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Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

The Last JihadThe Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What’s good about The Last Jihad (TLJ)? It is fun to read, for it moves along at a good clip. The characters are interesting and not flat. The action is exciting and even a little gory. It has some overtly Christian stuff in it, but isn’t preachy.

What’s not so good about TLJ? Rosenberg’s method of telling a story is scattered. He likes to have little soundbites (even as small as a page or less) on one part of the story, then skip to another soundbite, then again to another. This style is, to me at least, quite irritating and can be confusing. What’s more, this book (though an interesting take on politics in the Mid-East [and the US’s involvement in them]) offered me no profound opening into the culture or political attitudes. It focused mostly on the Americans; it might have been far more interesting if more focus was put on the other points of view represented in the book.

So, altogether, I give TLJ three stars. It is fun, but it’s nothing too special nor worthy of the many must-read lists (Rush Limbaugh notwithstanding).

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Paul and Romney Sharing a Moment

I have not posted much recently. Sorry. I know that many of you run, yes, RUN to your computers upon waking in the morning to see what I’ve posted. I’ve been breaking hearts, and I apologize. But I’m turning over a new electronic leaf. That’s right, I will try to post more. No… no… please, hold the applause. For the sake of your keyboard, restrain your tears of joy.

Levity aside, well… no, not really, here’s an article that is worth a read. (more…)

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Bad studying posture!

I met a guy at Starbucks yesterday who told me to have my kids watch the video I’ve linked to below. I’m amused, as I don’t know that it would do my kids much good yet. I do, however, think it’s well worth watching. I think that principle #1 is timeless. If you don’t have a goal, then you’re aimless. If you have a goal, but no plan, then you’re probably inefficient in achieving the goal. So, we set goals and make plans to achieve them. These general life principles certainly apply to studying. Give a look at Midnight Tutor’s study tips; it’s worth your time.

One thing I want to add is that, in studying (not unlike life itself, it seems to me), attitude makes or breaks one’s efforts. I’ve found that if I approach studying with a heavy, negative attitude, that it makes the learning process slow and hard. On the contrary, if I mentally prepare to tackle the information with excitement, then the learning process is fast and enjoyable. One can either be overcome by the study material or *purposefully*conquer it. Which will it be? This is something that homeschool parents need to teach their young students. The video above won’t help my six-year-old memorize his math facts, but a good and positive attitude sure will.

Simple summary: your attitude is your first and (possibly) most powerful tool in studying.

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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big DifferenceThe Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There was a lot of useful information in this book. There has got to be some great benefit in studying businesses, products, and movements that have moved from reasonable, local success to astounding, worldwide domination. Gladwell indicates different sorts of folks who play integral roles in pushing this or that toward the “tipping point.” While one can be tempted to trust in the power of men (Ps 146:3-4), that temptation can be overcome. A wise man can look to the experience of men and glean wisdom. There are certainly nuggets of wisdom to be had in this book.

That said, my impression walking away from this book is that the “tipping point” is an impossibility to engineer. One hits the tipping point by manipulating small, peripheral issues which, in turn, effect the big picture. For example, one brings down the overall crime rate in NYC in the mid-90s by controlling vandalism on the subways and other relatively small but visible misdemeanors. That is, the great crimes (e.g., murder) are somehow effected by the small ones. Control the right small ones and you will, in turn, control the big ones. Manipulate the correct marginal issues and you will own the main issue, the big daddy.

All this raises the question: which small, peripheral issues is one to control? If one wants to press one’s business to the tipping point, how is one to discern which small, externals one is to manipulate? This is a mystery that the ordinary Joe simply cannot unwrap. Walking away from the book, this is the enigma that is left unsolved. So, while the book is useful and beneficial, its glory is diminished by leaving this central concern unanswered.

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Like anyone with a quarter of a brain, for a number of years I’ve been loathing the social agenda of the total annihilation of the institution of marriage. This agenda (it seems to me) has quite logically been pressed by the homosexuals and other sexual perverts. The funny (read: exceedingly sad) thing is that a very small percentage of sexual deviants has influenced (read: duped) so many in our culture. It’s the ol’ I’m-not-gay-or-anything-but-I-think-that-people-should-be-able-to-marry-whomever-they-want routine. It’s a lame routine. It would be really easy for us to point our fingers at these folks who support “gay marriage” and say that they are responsible for the destruction of marriage in our time. That accusation and the associated finger-pointing, however, would be misguided.

Who is responsible for the destruction of marriage? (more…)

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What books would you take?

I’ve been listening to Office Hours from Westminster Seminary California. R. Scott Clark is going through the faculty at Westminster, asking them what five books (other than an English Bible, along with a Greek and a Hebrew testament) they’d want with them on a desert island. Now, I have my issues with the Westminster bothers, but rest assured that I’ve learned *a ton* from these men – from Godfrey, to Horton, to Clark, Dennis Johnson, Steven Baugh, and D.G. Hart, these brothers have taught me a great deal. I love them, and I appreciate them.

These men are going through their top five, extra biblical books. I love this kind of stuff. I love it because books are SO important. God has given his preachers and teachers to his church. The gift of preacher/teachers blessing isn’t limited to our own generation. We can avail ourselves of the blessed preachers and teachers of past generations by reading them. For example, I can benefit from the pastoral blessings of that great pastor of Hippo, Augustine, simply by opening a volume of his sermons or writings. What a tremendous blessing!

Now, while we can benefit from the preachers and teachers of old, these old-timers are NO SUBSTITUTE for submitting ourselves to the *current* leadership of the church and learning from the *current* pastors/teachers of Christ’s church. For example, if we sit a home on the Lord’s Day reading, say, John Owen, instead of gathering with the local body, worshiping our Lord publicly, and enjoying the fellowship of the saints, we are disobedient fools. These pastors and teachers of old are supplementary to our engagement in the local body now. The great theologians and teachers of yesteryear are only of secondary benefit to our primary focus of weekly worship in the local body now.  Christ’s church focuses on the now, leading toward eternity, the eternal now.

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Don't be a hater...

For the past 14 years I’ve been engaged in theological discussion. I’ve grown a tremendous amount through these discussions, and I owe my eschatology and ethics (for starters) to brothers in Christ who took the time to *argue* with me.  Now, when I say *argue*, I don’t mean be a jerk or call nasty names. What it means that brothers were willing to listen to my ideas with understanding and engage with them. They were willing to love me enough to challenge my false notions. This is what brothers are for… well, at least one thing they’re for.

Most of my theological discussions have taken place face-to-face (or, more accurately, side-to-side). My deep preference is to sit down with a brother, light up a cigar (more…)

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