Friday, December 31, 2010

Thinking about Christ in 2011

As I preached through Philippians the last year and a half, I came to chapter 4, verses 8-9 a few months ago-

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Despite having taught on this passage many times over the years, not to mention translating it from Greek as part of my advanced Greek studies at Moody, I missed a profound application of this text. It struck me that thinking about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, etc. has to refer most vividly to thinking about Christ. There is only one person that fits the description above- the Lord Jesus.

So, as I was coming to the end of Philippians I was praying about what to preach next. This passage basically says that thinking about "these things" will work toward the practicing of the various directions the Apostles gave. Thinking on Christ will help us be obedient. So, as we think about Jesus, we will be compelled to follow His commands and as a result, experience God's peace. This thought process led me to the gospels where the most vivid picture of Jesus is given. I want to study Jesus in 2011. Yes we study Jesus every time we open the text of Scripture, but for 2011 we are going to imagine being in the early first century crowd that witnessed Jesus while He was ministering on earth.

Which gospel? Well, I have already preached through John in my time at Redeemer. I refer to Matthew and Luke constantly (and will get to those as an exposition some day, Lord willing). That leaves Mark. So Mark it is. Probably the oldest gospel account and the swiftest moving.

We are going to think about Christ as we study Him in the gospel of Mark in 2011 at Redeemer. I am putting the finishing touches on sermon #1 right now. May God be honored and His people edified.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Knee Update

Time for knee rehab update:

Here's my knee the night of October 14-

Here's my knee on October 15, after it had been put back in to place the night before. Pretty swollen, ligaments trashed (below).

Here's my knee the day after surgery on November 17 (below). I got a "new" ACL and the outside of my knee ligaments (the "Post lateral Corner") had to be sowed back together. I have a slight tear in my PCL, which was not repaired. I'll have to live with that. It should be OK. My doctor tells me 15-20 NFL lineman out of 100 have slightly torn PCL's. Major point of praise: if the PCL was torn any worse, it would have required a complicated reconstruction and my recovery would have been even worse. Also, my meniscus (cartilage) was undamaged! The radical dislocation actually served to avoid the meniscus getting pressed and damaged. Long term, this is good news.

(below) Here's my knee on November 22, 5 days after surgery when the bandages were removed and changed out. I have six scars total: two long ones, the rest are from the arthroscope.

I was immobile for 4 weeks after surgery. No weight bearing the whole time. On December 11 I was released to start physical therapy. I started immediately and have completed 9 sessions over the past 3 weeks. Here's my leg (below) today on December 30.

There is quite a bit of atrophy in my quads and calf, but it's improving well. I will have some swelling for the next several weeks as I do various exercises and such. It's definitely looking more like an actual knee. It feels sturdy. The big obstacle for me now is to regain range of motion in my knee despite having a lot of scar tissue from the four weeks of immobility. It's slow going at physical therapy and super difficult. I want to avoid a future surgical procedure to shave off scar tissue.

(below)My big "zipper" scar is a bit nicer to look at while maintaining a manly "yes, I did something pretty brutal to myself and therefore am more of a man than you" look.

I really appreciate the prayers many of you have offered for me. It means very much to me. My wife and kids have been absolutely stellar and seriously humbling the way they have served me during this time.

I have a few goals, Lord willing:

1. I would like to ride the Katy Trail with Brian again this late May.
2. I would like to do a triathlon or two this summer.
3. Bonus: Climb a mountain in Colorado this summer (this one might be too much that soon, coming down is actually the hardest on knees- very hard).

Please keep praying for me! Thanks!!

Grill Update

We got our grill!!

As a rite of passage in to manhood, I had my three boys assist me with the purchase and pick up.

Please notice the nasty look the lady in the background is giving us. Could it be she didn't like how the older two tried to stuff the youngest one in the grill before racing about 50 yards toward the check out line? I don't know.

I didn't get to cook on in tonight...but something is getting roasted very soon.

Youth Pastor Shenanigans

Brian, our beloved youth pastor, decides to spend his day off recruiting three innocent RPC youth to carry out an attack on Pastor Nathan's aquarium.

Initially Brian wanted to put a full sized Bass in Nathan's tank, but had to settle for this giant crab instead.

Brian even tries to indict me by suggesting I was an eyewitness to this dastardly deed. For the record, I had nothing to do with this act of desecration. I was probably in my office studying or praying, or something, when this heinous act took place.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I played the Christmas gift thing masterfully this year. When various family members asked me a few months ago what I wanted for Christmas, I told each of them a gift card or cash for a new grill. Such a gift would be the most thoughtful thing they could do for me (and I would love them more for it).

Several faithful family and friends- who now have greater status in my life- came through well over the last few days of gift giving. I compiled almost enough to buy a marked down (out of season) Char Broil, stainless steel, porcelain coated 4-burner grill (pictured above). The grill is regularly $350, I'm scoring it for $200. I'm pun intended.

We have had the same old piece of junk grill since we moved to KC in 1997. I have overhauled the guts of the thing three times and it needs it again. No more I say! I'm picking it up tomorrow and we'll be eating burgers on Thursday night!

There are few relationships more intimate and profound than a man and his grill.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Foster/Adoption challenge worth considering

I just read a post by a pastor, David Platt, who ministers to a 4,000-member church in Alabama.

Check out what he reports-

One day I called up the Department of Human Resources in Shelby County, Alabama, where our church is located, and asked, “How many families would you need in order to take care of all the foster and adoption needs that we have in our county?”

The woman I was talking to laughed.

I said, “No, really, if a miracle were to take place, how many families would be sufficient to cover all the different needs you have?”

She replied, “It would be a miracle if we had 150 more families.”

When I shared this conversation with our church, over 160 families signed up to help with foster care and adoption. We don’t want even one child in our county to be without a loving home. It’s not the way of the American Dream. It doesn’t add to our comfort, prosperity, or ease. But we are discovering the indescribable joy of sacrificial love for others, and along the way we are learning more about the inexpressible wonder of God’s sacrificial love for us.

Redeemer isn't that big of a church...but still, this has me thinking...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Our candlelight service of lessons and carols on Christmas Eve is one of my favorite "special" worship services during the year. Here's a couple pictures taken by Jason Schaitel before (below) the service began and during the candle lighting (above).
Of all the OT verses forecasting the coming of Christ, there is a particular phrase I love which comes at the end of this section in Isaiah 9-

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

It brings great joy to know the zeal of the Lord has accomplished redemption for all those who believe on Christ.

Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve at Redeemer

If you are in the Kansas City area and your church is not meeting for worship tonight, come join us in worshiping Christ this evening at 7pm at Redeemer.

It is a traditional candlelight service of lessons and carols.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church

9333 W. 159th Street

Overland Park, KS

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nuge on the Second Amendment

There are different ways to make a case. Here's Ted Nugent's approach to the Second Amendment-

As an owner of multiple guns, I agree with the right to bear arms and the essence of Ted's argument. I might choose a different way to articulate said support.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Brief Dawn Treader Reaction

I saw Voyage of the Dawn Treader a couple nights ago.

Overall I was underwhelmed. It was OK. Better than Caspian, but not as good as Wardrobe.

Eustace was casted perfectly- both as a boy and a dragon. I found Lucy's infatuation with being as beautiful as Susan to be overdone. Caspian was pretty flat as a character. The movie moved swiftly, to the point of not providing enough background information about several characters and places (Coriakin, to name one character only slightly explained as well as various intriguing islands that are given almost no explanation). The main story line was kept intact, however they failed to include some of Reepicheep's most profound lines as he readied to sail toward Aslan's Country. Reep was better in this movie than the previous one, but only slightly. They didn't shy away from Aslan's clear reference to Christ as he said goodbye to Edmund and Lucy, for which I am grateful.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Piper on the "Bible-oriented" preacher

In a recent post, John Piper compared the "entertainment-oriented" preacher with the "Bible-oriented" preacher:

The Bible-oriented preacher wants the congregation to know that his words, if they have any abiding worth, are in accord with God's words. He wants this to be obvious to them. That is part of his humility and his authority. Therefore, he constantly tries to show the people that his ideas are coming from the Bible. He is hesitant to go too far toward points that are not demonstrable from the Bible.

His stories and illustrations are constrained and reined in by his hesitancy to lead the consciousness of his hearers away from the sense that this message is based on and expressive of what the Bible says. A sense of submission to the Bible and a sense that the Bible alone has words of true and lasting significance for our people mark the Bible-oriented preacher, but not the entertainment-oriented preacher.

People leave the preaching of the Bible-oriented preacher with a sense that the Bible is supremely authoritative and important and wonderfully good news. They feel less entertained than struck at the greatness of God and the weighty power of his word.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Italians are just more exciting...

Here's a vivid display of Italian energy and excitement...

C.S. Lewis was wrong about one thing...

Despite his brilliance, C.S. Lewis was a humble man. A recent post about him brings this feature of his personality to light-

C.S. Lewis was talking to his lawyer one day when the attorney told him he had to decide where his earnings would go after his death.

Lewis, who had already written “The Chronicles of Narnia” book series, told the lawyer he
didn’t need to worry.

After I’ve been dead five years, no one will read anything I’ve written,” Lewis said.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bono challenges the Church

Don't let his lack of precision with Scripture hinder a right sense of conviction that should come upon us as Christians regarding the issue of AIDS (particularly in Africa).

This interview is, at very least, extremely interesting.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nathan Clark George in Concert Sunday Night

Don't miss Nathan Clark George in concert with Mark Stoffel and Ross Sermons this Sunday night at 6pm

9333 W. 159th Street, Overland Park,KS


Performing songs from his newly released Christmas album "Still"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Incredible Design

I found this on another blog. It's absolutely incredible...and another display of God's intelligent design. Watch it to the end, it's worth it.

Ps. 104:24 "How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kansas City says goodbye to Wolff and Conrad

Major League Soccer is a business. Today it was made official that Josh Wolff and Jimmy Conrad, two relatively long time Wizards, were picked up by other teams. Very simply, both were out of contract at the end of the past season and the Sporks (my new favorite name for "Sporting Kansas City") did not renew with either veteran.

Josh Wolff played two stints with the Wizards for a total of 144 games. For most of his time with KC the forward was an efficient scorer and a tireless chaser. During the 2009 season Wolff had a very solid year erasing any doubts that his age (he was 32 at the time) and two ACL surgeries would hinder his production. Unfortunately this past season Wolff hit a wall. He seemed a step slower, a death sentence for a soccer forward. Professional soccer is a cruel world, in the end young legs dethrone older ones. Wolff still performed admirably as a sub, but his $200k plus salary is too much for such a role player. Wolff moves on to DC United for the 2011 season. He finished his time in Kansas City with 144 games played and 43 goals. He has served on the U.S. Men's National team in 52 games (called "caps") scoring 9 goals. He was a member of the 2002 U.S. World Cup team. On a personal note- I met Josh Wolff at a local restaurant a little over a year ago. We had a ten minute conversation about various issues related to the way MLS works and the challenges of being a player with contracts that are so screwy. I found him to be very personable and dedicated. Best wishes to Josh Wolff and his family going forward.

Jimmy Conrad has been the heart and soul of Kansas City soccer since his arrival from the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003. Conrad immediately established himself as one of the premier defenders in MLS and was constantly rumored to be heading to play in one of the higher leagues over seas. He won "Defender of the Year" honors in 2004 and served as the Wizards Captain for three seasons. Like Wolff, Conrad has been a part of the U.S. Men's National team and played in the 2006 World Cup. Jimmy Conrad played 8 seasons and 204 games with the Kansas City Wizards. Jimmy Conrad has been our family's collective favorite. Up till this past year he has been as solid as they come. I would tell my sons- "If you want to see how center back is played, watch Conrad's every move". This past season was a difficult one for Conrad. He just wasn't himself. He made errors totally uncharacteristic of him. I think the problem is more than age. He was never a speedster, just extremely smart and nasty tough. Something happened when Vermes took the helm as coach and Conrad was stripped of the "C" at the beginning of the 2010 campaign. Many of us figured it was Jimmy's last year as a Wizard. I am sure Conrad would admit 2010 was a season to forget, but I would like to offer a simple defense. Since Nick Garcia left three seasons ago, Conrad has been given about a dozen different partners at center back, several of them rookies. It would be very hard for any experienced center back to do well switching partners in the middle back that much. Conrad definitely has a year or two as a starter left in him, but not with Thomas or Besler as his partner. Again, on a personal note, I have met Jimmy Conrad several times and he has even participated in some ridiculous spoof videos for us when we've asked him to be a clown. He's a class guy with a real heart for the community in which he lives. I understand why Conrad was let go, although not as much as I get the Wolff move. I am disappointed our last picture of such a significant player in the KC franchise has to be Jimmy with an awkward half smile on his face being forced to model the new Sporting Kansas City jersey. Why did the Wizards brass make him do that if they knew they weren't going to bring him back? There will always be something that sets wrong with me about that night and the way Conrad looked modeling the new Sporks shirt. Best wishes to Jimmy Conrad and family as the move to California for him to play for Chivas USA.

Owens blames others? No way!

It should be no surprise that Terrell Owens is blaming the coaching staff of his latest team, the Cincinnati Bengals, for his personal failure to live up to the millions paid to him and the teams shortfall on wins. He has a 100% consistent record of said practice playing for San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo, and Cincinnati. That's a lot of teams and coaching staffs to fault for failure in a relatively short period.

It's too bad coaches don't learn something about ubertalented, super destructive players before it's too late- what they will add to your team for a short time is WAY less than the damage they do on a team while their there and even after their gone.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The comeback starts today...

I'm pretty pumped today. My doctor allowed me to put weight on my leg again today after 4 weeks of no weight bearing. My cuts are healed up, the structure of the knee is ready for physical therapy starting tomorrow morning.

I'm ready to go. Praise God!

12 Doctrines of Christmas

Ok, this is super funny...


With the exception of Amillennialism and Credo-baptism, this is a solid song.

Thanks Shane!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Topeka Capital Journal: "Hunter makes his 1-Legged stand"

Right after a post about battling narcissism I'll point you to a story that is in Sunday's Topeka-Capital Journal.

The writer is Marc Murrell and he did an excellent job relaying the story. He contacted me after seeing my post on a bow hunting website where I told the story of my whirlwind 2010 bow hunting season. Click on the link to read:

I love his subtitle: A knee in need of reconstruction won't stand between a hunter and his deer-hunting passion. My wife on the other hand, thinks such a description proves I'm a psycho.

Friday, December 10, 2010

True Confession of a Narcissistically Challenged Pastor

Dear Tony,
God can use a jack ass to accomplish His will. Seriously- He can. Trust me. get over yourself!

Leaders often get blamed too much for things going poorly and praised too much for things going well. As a pastor I get a certain amount of criticism as well as praise- it comes with the calling. I suspect every pastor wrestles with how to handle criticism and praise. An article I just read on a leadership website really challenged my narcissistic tendencies.

When I am thinking straight I know any ministry effectiveness that occurs in our church or school isn't because of me. There is no example in Scripture, apart from Jesus, where a ministry leader is the reason for spiritual fruit. God uses people in leadership roles to do His will, which differs from saying that Moses was the reason Israel was redeemed from the hands of the Egyptians or Joshua was responsible for taking Canaan. Even Paul is clear about the real power behind his ministry efforts- it wasn't his skill, intelligence, or craftiness. Spiritual fruit comes from one source- the Spirit of God by the will of God made possible by the work of the Son of God. God needs no man to build His Kingdom. I am absolutely unnecessary for God to bring glory to Himself. I should get over myself and any notion that our church and school are in anyway "successful" because of me.

Despite knowing that God doesn't need me to give spiritual health and growth to Redeemer or Heritage, my flesh struggles when credit isn't given for all I've supposedly done. It's a pathetic, but an honest revelation of my sinful desire to be recognized and appreciated. Our church ministers in an "upwardly mobile" suburb possessing a culture of people who thrive on the approval of man. My people struggle with this culture as do I. Professional status is a high premium around here. I can see narcissism in others, but am loathe to admit I fit right in all too often. The article I mentioned earlier is written by a pastor that expresses the same thing I find in myself all too often. Pastor J.R. Kerr writes-

It was a silly thing to do, but I couldn't stop myself. During a "get to know you" conversation with a few acquaintances and a man from the church I serve, we were talking about interests, passions, and areas of ministry. I tried to keep the focus on others at the table. But then it happened.

The man from my church made a statement that I interpreted as making light of me. The fuse was lit, and within a few moments I managed to work into the conversation the areas where I was leading and the wide impact of those projects. I subtly reminded everyone what our church had accomplished in the city. I even managed to throw in some attendance figures for good measure. I pushed everyone else out of the conversation's spotlight.

When it was over, I felt like I had binged on junk food. Self-loathing set in: I hate when I do this, and I hate it even more when I do it as a servant of Christ. Why do I keep falling into this temptation?

I can see how God's people struggle with the approval of man and a certain amount of narcissism and I grieve for the lack of peace this brings them. Being honest, I feel it myself. May God help the pastors and people of churches in this place (and the many places like ours) to seek the glory of Christ alone.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

RPC and a Glorious Sunrise

Nathan took these beautiful pictures of Redeemer against a glorious sunrise on Sunday morning.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why do we miss the benefit of praising God during Advent (and beyond)?

Hand it to Linus-he understood the true meaning of Christmas

I'm preaching five sermons during Advent that seek to draw our attention to some of the special callings of the season. These are callings that pertain year round for sure, but Advent and Christmas tend to evoke an openness to thinking about God's work of redemption in light of the hymns, readings, sermons, and gatherings we have. Indeed, for most Christians, Advent is a special time of the year. My sermons are focusing on this special time by suggesting five actions to exercise during Advent and Christmas. Here are the titles:

Advent is a time to Ponder
Advent is a time to Praise
Advent is a time to Party
Advent is a time to Plan
Advent is a time to Proclaim.

Tomorrow, in light of the various passages that show the spontaneous praise the birth of Christ brought. I'll attempt to show how praising God is not only our response to God's works of creation and redemption, but also what we were designed for. We are made to worship God. When we are not worshiping God or are otherwise distracted from giving praise to God, our lives will reflect an unrest and discontentment, at the very least. In short, praising and worshiping God brings Him glory, but it also brings us peace and contentment doing what we are created to do. Praising God is actually a huge benefit to us.

I have been thinking about the reasons we miss the benefit of praising God even during a season when it seems so much is geared toward outward acts of worshipping God. There might be a distraction that is pulling you away from praising God for sending Christ. To assist in praising God, here are a few possible distractions that might be hindering you right now:

A strained or broken relationship is causing unrest and unsettledness that distracts you from focusing on Christ and His gift in coming for you. If it's with your spouse or child, it's almost an all-consuming burden. If it's with a more distant relative, friend, or co-worker, whenever there's a lull in activity, your mind fixates on that damaged relationship.

An uncertain job situation is stressing you out. The economy and sense of widespread societal anxiety is in the forefront of your mind because week to week you’re not sure if you’ll keep your job. You’re stressed to a point of having difficulty thinking of God and what He has done and is doing for you.

A financial burden that consumes you and makes you anxious. A time where money has to be spent for gifts and various appeals for money in the form of offerings or bell ringers makes it tough for you to think of God’s supreme gift when you’re worried about your provisions.

A health issue has you occupied, maybe even scared. Perhaps a medical test looms and your fearful of what it will reveal. Maybe you’re in great pain and discomfort and it’s difficult to concentrate on what I’m saying let alone praise God for sending Christ to save us. Physical discomfort seems to dominate you.

A child is not walking with Christ so it makes it hard for you to think about the depth of God's love that would prompt Him to send Christ for you. You love Jesus and want your kids to love Jesus- the fact that one of them doesn’t trust Christ causes a conflict in your celebration.

Maybe, to be very frank, you're so enthralled with your children and their life and activities, that you don't have time to make a special effort to slow down and ponder all the incarnation of Jesus means. This child worship is ever present throughout the year, but all sorts of added activities during the holidays puts the squeeze on your child centered devotion and you never get to put your eyes on Christ. You're simply too busy watching and catering to junior to praise God for redemption and all his many graces to you. Oh, you're worshiping during Advent alright...just not Jesus.

Something at work or school is sucking the energy out of you. A big project is taking your spare time. A paper is due that demands a huge amount of your energy. You’re gaze is on the project or assignment- on making the grade before the deadline or semester’s end. "I’ll enjoy Christmas when this task or that assignment is done", you might think.

Maybe you’re so busy getting ready to travel, buying gifts, planning activities, going to Christmas parties, all the while maintaining your usual busy schedule, that you don’t have time to contemplate praising God for sending Christ. You’re so busy celebrating "Christmas time", that you don’t have the opportunity to actually experience what the coming of Christ means and provides.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bono: a man of thoughtful action

I am not a huge fan of post 2000 U2 but I am one who appreciates Bono (their lead singer) greatly. The man has been a solid humanitarian for the last decade like no other celebrity.

I have heard he is a Christian, but haven't seen enough said or written by him to be clear on what he believes. What cannot be denied, however, is his compassion for people with AIDS in Africa and his appreciation for what the U.S. has done to help. I'm not endorsing Bono's organization as such, because I just don't know that much about it. Nevertheless I am impressed with this interview. It depicts a thoughtful man of action.

Qatar gets the 2022 World Cup?

How ridiculous.

FIFA (international Soccer governing body) is about as legitimate as the committee that oversees the Olympics (IOC). They follow the money, that's the only explanation for awarding the biggest sporting event on the planet to Qatar. Qatar has less than 2 million people and has virtually no impact on the health and development of international soccer, apart from the money it must have paid to win this bid. Qatar has LOTS of money.

Japan, Korea, Australia, and the United States were the other contenders. While I would have loved for the U.S. to win the bid, I actually thought Australia deserved it most out of this group. It doesn't matter now, Qatar wins.

Please, for my beloved Buffalo...

For years my fellow Buffalonians and I have grieved, suffered, and endured untold psychological torture and social oppression due to our beloved sports teams. The Bills and Sabres have taken us to the brink of glory several times, only to leave us at the altar of shame and despair. To be from Buffalo is to be beat down, skeptical, battle worn, and ragged out. There are many of us who are the dispersed people of Buffalo, living across the country, who long for our home teams to bring the city pride and respect. The chuckles of mocking people when speaking of the Bills and Sabres take their toll on Buffalo's loyal population. How much can one region take? To what limit can the misery of a sports town be pressed before final darkness descends? Oh the pain...the sheer torture of it all, to be from Buffalo and love her so.

Both teams have been in need of new ownership for years.

Perhaps a light shines in a dark place? Is it possible there may be one on the horizon who can take us there? Will the immeasurable suffering of the good people of Western New York be mitigated, even stopped? Can it be that we might see an owner who will actually bring Lord Stanley to the place of ultimate appreciation.

God only knows what is in store for the Buffalo/Niagara Falls region and the well deserving fans of that beautiful, snow laden, blue collar, beef on weck eating, chicken finger sub consuming, bleu cheese drenched wing chowing, Labbatt's guzzling, Tim Horton donut pounding, irrational Democrat voting, place of my birth.

I beg Terry Pegula to buy the Sabres!!!! Please, please, please... Maybe the Bills too?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blaming God for a dropped ball

By now you probably have heard about Buffalo Bills receiver, Steve Johnson blaming God for his dropped pass in overtime this past Sunday. Here's the play:

Johnson was understandably distraught after the game and tweeted the following:


The next day he explained his tweet by saying he was just upset and crying out to God. Fair enough. He's a young, passionate, competitor. Still though, his statement blaming God spread rapidly on various news media outlets and various blogs, especially Christian ones.

Here's my take- yes Steve, God did make you drop that pass.

Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.

Ephesians 1:11 ...we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will...

Daniel 4:35 (in KJV because I like how it sounds) ...And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, `What hast Thou done?'

Now let's all move on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Scalia on the danger of "living Constitution" interpretation

Antonin Scalia captures the problem with considering the Constitution a living document-

"Government by judges is inevitable when the original meaning of legal language in laws and constitutions is not respected."

This attitude, he said, allows “five out of nine hotshot lawyers to run the country.”

“The Constitution says what it says and it doesn’t say anything more.”

“The way to change the Constitution is through amendments approved by the people, not by judges altering the meaning of its words."

Check out the entire post here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Treasuring and Pondering Christ

I am surely not the only preacher to utilize this verse during Advent-

Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

The more I have thought about this comment in the midst of the Luke 2 Christmas story, the more I am amazed. Honestly, who cares about what Mary did regarding these events? I don't mean to sound insensitive, but the events of Advent/Christmas are so much bigger than any one person, even Mary. It seems like a superfluous, unnecessary comment, yet my doctrine of Scripture tells me every sentence in God's Word is significant.

What does it mean to "treasure up" something? Simply put, it means to see something as valuable and to put it is a special, safe place. To treasure something up is like clicking "save" on a document you don't want to lose. What does it mean to "ponder something in your heart"? It means to pull that treasured thing out and examine it closer. It means to mull something, to contemplate the meaning of something, to reflect upon it, meditate concerning it, to consider something deeply.

Mary saw all that led up to the moment of the Shepherds visit as events and promises to be treasured and mulled over carefully. Still though, is this necessary information? Why the short pause in the midst of telling such a cosmically profound story? Fine, Mary treasured and pondered, now lets get back to seeing the great plan of God's redemption unfold. Do we get to hear Joseph's personal take next? How about one of the Shepherds being pumped? Come on already.

You know, as I think about this simple statement in verse 19 it strikes me that God really cares about each of His children personally. Yes He was bringing to pass the fulfillment of a centuries old prophecy. It is true that God was working over the course of millennia to weave events and individuals to the very moment of Christ's birth. Indeed the incarnation of Christ is bigger than any of us personally. The reaction of one individual in the midst of this grand culmination of prophetic shadows really isn't that important, is it? God must think so. Why else would the reaction of Mary be noted for us?

I think this verse is for us to appreciate the very personal component of God's bigger, "macro" plan and work of redemption. We should stand back and be in awe concerning what God has orchestrated and continues to do, but we must also consider it's effect on us. Mary had to be in awe concerning the fulfillment of OT promises in the way God was doing it, but she also just gave birth after a total whirlwind of a year complete with angelic visitors, a virgin birth, and the experience of an incomparable emotional spectrum. Mary did the right thing here- she treasured these valuable events. They were valuable to all mankind, and to her. Mary also pondered them in her heart. She considered the meaning of all she had witnessed and experienced, and mulled them over in her heart, to herself.

What is the effect of this treasuring and pondering? When we're talking about God's plan of redemption and the person and work of Christ, the effect is to make these things all the more valuable to us. What effect would a more regular pondering of Christ's willingness to come as a man to bear our sins have? What effect would a very personal consideration about Christ coming to save me have?

I am left to believe this verse is placed as an example for us about being careful to treasure and ponder Christ. Luke's Holy Spirit-guided insertion of this comment is actually not superfluous at all, in fact, it contributes to why Luke 2 is so profound.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Heidelberg Catechism Rap

You have to hear this. The first ever rap about the Heidelberg Catechism (a historic Reformed confession).

To listen, go here. You'll have to look at the post to see where to click and listen. The lyrics are printed on the blog post from C.J. Mahaney. The artist is Curtis Allen, a.k.a "Voice". As a former rapper myself, I can say this brother is a solid lyricist. Check out his album here.

Great stuff.

HT: Jersey Jeff

Another Surprise Performance

I didn't post the Macy's "Random Act of Culture" where a choir of professionals were hidden amongst shoppers at a mall in Philadelphia and suddenly broke out with Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus". It went viral so quickly through Facebook and email that I figured Reep readers would have seen it already. It was an awesome occurrence to say the least.

Well, here's another one from a couple weeks ago in a food court at a mall somewhere in the U.S. Again, it's pretty neat. It gave me the goosebumps.

My sincere hope regarding these events is for people to actually consider what the song means. It comes from the greatest musical composition in history, based on the very words of Scripture.

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever....

Carl Trueman on how churches go liberal

Carl Trueman has a new series of posts on how evangelical churches go down the road to liberalism. So far he is up to three excellent posts.

His posts are called "How the churches lose the plot"

Every church leader should read these posts.

How churches lose the plot (part 1)

How churches lose the plot (part 2)

How churches lose the plot (part 3)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader coming soon

Less then 2 weeks from my favorite of the Narnia books in movie form-

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is where the warrior mouse, Reepicheep, shines. I hope the producers do a good job with my favorite fictional character and namesake of this blog.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2010 Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving holiday rest. I might even watch a football game tomorrow. This has been a strange few months for my family and I with my knee issues. Here are some things I am thankful for in light of my current situation:

1. A sovereign God- my situation has been ordained by Someone who is wiser than I and knows exactly what I need.

2. A servant wife and family- this situation causes lots of inconvenience for my family. I can't drive for a month. I can't put weight on this leg at all, so my boys have to fetch lots of stuff for me when I'm home. When I'm home, I'm basically stuck in the recliner, etc. etc.

3. Health Insurance- I wasn't quite prepared to meet this year's deductible within a month. That's a bit of a financial strain on us. I think we'll hit it early again next year which will be more money... However, my insurance covers the vast majority of the huge bills I'm racking up. I'd be destitute without it.

4. Dr. Vincent Key- Though I hardly know him, he spent years and lots of money training to fix injuries like mine. I'm thankful for his expertise as a doctor and surgeon.

5. Faithful and capable co-laborers at RPC- Nathan, Brian, and Jon are solid brothers, but this situation has served to make that more obvious to me. The elders are also strong, stable, leaders who have always given me great support and encouragement-especially over the last 6 weeks.

6. An old buck who decided to take the path that led him to walk in front of me (of course, this has to do with #1) just 2 days before my surgery. He lived a good life. Heck, he was breeding a doe shortly before my arrow passed through both his lungs. That's not a bad way to go out, right? Hey, he'll live forever now- on my wall.

7. Some down time- Usually I'm pretty busy the second half of November through December. A mixture of church and school events coupled with getting out to hunt many mornings, makes this time hectic and not very relaxed. This year, I've spent lots of time in my seat reading, studying, emailing, blogging, talking, and thinking. I think it has been good for me and has actually enhanced my teaching a bit.

8. Friends- On one hand I'm tired of talking about my situation, on the other hand I am overwhelmed with the care that has been expressed. All the attention has been humbling. I am blessed with many people who care about me greatly.

9. My Mac laptop- There, I said it. It's been sweet. Way better than a PC.

10. Health- This knee issue is small potatoes in the greater scheme of things. It's a big deal to me right now, but whenever I get down, I think about the reasonable surety that I will get better. So many dear brothers and sisters in Christ suffer from chronic ailments that seem to have no earthly cure. At this point, my situation is temporary. I am more appreciative of the health God gives because of this situation. I also pray more ardently for those who truly suffer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fun with a Decoy

Exactly one week before I killed my buck, Nathan and I were set up in the same place and had a fun encounter with a young 8-point.

I saw the buck moving about 100 yards away from our set up, so I grunt called to him. He came toward us immediately, then saw the decoy. The video begins with him noticing the decoy.

The decoy is set up 25 yards ahead of us. We are on the ground. Notice how he circles around the decoy to confront him head on. He is also posturing with his ears back and fir bristled up to make himself look bigger. What is amazing is how he looks at me several times, with bow in hand, and opts to confront the decoy rather than become nervous about what I was. I drew my bow several times to experiment with how powerful the decoy was. The buck is never more than 20 yards from us in this video, at the closest he got to 10 steps!

While this is a young deer, it can work on old deer also. I killed my buck exactly a week after this episode in the same spot again with the decoy. The buck I killed was a 7.5 year old monarch, however. Fun stuff.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Post-Operation Check-up

So today I went in to have my operation dressing removed and some new, fresh ones put on.

That was fun.

You can see the nasty stitches. Lots of them. Doctor Key says I'm healing well, so I'll trust him. I can't put weight on the leg for about 3 more weeks.

Quite a ride!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

MLS Championship: Dallas VS Colorado (UPDATE: Colorado wins!)

Tonight is the night one team will be crowned the champion of MLS. MLS has a long, grueling schedule of 30 league games over 9 months with many other tournament games interspersed. Additionally many players get called to their national teams during an MLS season. So it comes down to tonights game in Toronto- FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids.

I got to see three Colorado games this summer in Denver, one was actually between these two teams. Next to the Wizards (I'm still not able to say Sporting KC yet), the Rapids are my next favorite team, but I'm not too passionate about them. Connor Casey is one of my favorite forwards and I like Pablo Mastroeni as a defensive center mid. FC Dallas has been pretty much a joke since they joined MLS. Brian Hough, my friend and our illustrious youth pastor, loves FC Dallas. He loves hundreds of teams (which change month to month), but I will admit FC Dallas is a team he has supported from the beginning. This has been a superb year for FC Dallas (especially if you like ties). Needless to say, Brian is pretty pumped. After church the Hough family will come over so we can view this game together. I want the Rapids to win, but I can't bear to see a grown man cry if FC Dallas loses. Wait a minute...yes I can!



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thoughts on Wizards to "Sporting KC"

The president of the KC Wizards ownership group (Ongoal), Rob Heineman, officially announced the change of names for the KC Wizards (See here) that has been rumored for some time. The Kansas City Wizards will now be branded "Sporting KC". The idea of a sports club is a European construct with the clearest example for soccer fans being Sporting Club Portugal. Much like the Dallas Burn changing their name to "FC Dallas", Salt Lake City taking the name "Real Salt Lake", and a Los Angeles based team branding themselves "Chivas USA", Kansas City seems to be taking a cue from foreign soccer influences with this name change.

Rob Heineman announced the name change last night with a tone of friendly defense as he must know most die hards are not happy about the new name. He made several references to his willingness to explain the new name and even walked through the new logo explaining what everything symbolized on the new crest. The crowd was not very responsive regarding the name change and reacted awkwardly when Jimmy Conrad and Omar Bravo came out to model the new jerseys for 2011. Try to find anyone who is excited about the name change outside of Ongoal's payroll. Lots of people know how much I love soccer and the Wizards, so I received no less than 20 emails, texts, tweets, or comments about how dumb the new name sounds. I think many people would have been fine with re-branding, but the name chosen is just so blah.

Changing to Sporting KC seems pointless to me. "The Wizards" isn't the best team name that could be chosen, but it has a history as an original MLS team, a distinctly American flair and an MLS Championship to its credit. The Kansas City Wizards is an American style team name- we include our city name and a mascot that has something to do with our regions image. Who cares what soccer teams in Spain do? What does a bunch of English po-dunk towns uniting to form a team mean to us? "FC"? Who in the U.S. calls soccer football? Americans have a different way of naming our teams, a sensible way in it's own right. Wizard, of course, refers to the classic movie about Kansas and a land called OZ. The original logo had a rainbow in it. "Sporting KC" is not how we name our teams. MLS has progressed nicely over the years establishing it's own identity and style of play. Sure, MLS is not on par with the English, Italian, or Spanish leagues, but it has nothing to be ashamed of. MLS and U.S. soccer is on a good trajectory. Naming U.S. soccer teams in a style reflective of European or Mexican clubs communicates we are not legitimate based on our own soccer merit but have to hearken to these supposed superior soccer countries. Frankly, I think the draw toward European style names might be a kind of bid to be like those sophisticated Europeans instead of us uncultured Yanks. It sure seems like MLS has made an attempt to be as un-American as possible by using European names like KC has now done. MLS has to believe it will make the league more marketable or they wouldn't do it. Seriously, how many Americans know what "sporting club" means? Heineman referred to Sporting KC not only being about soccer but also lacrosse and rugby. Seriously? In Kansas City? Ongoal is way too smart to just be playing a hunch on this. Surely they have solid market research information that indicates a positive long term effect by this name and concept change? The vision of Ongoal seems to include a concept that includes several sports and participants, the soccer team is just one of these components. They are working out a vision, not trying to tick fans off. They firmly believe the name change will contribute to a particular vision they have.

At this point I don't share their vision, I only care about supporting a solid soccer club. I don't care about lacrosse, rugby, or even a strong alliance or promotion of youth leagues. Ongoal will have to work much harder to sell the vision they have, as it's foreign and unclear to most of the people they will need to fill the 19,000 seats being bolted in place right now.

I am convinced that Rob Heineman and Ongoal are the best things that have happened to KC Soccer. They saved the Wizards from moving to a different city when the Hunt family started talking about selling. Rob Heineman and company are responsible for the beautiful new soccer-specific stadium being built up near the Legends. Ongoal's commitment to establishing and strengthening the team is what prompted me to pull the trigger and become a season ticket holder three seasons ago. They signed Claudio Lopez despite having to play in a temporary stadium (Community America Ballpark) that could never hold enough fans to make much of a profit. The players are very accessible and play a good quality of soccer, sometimes very good. MLS soccer in KC has a bright future- no hooligans, a passionate group of die hard supporters (The Cauldron), a growing season ticket holder base, a nice uniform kit, a solid group of young players, and the new stadium.

So why change the name to "Sporting KC"? Listening to Rob Heineman on Wednesday convinces me that he is convinced it is a good change. Ongoal has some kind of vision for how this will be unique, innovative, and of course, successful. Heineman is an incredibly accessible individual who is confident and careful. Again, he has to know most Wizards fans are not keen about this name change, yet he was undaunted throwing the "Big News" party in the P&L district. There wasn't great excitement expressed by the crowd about the name change or the new kits (I felt sorry for Jimmy Conrad and Omar Bravo having to model those drab shirts), but the reaction could have been a lot more hostile. Still, Heineman took the decision and vision of Ongoal right to the fans fully anticipating they will come around to see his vision eventually.

I don't know about the realization of some kind of sporting club culture, but Heineman is right, the fans will come around to it. They will have to. I hate the name. I find it embarrassing, yet, I will renew my season tickets and support the team. I love soccer, MLS, and so do my boys. Changing the name of a team isn't the end of a true fans devotion, but it is annoying and wastes a life line, so to speak.

So, Ongoal has this vision and "Sporting KC" is the name that captures it for them. Ongoal bought and saved the Wizards, they can name the team whatever they want. Period. I really despise the name and the whole need to be European trend in MLS, but Ongoal owns the team, not me. "Sporting KC" inspires absolutely nothing that I can see, but Ongoal sees it differently. Frankly, I feel like Ongoal used the euphoria of a new stadium and player (Omar Bravo) to slip this in on fans. How can we really complain against Ongoal when things look so positive for the organization going forward. Shouldn't KC fans give Ongoal a pass on this?

I think KC Fans should complain about this sorry name for a little while longer, because the name is sorry. KC fans should say it like it is- the jerseys are a step back and the logo, while meaningful to those who took 18 months to design it, is uninspiring and disconnected with KC's soccer history. KC fans should lament the fair amount of local and national mocking the name change has brought. Then, after a time of complaining, pouting, and lamenting- to go no farther than the start of training camp- should lay down the angst and take up the cause for Sporting KC.

This will be my practice heading in to the 2011 season hoping Ongoal spares us of any more such surprises.

We can rebuild him

When I first woke up and looked at my wrapped, braced, and hosed up leg, I thought of the opening to the 70's TV show, "The Six Million Dollar Man" (See it here). In particular the line- "We can rebuild him..."

Anyways, the surgery went well, according to the doctor. My leg is killing me right now. Wow.

Good news though- they did not have to repair my PCL. It is partially torn, but not too bad and it shouldn't hinder future activities. The other good news is my meniscus wasn't damaged- that's the cartilage pad between joints. I'm amazed I had no cartilage damage- praise God!

So, the progress begins...once I get through this stinking pain.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010's go time

So the day is about here, knee reconstruction time tomorrow afternoon.

The diagram above shows the major ligaments in the knee. My MRI showed I have totally ripped my ACL, torn my LCL (a.k.a. "Post Lateral Corner"), torn or ripped apart my PCL, damaged the meniscus (cartilage), and bruised my lower bone. If my PCL is totally detached like my ACL, the doctor will reconstruct. If it's torn, he'll leave it alone. Apparently 60% of NFL lineman have torn PCL's and play with it. I'm not sure if that's encouraging considering the accompanying percentage of knee replacements for these athletes later in life. The recovery/rehab time goes up by two months if my PCL needs a fix. I could have done worse and torn my MCL, so I'm thankful that's intact.

I'm ready to get this thing done and on the way forward instead of in this pathetic hop-along state. God has given me good peace the last 10 days or so. I like my surgeon and his outlook, but I like knowing God gives such individuals knowledge and skill about fixing this kind of stuff. What would I have done 50 years ago? 100 years ago? I would have hobbled until my opposite hip and knee started to give out. What if I had a job where physical labor was required? I'd be in a world of hurt. Praise God I live now and such technology is available.

Also, my wife is awesome, my kids are the best, I serve a great church with some solid brothers, and I killed a good buck yesterday. I can't complain about anything.

Monday, November 15, 2010

2010 Bow Buck

Well, score one for the gimp. With the days ticking down before the end of my bow hunting season (surgery is Wednesday morning), I thought I'd go to one of my favorite spots for rut hunting. It paid off.

I set up my decoy before first light and sat on the edge of a draw facing it with the wind in my face. The draw runs East-West with a smaller draw making a "T" with it. The sit was totally uneventful for most of the morning and it grew warmer by the hour. Warm weather is the worst kind of condition for hunting deer as they just won't move during the day when it's much above 40 degrees. Nevertheless I decided I would sit till noon.

At about 11:50 AM I was readying myself to pick up my gear and make the long trek back to the truck. It's a long trek with a good leg, walking like I am these days takes forever. I no sooner put my bow down than a doe busts up the draw coming right in front of me. She sees my decoy and freaks before crossing my path. She immediately turns and runs up and behind me. I figured something was chasing her, and sure enough, a big old deer was on her trail. If he followed her up I would have no shot. I needed him to see my decoy, get ticked, and keep walking in front of me.

The providence of God smiled upon me.

The buck saw the decoy and started focusing on him, not me. He slowly walked toward the decoy with his hair bristled up to make himself look bigger. His ears laid back and he turned his head to be ready to gore the decoy buck. Just then, when he stepped in to my shooting lane at about 12 steps, I let the arrow fly. It went through both lungs and he busted out the same way the doe went on his final run. I knew he was smoked, but I waited the suggested 30 minutes before taking up the blood trail. The blood trail was no more than 50 yards, and there laid my 2010 buck.

He's a dandy. He's old, probably 5 or 6, maybe older (Update: my taxidermist aged him at 7.5 years!!! That's very old for a free ranging white tail). His antlers are uneven with ten scorable points. He would have had 11, but one was busted off. I don't care much about antler size as I do age. Hunting mature bucks is the ultimate challenge in hunting. This guy is a definite mature buck. He's the biggest buck I have taken with a bow. What a blessing. He's going on my wall for sure.