Friday, November 6, 2009

He Gave us Hearts

A childhood friend's mom died of cancer last week. She was only 50. I didn't know her well but I still feel an incredible sense of loss. She won't get to watch her daughter and son walk down the aisle on their wedding days; she won't delight in her grandchildren as they grow; and she won't celebrate any more anniversaries with her faithful husband. As a follower of Jesus Christ she is experiencing the consummation of her earthly discipleship in heaven right now, but her family is left in the wake of her influence, trying to make sense of it all.

My friend's mom is one of about 250,00 people who died last Sunday. Her death is a jarring reminder of the pain, disease, hunger, and abuse that ravage the lives of all people. Her death makes me wonder about God's love. He did, after all, decide to create us. Did his master plan for humanity include an inevitable encounter with suffering, destruction, and ultimately death? What kind of God lets the world deteriorate to the point of death?

Perhaps when I stand before God in heaven I will ask him about the problem of pain. But until then, I'm asking myself this question: if you were the author of the story of humanity, how would you have written it differently? When I ask myself this question I realize things have to be the way they are. They have to be this way because God is Love.

The Bible makes it really clear that God didn't create love, nor does he just show love, but he IS Love; love flows from his character and he delights in loving his creation. The thing about Love is it loves to be loved in return, so God gave us hearts with the capacity to give and receive love.

I guess, theoretically, God could have made us without hearts. But he's not the kind of God who wants a bunch of tin men running around who periodically show robotic affection at the whim of their Programmer. To be sure, robots are the key to eliminating world hunger, avoiding devastating wars, and abolishing slavery. But they are also the key to wiping out all of life's vibrancy because love births passion and vitality.

So if I were God and I could choose between a colony of robots and a community of people, I would choose to create people. The human heart's capacity for good is worth the risk that it will choose to do evil. But if I were God and my creation didn't choose to love me I wouldn't stand by and watch them self-destruct; I would do something about the mess human hearts have made.

I am a Christian because God did do something about the mess our human hearts created. He put on skin and spent 33 years living, dying and rising from the dead in the midst of our mess so that he could redeem it. Today he longs to pluck us out of the pit and breathe healing and purpose into our pain. He offers us a second chance, new life, and an eternity free from pain and sorrow. His hands are extended, their scars crying out for our love. How will our hearts respond?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Evil, Human Flourishing, Internal Fizzing, and the Existence of God

There are lots of ways to try to explain away God. The problem is, once you explain away God you also have to explain away any standard of right and wrong. Morality is meaningless in a godless world.

Evidence for a standard of morality is everywhere: we see it in every culture, age group, and time in history. Even some of the most staunch moral relativists cannot deny the presence of a standard of morality--they openly criticize the evil we see in the sex trade, holocaust, slavery, child abuse, domestic violence and genocide that wreak havoc on our world.

The presence of this evil points to the existence of good; without good "evil" is a meaningless concept, just like the term "dark" only makes sense because we have experienced something we call "light". Now, if "good" and "evil" are meaningful ideas in our world then we must ask the question, who determines what is good and what is evil?

Obviously we can't attribute this standard of morality to past presidents, kings, or dictators who somehow convinced the entire world to jump on their moral bandwagon. Some people argue that morality has evolved over time to promote human flourishing. But one has to wonder, if the origin of morality is a desire for human flourishing, from where does our concept of human flourishing originate? Not only that, how do we explain values like justice, love, diligence and responsibility that transcend time and culture?

Others appeal to science to rationalize our knowledge of good and evil. The strict materialist tries to explain away moral convictions as the movement of particles or chemical reactions in the brain. With this explanation our moral sentiments and convictions are no more meaningful than the convictions a fizzy cup of vinegar and baking soda might have. Hence, the materialist reduces humans to nothing more than bodies full of internal "fizzing".

The problem with the scientist's explanation is it ultimately explains away “true” and “false” statements. Thus, the scientist explains away his own explanation, for even his explanation of morality must be nothing more than the movement of particles or the "fizzing" of chemicals in his brain.

That leaves us with the presence of widely recognized evil which points to good, and nothing to explain our understanding of good and evil--except God.

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is the Bible Historically Reliable?

The Bible is an irrelevant collection of religious propaganda, full of so many errors and deviations from the original text it can't be trusted.

Sound familiar? If you haven't thought it, you've probably heard it. The Bible has been under the scrutiny of laymen, scholars, the religious and irreligious for hundreds of years, and for good reason. It is chuck-full of history, has always been central to Christianity, and makes such bold and penetrating claims that some people hate it, some people swear by it, and some people are radically changed by it. There's got to be something to this book.

As a Christian I believe that you don't have to be a scholar or theologian to be affected by the Bible's message. I've seen firsthand that the Word of God is "living and penetrates even to diving soul and spirit" (Hebrews 4:12). Its message is powerful enough to invade any man's heart, and its truth can be known without the help of scholarship. But scholarship is still important, and the skeptic's objections to the Bible are valid, so let's briefly investigate the evidence for the historical reliability of scripture.

First let's take a look at the quantity and consistency of the biblical manuscript copies we have today:

We have over 5,600 Greek New Testament manuscripts, 10,000 Latin Vulgates (these are Latin translations of the Greek manuscripts) and at least 9,300 other manuscripts, totaling over 24,000 New Testament manuscripts! On top of that, Jews possess ancient Old Testament manuscripts called the Hebrew Massoretic texts that date back at least 1,000 years, and we have the Dead Sea Scrolls which contain portions of the Hebrew Old Testament and date back to the second century before Christ.

That's more source material than scholars have for any other work of antiquity! There are only 643 manuscripts for the work the Iliad, and only 49 manuscripts of Aristotle'sPoetics, and yet they are both considered authoritative and accurate texts among scholars. It only makes sense then, that scholars have evaluated the tens of thousands of biblical manuscripts and confirmed the historical authenticity (also called "historicity") of the Old and New Testaments we have today. In fact, we can use these manuscripts to reconstruct 97-99% of the New Testament we have today!

Usually at this point in a discussion about the historicity of the Bible someone brings up the hundreds of thousands of variants between biblical manuscripts. A variant is a difference in wording between texts, and anytime you have a lot of manuscripts there is an increase in variants. There are a lot of variants between biblical manuscripts, but they don't undermine the reliability of the Bible. Let me break down the different types of variants:
  • 75% are spelling differences.
  • The use of synonyms across manuscripts accounts for a large chunk of the variants (For example, using "Lord" and "He" interchangeably).
  • Only about 1% of the variants actually affects the meaning of the text.
We can further examine the credibility of the Bible by looking at the proximity of its authors to the events they recorded. Most of the New Testament authors were eyewitnesses to the events they recorded, and all of the New Testament books were written within the first century after Jesus' death and resurrection. This means that other eyewitnesses of the New Testament accounts were around when the manuscripts began circulating, including hostile eyewitnesses who were enemies of Christianity. It would have been really risky for the New Testament authors to begin circulating lies and distortions with so many other eyewitnesses hanging around!

Not only were the Gospel writers held accountable by eyewitnesses, but they recorded events that cast themselves into a rather unfavorable light--sometimes these guys were a bunch of arrogant, immature, faithless fools! If the Gospel authors were just making up religious propaganda, you would expect them to depict themselves in a more complimentary way.

If you're interesting in finding out more about the historicity of scripture, you may want to investigate the ways in which outside sources like Josephus, Papias the bishop of Hierapolos, and Irenaeus, the student of John’s disciple Polycarp confirm the New Testament accounts.

I think further study will only increase your confidence in the reliability and autheticity of scripture. And as the Bible's reliability unfolds, you may want to consider if, perhaps, Jesus Christ is really who he claimed to be.

More on that later!

I got my facts from Evidence That Demands a Verdict and More Than a Carpenter,both by Josh McDowell; and Facing the Muslim Challenge, by John Gilchrist.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is Allah Enough?

The trinity is an impossible thing to explain. There is the egg analogy (shell, white, and yolk=three substances in one egg) and the water analogy (water, steam, ice= same substance) that take a stab at making the trinity easier to understand, but they miss the mark.

I have to admit, I've used these crude analogies in my Bible lessons to third graders before, but I usually qualify them, explaining that regardless of how hard we try, we can't wrap our minds around the trinity. Then I try to emphasize how marvelous it is that the depths of our God are so vast the human mind cannot search them, and although we cannot comprehend all of God's nature, we can know him and be assured of his great love for us. That's what makes Christianity different from any other religion.

Muslims believe in the one-dimensional god, Allah. They praise his self-sufficiency, and worship him for his love, compassion and mercy. They exalt Allah's oneness over the three-dimensional nature of the God of the Bible, claiming that Christians are guilty of shirk, the sin of worshipping more than one god.

Allah's one-dimensional nature is certainly easy to comprehend, but it's got one major problem: it makes it impossible for us to trust in his love.

Love, by its nature, must have an object. I love my sister, my mom loves my dad, my students love recess, my best friend loves to sing--love always has an object. Without something to love, there is no love. So, imagine Allah (or any one-dimensional god for that matter) before the creation of anything. He is alone in a great black void with no one and nothing to love. Can he have love?

Allah has two options at this point: he can love himself or he can create something to love. If he loves himself, his love is self-serving and counterfeit--imagine a world where everyone's love is self-serving like that! If he creates something to love, then his ability to love is contingent on his creation, diminishing his character and making his love no more enduring or trustworthy than a fickle human's love.

The trinity, on the other hand, perfectly explains God's love: love originates from and is fully expressed within the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--everlasting love flows from God's character.

This perfect love compelled God to put on skin and live among us in order to show us how to love: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16).

This perfect love drove God to give us a helper and life-guide through the Holy Spirit who indwells all Christians. "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26).

The trinity is a daily reminder to me that God will continue to pursue humanity relentlessly because he loves us fiercely. His infinite grandeur didn't stop him from taking on bodily form so that he could live with us, and then die for us; his perfectly selfless love compels him to dwell within and equip all Christians with the riches of his glorious power through the Holy Spirit!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Come, Taste and See!

My Christian apologetics classes at Biola University are in full swing, and the rigorous studying is slowly corroding my writer's block. My mind is swimming with all sorts of Christian apologetics blogging material, so this post will kick off a series of apologetics-themed posts. But first, a few answers to a few common questions.

What in the world are Christian apologetics?

No, I'm not sorry I'm a Christian! The term "apologetics" comes from the Greek word "apologia" which means "a defense or justification". Christian apologetics is the field that offers thoughtful answers to the tough questions people ask about the claims of Christianity.

Why do we even need apologetics? No one ever got argued into the kingdom of heaven.

It's remarkable, really, how often I encounter this objection to apologetics. You would think the New Testament book of Acts doesn't chronicle the successful apologetic work of the Apostle Paul as he travels from synagogue to synagogue, debating the Jews and giving them good reasons to place their faith in Christ! Aside from the Apostle Paul's example however, there are other compelling reasons to add apologetics to our evangelistic tool belt.

Apologists believe that reality is iconoclastic --reality in its clearest, truest form has the power to shatter idols. When we truly understand the reality of God's goodness and love for us, our idols begin to crumble.

The work of the apologist then, is not always confrontational--it is often a shoulder-to-shoulder activity. The Christian apologist steps alongside people and begins to strip away any doubts or misconceptions that distort their vision of the reality of God's love by giving good answers to tough questions. Apologists invite others to, "Come step into my joy! Taste and see that God is good!" It's pretty tough to worship false gods when you've tasted the goodness of the one true God.

My goal as a Christian apologist is to invite others to step into my joy in Christ. I want to give them thoughtful answers to their questions. I want to challenge them to explore the knock-your-socks-off kind of life that Christ offers. And I want to help other Christians do the same. Because I'm convinced that the Truth sets people free.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Truth Serum

An antidote to the poison of moral relativism*

Moral Relativism is...

Self Refuting: As soon as you say there is no absolute truth, you’ve just stated an absolute truth. It's no more sensible than describing a colorless red car, or a married bachelor.

Evil Enabling: Moral relativists can’t even say it’s absolutely wrong to torture babies for fun because relativists have no moral absolutes.

Racist Befriending: The relativists can’t say that it was absolutely wrong for the Nazis to murder the Jews or that American slavery was wrong.

Morally Stagnating: With relativism there is no room for moral improvement because there’s no moral standard to shoot for.

Mind Closing: Relativists declare "We're so open minded" but they are absolutely closed to anyone who believes in moral absolutes.

*Thanks to Clay Jones, Professor of Apologetics at Biola University, for introducing me to his Truth Serum.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Want God

In the spirit of summer relaxation and brain vacations, I'm going to continue to post other people's poetry, for you all to enjoy.  My cousin, Evan Dunn, wrote this poem and performed it at a spoken word poetry slam awhile back.  It's a worthwhile read.

I Want God
By Evan Dunn

Sit down and muse with me before the
fire burns desire
into the pages of my history.
I am unfulfilled,
like an unresolved chord
missing the third strand of rope
caught in the wind,
my fears rescind
my scandalous hope.

No mystery,
that the fire burning desire
into the pages of my history
should find me wanting God,
with passion something fierce and blistery—
blistery, not like the bubbled bumper sticker
on your Subaru Outback,
designed to designate superiority,
but instead screaming insecurity;
not like the glass that makes your mirror;
you so wish it was deformed,
so you pull your collar nearer:
but it’s perfect.
For its imperfection reflects your imperfection perfectly.
And you want more.

Just like before,
wanting God all the more,
for all your failures
that sew shut doors
just like before.

I want a God who
doesn’t disagree,
doesn’t mind my endless apathy,
who will pay my bills,
and bring me coffee—
don’t forget the artificial sweetener
in the drink of my choosing,
oh, and I get free refills,
because God didn’t make me,
I made God,
and when people died
my tears were shed,
not His,
and when little children cried
my veins were bled,
not His.

So I want a God who
feels a certain degree of sympathy
for me,
because I know what it’s like
to lose love and love lost things,
and I’ve spent so many days waiting
for the fat lady to sing,
and my ears are still straining
to hear that gorgeous note ring
in my ear—
Or maybe she already hit the note,
and I can’t hear,
for surely Deliverance from Death
is deafening,
and now life and I
are on two entirely different levels
like cubes to squares,
or color to the blind,
or free will to an ant—
I want a God who’s kind,
who waits patiently on my shelf
for me to come home
from another night out
with my heart on the roam,
and doesn’t get out of His place,
because, when I struggle,
God doesn’t see my face,
or hear my prayers—
I think He’s more like Cuban cigars,
or lofty airs,
always expensive,
hard to find,
and a tad removed,
a bit unkind.

I want God to be big,
and thoroughly involved,
to make sense of this viscous mess
into which we’ve evolved.
He’s gotta be there when I’m down,
and force me up the ladder
to the smile from my frown.
He must be with me!

…in my distress,
when hope is scarce
and I don’t dare
step lightly,
or my heart will tear a chasm in my chest,
…in my brokenness
when I screw up
and hurt my friends,
and this time
the fissure is born in their bones,
not mine,
…in my proclivity to hate
and at their behest
I would recount each sin
one by one
just to show I want to be done,
God must be with me!
…in my dishonor
when I’m ashamed
was that a mistake?
an honest mistake?
…in my loneliness
because honestly I didn’t make
it on purpose,
and honestly I can’t fake
…in my fear
though it’s practice
has proved natural
…in my loss
and common,
I am uncommonly common,
and especially not special
…in my gain, and benefit
in that I have tasted
heaven and hell,
…in my cost
though both fractionally…

I want a God who understands,
but when it comes to obedience
who stands
with the liberally laissez-faire
who’s always there,
but never too close,
who conveniently invades my personal bubble,
my blistered existence,
only when it won’t cause trouble,
who will show my blind eyes color,
and reveal my third dimension,
who will approach me without façade,
without pretention,
but who will not ask me to give up myself for Him,
unless He’s done the same.
I want to be rapturously wrapped within His arms,
but only sometimes…
I want a God who’s only love and never intrusion,
who’s only clarity,
never confusion,
but I haven’t noticed
that God doesn’t come
when I don’t want Him,
so if I really want Him,
maybe I should come to Him,
or come where I see Him.

God doesn’t show
when I do things that I know
I shouldn’t.
I often walk a mile blindly, anxiously shifting,
and at the end I wonder,
“Where were you God,
why weren’t you lifting
my soul?”
But was I looking?

I want Him when life is tough,
but I mistakenly only call on Him to soothe
my trembling hands
when they shouldn’t be trembling.
Perhaps He’s like a diamond in the rough,
but I only look when life is smooth.

Father, we are fractal, fractured, fractions of ourselves,
forgive us for condemning you,
and you would forgive us, deliver us,
from Hell,
and… well…
we don’t deserve it…
You made heaven,
and for those you choose,
but still I’m caught by the noose
that says I get what I want,
when I want,
how I want,
the way I want it—
the God I want
is sympathetic, apathetic,
powerful, weak,
one moment I have to run,
the next, deny,
and the next, seek;
I don’t think I can make up my mind,
‘cuz He’s all-perceiving, and blind,
too bold for me,
and too quiet to fix me;
Say something!
Have you said something?
I want God—

But I must recognize
the fine line that lies
between the God I want,
and the God He is.

Especially since
sometimes I want things
that I should not want,
and more often than not,
I haunt myself with me.

He invaded,
and retook
what was rightly His in us.
We are His.
He is power, He is love.
He is bold enough to break through our boring barriers,
and often comes in quiet storms,
raging rests that overtake our souls
with wonder, and with awe,
He is all—
And in this mirror,
Him showing me who I am,
He pulls my collar nearer—
There are no blisters!
No imperfections;
They’re gone!
And I hear the song-like note over my shoulder,
in my ear, which once was deaf,
in my head, my mind is made up,
singing, powerfully still, simple words:
“I have made you perfect.”
That is what salvation sounds like.

It is not as I described, is it?
I did not have to bargain with God—
He bargained for me…
With himself.
I did not have to argue with God—
He argued for me…
With himself.
I did not have to hide,
not even confine Him to a shelf.
Though I deserve to be on His bookcase,
He instead holds me before His very eyes—
I can see His face.

Thus sings grace,
our seldom-sold solace,
that trains our trifling hearts
to dream,
to dream;
that teaches our troubled souls
to hope,
to hope;
to know eternity within
as eternity with Him.
Muse on the mystery,
that He takes the blistery,
and makes it level,
so the horizon no longer carries on
the night,
and instead
the dawn.

The fire burning desire
into the pages of my history
has crisped my blistered existence
into ashes,
the Phoenix God of Resurrection,
Jesus Christ,
blows gently on my fibrous ruins,
… and life…

Monday, July 13, 2009


My little brother's friend is a poet, and a good one at that. I enjoyed his most recent poem, and I thought you might too. There's more where this came from!


A flame fell over the horizon,
Followed by livid lilac smiles
And the sun's salmon-shaded shadows.

A new king's coming.
The blue above bows,
bending to a darker hue.

Creatures concede his supremecy,
Closing their eyes
In reverence to his reign.

Lowered heads lie on sunset beds
And cool air claims the atmosphere.

This is the Night.
A diamond-crested crown on his brow
And Moon-jeweled septor across his lap.

He sits upon his throne an emperor,
Submitting only to God and a sunlit sky.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

She's Got a Mind of Her Own

My brain went missing a few weeks ago. I've been a little worried, but fortunately she just sent me an email informing me she is taking a lengthy vacation in the tropics. I guess my blogging will be light until she returns!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some Exciting News!

Just wanted to let you all in on something pretty rad! Fashion designer Christopher Kane recently created a cutting edge clothing line... 

...and I was his inspiration!  

Monday, June 8, 2009

Today Made Me Smile

First thing this morning little Freddy walked up to me with little pieces of aluminum foil wrapped in his hair.  When I asked him what in the world was on his head he replied,  "It's an ancesory, Miss Jackson. That means it makes my hair look good."

A bit later one Virginia opened our morning with prayer:
"Dear Lord,
Please help us to have a good week and to have a fun summer. And if anyone is getting a cat or dog this summer, please help them to think of a cute name."

Mid-morning my students worked diligently on group projects, one of which was a creative skit.  The students performing the skit made their own sets and props.  Two of the boys wore delicate angel wings crafted from white copy paper.  The boys forgot they were wearing wings long after they had performed the skit, so I enjoyed watching their small white wings shiver and flap whenever they moved to and fro the rest of the day.  At one point, little Josh was on his hands and knees picking trash off the floor when I noticed cues for another actor in his skit written on his left wing:

Vicky slaps Pablo
Then she goes to the mall

Who knew angel wings were so useful? :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sometimes it's Nice to Take a Day Trip

The harder I try to keep my eyes open, the rawer they feel. There's a buzzing sensation in my lymph nodes, and they ache. Oh how they ache. My head feels too big for my neck. Like a bowling ball on a toothpick. I wish I could rest my heavy bowling ball head on my cluttered desk for a few minutes.

I'm staring out the window now, watching the moody clouds pass by quickly. Too quickly. I wish they'd just stop and hover for awhile, enjoying the raucous shouts of kids hanging from the jungle gym on our playground. I think they might like basking in Mr. Sun's warm rays and drinking in the musky scent of the earth they drenched last night. But they blow by, content to head eastward, unaware of all they're missing. Maybe their ignorance is bliss.

I think I will travel eastward with the clouds today. I'll ride away on the silvery cloud in the upper left pane of my window. She looks light and carefree. Perhaps she will whisk me off to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and I can watch her water the purple asters and the Giant Sequoia trees. Perched on my silvery chariot, I will throw pebbles into Lake Tahoe and watch the ripples surge outwards and lick the sandy shores. When shadows darken the mountaintops and the sun begins to set, my silvery cloud will swallow the dusky light and transform into a golden schooner. It will sail over the fiery orb dripping below the horizon, off into the night song of the star-spangled sky. As my schooner glides through a sea of stars, I will listen to the galaxies sing their harmonies, and I will roll over onto my back to watch them compose their celestial symphony. And then, I will drift off to sleep.

The next morning I will wake up in my bed, and I will smile as I look forward to my day, when I will listen to the gleeful shouts of children on the playground as the sun shines through the window, and the breeze carries the smell of moist earth through my cracked door.

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009

Dear Diary,
Today I chipped my tooth on a polish dog.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

There's Something About a Good Man

I just watched the movie 3:10 to Yuma for the first time. There's nothing quite like getting swept up in the misfortunes of a loyal, soft-spoken rancher, who avenges the crimes of a pack of mangy outlaws, to remind you that there's something about a good man.

A good man stirs up something in my spirit.

He is willing to work hard for little pay, and refuses to wallow in his humiliating circumstances.

He chooses integrity over monetary gain, and would rather be remembered for his strength of conviction, than his power and affluence.

A good man's love for his family is selfless, and often leads him to stare death in the face, without blinking.

He models for his boys how to sweat hard, get dirty, and feel good about a day's work.

He makes a pair of wranglers look mighty fine.

He will postpone a long day's work to help a hurting stranger.He has a resolute determination to do what's right, even when his decision leads him down a road wrought with sorrow and hardship.

He embodies justice, but shows his enemies mercy.

When I see a good man, he evokes in me a fierce respect for my strong father and a deep love for my selfless mother. The good man makes me want to seek truth and hold fast to compassion. He makes me want to develop strength of character in my children, be a loyal wife to my husband, and always choose integrity over the easy route. He inspires me to be patient when I'm besieged by responsibilities, and to remain calm when tragedy strikes. He makes me want to be innovative, frugal, and content with little. A good man makes me want to skin and gut my own dinner. He stirs in me a longing to see mercy trump justice, and grace transform wicked hearts. He motivates me to work for my keep, pray for my daily bread, and be generous with what I have.

But in the end, the good man doesn't actually help me to do any of these things. And I guess, in the end, his heroic antics get him shot, his son still has a bad cough, his wife still has to put food on the table, and his kids have to learn to be a man without their father. Perhaps, if he happens to do a favor for a wealthy banker before he dies, his wife won't have to wear shabby dresses anymore, and his sons might learn how to read. Who knows, the bad guy's heart might even soften when he sees the tenacious drive of the good man to be good in the face of death. And maybe, just maybe, the bad guy goes to his grave feeling sorry for the lives and families he's destroyed. But he still dies eventually. Just like everyone else the good man knows.

Because there's something about a good man that just isn't enough.

"For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?" Ecclesiastes 6:12

"You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11
"For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard." Romans 3:23

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Six Signs You're Not Getting Enough Sleep

  1. You ask the car wash guy for an unscented air freshener.
  2. You eat chocolate at 45 minute intervals throughout the day to keep your energy level stable.
  3. You call your students "dude" because you can't remember their names.
  4. You confidently explain to someone that the word "opaque" means "see through".
  5. You forget you're teaching a science lesson in the middle of the lesson.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My On-Again, Off-Again Relationship With the Energizer Bunny

I'm pretty sure that last Wednesday the Energizer Bunny visited all of my students in their sleep and and gave their wind-up knobs a few extra twists.

Oh, didn't you know? All kids under the age of 14 have a tiny wind-up knob on the back of their necks. The knobs begin to disappear shortly after the kids hit high school, although boys typically keep their wind-up knobs a little longer than girls. Before high school though, the Energizer Bunny visits the kids nightly, winding their knobs so that they wake up with a plentiful energy store. Sometimes it's a pretty sweet deal; energetic kids are typically so much more eager to learn than adults. One of the downsides however, is that about mid-May the Energizer Bunny becomes ancy waiting for summer to arrive. And as we all know, anciness usually makes Energizer bunnies get a little wind-happy.

Enter: last Thursday.

All day Thursday my kids would have been plastered to the walls, hanging from the ceiling, and walking on their hands if I didn't have control over a little thing we call recess. I spent the bulk of Thursday morning wracking my brain for any trick I could use to keep my 18 little friends well-behaved. It turns out singing, juggling, miming, tap dancing, and a balance beam act are NOT effective energy-reducers.

I'm thinking of treating the Energizer Bunny to a lengthy, all-expense paid vacation to Bora Bora.

Finally, after cutting short a rather chaotic trip to the library, I had my students write sentences. While they were writing sentences I had to dash off to a meeting, leaving an aide to watch the kids. When I returned from my meeting after school, I found this:

And my favorite:

Hmmm, maybe that Energizer Bunny isn't so exasperating after all...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Life's Simple Pleasures

This morning I saw one of my students gesturing excitedly to her friend. “I just can’t wait for Friday, Erica!” I heard her exclaim. Smiling, I thought about all of the exciting things that are going to happen on Friday. Students from all grades get to skip the first part of class to go to a school-sponsored Mother’s Day breakfast with their moms, Friday afternoon is devoted to playing lots of games, and Saturday is just around the corner!

“Why are you so excited, Vicky?” I interjected, looking forward to hearing her enthuse about the day’s events. “Because, Miss Jackson. You promised us you’d wear your new Nike high tops on Friday!”

Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Few Reasons I Love My Life

I wake up to exciting, explosive adventures...

...My family still decorates Easter eggs...

...This guy is moving down here in a few months...

...Little brother #2 just ran a sub-40 second 300 meter hurdles in sub 60 degree weather...

...and I get to benefit from the health-enhancing properties of the kumquats my roommate gathers at twilight.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Everybody's Entitled to Their Own Opinion, But... Don't Even Think About Expressing an Opinion That Opposes Mine"

Perez Hilton, an outspoken gay activist and recent Miss USA judge, is in a tizzy over Miss California's response to his controversial question during the recent Miss USA pageant.

Here's his controversial question and Miss California's answer:

Clearly angered by Miss California's refusal to replace her counterculture convictions with political correctness, Perez uses his blog, "Everybody's Entitled to Their Own Opinion, But..." to defame her response to his question as, "the worst answer in pageant history." His reason?

"She lost, not because she doesn't believe in gay marriage. Miss California lost because she's a dumb @#!$% If I was Miss California with half a brain I would have said, 'Hmm, Perez, that's a very good question. That's a very hot topic in our country right now and I think that that is a question that each state should decide for themselves.'"

Good point, Perez. People who have at least half a brain wouldn't even think about maintaining integrity by sticking to their convictions under loads of pressure on national television. Especially knowing full well that it could cost them a Miss USA title and make them subject to public mockery and ridicule. No, people with at least half a brain would definitely cave to the majority and say what they think their antagonistic gay judge wants them to say. True intelligence is spineless. And thoughtless.

Hilton continued his nonsensical rant by villainizing Miss California for daring to be politically incorrect. "She gave an awful, awful answer that alienated so many people. And Miss California, Miss USA, she doesn't alienate. She unites. She inspires."

Let me get this straight, Perez. You would have Miss California spout a half-hearted, politically correct answer in order to alienate everyone who opposes gay marriage? Because regardless of Miss California's answer, she will alienate somebody. That's what happens when you ask somebody an extremely controversial question on national television. It's the nature of "hot topics". Maybe hot topics just aren't your thing after all, Mr. Hilton.

And what about all of the pro-marriage, pro-family Americans who were inspired by Miss California's decision to use her influence to promote family values? What about the people who were inspired to think more about the political, social, and spiritual ramifications of gay marriage as a result of Miss California's response? And what about all of the young girls who were inspired by Miss California's example of a strong woman with a backbone, who refuses to cave under fire? I think what you mean, Mr. Hilton, is that Miss California didn't inspire people to join your agenda. And since the whole point of Miss USA is to promote the gay agenda, I totally understand your frustration.

Perez concludes his blog with one last dose of verbal vomit, "If Miss California had won, I would have gone up on stage, snatched that tiarra off her head, and run out the door."

Good call Perez. That would have been a heroic step toward uniting and inspiring. It wouldn't have been at all divisive. I think your message would have been quite clear.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Reflection of the Real Thing

On Saturday morning when my mom and I cruised across the Columbia River from Portland into Vancouver, I had the sensation one must get when putting glasses on for the first time, after months of struggling to discern blurry outlines.  As I soaked up the beauty of the silvery river, lined with budding trees and offset by snow-capped mountains, I felt like I had stepped from a world of hazy figures and blurry outlines, into a world of high visual pixilation.  This high definition world was bursting with light and color, and proclaiming God's glory with greater detail and precision than I'm accustomed to.  The vibrant colors pulsated with life, and every bit of creation seemed more real to me than ever before.  It was as if I had been transported from the smog-covered Shadowlands, into the wild mountains of the HeartLand, and every cell in my body was crying out, "I was made for this!!!!"

If C.S. Lewis is right, then we will experience something infinitely greater when we get to heaven.  I like to think when we pass through those pearly gates, it will feel like we've just been given a pair of celestial glasses, with pixelation that'll put Sony to shame!  Everything will seem more real, as if all these years we've been living in a dream, enjoying a reflection of the real thing.  Until then, enjoy this reflection of the real thing, Pacific Northwestern style.  I hope it makes you yearn for heaven.  :)

The trees rolled out a red carpet of blossoms, welcoming Spring to our neighborhood. If you look closely, you can see where Spring traipsed across the petals, transforming the dead ground into earth laden with decadent flowers. 

This is the view from my driveway.  Notice the lack of smog on the horizon.  Believe it or not, t's actually difficult to deeply inhale this air.  I'm so used to chewing my air.

Have I ever mentioned that it's a secret dream of mine to live in a tree covered in blossoms?  I'm thinking about moving into this tree.  

I wonder if each blossom is different, like snowflakes.  

Spring just recently waved her wand at this little guy.  

I went on a walk and enjoyed watching the clouds shift from one mood to another.  Even the most mediocre horizons here take my breath away.

A diamond in the rough.

The daffodils are Spring's finest form of efflorescence!  

"So whatever it takes, I will be one who lives in the fresh newness of life of those who are alive from the dead."  Philippians 3:11