Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Second Advent Completes the Work Done in the First Advent

We are in what is sometimes called "the now and the not yet."

Christ accomplished so much when he came the first time. Indeed, just before he died, he said, "It is finished." And it was. The cross was the signal, key event that defeated the devil, dealt with sin, liberated creation, created the Church, and opened Heaven.

Because of the cross I am saved from sin, reconciled to God, and delivered from death and the devil. (These are all mine by God's grace and through faith, which appropriates Christ's work.)

But in my experience I still struggle with sin, am sometimes not as close to God as I would like to be, am still subject to decay and will probably die (if Christ doesn't come back first), and the devil still tries to deceive and distract me.

This is the tension of the not and the not yet. When Christ comes back the second time, then all of these things will be fully realized. The work begun at the First Advent will finally be completed at the Second Advent. Or perhaps a more precise way to say it is that the work done at the First Advent will be fully and finally effected at the Second Advent.

In the meantime, I can still cry with Isaiah, "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!" (64:1 NIV)

  • In the meantime, I am now free to serve God and not sin (Rom 6:15ff.), but I still sin from time to time (1 Jn 2:1-2).
  • In the meantime, I enjoy a rich relationship with my Heavenly Father, but it will be far better when I am at his throne (cf. Ps 16:11).
  • In the meantime, the sting of death has been removed (1 Cor 15:55-57), and death does not hold the terror that it once held (Heb 2:14-15), but death still takes people away from me, and I will probably go through it.
  • In the meantime, I can resist the devil and he will flee from me (Jas 4:7), but he is nonetheless still on the prowl for a little while longer (1 Pt 5:18) until he is finally silenced (Rev 20:10).

Praise the Lord that we enjoy the fruits of the First Advent! Praise the Lord that there will be a Second Advent!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

People at My Thanksgiving

My dad and his twin sister, Rita

My cousin Clinton and Callie

Anna and Reagan
(Yes, Anna climbed up there herself.)

Aunt Rita and Don, Clinton, Caty, Oliver
Audrey, Reagan, Callie, Anna

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I planned to sleep in today, but Callie's foot in my back had me up a little after 6:00.

That was fine, though; I had a number of things I wanted to get done. I took some notes on Deut 10. I made my journal entry for yesterday. I sat down at the computer and began to type a Thanksgiving prayer to the Lord. (It's an annual thing.)

As I got started (around 6:45), Caty and Anna came downstairs; both of them had been awake for a while. Caty got started on her homework, and Anna started drawing a picture on newsprint.

When I was done with my prayer, I did an alphabet Thanksgiving list as I had the kids do yesterday. It was fun doing stuff with the girls.

Eventually, Sara and Andrew got up. The last to get up was Callie. At least she got to sleep in in my bed, the very thing I had hoped to do.

I went for a run at 9:00. It was invigorating and tiring at the same time.

Now at 10:20 I'm waiting for the shower. I have over an hour yet before we join the festivities at my parents'. So maybe I'll get a couple things done in addition to the shower and the obligatory shave.

My brother's family will be there, as will my Aunt Rita and her new husband Don and my cousin Clinton. Aunt Rita is my dad's twin sister. (I hope it won't be so hard to tell them apart this year.)

My goals: Give thanks to the Lord throughout the day. Enjoy my family. Eat wisely.

Give thanks to the LORD for he is good; his love endures forever.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For Me, Sermon Preparation Is Struggle

Sermon preparation is struggle. It's other things, but it's definitely struggle.

Choosing the Scripture text is often half the battle. Preaching is a serious matter, a holy matter. Choosing the text (or topic) shouldn't be done lightly. What does the One I represent want me to preach? If I were in a series, it would be easier. But I don't preach much. So I pray and think.

Next, I study the text. Read it closely several times, outline it, take notes on it, note the context, try to discern the thrust of the passage, read it in several translations, read commentaries. Occasionally stop to pray, "What is this passage saying? What do you want me to communicate to your people?" Part of this process includes the realization that the text doesn't exactly say what you thought it said. Overall, I usually find this step to be the most enjoyable.

The next step is to develop a preaching outline, beginning with the proposition and my objective. The proposition is the sermon in a sentence--what is the main point of my sermon? The objective is what I want to accomplish with my sermon--what is it I want the hearers of my sermon to do as a result of hearing my sermon? Developing the preaching outline is also a struggle. I want to make sure I'm accurately representing the text, and I also want to make sure I'm presenting the text in a way that connects with the congregation.

Next, I type up the sermon. This is my least favorite part of sermon prep, but it's important. Yes, I use a manuscript when I preach. I don't read it from the pulpit (though I do read parts of it), but I do preach from the manuscript. Typing up the manuscript forces me to make logical connections between points, and it forces me to develop even the wording in how I want to communicate various points. This usually takes a few hours (5-8?), and it's a time when I often distract myself away from writing it. Some of the hardest parts are developing the introduction, conclusion, and illustrations.

Finally done, I print it up and review it, cleaning up all the errors.

Then I review it 2-3 times (Sat. morning, Sat. evening, Sun. morning) before preaching it.

There are those few occasions when, after typing it up, I completely revamp it. That happened last week. Feeling increasingly dissatisfied with my sermon, I typed up a revamped sermon on the same text Friday night, 9pm-1am, and that's the one I preached.

Sermon prep. is definitely a struggle, but it's well worth it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

9 of My Favorite Comic Strips

Andrew and Caty love to read comic strips. Andrew looks forward to getting the papers over the weekend and reading the funnies. Both of them regularly check out comic compilations from the library, such as Garfield and Little Lulu.

I'm not much of a comic strip fan anymore, but I have had my favorites. There's no question as to my top 3 favorites.

The best comic strip of all time, in my opinion, is Calvin & Hobbes. Calvin is hilarious. One of my favorite panels is when his mom runs into the living room where Calvin is pounding nails into the coffee table. His mom shouts, "What are you doing?!" Calvin, obviously puzzled, looks at his mom, then at the coffee table, then back at his mom, and answers, "Is this a trick question?"

My second favorite is The Far Side, and my third is Peanuts. I enjoy gathering the kids together to watch the Peanuts specials around holidays.

Rounding out my other nine--and I had to scratch my memory to get the last 2--

4. Non Sequitur
5. Garfield
6. Mother Goose & Grimm
7. Beetle Bailey
8. Hi & Lois
9. Heathcliff

Sunday, November 23, 2008

9 Things I Thank the Lord For

  1. Andrew being involved in basketball
  2. Adoption process is over and Callie is a part of the fam
  3. Eyesight
  4. Weekly trash collection
  5. The Word of God being composed of a variety of literary genres
  6. A reliable van
  7. My Call to Northside Missionary
  8. Indiana's four seasons
  9. Amazon.com

Friday, November 21, 2008

How Daniel Responded to Disappointing Legislation

The new law? All prayers for the next month must be prayed to the king and no one else.

Daniel's response? Well, you know his response. He continued to get down on his knees three times a day and pray to God.

But there's a little bit more than that. "Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before" (Dan 6:10b NIV).

The situation had never been great. He had been a prisoner in a foreign land under three kings now. And now, under the most recent king, his freedom to pray to whom he wished had been outlawed. But Daniel still found reason to thank God. And well he should.

And so should we as well. For some of us the days ahead look dark, but they aren't as dark as they could be, because our Lord Jesus is alive and well and God is working in our world to move history toward that time when Christ will return.

At this Thanksgiving season, there is much to praise the Lord for, including such things as
  • salvation
  • the Scriptures
  • the indwelling Holy Spirit
  • family and friends
  • church family
  • our daily bread
  • employment
  • modern conveniences
  • the rule of law in the US and the freedom to worship
  • the sure hope of Heaven.

Recommend Some Obscure Reading

What is some reading you would recommend that you're guessing we aren't familiar with?

(Idea came from 22 Words.)

The Problem with Low Gas Prices

Our budget and my half-starved wallet love the lower gas prices. But the problem with low gas prices is that I think the pressure has been removed from Congress to allow drilling in the US. Congress was showing signs of bending in that direction, I think.

Low gas prices are another symptom, albeit a nice one, of our slumping economy. Less business, less gas, less demand, lower prices. When and if the economy picks up, gas prices will too if current production stays the same. We need to drill here in the US to both increase our supply and reduce our dependence on other, sometimes hostile, countries.

I'm Kent Scantlin, and I approved this message.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bad Movies

What's the worst movie you have ever seen?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

E. M. Bounds Challenged Me Today

As I was thinking through my sermon for this week, I read this today:

How can a man preach who does not get his message fresh from God in the closet? How can he preach without having his faith quickened, his vision cleared, and his heart warmed by his closeting with God? … As far as the real interests of religion are concerned, a pulpit without a closet will always be a barren thing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

9 of My Favorite Actors

  1. Russell Crowe
  2. Cary Grant
  3. John Wayne
  4. Jimmy Stewart
  5. Harrison Ford
  6. Sean Connery
  7. Sam Waterston
  8. Sean Bean
  9. Liam Neeson

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Movie Recommendation & I Love My Wife

Stuffing bulletins at home today, I started watching Premonition with Sandra Bullock. And I was hooked and watched it to the end.

There are times when the Lord uses some piece of art, even secular art, to all-of-a-sudden fan into flame my love for Sara. Premonition did that. (To those of you gasping right now, I'm not saying there are times when I don't love Sara, but I'm talking about emotional passion, and it comes and goes in most, if not all, marriages.)

Premonition is a psychological thriller with an intriguing, albeit implausible, plot. But a secondary theme is marriage-affirming: "remember why you fell in love," or "a slouching marriage is worth fighting for and saving," or (I think there's a better way to word this).

Bullock's character learns of her husband's impending death and also of an impending physical affair that will grow out of the seeds of his current emotional entanglement with another woman. Does she fight for him and fight for her marriage or not? She chooses to do so, and the ending is what you hope for, but it's also not what you expect, nor is it what you think it is right now (unless you've already seen it).

I love Sara, and this movie today reminded me of that fact, and it reminded me of a reason for that love: the longer we travel together, the more we are involved with one another, the more we are one.

I'm glad I saw Premonition. It may not have the same affect on you, but it's still a good movie.

Additional Note: Mr. Holland's Opus (movie), The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler (book), and a James Blunt song: these have all done the same thing for me as Premonition. Maybe sometime I'll tell you how.

My Commentary Picks, Ezekiel - Romans

Here are my go-to commentaries for Ezekiel-Romans.

(View my picks for Genesis- 2 Samuel and 1 Kings-Lamentations.)

Ezekiel: I've done very little commentary study in Ezekiel. On my shelf are Ezekiel (Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, or TOTC) by John B. Taylor and The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 1-24 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, or NICOT) by Daniel I. Block. I've read a little of Block, and it's good ... and big.

Daniel: Absolutely no question on this one. Daniel (NIV Application Commentary) by Tremper Longman III helped me understand Daniel like very few commentaries have helped me understand any book. It is instructive in understanding apocalyptic writing (Daniel 7-12 is apocalyptic), and it highlighted well the themes that crop up in each of the 12 chapters of Daniel.

Hosea-Malachi: How about 1 commentary for all 12 minor prophets? I recommend The Minor Prophets by James Montgomery Boice. I think these are actually sermons he preached in a series on the minor prophets. Very well done. As to other go-to commentaries, I'll just highlight 1 other: Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (NIV Application Commentary) by James Bruckner. I've read the Jonah and Nahum sections, and they are very helpful on both of those "Nineveh" books.

Matthew: I have lots of commentaries on the gospels. No question which is my favorite for 3 of the gospels. For Matthew, it's Matthew (Expositor's Bible Commentary, or EBC) by D. A. Carson. (Any commentary by Carson is going to be good.) He really helps you understand the true intent of each text.

Mark: The Gospel of Mark (New International Commentary on the New Testament, or NICNT) by William L. Lane. One of the things I appreciate about this volume is Lane's focus on why Mark arranges his material as he does. The gospels aren't necessarily chronological, and the gospel writers select material and arrange it to communicate various themes and truths. Lane explores that well.

Luke: Probably Luke (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, or TNTC) by Leon Morris, though I think his book almost too brief; he doesn't answer some of my questions. I could also recommend Commentary on Luke (New International Greek Testament Commentary, or NIGTC) by I. Howard Marshall to fill in the gaps. But he's probably too technical for most.

John: Definitely The Gospel according to John (Pillar Commentaries) by D. A. Carson. A wonderful help in understanding the fourth gospel.

Acts: There are many good commentaries on Acts, and you would do well to pick up any of the following: The Spirit, the Church, and the World: The Message of Acts by John Stott; Acts (TNTC) by I. Howard Marshall; Interpreting Acts by Everett F. Harrison; The Book of the Acts (NICNT) by F. F. Bruce; or Acts (EBC) by Richard N. Longenecker. If I could only keep one though, it would probably be Acts (NIV Application Commentary) by Ajith Fernando.

Romans: Douglas Moo seems to be the Romans scholar anymore with volumes in the NICNT series and the NIV Application Commentary series, and he's good. But the indices in the NICNT volume start on p. 942, and I don't own the NIV Application Commentary volume, so my recommendation is Romans: God's Good News for the World by John Stott.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Anna!

My daughter turns 8 today!

The kids each have different personalities, of course. Anna is generally the quietest of the 4, though there are times when I have to tell her to tone it down--usually at home or in the van.

Anna is more compliant than her older siblings, and she's ever ready to pitch in and help. Yesterday she took care of the leaves for me, and I didn't even tell her to; she just did it.

She is also very witty. He humor, unlike many 8-year-olds, is actually funny most of the time.

Anna and I have a bedtime routine that we both enjoy:
  1. review her memory verses
  2. read from the Bible story book
  3. read a library book (either fiction or non-fiction: in the non-fiction category, we've read about China, snakes, making cheese, etc.; last night we read about Pugs)

Anna is quite athletic, quickly learning gymnastics. She likes to exercise (100+ sit ups the other day).

I love my daughter. The Lord was very good to me in giving her to me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It is difficult to read the story of Joash

I reread it today (2 Chron 24) while all the time thinking I was reading about Josiah, the other boy king. But I was quickly jarred to the truth of Joash in the aftermath of the death of Jehoiada.

Let me go back up to the beginning. Jehoiada's wife saved Joash as a baby when his grandmother went on a murderous rampage to secure the throne of Judah for herself. When Joash turned 7, Jehoiada led a coup that brought Athaliah to her end and established Joash as king, as was his right.

Jehoiada was a godly man and had a godly influence on Joash. Joash purged the land of Baal worship and was the impetus behind the repair and cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem. (In fact, when Jehoiada dragged his feet on the temple repairs, Joash took him to task and sped up the project.)

A few decades into Joash's reign, Jehoiada died.

Then, amazingly, through the influence of others, Joash led the country into Baalism. God moved in the heart of Zechariah to stand up against the religious idolatry of his day. And what did Joash do? Persuaded by others, he gave the order to have Zechariah executed.

The irony? Zechariah was Jehoiada's son! So Joash owed his very life (as an infant) to Jehoiada's wife. He owed his enthronement and training to Jehoiada. And he kills Jehoiada's son because he proclaimed God's truth!

A tragic story.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

9 First Sentences

First impressions are often considered important. In a novel, the opening sentence is considered to carry a lot of freight. To read others' input on this, read my brother and a guy named Abraham.

Here are 9 intriguing first sentences from 9 novels on my shelf.

In the shade of the house, in the sunshine on the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree, Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin’s son, grew up with his friend Govinda. (Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse)

The music-room in the Governor’s House at Port Mahon, a tall, handsome, pillared octagon, was filled with the triumphant first movement of Locatelli’s C major quartet. (Master and Commander, Patrick O’Brian) At this performance begins the friendship of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin that is developed over 20 books.

Five friends I had, and two of them snakes. (Godric, Frederick Buechner)

The cabin-passenger wrote in his diary a parody of Descartes: ‘I feel discomfort, therefore I am alive,’ then sat pen in hand with no more to record. (A Burnt-Out Case, Graham Greene)

Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York. (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith) But serene was not the word to describe the life of the young protagonist.

A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes. (The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Elmer Gantry was drunk. (Elmer Gantry, Sinclair Lewis)

All happy families are alike but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion. (Anna Karenin, Leo Tolstoy)

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. (The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Click "Comment" and Say Hi

I'm a blogger, and I like comments. Comments indicate people are reading your blog. They also give an indication as to whether people are enjoying your blog or not.

So why not introduce yourself? Let's make it easy: What's your name, town, and favorite season of the year?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Trying to Get a Handle on the Election

While I am delighted with the results of many parts of the election this past Tuesday, it is the national elections for which I was most concerned, and while Congressman Souder was reelected here in the 3rd district, the Democratic position in both the House and the Senate were strengthened, and the presidency will pass into the hands of not just a Democrat, but a very liberal--communist-thinking, it would appear--Democrat.

Here are some of the thoughts that are settling out of the whirlwind in my mind:

1) I will give to President-elect Obama my respect. 1 Peter 2 says:

Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.... Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (2:13-14,17 NIV)

2) I have already begun praying for the president-elect, and I will continue to do so. 1 Timothy says:

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior ... (2:1-3 NIV)

I am praying for his salvation, for wise counselors, that he will govern righteously, and that any of his plans that are wicked and foolish will be frustrated.

(See John Piper for a look at 1 Tim 2:1-4 from a slightly different angle.)

3) While showing him respect and praying for him, I will nonetheless oppose his policies which are evil and/or foolish. Rightwingnews uses crisp, clear language to get this point across.

4) I love my country. That's what makes these election results so hard, because I fear I'm going to lose my country. I've been reading American history for a few years now, and I am impressed with the wisdom and the protection God has given to our country since its inception. Not that America has ever been perfect, but ...
  • I am impressed by the wisdom, faith, and character of our founding fathers.
  • I am impressed with the wisdom that went into the Constitution--the balancing of powers marvelously checks the reality of sin and the sinful nature of man.
  • I am impressed by the providence evident in the ragged Constitutional Army holding its own and defeating the polished and vastly more numerous British army.
  • I am impressed with the singular conviction and perseverance of Abraham Lincoln and how through him this nation threw off its back the horrible sin of slavery.
And the list goes on. We have a noble history, and I fear that all too soon that may all change.

5) I nonetheless wonder that God hasn't yet wiped our country clean off the map. We are guilty of many crimes as a nation, not the least of which is 200+ years of slavery (1619-1865). But especially abortion: well over 40,000,000 babies have been murdered since 1973! How can God not destroy us?! Despite the "bad news" Tuesday's election signals to me, we are far better off than what we deserve. That's not to say we should sit back and do nothing. We should be actively opposing evil policies in biblical acceptable ways where we can. But it's good to remember we're far better off--because of God's mercy--than we should be. (See another John Piper post for a similar perspective.)

6) I have been praying for sometime for revival in our church and in our country, for a deepening of holiness within me and the people around me, for help to trust God more. If morality continues to plummet and freedoms continue to disappear, this election may be God's way of answering that very prayer.

Obama Irony

"It's remarkable to me and deeply ironic that our first African-American President will be our country's strongest defender of treating unborn babies as less than fully human."

--Steve McCoy at Reformissionary

Thursday, November 6, 2008

9 Reasons Why I Don’t Want to Be Abducted by Aliens

  1. If they did a brain scan, they would find that I rooted for Earth while watching Independence Day.
  2. I weigh almost 200 lbs. I’m concerned that their tractor beam would drop me half-way up.
  3. My insurance doesn’t cover experimental procedures.
  4. If I’m gone long, who will log the all-important attendance data at the church?
  5. I’m not interested in making an annual pilgrimage to Area 51.
  6. I don’t believe in aliens, so getting abducted by them would really rock my world.
  7. You know how they say people don’t like change? I’m one of those people.
  8. Even though aliens and I both have 6 mouths to feed, my 6 mouths are on 6 separate people.
  9. I have no desire to meet either Bill Maher or Al Franken.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Good Reference Book for Writers

I came across a handy book at the library today. Grammar Gremlins highlights over a hundred grammatical conundrums that baffle many writers.

I love the format: 1 grammatical issue per set of facing pages. The left page contains one sentence illustrating the particular issue. The right page briefly explains the issue and gives you correct usage.

For example, page 16 has one sentence that reads:
"The conference begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday."

The facing page then briefly explains the usage of "a.m." and "p.m."

The body of the book is organized into 5 sections:
  1. Punctuation, Mechanics, and Spelling
  2. Grammar
  3. Usage
  4. Pronunciation and Misused Words
  5. Vogue Words and Terms

This is a great book for anyone concerned about grammatical precision (like me). Of course, there probably aren't many of you, if I have Internet lingo to judge by.

US Election Thrills Iran and Palestinians, Concerns Iraq and Israel

From Joel Rosenberg's blog post today:

"I'm paying particular attention this morning to how people in the epicenter are reacting to Sen. Obama's victory. Leaders in Iran are thrilled since the likelihood of decisive U.S. action to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program has just dropped dramatically. Leaders in Iraq, by contrast, are trying not to be worried given that the likelihood of rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces has just increased dramatically.

"Palestinians seem to be thrilled, since they seem Obama as pro-Palestinian and open to dividing Jerusalem and pressuring the Israelis to make further concessions of "land for peace." Many Israelis feel quite unsettled this morning, concerned that they will be all alone in the Middle East as the U.S. begins to pack up and go home from Iraq. They are also concerned that Obama and his team do not appear to fully understand or appreciate the seriousness of the threat of Radical Islam. Sen. Obama told us during the campaign that Iran was a tiny country that did not pose much of a threat. Israelis are not convinced he will stand with them in a nuclear showdown with Tehran."

Perspective

All things being equal, the next time I participate in a presidential election ...
  • Callie will be 6,
  • Anna will be in 7th grade,
  • Caty will be 15,
  • and Andrew will be a senior.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Well Done, Senator McCain

I am watching Sen. McCain's concession speech, and it is a fine one. Noble and dignified and well-spoken. Also sincere. It seems very clear that he means every single word he says. Well done, Sen. McCain.

I was not excited about Sen. McCain. My first choice was Ronald Reagan, but issues relating to the Constitution and to life and death preventing, my second choice was Fred Thompson. When he bowed out, I threw my support, lessening in enthusiasm, behind Mitt Romney.

Over the years Sen. McCain has revealed himself far less conservative than I would like him to be. Nevertheless, he had some great moments in his campaign, not the least of which was his choice of Gov. Palin, a true conservative. And perhaps the greatest moment is this speech that he just gave.

He referred approvingly to the elation that African-Americans must be feeling at this moment. He referred to Sen. Obama as his next president, and he clearly stated he will support him and his good friend Sen. Biden. And he referred to the privilege of serving his country, and he will continue to remain "her servant."

No Trouble Voting

Well, I voted. With warnings of long lines, I took a book. Four precincts voting at my polling place (University of St. Francis) and seven voting machines.

I didn't get crank phone calls telling me my voting location had changed at the last minute, nor did I see any Black Panthers wielding nightsticks at the front doors. So perhaps the biggest challenge was ...

A six-page ballot?! Whew! Everything went smoothly though, and it took about 30 minutes altogether. Hats off to the election officials there.

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE?

Mom's Birthday Today and in 1980

Today is my mom's birthday, and she's spending all day working the polls, as she has been for several years now.

Twenty-eight years ago, another presidential election took place on her birthday. I noted in my journal then that she had a great birthday because Ronald Reagan was elected over Jimmy Carter for the presidency, Dan Quayle was elected over Birch Bayh for the Senate, Orr was elected over Hildenbrandt for governor, and Dan Coats was elected over Walda to the House of Representatives.

Though my parents are both devoted to the Scriptures and to prayer, I think they have impacted me differently. Dad's example has led me to love the Word of God, and Mom's example has taught me how to pray. I have learned to pray more and to pray about more things from my mom. She doesn't consider herself a prayer warrior, but I do.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope the elections go your way again as they did in 1980.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Skinny on My Weight Loss Efforts

I've been working on losing weight again. Back in 2003 I started limiting my eating. I lost 31 pounds over the period of a few months, dropping from 226 to 195. That was great! Since then I have slowly, very slowly, been creeping back up.

At the beginning of September this year I weighed 210, so I started doing the portion control thing again. I dropped 3 pounds a week for the first 4 weeks, and for the last few weeks I've been hovering between 195 and 199. I'd like to go lower for the fun of it. Target weight is 189, at least for a day.

In addition to portion control, there's exercise. In January 2007 I started running; that is, I started engaging in a physical activity that is faster than walking. I'd never really run before, primarily because I despised it. But I had a concern about having a degree of cardiovascular fitness.

I found a plan on the Internet, "From Couch Potato to 5K in 9 Weeks." It took me longer than that, but I eventually could run 3.1 miles, even 5 at one point. I kept running until we went to China back in May; then I stopped. I started up again in September. That also helps keep the pounds off. That, along with frequently riding my bike or walking to the church.

I dare not neglect to mention one other factor: the Lord. Prayer has been a huge factor in my running. Most mornings when I start running I ask the Lord to help me run. And I have asked him to help me control my eating, and he has helped.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Definition of Torture

Having to take a test on 47 different kinds of fabric

A girl in our Sunday School class this morning asked prayer for this upcoming test. (She's majoring in interior design, I believe.) We should've laid hands on her and prayed for her to be delivered from this demonically-inspired device, that the demon of fabric testing might be cast out.