Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Comes After Terabytes?

Facebook users upload 40 million photos per day...that's about 2000 photos per second. Curious to get a peek at the servers that can host such massive numbers? Click here to see a little Facebook recruiting (or something) video. People love pictures. Why is that?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I just came across this little mission statement that Janie & I wrote up for ourselves regarding the teen bible study group that met in our home back in 2005. I kind of like it.

"It is our desire to see each student grasp their faith, live Biblically guided lives, and serve God with passion. This is accomplished best when students desire God to invade their lives and then enlist the help of their spiritually-minded peers, adults who love them, and parents who direct them."

It kind of makes me want to write up a personal mission statement; you know, not just one that guides a group or an organization, but one that guides your life. What do you think should be included in your life-mission statement?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Holy, Holy, Holy

"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory! And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
And I said: Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!"

Have you ever been caught in a thunder storm? Not your average, every day thunderstorm with a few rumbles, but I mean the big, terrifying, no-delay-between-flash-and-BOOM! variety? The put-your-hands-over-your-ears-and-cower variety. I have. On a mountain, in a tent, at night. Terrifying.

That passage above is from Isaiah 6. It seems to me that the
"Holy, holy, holy" would be a terrifying thing for humans and should not be read in a light-hearted or blase' or bored way. The seraphs that say it are fearsome creatures and their "Holy, holy, holy" should be thought of as the cower-in-your-tent-big-thunderclap-on-the-mountain-at-night-BOOM! Deafening to the human ear. Like a sonic boom in terms of sheer volume.

*BOOM!* Holy! *BOOM!*
Holy! *BOOM!*

And to think: all of this is to put on display the greatness and awesomeness and fearsomeness and power and Holiness of the God who, for instance, could speak into the pre-creation nothing and, Wham! things begin to be!

If this is even a little bit close to what it was like in Isaiah's vision, then his reaction of "woe is me, I am undone!" makes perfect and I would feel the same way.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Corrie Ten Boom

My good friend Nate Winters from Pennsylvania has just been here for a really good but all too quick visit. Among lots of other things, he mentioned that his family has been reading "The Hiding Place" together. Oddly, I have been thinking about Corrie Ten Boom lately too. Nate had no knowledge that I'd been revisiting Corrie Ten Boom, nor I him. I had already gotten this post together before Nate came...just hadn't published it yet. Kind of a cool-ish thing...

Anyway, I'm freshly shocked every time I remember this story she tells about the power of God in forgiveness. During WWII, Corrie had been interned in a German concentration camp because she and her family had helped hide Jews from the Nazis in her home in Holland. Now she was back in Germany to speak a message of grace and salvation and forgiveness...

"It was 1947, and I’d come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth that they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. “When we confess our sins,” I said, “God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ‘NO FISHING ALLOWED.’ ”

The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a cap with skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush— the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were! That place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard— one of the most cruel guards.

Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!” And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course— how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there.” No, he did not remember me. “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,”—again the hand came out—”will you forgive me?”

And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it— I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart.

But forgiveness is not an emotion— I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.” And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust out my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!” For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then. But even then, I realized it was not my love. I had tried, and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit. (Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord (Berkley, 1978), pp. 53-55)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No News Is Good News

Janie is actually feeling pretty well, which is why I haven't posted anything recently! Her energy is better, her appetite has returned (which for her means that she can eat now - but all food still tastes funny to her) and she doesn't feel sick very often. The fevers are gone, the UTI is gone and the nausea is gone. So we're starting to drop back into the routines of life: kids to and from school, Carly's soccer, Daniel's band concerts and the like. Becca and Dan were home for a quick 3-day visit. It was so great to see them again after a month and a half of college.

We'd like to say a big thanks to all of you who prayed for us! September was rough, but our great God carried us through!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Post-Modern Apology Slip

Nabbed this from Tim Challies' blog...he called it a "Post-Modern Apology Slip." Click it to make it bigger.

We laugh because in our hearts we know that apologies are only useful when they are sincere.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In Christ Alone

Got 6 minutes? Settle into your chair and get blessed by this great song by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty.This performance by Adrienne Liesching and Geoff Moore.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Your Best Life...Later!

Just got back from the dentist. Actually, it was the clean-your-teeth lady. Scrape, scrape, scrape. Rinse. Spit. Repeat. I wouldn't mind it so much if she wasn't so rough. Plus, I think I saw a tremor. In her hand. So the lady with a tremor in her hand comes at me with a very small pointy metal tool. I'm glad to come home with both my eyes.

As I lay on the very comfortable dentist chair (I want one for home - to replace the Barcalounger) with this professionally-trained-but-otherwise-total-stranger's hands in my open-but-otherwise-quite-personal-and-private-mouth, I got to thinking. I thought about how great it will be, Some Day, to never experience this *or any* unpleasantness (for which I actually paid $75) or pain again. "Ohhh, heaven!" I thought, "Think of a world where you get to eat all the sweets you want and never have any consequences for ignoring oral hygiene! Ah, that will be the day!"

There is a gigantic flaw in this kind of thinking however. It's this: the point of 'glory land' is not merely that God will grant us freedom from pain, as real as that is. And, the point of heaven is not just that there will be all kinds of things that we like there (for me, massively sugary sweets... of course I can't defend that one biblically, but I can hope...).

Let me be rather serious here.

The Big Deal about heaven, the Point of it all, the one joy-filling, praise-inducing, pick-your-jaw-up-off-the-floor Central Reality of it all will be that Jesus is there. The side benefits of being in His presence will be freedom from pain and sadness and death and fear as well as lots of delights that He has planned for us in a real, tangible world that we call 'heaven.' But the main attraction will be Jesus Christ, risen, glorified and triumphant!

And our souls will have met the fulfillment of their every longing and desire.

We should think about heaven more. It would kindle the fire in our imaginations about how we might enjoy Him more now AND it would fire our imaginations for how we might spread the Good News about as many people as possible can one day experience His Presence!

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" Revelation 5:13

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kina Grannis

This summer as she was getting ready to leave for college for the first time, Becca came across this artist, Kina Grannis. It's a sweet song and it'll always remind me of my Becca...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What I Want For Christmas

Wow, a new Calvin and Hobbes Book! Wait, wait, sit down again and keep reading. It's about Calvin and Hobbes, but it's not by Bill Watterson.

From Justin Taylor's blog:

"If I had to guess, a fair number of Between Two Worlds blog readers out there are fans of Bill Watterson’s comic strip, “Calvin and Hobbes.” (CJ Mahaney has called the complete set a “must read for every pastor”!)

But even if you’re a fan, there are two unusual things that are also true: (1) you don’t have any Calvin & Hobbes movies, mugs, t-shirts, or toys; and (2) you don’t know anything about the creator, Bill Watterson.

Writing in a 10th anniversary book, Watterson wrote about the former:

'When everything fun and magical is turned into something for sale, the strip’s world is diminished.

. . . My strip is about private realities, the magic of imagination, and the specialness of certain friendships. Who would believe in the innocence of a little kid and his tiger if they cashed in on their popularity to sell overpriced knickknacks that nobody needs? Who would trust the honesty of the strip’s observations when the characters are hired out as advertising hucksters?'

Which, if you ask me, is quite refreshing.

The other odd thing is Watterson’s serious reclusivisity [sic]. I’m not even sure that a public photograph of him exists. He does no signings and makes no appearances. It’s as if he wants the artist to complete disappear behind the art.

This is all a set-up for a new book that’s out, where the author (Nevin Martell) decided to track down Watterson and to learn the story behind this magical creation."

You can order it for me here. Amazon drop ships. ;-)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bible Mesh

Interesting new(?) approach to understanding the Bible, Bible Mesh - in Beta testing right now - will help you explore the Bible and Christianity. It also seems to have a kind of online archeological exploration, online discussion groups and even online tests of what you have learned. At least, I think that's what it is...the site seems to be just introductory so far. Click the link above and watch a short preview video.

If you want to be a Beta tester, click here or email Owen Strachan at The deadline is this Monday, October 12!

The Gospel in 3 Minutes

As concise a description of the Gospel message (3 minutes) as you'll ever hear...this is Pastor Mark Driscoll from Seattle.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Enemies of God

Ok, its funny and everything (I'm not a cat person...), but I hope after the chuckle I can make you stop and ponder how great God's love for His children is. That is, who of you would send your only begotten son to die for one such as this? You laugh, but is the comparison really so far fetched? Were we really so very different from this lovely feline?

"For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Romans 5:10

It makes me think about the words to that song I posted a while ago:

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Janie's comment tonight: "This is the first week in a while that I have felt kind of normal..." We thank God for these better weeks. Her little tickling cough persists, but she manages that annoyance pretty well. Though she's not at 100%, she says that she has noticed lately that she feels better when she gets the chemo. Go figure. We're guessing that it's because the anti-nausea drugs are kicking in rather well and the steroids give her energy. Who knows?

We've been to some meetings at Ira Baptist Church this week, presented by Life Action Ministries. What a blessing. A crew of 25 people (ministering to children, youth and adults) has come to little old Ira and is exhorting us to stop holding ourselves back and give 100% to the Lord. Funny (or not so funny) how we can slip into ruts in our relationship with God. I came home tonight hungry for more of Jesus.

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Philippians 3:7-8

So, um, if you read this in time and live in the area, I would like to invite you out to Ira at 6:30 Thursday and then again Saturday morning at 9:00 and Sunday morning at 9:45 and Sunday night at 6:30. Then it's 6:30 each night, the 12th, 13th and 14th. Why stay home eating the crumbs off the floor of NBC, CBS and ABC, when a veritable feast is being served up in Ira?

Oh, and...are you sitting down? They brought musical instruments that are not organs.

Monday, October 5, 2009

"I Thought It Would Make Me Happy."

Mark Dreier, a disgraced financier currently serving 20 years in prison for fraud, on why he hatched a $380 million Ponzi scheme that ran for four years beginning in 2004.

I picked up my Time magazine this week and these words just jumped off the 'Verbatim' page at me.

Happy. Happiness. It's kind of weird if you think about it. What is Happiness anyway? Merely a neurological reaction...merely and chemical wash over our brains when we see or feel stuff we like?

Carly has a report due Wednesday on a part of the Revolutionary War. I thought, "If I'm going to help her with this thing, I'd better read up on my history." So I've been reading middle school level Revolutionary War books lately. The Declaration of Independence looms over this whole period of American history. You will of course remember that it states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The pursuit of Happiness. An "unalienable right." The founding fathers said, in essence, "as humans, we have a right, just by being alive, to go after Happiness. Capital "H." A mega-theme of life.

Webster's says happiness is "having, showing or causing great pleasure or joy." Well, I'm most interested here in the "having" part of that definition here. What is it to have happiness? To have great pleasure or joy. I think sometimes we Christians stink at being Christians because some of us make going after pleasure an antithesis to obeying God. We get especially confused when we mis-read verses like 2 Timothy 3:4 where Paul warned that in the last days men would be "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." Pleasure -or- we have to choose. If we choose pleasure, if we "pursue Happiness," are we forsaking God? Does God hate pleasure? Or is it possible to go after pleasure and still go after God?

Well, I guess that would depend on the pleasure we are going after.

What if, rather than going after all the cheap counterfeit pleasures that the world has to offer, - counterfeits of cars, counterfeits of houses, counterfeits of iphone apps, counterfeits of plasma tv's.... counterfeits of $380 million - the list could be endless - what if we found a pleasure that could truly satisfy us with a lasting satisfaction AND at the same time find a pleasure, a Happiness, that pleases God too? Godly pleasure. Godly contentment. Godly happiness. Is there such a thing? Could there be such a thing?

Well, if you are still reading this, I'm guessing that maybe you are hoping that there really could be such a Happiness. I'm happy to say that there is. There really is.

I know people hate reading stuff written by dead guys from a long time ago, but just indulge me this one time. In the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the very first question is, "What is the chief end of man?" The answer that the student is supposed to give is, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

There you go! What if the greatest pleasure in your life could be to glorify God? And how about this: what if the best way to glorify God could be to enjoy Him forever? (Actually, joy-in-God verses are all throughout scripture. Check these out: Psalm 16:5-11; Psalm 144:15; Luke 2:10; Philippians 4:4 and Revelation 21:3-4.) Are you starting to get an inkling of what this could mean for you? "Enjoy God?" Could that be fun? Or is that an oxymoron.....

John Piper gives this helpful illustration, which I have tweaked here:

Imagine it's Janie's & my anniversary and to surprise Janie, I get a dozen roses and, being the clever guy that I am, go to my own front door and ring the doorbell. She answers the door and with a surprised look sees me and sees the roses and says, "oh, Chris, why did you?" And I reply flatly, "It's my duty." You laugh, knowing that I'm a dead man. Not the response that the beloved wife wants to hear.

So next anniversary I try again: Roses, check. Doorbell, check. The surprised look. "Oh, Chris, why did you?" "Janie, I just had to get you flowers! I love you so go get some fancy clothes on, baby, cuz' I'm takin' you out! Nothing would make me happier tonight than to be with YOU!"

Ca-ching! Yes! High five! Nice job, Chris!

Why the difference in reaction? Why is that a slam dunk when I said that "nothing would make ME happier" than being with her? Doesn't that make me a selfish jerk, to go after my own happiness?

Here's the answer: my being satisfied by Janie ('nothing would make me happier')...glorifies Janie! It makes her look good when I find my happiness in her, right?

And so much more with God. "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Perhaps we could tweak what the writers of the Catechism wrote and say "Man's chief end is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever." Don't you see that if we can experience this shift in our point of view (kind of like Copernicus, who discovered back in the day that the Sun, not the Earth is the center of the Solar System), our concept of how to get happy could change as well. Imagine what life could look like if we could loose our white knuckle grasp of all the junk that the world tells us should mean so much, and stop shoving God to the periphery of our affections and get Him to the Center where He belongs....well, if that God really wants us to be giving us Himself...well, that's life-changing, paradigm-shifting stuff right there.

Maybe this resonates with you. Maybe you are feeling like something inside you is longing for something you've tried the world's version of 'Happy' and have found it lacking.

May I suggest you have a look at John Piper's book, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist or at least read up on Christian Hedonism at the Desiring God website?

Maybe some day I'll blog about how I almost drove off the road as I listened to a sermon about this very thing. It rocked my world and changed my outlook about God, me, and God-and-me forever.

Maybe Marc Dreier will pursue true Happiness (his name is Jesus) as well. I just hope he won't be driving when he does...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Summertime Video

David Davis, Till We Have Faces' drummer has revealed yet another talent. Here is the music video which he edited of their song, Summertime. Taped back in May...but worth the wait. Nice job everyone!!