Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spring Camping Countdown - Only 2 Weeks!

I can't believe how time has flown by! Two weeks from this moment, I'll probably be on my way to our spring camping trip once again. Camping (as those of you who know me realize) is something I do enjoy . I took a look at some of last fall's pictures and picked out a couple fun ones to share today.
Volley ball is almost a constant game while camping. I like this picture because in it you can see the "big kids" and "little kids" playing together. Look at the boy behind Ben - he's ready for that ball if it comes to him! Of course it's rare if a ball gets past Ben :)

This is another fun picture since it's girls (not the guys) who are collecting the daddy long legs. And they're having a great time with them!

Fun with family whether it's eating, hiking or hanging around on trees is something that always goes with camping.
Camping meals can be easy and still tasty. Our family prefers to play and spend a minimal amount of time cooking. Somehow we still end up eating well - doesn't food just taste better camping? Others take time to do some time-intensive meals which are also great tasting. Dad tends to be one of the ones that everyone knows is usually willing and able to help others finish up the left overs.
Each group is a little different. Last fall's group was large - over 100 people (not all in the picture) came last spring. It's hard to know how many we'll have this year. Many families are already making plans to come. I've given out invitations at church and work. I can't wait!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Why Would People Put Themselves in Danger?

Here's an excerpt from an article written by Michelle Cantrell (click here to read the whole thing), a missionary to South Africa:
"I could faithfully serve Christ and the gospel in another country. But I wouldn't expect to reap the same amount of fruit as in a desperate place like Africa: “God chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him.” (James 2:5). People here see their need for the Great Physician. People are suffering. We have the cure that they are asking for. The gospel (a biblical worldview) is the ultimate cure for AIDS and poverty and crime. In more western countries, people are deceptively self-sufficient and hardened to the gospel. Why not stay where the harvest is ripe and the workers are few?"

Many people are concerned about their children, and she answers that too:
"But what about our children? Isn’t their safety and future success more important than our fruitfulness or fulfillment? Yes, our children are our first and foremost disciples. Their safety is our responsibility. But their souls are our biggest concern. Do we want to teach them to run away from trouble or to run to the battle? Do we want to teach them that life is all about how much stuff you can accumulate and how comfortable you can be, or that life is about serving others, building Christ’s church, and giving up your life to find it? “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? (Mk 8:34-36).

I want my children to follow the examples of people like Jim Elliot who said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” As I think of protecting my children, I need to remember that there are other dangers beside physical ones. I would rather that they lose their lives than their souls. As they follow God and seek first His kingdom, He will provide for their needs (Matt. 6:33, Mark 10:29-31, Phil. 4:19). If they have a strong Christian character and work ethic they will not usually have trouble providing for their family wherever they live (Proverbs 10:4). I choose to stay because I don’t want to rob myself or my children of crowns that they can lay at the feet of our risen Lord."
The article ends with a challenge: "Where are you called to die?"

Reading this article causes me to again look at my life and consider what my priorities are. I want to follow God wholeheartedly. What has he called me to do? I don't think it's life as a missionary right now. It seems more to be a faithful engineer who does drawings and paperwork and other duties as needed. But, will I remain open to His call? Am I doing all the He has for me here? Am I willing to put myself in danger for Christ? These are questions that I am pondering today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I walked right into one today!

My coworker was messing with me this morning by telling another guy how he should watch out for me since I can get so angry and upset at people. He told the guy that the way to know if I was mad was to watch if I got up and walked around our building. I agreed that was true. He then told the guy that’s why you could find me out walking first thing every morning! I just had to laugh!

I do walk or run in the mornings, but it’s not because I’m mad at the world. I like to think that I am a very calm and typically easy going person. It’s pretty hard to get me emotionally upset at someone or something. But there was one time in the 5 ½ years that I’ve worked here that I got upset at a guy who wouldn’t stop talking. He was unwilling to listen to what I said and just kept going on and on about whatever it was he thought I should do. Finally I just got up, left my office and walked outside. I took a short walk around our plant. By the time I got back I think he had gone back to his office. The walk really did help - so I would definitely recommend it if you are frustrated while talking with someone!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tornado Today in Prattville

We were very blessed as the Church escaped with only minor damage. The sign was destroyed, but that seemed to be the only major problem. As you can see, the neighborhoods and busineses accross the street and down the road had major damage. A few minutes before 3pm, the power went out in the church. Then we saw debris swirling in the air and Pastor Tony told us to run inside. We went inside to one of the classrooms and heard the strong winds. Soon the winds stopped and we went outside to see that the basketball goal had been blown across the parking lot and into the church sign. Later on, we walked down the street to see the terrible damage to the neighborhoods and businesses. Power is still out and a curfew is in effect right now. We thank God for how he spared us. There are currently no reports of fatalities!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

God's Memory is Much Better than a Camera's!

When God forgives our sins, the Bible says that He does not remember our sins any more:

Jeremiah 31:34
No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the LORD.
"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."

Isaiah 43: 25
"I, even I, am he who blots out
your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.

And here's my favorite verse about how God doesn't hold our sins against us:

Psalm 103:12
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

You may ask why doe I bring these verses up today? Well, last night I accidentally deleted some pictures off my camera. These were not just pictures I took for fun, but ones that I took for church of each person from my church who is going to Peru this summer. Needless to say, I was not happy that I had deleted these pictures. They can be taken again, but that would involve tracking down 14 people on Sunday and getting their pictures again - not something I wanted to do.

This is not the first time I've had camera card memory problems. My brother Elijah was able to find a program to get into the code and somewhat manually recreate the pictures. I certainly didn't want to do that especially since it's a 512MB card and would take a long time, but I was willing to try. So, I found his instructions that he had so kindly blogged and tried to follow them. Unfortunately I found that I couldn't figure out how to get the computer to recognize my camera as a network drive and so finally decided to buy a card reader.

Well, today after purchasing the card reader, I searched for other freeware that might be a little easier to use. After trying about 5 programs that were either free or appeared to be at first, I finally found an awesome free program called ZAR (Zero Assumption Recovery)! I highly recommend it!

At first it hung up my computer, but I found a note that the following should be done for it to run faster: Start ZAR, on the first screen pick "Advanced configuration". Under "Image recovery" set "End-of-file detection" to "None - leave as is". Under "Common filesystem analysis" set "Cluster ... detection threshold" to 100%.)

With only a little setup, it automatically recovered 468 pictures taken over a period of the last 4 years! When you delete something on a memory card, it's not really ever gone (until it's written over again I guess).

So here's where the loose object lesson comes in for me. I pressed delete on the camera, and the pictures appeared to be deleted (or forgotten). However, these same pictures can be remembered if the right program is used. When God forgives our sins, he will never use them against us again. It's not as if we can do something that will cause God to run a file recover on us. He will never use those sins to condemn us after having forgiven us of our sins. Now, since God is all-knowing, I don't think he forgets our sins in the same way we might forget a phone number or a person's name. The NIV uses the phrase to "remember no more" and "remove transgressions." It sounds like God choses not to recall our sins or to think about them when he sees us.

So though the parallel is somewhat there - neither God nor the memory card really forgets - the reality is that the memory card can be tricked into revealing what was deleted, but God choses to not remember our sins! What a wonderful God we serve!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Church Website!

I've had a great Sunday afternoon today adding more information to my church's website Take a look at the site again if it has been awhile since you've seen it. Pastor Tony had me add Pauline Theology Sunday school lessons, a long study on tithing and some other information. I enjoyed sharing my excitement with Pastor Tony about the website possibilities through showing him the hits that come throughout the world to the site. He's talking about the amazing possibilites that exist to get God's truth out through the web. I'm so thankful that I am able to make some of this possible. I'm also very thankful that my brother Elijah was willing and able to get us started and teach me all I know!

P.S. Link is now working! How can it be that I can work on a website and yet can't type the name of it? ! Goes to show you that I have definitely not yet reached perfection!

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Who do you say that you are? When you're introduced or introducing someone, don't you start with externals such as work, family or the location you live? A person's identity is wrapped up in their hobbies, politics and much more. What defines you?

What matters most to you? What do you spend your time reading? Who do you find yourself listening to? What do you spend the majority of your time doing?

How is your self-esteem or self-confidence built up? How often do you let what others say about you shape how you see yourself?

Do you have a moral compass? Do you believe morals exist? If you do think that there are some things that are good and others that are bad, where did a common morality come from? How did humans get a sense of right and wrong?

Many people object to the possibility of God's existence because there is evil or suffering in the world. Often they have suffered in extreme ways and are sure that a good God would not allow things like that to happen. They decide that since evil exists, then God can't exist.

However, read what Ravi Zachararias states in the book I'm reading Jesus Among Other Gods on page 112.

"But here, Christianity provides a counterchallenge to remind them that they have not escaped the probelm of contradiction. If evil exists, then one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendently true at all times regardless of whether I believe it or not. "

Ravi goes on to say that those who say God doesn't exists should consider how that is possible if good and evil exist. Some may say, Why can't evolution give us a moral sense? Why do we need God? So they try to argue that you don't need something to make something happen (the basis of evolution) and say that the universe just exists without a designer. So in the same way, they will say that we don't really need a moral law or a moral source and say why can't morality just be a practical reality? So, the same people who say that they want a cause for suffering and therefore God can't exists or He wouldn't allow suffering, say that they don't believe a cause for every effect - some things just exists.

"This attempt to deny God because of the presence of evil is so fraught with the illogical that one marvels at its acceptance. Not one proponent of evolutionary ethics has explained how an impersonal, amoral first cause through a nonmoral process has produced a moral basis of life, while at the same time denying any objective moral basis for good an evil. Does it not seem odd that of all the permutations and combinations that a random universe might afford we should end up with the notions of the true, the good, and the beautiful? In reality, why call anything good or evil? Why not call it orange or purple? That way we settle it as a different

The truth is that we cannot escape the existential rub by running from a moral law. Objective moral values exist only if God exists. Is it all right, for example to mutilate babies for entertainment? Every reasonable person will say no. We know that objective moral values do exists. Therefore God must exist. . . . The conclusion must be agreed upon that nothing can be intrinsically, prescriptively good unless there also exists a God who has fashioned the universe thus. But that is the very Being skeptics want to deny because of the existence of evil." [page

Other explanations for good and evil exist. Some people say we're just obeying our DNA, others that we just have a virus that makes us think morality exists. If you don't believe in God, what is your explanation? An augment still might arise where someone says that if God really created us, why wouldn't he make us in such a way that we would always do good? The problem is that at that point, we become robots. When left without a choice, duty is all that is left. God has created us so that we can choose to love him and to love each other.

I do believe in the God of the Bible who sent his only son Jesus to earth in order to save us from our sins. All I have to do to be seen as righteous before God is to accept the free gift that he offers to me. There is no set of rules I must obey in order to be accepted. I didn't have to have a perfect life before Jesus accepted me. I am accepted just as I am. It is God who takes a sinner and gives them new desires. God has created you and I and has given us the Bible so that we may know Him. You can know God. God as the creator is the only one who is qualified to give you an identity.

As an engineer, when I design a new product or piece at work, it's my responsibility to give it a name. I made that new part number for a purpose. I design its individual specification. I chose the materials it is to be made from. I decide what kind of heat treating process or plating it will undergo. I never make a part just to have it. It is always made for a reason. That part I made is designed to go into one of our products. Without that part, the product may not work at all. It was made for a reason and so is special. I give the part its name, identity, and I dictate the stresses it will undergo in order to be made as I intended.

God did the same for us. He gives us our identity and uses stresses in our lives to make us who he intends us to be. He has a purpose for each of us. Often we may not see the purpose, but God does. Our identity doesn't come from what we do, but the God who created us. If you want to know who you are, read his word and find out from Him who you are. I posted this a few months ago, but am going to post what follows again as a reminder of who we are in Christ.

I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord(1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price(1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt.5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ(1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil.3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31-34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God(2 Cor.5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God(Rom.8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor.1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God's workmanship(Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil 1: 6)
I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col. 1:14). I have been adopted as God's child(Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Do you know
who you are!?