Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve thought...

Merry Christmas all!

Now get off the computer and take time to be with your family, meditate on the miracle of the incarnation, and praise God for the wondrous love and grace He has extended to us!

I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

we need more of this

Words of wisdom from a great man. Perhaps the American church could take a hint. . .

Friday, December 5, 2008


As if the study Bible for teen girls wasn't enough.

There's more than one audience, I guess...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Reflection

Yeah, yeah, the election is over. Obama won. What have we Americans done?

"But," you say, "No worries. God is sovereign, it was in His will somehow. It's sad but it's okay. Everything is going to be alright. Praise the Lord of the nations!"

No question, God is sovereign, but He was sovereign when Hitler came to power too. Is everything going to be fine? Well, yes, but only for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.

I would implore you to remember that just because God allows something to happen doesn't mean we're in for smooth sailing. It doesn't mean that we can sit back and let the world spin without a care in the world. I have a feeling that trials, insecurity, and chaos might be in store for America. Are we, as Christians, ready to face the madness? Is the church ready to stand in the face of persecution, love others, and preach the truth like Christ did?

Oh yes God is on the throne, but somehow He allowed millions of Jews to be killed sixty-something years ago. He has allowed millions of babies to be murdered in our very midst. No matter how you slice it, that's wrong, that's bad, that's evil. Let's face the reality of things: the world has been messed up, and I doubt that Mr. Obama is going to make it much better.

Look Christians, God did not put us here to fill out a ballot, go sit at home, and proclaim that He is sovereign. His people are about more than that.

Preach the gospel to all the nations. Consider others more important than yourself. Destroy every argument and opinion raised against the knowledge of God. Care for orphans and widows in their distress. Pray without ceasing.

Yeah, that's what I want to be about.

This isn't the time to twiddle our thumbs and wait for Jesus to come back. Seriously, Obama is president; what now? The war hasn't been lost (it never will be), but it hasn't been won either.

Maybe now is a good time for us to start fighting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Makes a guy in a journalism class like me think...

So someone is finally admitting the bias in the media.

Well, they've started to admit it, at least.

Friday, October 17, 2008


So I know I haven't been posting much lately. There are two main reasons for this. One, I've been killer busy, up past midnight doing homework every night. Two, God has been using this semester to really humble me and teach me to rely on Him more. When you're surrounded by hundreds of people who are smarter and wiser than you, it's hard to feel like you have anything meaningful to say.

So that's where I am right now, right now I feel like I'm in more of a "absorbing" state of life. That said, if you want some theological or philosophical tidbits from me, you can check out my Facebook profile for my "Quote of the Week." This will be something that really struck me or has been on my mind through the past week. I did not originally say the quote, but hopefully you'll be challenged and/or encouraged by it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Prayer Request

One of the many, many, awesome things about The Master's College is that the school has made the decision to cancel classes for half a week just to give students a chance to serve and minister. Every fall in an event called "Outreach Week," students gather in teams to serve in local churches.

Tomorrow through Sunday, my team will be ministering at the First Evangelical Free Church of Los Angeles. It's a great church in the downtown LA area. Incoming TMC students actually visited it for WOW week this year.

Anyhoo, if anyone still reads this blog these days, we'd appreciate prayer for safety, unity, and loving hearts in our group. Also, please pray for the gospel to go out in a truthful and powerful way, and ask that God's word would not come back vain. One of the recent speakers in chapel pointed out that we are 100% effective everytime we share the gospel, so above all pray that God's will would be done and that He would be glorified through our efforts.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Joe Keller just predicted my future!

So it's been a crunch week for me. I have a test, a quiz, an outline, a handout, and a six-plus page paper due right before Outreach Week. Two hundred and fifty pages had to be read, and I had to study an Awana booklet to get officially qualified at Placerita Baptist. To make the situation even more bleak, I'm going home this weekend to a family and friends that haven't seen me for a month.

What does God do? In an event nothing short of divine providence, both of my classes yesterday were canceled. Consequently, I'm sitting here writing this post instead of reading Mark Twain.

The really freaky thing? Our Dean of Students, Joe Keller, had just lectured on time management in Biblical Fundamentals about a week earlier, and he talked about this exact thing happening! There will be times, he said, where you're doing your best but still won't be able to get everything done on time. Life is looking bleak, when all of sudden, class is canceled.

That's me right there, but better yet, that's my God right there. All praise to the Sovereign Lord for His mercies, even in little issues like these!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Question of the Day (Week?, Month?, however long it takes for me to come up with another post)

Is speeding a sin?

Dr. Gregg Frazer of TMC says "yes."

I can't really think of any reason why it wouldn't be.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Impossible Task

So I have to do a six to eight minute informative speech in my Spoken Communication class. I have to choose a topic, so naturally I pick something that I'm interested in and fairly confident in talking about--The Doctrines of Grace.

Here's my problem: how in a million years do you fit all the Doctrines of Grace into an eight minute time span and do anything besides define a few terms? I'm pretty sure it's not possible. Already I've had to cut an argument by Jonathan Edwards and a quote by Desiring God Ministries. I've changed the title from "The Doctrines of Grace, Explained and Defended" to "The Doctrines of Grace, A Brief Overview." Worst of all, I've dropped several of my scripture references, and I don't even have time to read out the ones that are still left!

Guess it just goes to show how impossible it is to put God's truth in a little box. The gospel is beautifully simple, but the deeper doctrines of Christianity take some serious time and thought.

How do you fit the Doctrines of Grace into eight minutes? If there's one thing this project has taught me, it's that you don't.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Jesus, Thank You

One of my favorite songs that we sang in church back home, and that I now have the privlidge of singing in chapel at Master's from time to time, is Jesus Thank You. This morning was one of those great mornings of chapel where we sung this great song, and as I was meditating on the chorus, something really jumped out at me for some reason.

The chorus of the song goes like this:

Your blood has washed away my sins, Jesus thank You
The Father's wrath completely satisfied, Jesus thank You
Once your enemy now seated at Your table, Jesus thank You

Don't ask me how I got the point I'm about to make from this song. For some strange reason I thought about it so here we go. Isn't it such an amazing privilege and gift to serve God? I mean, not only are we forgiven of our sins, justified through the cross, and assured a place in heaven (not to understate those things at all), but we actually get to do something for God. It's far too easy to fall into that dutiful mindset, where we feel we have to do things for God because of what He's done for us. No, it is actually a remarkable privilege to study God's word, it is a privilege to share the gospel, it is a privilege to worship him through song, studying, eating, drinking, and so on. They're not something that we have to do just because we're Christians. They are unique gifts from God that are reserved only for His people. Isn't that awesome!

Now don't get me wrong, I'm as (probably more) guilty of spiritual apathy than anyone, which is why I brought this up. We Christians need to have a mindset that is not duty-driven, but joy-driven and love-driven. If God suddenly gave us the ability to fly, or be really strong, we would use those gifts all the time. Likewise, he has given us the ability to evangelize, to study and obey His word, and to worship Him, so why don't we do those things with all eagerness and enthusiasm?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Something that keeps popping up into my head.

There's something strange about suddenly living 24/7 in a place where almost everyone is smarter and more mature than you are.

I mean, in one sense it's pretty awesome because there are so many things to learn and so many things to challenge me. There's no doubt that from an academic and spiritual standpoint, this is the best place in the world to be.

On the other hand, though, I think it's ended up making me somewhat timid and reserved. Suddenly, I feel like the least important, least interesting, and most unwise guy around. As if I have nothing noteworthy to bring to the table, nothing to offer to others.

Not too much more than a thought...maybe I'm just feeling sorry for myself.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Grab Bag

Wow, so many things have happened recently that I could develop several different things into full posts, but these tidbits will have to suffice for now.

1. WOW (week of welcome) at The Master's College. As an incoming student, I had the privilege of attending WOW at TMC and oh man, it was great. Awesome people, awesome teaching, and awesome events all marked the week, and it was in general just a great time of fellowship and fun. Indeed, I think one of the main reasons that I will grow to love Master's so much is the constant spiritual emphasis of the college. Sure it is fun, there's no question that TMC has plenty of fun stuff to do, but there's also so much more than that. The bond in Christ that I have with (Lord-willing) everyone at the college is so deep and profound. With a ton of people more mature and smarter than me, I'll definitely be challenged to grow in my faith. Put simply, Master's is da' domb. Enough said.

2. Wake up! Wake up! I went to an Everyday Sunday concert Friday night, and I must honestly say that Trey and guys put on a good show. They rocked out pretty hard and I recognized most of their songs, so that was nice. Granted, they definitely weren't as awesome as Kutless. They played fewer songs, the sound was just too loud (even for a rock concert), and they simply aren't as good as Kutless musically. However, the hosting church's gospel presentation, while still a bit watery and vaguely explained, was significantly better than the one with Kutless. Note that the same church was hosting both concerts, so this was somewhat encouraging.

3. I finally saw I Am Legend for the first time. Slight dissapointment from what I was expecting, but ignore my expectations. Legend was a really entertaining and engrossing film with a great message. I recomment it. Of course, there was the inevitable bit of language and violence, it's definitely for more mature audiences, but for a PG-13 rated film, I'm not really complaining.

4. I discovered the next great party game during WOW week at Master's, and it's called Quelf! If you're looking for a truly random, yet amazing, group game that features loads of laughs and truckloads of fun, buy Quelf as soon as possible. I just invested in a game myself and upon playing it for the second time, it most definitely did not dissapoint.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Times They are'a Changin'

Looking back over the summer, it's been pretty good. Enjoyable, long, some new memories. Growing stronger in several friendships, watching the Olympics (more thoughts on those later). Yeah it's been great, but finally, at long, the day that has been shadowing my whole summer has come....

I'm leaving for college.

Now not leaving leaving mind you. I'll still be within 100 miles from home at The Master's College, I'll still come home many, if not most, weekends to keep up with old friends and family and to fellowship with my decade-old church body. It's not really that that's so scary, exciting, and amazing. It's the total change in life that I'm about to experience. It's the fact that I'll never be able to go back to the "old days" again. Nope, life is really here, I'm an adult now. The place I've called home ever since I was born won't quite have the same comfort and significance it has for the past 18 years. My parents have assured me that when I graduate, they still be here with open arms waiting to welcome me back. That's encouraging, yes, but that's not what I want. When I graduate, I want a well-paying job (or a job in the ministry, we'll see); I've sapped enough resources from my family the past 18 years, and by the time I graduate, I better be able to take care of myself (especially if I'm married or engaged, but again, we'll see).

I've been reading the widely popular book, Do Hard Things, by Alex and Brett Harris over the past couple weeks, and it's been nothing short of amazing. One of the things the pair stressed was this myth of adolescence. They talked long and often about "doing hard things", growing up, and taking responsibility, because as teens there's really nothing stopping us from impacting the world except ourselves. I've always thought of myself as more on the mature side, but experiences like preparing for college and reading Do Hard Things are starting to change that. Heck, I'm 18 already and I would be in hot water if my parents (like some) chose to turn me loose and kick me out of the house as soon as I reached adulthood. I may be smart, I may adequately take care of my few responsibilities, and I may be self-motivated enough to write on this blog even when nobody reads it. One thing I am not, though, is a self-sustaining, fully functional, adult human being. If I was on my own, I wouldn't know where to start! That's a little bit why college is so scary (yet exciting). I get new freedoms living on my own, freedoms that don't seem nearly as awesome and glorious as they did ten years ago, but I also am living on my own. I have most the supplies and bills paid, but now I'm the one who has to start footing a little bit of the bill.

That's more or less what I've been thinking about the past week. No question, I'm looking forward to college, but that's only the first step into life, into the real world. So here I go! It's time to start learning, and time to start doing truly hard and manly (in the biblical sense) things for the glory of God.

Speaking of which, that is the true comfort in all of this. No matter what happens during my entire lifetime, God will still loves me, He'll still cares for me, and His perfect plan will always be what is best for me. Better yet, I have the highest calling of all: to serve Jesus Christ. Whether I end up writing the script for next summer blockbuster or working at Costco, I'll have the chance to share the Gospel and glorify God with my life. And that, after all, is what really matters!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Christian Music These Days

Last night I had the privilege of attending my second real contemporary Christian concert ever. The band was Kutless, the place was Valley Bible Fellowship; and I must say that I had a great time. For better or for worse, Kutless is one of my favorite bands, and it was fun to see them live. They put on a pretty good show; rocking out for several songs, calming down for a more "serious" time, and then ending the concert with several more crazy songs. Musically, they were great and Jon Micah was acceptable with vocals. Yes, he could've been a bit better on some songs, but he was good. Better yet, the opening group, lead by Eric Mizelle, was decent as well.

Now I like Kutless a lot. I have all of their albums, and all are really solid, each one bringing a slightly new feel lyrically and musically, but all retaining just a bit of that signature Kutless sound that fans like me know and love. I think that their lyrics are more biblically sound and God-centered than most "Christian" bands these days, and their music, quite frankly, rocks. Despite how awesome they are, though, it's hard for me to wholeheartedly recommend them to someone. For instance, two of their songs (which isn't too bad over five albums) revolve around such bad/weak theology that I've completely deleted them from my itunes.

You see, the tough thing about music, especially CCM, is that contemporary songs are by nature somewhat subjective. Even if you don't understand exactly what the artist was originally trying to say, it's fairly easy to read or interpret the lyrics in a way that you agree with. Consider Wavorly, another one of my favorite bands. It's pretty clear from reading their "behind the song" blurb online that they operate from an Arminian viewpoint (Kutless does too, btw), and as such speak of human choice in several of their songs. A line from one song goes "when choice spans such a great divorce (between heaven and hell)." Now they're obviously speaking of human choice, but when I listen to the song, I interpret the song to mean God's choice spanning a great divorce. It's possible to find much truth in Kutless' songs, but when the band actually talks explicitly about important spiritual stuff in their concerts, it's pretty weak. Nothing about sin, hell, or repentance, just stuff about how the Christian life is so much better, there's a "God shaped hole in our heart" and how only God can satisfy all our wants and desires.

Now don't get me wrong, that's all true, and fantastic, and good (besides the "God shaped hole" thing). It's great to hear someone in a band talk about how their music does not bring satisfaction or happiness. It's great to hear the lead singer pray that God would be glorified tonight. That's fine and that's beautiful, but there's something missing. Jon Micah mentions Christ, but little about who He is or what He did. He talks about living with God forever, but nothing about the judgment that awaits us if we leave this life without Christ.

After the concert, one of the pastor's of Valley Bible Fellowship got up and spoke for a few moments. Now given that this concert was free and that there were probably quite a few unbelievers in the crowd, he gave a little talk about becoming a Christian. Again, it was a good idea to use this as an outreach event. Here was a great opportunity to preach the gospel to hundreds, if not thousands, of unsaved people. Did this guy do that?

Yeah...well...maybe not. He started off great, using Paul's Gentile strategy of starting with general revelation. He talked about creation, and how there simply must be a creator God, and how this God revealed Himself to us by taking the form of a man named Jesus and dying on the cross for us. After that, though, he started to peter off, going into how having a relationship with Jesus will make you happy and give you a great life. Sin was mentioned at most two or three times, and hell was completely absent. I don't recall any mention of repentance either. The peak of watered-down theology came when this pastor said something to the effect of "not only do you get to live with Christ forever, you get a great life, you get hope, you get satisfaction, you get joy." It was almost as if eternal life was an afterthought. Sure, you get to live forever and escape the burning wrath of God, but now, here, today, you'll be complete and you'll be satisfied and you'll be happy! Just come up and make a decision to follow Christ today, and you're good to go.

Being a semi-frequent reader of blogs like TeamPyro,, and Pros Apologian, and frequently listening to podcasts like Way of the Master and Grace to You, I hear things all the time about the gospel getting watered down or perverted. I read about critiques of the seeker sensitive movement, decisional regeneration, and all that jazz. Hearing this stuff, though, live and in person at an event that I looked forward to attending was really tough and shocking for some reason. It was like I saw right through all the emotions and Christian lingo to the core of the issue: a weak gospel. Evangelicalism and Contemporary Christian Music, especially in churches like this, really is in a sad state these days.

Again, I really don't want to come across as being judgmental or legalistic, but as zealous for clear teaching of the Word of God. I think it's fine to listen to CCM as long as you listen with a discerning ear and avoid being swept away with the clever lyrics and emotional message. No question, we can enjoy bands like Kutless as long as the word of God is consistently being applied in our hearts and lives and we are able to avoid being "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Prayer Request

Quick word before I cut to the point: this feels like a very pitiful thing to ask. The challenge I'm facing is nothing compared to Christians in the majority of the world. So keep this whole deal on the lower end of your prayer priorities, but I'll still appreciate all that God's people are willing to offer.

Me and several very good friends are going to be filming our second big movie for the Bakersfield Christian Youth Film Festival over the next four days. You can check out last year's film here. The film we did last year was a challenge to all of us, no doubt about it. You would be amazed at the amount of work it takes to produce a simple, low budget, ten minute film! Anyways, this year we face a much more daunting task. We're going to be camping for several days and filming everything as far from civilization as reasonably possible. If we forget something (which is likely) we're in pretty big trouble. If something doesn't turn out right, we're in pretty big trouble. If a huge and unexpected obstacle comes up, we're in pretty big trouble. In other words, there's precious little room for error, but hopefully we'll be able to learn from previous mistakes and produce the best movie that the Film Festival has ever seen.

So if you would be so kind, just ask that God would grant us quality and efficiency as we work, as cool weather as possible, and safe travel. Above all though, ask that He and He alone will be glorified through this project, and ask that we would be able to keep that in mind. It's so easy to get lost in the details and stress of the whole thing and forget that we're doing this all for a higher and holy purpose. To the Sovereign Lord God Almighty, and to Him alone, be all the glory, honor, and praise!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Horror of Anxiety

If you know me personally, you probably know that I and several of my best friends are producing our film for the Academy Awards this summer, since I'll be at college this fall. After almost two months of planning and thought, we are going to be filming in a few days (August 7-11 to be exact). The problem is, well, we're not really as ready to film as we should all. Ironically, I'm probably the one who is freaking out most about this thing, despite my new life-mantra: "just chill." Seriously folks, two days and we've gotta be 100% ready to film. Everything, and I mean everything, has got to fall into place or we're gonna have a very difficult and rough time out in the desert (long story, just watch the movie when it comes out early next spring).

Providentially and thankfully, we just had a guest speaker from Grace to You by the name of Don Green at church two Sundays ago, and he preached on anxiety. Never, as far as my weak memory goes, have I heard a sermon more chock-full of application and conviction than the fine peace of preaching Mr. Green produced. For some illogical and sinful reason, I had always felt a bit justified in my anxiety. "Oh dear, a test is coming up. Yes I've studied, but not very much, is God going to reward me with a good grade?" "Oh no this prop isn't going to work out after I thought it was, maybe God's trying to teach me a lesson here." Things somewhat along the lines of that. I knew that I didn't deserve anything from God, so I guess I was afraid that He might actually stop blessing me so abundantly and give me something closer to what I deserve. The terrible irony here, of course, is that an understanding of the lowness of man and greatness of God should make me more appreciative of my situation in life. Consequently I shouldn't worry about the future because no matter what, I can be thankful to God and satisfied with my lot in life.

I'm sure my thought processes were a bit more complicated, but I think that's basically what it boiled down to. We should never worry, we should never freak out, and we should be anxious for nothing. The same Sovereign King and Creator of the Universe who cares for the flowers and birds will always be faithful to his elect, working everything out for our good and His glory. Praise God!

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Few Words on The Dark Knight

Went to the midnight showing on Thursday night with some friends.

First of all, pretty much everyone is right in that it was a great movie. It was completely engrossing (and terrifying) throughout the entire two and a half hours, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite significantly more action than Batman Begins, it managed to brilliantly develop a complex plot and several main characters. Despite the title, the film was actually just as much about Harvey Dent, The Joker, or James Gordon as it was about Batman/Bruce Wayne. Heath Ledger was truly amazing as The Joker, and the rest of the cast was solid as well (I mean really, can there possibly be a better Alfred than Michael Caine?).

Despite all the ingredients of not only a great superhero film, but a great film in general, there's one key thing that indicates whether a film was great or not: how memorable it is. It's been over a week since I've seen The Dark Knight, and I'm still thinking about it! That is why it's so good. When your thoughts constantly return to the twisted and depraved acts of the Joker, internal struggle of Bruce Wayne, or tragic fall of Harvey Dent, you know there was something about The Dark Knight that made it awesome.

*note* Reviewers are right in that this is not a kids' movie. Aside from a few dirty words, The Dark Knight is very violent and downright scary at times. I still get chills whenever someone licks their chops like The Joker. Anyways, there are plenty of places to get more info on content. Just use some wisdom and discernment before seeing it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything

Finally saw it today, courtesy of free family film morning at our local theater. Pretty good movie, solid, random, goofy, humor in Veggie Tales fashion; a surprisingly good and interesting story; important biblical moral to the always.

There are only a few real knocks I can think of as a film critic, namely, the animation. Yeah, yeah, it certainly wasn't bad, definitely tolerable for a guy like me, but I must say that it just didn't quite match up to most animated films today, and it wasn't even in the same league as Pixar (also saw Wall-E not long ago, great film, see it too). Again, I know, it's just Big Idea. Despite the name, they're not all that big of a company, and I understand that. The animation quality didn't bug me, but it might bother some people, especially those who paid ten bucks to see it in theaters several months ago. The other thing is the complete absence of God and Jesus. Sure, it may win a larger audience, but it really makes the movie seem a bit awkward and shallow in some of the morals it advocates.

For example: doing what is right no matter how big, brave, or skilled you are. First is fact that this implies absolute truth, second is the idea that we are all special and capable of doing something important and heroic. Both of those only make sense in light of God's word. We are all created in the image of God and are therefore all significant, important, and designed to bring glory to Him. Also, some things are "right" and other things are "wrong" because God has given us his standards. An action is wrong because it is committed against God, not because we feel like it is wrong (no disregard for the conscience, btw).

In sum, 'twas a pretty good film: good, clean, entertainment for all ages. I'm just not a huge fan of how Big Idea, a company know for being Christian, takes all references to God out of their movie. It's the only VeggieTales (that I'm aware of) that does not place God as the standard and giver of our morals. There are just no valid excuses for this.

After all, they did it with Jonah....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Where is certainty?

Perhaps this is strange, perhaps it isn't, but more and more I'm working on writing songs and turning ideas and messages into songs. I have, about five that I've written so far this summer, and, since they all have a pretty substantial theological message I've decided to post a few of them. Here's one of my favorites (poetically, at least). I don't have a title yet, so if anyone feels bold enough to comment, I'd like some ideas.

I remember when you were the toast of the town
Like a light in the dark, the way to be found
Kings ruled and sages spoke in your name
You defined reason, true joy and true shame

Woah, forget what we said, those days are gone
Forget who we are, nobody is wrong
Woah, you have been dragged out, shot in the street
Foundations crumble as fools meet

That was like you, when the world was unsure
You’d bring down the gavel and open the door
We’ve always stood for you, through fire and war.
So tell me what happened? Are you worth dying for?

Woah, forget what we said, those days are gone
Forget who we are, nobody is wrong
Woah, you have been dragged out, shot in the street
Foundations crumble as fools meet

Blood runs through cracks of broken concrete
Compromise reigns, where is certainty?
Where is certainty, where is certainty, is there certainty?

Woah, forget what we said, those days are gone
Forget who we are, nobody is wrong
Woah, you have been dragged out, shot in the street
Foundations crumble as fools meet

You may have been dragged out, shot in the street
But I’ll still cling to you, and you’ll set me free

Friday, July 4, 2008

More Shudderings

The past two Wednesdays, our church has been continuing the videos on Mormonism, this time a two-part production on polygamy in fundamentalist Mormon groups. Needless to say, this one made me even more sick. The stories from ex-fundy Mormons were just heartbreaking and terrible. They spoke of abuse, loneliness, jealousy and stress...lots of stress. Stress from being forced to marry a man they hardly knew, stress from trying to compete with other wives for their husbands attention, stress from trying to become good enough to go to heaven (or wherever they go after they die) and being told that if they try to leave or change their lifestyle, they will go to hell.

Passionate and saddening stories aside, the thing that really struck my intellectual side was the complete illogicality (is that even a word?) of polygamy. When you think about it even on a surface level, it's so obvious that it just isn't the way God meant it to be. One of the many beautiful thing about Christianity is that it actually makes sense and works when applied in one's life. When biblical principles are put in place, the family functions smoothly, people are satisfied, and society as a whole thrives. In other words, pretty much everything plays out as if were designed that way. Not so with Mormon fundamentalist and polygamy.

First of all, you've got the problem of more than one wife per husband. There is a reason that God made humans reproduce in an exactly equal ratio between the sexes. It's because only one girl is meant for every guy! Suppose that polygamy was practiced on a worldwide scale. There would millions, nay, probably billions of men that wouldn't have wives because there simply wouldn't be enough women around.

Secondly, polygamy is no conducive to a well-functioning society at any level. With so many wives, it is virtually impossible for a man to develop any strong relations with them whatsoever. This naturally leads to loneliness, depression, and dissatisfaction, while the whole time these wives are told that if they will go to hell if they resist or change. That's not even to mention the tens of kids that the husband has. They will miss out on crucial father-son time and never develop as well as they could. In fact, they hardly even know their father at all, if any of the film's stories are true. I may not have as strong a relationship with my dad as I should, but at least he takes me out for cokes once in a while!

Thirdly, it is horribly abusive and unfair to the women. We Christians take a lot of heat for not allowing women to hold positions of authority within the church, but we do hold than men and women are spiritually equal before God. In the case of Mormon fundamentalist sects, women are terribly demoted and almost treated as lesser beings than men. I don't know this for a fact,but I'm guessing that most of them are not content with the way they are living, yet they are indoctrinated with the idea that they will go to hell if they change their ways. So essentially they are trapped in this system with no chance of earthly escape and no guarantee of heavenly escape at death.

What's the bottom line here? Well, if you examine everything Joseph Smith did and taught, it's pretty clear to me that he was nothing but a selfish, perverted, deceptive, false prophet. Once again, we are reminded that God's Word as revealed in Scripture is the only unchanging, perfect, and sufficient source of truth and guidance.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Musings" from San Diego

As mentioned in my previous post, my family and I just spent several days vacationing in San Diego, and I have a few thoughts I figured I'd share.

One, God is a truly amazing and creative God! We visited both Sea World and the San Diego Zoo, and must admit that I have never been more impressed at the incredible beauty and design of the world we live in. The other thing I found amazing about the zoo in particular is that, despite the obvious evolutionary mindset of the zoo's researchers or whoever, they still referred to many attributes of animals as "designed." It's incredible that someone could see the variety, intricacy, and even beauty of the world's flora and fauna and still not attribute it to a grand Designer. At the zoo especially, I was reminded that creation does indeed bring glory and recognition to its Creator. It was almost as if I'd taken a small step back into Eden...or a step forward into heaven.

Two, I also had the chance to listen to a bunch of Way of the Master Radio podcasts on the drive down and back. Good, convicting, stuff, as usual, but when they played a reading of Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." To say the least I was shaken...a whole bunch. I'm not completely sure, but Edwards had a way with words (not to mentioned the authority of God's Word and power of the Holy Spirit) that really hits me right in the heart every time I read or hear that sermon. Vivid, passionate, authoritative, and all too true. Just take it from a brother trying to grow in his zeal and love for Christ; if you are ever feeling lukewarm in your walk and/or emotions, sit down for a few minutes and read "Sinners." There's a reason it's Edwards' most famous sermon.

Three, I had the chance to witness part of a three game sweep by my Mariners over the Padres. Yep, I'm a Mariner's fan, and am sticking with them despite high expectations and disastrous results for the season thus far. Seeing one of their rare wins was something kinda special (for me, at least).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Desert of Dreams

This hardly sounds like an excuse considering I don't have a job or, quite frankly, any activity besides church twice a week, but I've been busy. There you are, I've been swamped just by reading, writing, stapling and checking email. In my defense, there have been a few odds jobs I've started recently, I'm in a band and trying to write music, I've again been saddled with the opportunity to write a script for a movie, and I'm writing a gang-story with several of my friends.

It is this last activity that I would like to draw your attention to. I'm heading out of town on vacation for a couple days, so if you want a dose of my hyper-creative side and/or you love reading fantasy stories in general, I'd invite you to check out my newest blog: the Desert of Dreams Chronicles. Once you're up to date on the story, be sure to check back every couple of days for the latest addition by me, Thomas H, or JBC. As a friendly reminder to do this, I've linked to this blog from my blog, so yeah, check it out, leave comments, and enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thought for the Day

I know this post won't be all that substantial, but an interesting thought occurred to me as I meditated on my pastor's sermon this morning and surfed my favorite blogs. As you may or may not have guessed by now, I am deeply interested in the whole "Calvinism vs. Arminianism" debate. Ever since my pastor spent a whole year preaching on the sovereignty of God, over the past several years I've read/seen multiple debates on the issue and read some quality material on the concept of "free will." Yeah, yeah, I know, I've pretty much always been a Calvinist, but I still enjoy hearing the arguments and biblical support from both sides of the debate.

That said, the thing that hit me is that one of the most prevalent arguments against Calvinism (but not completely for Arminianism either, see "edit") is that a loving God would not send someone to hell. One thing they fail to do, and, for that matter, something that Christendom on the whole fails to do, is look at the very nature of God's love. Take Romans 12:9, for instance. Paul is saying that true love abhors what is evil. Granted, this passage is talking about the love we as Christians should possess and demonstrate in our lives, but surely God's true and perfect love likewise abhors evil. Think about that. If true love hates evil, then why would we expect God to let sinners as horrible and rebellious as ourselves into heaven? The answer, of course, lies in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. When a person is saved, the punishment due to him by God is essentially transfered onto Christ. God, then, in a sense, looks upon him as holy and blameless.

The atonement aside, my point is that it is the nature of a loving God to send an evil person, in other words, every unsaved person to hell. This is, of course, assuming we use a biblical definition of God, but what other authority is there? Where did the oh-so-popular idea that "God is love" come from in the first place? The Bible, of course, and it is this very same Bible that says that true, Godly, love has no tolerance for evil. It may be hard to accept, but when an unsaved person faces God on judgment day, the loving thing for Him to do is send that person to hell, because He abhors what is evil. There is no attribute or part of God that wants to let the reprobate into His presence. His justice, His holiness, His wrath, and even His love all scream that the sinner get what he deserves--eternal damnation in the lake of fire.

*edit* I've been thinking about this a little bit more, and I'm realizing that instead of Arminianism, which has no problems with the reality of hell, this post has much more to do with answering to universalism and the, umm, more "positive" brand of Christianity. So ignore the first paragraph for the most part, it's not as relevant to the whole post as I thought it was going to be.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Satan can be so, so, well, loopy....

If there's one great falsehood that really creeps me out, if there's one massive lie that just sends chills down my spine, it's Mormonism. Yes, all those other heretical religions are sad and scary, but this one really rubs me wrong. I don't know why exactly. Maybe it's their totally off-the-wall beliefs, maybe it's because I have a really good relationship with a Mormon family. Whatever it is, it really does scare me.

I'm saying this because our church just watched a video last Wednesday that compared the Bible to the Book of Mormon. It examined the history, people, places, flora & fauna, etc. of the two books to see how they stood up in light of all the physical evidence we have. To put it bluntly, the Bible absolutely owned. I mean, I just did a big project on the identity of Jesus that eventually branched out into reliability of Scripture in general. It is amazing that, given all the archaeological and manuscript we as Christians get criticized as hard as we do by skeptics, atheists, and the like. Sure, a thing or two may be questionable, but there's no doubt that we at least have a decent body of evidence to support our faith.

In contrast, the Book of Mormon's account has nothing. That's right, nothing, zilch, nada. Not a single shred of evidence to support it's historical narrative. It talks about battles in North America where millions of people died, yet we have nothing. It mentions great cities and civilizations with great technology, yet there is no trace of them today. It mentions wheat, barley, and horses, yet none of these are found in North America. All they have is a one book with absolutely no reason whatsoever for believing in except for the fact that it claims to be revelation from God and brings good feelings. I've heard of blind faith, but this is just so, well, as the title suggest, loopy!

Now let me get something straight here: I don't want to make fun of Mormonism. I realize that many serious and clear-thinking people actually believe this, and I realize that this is a deeply thought-out and developed belief system. At the same time though, it's so terribly obvious that the whole thing is a outright lie. I don't exactly know what happened to Joseph Smith, or what he saw, but the guy is a total fraud. That's why it's ever so important that we stand up for the truth in times like these. For some reason, Mormonism is one of, if not the, fastest growing cults these days; we need to be showing them that the entire thing is a great falsehood and that salvation is found solely through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ as taught in the Bible. Unlike the fabrications of devils, God's word has stood, tried and true, for thousands of years. It is the sole, infallible, perfect, and complete source of knowledge and truth, and nothing can stand against it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Something to Cover me for the Week

Sadly, I have very little amazingly profound to blog about at the moment. At least, nothing amazingly profound that we shouldn't be aware of every day. For instance, today I had the privilege of listening to a couple Way of the Master podcasts while working on a small, mindless, job for a friend at church (gotta love the power of multitasking). They played a clip of R.C. Sproul essentially summarizing the main story of Scripture: God creating the world, notably mankind in His image; man rebelling against God; God having the amazing grace and love to send His only begotten Son to the cross to make a way of salvation for rebellious man. I'm sure you've heard it countless times, but there was something in the way Dr. Sproul (he is a Dr., right?) spoke and emphasized certain aspects of God's truly incredible love and mercy that just brought me to my knees. To think that God owes us absolutely NOTHING. To think that He would have been perfectly right and just to annihilate the human race the moment Adam fell. To think that He not only turned His back on but hated His own Son, another member of the Godhead, so that I could one day be reconciled to Him! I literally stopped what I was doing to wonder at and rejoice in the fact that God saved a wretch like me. I mean, WOW, I've heard the Gospel many times (and hopefully will hear it countless more times) yet it is still the most beautiful, precious, thing I have ever attempted to wrap my mind around, and it is infinitely better than anything else that's ever happened to me. Praise God!

*on a somewhat different topic* I also managed to spend my time reading two big long blog discussions on Calvinism vs. Arminianism (i.e. predestination vs. free will). That's right, two of one day (just linking to one of them though). Talk about a nice mental exercise. Needless to say, though, I came away from both with renewed convictions that the doctrines of Grace are indeed taught in God's Word. One commenter (from a discussion on the topic that I was reading several months ago) best summed in up in saying that you can search the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, but you will never find the concept of free will (at least, not in the Arminian/semi-Pelagian sense). Ironically, just about every verse I've seen used to support Arminian dogma is also completely consistent with the Calvinist position. In fact, one guy even went so far as to say that Calvinism does seem more heavily grounded in Scripture, but it still didn't sit well with his previous personal convictions. That, I think, seems to be the crux of the issue. Despite the repeatedly clear teachings of Scripture, some people just can't bring themselves to worship a God that would create people only to send them to hell. I would go on, but an excellent summary of this can be found in the James White vid I posted several weeks ago. Definitely one of the most powerful and truthful ten minutes of teaching I've ever heard.\

Edit: I'd also check out this recent article by Al Mohler on homosexual marriage in California. Short, sweet, and brilliant. He brings up and exposes some of the faulty reasoning behind this tragedy that I'd never really thought about before.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Screwtape Reaction

Okay I'll admit it. I'd really like to be able to churn out a nice, lengthy, review after every book I read (much like Mr. Challies), but I very rarely take notes when reading on my free time and I'm, well, not exactly in the "school/educational" mode at the moment. Thus, I'll have to make due with a "reaction post."

Overall, I found C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters to be a very good, thought provoking, and interesting read. I'd recommend it to almost any semi-mature Christian. There are two main things to observe before I launch into the bulk of the review, and it is important to keep these things in mind. First, this is a fictional, theoretical, speculative, and very personal book. It would be a grave mistake to assume that everything Lewis wrote is founded on Scripture, and I'm sure he would say the same. This is just one guy's take on spiritual beings, I personally doubt that Hell and devils really function the way Lewis describes them. Second, Lewis notes in the introduction that not everything Screwtape (the first person narrator of the book, a "high-ranking" devil) says is true; rather, it is only what he thinks is true.

That said, there are many things in the Screwtape Letters that one can learn and meditate upon. Namely, the nature, processes, and forms of temptation and sin. There were many great lines (probably one every other chapter) that I wish I could quote here. In other words, I was frequently examining my own life while reading this book, and I found several of Screwtape's examples and advice to be all too familiar. Several good points include:
--The spirit world is very real. Satan and his devils are constantly working to draw people away from God via lies, temptation, and confusion. They are always working to create the next huge damning worldview (in the specific case of this book: Nazism).
--The fact that every extreme a person could go to (except extreme devotion and service to God) can become dangerous and ultimately sinful.
--Pleasure is not in and of itself a bad thing; after all, God created pleasure. It should be noted, however, that the demons are quick to exploit and pervert this pleasure into sinful forms.
--A clear thinking head is Godly. One thing I found very interesting is that Screwtape often advocated confusion and unreasonable thinking. Lewis always painted reasonable and logical thinking as something that leads men to God. More often than not (actually, all of the time) devils try to confuse people, deaden their reasoning, and draw their mind away from the matter at hand. It is very interesting to consider that Screwtape takes satisfaction in the fact that "great scholars are now as little nourished by the past as the most ignorant mechanic who holds that 'history is bunk.'" All sin is ultimately foolish and unreasonable; it never makes real sense to do it, yet we too often are blinded to the simple truth.

Naturally, there are some things in The Screwtape Letters that I had to just flat-out reject. Most significant among this is the blatant Arminianism. This could, of course, be one of those things that Screwtape only thinks is true, because a God that "can only woo" makes for a much easier opponent for devils. Nevertheless, the whole "free will" thing was so prevalent in the book that I felt several points were worth addressing.
--God does not convince men to become Christians. Contrary to what Screwtape says (which Lewis may have considered untrue) God does have the power to directly save a person if He wants. He is the one that initiates, executes, and finishes salvation. Every stage of the salvation process directly involves the sovereign work of God.
--There is not some kind of "spiritual balance" between good and evil in the world. For some reason (probably due to Screwtape's perspective) this book left me with the impression that there is a delicate balance between good and evil, like two sides playing a game of strategy and constantly trying to exploit the other's moves. Yes, there is a struggle between good and evil, but God is not trying his best or failing to completely overcome evil. Instead, He is tolerates it for a time yet will ultimately triumph over Satan and accomplish His will for the universe.
--I have very little authority to speak on this matter, but I'm fairly sure that Screwtape misses the exact nature of prayer as well. Through some confusing chain of reasoning, he manages to argue against the notion that God works out our prayers in accordance with His will. In other words, Screwtape thinks that our prayers were not "predestined" to occur because if they were, then we wouldn't pray freely. Rather, God does not foresee, but sees things in "His unbounded Now." I, quite frankly, believe that prayers are predestined and that they are more for our benefit and God's glory than anything else. God knows our thoughts and our heart, and I don't believe that our prayers convince Him to do anything. That's why we pray for many things, but above all we pray that the Father's will be done.

Above all, though, The Screwtape Letters did bring up a very interesting "logical contradiction" of sorts. As mentioned, Lewis says that not everything Screwtape says is true, and I'll probably grant him that. One wouldn't expect the "Father of Lies" or his followers to speak the truth. However, I've also been told that Satan and co. know better theology than even the most brilliant and learned theologians ever to walk this earth. If this is so, though, then the devils must know even better than we as Christians do, that their struggling is vain because God is omnipotent and will ultimately triumph in the end. Now I'm sure their hatred of God is so intense that they will continue to rebel until God casts them all into the lake of fire. Here's the thing about The Screwtape Letters though: Screwtape seems confident that his side will eventually triumph. Now given the Arminian (perhaps even Pelagian) view from which he operates, I can see this being a bit more plausible, as there really is a true, undecided battle for souls.

I'll leave you with that thought...and the recommendation that you read this book.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Calm Before the Storm

Now that it's summer (and seeing as how I don't have a part-time job...yet) I'll try to be blogging a bit more extensively. I have a couple substantial ideas fermenting, but until then, here's a few tidbits:

--I've started off my summer reading, which hopefully will end up being quite extensive, with some good old C.S. Lewis. First was Prince Caspian. After seeing the movie (an excellent film btw) I decided to read the book to get a better feel for the two. Yeah, I know, the movie was quite a bit different, but you have to realize that the book, while great, is not structured like a good movie. So I respect the changes the Prince Caspian producers made in the film. Next up was The Screwtape Letters. A good friend of mine was reading it so I decided to do the same. Very interesting book to say the least. I'll likely be posting a more extensive review later.

--Okay I'm not very familiar with this band at all. In fact, I think I've only heard one of their songs, but I came across a link on to a free album download from Downhere. From what little I've heard, they seem like a decent group, and you can't go wrong with free...

--Ummm, let's see, I guess that's about it for now. I'm in a really rough little band with some friends and we actually have a pretty well developed song going at the moment. No, recording is still way off, but perhaps I'll post and discuss the lyrics one of these days.

Until then, go read something better, like, umm, say, maybe the Bible?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Okay, I've never really gotten into these kind of things, but I think this one might be kinda cool to check out every week or so. I saw on Yahoo the other day that some teenager from Marina Del Rey, California, named Zac Sunderland is going to attempt to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world. The guy is currently 16 years old, and yes, like almost all of the young overachievers in the world, he's homeschooled.

The link to his official site is here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Not to draw attention to own personal accomplishments, but since I'm graduating from Valley Oaks Charter School this week, I figured now was probably as good a time as any to give all the graduates out there my hearty "congratulations!" This is truly is a time to look back at what we've learned and accomplished, and, above all, to thank God for all the knowledge and privileges (specifically education, time, and determination) that he has blessed us with.

I've also prepared a speech to deliver at my graduation ceremony, so I'll deliver that here. Before you start, though, let me clarify a thing or two. My dad read through my speech and was concerned that I may have exhibited some postmodern tendencies when talking about truth. He seemed to get the impression that I was saying truth was subjective or decided by us. I can assure you THAT IS NOT THE CASE. I firmly believe that truth is absolute and transcendent. The main thrust of that section of the speech was that: 1. The concept of truth is controversial and uncertain in our society to day 2. We, as the next generation, will be the ones deciding how truth is determined, perceived, and defined 3. Therefore, we'd better be sure we get this whole "truth" thing right.

That's all I was trying to say. Whether we come to an accurate, biblical, understanding of the truth is another question all together. Clearly, this generation is currently making a huge mistake when it comes to truth, they are redefining it, obscuring it, and killing it, and that is their choice. They will, however, be judged for it, and our society is already starting to show the consequences of their decisions.

The other issue is that I do place great emphasis on people's choices, decisions, etc. in the speech. Calvinists, please do not fear, I am a firm "five-pointer," and I tried to carefully watch my wording in those sections. There is no question that we make decisions and are responsible for our decisions. However, I believe that God is sovereign over and through our decisions and he will ultimately decide where the ideas and values of mankind go, but that does not exempt us from our responsibility to do the right thing.

*inhales* Okay, that said, pretty much any high school (or possibly college) graduate is included in the overall intended audience of the speech. Hopefully someone will find it helpful and/or inspiring. Here it is:

To all the parents, teachers, friends, and family present tonight, allow me to extend a hearty “good evening”. And to my fellow graduates: I offer not only a “good evening” but my sincere “congratulations”!

I would very much like to reflect upon the great accomplishments of the students here tonight, and I would very much like to recollect all the great memories that I have accumulated while attending Valley Oaks Charter School. I’m sure it has been a long road of ups and downs for all of the graduates here tonight. Indeed, there is no question that you all have an excellent reason to be proud and satisfied at this moment. While we have, perhaps, encountered few obstacles larger than a Senior Seminar project, throughout the past four years, high school is a mountain in and of itself. It is a race of endurance, a marathon that requires years of preparation and plenty of help and support along the way. So first and foremost I want to make it clear that every student who will be walking across the stage this evening has definitely accomplished something special, and so I repeat my assertion: congratulations to each and every one of you.

That said, though, I also believe that a high school graduation merits not only a satisfied look backwards, but a hard, calculated look forward. Keeping your eye on the prize is a valid philosophy to live by in school, but our diplomas tonight are not the final be all and end all. They are not the ultimate grand prize we could ever hope to achieve (though it may have at times seemed like that to some of you). On the contrary, our diplomas are but another stepping stone in this grand obstacle course known as life. The thing that differentiates this proverbial checkpoint from the others in life, though, is that today we are suddenly endowed with great responsibilities and new privileges. This is not your eighth grade graduation where “everything counts now” (no disrespect to 8th graders). No, everything is now. We are all adults, or will be very soon; we are the next generation; we are the future of the amazing nation known as the United States of America. My fellow graduates, it does not matter whether you are destined for college, the military, or the workforce. We have all inherited great privileges, great rights, and great freedoms, but along with these we have also inherited great responsibility. It is up to you as individuals, it is up to us as a people, and it is up to us as the next wave of humanity, to decide who we are and who we will become. I hope you all realize that we do live in an era of great and tumultuous change, and I hope you all realize who is responsible for shaping the future of these changes.

For example, several months ago, I visited The Master’s College, which I will be attending this fall, and I was given the privilege of sitting in on several classes there. One of these classes happened to be some sort of a theology or philosophy course, and the professor, a Dr. Brian Morley, was talking about the concept of truth in our society. Eventually, he got into the different ways we determined truth and how we perceive truth in our lives, and while I cannot, unfortunately, remember his exact words, he did make the point that the notion of truth is a very debatable and, how should I put it, “chaotic” subject today. He also said that we, the students in that class and society as a whole, will therefore be the ones deciding how truth is perceived and defined in the future. I want you to think about that for a moment. We are talking about the core principles that people live by; the essential values that hold society together will, either directly or indirectly, be decided by us, you! Misunderstanding something like this could result in disastrous consequences. That, my fellow graduates, is an awesome responsibility.

At this point, some of you may be thinking “Oh, well that’s fine for you to say, but I’m just going to be another Army recruit” or “I’m just another construction worker.” To that I would respond: “And your point is?” Sure, you may not be the next president, bestselling author, rock star, or Olympic athlete, but you are a thinking, responsible, and important person nonetheless. Each of us, however insignificant we may seem, is capable of changing the world in some way. We need to realize that who we are and who we will be as people and as Americans is not going to be decided by politicians on Capitol Hill. No, it’s going to be decided by those of us in this room, and the deciding starts right now. If you look back over American history, you will find that the great social movements did not come from the political rulers of the day, they came from the people, from the masses. The abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, even the Revolutionary War came primarily from the people because the people wanted change. This great nation of ours was created of the people, by the people, and for the people, and I firmly believe that the future soul, the very core of America, is rooted in the hearts and minds of these young people here tonight.

I’ll admit it right now: I searched long and hard for a quote by some famous person that would tie in nicely with my message tonight, and after vainly searching for some time, I was reminded of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. This song is called Madmen and was written by a band called Wavorly, the second verse and chorus read:

"No excuses, the time for change is here and now
This is the real adventure
To move past what’s mediocre
Obsessed with entertainment
Step up or miss the point of it

We say that we’re the future
Only want it if it goes our way
The time we have is crucial
Will we put this off another day?"

It is important that we do not forget that the time for change is now, and the time we have is indeed crucial. By all means, please, relish the moment like a lifelong milestone; remember this day like you would any other wonderful occasion; and be satisfied that you have successfully arrived at the end of the very long and important journey called high school. All I ask is that you remember the fact that you are a vital part of the future, and you cannot put this responsibility off another day. Congratulations graduates, for today officially marks the end, of your beginning.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Wow, I wish I could literally say something here, as it comes out like "Emmhmmm" when I try to write it out. Let's just put it this way. There's decent preaching that makes you go "Hmm, ahhh, yes, that's true, that's nice, but..." There's good preaching that leaves you spiritually full: just good, solid exegesis of the Word and convicting truth. Then there's great preaching, preaching that makes you want to praise God, reach the lost, and rejoice in the truth. You know what I'm talking about, this is God's servant and His truth ON FIRE. Preaching that is best described here, and embodied in the following video:

Preaching that just leaves you adding nothing but a hearty "AMEN."

edit: original link to the vid is here.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I'm starting to feel kind of cheap just pulling stuff and ideas from other blogs, but hey, there are many brothers and sisters in Christ out there who have better ideas and say things better than I do.

Seeing as how it's Mother's Day and how I have woefully little prepared for the occasion (btw, love you so much Mom!) I was surfing around and came across a wonderful poem from the puritan book, Valley Of Vision called Family. It seriously is an amazing piece that really spoke to me and addressed some of the things I've been going through lately. Here it is:

Thou art the Creator-Father of all men, for thou hast made and dost support them;
Thou art the special Father of those who know, love and honour thee,
who find thy yoke easy, and thy burden light,
thy work honourable,
thy commandments glorious.
But how little thy undeserved goodness has affected me!
how imperfectly have I improved my religious privileges!
how negligent have I been in doing good to others!
I am before thee in my trespasses and sins,
have mercy on me,
and may thy goodness bring me to repentance.
Help me to hate and forsake every false way,
to be attentive to my condition and character,
to bridle my tongue,
to keep my heart with all diligence,
to watch and pray against temptation,
to mortify sin,
to be concerned for the salvation of others.
O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction of my kindred.
Let those that are united to me in tender ties
be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory.
Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion,
instruction, discipline, example,
that my house may be a nursery for heaven,
my church the garden of the Lord,
enriched with trees of righteousness of thy planting,
for thy glory;
Let not those of my family who are amiable, moral, attractive,
fall short of heaven at last;
Grant that the promising appearances of a tender conscience,
soft heart, the alarms and delights of thy Word,
be not finally blotted out,
but bring forth judgment unto victory in all whom I love.

Friday, May 9, 2008

So I haven't been posting much lately. Sad, as this blog is probably more for my benefit than anyone else. As an aspiring writer, it's good to have a "whatever-you-feel like" outlet in the midst of history papers and English essays.

In any case, I ran across a quote by C.S. Lewis that really stuck out to me. I think it's a great point, especially in our postmodern world and given the the promise of "change" from a certain presidential candidate today. Lewis writes (or said, idk).

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

Love it; the true path is indeed narrow, and there are few who find it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Expelled" movie review (for what it's worth)

I know, I know, I haven't posted in awhile...a long while actually. So allow me to issue a humble apology to all readers (that means you Thomas ; P). I could say things have been busy and crazy with the semester starting to wind down and scholarship applications due, but I really don't have any decent excuses, sorry. Here's the post:

After hearing hearty recommendations from Answers in Genesis, my Philosophy class, and others; and being already interested in the subject matter of the film, I figured I had basically no choice but to check out Ben Stein's new film, Expelled. Great stuff, Stein's project is extremely engrossing, inspiring, revealing, and, at times, humorous. This blogger thoroughly enjoyed it and recommends it to any and every thinking person in the United States...period.

To be sure, Expelled is bound to prompt a firestorm of controversy and debate, which is good. The entire thesis of the film centers around the alleged squelching of the intelligent design (ID) movement and it's relation to free speech in American. Interviewing prominent scientists, teachers, and philosophers, the suit-and-sneaker-wearing Stein embarks on a somewhat personal journey to discover if and how intelligent design is being suppressed in today's academia and whether or not such a theory really has scientific merit.

He begins by exposing "expelled" teachers and researchers, listening to their stories, and then interviewing those against ID. Stein then examines the precise claims of ID, showing their scientific basis (such as the complexity of the cell) and thus the inadequacies of Darwinian evolution. Following this, Stein examines the implications of this godless theory as demonstrated in the holocaust. Admittedly, I cannot provide much of a summary after this, I was up extremely late Friday and things started to get a tad hazy after 8:30, but suffice it to say that Expelled closed off with an (hmm, how should I put it?), "revealing" interview with Richard Dawkins, calling the viewers to action and noting that it will take more than a small film by Ben Stein to change the academic oppression today.

I've heard (and only heard) that the film has been ripped by both sides. Those from the more liberal/secular side denounce Expelled as mere creationist propaganda, while, ironically, some creationists wish Stein had used the opportunity to share more evidence for creation. For starters, I personally don't see the film as any kind of propaganda or foolishness at all. Expelled goes to great lengths to make it clear that we just want to ask questions and engage in healthy, scientific, debate. I don't even think the film claims that ID is correct or better than Darwinian evolution. It is simply trying to alert the American populace to an important and controversial issue. I am, admittedly, a creationist (one of those literal six-day wackos at that) and also think the film could have been a little more supportive of the creationist cause. Nonetheless, Stein asks many brilliant men a lot of questions and makes few assertions of his own. Aside from the valid comparison between the Berlin wall and today's science, there is virtually nothing in this film meriting the "propaganda" tag.

The upshot of everything, as I've said, is that this is a really solid film that is worth seeing, even if you're already somewhat familiar with the evolution-creation debate. If you haven't seen it, be sure to check it out soon. The more support for projects like this the better.

(edit: check out OldTruth for an excellent review/discussion on Expelled, there's some great insights there, as usual)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Some Odds & Ends for the Weekend

or as Mr. Challies would put it, "Friday Miscellanea. " Here's what I've been thinking about.

1. How about the American Idol performance of "Shout to the Lord" recently? I must admit I had some mixed reactions at first, it really irked me that they left out "Jesus" from the lyrics. At the same time, though, it's great that they're singing a great worship song like that for millions of people. I, for one, don't want to really take a strong stance either way, but it's definitely worth thinking about and searching the scriptures over.

2. I was really excited when I first heard about the recent Steve Gregg vs. James White debate on Calvinism. No other truths of Scripture are as stimulating, encouraging, and engrossing to me as the doctrines of grace. Granted, I haven't had the discipline to download even one hour of the debate, but I wonder if it's really the best use of my time. I know, I know, you really can't study a doctrine in Scripture too much, but I've examined the Calvinism issue so much that I wonder if I might be better off listening to a sermon on something like the fruits of the spirit, repentance, or evangelism.

3. My English class recently had the privilege of reading Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" in its entirety. All I can say is, dude, that guy could preach it! Seriously, it's tough to just read that thing; I can only imagine hearing a fiery message like that in person. Last year, I was blessed with the chance to do a big English project on him (different English class than this one) so I'm somewhat familiar with the guy; God really used him in some powerful ways. The sad thing is that he's so misunderstood by the secular world. My current class in particular says that he was trying to scare the people into being "reborn." I've noticed secular texts are really big on using the term "rebirth" to describe the Puritans' view of salvation; this is obviously not wrong, but it just strikes me as somewhat tedious and condescending to use only that one term when talking about Puritans. How about "regeneration," "repentance," or "salvation?" Those are good. In any case, they really got it all wrong, Edwards wasn't trying to scare people into getting "reborn," he was preaching the gospel. Yes he was obviously pleading with sinners to realize the danger of their situation, repent, and flee into the arms of Christ, but all the while Edwards trusted in God to gather His elect accomplish His will. Edwards wasn't manipulating people, just fulfilling the great commission. I, for one, would love to have that kind of knowledge, selflessness, and love of the Lord. I look forward to meeting him in heaven someday.

edit, 4. That video some friends and I made for the Academy Awards, Reliance and Revenge, is officially online now. It's lost some quality, but you can watch the video on GodTube here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Happy Atheist Day!

Check out Pyromaniacs for a good discussion on that topic. I regrettably do not have anything special planned for the occasion, but I have been saving a little something in my back pocket for awhile.

I like to write, plain and simple, and when I came across a songwriters/lyricist contest a few weeks ago, I figured "Hey, might as well try my hand at writing some lyrics." So I sat down one Saturday afternoon and pieced together these words. It's basically about looking back at my salvation, seeing my completely fallen state, and marveling at the amazing grace and love of God. How or why He came into my life and forgave a sinner like myself is still beyond me.

Not of Me

I’m looking into the reflection of yesterday
Back when I had nothing to break my fall
I was more than alone, there was a debt to be paid
I was the worst, I’m the worst of them all

But somehow, someway
You chose to come in and save the day
You ransomed me wholly
Bruised the One who was worthy
Not of me, but of love,
Not of me, only grace

Now I see clearly the way that things are
I’ve earned nothing but wrath and pain
I was crushed, convicted, saw I was marred
But faith placed in You turned this loss into gain

Because somehow, someway
You chose to come in and save the day
You ransomed me wholly
Bruised the One who was worthy
Not of me, but of love
Not of me, only grace

How can this truth conceivably be
Why would you ever think of me
When I’d only hated You—

Until somehow, someway
You chose to come in and save the day
You ransomed me wholly
Bruised the One who was worthy
Not of me, but of love
Not of me, only grace

Yeah somehow, someway
You chose to come in and you saved me
You ransomed me wholly
Bruised the One who was worthy
Not of me, but of love
Not of me, only grace

Not of me, but of love
Not of me, only grace

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's one thing to have faith

but this story is something else. I admittedly don't know many details, but the parents' actions bring up some very important points that are worth thinking about. Namely, is it possible to have too much faith? Or to put it slightly differently, to what extent should we rely on God and his sovereignty?

I was actually going to bring something like this up in a later post, but I might as well pull it out now. To put it bluntly, I think there is a balance that needs to be struck here. I mean, God could have saved the girl, right? Of course, but just because God is omnipotent over every single atom in the universe doesn't excuse us from action. It reminds me a lot of the story of a devout man who, during a terrible flood, resisted all help because he trusted in God to save him and ended up drowning. When he got to heaven he realized that God had provided a way to save him (via rescue workers in boats, helicopters, etc.) , he just didn't see the earthly help.

Now I just realized that that analogy could be incorrectly applied to the salvation process (and probably had been) but that isn't my point here. The idea is that we shouldn't live foolishly while trusting in God to do everything for us. God gave us reason; he wants us to be smart and use wisdom and reason in these things. As my pastor once said: "If I had a deadly brain tumor, I would get my hands on the best available surgeon out there." By all means pray for the sick girl. Pray like nobody's business, but use some common sense. Buckle your seatbelt, wear a life jacket, study for tests, and go to the doctor, all the while knowing that God is working all things together for your good and His glory.

Friday, March 21, 2008

You want application?!?!?!

I'll give you application! Came across this post by Tim Challies (great blog btw), and found it to be a truly exemplary post. Definitely a great reminder and chock full of applicable truth.

If I may be so bold, though, as to add a quick note to Mr. Challies post. Seeing as this is the Easter season, we as Christians must always remember that we can and should forgive others because Christ has first forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). As one blogger whose site and name escapes me said, we must always tie our studies and doctrines back to the cross somehow. Hopefully you can see how forgiving others and repenting of our sin are related to Christ's sacrifice.

Happy Substitutionary Atonement Day and Resurrection Day!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Well, I had something else but...

I just couldn't pass this up. Found this vid on Mr. Turk's blog and ended up spending my first free 90 min. of Easter Vacation watching Dr. Keller's lecture and Q&A at Berkley. All I can say is wow, intellectually challenging, theologically solid (except for some iffy ideas about hell, see the comments on Cent's blog for more), applicable, and even convicting. I know this is probably too formal, complicated, and in depth for some of you to enjoy, I'm sure a few things even went over my head, but as I've said its quality stuff nonetheless. At the very least listen to the first 45 min. or so. The Q&A was good but after the first half I was a little disappointed.

Anyhoo, enjoy:

Saturday, March 8, 2008

What is American coming to?

I'm guessing most of you, especially Californians and those in my circle of the Blogosphere, have heard about the new ruling that threatens to ban homeschooling in California. Now before I say anything further, I admit there's some way better evaluations of this in other places, I'd especially recommend Dr. Al Mohler's and Dan Philip's recent posts on the subject.

That said, as a lifelong homeschool student and Californian, it's probably fair for me to put in a word or two of my own thoughts. Admittedly, I'll be graduating this May and my mom has been blessed with a teaching credential, but this decision has some serious ramifications not only in my life but to our nation. The way I see it, this ruling goes against our country's principles of freedom and rights, as well as the biblical mandate for government. I understand our officials' concerns, and every student should certainly have a quality education, but this is taking things way too far. We are beginning to make the state supreme and in charge of the way the next generation thinks. As one blogger put it, we're moving towards the "People's Republic of California" and that is not a good thing. I've recently been studying Communism in my (biblically based) Philosophy class, and, to put it bluntly, it demonstrates some frightening parallels to this state ruling.

The scariest thing of all, though, is not necessarily the fact that our freedoms are being taken away, it's the teaching that the next generation of Californians are going to receive. To summarize in one sentence, the public school system has and will forsake God's Word for the latest notions of post-modernism, multiculturalism, and "science." Children will be founded upon error-filled and man-centered principles, and they will be encouraged to accept and engage in sinful practices. We're talking flat out indoctrination here; the state will be deciding how we think and what we believe. This is all not to mention the fact that parents (and the family unit as a whole) will be gradually stripped of their God-ordained responsibilities and role in modern society. This is a massive step in the wrong direction people.

Granted, I'm just one person and a very sinful one at that, I know that my blog isn't going to change anything. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that all of my personal efforts and deeds, in and of themselves, cannot change anything either. Only God, the sovereign Lord and creator of the universe, is in control and only He can change the hearts, minds, and souls of a nation. In these dark times, we must never forget that God alone is weaving the fabric of events together for His glory and the good of those who love Him. This is not to say, though, that we should sit back and let the world careen off down the path of error and destruction. On the contrary, God often uses imperfect instruments like us to accomplish his purposes. It is this next generation of Christians, even those in the school system, who will be called to serve Christ and stand up for the Truth in an age of deceit, lies, perversion, and injustice. As Christians we can do all things, but only through Jesus Christ who empowers us.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Something to chew on

I was intending sometime this week to post more on our movie, but our chief editor and director, Thomas Harlander, has been pretty much swamped this past week with homework, editing, and the like. I asked him for at least some screen shots, but alas, he hasn't provided me with any just yet. Therefore (since I promised at least one new post every week and will be busy tomorrow), I'll already be resorting to a filler to keep anyone and everyone happy.

This is a vid played to Mainstay's song Mirrors. If there's one band I can safely and wholeheartedly recommend, it's Mainstay. From my very limited experience, these guys have the best lyrics in Christian music today, and, to put in bluntly: they rock! This song in particular is very deep, and the vid only serve to bring out the message even more, so without further ado, enjoy!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Coming to a theater near you...well, maybe not.

As some of my readers who I'm personally acquainted with know, I and an awesome group of friends are putting the finishing touches on our first official film for the Christian Youth Film Festival. It has been, to say the least, an overwhelming and completely unanticipated process for all of us, but by the grace of God we've finally managed to brainstorm, write, cast, film, and edit the darn thing. That said, I think all of us have really learned a lot and been challenged to (as the message in our movie says) rely on God at all times for all things.

With so much time and effort invested into this movie, I figured it at least deserved some kind of special place on the internet. Thus, my blog will be serving as the official temporary website of Reliance and Revenge. It is a hilarious heist/action flick about a teenage guy named Logan who was humiliated by a girl (Ashely) in the past. In the film Logan tries to get revenge by recruiting an elite team of thieves and stealing something from her. I know, I know, kinda weird plot given the context and everything, but as the writer, what can I say? At least it's fairly original.

Anyhoo, the film will likely be featured in the aforementioned contest, which is happening next Sunday, March 2nd, at the Majestic Fox Theater in Bakersfield California. You can find more details through the link. I would love to post the film as soon as our editor (Thomas Harlander) is finished editing, but in order to be fair to everyone spending $10 on a ticket to see the film (along with the other top ten contestants), that will probably have to wait. Nevertheless, we will also be making a "Special Extended Friends and Family Edition" of the film which is basically the film how it's supposed to be. Unfortunately, the contest puts a ten minute limit on all of the films while ours was originally a solid fifteen minutes long. Guess I'll have to keep you posted on the status on that, be looking for a cast list and maybe even a poster or trailer in next couple days.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A little something to kick things off:

Okay, so this is pretty much the most prominent piece of writing I've produced (so far, at least, I've written two scripts and both will be performed soon). The piece here is actually a little article about inspiration and role it plays in writing. It was published in the Septermber-October California edition of NextStep Magazine. You can read the edited article here. The original (and I think better) version goes as follows:

"As a high school student headed for college, I’ve noticed that one of the most important academic skills one can possess is a talent for writing. No matter what major or profession you pursue in high school and college, sooner or later you are going to have to write. Therefore, I’d like to share and discuss a few writing tips that I’ve acquired thus far in high school, specifically those pertaining to essays. Ironically, I was sorely lacking in inspiration for this article until a few moments ago; therefore, I’ve decided to focus primarily on the concept and importance of inspiration.
Inspiration is a writer’s greatest asset. If I ever become famous as a writer (not likely) that will be the quote I’m known for because it really sums up my writing philosophy. If you don’t have inspiration or ideas, you’re not going anywhere. You absolutely need something to write about. It is extremely difficult to put something meaningful, ordered, logical, and well structured down on paper if you do not have a plan or an idea that you are comfortable with.
I can imagine your response: “Yeah Andrew, that’s nice, but where do you get this ‘inspiration’?” To be honest I cannot give you a hard and fast answer, no one can, but it really helps to find something you’re interested in. My best works have generally revolved around a topic I enjoy or are familiar with. For instance, I’ve written a personal narrative essay about my first time paintballing. I’ve also turned in essays referencing games like Warcraft III, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Axis and Allies! Believe it or not, I received an “A” on every one of these assignments!
Papers are also a great field to express philosophical ideas. In fact, there is no better format to argue things such as one’s religious convictions. For example, I wrote about the depravity of man just last semester. Teachers often look primarily for the student’s views or interpretation and evidence to support them. If you write about something you’re passionate or knowledgeable about, it is that much easier to successfully argue your point.
Granted, you won’t always have this complete “freedom of topic”, and I admit that at times it can be very difficult to write essays when you are only given a few specific prompts. Do not let this hinder you, though, even if you are confined to a few or even one select topic, you can still have a little fun with your essay. I’ve mentioned Star Wars in an introduction to a biology essay about cloning, and just last spring, I quoted the lyrics from a Relient K song in a composition about The Scarlet Letter! If you are familiar with any of the band’s music, you know that Relient K is not exactly “formal essay” material. However, the lyrics fit perfectly with the point I was attempting to convey, so I used them. Again, I received a solid score on this paper as well!
My point is that it’s good to have a bit of fun with your writing, not that you should be constantly going on long expositions about Halo or quoting Jack Sparrow, but there is nothing wrong with using cool or fun subjects when appropriate. It is so much easier to be stimulated by something you like. Once again: inspiration is a writer’s greatest asset."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Welcome to my blog...

Greetings readers (if any),

You are about to enter the non-specific thought life of, well, let’s just say a “different” high schooler. I have no expectations of dramatically affecting the world in these writings, in fact, the only thing that I ultimately desire of these words is that they would somehow bring glory, praise, and recognition to God. Please note this is not intended to be a journal or regular diary; rather, I’m simply posting any observations, concepts, links, articles and so on that life brings my way. Some posts you may find completely expected and perfectly normal for a person my age, other topics will possibly surprise and maybe even challenge you. That said…enjoy!