASHION. Run for your lives. The picture on the left is taken from a 2009 women's fashion catalog and the one on the right is from an 80's workout video. Notice some similarities? Those of you who are a bit older have seen this happen numerous times.
And this is really what Solomon is talking about. There's nothing new under the sun, we just recycle old ideas and even old fashion. The people of Solomon's day were just like people are today, constantly seeking something new. As a result of never finding it, they recycled old things.
Solomon's conclusion in this section is that just as nature moves on relentlessly, so does life. For people, this life under the sun will bring us no real joy and in the end we will make no long term impact (1:11). If you look at history, who do we remember the most? Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Darwin, Nietzsche. Most of them are not remembered because of their positive contributions to humanity. So what does this all mean? What was God's purpose in having Solomon point out that we live, we die, and we are forgotten?
The Hebrew word that is translated as meaningless or vanity can also be rendered as "breath" or "vapor". The point that Solomon is making is that life lasts only for a short time. The world that we live in cannot offer us any meaning or purpose during this short time and so, as we will see, Solomon advises us to look outside of our world to God as the source of joy (2:25, 5:18, 8:15). Solomon rightly points out that most of us will probably never be remembered in this life, however, God is the one who does remember and judges and rewards accordingly (3:17, 12:13-14).

Let us take a look at ourselves and our lives. Do we buy into the various "meanings" the world offers us, or do we look outside of our experience to the Creator God as the one who can truly give our lives purpose?
How, and by whom do we want to be remembered? Do we seek the approval of a meaningless world or of the God who made it?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Caramel Apples!

When you get the craving... you gotta act on it! I'm a little late making these this year, but I had two senior girls come over and join me in making caramel from scratch, drooling over the finished product and eventually eating and slobbering on the apples.
It was great!

This one was made by Thad :) He was very excited about making them and ate all of his caramel leaving the apple.....
he's one smart cookie!

"I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties...So give your servant a discerning heart to
govern your people and to distinguish
between right and wrong."

It is with these words that Solomon, as a young man, began his reign as the last king of the unified Israel. God was pleased with Solomon's request and told him that as well as wisdom (1Kings 3:12) he would be granted both riches and honor (3:13). The rest of chapter 3 gives us insight into the wisdom of the man, chapter 4 gives us a glimpse of his unimaginable wealth, and chapter 6 describes for us Solomon's construction of the temple of the Lord.

It would seem logical that a man of such wisdom would have lived a life characterized by good personal choices. Unfortunately, we see that his life eventually became a great tragedy. He was a man of great wealth (7:1-12 describes the construction of his palace and 10:14-15 his yearly allowance of gold) and that afforded him the opportunity to pursue virtually any material thing he could ever have wanted. This, along with his inability to control his physical lusts, eventually bring destruction to his kingdom and separation in his relationship with God.

"The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice."

Chapter 11 gives us insight into his greatest failings as a man and servant of God. The chapter begins by telling us that he loved many foreign women (expressly forbidden by the Mosaic Covenant (Deut. 7:3-4) and reveals that the turning of is heart away from the Lord would be the result. The extent of his perversion of God's original design for marriage is seen in 11:3 where we find that he had over 700 wives and 300 concubines. As he grew older, these women turned him to the worship and service of other gods. The Lord's anger burned against Solomon and yet He withheld his direct judgement until after Solomon's death. Even with the withholding of His active wrath, God punished Solomon with His passive wrath by removing enjoyment from Solomon's many sensual experiences.

Given the content and tone of the book, it seems clear that Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes from the perspective of a broken down, unfulfilled, old man who is lamenting his wasted life. The book itself is a memoir of repentance as well as a warning to those who would travel the same meaningless paths that Solomon himself so vigorously tread. We should be thankful that the old king came to his senses and left a book that is incredibly straight forward and honest in its presentation.

The quest of philosophy throughout the last two millenia has been a search for truth, meaning, and purpose in life. It's amazing that the words of a man who lived in the 10th century B.C. could speak so clearly and directly to those themes today.

Are there certain choices that we have made and, like Solomon, need to repent of?

Do we learn from the poor choices we make and then share that wisdom with others?

Chapel & Ecclesiastes

Sometime towards the end of this past summer I decided that my times of speaking in chapel this year would revolve around teaching through a specific book of scripture. As I looked through scripture and sought the Lord's wisdom on the issue I eventually decided to teach through Ecclesiastes. So far we have gotten to chapter four over the course of 5 weeks spread throughout the past few months.

I also thought it would be cool for me to share summaries of the various themes and ideas from the book that we have been studying in our chapel times. So I guess this is really just a preview post for what we will call Wednesday Wisdom.

Fun side note: My buddy Jeff and I had a unique opportunity to contribute to a blog that is hosted out of NYC. Jeff and one of his friends were having dinner one night and began discussing Scientology. When his buddy found out about his fascination with the "religion" he asked if Jeff would be interested in crafting a blog post dealing with the subject. Jeff and I spent an afternoon working on it and the blog actually published it.

Here's a link:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fw: Christians and the Internet

Oh the wonderful world of the internet. In a matter of seconds you can find anything you want to read about or see. Obviously, this can be either amazingly beneficial or detremental to a person. Over the past few years I have become increasingly fascinated with technology and how it affects us as people, especially those of us who are Christians.

While distrusting the world and its "lies", most Christians tend to believe what they hear or read if it comes from another person who claims the name of Christ. This is not a bad thing but can get us into trouble, especially when it comes to the internet. Call me a cynic that has been overly influenced by my postmodern surroundings, but I never really trust anything on the internet. This is especially true if it comes from (A) a blog, (B) a website that is unaffiliated with a reputable organization, or (C) an email forward. Now I realize the irony of my previous statement and I'm sure you do as well. Feel free to not listen to or believe anything on this blog. It's mostly just pictures of my kids and you'll have a bit of a problem trying to prove that they don't exist. I'm just saying that we need to take things on the internet, including this blog, with a grain of salt.

Anyway, back to the Christian life and responsible use of the internet and email. Don't be gullible! Various websites and email forwards will frequently use misinformation to get believers to support or protest something in large numbers. Do some homework when you get an eamil from someone claiming that X group or organization is trying to petition the White House to mandate that all manger scenes contain Santa Claus instead of Jesus. Double check when someone posts a "story" without any citations or verifiability.

My heart for this is not to make fun of anyone who sends email forwards or believes most of what they hear or see. As someone who has been duped by stuff like this I simply want Christians to be lovers of truth. Jesus said that we would know the truth and that it would make us free. Unfortunatley there are many people in this world, even Christians, who would rather contrive something to help further an agenda than to live in the light of Christ's truth. Be careful who and what you believe on the internet. Don't fall victim to the Christian version of Nigerian scams.

Here are a few websites you can use to help verify emails you get or stories you read on blogs.
If you've read an email forward claiming that these sites have an evil liberal agenda you can check out

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

K├╝rbisfest (Pumpkin Festival)

Pumpkins. You know them. You love them. Could there be anything better than walking around a small town that is surrounded by pumpkin patches and takes Halloween a bit too seriously? I submit to you that there could not. So, last Saturday we headed out of Vienna with our friends Jeremy and Kristi and went to a pumpkin festival.

Here was the poster for the event. Scary huh? The one thing I noticed was that apparently they don't take much care in carving their pumpkins, maybe because they carve so many. The sloppy nature of their work runs contrary to everything I learned from my father about pumpkin carving. Therefore, I viewed all of their jack-o-lanterns with disdainful condescension, knowing that dad and I could've done much, much better.
Ah paganism, you just thought it died out with the Druids. Well, it's apparently still alive and well in upper Austria. I happened upon this oddity while eating my cinnamon and sugar encrusted almonds. Ironic, because we all know that nothing goes better with paganism than sweet, fresh roasted almonds. I stared at this thing for awhile in utter disbelief...I was also waiting to see if the raven would say "nevermore".

Anyways, a good time was had by all. We ate some good food and even had cappuccino with pumpkin in it that was surprisingly good. Hurrah for pumpkins and the festivals that celebrate their important countributions to humanity.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Pabulum

EEWWWW! Dad how could you make me do this??

Well all the pics are reversed in order... just to throw you off...or maybe it's because I forgot to enter them other way.
But this was our pumpkin carving evening. We got roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin puree from it!
Not to mention a nice little light in our living room in the evenings :)

Monday, October 19, 2009


I'm not sure why God keeps giving me opportunities to share and preach the same ideas. I guess it's all ok because He's the one that gives the opportunities and inspires the scriptures that I've been teaching.

So I had the chance to preach yesterday at our church, The International Chapel of Vienna ( Our Pastor James, who despite being a Chelsea fan is a great guy, asked a few of us in the church to be on a preaching team that meets regularly throughout the year. We disuss the section of scripture he will be teaching from each week (currently 1 Peter).

We go through books of the Bible verse by verse, but cover ground a bit quicker than some other churches. One positive of this type of study is that you get a very managable picture of the themes throughout a book of scripture without getting bogged down in intricate, exegetical details. One of the negatives, however, is that some themes that need to be expanded on may not get the full time they need. As a result, James decided that he will preach the book verse by verse and, when certain topics or subjects arise that need to be further expanded, he wanted a few of us from the preaching team to tackle those issues. I thought this was really cool because it gives the Pastor a break every month or two and makes sure he is also under the teaching of the Word.

So yesterday I got to expand on the idea of being an elect exile (a major idea discussed in 1 Peter). I'll post a rought outline and some thoughts on the text later on.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Big Am I?

When a little boy is curious about how big he really is, it is natural to measure himself with his Daddy's pants! I mean, he is supposed to look to his Daddy as the standard. We want them to grow up and be like their Dads, so we might as well use them as the measuring stick!

We now know that he is not as big and will need some time to grow into those pants. It was a very educating experiment for him....

*** I should note that Ian fit into one side of Daddy's pant legs... but no picture was taken :(

Monday, October 05, 2009

Senior Class Rib Party

When the Lord has made you prosper and you say "I would like some meat," then you may eat as much of it as you want.

-Deuteronomy 12:20

That verse is slightly paraphrased and massively out of context (just call me Joel Osteen), but what a great verse for a BBQ! We had a great class party on Saturday for our Seniors and enjoyed eating ribs. It was really the only food we had. Just ribs and ribs and more ribs. I really didn't even know you could eat meat for 4 hours and not die. It ruled.

Here are a few more pictures of the afternoon. These were taken by the students and we'll put a few more up when we get them off of our camera.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Publications Project

Thomas was asked to write an article for a "publication" the middle school creative writing class was putting together. Here is what he contributed.


In the movie Contact Matthew McConaughey portrays Palmer Joss, a former priest studying the effects of technology on third world cultures. Later on in the film while being interviewed on the TV show Larry King Live he asks the question, “Has science and progress made us happier?” This is a profound statement from the mouth of a fictional character. With all of the high-tech gadgets available in the modern, industrialized world, have we become better people?

There can be no doubt that when we study history we see that technology has brought about progress and improved society. In the 16th century, Europe emerged from the Dark Ages and entered a new period of learning with the invention of the printing press. This technological advance allowed books and other forms of writing to be copied quickly and widely distributed. This led to an increase in the desire for, and necessity of, literacy. This intellectual and educational progress fed the Scientific Revolution as well as the Enlightenment. One of the most important contributors to the time period was Denis Diderot, who compiled and edited The Encyclopedia. Diderot, however, sensed where the increase in printed materials could lead and remarked that a “time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe.” He continued, noting that eventually “the world of learning—our world—will drown in books.”

While it would be difficult to say that our world is drowning in books, the world of 2009 could certainly be accused of drowning in information. According to some estimates, in recent years the amount of information available to the average individual in a modern society has doubled almost every two years. This vast amount of information that is only a click away has led to an increase in the amount of trivial information that people encounter and a decrease in the amount of time that people spend analyzing the value of that information. With this loss of focus in how we analyze what is put before us, we have a tendency to either accept whatever we read or see, or to become overwhelmed and apathetic. Either choice produces negative consequences that effect who we become as people.

The modern technologies that are available to us, cell phones, laptops, iPhones, iPods, and the like have all become integral parts of our lives. The question is have they encouraged us to grow as human beings? Sadly, most of the technologies discourage rather than encourage important things such as community. As recently as the latter part of the 20th century people rode on public transportation either in silence or in casual conversation. Now everyone has their ears plugged with buds from their mp3 players. One of the most popular places for people to gather for community is a coffee shop. Hilariously, if you go into a coffee shop what you find are lonely people seeking community by putting their earphones in and working silently on their computers.

In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that man was made in the image of God. This included the ability of man to be creative and improve his conditions. Unfortunately, man chose to sin in Genesis 3 and this brought about problems with this technological progress. Advances in technology have certainly made things better, but man’s tendencies frequently lead him to worship these advances rather than the God who inspired them (Rom. 1:25). This leads to negative consequences for people and slowing of their growth in relationship with both God and each other. Until people slow down and analyze the impact of technology on their lives, they will continue to be troubled by the unfulfilled longings of their high-tech hearts.

Quotations taken from the book Habits of the High-Tech Heart by Quentin J. Schultze.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Photography by Thad

The one above is from a movie and the expression he captured was priceless.

This one just made me laugh. How funny that he was able to capture his brother catching some air!

And let's not forget the self protrait.

I think he found the camera laying around and thought it his "right" to take some photos of his world at that time. Very Dangerous!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

David Crowder Band - How He Loves

Pray for our School
for our family
for our children
for God's provision
for joy in whatever circumstance we are in

pray that we would learn to love so that we can walk in manner worthy of Christ, so that He can establish our hearts in holiness before God
~1 Thess. 3:12-13

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

God's Provision seen in Rhubarb?

You know... God always provides and sometimes it's not what you expect. The other day I was looking at a friends cookbook and saw a recipe for Rhubarb pie and I mentioned that I'd never had Rhubarb before. "The garden is full of it right now, why don't you go and get some" was the reply. I didn't even know she grew rhubarb! But there you have it, ten stalks of fresh rhubarb for free!
So, I set out to make a rhubarb pie and found that I rather enjoyed it!

It has a very tangy flavor and needs lots of sugar in my opinion to make it balance out. But I recommend having a big scoop of Ice Cream with it and you'll love it... I promise!

By the way, that was my first attempt at a lattice pie top. It was very fun and turned out lovely or so I thought.

Interesting fact: The leaves of a rhubarb plant are very poisonous..... hmmm, who knew?