Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brining Up Girls Review

Almost 8 years ago I was in grad school, still newly married and reading Bringing Up Boys.  For some of my grad classes in Marriage and Family Therapy I was also reading Raising a Modern Day Knight and Wild at Heart.  I felt prepared for a son.  In his wisdom, God has given me 3 daughters, so I've been waiting for awhile for Bringing Up Girls.
Like all Dobson books, it is well researched.  From insightful statistics to interesting anecdotes, this book covers a breadth of information related to raising girls.  Since Dr. Dobson is a licensed psychologist who specialized in child development you would expect to discover that the bulk of the information in this book focuses on the physical, social and psychological development of girls.
Bringing Up Girls addresses the theory of brining up girls, not necessarily the practical applications.  By reading it you will have a much better understanding of the girls in your household, but not necessarily feel equipped with new tools to address their needs.  When it comes to bringing up girls, this is definitely not a "how to" book.  It targets the principles, not the practice.
While this book may deserve a place on your shelf, I would likely not pay full price for it.  Wait until you can find it used and then get it.  I think its greatest benefit is the research that it points to and not necessarily an new information.  I realize that I may be hyper-critical on the book on this point simply because of my background I have already read much of the original source material that Dr. Dobson references.

* A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story

It's not a choice that a child makes, but since 1/3 of kids in America currently live without their father, it is something that many are becoming.  While many approach this subject by addressing the causes of fatherlessness, the reality is the fatherless will always be with us. There are simply too many causes of the problem and it affects too many people.
In the book Fatherless Generation John Sowers addresses the epidemic that few people acknowledge.  Many would like to believe that its simply not a big deal for a child to grow up without a father.  The only problem is that the evidence indicates that a good father is desperately needed for the rearing of children.  Sowers shares these stats origianl reported in the Idaho Observer in 2003 concerning children from homes
These children account for:
  • 63% of youth suicides
  • 71% of pregnant teenagers (which tends to perpetuate the problem)
  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisions
  • 71% of high school dropouts

The first of this half of this book addresses the fallout for this generation that lives without a dad.  Sowers provides an excellent mix of statastics and personal stories (of his own and others) that make for easy reading while also providing useful information. While informative, it certainly is not is not exhaustive in reporting the difficulties that fatherless homes will face. A couple of books that I would recommend for a greater understanding of these difficulties include Life Without Father and The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce.

The second half of the book suggests one what may be the best way to address the issue of fatherlessness: mentoring. Sowers describes mentoring as loving, modeling and coaching.  As the president of The Mentoring Project, he is leading an effort to connect fatherless boys with mentors at local churches.  And with over 300,000 churches spread across the US the church is startegically placed to address it.  One hope is that through mentoring these young men they will not gow up to make the same mistakes that their own fathers have made, thus reducing the incidents of fatherlessness for future generations. For more information about the founding of The Mentoring Project check out Father Fiction and for more ideas about what you can do, besides becoming a mentor, check out Hope for a Fatherless Generation.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Plan B Review

It feels like I may be on Plan M. This review was suppose to be done months ago, when Plan B by Pete Wilson was released.  But life gets in the way.  I think the subtitle to the book, "What do you do when God doesn't show up the way you thought he would?" is a great summary to the book.
Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn't Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?
Like many of us, I live Plan B.  After graduating with my graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy I took a job as a therapist.  First I worked at a psych hospital and then at an outpatient clinic.  Then I left it.  I took a job as a youth minister, thinking I found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had always wanted to be a minister. My first month as a minister in Baton Rouge, LA and Hurricane Katrina hits.  Just take the youth calendar and throw it out, because we now have 160 people staying at our building, occupying the space used by the youth group for events and even Bible class. A couple more hurricanes, missed dreams, amazing experiences and then it ends.
Then, at the beginning of 2009, I began a new career.  Life had not gone according to plan.
I work at Plan B for many families. Actually I work at the place where no family plans to be: a drug treatment center for young men 14-24.
I've been at Plan B. Chances are you have too.
Pete Wilson tackles this topic straight on.  He includes a great mix of personal anecdotes, scripture and wise teaching.  Chapter 12 "Waiting on God" is worth the price of the book alone.
I highly recommend this book, because at one point or another, we may all find ourselves at "Plan B."

Disclosure: A copy of the book was provide for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Modern Parables: The Parable of the Eaters

I think if the parable of the sower were to be told in America today, here is how it would go:

There once was a restaurant owner who opened his doors promptly at 7 AM each morning for his many customers. There were many who came to enjoy his homemade biscuits and gravy at breakfast, grilled chicken salads at lunch, and pork chops for dinner.  But there were 4 customers who came by everyday, for every meal (their office was just around the corner).
The first loved to sit in the restaurant, but rarely ordered any food.  He loved the atmosphere, the ambiance, and the fact that daily arrivals at the establishment meant that he could continue to hold his title as mayor of the eatery on FourSquare, but if you were to ask him his favorite item, he honestly could not tell you. He rarely ordered anything off the menu.
The second had sampled every item on the menu.  In fact, there were times when he would order 2 or 3 en-trees for lunch.  It was not unusual for him to have the table filled with plates, even though he ate alone.  Yet, he was not a big man, for after each meal he went to restroom to purge his body of the food he had just eaten.
The third customer was quite obese.  Sampling the entire menu was something she did on almost a daily occasion.  Her difficulty in naming her favorite food was that she loved it all.
The fourth customer also loved the restaurant and ate there daily.  She was in shape and tried to carefully select items from the menu that provided her with a balanced diet.  For her, exercise was just as important as eating healthy.

Now here's were I would like to ask for your help.  What would be the application or meaning of each of these? I'll share my thoughts later this week with an update of this post.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Country Music Marathon and P90X

At the beginning of the year I registered for the Country Music Marathon with the goal of improving my time from the the St. Jude's Marathon in December of 2009.  Training was going well until I hit my 18 mile run.  18 is where I seem to hit the wall, the same was true when I was preparing for St. Jude's.  The week after the 18 mile run I received P90X for my birthday (the 30th).  At that time I made the decision to focus on weight loss and running a solid half-marathon, re-valuate after the race a plan for another marathon later in the year.  During the 6 weeks that I have been doing P90X I have run approximately 4 times: a couple of 4 milers, one 5 miler, and then the Saturday before the 1/2 I ran 6.5 in order to help me gauge my pace for the race.
My official time was 2:01:53, which was four minutes faster than my first 1/2 at Soaring Wings in Conway last year. I wish I had broken 2 hours, and I think I could have with a couple of key differences in my race. Overall though, I was happy with my results from P90X. Living in Arkansas it can be hard to get out in winter and run early in morning.  Seeing these results lets me know that if I can build up a strong base during the fall I can use P90X over the winter months to help me maintain my level of fitness.
As for the the Country Music Marathon. I am still undecided about whether I will ever do this race again.  First the swag bag was lacking.  Seriously, dog treats! I realize a lot of people run with their dogs, but wasn't running the race with me, nor did I see any other dogs on the course.
I realize that there were major storms to contend with and I appreciate the email that got sent out letting runners know that if you were expecting to complete the full marathon in less than 4:30 that you need to plan on running the half instead, however, where was the notification that you were going to start the race 15 minutes early? I was at LP by 5:30 and got straight on a bus to the start line.  After getting of the bus I went straight to the restroom and then to the start line where I noticed that the race had already started! I did a quick stretch and then hopped into one of corrals. I didn't help that I was in a later corral number than the one was suppose to be in, meaning that I spent much of the early miles trying to dodging and run around much slower runners. I didn't help that from mile 3-4 we were only running on a two-lane street. Later, around mile 6 or 7 we went from 4 lanes down to a very narrow 2 through a residential section with no shoulder or sidewalks.  With 32,000 runners we just needed more space.
I was also a little disappointed in the fan support.  Aside from this great sign from my daughter Gabie:

there was not much cheering after mile 3.  Now there was a good group for mile 5 and 9 (the same section of cheerleaders because you went out and then came back along the same course.  But around 9.5 there was a section where we ran under the Broadway bridge and people were lined up across it- silence.  Even when a couple of runners yelled, "Make some noise!"- Silence. Sorry, but it's pretty sad when people running a marathon are louder than people watching! It was so different from St. Jude's where I felt like fan support was everywhere! For the first 3 miles of St. Jude's the streets were packed 5 or 6 deep with people yelling.  The people there were cheering for everyone, not just people they knew.  The only place at CMM where I felt that was the case was at the finish line.
For another opinion about the race check out Operation Jack. I figure he knows what he is talking about since he is running 60 marathons this year in order to raise awareness about autism.
Finally, here are my other girls to meet me at the finish:

Thanks everyone, especially Meg, Gabie, Lexie and Lucie!
One last thing: P90X will turn you into a nut, Sunday afternoon I did my Chest, Shoulders and Triceps workout since I missed it for my rest leading up to the race.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Epidemic

For about 2 months now I have be reading a book called The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children.  While the title will certainly when no awards for brevity, it quickly communicates the heart of this book.  The reason it has taken me 2 months to read this is because I have tried to go back and look at the original research that the author, Robert Shaw, M.D. references.  While I am still not done with the book I wanted to share a part of it with you, because on my recent trip to St. Louis I saw an example of the epidemic.

This past Saturday our family went to the St. Louis zoo with another family from church. And let me say, the St. Louis zoo is amazing (and FREE)!  While we where there though I saw a few things that surprised me.  First, the zoo is not smoke free. We spend a lot of time in Florida, where all public places are smoke-free.  The same is true for Baton Rouge, where we use to live. So I was a little confused when I saw people lighting up their cigarettes wherever they wanted.  Second, I was surprised by what people chose to wear to the zoo. No offense, but its not the place to go to look for a date (the smell in some places is little overpowering). Yet there were men and women alike who looked like they were ready to hit the singles bar with ultra mini-skirts, low tops, and guys "with your pants on the ground syndrome."  But the thing that really indicated to me the truth of the epidemic was the sight of a young teenage boy (13 or 14) with his family wearing the following shirt:
Did his parents not see a problem with this?  Obviously not since we walked around all day wearing it.  Here are some of the issues that this raised for me:
1. The person wearing this shirt is obviously underage.
2. The message is clearly selfish. I'm to lazy to do something for myself, something as simple as getting a beer.
3. The other message embedded in this shirt is that of low achievement.  "You are such a loser that the only thing you are good for is getting me a beer, even though I am too lazy to go a get it for myself.  Man you must really be a loser if you would listen to that."
And the messages could go on and on.  I would to hear your reaction to a teenager wearing this shirt. 

I'll close with this, from The Epidemic:
"Everything we do teaches our kids something about the nature of life and how to be a human being. As parents, we should constantly ask ourselves, 'What does my action in this situation teach my children?'"

I wonder what this young man is like at home.  I wonder what he learned by being allowed to wear a shirt like this out in public, with his family present.  I wonder what he'll be doing in 5 years.  I wonder...

You can get a copy of Robert Shaw's book here:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Music Puts You in Mood...for Repentance?

Okay, so maybe I should repent for the post title.  Here's my least playlist entitled “Repentance.”  For various reasons these songs connect with me when I am in need of repenting of sin.  I know it’s a little heavy on the David Crowder Band Church Music album, but album it just very powerful to me.  I would love for to you to look over the list and share your thoughts.  Are their any songs that you deeply connect with in a time of repentance? Why not share them with me? Who knows, I my add them to my playlist. 

  1. The Nearness: David Crowder Band
  2. Shadows: David Crowder Band
  3.  Eastern Hymn: David Crowder Band
  4. The Veil: David Crowder Band
  5.  We Are Loved: David Crowder Band
  6. All Around Me: David Crowder Band
  7. How He Loves: David Crowder Band
  8. Can I Lie Here: David Crowder Band
  9. Birmingham (We Are Safe) : David Crowder Band
  10. God Almighty, None Compares: David Crowder Band
  11. Never Let Go: David Crowder Band
  12.  Remedy: David Crowder Band
  13. Surely We Can Change: David Crowder Band
  14. First Steps to Recovery: Chasing Victory
  15.  Dead Man (Carry Me): Jars of Clay
  16. Work: Jars of Clay
  17. Boys (Lesson One): Jars of Clay
  18. Forget and Not Slow Down: Relient K
  19.  Be My Escape: Relient K
  20. Castaway: Chasen
  21.  Wholly Yours: David Crowder Band
  22. Fading: Decyfer Down
  23. Shattered Life: Seventh Day Slumber
  24.  Rebirthing: Skillet
  25.  Happy Day: Fee Band

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 21 of P90X

Yesterday I announced on Twitter that I would share my 30 day results of P90X with everyone today.  I should have taken a closer look at the calendar and realized that as I enter the recovery week of Phase 1 I am still a few days short of the 30 day mark.  However, I had already done the fitness test, so I'll go ahead and share the results:

  Day 1 Day 21
Resting Heart Rate 78 72
Pull Ups 5.25 5.25
Vertical Leap 12" 20"
Push Ups 20 30
Toe Touch 0 (+)1
Wall Squat 1 min 2 min
Bicep Curls (@ 20lbs) 20 20
In and Outs 30 50
Heart Rate after 2min of JJ 140 147
1 min 98 107
2 min 92 88
3 min 89 76

For those who are unclear, the JJ in the table refers to 2 minutes of Jumping Jacks.  As you can see, every area saw improvement.  The only areas that have stayed the same are the pull ups and biceps, but there's a very valid reason.  The two days prior to this fitness test have done the Shoulders and Arms and Legs and Back workouts. Needless to say, lots of pull ups and bicep curls between the two.  Also, the plus one for the toe touch indicates that I can reach 1 inch past my toes ( I don't know that I have ever been able to do this before).
I know the second thing everyone is going to ask for is an updated picture.  Sorry, you'll have to wait until Day 90 for that.  In the meantime, keeping pushing yourself to be the best you that you can be.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Pause Button

One of the reasons I love blogging is that I can hit the pause button.  Unlike many other aspect of life (aside from my DVR) I have complete control over when I write a post for this blog.  The break this time was a little longer than expected, but very much needed.  Work has been stressful, I've been getting up at 5:30 to do my workouts for P90X and family has been in town.  I've been reading such great books that I really slowed down so I can everything in that is being said.  Adding in the fact that Gabie started softball last week (and I happen to be her coach) and that Meg and I have been having serious discussions about where our girls will go to school over the last 3 weeks and I just haven't found the time to post.
This week I feel rested.  This week I hit the first recovery week with P90X.  This weekend we celebrated the resurrection of Christ, the renewal of life.  I just felt like it was time to get back to writing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review: A Multi-Site Church Road Trip

The first thing that caught my attention about this book is the subtitle, "Exploring the New Normal."  A quick look through the ministry podcasts that listen to reveal that the multi-site approach is becoming a standard approach. In fact Mars Hill Bible Church, with Rob Bell and Shane Hipps, is the only sermon I listen to on regular basis that does not come from a church on a multi-site platform (the others are Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Mark Batterson, Mark Driscoll, and Erwin McManus).  As the popularity of these speakers rises, I expect that we will see many young leaders follow in their footsteps, and the question we must ask ourselves is, is this wise?
A Multi-Site Church Road Trip tries to help answer that question.  The book makes clear that there are a variety of ways to do multi-site: live video feeds, DVD, internet, campus pastor teaching, satellite, and as technology develops who knows what else. (As Mark Batterson is fond of saying, "There are ways of doing church that no one has come up with yet.")  Topics is the book include:

  • Campus addition vs. Church plant
  • Does an Internet Campus provide Community
  • Choosing the Placement of a New Campus
  • The Structure of Your Network
  • Is This a Sin?
  • plus a few more that you'll have to buy the book to find out about
I admit that my bias as a reader is the fact that I come from traditional that believes solely in independent, autonomous congregations that are lead by a plurality of elders.  That doesn't mean we aren't involved with missions. Our church currently supports 7 mission teams in 5 countries. I have also seen some ways in which multi-site has been used in Churches of Christ (although, to my knowledge it has only been in overflow rooms that are actually part of the same campus).
Because of my background I would have liked to see the authors dig a little deeper in the Chapter entitled "Are You Sure This Isn't a Sin?" It is shortest chapter, but really should be one of the most important. It felt the authors had already decided that it wasn't and only added the chapter in order to say that it was in there and the topic had been addressed.
As a whole, the book is well written, and could be a available tool for those looking at go with the multi-site approach.  I think. however, the authors first book, The Multi-Site Church Revolution might prove more useful for the reader who is trying to figure out how to approach "the new normal."

A couple of questions to end with:
  1. Do you think the multi-site approach is a sin? If so, or if not, why?
  2. Do you know of any Churches of Christ that have used a multi-site approach?
As you comment it might also helpful to know if you attend a multi-site church.

For more information about the book and its authors, check out The Leadership Network.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Best Part of Being a Dad

Over 5 years of being a father has given me lots of hight lights, from the first time I held each of girls to hearing them say "dada" to the first time I have found them climbing something that could get them killed.  I am convinced that the best part of being a dad is watching them succeed.
This weekend, our oldest, Gabie, had 2 soccer games.  She's the oldest on her. She's also the fastest.  In the herd style of play that dominates most soccer games of this age, Gabie stands out as a kid that can create a break away.  But during her first game this weekend I watched as she stopped a break away in order to pass the ball to her best friend, so that some one else could score. I mean she stopped 5 feet short of the goal and waited for others in order to share the glory. I'm not sure where she learned this. I've taught her to share and she has two younger sisters that test her in the application of this lesson... hourly. But it was great to see her take a principle and apply it correctly. It was also great to see her win the game!

What is you favorite part of being a parent?

Recommended Reading: 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Links of the Week

It's #FollowFriday. I do follow all of these people on Twitter (you probably should too) but here are some of their blog posts (obviously more than 140 characters) that had an impact on me this week:

Seth Godin: The WordPerfect Axiom.This is a great look at how everything is changing.
Tony Morgan: Driving the Chevy Impala.If you don't connect with Seth's article, maybe this one of the same topic will do the trick.
Anne Jackson: A Candid Interview.I've included the link to Anne's blog, as well as the direct link to the podcast of her interview. Anne really opens up about her own story and the process of confession in general.
People of the Second Chance: Decapitation and Second Chances. First, great title, it caught my attention right away. It also tags on the forgiveness aspect that comes after confession. This is a powerful story about forgiveness in world that seems hell-bent on getting even and making the other guy pay.
Don Miller: Commericialism and Faith, Part 1. One of my favorite writers starts his new blog with this series. I really connected with it, especially after my post yesterday.
Rhett Smith: ENOUGH.I love reading, as you can tell from the bookshelves on the sidebar of my blog. Here are some thoughts from another minister/therapist that I think every one should chew on.
Jesus Needs New PR: Redneck Jesus and More. Matthew Paul Turner may take it a little too far some times, but everyone needs a good laugh. Check these out and think about what we communicate with our art of Jesus.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Robin Leach Could Be Coming to Your House!

You might qualify to have to Robin Leach, from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, come to house. Of course you did to be famous, but if you live in America, chances are you meet the qualifications for rich.  I know must of us don't think about how we rich we really are, especially in times of an economic crisis, but the reality is that you need to lose more than your job in order to be poor.
Today I got on the Global Rich List to see how my income compared with the rest of the world.  I found out that I rank in the top 3% of the world!  In fact the median income for Americans in 2008 ($52,209) puts us in the top 0.97% of the world!  So are started playing with the numbers.  What would you guess is the median income of the world? (that's the amount that divides the top 50% from the bottom 50%).  I started a little high, thinking, surely it is in the thousands of dollars/year.  Nope, totally wrong.  The median income for the word is $850.  That's for the whole year! I think I got more money and gifts for my 30th birthday than that.  Which makes me sad. It makes me want to change my life. Then I start to wonder if I really have it in me. No, I don't want to try to live on $850 a year, or a month for that matter. Yet I know there is something I can do to add more balance into my life.
One thing that our family has been doing for almost a year now is supporting a child, Lucia, through Compassion International.  Lucia lives in Tanzania. Her parents are separated and she has 5 siblings.  It costs us abut $30/month to help her go to school. It's not much, but it is helping her. It's a place to start.  The rich and famous had to start somewhere, so this is my call to start somewhere, but to go somewhere else with it. Where have you started?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Little Rock Relay Results

This past weekend my wife and I had an amazing time at the Little Rock Marathon.  First of all, I think it was only the second time since having 3 girls that we have left all of them over night with some one else (Gram and Pop).  It was also a special time because our relay time was made up of members from our small group at church. On Saturday night we had a great dinner with our friends the Earlys and then went back to the hotel, where our team (and spouses) spent much of the night creating running playlist and making jokes about the fact that on one of my tags from the marathon it said I was a girl!
Anyway, the Cloverdale Running Club placed second in our division, running the marathon at an 9:03 pace.  Individually, I ran a 8:30 pace through the hilly, third section of the course (the kind of practice I needed in order to prep for Music City at the end of April).
One of the things that I love about events like this is the stories. We also a lady with a prosthetic leg, pushing a wheelchair smoke pass people on her way to completely the whole marathon.  Another relay people was made of of 3 sisters and one of their daughters (man I hope my girls are close like that) and another team of children whose dad was turning 60 that day (he got to run the last leg). So many encouraging stories that make the pain worth it.

Here is the only picture I have from the actual race:

That's me in the black. My friend Chance (another member at Cloverdale) did a great job of catching me by mile 4 of the 3rd leg. We ran the last 3.8 together, which was a great.  His wife Natasha was able to take this picture before she (and my wife, Meg) started the final leg of the relay.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Prayer as a Father

My Father,

Help me as the father of the children you have put in my care. My greatest desire is that one day they will call you Father just I as have done. Help me as they are learning about you, to share a true reflection of who you are by my own actions. Help me to love my children the way that you love them. May I show their mother, my wife, the love and respect, gentleness and concern that she needs and deserves. One day, if you it is your will, may they seek godly husbands who lead their families in your ways. Help me in my failures as a father to admit them freely, to turn in reptence and to seek from this day forward to live a life that glorifies you and models a worthy life for my children to follow. May they follow me as I follow your Son, Jesus Christ. In whose name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Seth Godin's latest book Linchpin is.  In his latest book, Seth Godin takes the principles that he applied to organizations in Tribes and applies them to individuals. This book is a most read for anyone who hopes to have a job one day.  I especially loved read it at this time because the day-to-day tasks of my job are changing, giving me the opportunity to ask, what will I know do with my free time.  Those with a "lizard brain" would say, nothing, while those who are linchpins are asking what they can do to continue to make themselves and their companies remarkable.
If you have read any of Godin's previous works before or checked out his blog, you know that he is a master of the pithy saying that cuts to core.  This book is littered with them, but here are few that stood out to me:

"In a factory, doing a job that's not yours is dangerous. Now, if you're a linchpin, doing a job that's not getting done is essential."
"It's the lizard that cares deeply about grades, and not a bit about art or leadership or connection."
"Trying and failing is better than merely failing, because trying makes you an artist and gives you the right to try again."

More importantly, there are some great concepts that Godin fleshes out that are necessary parts of making yourself remarkable. I would highly recommend getting this book and a notepad and be ready to change your life if you can apply the principles that he discusses in this book.
I would also like to give a shout out to Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson who sent me a free copy of Linchpin.  Michael is clearly a linchpin, providing copies of the book for several blog readers as well as his staff at Thomas Nelson.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Training Week 10

It's hard to believe that I only have 8 more weeks of training before I run my second marathon. Unfortunately, this has been a very poor week of training for me. I am not a morning person. The first 20-30 minutes of my day I am stuck on autopilot. Now, you would think that this would be a sign to me that I should run in the evenings (and I do occasionally), but that means missing time with family.
I have tried to make up for the missed runs about doing cardio workouts and plyometrics at the house, but this weekend I have a 17 mile run planned that I know I can't miss.  Hopefully, by sharing my plans on the blog I have greater pressure to get it done.
So my plan for next week (following Hal Higdon's Novice 2 plan):
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: rest
Saturday: I suppose to run 18 miles. I am going to move that run to next Saturday.
Sunday: This should be a rest day, instead I am running in The Little Rock Marathon Relay.  I have the longest and most hilly section of the course, which I hope will get me ready for the hills I will face in Nashville.
In my training runs so far I have been doing a lot of hills, so I feel ready for, but having not seen the course yet, i wonder how the hills will compare.
By the way, I also turn 30 this weekend. So Happy Birthday to me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Becoming the Bread

In Mark 6 the writer connects 3 stories about bread that are important for any disciple to learn.  In the first, Jesus sends out his disciples in order to heal the sick and cast out demons.  As they prepare to depart the first instruction is "don't take any bread." That seems strange as they prepare to travel. As the father of 3 kids, I always make sure we have plenty of snacks in the car before we head out.
Lesson #1: God wants to depend on him for your needs.
Following this we told about John the Baptist being in jail.  As he is there, Herod's step-daughter dances for him, pleasing him to the extent that we promises her anything she desires. Like any normal girl she asks for the head of John (just the accessory that anyone would want).  John's head is immediately brought to her on a platter. You may wander what is the connection with bread. let me ask you, what is normally served on a platter?
Lesson #2: Sometimes God will ask you to become the bread.
Finally, the disciples are back with Jesus and he has resumed his teaching. The crowds have been following and now they are hungry.  Jesus tells the disciples to feed to crowd (remember they have already learned to depend on God for their needs!) They say they cannot, a young boy provides his lunch for 5,000 people and they collect 12 baskets of leftovers.
Lesson #3: Sometimes God provides an overwhelming abundance to your need.

We tend to like lessons 1 and 3, but 2 really throws us.
If John, Jesus's cousin, the New Elijah, the one to prepare for the coming Messiah got this treatment, can we expect it to be any different for us at some point in our lives?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

40 Days of Lent

No, I am not having trouble with my dryer. For the first time in my life I am observing Lent (the 40 days from Ash Wednesday until Easter). It seemed like a natural thing to do this year since I am breaking the year down into 40 day segments in order to focus on various disciplines in my life.
I started the year by reading through the Bible in 40 days. Now I am focusing on Lent.  Having never done this before there is a lot that I still need to learn. From what I have read about the history of Lent, the purpose is to focus on what Christ was preparing to give up (his life) so you give something up.  Sounds like a fast to me.  I just happened to come across Forty Days of Water, sponsored by Blood:Water Mission. The goal of Blood:Water Mission is to provide clean drinking water for those who don't have it. Clean water is something that easily gets taken for granted. I go to the fridges or the sink and get clean water. I go to my shower and get clean. Even the water I use to flush my toilet is cleaner than the water that millions of people drink on a daily basis. So here's how the 40 Days works: drink water for 40 days. Then take the money that you saved from not drinking your $1 Dr. Pepper, $1.25 sweet tea, or $5 Starbucks and donate it to Blood:Water so that they can build wells that will provide clean drinking water for years to come.
Right now I am a week into it. I have had a couple of slims (the second day I had milk at breakfast). I am not a morning person, so I am on autopilot the first 20 minutes of the day. With Lent you also get Sundays off, but I won't tell you how many Cokes I had this past Sunday. I realize this not good for the spirit of Lent or the purpose of saving money for Blood:Water Mission (although I did not pay for any of these drinks). Anyway, I'll try to do better this weekend.
If anyone else is participating in the 40 Days of Water or Lent in general, I would love to hear your thoughts/insights and have the opportunity to encourage one another as we focus on Christ.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

40 Day Bible Reading

The first 40 days of 2010 are now over.  To start of this new year I challenged myself to read through the entire Bible and I proud to say, that today, after lunch, I completed the task set before me.  I
I have tried to read through the Bible each year since I was a freshman in college.  As a Bible major we were expected to read through of it during the year and the habit has stuck.  Honestly, I have to say that I have not always read every verse, but the goal and the attempt has always been there.
This year I had a couple of new twists to help me reach my goal.  First, I started with the Chronological reading plan provide BlueLetter at YouVersion.  YouVersion provides several different reading plans that can be customized to meet your needs.  On the site there are also several translations of the Bible and audio Bibles for those who want to listen in the office (this was especially helpful on days when I feel behind and need to catch up quickly during my lunch break).
Each year I also try to use a new translation, or at least one that I haven't read in awhile.  In general I use the ESV for daily use.  For the Old Testament readings I continued to use the ESV but when I got to the New Testament I switched to The Voice.
The Voice is a brand new translation released by Thomas Nelson that features biblical scholarship and contemporary artists/writers/speakers.  I definitely enjoyed reading the scriptures in a new voice.  The wording of text flows quite smoothly, making long reading session easy.  The only difficulty I saw was that the devotional thoughts are sprinkled throughout in a haphazard way, breaking off the text of scripture in ways that made finding your place harder than it should have to be.
The text also features some lines that are in italics, which indicates that the phrasing is not original to the text, but has rather been added by the contributing writers.  In some cases this done as as meanings of clarification or to help the reader understand some pertinent background information.  For example, in 2 Corinthians 5:1 the writers add the following introduction to Paul's discussion about the earthly body being a tent:
"Let me try to explain what I'm talking about in a way that makes the most sense to me as a tentmaker."

Now, certainly this does not change the meaning of the text.  However, Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, felt no need to include such a remark in the text.  Other additions are more worrisome to me.  In John 1:8-11 there are several references to "The Voice" although there is no reference to this in the manuscripts used to translate the text.  The decision to make such an addition is only made more curious by the make that the team chose to call their new translation "The Voice."   
I also found it interesting that through the work "baptism" is translated as "ceremonial washing" with a footnote explaining that it literally means "immersion."  Personally, I would have preferred the actually translate the word and put immersion in the text.  The use of the phrase "ceremonial washing" seems to downplay its important role in the work of salvation, at least as I read it.
I am sure that there are many other strengths and weaknesses of this translations (as there are of any translation).  I will leave it work brighter men and and women than I to discuss the exact nature of the words that were chosen.  I enjoyed reading this translation.  As I said, I regularly read from various translations in order to get to fuller picture of what God is communicating. It will remain a helpful tool in library, that I will likely come back to again and again.  However, this will not become my everyday Bible.  An everyday Bible should be one that is a trusted translation.  For me that means one that can be understood and one that tries to convene, as closely as possible the original meaning of the NT manuscripts. 

A copy of the Voice was provided by Thomas Nelson for review.  

Monday, January 18, 2010

This is Your Brain in Love

This Is Your Brain in Love may be the most interesting book I have read so far this year.  While it is certainly a book that has been the most challenging because of the numerous references to brain anatomy, it has also been very rewarding.  This is Your Brain in Love begins with Dr. Earl Henslin's desire to strengthen marriages. Through his research of Dr. Daniel Amen's work in SPECT scans, Dr. Henslin submits that understanding how your brain works when you are in love can you be a better spouse.  Instead of looking at the 5 Love Languages, we are now looking at the 5 love styles and how different parts of the brain react, depending on your styles.

The book also features a special appendix for men who have struggled with sexual addiction and another for women, focused on hormone changes that occur throughout their life.  These two sections are worth the price of the book in my opinion (and in fact could easily be expanded into books in their own right).

I have to say that I really enjoyed this book, because as a former therapist who is going through the process of renewing his license, I enjoy this type of work. I have read numerous works about how drug use effects the brain (helpful since I currently work at a Christian drug treatment center). It was quite interesting to see the similar ways in which love effects the brain.  In fact in the opening chapter there is a SPECT scan on a brain.  According to the author, it would be nearly impossible for a doctor to tell you if the scan was a picture of someone in the initial romantic phase of a relationship or if they had been using cocaine.  That's the power of love. It's no wonder that so many people who have been wounded by love, turn to drugs as a way to escape.

While I highly enjoyed this book, I realize that it is not the typical reading material for everyone, even in the specific genre of "Love and Marriage." It is not necessarily easy reading.  However, there are some very practical applications given, and easy tests that can be taken to help you better understand you or your spouse's love type.  I would highly recommend reading this book if you desire to learn more about how a brains work, especially in relation to love.

This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dug Down Deep

Dug Down Deep is Joshua Harris' break away from books with a dating, or as the case may be, non-dating (ie. courting) theme.  Harris is primarily know for his first book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which challenged the standard approach for finding a spouse.  In his latest book he turns his eye towards theology, "unearthing what I believe and why it matters."
Unlike tradition books on theology, Harris mixes in a great deal of narrative in order to give real word examples and applications for the issues that he discusses.  This approach however can have varying effects depending on what type of reader you are: 1. It can make the information more accessible or 2. It can make we wish he would just get on with the point he is trying to make.
As I read through the book there were several things that I really connected with, especially in the opening chapters.  In the first chapter he describes the practice of Rumspringa that is employed by the Amish.  This is a time of freedom given to teens in Amish community.  During this time they are allowed to live like the rest of the world; they are given the opportunity to decide if they want to stay Amish.  While Harris didn't grow up Amish, he describes his own journey of growing up in a Christian home and having to make the choice of staying committed to the way of Christ or pursing his own way.
As the book moved more into the theological elements I noticed something about many of the things I was underlining or highlighting: they weren't from Joshua Harris.  Throughout the book, Harris cites J.I. Packer and  John Piper extensively. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with citing these excellent sources, but I felt that little was added to the points that they made, making it feel like the theology was someone else's while the stories connected them to them were Josh's.  I also have to take issue with the fact that baptism (how we get connected to Christ) and communion (how we stayed connected to Christ) don't appear until 20 pages before the book ends (and even then are only given a brief two paragraphs to explain each of them.
Overall I would give this book a 3 out of 5 stars.  Dug Down Deep clearly challenges the reader to not simply be a Christian, but to explore, investigate, and examine the things we say we believe.  Each generation must look closely at deepest held beliefs to ensure that they are true to God's word and not simply traditions that have developed over time. However there are several points of theology at which I disagree with the author. Yet as he points in his final chapter, we must have a "humble orthodoxy."  I appreciate Harris' book and hope that his calling to dig into theology will be heard.

This book was provided by Multnomah Publishing for review.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Disciplined 2010

I really hate to make resolutions. Most of the time they don't stick. So in what may appear to be an issue of semantics, I have decided that this year I focus on the disciplined life.  The idea was originally inspired by Mark Batterson's latest book, Primal.  In the book he talks about the 4 ways we love God: through heart, mind, soul and strength.  So my goal for this year is to  take these different aspects of love, meddle them with the classic disciplines and coming up with something that will help me regain some focus over the cross of the new year.
One specific issue that Mark brought up in the book was reading through the Bible in a year.  In my last post I mentioned my struggle with this and what my plans are to correct the situation in the coming year.  But the idea of reading through the Bible in 40 days has also given me an idea for the rest of year.  What if I broke the year down into 9 40 day segments and focus on a different discipline during each of the 40 days?
Since it is New Years Eve this plan should be a little more formulated than it is right now, which is why I  asking for your help.  Right now here are a few of the ideas that I have for my 40 days:
  1. reading the Bible
  2. Fasting
  3. Prayer
  4. Working out
  5. Read the Purpose Driven Life
  6. Read Mere Christianity
  7. Focus on one Old Testament book, learning as much about it as possible
  8. Do the same for a New Testament
  9. Some type of service, not sure what yet (I would really love to hear your ideas here!)
Any help? I would really love to get some feedback on this one.  Thanks! I hope everyone has a wonderful 2010!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bible Reading for 2010

This year, like many years before I plan to read through the Bible. In 2009 I fell a little short, missing several of the prophets, a little history, Leviticus and Revelation (because we all know that many reading plans have failed in the weeks when you read the end of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy).
So this year I am using www.youversion.com to help.  YouVersion is an awesome website that puts the Bible and community at your fingertips.  With over 40 different translations and 20 reading plans that can be customized you will find something that will help you meet your goals for reading all or parts of God's Word this year.  It will also connect you with others who are reading the same plan so that you can easily discuss the insights from each day's reading.
I have currently selected the Chronological reading plan.  This approach will guide me through the text based on the chronology of the events.  I have seen, but never used, Bibles that take this approach, so it will be interesting to see how this works.  The greater challenge for this endeavor is the fact that I am going to try to do it 40 days.  After reading Mark Batterson's book, Primal, I became convinced that I need to start my year, this new decade off with a clear goal that would help me regain some focus in my life.  I can't think of anything better than reading through the Bible.  Hopefully I'll stay on top of it and let you know how it goes.
If you are a YouVersion user, look for my contributions, username jdeddins.  I will also try to repost many of them here for other readers as well.


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