Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God."

This article I found over at Between Two Worlds, comes from London's Times Online. Here is a snippet:

"Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good. "

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Gifts for Dad

Often when the kids have asked me what I want for Christmas or for my birthday I have echoed the oft heard response from my father, "Just give me your obedience." Nothing would be more delightful as a gift than for our daughters to be joyfully obedient to our desire to shepherd them toward God. With this in mind I listened to a short podcast from a former professor that I thought was a great remembrance for parents at Christmas.

Here is John Mark Reynold's podcast. It's only 2 minutes so give it a listen.

My daughter the Theologian

This morning Haley and Darcy were writing a little note to stick in their stockings about what they wanted to give to God for Christmas this year (Annie's idea). Darcy said she wanted to give Him a Bible. Haley's note was a bit more insightful. "I want to give you my love, ...which means that I need to obey you," was Haley's response; a simple rehearsal of the words of Jesus, "If you love me, keep my commandments." I do not know that she had Jesu's words in mind when she made the declaration; it is highly unlikely. Instead, in a child-like straight-forward way, she understood that to claim love for God without obedience is no claim at all. 

The New-found Joy of Digiscrapping

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tis the Season

This Christmas, my friend Melissa sent me the "Advent Jesse Tree" to use with the kids this season. It includes 25 devotions and 25
 ornaments that correspond to the devotional theme. The kids love opening a new gift every night and this will be a fun tradition for all the years to come.

We also got to do our first Gingerbread house together (thanks, jennie!). For some reason, blogger takes forever uploading pictures..facebook is fast, so I'll upload more there (C'mon, know you want to requ
est me as a friend...).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Still looking for that perfect Christmas gift?

I have wanted to post this video for a few weeks now, but haven't done it for a few reasons:

1. I don't know how to post a video.
2. Colby is always on the computer. (that's neither true nor a good excuse).
3. I don't want to be misunderstood.

I think giving gifts is fun and I truly appreciate all the gifts I receive every year. At the same time, I think there is a danger of making Christmas the opposite of worshipful. This video does an excellent job heralding a strong message that we need to be reminded of.

If you are looking for a meaningful gift for someone who "has it all" (and/or has a small living space!), try looking here or here. Thanks to my sister-in-law, Jennie, for this website and her alternative gift ideas this year!

Win Some Books!!

Trevin Wax at the Kingdom People blog is doing a nice little book giveaway between now and Christmas. He is giving away his ten favorite books from 2008. You can click on the link on the blogroll and check out the giveaway yourself if you would like. If you win because I pointed the contest out to you, it would only be right that you share the love.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jingle Bell, Jingle, Bell, Jingle Bell, Run

Annie, Brooke, and I headed out early this afternoon to join 1300 others for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis 5K, sponsored in part by the Lancaster Orthopedic Group; the employer of this guy. We had PR's all around; Annie (22:46), Brooke (22:20), Colby (19:03). For three sweet miles you could hear the jingling of the bells as the runners made their way through the course. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Defining Ourselves

I think this billboard may say as much about Starbucks as it does about McDonald's. Sometimes our lives can be the same way. We define ourselves by becoming reactions to the people or challenges in life that bother us the most.

There's a Lion in the Streets!

If you are familiar with the Proverbs you may have recognized the title. The proverb reads:
The sluggard says, "There's a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets." Prov. 22:13
Faith-filled journeys require courage and sanity. After reading this proverb we quickly want to distance ourselves from the sluggard and recognize how foolish it is to use such a lame excuse. We say to the sluggard, "Enough with the excuses, go get a job, do something productive. Be done with squandering your life." It is not totally irrational. I guess there could someday be a lion outside. But we recognize it is so unlikely that to live like it is true would be irrational and non-sensical. 
But I think there are times for all of us when we share in the sluggards way of thinking. There are things that we would like to do or maybe now wish we had done, but we found a convenient excuse because the risk was more than we wanted to take. Maybe there have been times where felt the Spirit of God calling us to come and follow and we found a reason to stay comfortably inside the house. Churches do it often as well. What if we don't have the money? What if our plans fail? What if we encounter unexpected obstacles that we are not prepared for? There is only one cure for this way of thinking. Go outside! Out there you will find that even if your plans fail or you encounter unexpected obstacles it is far more interesting than staying behind. And hey, even if there is a lion, you might just be in for the encounter of your life. In my moments of clarity I absolutely love where God has our family right now;  uncertain, unexpected, dependant, hopeful, expectant. In the words of the great theologian Matt Eachus (pronouncd a-hos), "This is the stuff memories are made of!"

Monday, December 8, 2008

Big Update....

Well, guys, here's the deal: Our Residence Permit application has been denied.
We will be entering an appeal to the decision. The guys who represent us in Iceland think there is a good chance that the appeal will go in our favor and we have sent him some more information. This is a critical time to be praying as the application will be reviewed over the next few weeks.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Icelandic Cultural Tidbit

I found this article and the accompanying video about paganism in Iceland interesting. Here is a quote:

Members of Ásatrúarfélagid, a religious association which honors the old Norse gods, celebrated Iceland’s Sovereignty Day on Monday by honoring the country’s protective spirits, thelandvaettir as described in Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla. 

One website says the pagan organization has 1000 members.

The Time is Near!

I just got off the phone with a representative at the Immigration Office. I was told that a decision letter would be sent out by the end of this week or on Monday! The representative said she could tell me nothing else, like what the decision would be, but she did know that it was happening very shortly. Please pray for the workers at immigration to have favor on us and open the way for the big move. Our friend who will receive the letter for us in Iceland should have it by early next week. I am filled with the excitement and nervousness you get when very big things in your life are beyond your control, you know they are about to be unveiled, and you can only wait. 
I know that some of you are thinking, "What is so exciting about this, I thought it was given that you would get residence permits and visas?" The answer is that although we have no reason to think we would be denied, one can never be sure. The longer you wait the more nervous that you get and so much rides on this one thing. So please pray with us these next few days as we await the decision.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Love a Good Surprise!

I had a most wonderful experience tonight. I have two people to thank for it. First I thank the incomparable Clinty Clint Clifton for inspiring me to create an Amazon Wish List and add the button to my blog. Second, I have to thank Kevin Dowker for being the first person to use my wish list as an opportunity to shower me with the love of Christ during this fine holiday season. 
As the mail came I saw that there was an Amazon box with my name on it. I had forgotten that I even had a wish list and quickly began to wonder what I had ordered and could not remember. I had never really given thought to the idea that the wish list would actually get used, until my sister said, "Well I remember that I saw an Amazon Wish List on your blog." In a moment I was filled with rapturous joy to the extent that my sister began to wish she had been responsible for this great moment, but alas she was not. Kevin, I wish you could have been a fly on the wall to see the excitement a simple Christmas gesture can bring. Thank You and Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Job, A Proverb, and the Shack

Well I thought I would wrap up a few strands of posts all in one shot. I have been reading Proverbs over the past week and came across a witty saying about God's justice that relates very well to some of the posts on Job.

"A just balance and scales are the Lord's, all the weights in the bag are His work." Prov. 16:11

Job: Job learns this lesson through his encounter with God. The big message of Job is that the same ire we turn on his friends for dealing so foolishly with him in his suffering, we should turn on ourselves when we attempt to charge God with injustice in his dealings with us or others. Job's friends are clearly wrong about the "why" of Jobs suffering. Job is clearly wrong to call God into account in the manner which he did. He commits the same error as they did. They did not have the information with which to make a judgment of this sort against Job. Job did not have the information to make a judgment against God. All of his begging for a trial would be a waste of time. He hasn't a bag of weights or scales with which to weigh the case. 

The Shack: I generally think the view of God presented in the Shack is lacking in depth and Biblical support, but there is one chapter that I think I would recommend for reading. It is a chapter where Mack (the main character) is brought in before Lady Wisdom (a personification from Proverbs). When he enters the cavern, it is a courtroom. He thinks that he is about to be judged, but in turn she calls him to be the judge over God and begins to press Him with questions much like God does to Job. The result is a new humility in the character that is part and parcel to his transformation. Again the message comes forth, Mack does not have a scale or weights with which to judge the events of the history of the universe.

There is a deep mystery to the justice of the created world as the purpose of many events remains veiled to us. In this we should find humility and understand our place in God's story, lest we are tempted to exalt ourselves above what we are fitted for. We are all tempted to  question God, His righteousness, His purpose and will. In these moments the writer of Proverbs has a word for us to remember. God is the only one who can weigh the great and the small moments of our vast history. We do not have a scale or the weights for the task.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Best Daddy Ever

While the girls were extolling my virtues for gifting them with a new set of watercolor paints this morning, I took the opportunity to lead them in a, "Daddy is the best!", cheer.
After doing so, I asked the question, "Is there any Daddy better than this Daddy?"
"Do you mean in the whole world?, Haley inquired.
"Well of course, is there any better?" I responded.
Without giving it a thought Haley quickly informed me, "Well...yeah."
"Who is it?", I wondered aloud.
Haley paused for a moment looking a bit uncomfortable, "I don't think I want to tell you..."
After assuring her that I wouldn't be offended I pressed for an answer, "It's OK, you can tell me; I would love to learn from such a wonderful father!"
"Well Ok", Haley began, "It's Mr. Jason [Pelt]."
I gathered my composure, I was...I was..., convinced that she must be right. She has made a simple observation of his superior wisdom and joyful fathering and I must agree with her, thankful to be consider in the same breath. I was not finished with the conversation and had to know, "What is it that you like so much about Mr. Jason?" As though there was no real debating she answered, "Well, it's because he..."

For those of you who know Jason, how would you fill in the rest of this sentence?

The Burke Manor Road Show

The Burke Manor Road Show is coming to Lancaster, PA this weekend. It will be great to spend a couple of days with such great friends. Below is a pictorial highlight from a previous trip together.

Guest Blogging

I have been invited to be be a guest blogger for the prestigious Clint Clifton while he is out of the country. My post will go up on his blog today. Clint is one of the most creative people I know, so hop on over and and read his blog when you get a chance.