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Archive for November, 2008

You know that your money isn’t actually your money, right? C.S. Lewis said this about charitable giving:

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusement, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our giving does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our commitment to giving excludes them.

HT: Andy Naselli

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I’ve never been a big chess player, but here’s a pretty spiffy (free) online version if you enjoy it.

flash CHESS 3

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All summer long, Linc watched his brothers climb the tree. He never inquired about going up himself. One day this month I helped him go. It was late in the day and the wind was blowing and it was probably near 40 degrees. He was shivering or shaking from the cold or the height. This kid is so fun.

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Rudyard Kipling wrote:

God gave all men all earth to love,

But since our hearts are small,

Ordained for each one spot should prove

Beloved over all.

Leave me a note. Where the place that you love best?

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Thomas Jefferson:

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

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Everyone has to start somewhere. Here are the first two original compositions that Karsten has produced. He has been given topics and then the latitude to write a story of his choosing. He was told to write a title, a story, and use proper punctuation. Here are his first attempts. He gravitates toward boy themes, eh? We are now starting to add some guidelines to help there be fewer homicides and inclusions of all the people mentioned in the title.

Blue Jay Everywhere

Once upon a time there was a city of blue jays. Their enemy, the black python, plans to eat them all! All the blue jays are escaping to the black cave. In the cave, the black python comes and eats one of the blue jays. Then the king comes and kills the python. The End. 11/21/08

The Apple and Me

There was an apple and he was strong and he was very naughty and he was famous for killing apple people. The End. 11/26/08

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lincoln1picIn 1834, when Abraham Lincoln was a candidate for the legislature, he called on a certain farmer to ask for his support. He found him in the hay field, and was urging his cause when the dinner bell sounded. The farmer invited him to dinner, but Lincoln declined politely, and added, “If you will let me have the scythe while you are gone I will mow ‘round the field a couple of times.”

When the farmer returned he found three rows neatly mowed. The scythe lay against the gate post, but Lincoln had disappeared.

Nearly thirty years afterward the farmer and his wife, now grown old, were at a White House reception, and stood waiting in line to shake hands with the President.

When they got near him in the line Lincoln saw them, and calling an aide, told him to take them to one of the small parlors, where he would see them as soon as he got through the handshaking. Much surprised, the old couple was led away. Presently Mr. Lincoln came in, and, greeting them with an outstretched hand and a warm smile, called them by name.

“Do you mean to say,” exclaimed the farmer, “that you remember me after all these years?”

“I certainly do,” said the President, and he went on to recall the day he had mowed around the farmer’s timothy field.

“Yes, that’s so,” said the old man, still in astonishment. “I found the field mowed and the scythe leaning up against the gate post. But I have always wanted to ask you one thing.”

“What is it?” asked Mr. Lincoln.

“I always wanted to ask you, Mr. President, what you did with the whetstone?”

Lincoln smoothed his hair back from his brows a moment, in deep thought; then his face lighted up.

“Yes, I remember now,” he said, “I put that whetstone on top of the high gate post.”

And when he got back to Illinois again, the farmer found the whetstone on top of the gate post, where it had lain for more than thirty years.

This story is attributed to Edna M. Colman.

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It’s worth your time to digest this. This is John Milton Gregory from his The Seven Laws of Teaching quoted in a review by Puritanism Today:

“In an age of cultural rootlessness, moral relativism, religious pluralism, social disintegration, and future uncertainty, how can we expect anything other than education chaos? Unstable times call for a return to theological foundations and historical forms. Many Christians mistakenly think the cultural and social mores of the 1950s provide the answers. But the families, churches, and schools of the 1950s produced the 1960s. The rediscovery of theological foundations and historical forms must go further back in history.

The theological foundations must be established upon the Scriptures. In education, Christians have too often seen the Bible either as a book to be studied in a separate subject, i.e. Bible class, or as a devotional book. Christian education must teach not only Bible details, but Biblical systematic theology. From that theology, Christians must develop a worldview that applies Biblical concepts to every area of life. Thankfully, this has been done numerous times in the history of Christianity. The historic forms or examples can be found where Christians produced educated, Biblically literate, discerning students. The historic form can be called Classical Christian Education.”

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I‘ve traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,
Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I’ve been where no-one’s been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books.

~ Anonymous ~

Whether you love it or hate it, do it lots or little, there’s advice here for you from Challies about reading: 10 Tips to Read More and Read Better.

I don’t read as much as I should, don’t vary my reading often enough and don’t read enough old books. I’m thankful for the advice.

And to take it a step further, what about study? Martin Luther said,

“I shall say nothing here about the pure pleasure a man gets from having studied, even though he never holds an office of any kind, how at home by himself he can read all kinds of things, talk and associate with educated people.”

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But have you ever seen what the International Space Station is? Here’s a photoessay from the Big Picture.

iss

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I hope it is settled, but the legitimacy of Obama’s Presidency is still in question and is still a matter that the Supreme Court is going to address. See here.

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Wow. This guy must be some salesman. $23 million to spray paint their ceiling and take some press photos in Switzerland.

un-ceiling

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by Andrew Peterson

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Victor Davis Hanson:

Four years of high-school Latin would dramatically arrest the decline in American education. In particular, such instruction would do more for minority youths than all the ‘role model’ diversity sermons on Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Montezuma, and Caesar Chavez put together. Nothing so enriches the vocabulary, so instructs about English grammar and syntax, so creates a discipline of the mind, an elegance of expression, and serves as a gateway to the thinking and values of Western civilization as mastery of a page of Virgil or Livy (except perhaps Sophocles’s Antigone in Greek or Thucydides’ dialogue at Melos). After some 20 years of teaching mostly minority youth Greek, Latin, and ancient history and literature in translation (1984-2004), I came to the unfortunate conclusion that ethnic studies, women studies—indeed, anything “studies”— were perhaps the fruits of some evil plot dreamed up by illiberal white separatists to ensure that poor minority students in the public schools and universities were offered only a third-rate education.

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Alexander MacLaren quoted by VonDo:

“No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow. It is only when they are behind us and done, that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards, and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant. Accomplished, they are full of blessing, and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us. Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility, and hindering our communion with God. If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink, go straight up to it, and do it at once. The only way to get rid of it is to do it.”

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Appointment to Be A Hero

My Uncle Phil came home from Alaska last weekend to attend Grandpa’s funeral. He is a veteran firefighter and seasoned adventurer both far and wide. This morning he was were he was needed to be to save a life. Here’s the story from WWMT in Kalamazoo, MI.

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Abraham Piper‘s two recent comment seems to make it clear that he knows me or something:

On 11/12…

Places like Twitter and comments about coffee remind me how significant insignificance can be.

We wouldn’t be or know humans without it.

On 11/21…

I used to take pride in my “inability” to participate in small talk.

I guess I preferred being emotionally stunted and unloving.

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Character in Sports

J.P. Hayes disqualified himself from a spot on next year’s PGA Tour…from the solace of his hotel room. He’s wrong that all the others would have done the same. I don’t know if most Christians would have. I know the struggle that would have warred in my own heart and the attempt to justify. Bravo for a good example.

Story in print

Video interview with Hayes

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This is a wonderfully written summary of what education should be. Live the story beautifully. Here is part:

As a teacher do more than impart raw data.  You teach young minds to receive that data, process it, comprehend it and grasp how the data they’ve just received comes to bear on the rest of what they know.  You want them to know truth, recognize beauty, practice goodness and live wisely.

Why?  Of course so that they might glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

But how is this done?  Not merely through stowing away all they know.  But through “seeking to lead citizens of earth toward citizenship in heaven.”  The New Testament calls this the Great Commission—to go and make disciples of all the nations, bearing witness to Christ Jesus with our whole lives.

This is an art—balancing grace with persuasion and conviction with love while using words to paint a picture of truth, beauty, goodness and wisdom for all the world to see.

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Nancy Wilson gets to the core:

One of the central duties of parents is to teach their children to be grateful to God for all their many blessings. I remember my father teaching me that I could not even lift my little finger if it were not for God’s power and goodness. That little lesson had an impact, obviously, because I still remember him demonstrating this finger-lifting.

So when you are teaching the little ones to say thank you and please, it is a lesson about their Christian duties that reaches beyond simple cultural expressions of good manners. It it teaching them to have thankful impulses. It is teaching them to speak the language God wants to hear from all His people all the time.

Our fallen, sinful impulses direct us to take notice of what is missing, what is lacking, how things fall short of our desires. This is why kids whine and moan and are given to complaining. But God has given parents to children to bring them up to better things. So we have to accompany our commands to our children (say please when you ask for things) with biblical teaching (God wants us to be thankful for everything all the time).

Children need to be taught to count their blessings: fingers, toes, parents, siblings, food, sunshine, rain, Christmas, and all the rest. And, as always, it comes back to the parents modeling such gratitude themselves. It is rather counterproductive to snap at your children with, “Say thankyou!” as though you want to add, “you little beast!”

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Brian Regan

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Define Strong

G.K. Chesteron:

“We are perpetually being told that what is wanted is a strong man who will do things. What is really wanted is a strong man who will undo things; and that will be the real test of strength.”

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Waking Up in Glory

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Clair Robert Hayward (1931-2008)

Thursday morning my Grandpa woke up with new good legs, new strong arms, a new full voice, and newfound joys. He sees God in His glory. He’s singing again today and adjusting to his eternal home. His joy is beginning to bud and will always increase.

“But just think of stepping on shore and finding it Heaven,

of touching a hand and finding it God’s,

of breathing new air and finding it celestial,

of waking up in glory and finding it home.”

He was a wonderful, warm, generous, loving, gentle man of real, lively faith. He was a real example of “love with shoes on” in that he lived what he believed and it affected everything.

God laid him low three autumns ago with a stroke that limited his speech and slowed his body. Those days were arduous for us and him. In the hours after that first stroke, when his speech was starting to slur, he was offering me instructions for the moment and for life. I wish I could have understood all of his words. His clearest speech that day was the mandate to take care of grandma. I spent several nights with him in ICU, and he shocked the doctors and his family by surviving. He was mostly silent for the last three years, but we loved birthdays when we knew that grandpa would sing Happy Birthday along with the rest of us [singing and talking are generated in different parts of the brain]. In the waning years, as my boys were growing up, I cherished the way that he cherished them. Through his physical want, he always put on a happy, loving smile and gentle hands when my boys walked through the door. He lost his physical capabilities, but not his cheery, loving heart.

He was a teacher of the best sorts of things. He taught me how to read a map and be his navigator. From the backseat, I learned to give the best sorts of directions and location declarations. I think I traveled with grandma and him to Florida probably six times, Colorado twice and Grand Marais bunches.

He taught me how to spit like a man when I was very young sitting in the back seat of their Dodge Omni tooling down to Florida. Whenever he rolled down his window to spit, I was sure to do the same. I learned that to avoid a wet face, you had to spit hard from the back of your mouth when you were traveling 65 miles an hour.

He taught me to be faithful, steady and quiet. You always knew where he was going to be on Sunday. No questions. I always knew he would be working hard on every job he was given or that he gave himself. He was a first-rate mechanic, wise deacon, knowledgeable Sunday School teacher. He was always in his place. Grandma remembers that he only ever missed one day of work (the road was blocked both ways during a snowstorm). He was always where he should be. I knew to look for him in the barn when we arrived every Friday evening for spaghetti, Pepsi, popcorn and fudge.

One sunny Saturday, grandpa opened the barn doors and brought out the old ’73 Charger. He told me to get in. I remember the feel of the white vinyl and the stale smell of having been sitting in storage. He showed me she could still move fast. I remember holding on for dear life as we flew through the countryside. He looked over at me, saw my expression and slowed way down. He said, “We should put on our seatbelts. It would be really embarrassing if we were killed in an accident.” We did, and he was off again.

“A faithful man shall abound with blessings.”

He could be stern and calm at the same time. I found that out every time I was foolish with the motorbike, go-kart or BB gun.

One of the coolest days of my life was when, as a 12 year old, I flew from Kalamazoo to Chicago to Jacksonville all by myself. It was a ton of fun and part of the enjoyment was that on every leg of the journey, the stewardesses and the airport hosts were calling me Clair Hayward. I was using his ticket.

“No man was ever shot by a woman while he was washing dishes.” — Grandpa had this motto hanging at eye level by the kitchen sink

Some would travel the world for him. Grandma did. At 17 years old, she took a ship to England to marry him (he was stationed at Ipswich in the Air Force). Grandma was his faithful and dear wife who cared for him gently and respectfully in all his travails. She was a wonderful example of a sweet, patient helpmeet. They made a wonderful pair for 56 years.

Today was a wonderful day. Nearly 500 people gathered together and shared wonderful memories that made us roar with love. We sang heartily. We wept real sorrow. We belly-laughed. We were thankful together to have known him.

And now I live happy with my memories of him, glad that my oldest boys will remember him and that he was a man who loved his God, family and church entirely. I can unashamedly seek to emulate him and point my boys to his example and, like him, strive to be faithful to the end.

UPDATE: On 9/3/09, after four boys, Christie and I welcomed a little girl into our home. She is a sweet and precious gift. We named her Claire.

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We Are the Dead…

…Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Today I took my family to Nashville National Cemetery. For some strange reason, I did a search beforehand to see if I could find the Boomershine name there. I was shocked to find it on one grave! That requires almost the same amount of chance that it would take to find all of my sons names on a personalized mug rack in a souvenir shop. We just don’t plan on it (but that would be one cool shop if it did).

So we went this afternoon and quickly found–amongst the 35,000–the grave marker of one Amos Boomershine who I have found was born in Ohio, died at 19 years perhaps in battle near Nashville during the second year of the Civil War.

We had an enjoyable time walking the quiet grounds together and trying to recall all of the veterans we knew. Here are some pictures I have posted at FaceBook, including those of Amos Boomershine’s grave.

[To the Boomershine family who visit this post, I hadn't seen until today the original spelling of Boomershine. I have spent a good amount of time in previous years trying to pick through internet geneologies trying to make sense of who was where and when. Here is a good summary page that I found today (and perhaps you have seen) that may be an accurate listing of our ancestors. The Hessian solider we have heard of is listed at the top, and Amos Boomershine is the last name on the page. Here is the link. Who among you is the family geneologist?]

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Thank You, Veterans

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Last week I was surprised to come across Nashville National Cemetery (picture). Today I’ll take my family.

Here’s another extended slideshow version of the same song.

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My Mad Mission

I’m thankful for a friend [thanks, Farmer] who sent me this article right before we moved to TN to help start JECA. We think of it often.

Mad Missions:Avoiding the soft despotism that emphasizes personal security | Marvin Olasky

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Had would probably be embarrassed if I told you how much he loves this song. So I won’t. This is Celtic Thunder singing Ireland’s Call (it was written for rugby matches).

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Kind Regards

Chrissy writes, but the boys dictate their thank you cards (usually written on a page they just finished coloring). Linc had this to say on one thank-you after his birthday last weekend:

“I will love you. I will be sweet to you. Thank you for the money.”

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A very sweet cousin of mine and I were emailing recently about literature. I was recommending she read Narnia to her classroom. She had questions about that. I’ve included part of her objections and then my response, because I think her question is fairly common. I wish I had spiffed up my answer to her better (I was trying to give a brief reply), but I give it to you here. Please leave a comment and let me know what else I should have added.

My cousin writes in reference to a particular book:
I did not like the idea of alien races trying to take over the earth.  I teach my kids there is no such thing as aliens.  I just wonder about putting a book in front of them that supports the idea.  I realize there is good fiction and imagination, but I wonder if [the author] has crossed the line.  Again I have not read this book, but am going by the back [cover].

As far as Narnia goes, realizing that it is a “Christian” book, how do you get past the magic involved?  I would not let my students read a book which had magician or fairies (I don’t know if Narnia has fairies, [but] this is a problem in my class) if it were by any other source, so how can I justify reading this to them.  I guess they are to young still to get the whole picture, but how do you explain the difference to your boys?

My response in part:

I agree that there are no such things as aliens. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about them or read about them. Myths are part of our culture. I encourage schools to teach Greek myths–though some are disturbing. They are a part of our current vocabulary. You and I probably don’t prefer this (space) style though.

At the same time though, we aren’t afraid to read them stories about Winnie the Pooh or talking animals even as the very youngest of children. This doesn’t mean that we think they are real, but they are personifications of real things and real stories.

Magic is real. Very real. The Bible talks about magicians and sorcery and witchcraft. Many things God does seem “magical.” How did Christ transport that fishing boat to the other side of the sea in just the time it took to snap? There are good powers and dark powers. Street magic isn’t magic, it’s slight of hand. The big deal isn’t that it’s talked about, the deal is how it’s dealt with. Lewis…doesn’t glorify magic. The bad guys are bad. The good guys are good.

…Elementary kids need a good story, [and] I am stirred in my Christian faith by reading the [Narnia] series. But, they aren’t too young to start getting the big picture…that’s the goal even.

To teach big real lessons about bravery, love, sacrifice requires making a big deal about the antithesis. A small bad guy can be countered by a small good guy. But when a story reveals deep mischief, evil and wrong it makes the courage and valor much more beautiful and much more inspiring. We want to expose our boys to the best sorts of literature, not to amuse them, but to make them better boys…better men…for His glory.

Again, TBAP reader, please tell me in the comments what I should have added or why my answer is all wrong.

I also attached a link to this classic article from BJU Press written (I think) primarily by Guenter Salter (“If you find a dictionary with a different definition than mine. . .burn the dictionary!”) called A Biblical Approach to Objectionable Elements that is foundational to the way I think about these things.

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From the front of the web page of the Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers in Franklin, TN:

“I would go on a quest for this pizza. I would cross desolate mountain tops and brave unexplored jungles in the dead of night. I would kill my fellow journeymen and use their bones to construct a bridge to cross a raging river, if only to gain a single slice of this pizza.

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