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Yesterday a devastating tornado ripped through Moore, OK killing dozens and injuring far more. An elementary school was among the many structures that were massively damaged. My heart breaks for the people of Moore, OK. Especially since this is the second tornado in 15 years to devastate this city (1999 Tornado Outbreak). I feel especially burdened for the people of Moore, OK, because the scenes of destruction seem all too familiar. Below I have put a picture from yesterday’s tornado next to a picture from the tornado that hit Union University in 2008, which I have written about before (Why Tornado Alarms Make Me Freak Out a Little Inside) .
So, please join me in prayer for the people of Moore, OK. They have suffered traumatic loss of life and property. I can personally attest to what sort of damage this does to a community, but I can also attest to the strong sense of community that will always exist between the people that have lived through this. Pray for the people of Moore. Pray that they will find more survivors today.
If you wish to donate to help the people of Moore, OK, click on the image below to be taken to the Red Cross website.
Until later friends…
This is how I feel today:
We had a dodgeball tournament this weekend at church to raise money for the youth group’s summer trip. It was really fun. I had a great time getting to meet new people…and throwing things at them. We had a pretty good team, and we performed better than I expected. I learned that my former college roommate, now school teacher still has a heck of an arm. Imagine this guy with glasses and a bowtie:
Overall, I had a great time, and I am very thankful to have not been injured. Today, less than 24 hours later, I am fully aware that I sit at a desk most of the week and just did physical activity for several hours. In other words, I am walking like an old man (complete with requisite grunts and groans). I do not regret it at all. I loved getting to play dodgeball again, it truly is an under appreciated sport. Hopefully we can bring in some more outside talent for the next tournament, like ole Randy Johnson:
Until later friends…
From time to time I find it difficult to write about anything significant. On days like this, I like to share with you funny/entertaining things I have come across on Youtube.
Goats Yelling Like Humans
I have had some experiences with goats on various farms and petting zoos, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard one like this. I laughed for several minutes the first time I saw this.
2Cellos – “Hurt”
I am a big fan of classical music and Johnny Cash. Put those two together and you have this. (Granted, Johnny Cash was doing a cover of NIN, but I think Johnny did it best)
The Notebook as a horror film
Several parodies of The Notebook went all over social media around Valentines Day. This was my favorite.
Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are two of my favorite actors. This interview just solidifies that.
Gotye “Somebody I Used to Know” Dutch Choir Cover
Sure, Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know” has jumped the shark, but that doesn’t make this cover any less entertaining for me.
Until later friends…
Today is Fat Tuesday. What is Fat Tuesday you may ask? Well, I blogged about this very question a while back for Prima – Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and the Bunn Ultra-2. I have quoted a bit from that post here, with some added thoughts on Ash Wednesday.
Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in French) is synonymous with excess and immorality. You might wonder “How on earth does a ginormous party in which everyone eats cajun food, imbibes enough alcohol to kill a horse, dances around (half-)naked, and engages in other such debaucheries have any relation to a religious festival?” I’m glad you asked. In order to understand the origins of Mardi Gras, you must first have a general understanding of Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is the 46 days (40 days not including Sundays) that precede Easter. Christians have historically used Lent as a time to abstain from meat or other pleasures as a means of looking forward to Good Friday and Easter (the most significant days of the Christian calendar). Somewhere along the line in the history of Christendom, someone thought: “Well, since we are going to give up our favorite foods for the next 46 days, let’s enjoy them today.” Thus, was born Fat Tuesday. It initially started as a feast, but it soon devolved into the utter chaos that is Mardi Gras.
What we now know as Mardi Gras developed from a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gospel. It turned a momentous day in the church calendar (Ash Wednesday) into a get out of jail free card day. The idea is that you can get 40 days worth of gluttony and sinning done in one day, and get your pardon the next day at church by having ash spread on your forehead. This is diametrically opposed to what the Bible teaches about grace and the Christian life.
That is not to say Ash Wednesday is bad. Ash Wednesday, when properly understood, is a wonderful day in the church calendar. It is a time for reflection on our own mortality. It is a time to honestly reassess our lives and repent of sin. Lent is great when done in a spirit of repentance and worship. When it is seen as a “have-to” event, it loses its meaning (or when people use it as an excuse to diet). Here are some helpful blogs my church put out concerning their practice of Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday Blogs:
Until later friends…
Today is the birthday of two of the top baseball players of all time: Jackie Robinson and Ernie Banks. I respect both of these men for the way they played the game, but more importantly for the way they handled themselves as they were faced with the harsh racism of the mid-1900s.
Jackie Robinson would be 94 years old today.
As you know, Jackie Robinson broke the “color barrier” in Major League Baseball. Without Jackie Robinson, there would have been no Hank Aaron, no Willie Mays, or no Ernie Banks. He endured years of abuse, but he never fought back. The best resistance he could offer to the widespread racism and ignorance was to play better than anyone else. He won the Rookie of the Year and the MVP. He also won the World Series with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Jackie Robinson Stats:
Career Batting AVG: .311
1947 Rookie of the Year
1949 NL MVP
1949 NL Batting Title
2x Stolen Base Champion (1947 & 1949)
Every February in elementary school we had to do a report on someone that contributed to Civil Rights and equality. I always wrote about Jackie Robinson. I’ve probably read 5 biographies of him. He is the only player to have his number retired for the entire MLB. Happy Birthday Jackie!
Ernie Banks is 82 years old today. Happy birthday to you Mr. Banks.
Ernie Banks is a super classy man. He played for 19 years with the Cubs. He won the MVP twice, but he never made it to the World Series. When asked if he would go to another team with the chance of making the World Series he said: “I didn’t say anything. But the answer to that was, ‘No, I’m satisfied playing for the Cubs, playing day-baseball in Chicago, the middle of the United States.’ I was satisfied with that.” (source: Ernie Banks: A Beacon for Baseball). He put up great numbers throughout his career, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot (a very rare achievement). As I wrote last week, I recently got to meet Ernie Banks, and it was a joy.
Ernie Banks Stats:
512 Home Runs – #21 All-time (#15 if you don’t count the steroid users)
2x NL MVP (1958 & 1959)
14x All Star
A very hearty birthday to Mr. Jackie Robinson and Mr. Ernie Banks from For Aslan…and the Volunteer State.
Until later friends…
I’m not one for sentimental reflections. I didn’t follow the trend on Facebook of doing a “My 2012” review. It seemed cheesy and inappropriate for the year that I’ve had. As Jen and I were talking last night after church, it occurred to us that it has been a year since our daughter was diagnosed with multiple heart defects. This has been the best and worst year of my life. It truly is the year I never hoped for, but it is the year God graciously walked me through.
One year ago this week, we went to a pediatric cardiologist for the first time. We hoped against hope that our sweet Lily would be just fine. We hoped that all the doctors and specialists were simply mistaken and that there was nothing wrong with her. How could there be anything wrong with my baby girl? Let alone something so terrifying as a heart defect? After our first meeting with the pediatric cardiologist, we learned that our Lily not only had one heart defect – she had four. Words cannot describe the emotional roller coaster that we embarked upon that day. I could write a book about our experiences, but I will limit this post to listing things that I am grateful for from this year.
I am thankful for my wife Jennifer
This is a picture of my wife and daughter a few days after Lily’s open-heart surgery. That tower of IVs is about 2/3 as full as it was the first days after the surgery, when I didn’t have the heart (or the wits about me) to take a picture of it. My wife is a saint. I love her, and I am immensely thankful for her. In the midst of all of this, her conduct has reminded me constantly of why I fell in love with her. This was the most heart-wrenching and difficult time of our life together, but we made it through it. I love you Jennifer.
I am thankful for our families
We were blessed to have near constant companionship from our families throughout our stay in the hospital, and they have continued lovingly supporting us over the months that followed. The love and support that they have shown us can never be repaid. We love y’all.
I am thankful for our friends
When Lily was in surgery, we had over a dozen of our friends sitting and waiting with us. They prayed, ate, laughed, and cried with us. I will never forget those hours. You guys (and gals) that were there: you will never know what a blessing that was. We had tons of people supporting us. We received so many meals, gifts, emails, notes, calls, cups of coffee, texts, etc. that I could never hope to thank each person properly. So, Thank you to all of y’all.
I am thankful for our Church
We had been at Sojourn East just a few months when we found out Lily’s diagnosis. From day one, our church stood side by side with us. I am thankful for every sermon and every song that broke and restored me over 12 months of fear, pain, and joy. I am thankful for that one usher that prayed with me on the Sunday after Lily’s surgery while I wept in the back of the auditorium. I don’t know your name dude, but you were the body of Christ to a brother in need that day. I am thankful for my elders and deacons that loved on us through the midst of all of this. I am thankful for our community group that served as a second family.
I am thankful for my job
Prima has been incredible to me this year. I was shown immense flexibility as I learned to deal with life-altering changes. My co-workers are some of my closest friends, and they too served us in innumerable ways this year.
I am thankful for Kosair Children’s Hospital
Praise God for a place with such excellent doctors and nurses as Kosair’s. Praise God for the care Lily received, and the kindness and concern shown to Jen and me every day.
I am thankful for medical technology
Lily’s heart defects were noticed in an ultrasound when Jen was 17 weeks pregnant. Think about that. That’s crazy. I am thankful that we were forewarned about Lily’s condition. We had months to prepare for her surgery and care. This is a blessing. Some dear friends of ours faced a similar situation with about three days’ notice, and they handled it exceedingly well, but I am thankful that we had the time to prepare.
I am thankful for godly musicians
I am a musician at heart. God continually ministered to me through music over the past year. I wrote one post about it: Farther Along.
And of course….I am thankful for my sweet daughter
So, 2012 wasn’t the year I hoped for, but it’s the year I got. I have learned more what faithfulness truly means. God is faithful in the midst of our worst times. He shows Himself to us through little bits of grace: a cup of coffee, a hug, a meal, a shared laugh during a hard time. Thank you to all of you that ministered to us through this time.
Until later friends…
Welcome to the final installment of the For Aslan Christmas Gift Guides. This guide will help you find a great gift for your evangelical theology nerd loved ones. This list is a mixture of really great books you can get for cheap and multi-volume collections that most theology nerds are too poor to buy for themselves. These are all great gifts for your pastor, youth pastor, poor seminarian, theological blogger, or armchair theologian.
THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $0-$25
A Little Exercise for Young Theologians by Helmut Thielicke – $7.19
If you know someone in seminary or Bible college, I implore you to buy them this book. This book is a swift kick in the gut to pride that can swell up when people get a semester’s worth of theology and Greek under their belts. Thielicke provides a great reminder that the study of God produces humility when done properly.
The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler – $8.99
Matt Chandler is one of my favorite preachers alive. He is an excellent example of biblical preaching, and he has glorified God throughout his suffering with cancer (Don’t Waste Your Cancer an Interview with Matt Chandler).
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney – $10.87
Most young Christians that ask their youth pastor how to grow “deeper” in their faith will receive an answer somewhere along the lines of “Pray and read your Bible.” This is true, but Donald Whitney provides very real and practical steps in this modern classic.
Knowing God by J.I. Packer –$11.99
Other than the Bible, this is my favorite book on earth.
Martin Luther Bobblehead – $18.95
Does anyone really need a Martin Luther bobblehead? No. Would many people appreciate it as a gift? Yes.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – $19.48
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a brilliant expositor of the Bible. This is a very long book, but it is worth the price and the time needed to read it.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography by Eberhard Bethge – $32.34
This is the exemplary biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Everyone loves Bonhoeffer, conservative evangelicals and theological liberals alike. If you want to get them an actual Bonhoeffer book, go for Discipleship or Life Together.
THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $25-$50
Spurgeon’s Sermons, 5 Volumes by Charles H. Spurgeon – $49.99
Spurgeon was amazing. All theology nerds get a bit geeked out about Spurgeon. Plus, this set looks great on a bookshelf.
THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $50-$100
God, Revelation, and Authority, 6 Volumes by Carl F. H. Henry – $96.99
Carl F. H. Henry founded Christianity Today. He was one of the great evangelical voices of the 20th century, and this is the pinnacle of Henry’s scholarship.
THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $100+
Church Dogmatics, 14 Volumes by Karl Barth – $129.99
I love Karl Barth. True, we have some major theological differences, but I respect him a ton. This work usually costs upwards of $400, however, in recent years this publication has come out for much cheaper.
The Early Church Fathers, 38 Volumes – $229.99
So…this is wicked expensive. Most of these works are available online now. But we all know reading a book on real paper is 1,000 times better than reading on an e-reader or computer screen. This would be a great gift for someone if a bunch of people pitched in, but I personally think it’s a crazy amount of money to drop by yourself.
Until later friends…
After a nice Thanksgiving weekend, I am greeting you this Cyber Monday with a continuance of the For Aslan Christmas Gift Guides. Below you will find a series of gifts, arranged according to price, that are sure to please your favorite History Buff. While a nice trip to a Civil War battle site or a museum would be great gifts for history buffs, you can’t give those gifts from a laptop while sitting on your couch in your underwear. Everything on this list, you can.
GIFTS FOR HISTORY BUFFS – $0-$25
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque – $10.20
This is one of the best war novels of all time. This book captures the horrors of trench warfare, and it accurately represents the German sentiments during World War I. You could also get them the film, which is a classic.
Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion by Edward Larsen – $11.53
This book concerns the Scopes Trial in Dayton, TN. This trial captured the cultural shift of the United States as Christian fundamentalism retreated from the public square. This book is fair and balanced.
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic 1789-1815 by Gordon Wood – $13.37
Gordon Wood is one of the premier American historians. This book covers a fascinating era of American history, and every American needs to know more about the War of 1812.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond – $17.82
Guns, Germs, and Steel is required reading for many college history classes. It is a general world history book concerning the three main downfalls of society: guns, germs, and steel.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown – $18.45
A helpful balance to the white-man’s version of American history so many of us received growing up. This book details the horrid things done to the Native Americans in the name of Manifest Destiny.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer – $19.79
William Shirer was a reporter in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s. He provides excellent firsthand accounts of the rise and fall of the Nazi regime.
GIFTS FOR HISTORY BUFFS – $25-50
The Civil War: A Narrative (3 Vol. Set) by Shelby Foote – $47.33
Shelby Foote is just great. He is a fantastic storyteller. If you (or your favorite history buff) are interested in the Civil War, these are the books to read. They are entertaining and informative.
Various Historic Memorabilia from Ebay
There are tons of interesting things online from all periods of history. Just be careful not to buy a reproduction, unless that’s what you’re shopping for.
GIFTS FOR HISTORY BUFFS – $50+
The Second World War (6 Vol. Set) by Winston Churchill – $74.55
Winston Churchill was one of the great heroes of World War II. In this 6 volume set, he recounts the history of the second world war as only Winston Churchill could.
Netflix (1 Year Subscription) – $84
Netflix? Really? Oh yeah. If your history buff does not have Netflix, give them a subscription. There are tons of documentaries. Ken Burns’ Baseball, The Civil War, The War, and Jazz make it worth the price alone. Plus, there are many other great non-Ken Burns documentaries.
Until later friends…
Christmas shopping season has begun
I fully believe that you, my readers, are healthily sane people that do not wish to risk being trampled for the sake of cheap electronics. I want to help you meet your Christmas shopping goals, as well as your life goal of not dying at Wal-Mart. So, I will be sharing with you some Christmas Gift Guides for various demographics covered in this blog. All of these gifts will be things you can buy online, without risking life and limb with all those crazies out there. So, keep an eye out for the following:
Christmas Gift Guides
And this is for some laughs at the craziness that is Christmas shopping season: