Being Meek and a Peacemaker

My kids struggle with wanting to get their way. Not sure where they learn that from. Just kidding. Of course, that's inherited on the X chromosome (from their mother).

Sometimes, this selfishness is manifested in them claiming “their” Legos. Sometimes it’s playing 4 Square at the after school programming, and insisting that they weren’t out. Sometimes it’s not getting to play the game or watch the movie they want.

It’s about a focus on and worship of self.

A few weeks ago, I read through the “Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:2-12) to my kids. We talked about this passage, and the entire Sermon on the Mount, and I explained that you could think of Jesus' words in a couple of wrong ways:
  1. A list of rules from Jesus.
  2. An admirable message from Jesus, with no challenging application. (See these thoughts about the Sermon on the Mount.)
Not just rules or a "feel good" message, Jesus is describing is what a life of following Him looks like. It’s about the Spirit’s work in our hearts, as we grow in trusting in Him.

Why is this a big deal? Because we have a choice of what reward we will have. My child can choose his short-term reward (getting his way), or he can choose to expect God’s eternal reward. Which reward they get is up to them, as we meditate on these challenging words from Jesus in this Sermon:
  • verse 3:  He can strive for his own meager "wealth," or focus on God's kingdom and glory
  • verse 4:  He can try to comfort himself when life goes bad, or seek the arms of Jesus
  • verse 5:  He can try to enforce his way and defend himself, or he can let others win and trust that God will give him an inheritance
  • verse 6:  He can be self-righteous and empty, or be satisfied with God's righteousness through Jesus
  • verse 7:  He can seek vengeance, or give mercy (just as God has been merciful with him)
  • verse 8:  He give in to sin and selfishness, or desire to see God
  • verse 9:  He can fight for his own "rights," or bring about peace among God's people
  • verse 10-11:  He can sulk when he is mistreated, or remember that God will make everything right in the end

For my kids, they need to learn to put others first, to be willing to lose out. They need to be more concerned about peace with others, instead of arguing about who is right, or who hit the ball out of bounds.

They need to remember the grace and love of Jesus, and let that motivate and empower them to show the same grace and love to others.

Even more, they don't need to do these things merely because "it's the right thing to do." They need to follow in the example of Jesus, that
"Though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant . . . " (Philippians 2:6-7).

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**image courtesy of Kimeone via

Future Women

If you are in the Greenville, SC area on November 4-5 (Friday-Saturday), you do not want to miss the equipping event called Future Women. Teachers from Grace Church will be giving a theology, language, and practical application for making disciples of the next generation of women, like these:

The material will be applicable to parents, other relatives, and leaders of girls. And even if you only have boys in your life, you should attend this event, as it will give you a framework for helping those boys understand women, including their future wives.

The teaching will be a perfect complement to what has been taught in our women's ministry (Feminine Reflection), and from the Future Men event in 2009 (see a video here and here).

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StandOut Results

image courtesy of javajones via flickr
I could totally be a groupie for Marcus Buckingham. I'm a huge fan of his strengths-focused books and seminars. I think I have all of his books, which are arranged in Stonehenge-fashion on my bookshelf, in an act of worship.

Just kidding. But when I first read Now, Discover Your Strengths about 4 years ago, I was definitely hooked. For much of my career, I was told that I needed to be a well-rounded employee, showing at least average competency in up to a dozen different areas.

The Latest Book
But Buckingham has a different take, that we need to focus on developing strengths (and, as needed, managing around our weaknesses). The brain is better hardwired to get better at the things your more naturally do, instead of learning new tricks. And it seems to match up well with the Biblical principle that God has uniquely created and gifted each person.

I recently received a copy of his latest book, StandOut, through a give-away. I couldn't wait to read it and take the on-line assessment.

I've taken his previous assessment tests, which helped me see my strengths in Analyzer, Harmony, Arranger, etc. But whereas the focus had been on 30+ strengths, StandOut focuses on 9 types of roles that best suit you. The results are easier to remember, and more applicable as well (especially as you receive a detailed report that blends the top two results).

Just the Facts
Here is a quick overview of my top 3 results, and how I think they fit me:
  1. Connector.  Collect information about topics and people, to store away for the right time. Fascinated by people's gifts and strengths. Think in terms of practical realities. Connect others together, for mutually-beneficial partnerships. Be detailed and specific.
  2. Simulator.  Energy-giving. Encourage. Call upon others to contribute. Not soft and gentle. Feel responsible for others' emotions. Driven to make everything right. Need intentional downtime, and to be liked. Support superlative statements with facts.
  3. Equalizer. Driven to keep balance in this moral world. Hate unfinished work, and people lying. What you see is what you get. Facts are solid. Take a stand for a cause.
Apparently, I am about facts. I need facts, not opinions. I collect facts. I give facts to help and energize others.

Your Turn
These ideas have encouraged me, and have helped me understand how I can be used in the ministry roles and work that God has for me. (And I bought copies for my wife and for the two people on staff with me in the after school program.) If you don't have it yet, I highly encourage you to buy a copy of StandOut today.

How about you? Have you read any of Buckingham's books? 

South Carolina State Fair

Our kids thought that Allendale's Cooter Fest (on Mother's Day weekend) was great. Then, they were amazed by the Orangeburg County Fair. They could not imagine how the SC State Fair could be any better.

They were wrong. And we all had a great time.

Thanks to our local 4-H representative, we had wristbands for free admission for the 5 of us. Along with close and free parking, we were already off to a good start.

We didn't arrive until close to 1PM, so we started with a small lunch. Steak sandwich, chicken tenders, hot dog, chips, and a lemonade (to share). $26. Ouch.

We walked around a bit, winding up near the cattle (we were looking for our 4H friend, but never saw her and her son, who I think was "showing" his heifer). Fortunately, the kids avoided stepping in any "cow pies."

Past the petting zoo, you could buy a ticket ($5 per person) to ride either a pony, camel, or elephant. Elephant should always beat the pony. The kids enjoyed the wobbly ride, and petting the elephant's skin.

We "only" bought 22 tickets (for $25), but it took us a surprisingly-long time to use them up. Sender really enjoys the tamer rides. Which is also surprising to me.

Hannah road the "Crazy Mouse" with me. Rather, she convinced me to join her. Here's a view from waiting in line.

Here's a video of us on it. I was more concerned with holding onto my phone than I was about my own daughter. What a great dad, right?

The kids really wanted to try their skills at games. We successfully steered them away from the most rigged or difficult games (the rigged basketball shooting, and the impossible ring toss). Elijah tried a multi-person Whack-a-Mole, and came in dead last. He was heartbroken.  

But they all tried throwing darts at balloons. Each balloon popped would mean a prize. They each got three darts, and they each popped the balloon on their final throw (Sender somehow hit one of the prizes with his first throw. Oops.) We came away with 3 new stuffed animals.

By far the best deal of the day was our fried desserts. We got the sampler platter, and added the fried butter for $1 extra. Have you ever had these? Here's our opinions:
  1. The Milky Way and Reese's Cup were good, but a little too sweet for my taste.
  2. The Oreo was incredible.
  3. The butter was even more incredible. It's a little square or ball of better, with cinnamon. Tastes like a Krispy Kreme "Hot Now" doughnut, with cinnamon. 
We talked to some of the guys who worked there and found out a couple of cool facts:
  1. For the week (plus a few days) of the SC state fair, this one booth will sell 15,000 fried Oreos. (How many calories is that?)
  2. During the fair, this booth will use one ton of funnel cake batter. That's 2000 pounds, and doesn't count all the funnel cake, elephant ear, etc, kiosks throughout the rest of the fairgrounds.

Hannah (upon seeing a sign for fried Cool-Aid) said, "You can get deep fried ANYTHING here!"

It had been about 18 years since my last state fair, but I have a feeling that it won't be that much longer to my next one.

Edit:  I was right. See these photos from the 2012 State Fair.

Orangeburg County Fair

On Saturday, October 8th, we went to the Orangeburg County Fair. Driving up there, our kids could not imagine that it could have been bigger or better than Allendale's Cooter Fest (which occurred on Mother's Day weekend).

They were thrilled (and they shrieked) when we pulled up and saw all the rides and booths. We got to experience a handful of enjoyable things that day, besides just being with family.

Seed Art
Our kids participate in two local 4H programs. One is through their homeschool co-op in Blackville, and the other is through the 4H representative (as a part of the Clemson Extension in Allendale and Hampton Counties) that regularly leads activities in our after school program.

In September, our kids worked on Seed Art projects, where seeds (sometimes dyed) are glued to board, to make a picture. Elijah got first place, and Hannah second! I'm not sure what the categories were (maybe by age group and county), but it's a great accomplishment regardless. Here's a pic of our winners with some of the projects in the background (and here's a list of all the winners; look at the end for Allendale County):

We didn't get much of the typical fair food. But the hand-cut French fries were great. Buying a soda from a place with $1 refills was the way to go.
Animal Exhibits
As true 4H members, we enjoyed the farm animal exhibits. Elijah saw a friend from co-op, who was "showing" the rabbit that he raised. Elijah ran right over and said "Hey" and they shook hands. He reminded me 39 times that the rabbit showing was at 2PM, so that we wouldn't miss it.

We also saw lots of goats and chickens, some cattle, ducks, and even a camel. We enjoyed hand-feeding the goats and camel.

While we didn't eat much food, we did take advantage of the rides. The kids barely got a consensus on what they wanted to do, so they each took turns.

Sender screamed on the carousel, apparently because it didn't have a seat belt.

Hannah and Elijah enjoyed the tilt-a-whirl, bumper cars, and the giant slide (see below). Elijah is obviously losing, but he insists that he pulled off a victory in the end.

Here's Elijah flying solo. He did win this time.

The "Grand" Prize
Just before we left, the kids wanted to play a game, and Sender choose throwing darts at balloons. Not too surprising. Three darts, and all 3 kids popped balloons. So, for a mere $5, we won a dollar store toy. Worth it? Well, you should have seen how much the kids enjoyed the detective kit (including a plastic gun and handcuffs) all the way home. Yeah, it was worth it, almost.

Next Up
We are looking forward to going to the SC State Fair this weekend (and especially thankful  that we'll be getting free admission since we're a part of 4-H). (Edit: Here are pictures and stories about the fun time we had.)

Oh, and we think we'll do fewer rides and eat more fun food. The latest discussion is that we're trying to decide between fried Oreos and fried butter.

Any suggestions? What's your favorite fair food?

Related Links:

I'm a Winner!

Yes, this really was one of my old chess trophies.
In the past couple of weeks, I've won three different giveaway contests conducted on other blogs:
  1. I won the new book StandOut (I'm a big fan of Marcus Buckingham) on the leadership blog by Michael Hyatt. I plan on giving a review of this book, including my results, in the next week or two.
  2. I won a set of DVD's and books from Zondervan's The Nature of God, courtesy of
  3. Anyday now, I'm expecting a T-shirt from Mendmark. Thanks, Tyler Stanton (and congrats on having Boy #3).

That's a total of almost $200 of great stuff. My wife wants me to enter in one of the many contests that Young House Love conducts. I think she's just trying to ruin my streak.

Incidentally, I wasn't just finding giveaways. These are 3 of my favorite sites that I follow and read, that have focuses that range from leadership to theology to humor.

Flashback: We Took a Hike

Almost exactly 1 year ago, our family went on a hike at Table Rock State Park, and I wrote about it on the Grace Church Children's Ministry Parenting blog. We had a great time hiking, and the fall weather reminded me of this adventure. I thought it was worth re-posting on this blog, with some minor edits. Enjoy!

Our family has been to Table Rock State Park a number of times, usually to hike, picnic, and play on the playground. Previously, we had hiked when one of the boys was toddler-age, so we've always stuck with the shorter, 1.8-mile loop, as opposed to going all the way to the top. I like this trail because you begin by going up, which means it's mostly downhill on the way back.

After hiking at the park in the spring of 2010, we talked about stretching it a little further the next time. Since there is a picnic shelter almost 2 miles up the trail, we thought it would be a great adventure to hike up there, eat lunch and then head back down. Surely, a 4-mile hike would be a great accomplishment, right?

In the fall, with the nice October weather, we decided to pack up and do this. As we drove to the park, I remember seeing the view in the picture above, and telling Joanna, "It's hard to believe that you could hike up that far in one day." It seemed so far away, and so high up, but we talked about how neat it would be to do that when our kids got a little older.

We had a great hike up to the shelter, and ate lunch with a great view (see the right). After a break, we decided to hike a little further up the trail, just to see if we could see some more views. We went a little more, and a little more, and a little more.

Within 15 or 20 minutes, Joanna and I decided to see how far we could go. After all, we had already hiked two hours, and the kids seemed to be enjoying it and doing fine. Who knows when we would come this far again?

The kids had a blast on the trail. Hannah kept pretending she was an "Indian guide." Elijah loved being up ahead as the "scout," and Sender insisted he was "Spider-Man" as he climbed up all the rocks along the path. Before we knew it, we had reached the summit, and then the end of the trail.

After spending some time on the rock -- ready to pounce and grab one of our kids should they get a little careless, and watching hawks fly and dive below us (what a weird feeling to be above those birds) -- we embarked on the trip back down.

All in all, we walked and climbed 7.2 miles (in about 6 hours), far more than the originally-planned 4-mile hike. Hannah talked all the way down the mountain, still pretending to be an Indian guide, with Joanna patiently playing pretend with her (for hours, mind you). I kept having to tell Elijah to stop and slow down, or else he would have beaten us all down by at least 30 minutes. Sender alternated between being Spider-Man and an Indian guide named "Billy Bob" (not sure about that one).

And me? I was just beaming with pride about my family. We just had a great adventure, and we truly enjoyed it together (a couple we saw at the end of the trail commented how neat it was that we seemed to be enjoying each other so much). The older kids were troopers on this trek, and I carried Sender for no more than 2 or 2.5 miles, so he (at just under 4 years old) climbed about 5 miles by himself.

Elijah summed it up best when he told us that it was great that "our family had a big accomplishment today."  Yes, we did.

Of course, our latest adventure is living in Allendale, SC.

But we look forward to many more adventures. I hope your family has many more, too.

Halloween Thoughts

I think he will be "Underwear Head"
In years past, our family enjoyed trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. As I wrote in 2009, we downplayed the "spooky" and occult aspects, but this was a great opportunity to have fun and to engage with our neighbors.

Oh, and Joanna and I got to confiscate all the Mounds and Almond Joys that our kids brought home.

But in Allendale, I don't think there is much door-to-door trick-or-treating. The schools do events, and I think some churches do "Trunk-or-Treats" (though I'm sure it's nowhere near the scale or extravagance that occurred at Grace Church). We'll figure it out, and go with the flow -- not to assimilate in the culture, but to engage it, as we live in this community.

There, I'm glad that I wrote about Halloween. Now, maybe I won't feel bad for neglecting to do so.

What about you? What are your plans for Halloween this year?

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Is My Son Ready for Baptism?

Earlier this year, I had a conversation with my son Elijah about communion and baptism. I believe that baptism should precede communion (and a better theologian agrees), so Elijah has not been allowed to take the Lord's Supper.

But our conversation did not end there. We've continued (over years, actually) to discuss faith, discipleship, baptism, and related topics. It's just a part of our regular life to have these talks (Deuteronomy 6:7).

"My Life Before I Met Jesus"
A few weeks ago, during our church worship service, the pastor had everyone write down what your life was like before you "met Jesus." Church-lingo aside, it was a great opportunity for the congregation to reflect on our lives.

These are the words Elijah wrote:  Miserable  Bad  Horrible

I told him that was great, but inwardly I wanted to know what he was thinking. When we talked about it later, he explained that he used to think that his life was good. But now that he's been reading the Bible and that he knows God more, his life is much, much better.

Faith Like a Child
Does "life being better" make one a true follower? Not in and of itself. But I think Elijah is trying to express that God is his joy, and that Jesus makes life so much sweeter, fuller, and meaningful.

My tendency has been to be cautious about children being baptized, even to generally say that children are probably not ready to be baptized. My concern is that we give a child a false assurance, and that we parents push our children in this out of fear (wanting them to be saved).

But I've also been received counsel (from other pastors, friends, and this guy) that we parents can go too far on the other end of the spectrum. I don't want to be so "cautious" (or fearful) that I discourage Elijah in his walk. I need to trust God no matter what decision we make.

Now What?
I think Elijah may be a follower of Jesus. He knows the truth of the Gospel. He bears fruit, like good works and heart-felt repentance, though he is a sinner (and will readily admit that). He acts like he thinks he is a believer, if you understand what I mean.

My job is to help him grow in his faith, no matter where he is in his relationship with God. I do believe that God is working in his heart, and I don't need to doubt Elijah's profession of faith.

Elijah wants to be baptized. More importantly, he has a desire to follow Jesus, as best he knows how. We are trying to help him figure out what that looks like in reality, just as I struggle with always knowing what that means.

I was encouraged as I watched testimonies from folks at Grace Church; actually, Elijah and I watched them together. (If you want to know more, there is great material about baptism on the church website.) I loved seeing the number of children who have made professions of faith, and who followed Jesus in the act of baptism.

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New Plan for the Blog

Back to the drawing board.

Some of you know this already, but I am working on a new site for my blogs, to combine this one with Mission: Allendale. And when I say I am working, that really means me piddling around while a couple of friends do the real design work. Many blessings upon them.

The idea of combining the two sites might seem crazy, since one blog just came out of the other, and now I'm bringing them back together. Didn't I Fast Forward to Mission: Allendale? What gives?

Here's what we (some friends and I) have been thinking:
  1. We want to move to a self-hosted website, to be able to get some functionality that may not be possible with "out-of-the-box" designs.
  2. Wordpress-based blogs seem more professional, modern, and useful than Blogspot-based blogs. Creating Mission: Allendale on Wordpress helped me get used to the new posting format.
  3. The new site will allow (at least, this is the plan) people the opportunity to sign up for Parenting posts, Allendale posts, or both.

Going along with this third point, here is the new plan for my posting, starting with my current blogs, but also will continue on the new site:
  • Parenting:  Mondays and Thursdays
  • Allendale:  Tuesdays and Fridays
  • Other (links, pictures, videos, etc):  Wednesdays
  • Church & Children's Ministry:  Instead of putting these articles on my own blog, I will start guest posting on KidMin1124. If you are involved in Children's Ministry, as staff or volunteer, you should follow that blog, which was recently ranked #16 out of 100 Children's Ministry blogs. (Yep, I'm already listed as an author and I have my first article, Are All Volunteers the Same?.)

If you notice, I will stop posting on Sundays (Sunday Shorts) and Saturdays (Saturday Round-Up). This will create some more time to focus on my main content, and to get away from writing a little more (I have to live life with my family!). Especially with the Saturday posts, it took a lot of time to compile articles that I liked, but with a "shotgun" approach to who it might reach. Based on some recent counsel I received from a book I read, I will target articles to specific people, when I think it will help them. (Plus, I will still share some resources via Facebook and Twitter.)

If you have any questions or comments about these blogs and my new plan, please don't hesitate to let me know.

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**image courtesy of Gangplank HQ via flickr

Teaching My Kids About Yom Kippur

Spoiler: One is going to die.
At sundown on Friday (October 7), the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur will begin. It's not a festival as per the normal connotation, since this is the most solemn day of the year for religious Jews. I originally wrote on this topic in 2009 on the Grace Church Children's Ministry Parenting blog, but I figured it was worth re-posting with some minor edits. Hope you enjoy!

My Jewishness, My Faith, My Family
I am Jewish, by my mother's lineage. I was circumcised by a Rabbi in my grandparents' apartment when I was 8 days old (sorry, I know that's graphic). I went to Hebrew private school for 4 years. I was Bar Mitzvah at age 13.

I have also been a Christ-follower since I was 19 years old. There is much debate (especially among non-Christian Jews) about whether I can still call myself a Jew, but I think it's valid. Being Jewish is a heritage, and is different than Judaism (the religion taught by the Hebrew Scriptures, or "Old Testament"). Being a Christian is about my faith. In this country, most Jews are not particularly religious, but are still Jews.

There is a lot that I'll never be able to teach my children -- how to change the oil in a car, or how to throw a curve-ball. I'm not a theological expert or a natural teacher. But, God has given me a specific perspective and experience (Jewish background + Christian faith), in which I can equip my own kids. I have also been thankful to be able to share this with the next generation in other ways, such as with Passover Seders in our church.

Yom Kippur and Two Goats
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. To explain this holy day to my kids, I have used stuffed animals. There were two goats (but I had to use horses, since we don't have goats). For one goat, the high priest in Israel laid his hands on its head, to impute on it all the sins of Israel. That goat was carried out of the Israeli camp and set free.

This goat, called the "scapegoat," points to Christ. I believe this is what is written in John 1 -- "Behold the Lamb of God, who carries away the sin of the world." Jesus didn't just banish sin from a distance; He carried that sin on Himself.

The second goat was slaughtered as an offering to God. This also points to Christ, as He was slain for our sins.

Yes, I do talk to my kids about the sacrifice of animals, and, no, it does not scar them. Animal sacrifice is messy and disgusting, but so is our sin to a Holy God.

Why I Love Teaching My Kids This Stuff  
God wants me to proclaim His gospel message, to teach my children about how He has worked through His chosen people. He has equipped me to help them understand truths about Him.

No matter how old my kids are, they will not understand the entire theological picture, any more than I do. One of my children was completely shocked that they actually killed the goat. It was a reminder to me that I needed to talk more with him about how our sin requires judgment.

And when I asked my daughter (8 years old at the time) why we don't have to sacrifice animals for our sins today, she replied, "Because Jesus already died for our sins."

Beautiful. I could not have been more excited that God used me to teach them the Gospel with this illustration. Our nasty sin needs an atonement, and Jesus already was our sacrifice.

Related Links:

**image courtesy of nuchylee via

    MC Escher in Lego

    Sky and Water
    When I was a kid, I loved the works of M.C. Escher. I even had a T-shirt, with the design to the right, of Sky and Water. I was fascinated with how he could trick make my eyes not believe what they were seeing. It was probably the only time in my life that I enjoyed not knowing the answer.

    I also liked Legos. I had 1000's. It used to be that all there were were regular "town" creations -- cars, houses, police station, etc. But I moved into castle sets. Now, there are at least a dozen series of different sets -- Star Wars, ninja, Pharaoh, and whatnot. I brought Elijah and two of his friends to a Lego store last December; it took them over 45 minutes to figure out how they each wanted to spend their $20. A little overwhelming, for us all.

    It's fun to use Legos to create real life depictions and artwork. My kids have been inspired by others creating Bible Stories with Legos, even building Easter scenes. They have not built an SUV out of Lego bricks. Not yet, at least.

    Recently, we came across a site that showed how someone recreated M.C. Escher's artwork using Legos. Here are some of our favorites:



    Waterfall. On this one, he had to cheat a little (read the story in the article). Still pretty cool.

    I was amazed at how few kids in the after school program here have used Legos, until I'm reminded of how expensive they are (the Lego SUV has an estimated materials-only cost of $40,000, not including labor, or an engine). We were so thankful for a friend's HUGE donation of their unused Legos. 

    Do your kids like to create with Legos? What's been their biggest project?

    The Craziest Girl I Knew

    image courtesy of mamarati via flickr
    Have you ever just known that someone was crazy by something he or she said to you? I had that happen over 13 years ago, and I still remember the context.

    In the June 1998, I spent a week as a leader at an FCA Camp in Black Mountain, NC. I had just begun work on my Master's of Science degree in Chemistry at Furman. It was a great opportunity to spend a week with a group of high school boys.

    Besides the adult staff and college-age huddle leaders, there was a girl who just graduated high school who helped that week with administrative tasks for the camp. I don't remember having any significant conversation with her (besides "good morning" and such), until she came up to me mid-week and asked, "What are you studying in school?"

    "Chemistry," I replied.

    "Really?" she said with disbelief, "I thought you were going to be a pastor."

    "Nope. No way. I'm going to be a chemist."

    "Oh. I just had the feeling you would be a pastor." And that was the last time we spoke.

    As I walked away, I was laughing on the inside. I wondered why people think that just because you love Jesus, that you should work for a church or be a missionary.

    I wondered what would prompt her to walk up to me and start that conversation. I ruled it as her just being a young, zealous (but misguided) girl. Or, she was crazy.

    Crazy had to be it. Why else would she even think something like that? Crazy, hyper-spiritual person.

    Regardless of whether she was crazy or not, I knew she was flat out wrong.

    Until January 2007.

    Read more about me on this blog, or on Mission: Allendale.

    Related Link:

    Saturday Round-Up (October 1)

    Happy October!

    My Plastic Self. Months ago, a friend asked me to write about Barbie. I never could figure out just what to say. Maybe this article can suffice, at least for now.

    Leading with Expectation.  "Personally, I gravitate toward pessimism and fatalism. These are the antithesis of expectation. They expect little and have a nasty habit of causing me surprise when God moves in extraordinary ways."

    This Is Relaxing?  I assume that it is only (or at least primarily) women who can resonate with all the stress that can go into prepping for a massage.

    The 5 Most Ridiculous Arguments My Kids Have.  Be sure to read through the comments for more scenarios. I'm sure this doesn't affect your kid, right?

    Cthulhu vs. the Sith.  I'm really not sure what this battle is in reference to, but my kids and I loved this video.

    Did You Forget That You're Saved?  "The gospel transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation, but Christ’s external substitution. We desperately need an Advocate, Mediator, and Friend. But what we need most is a Substitute."

    The Next Step: To Disciple a Few.  An excerpt from Radical, and a lot of the same thinking that led me to write What's Our Ultimate Purpose in Allendale?

    History of Lyrics That Aren't Lyrics.  A nice walk through time.