newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: December, 2015

New Year’s Resolutions for 2016.

No bones about it, here’s the list:

  1. Begin working on being an awesome dad!
  2. Figure out one way to serve my wife every day (even if it’s just making sure to brew her coffee).
  3. Lose three pounds of weight a month.
  4. Do 7,500 push-ups this year.
  5. Write one song a month.

Boom!

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The Top 10 Best Moments of the Year!

This past year was one for the books. I could (and probably have) written posts on most of the moments I am going to list as my “Top 10 Moments of 2015”, but I’m going to keep them in list form with no commentary:

With “1” being the most great of great…

  1. Finding out that Sarah is pregnant.
  2. Celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary with a weekend camping trip.
  3. Watching my little sister get married.
  4. Finishing my master’s degree.
  5. Exploring northeast Indiana with my brother-in-law Dale.
  6. Playing host for a day to my distant cousins from the Netherlands.
  7. Seeing U2 perform in Chicago.
  8. Hearing Jon Acuff speak at 7:30 A.M. as part of the Do Over book tour.
  9. Jurassic World and Star Wars VII.
  10. A new Haste the Day album (with my name in the liner notes) and a CD release show!

 

What are your top moments for the year?

A book just as true today as 25 years ago.

Recently, I was reintroduced to a book I read ten years ago. The book in question, The Ragamuffin Gospel, is a work both true and heart-wrenching. It is a book that both comforts and convicts. It is also as appropriate and accurate an introduction to its author Brennan Manning as anyone can find, especially with his passing away in 2013. Reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, I was reminded of why I read the book in the first place and how twenty-five years after its writing, the central message is just as accurate as the day it was written but perhaps much more critical for today.

The thesis of Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel is this: God has given grace to all of humanity, we don’t know how to accept it, and if we did it would so change our lives in such a radical way that we and our world would never be the same again. It does not take long to realize how right Manning is. A walk through the local Wal-Mart proves this point. People are discordant with each other, those different from each other and even with their own families. If the individual does not want to leave the house, he or she can look internally to the same result. So many of us are either so self-broken or self-righteous (it feels like most of the time I fall into the latter category) that our own attitudes get in our way of accepting the grace which has been given. Our own attitudes and counterfeit emotions call to mind an Impostor, which Manning writes about in another book.

If a whole nation embraced grace as Manning depicts it, things could/would be different. I think to the Syrian refugee crisis. With love, we would become the beacon for how to treat these people- and the world would look up to us. We would put Germany to shame, not only with the number but the attitude behind why we are doing it. The powerful message of grace that Brennan espouses would transform the conversation on civil rights in our country. No longer would the discussion be about who gets what treatment or how can we prevent this group or other from being mistreated. Instead, the question would be: How may we best ensure that everyone is treated with love and equity, because it is the right thing to do?

I first read The Ragamuffin Gospel ten years ago because I was stuck in an oppressive church environment, was done with religion, and was tired of feeling like I had to earn approval. I couldn’t pray enough, read my Bible enough, or be in church enough to appease some god-clerk with a tally register counting my good deeds against my bad ones. The true picture of grace which Manning paints in his book is what I needed. How quickly my perspective changed once I read The Ragamuffin Gospel. And whether you have known the good news of Grace for many years, or need someone to explain it to you for the first time, this book is a timeless reminder that still holds true today.

I received my 25th Anniversary Edition of this book for free through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for writing a review on it. I was not obligated to write a positive review- although I did so happily. The opinions expressed are my own.

An audiobook I was engaged in listening to.

This is a review of The Word of Promise, NKJV New Testament audiobook.

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I read the Bible regularly; it is usually a part of my morning before the rest of the day’s activities. However, sometimes sleep wins versus me getting up earlier. Other times, the schedule does not permit me being able to read in the mornings. Even then I try to get in some of the Bible one way or another.

Most people who are reading this review and looking for a solid audio Bible will be familiar with the smart phone app YouVersion; its audio feature is nice. I used it from time to time while grading papers at my desk. The problem with it is the audio is very simple, and I zone out listening to it quickly. I also have the Faith Comes By Hearing collection on my iPod and will listen to it while running, but I find the narrator to be distracting at points to listen to. In The Word of Promise, I have found an audio Bible with which I am happy.

First, the narrative flow is smooth. As the audio moves from chapter to chapter, the only indication that the listener gets that one chapter has ended is that there is a fade-out in the sound and a fade-in at the next; no jarring voice interrupts the audio with, “The book of Matthew, Chapter 4.” A second aspect of this which I enjoyed was the background music which plays in the background throughout the entire set; it is at points soothing and other points tense. It is appropriate and fits the project. I actually would not mind owning an audio set of just the audio. The sound effects are seamlessly added into the audio to add another layer of richness to the project.

The last thing I enjoy about this audiobook project is the cast of performers in this collection. Michael York does an exceptional job as a narrator. Richard Dreyfuss, who would not have been my first choice for his role, does suitably well as Moses. The surprise performance however, goes to Luke Perry, whose Judas is not only enjoyable, but when he comes back in Acts as Stephen it is a welcome surprise.

Though the reader/listener could sit down and try to follow along with an NKJV Bible, the Word of Promise might make it difficult to follow on the words printed on the page. This project clearly is meant to be enjoyed as a listening experience. A potential listener who is looking for a Bible in audio format which is both fast-moving and engaging would do well in considering this edition.

I received my copy of The Word of Promise for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for listening through it and posting a review of it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; I thoroughly enjoyed this product and the opinions expressed are mine.

 

“Dude’s Guide to Marriage.”

This is a review of the book Dude’s Guide to Marriage  by Darrin and Amie Patrick.

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There are no Jeff Bridges references in this book. This needs to be established up front. When I saw this book, my first association was that someone had written a book on marriage tips from the perspective of The Dude, but I was mistaken. Even so, Dude’s Guide to Marriage by Darrin and Amie Patrick is a beneficial read worth the time for any husband looking for a book of helpful tips on how to improve his marriage.

Dude’s Guide to Marriage focuses on ten essential skills for every husband to master, and insights on how to do so. The ten insights in the book are: listening, talking, fighting, growing, providing, resting, serving, submitting, pursuing, and worshiping. Each chapter provides a foundational starting point on the subject, an explanation from the perspective of a Biblical (pre)marital counselor, and then ways to grow practically and realistically in each of the skill areas.

Two parts to this book I find beneficial in each chapter are the insights shared by Darrin’s wife Amie, and guided questions which appear at the end of each chapter. Since this is a book about marriage, it is appropriate for Amie to have an opportunity to speak on each subject. Her comments enrich and deepen the treatment of each topic in the book. The guided questions cover the foundations for each chapter and if used as they are supposed to be (asked to the wife by the husband who is reading the book), the questions can provide the opportunity for some good, honest discussions. I have used the questions with my wife, and as a husband, anytime we can receive helpful feedback from our own wives to get better, it’s a good thing.

The Dude’s Guide to Marriage says nothing new, but it says it in a new way that married millenials especially will be able to understand. This is a book with sound advice that no man, putting the advice in to practice, will be sorry for the sake of his marriage that he did.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for writing a review on the book. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

How a teacher would fix the “mass shooting” issue.

The missions statement of the school corporation where I teach is that we will “educate and prepare all students for career and life success.” In light of recent current events, as well as a safety meeting I recently attended:

I am tired of the feeling that preparing students for life success means teaching a student how to survive an active shooter situation.

In response to San Bernardino, I asked myself, “Self, how would a teacher fix this problem?” And this was what I came up with.

In my classroom, if I have a problem that arises from students abusing a privilege, I don’t raise my voice. I do not yell. I do not lecture. I take the privilege away from everyone until the students -together- can create a workable plan and follow it on their own to fix the issue of privilege abuse. Once a functional solution is created and followed, I return the privilege until such time as someone gets out of line with the agreement. Then the privilege is taken away again until the concerned parties fix the situation.

Why don’t we try something like this as a Nation? 

If the majority of citizens are as burnt out as I am about a new tragedy happening every day, why don’t we start by insisting that people get their guns taken away until they collectively can agree with a way to play nice with each other?

This, admittedly, is a very simplistic solution. And I know that many gun enthusiasts will be passionately against the idea because of the right to bear arms. And they may be right. This may infringe on their rights. But to be so adamant about the idea is to insist that our Founding Fathers were flawless human beings and prophets who were able to dictate decrees which would never need amended.

Something must be done. Thoughts and prayers aren’t cutting it. Apathetically sitting by isn’t fixing it.

What do you think we should do?

Ill. Or the best worst thing to happen to me lately.

I went to school this morning. I felt fine. Forty-five minutes in to the school day, I was in my principal’s office notifying her that I was in fact not feeling fine. I’m omitting why I was feeling less than legendary other than to say that if I had remained at school, I would have probably spent more time than I cared to walking from classroom to bathroom and back again.

So while sitting at home ill, I managed to knock out a ton of grading (slight exaggeration because I don’t have a ton of students this trimester), watched a cheesy fantasy film on Netflix (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), and then felt motivated enough to tackle Christmas shopping online.

I’m proud to announce that all my holiday shopping is now finished and I am feeling confident in what I got for my wife. But maybe that’s because I’m getting over being under the weather and my judgment is cloudy.

Or.

My purchases are solid and that is making me start to feel better. In any case, a French pressed cup of coffee is not upsetting my stomach so I’m going to say it’s probably the second choice.

How’s your shopping going?