Public Enemy

I recently put my new CD burner to use and slapped together a CD with tunes that, well, I probably shouldn’t admit I like and that I certainly won’t ever own the full albums from which they were lifted. Anyway, I had to drive over to the hospital last night where a friend was having an emergency appendectomy, and I had the CD playing… man, Public Enemy could jam. Fight the Power is like nothing else. The music, the agenda, the lyrics, the attitude, it all gels into this incredible groove of anger and pride. Now, I’m not saying that everyone out there should like the lyrics/agenda/attitude/music, but it is incredible to behold.

Electronic abacus

What a fun blast from the past. The Economist has posted a 1954 article they published titled Electronic abacus, which examines the possible business uses for these strange new creatures called “computors.” They have some great quotes like, “There are those who do not believe in the desirability of introducing anything as esoteric as electronics into business routine at all,” but they generally demonstrate real insight into the coming revolution.

Russia on the ground

The Russians are now acting like a staunch ally? This is rather incredible, yet I’ve seen nothing in the press admitting bias or error in the early assessments that Bush was stirring up all sorts of trouble with Russia and was doomed on the foreign policy front. Here’s a quote that captures the flavor of what is going on:

Labeling himself “an old Cold Warrior,” one U.S. intelligence source said the transformation of U.S.-Russian cooperation from initial wariness to trusting cooperation “is the most mind-boggling change I’ve seen in my career.”

Earthly tents

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

I have lots of questions about II Corinthians, but here’s a brief one. Is there some corollary between the earthly tent => eternal house and the tabernacle => temple? As Jesus tabernacled among us, do we ‘tabernacle’ in some sense?

Parenting, Punishment, and the Gospel

Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure of having the gospel beaten into my thick skull over and over. Our assistant pastor is particularly persistent with exhortations to trust in the promises of God rather than ‘gutting it out’ as an act of self-reformation that we then offer to God. That’s probably a poor summary of a crucial teaching, but hopefully it hints at the emphasis to which my thoughts have drifted time and time again recently. The basic idea is that in repentance, we do not turn from sin, grit our teeth, and stop sinning. Rather, we turn from sin and look to Jesus, embracing his sufficiency and the assuredness of his promises on our behalf. It is here, not in our own determined efforts, that we find a respite from sin.

Now, some parents follow a basic parenting guideline that says you should offer your children choices and teach them to make good decisions. I’m all for that. With my daughter, Abigail (who will turn three in about a month), I’ll say something like, “Either do as I say now or come here to get spanked.” See? It’s all about choices…

But about two months ago I began to wrestle with the interaction between my discipline of Abigail and her discipleship. I do not mean to imply that discipline is contrary to discipleship. Rather, I began to worry that my pattern of discipline was perhaps open to alternative (and wrong) interpretations. That is, as Abigail grew and made conclusions about life and God, though my discipline was not contrary to the truth, I was concerned that it was too open to improper interpretations, interpretations that were perhaps contrary to the Gospel.

Then it hit me. The first command with a promise is the fifth (Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”), and the fact that it is the first that includes a promise is of theological significance. Now we know that the Mosaic Covenant was a covenant built on faith, and if one follows up on the ten commandments, one quickly realizes they are the outworking of a lively faith. That is, the Israelites were not following an arbitrary law, they were entrusting themselves to the God who keeps his promises.

It is as if the other nine commands are adult, in that you have to read them knowing the full story of God’s deliverance (of which they are reminded in the prologue to the commands). But the fifth command, addressed to children, includes a promise. It is as though the fifth command is a training ground for covenantal faithfulness. The command is linked to a promise, which is linked to the Gospel (God will deliver them into, and in, the promised land). The command to children doesn’t simply give the command and assume the reader will rightly reckon it in light of the Gospel. Rather, a promise directly tied to the Gospel is included to teach such an approach to the children.

For the past couple months I’ve tried to embed the promise in times of instruction and discipline with Abigail. When asking for obedience or disciplining her for disobedience, I remind Abigail that she needs to trust God, the one who requires that she obey me, that He will take care of her every need for all eternity. That she needs to love God, and not her sin, and entrust herself fully to her savior. It’s not that I say a set thing each and every time I ever tell her to do something, but I try to include the promise with the command throughout the week, whether once every day or every few days. My hope is that her understanding, as it develops and matures, will be guided to the Gospel.

Back from Flagstaff

We had a wonderful time with my folks in Flagstaff for a few days, then on Monday we left the children with them and headed down to Sedona, AZ for a night away. This was a rather momentous trip given that it was only the second night we had ever been without the children, and we were staying at the bed & breakfast in which we had stayed on our honeymoon. We had a wonderful time.

Sadly, we received a call early the next morning informing us my wife’s grandfather had passed away. We immediately began changing plans and headed back to Flagstaff, where we celebrated Thanksgiving early the following day (Wednesday) with my parents. We then got up at 3:45 a.m. Thanksgiving morning and drove back to Dallas, arriving at 11:30 pm. All this to allow my wife and daughter to catch a plane this morning bound for Atlanta for the funeral.

Jonathan (my 11 month old son) and I actually had a great day together, which was surprising given all the travel he’s had to do recently and the nasty cold he’s been fighting. Oddly enough, this is the first time Jonathan and I have spent more than a few hours together alone. I found it very gratifying. He’s a great little guy.

For those of you who were wondering, the minivan performed admirably… once we were coming back to Dallas and it was proving its worth, my wife and I began questioning the prudence of using a used vehicle for a 2000 mile road trip a couple weeks after acquiring it and were thankful it held up.

Drive to Flagstaff

Here’s the basic shape of our trip to Flagstaff this past Thursday.

The Plan: Get to bed by 10:30 pm Wednesday night so we can get several hours of sound sleep before getting up at 4 am
Reality: Up until 12:30 am. Asleep by 1. Awaken by Jonathan bellowing twice during the night. Get up a bit after 4 am, having gotten 2 hours of sleep.

The Plan: Leave at 5 am for long stretch before breakfast with the kids sleeping.
Reality: Got everyone in the minivan by 5:15 am. Turned the ignition. Nothing happens. Turns out I had managed to kill the battery while testing the portable TV/VCR I had set up in the van. Struggle with numerous godly virtues (or lack thereof). Get the jumper cables and hook up the minivan to the other car’s battery. After 15 minutes of trying finally get the minivan started. Leave around 5:40 am with two disgruntled, most definitely not sleeping, children.

The Plan: Zip in and out of McDonald’s for breakfast.
Reality: 90 minutes of food and numerous bathroom visits with disgruntled children.

The Plan: Long stretch to lunch.
Reality: 140 miles into the trip, several minutes after the children had finally fallen asleep, missed the reduced speed limit sign in Wichita Falls, TX. Got a speeding ticket.

The Plan: More humerous goals and aspirations leading to the timely arrival in Flagstaff, AZ, around 10 or 11 pm.
Reality: 500 miles of continuous rain. A couple more very long stops along with a couple shorter ones. Attempting to stay awake by consuming bags of candy and animal crackers, numerous cokes and root beers. Singing along with U2’s The Joshua Tree late at night (answering the question, “What would U2 sound like if Bono stank?”). And finally, amazingly, only around 19 hours later, safe arrival in Flagstaff.

Leaving

Packing never goes as planned. Enough said. It’s after 11:30 pm, the alarm is going to be set for 3:30 or 4 am, and we will be on the road for probably 17 to 19 hours. Until we meet again, cheers.

Nuclear Arsenal

Wow. I find it remarkable that a two-thirds reduction in our nuclear arsenal will leave over 1700 operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads. I don’t know the average, but I’d guess it’s between 3 and 5 warheads to delivery vehicle (i.e. missile). That’s still a massive capability.

Growing up on Kwajelein in the Marshall Islands, we used to get up in the middle of the night when there was a mission to watch the warheads blossom from the delivery vehicle (usually an ICBM, I think) upon re-entry and rain down into the lagoon. The missiles were launched from California, about 5k miles away… they reached the atoll in about 25 minutes if I recall correctly.