Sunday, October 29, 2006

Surprise Meal

Despite yesterday's feast, I don't feel like yesterday was my greatest in terms of walking in step with the Lord. I didn't have any headlong falls into sin, but I did spend some time looking at stuff that I probably shouldn't. It served as a good wakeup call, as it always does.

This morning I had some work to do, so I knew that my feasting would be somewhat interrupted. Then my Bible reading took me to 1 Chronicles 1-2. This is not the most exciting passage of Scripture as it deals with the genealogy of David, starting with Adam. I got to thinking about these long stretches of genealogies. I tend to kind of glide through them because I know that all the names won't really hit home. Of course, each time through the Bible they do have a bit more punch as I start to remember more and more of them from reading their stories. But it doesn't have the same punch as some of the Psalms that give me a profound sense of God's grandeur.

Charles Spurgeon didn't really do it for me today, so I thought that I'd try out the Bob Hoekstra "Day by Day Grace". It discussed the men of faith in Hebrews 11 and how Jacob lived by faith, despite what he did to trick Isaac into blessing him. It was interesting to see how Jacob ended up switching the traditional blessing on Joseph's sons.

The point to all of this is that God is in charge and His hand guides everything. If we see the way He guided the genealogies of the men of the Bible, why would we ever think that He doesn't have His hand on our lives?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

An Early Morning Meal

I got this in my email from my A.W. Tozer daily devotional called "Insight for Leaders":

October 28

Failure and Success: The Things That Matter

..that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be
sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with
the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory
and praise of God.
--Philippians 1:10-11

In life there will be found certain great fundamentals, like pillars
bearing up the weight of some mighty building....

The wise man will simplify his life by going to the center of it. He
will look well to the foundations and, having done that, he will not
worry about the rest.

Life as we know it in our painfully intricate civilization can be
deadly unless we learn to distinguish the things that matter from
those that do not. It is never the major things that destroy us, but
invariably the multitude of trifling things which are mistakenly
thought to be of major importance. These are so many that, unless we
get out from under them, they will crush us body and soul....

Every believer as well as every minister of Christ must decide
whether he will put his emphasis upon the majors or the minors. He
must decide whether he will stay by the sober truths which
constitute the beating heart of the Scriptures or turn his attention
to those marginal doctrines which always bring division and which,
at their best, could not help us much on our way to the Celestial
City. The Next Chapter After the Last, 11,14.

"Oh God, we are so inundated with distracting things and clamorous
voices. Deliver me today from the trifling things and help me to
spend every minute of the day on 'the things that matter.' Amen."

Then as I was doing my daily reading I came across wonderful nuggets like this:

Psa 16:11
(11) You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.


Psa 19:7-14
(7) The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
(8) the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
(9) the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
(10) More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
(11) Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
(12) Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
(13) Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
(14) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Reading these Psalms makes me wonder how I ever manage to read God's Word without feasting. But I know that it's easy enough to do. I'm so glad that God refocuses me so clearly when I call to Him.

Today is one full of potential. I actually woke up before my alarm. I got my run in, though it wasn't spectacular. Amanda and Lily are going to be away for at least 5 hours this afternoon and I can get some serious work done on my paper in that time. Lily and I are going grocery shopping this morning after breakfast. All in all, I'm looking at a great day. I need to prayerfully maintain my focus through it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Another Nail Hit Squarely on the Head

Mark Driscoll posted this great blog post. Some of you may remember when I was all excited about my new Todd Agnew CD. This very much reminds me of the lines in the song "My Jesus":

'Cause my Jesus would never be accepted at my church,
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet.
And He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud,
And I think He'd prefer Beale St to the stained glass crowd,
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud,
Wanna be like my Jesus...

I know that there have been many songs written about churches and how to dress. My friend Cliff shared one with me about how a singer heard them singing sweetly at a church, so he thought he'd go in. But then he got looks because of his dress, despite the fact that he recognized some of the women there as being particularly rowdy at his show the night before.

I agree that we should have a certain reverence when it comes to God. The man who provided half my chromosomes is my Dad. The One who gives me life is My Father. I do believe I have a certain reverence toward Him and hold His Word in high esteem. But I'm not going to dress up just to meet some outward standard. I am the church, not the building where we meet. I take good care of my temple and, thanks to my wife, I even clothe it fairly presentably now. I'm going to stick to shorts or jeans for church, I think.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Word of Encouragement

Psa 130:1-8
(1) A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
(2) O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
(3) If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
(4) But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
(5) I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
(6) my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
(7) O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
(8) And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

This pretty much represents my life. Out of the depths I cried out to the LORD. He was attentive to my cries. I know that if He counted all my sins I could not stand against Him, but He forgives me. (WOW!) I do hope in the Word of the LORD. My study Bible had a great note on verse 6 that points out that this indicates certain hope. Watchmen look forward to the morning and they are sure that it will come eventually. I see His sustaining grace and my part in verses 7 and 8.

I've been looking for deeper spiritual "meals" lately. I think that this counts. I'm not sure why it struck me so powerfully today, but I'll take it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Strange Testing

I've gone through my first set of midterms as a MDiv student and came through very well. I got a 97 on my Greek exam and a 118 on my Systematic Theology exam. In case you're wondering, the 118 is out of a possible 100. I think there was a total of about 50 bonus points possible, so somehow I managed to get more than 100 on the exam. I'll probably kick myself for some of the things I missed too. I know I did with Greek because I missed two vocabulary words and I hate missing those. I confused the word for father with amen and I mistakenly translated "blessed" as "beautiful". Ah well. I can't get too upset about a 97.

The strange thing is that Theology exam. It doesn't quite feel like grad school if I can get more than 100 on an exam. Plus, he has the semester set up so that everyone can get 110 points. Basically, our exams are just extra credit next to the two papers and the exams. I'm not sure if I like this or not. But then again, maybe it just shows that I'm keeping up well.

My theology professor did a really cool thing on our first quiz and I've meant to write about it since then. We had a vocabulary test from our reading. I think there were 31 possible points and I got 29 or maybe 27. Before the test he declared one student to be Adam and another to be Moses. After the test we found out what Adam got. He got a 27. The professor then announced that he would give everyone a 27 because of Adam. He could tell that we were squirming about this, so he asked if anyone got a perfect score. One guy did, so that guy became Jesus. We all ended up with perfect scores based on that one guy's perfect score. It was a great object lesson in the gospel.

Today makes me feel like I can do this whole seminary thing. I'm definitely learning lots of stuff. The tests have been very gracious so far. Should they be tougher? I haven't decided yet. I'm glad for my 4.0 that I have after one class and I think I should be able to get an A in each of these if I keep doing what I'm doing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Little Things

The little things seem to make or break the day sometimes. This morning as I came into work I thought I might have one of those rare times when I don't have to break stride to get into the office. Unfortunately, I missed the sweet spot on the card reader and had to go back to scan it again. That wasn't a big deal.

But what was a big deal was when I discovered that the cleaning crew threw my yogurt out, despite my compliance to the instructions for what must be done to ensure this doesn't happen. I spoke to one of our facilities managers about it and he said that they're instructed to throw everything out, whether we have it labeled or not. I suggested that he let everyone know that the stickers on the fridge are meaningless, but he didn't seem too interested in doing that. So I had to spend $2 this morning on breakfast. I wasn't happy about that.

Obvously $2 is not that big of a deal. But it's frustrating when something like that changes. If I came in one morning with a different PC I could deal with that because it's the Bank's property, not mine. But it's annoying when they throw out my yogurt. Now I need a new plan for how I'm going to do breakfast.

Not a good start to the week. I'm glad that my theology test went pretty well. More on that later.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Saving Those Pennies

Our frugality is something of legend at my office. My coworkers laugh about how I agonize over the decision to spend $5 on lunch. Yesterday I ended up spending almost $13 on a very good sushi lunch. It tasted great, but I'm not quite sure if it was worth it. After all, that was over 20% of my monthly allowance in one meal. The good news is that the month is 2/3 over.

Amanda and I were just talking about our heating and cooling bills. Right now is one of the ideal weather times in North Carolina. The past two days the highs got up to around 80, but it's been fairly mild at night. Today it's only supposed to get up to 74 and it might get as low as 41 at night tonight. This is idyllic weather in my book. Therefore, we keep the windows open so that we can enjoy some fresh (albeit mold and fungus ridden) air and not pay for any heating or cooling. Our electric bill was only $75 last month instead of > $100 as it was for most of the intense summer months.

We do this by keeping our thermostat on what many consider ridiculous settings. In the summer I keep it at 78 during the day and 74 at night. In the winter we keep it at 64 during the day and 58 at night. Back in January Amanda and I were blessed to attend the Chris Tomlin concert. It was a particularly cold night for Raleigh where the temperature dipped into the low 20s. We got home around 11:30 and found our babysitters wearing their overcoats in our living room. I asked somewhat sheepishly, "I'm sorry, were you cold?" to which Vince replied, "No, we decided to play dress-up." Kind of funny coming from someone who was 62 at the time.

I think our friends and our guests think that we're nuts for these extremes. But I know that there are payoffs in our heating and cooling bills. As we get ready to pledge financial commitments to K-LOVE Radio and to our church, we see the need to save money wherever we can. It's kind of a step out in faith, but I'm sure that God will provide for us.

Mar 8:36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Our trip up to Pennsylvania went really well. The funeral was a great celebration of a godly man's life. The cemetary was maybe a tenth of a mile from the church, but it involved walking up a hill. One of Amanda's cousins made the point that grandpa would have walked, so we braved the hike and the wind to do it. I'm glad that we did.

I'm having a hard time getting focused on my studies or my work today. Basically I find myself doing just about anything but that. I still have to do more review before my Greek midterm this evening. I have some code to work on and documentation to write. I also have a book to read for work. And here I am posting a blog entry.

I am amazed at our capacity to avoid what we need to do. I watched my wife's family avoid what needed to happen to keep her grandpa alive for some extra time. They detected his prostate cancer fairly early, but wouldn't deal with it. He may have lived a bit longer if they had, but who knows? The point is that it's easy for me to look down on them for avoiding that, but here I am writing a blog entry instead of studying or working.

In other words, I'm no better or worse, just a different kind of avoider.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Eternal Peace

It's been an interesting week. Amanda's grandfather passed away on Monday night/Tuesday morning. We travel up for the funeral tomorrow and will return on Sunday. I'm not really looking forward to the drive, but it will be good to see the family. The nice thing is that we're confident that Earl is with Jesus now and there's nothing to be sad about that. We'll miss him. I think that the whole family will get a little teary on Christmas Eve when they think of his annual rendition of "O Holy Night" sung a cappella. It's a Christmas tradition at the East Smithfield Federated Church.

The fascinating thing this week has been the substory about Natalie and Eric. Eric was originally not going to come to the wedding because he is new with his company and has some training. I wrote him an encouragement to come and support his wife. I don't know if that made a difference, but he's going now. This is a good thing. I wish I had someone give me some pointers 8 years ago when I made such an awful hash of things.

I remember the first time we celebrated Amanda's birthday as a married couple. I really didn't make a very big deal of it and she was very hurt. We've found a middle ground with this now, but it was a tough lesson to learn. The thing I do know is that we need to ask for what we want. Neither one of us reads minds very well.

It should be interesting to see the whole family in "funeral mode". I suspect things are going to be a little crazy at casa de Pierce, but we'll survive. We're talking about taking a road trip to Ithaca on Saturday to kind of get away from it all for a day. I sure hope that we make it as doing nothing there makes for a long day.

I'm trying to look on the bright side of things. I'll have some time to study in the car. I should have some time at the house too. I shouldn't have to miss any classes as a result of this trip, though I may be a little late on Sunday. It will be good to see the family again. I actually feel myself drawing a little closer to Jack and Melaine. I feel more compassion than annoyance these days. This is a good thing too. It's got to be God doing this work.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Teeming with Teamwork

Here in Raleigh we've enjoyed some spectacular weather this week. Every day has been in the low to mid 80s and it gets down to the 50's at night. We've had the house open for days and it's felt pretty good, though a bit warm at night for sleeping. Unfortunately, it's supposed to start raining late tonight and continue through tomorrow.

We have our team picnic planned for this Saturday. However, it's only supposed to be 62 on Saturday, which means it will only be high 50s when the picnic begins at 11:00 AM. We're counting on a big grassy area as the focal point of the fun activities for both grown-ups and kids. We've decided to postpone the picnic because of the weather.

What's funny is that we all seemed just a little too eager to postpone. At least, maybe I was a little too eager. I think it's something that we all thought was a good idea, but maybe we don't have our hearts into it. I'm sure Lily would have fun with it, but I suspect we can do something else that will be fun.

Maybe I'm just projecting, but it's the vibe I get. I suspect that this isn't the first office picnic that was scrapped like this...