Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Excellent Bible Study Tool

I'm loving The Blue Letter Bible. It's an extremely powerful site that cross references the Bible with correlating passages, multiple commentaries, Strong's concordance, maps & images, multiple translations, and a bible dictionary. The real beauty is that it does this on a verse-by-verse basis. This one tool now makes word studies and even deep Bible study laughably easy.

In addition to all of the above, it hosts several daily devotionals and provides Bible-in-a-year reading plans in a few different formats. And a slew of other helpful and useful information.

Be sure to visit BLB next time you need to look up a passage or phrase in the Bible. It's the right tool for the job.

Fun Visit with My Uncle

My family really enjoyed the visit from my uncle, Tony, and my Dad, last weekend. Tony lives in Maryland and tho he visits my parents once or twice per year, this was his first visit with us up here to NH.

We had a fun and full day, showing him the house (in all it's under-construction glory) and property. Then after lunch, we took a drive over to my pastor's house to walk thru his garage. Pastor Larry has been collecting and restoring classic motorcycles for quite some time and I knew he had several British bikes that my uncle, who is also restorer, would appreciate. It was fun seeing his excitement (did you know there were only 900 of those made that year?!?). After spending a good half-hour drooling over all 25-plus bikes (half-dozen Brits, a couple Italians and Germans, several Jap bikes and at least seven Harleys) crammed into the garage, my dad and Tony visited with Pastor Larry's in-laws who are visiting from Mexico.

While that was going on, Nick & Gabe each got to ride a motorcycle for the first time. Pastor had a little 25cc minibike that they got to tool around on in the yard. They both had a blast! A very fun day.

The Bathroom is 95% Done

We had a very productive few days following my lament last week about how slow this project was going. The walls got done (thanks to a cram sessions Friday and Saturday nights) and on Sunday we installed all the hardware (shelves, towel racks, light fixture, wall hangings, etc.). All that remains it to paint the doors & trim and replace the doorknobs. Woohoo! Oh, and re-caulk the tub. :\

Friday, July 25, 2008

House Hacking

As I mentioned in the last post, we decided to repaint the Bathroom and Boy's Bedroom this month. We knew it wasn't going to be a quick job because when we bought the place, the seller had hastily slopped a coat of yellow paint on the walls, apparently using a Wagner Power Roller. There were thick drips all over the place and a yellow border around the ceiling. So, we planned to take the time to sand off all the major drips using a disc sander. That proved to be the easiest part (for me, anyway - Donna did all the sanding; I just had to move the furniture away from the walls). Then we discovered that the wall under the boy's windows was rotten. It's not clear whether that was from water coming in the windows or the prior owner's dogs announcing their displeasure at being locked in the room (all the doors and trim have deep gouges from the dogs trying to claw their way out). So I had to replace a four foot section of drywall there, and just for good measure I put a vapor barrier behind it to prevent moisture finding it's way in and damaging it again. There was a lot of mudding needed to fix up and cover the various dings and holes in the walls. Also had to close up the holes left when the old electric baseboard controls were removed in the bedroom and bath. I had to replace more drywall in the bath due to water damage from behind the shower prior to us moving in, as well. And install a proper fixture box in the wall above the sink for the new light fixture we bought for above the vanity.

So, it's been a long road, and we're not done yet. That's rather frustrating. And then Wednesday, I had to refinish the ceiling. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out, but as usual, we totally neglected to take any pictures of the progress. :( Donna primed the entire bathroom yesterday, and put the ceiling paint on the ceiling. We're on the home stretch, but it's been one of those projects that makes you wonder if it will ever be complete.

Now the kicker, my uncle from Maryland is vising tomorrow, and our house is a wreck. Particularly the basement, where the boys have been sleeping for the last month while their bedroom has been getting it's face lift. He's a reasonable guy and knows all about fixing up houses, so I'm sure he'll understand. And he loves old British motorbikes, so I'm going to take him over to my Pastor's house to visit his "museum" (ie Garage) of restored bikes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Finding the Will of God

My wonderful wife brought Jeannie Fulbright's excellent series of articles about creative vs academic writing to my attention this week. After reading them, I rolled back to her article from 7/14 on the topic of letting God direct our footsteps through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Now, it just happens that Donna and I are attending a Sunday school class based on the book Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen, and becoming more and more convinced of his arguments each week.

It prompted me to post the following comment in response to Jeannie. I realize I have not intensively researched the "traditional view" (as Friesen calls it) about waiting for a prompting or peace from God to lead to or confirm a decision, so my request for scriptural support for this standpoint is genuine.

So without further commentary, here's what I asked Jeannie:

Hi Jeannie, I wonder if you can help me out with something. In this article, you said, "It's hard to find true peace and joy when we are not following the narrow path marked out for our family. That narrow path may include putting your children in school - but it may not. The key is to find out - not by human reason, but through the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Who leads with confidence and peace)," and, "God has a perfect course for your family, and He longs to direct your steps."

Can you please provide some scriptural support for this notion that God has one particular, "perfect" path for an individual or family? And that He will make that perfect will known to believers through a feeling of peace? I don't see it in the scriptures, myself. I have done a brief word study on peace and find several references to a spiritual peace given by God to those who through faith rely upon Him for their needs and safety (Ps 25:13 says "His soul shall dwell at ease", Ps 4:8 says "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety", and Phil 4:6&7 says Christians should not worry about their needs because "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" ), but I find nothing supporting this common christian notion that God leads us through life or major life decisions by way of nudgings or even "confidence and peace," as you put it.

Even the scripture you cited, 2Tim 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind," actually seems to oppose your assertion that "the key is find out - not by human reason, but through the leadership of the Holy Spirit." Isn't a sound mind the basis for proper reasoning (based on God's revealed will within His word)? In fact, I believe Jam 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him," indicates that we are to pray for God to give us wisdom, not peace or leading, does it not?

Please understand that I am not arguing that you gave the homeschooling lady the wrong advice (to persevere). I am just having difficulty with the reasons you gave her. If you know of scriptures that support this standpoint, I would genuinely appreciate hearing them.

Jeannie responded (actually very quickly) with a fairly lengthy and encouraging post including many scripture references. Now I need to make time to examine them all in context. On first blush, however, I noted that several references were either taken out of context or quite loosely interpreted. Others, however, did seem to support her viewpoint so the jury is still out on this.