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My Uncle’s Eulogy: A Gospel Moment

Funerals are for the living. Funerals are also gospel moments. This is the text of my uncle’s eulogy that I preached on March 31, 2016.  My uncle, Lennox Minors, passed from this life on March 24, 2016 at the age of 75.

I’ve been tasked today with saying a few words. It’s been a bit difficult to gather my thoughts because my thoughts have been everywhere lately. The cares of life regarding work and career have been weighing on me, weighing on my friends and weighing on some of you. I know some of your own personal struggles because we keep in contact. I’ve had three friends or associates lose relatives in the past two weeks – two of them, a brother and sister – lost their mom and just yesterday, the insurance company informed them that insurance will not cover the cost of the funeral or cemetery fees. My friend and fraternity brother Hugh just lost his house and belongings and his downstairs roommate to a fire at his house in Gaitherburg – a few of you might have seen it on the news Tuesday night.  A friend of mine of seventeen years passed a few days before Lennox did – his funeral service is also today (right now, in fact) in Virginia and I was originally going to be there until Lennox died. A high school classmate of mine lost her twin brother the same day Lennox died.

So the troubles of this world are not unique to us individually. They are a shared part of the human collective and human experience.  We all experience loss, disappointment, death, depression, loneliness, anger and sadness, grief, and more. The real question is this – what do we do now ? What does this death – Lennox’s death – mean for us right now ?

I believe, according to scripture, it gives us an opportunity for perspective and reflection. It gives us an opportunity to consider the God of the Universe, His ways, His creation, His goodness and what He expects of us in light of this time in our lives and the moment of our being assembled together.

I want to point you Godward, first and foremost. Consider His ways. Ephesians 1:11 reminds us that God works all things according to the counsel of His will. He does not consult with angels on how the world will be run. He is in control. He does not wait until we act and then react like a chess player – the game is already set, the moves on the board are already known to Him including both what is possible and what will ACTUALLY happen. Nothing catches Him off guard or by surprise. He is not in a ‘fight’ with Satan for souls as if He and His creation are equals. That view gives Satan too much credit and power.

Nebuchadnezzar learned this lesson in Daniel 4. After bragging in his arrogance about how he built up Babylon, God struck him so that for seven years, he crawled on all fours like an animal and ate straw. Nebuchadnezzar stated:

” At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
    his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
    are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven
    and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
    or say to him: “What have you done?”

Let these words also in Ecclesiastes 3 sink in:

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God will call the past to account.

Seek to understand what has been said here by Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. Every period of life is ordained by God. Every time – joy, pain, sunshine and rain. I want you to reflect for a moment on the words “He has made everything beautiful in its’ time. He has put eternity into man’s heart so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” Consider His ways. God has put a vast and unending ‘unknowing’ in the heart of man so that men cannot find out what God is doing from beginning to the end. This should remind us to be humble in the face of pain and sorrow. Too often during these times, we can be tempted – either by external pain or internal pain – to conclude that since whatever God is doing at the moment is not something we can understand or not something we would expect a loving God to do, then God is not worthy of our worship, service and devotion. It is easy to serve God when the wine is flowing, the children are laughing and the sun is shining.

Consider His ways. Solomon reminds us that these wonderful and beautiful times are indeed a gift from God. He states “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Lennox embodied much of these two verses with his life. He was definitely joyful – always with a joke, a song, a song with a joke included, always looking for opportunities to make the people around him laugh, always cooking (he loved to feed people when they came over to visit). He took the time to help relatives as he could – I remember a recent time that my mother, his sister, left her keys in a co-worker’s car and couldn’t get into her house. Len provided shelter and food for her like a good older brother should do for his baby sister. Growing up, I remember quite a few times Len did things like that for various family members. Lennox worked hard – I believe I got some of my work ethic from watching him, my grandmother, my mother and my other uncle Rupert. All of them were serious about getting work done and making sure the work was done well. Len spent many years when he first came up to the US spray painting cars in a body shop. I think I asked him about the process of painting cars somewhere around age 10, but I didn’t fully understand the process. All I remember was “that’s a lot of work!”. He enjoyed his job. He took pleasure in it – as scripture says we are to do. Many years during Thanksgiving, he invited my mother, grandmother and I and Lennox over to his long-time apartment in Parkside. Many laughs were had at that table. Many stomachs were full. Much dancing and singing also happened.

These things are a gift from God to us. They are a sign of His goodness toward us. God caused the sun to rise and fall on Len for 70+ years. During that time, countless people were shown hospitality and goodness through the gift of Lennox Minors. Reflect on them and consider His ways. He is good. He has been good to all of us.

Consider your own way in light of God’s goodness. Moses has written in Psalm 90:

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
 throughout all generations.

Before the mountains were born
 or you brought forth the whole world,
 from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust,
 saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”

A thousand years in your sight
 are like a day that has just gone by,
 or like a watch in the night.

Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:

In the morning it springs up new,
 but by evening it is dry and withered.

We are consumed by your anger
 and terrified by your indignation.

You have set our iniquities before you,
 our secret sins in the light of your presence.

All our days pass away under your wrath;
 we finish our years with a moan.

10 Our days may come to seventy years,
 or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
 for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
 Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.

12 Teach us to number our days,
 that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Moses gives us a glimpse into the other side of the equation – the frailty and delicateness of life. Each of us in this room is one heartbeat away from standing in the presence of God and giving an account for the life that we have lived.

Consider your own relative goodness in light of God’s goodness mentioned in Ecclesiastes. Why does a good God say “return to death you mortals” ? Why are we consumed by His anger and indignation ? Why should we consider (v. 11) His the power of His wrath and the fear that is due to Him ? Why is there death in the first place ?

God speaking through David says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
 but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This is that same fear mentioned in v. 11 that Moses says is due or owed to God. At the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon sums up the entire matter: Now all has been heard;
  here is the conclusion of the matter:
 Fear God and keep his commandments,
 for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, 
including every hidden thing,
 whether it is good or evil.

To fear God is to hold Him, His ways and His Word with reverence AND to hold a healthy fearfulness of Him. It is all of these things. It is the equivalent of being stuck in a F-5 tornado and finding a place of safety where you can observe the power of the storm without being torn away by its wrath. A scary experience, but one that will instantly teach you respect and reverence for the power of a storm.

Look back at verses 8 and 9: You have set our iniquities before you,
 our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath;
 we finish our years with a moan.

 You must understand: Death exists for two reasons. Death exists because of sin – yours and mine – and because God is good and just. What is sin ? The failure to do what God has commanded be done and the doing of what God has said not to do. In the Garden of Eden, God commanded Adam to not eat of the fruit of the tree containing the knowledge of good and evil, Adam disobeyed, the penalty was death. He was expelled from the Garden of Eden, and work became toil. All of creation was thrown into what scripture calls “futility” – you plant a rose bush, thorns pop up in addition to the rose. Grass is here in the morning, scorched away by the hot sun later in the day – at least over in some middle eastern countries it is. Worse, that action of sin which brought about physical death also brought about spiritual death and separation from this same good, Holy God. As a result, men and women die. Animals die. Plants die and decay. So sin isn’t just an action – it’s a condition that permeates all of humanity. Death and decay taint all of creation so that, as Romans 8 says, the creation itself groans for the day it will be free from corruption and decay. This is why instead of gentle rains to fix dried out crops, we get flash floods; instead of gentle winds to carry seeds from here to there to begin life anew, we get violent storms ripping the trees from the ground.

You may say “kinda harsh of God to do ?” Understand – God is 100% good. There is no evil in Him. Because God is good, He is also completely just. JUST meaning that He, as the only true and righteous judge in the universe, will not let sin “slide” by. If He did, He would not be good or just. He would be a corrupt judge with an uneven scale for judging. Be thankful He is not a corrupt judge – He has stated repeatedly that He will judge the world. Every corrupt politician – including the ones we voted for – will all give account to God for their actions. Every unsolved murder has not escaped His eye – every murderer will stand before Him and give account. Every theft, every lie, every evil thought and intention – are all included in what God will bring into judgment. Remember: He is a GOOD judge.

In addition, consider the following – in our legal system, the penalty for a lie varies with the degree of honor and seriousness of the situation. If I lie to my mother as a child, I may get a spanking. If I lie to my teacher as a teenager, I may get a suspension. If I lie to my boss, I may get fired. If I lie to the police, I may get arrested. If I lie before a judge, I may get jail time for perjury. So what happens when I lie to the Creator of the Universe whose very essence and being is truth and truthfulness ?

In light of this, consider your own relative goodness. People often say “only God can judge me” or “God knows my heart” as if this is a source of comfort when Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. What happens when your heart, thoughts and motivations – all of them – are laid bear and open before the Creator of the Universe ?

Consider your own relative goodness in light of His perfection.

In Matthew 5, Jesus teaches the gathered crowds that the standard of righteousness they’d been taught by tradition was not God’s standard. They’d been taught (in the righteousness system developed by the Pharisees) that to ‘look’ at a woman 2 times would not be considered lust. So they made that second look last for a little while. Jesus cuts through these external acts of righteousness and tells them “if you look upon a woman to lust after her, you have committed adultery in your heart”.   Don’t be so quick to condemn the Pharisee – how many times have you heard someone say “It’s okay to look as long as you don’t do anything ?” or “I was just admiring her or his beauty ?

The Pharisees had a righteousness code that also stated that as long as you didn’t physically harm the person, you were free to call him “a son of a worthless person who deserves not to exist”. In Aramaic, there was one word that carried this meaning; RACA! Jesus attacked this too – a murderous attitude in the heart is still murder in the eyes of God. The penalty on earth may be different because the physical act hadn’t taken place, but God judges the intentions of the heart as well as the physical actions.

I taught middle school for ten years and have also taught high school for four years before that, going back to teaching high school again this year. A favorite refrain from lying students is “I swear to God I’m telling the truth”. You’ve heard it from adults as well: “Read my lips; no new taxes!” and “I did not have sex with that woman”.

Again, nothing new – the Pharisees had this same righteousness code, only they would swear by things (heaven, earth, Jerusalem, their own heads, the temple, etc….). They would make these ornate and over the top oaths in order to make themselves appear as righteous truth tellers. Jesus made the issue simple: tell the truth. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Swearing by “stuff” is placing more value and reverence in that ‘stuff’ than in the God who gives you breath to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Anything further is from the evil one.

Well, everybody lies, you might say. Everybody breaks one of these commandments at one point or another, right ? We should still be okay ? Right ?

Psalm 130:3 states “if you, Lord, kept a record of sins….Lord, who would stand ?”

Isaiah 64:6 states “All our righteousness before you is as filthy rags.” Think disposable “rags” used once a month.

Jesus sets the standard, dovetailing back to what I mentioned earlier: the Pharisees redefined what ‘neighbor’ meant and believed that your ‘neighbor’ and your ‘enemy’ could not be the same person. So you were free to ‘hate your enemy’.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Again, don’t be quick to condemn the Pharisees – it’s election season. There is a ton of ‘hate the republicans, they’re not one of us’ and ‘hate the democrats, they’re not one of us’ speech flying back and forth on social media, television and radio. People have cut off and hated family members and long time friends over political disagreements over the past 8-12 years. Nothing new. It’s the same problem.

If the standard is perfection as God is good and perfect – and it is – none of us by our own works, have a righteous standing before God. None. James reminds us in chapter 2 that if someone breaks one of the laws, they are guilty of breaking all of the laws.

God being good and just, will deal with all of these sins. I may have stepped on your toes with these words. This is a time to reflect and consider your ways before the God of the Universe. This is a moment to “take stock of your life” as my grandmother – Lennox’s mother – used to say….or as Moses has stated “number your days so that you may gain a heart of wisdom”.

The Bible also tells us that God is exceedingly gracious and patient, even toward those who continually break His laws. This perfect life of perfect law-keeping that you and I were not capable of keeping and doing was done perfectly by one. That one is the One whose perfect life, death and resurrection was celebrated last weekend.

Consider the call of God to repent.

Let me put this another way for you. Suppose you are on trial for a capital crime. The judge reads your charges to you, presents evidence of your guilt in detail, even getting into the inner thoughts of your mind that show you were guilty…. To the point where you couldn’t do anything else but plead guilty….. and then the judge declares you guilty…. Brings out HIS OWN SON to take your penalty…. His son, who was innocent of the crime you were guilty of… went off in your place to face capital punishment. And then…. The Judge comes down off of the bench, takes His robe off, places it around you, takes you home with him and calls you his SON.

This is what God did for sinners like you and I. This is what Jesus’s life – His perfectly obeying the law of God on behalf of those who place their full faith and trust in Him – death – taking the penalty of God’s wrath in full while on the cross in the place of people like you and I who deserved that instead – and His resurrection – rising from the dead to show that the sacrifice was complete AND accepted – meant last weekend, this week and every day we are alive.

Paul writing in Romans 2 warn both Jew and non-Jew alike in the church at Rome that the goodness of God leads to repentance, but for the unrepentant, you are storing up wrath for the day of judgment.

God has not given you this life to waste getting drunk, pursuing pleasure outside of God’s appointed means, and pursuing riches and ‘things’ as though they are the sum of life. He has given you gifts – Lennox – my uncle – was one of those gifts. Everyone doesn’t get to have a funny uncle who tells jokes, loves music, makes everyone laugh, cooks and likes to keep a nice house and have parties. We had that. We are better for it. But make no mistake – it was a gift from God.

But if we ignore the Giver of the gift and simply use the gift, we are being unthankful to God. And Romans 1:18 makes it clear that part of the reason the wrath of God is being poured out on the ungodly is because we do not acknowledge Him and give Him thanks.

Don’t be thankless.

All of us live one heartbeat away from death. One wrong breath. One ruptured blood vessel. One inattentive or drunk driver. One fallen building. One fire with no way to escape, as my friend Hugh’s downstairs renter perished two nights ago. One untreated cancer cell multiplying, like my friend Zach.

The Bible commands us to repent – turn from – our sins and place our full faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His perfect life, death and resurrection on our behalf. Repent means to turn from something – the same way if you were driving to Florida and you saw a sign that said “Welcome to Maine”, you would immediately turn and head in the opposite direction. Place your full faith and trust in Him the same way you would place your faith and trust in a parachute to save you from hitting the ground if you jumped out of a plane.

There is no “piggybacking” into heaven off of someone else’s faith. There’s no “friend’s list”. Your faith must be your own. You must be the one to cry out to God “Have mercy on me, a sinner! Forgive me for the sake of your Son!”

I will not speculate on the final destination of my uncle because I wasn’t here during his final days. The words I have brought are to you, the living. They come from the living God to whom all will stand before and give an account to.

Every death, sickness, moment of joy, moment of grief, time of happiness, day of beauty, every sunrise, every sunset, every storm – all of these things – are reminders from God to reflect and evaluate your life. They are reminders of the God of the Universe telling you about Himself….and about yourself.

They are calls to turn to Jesus Christ in faith. Remember that the One who gives you the wonderful gift of people – friends – relatives, food, shelter, provisions for life, also demands that you fear Him. Fear Him as a young child fears, loves and trusts their father. He’s God…. He has that right.

The one who comes to Him in faith will never be cast out and cast away. Jesus said this in John 6:37-40. As long as you breathe, remember that your sins are not bigger than God. No sin can keep you out of heaven if you turn from them and turn to Christ in faith. Jeffery Dahmer became a Christian in prison a few months before being murdered in prison. The thief on the cross trusted in Christ moments before his death.

One hundred years from now, this issue will be settled for everyone sitting in this room. You sin will either have been paid for in Christ, or you will spend eternity paying for your sins facing the wrath of God mentioned in Psalm 90…and Romans 1-3.

I implore you today – Consider His ways. He has brought you here today to hear this message. He has orchestrated your life to make it here safely today. He has put all of the necessary resources and people in your life for you to be able to stand where you are today.

Consider His goodness toward you. He has raised you up today from sleep – some didn’t wake up. He has clothed you – some are naked. He gives you good friends to walk through life with – some remain lonely. The fact that God is good is shown by the fact that all of you are here today hearing these words.

Consider Your life. Have you wasted it ? A wasted life is a CEO who goes home to his mansion, sits with his money and possessions and feels that all of it is a waste. A wasted life is one spent chasing everything else – recognition by men, acceptance, seeking the next ‘pleasure’, seeking the next dollar and never having enough….

Consider the call to repent. Scripture calls “today” the day of salvation – the acceptable time.   God is gracious and loving toward those who turn from their sin. He calls for you to do so today. Turn from your sin and trust in Christ.

#40YearOldCalvinist

Well, today I turn 40.  The past few months have been rather interesting – busy as heck (continually). I know (from experience) that everyone gets ‘this busy’, so it shouldn’t  be a surprise to me that so many small fires (and big ones) keep popping up and I don’t have enough ‘feet’ to stomp them all out.

Looking back at a statement my old pastor once said to me…..

I’m now 40. What do I have to show for it ?

  • Decent career (a bit challenging at times).
  • A wife who loves me and a good marriage.

  • An album in the works.
  • Three major websites that get a little traffic (really – mostly because I don’t update as often anymore).
  • A house.
  • Great in-laws.
  • Great friends and a solid church.
  • A bit more wisdom.

Not too bad. God has been gracious to me.  Looking forward to another ‘interesting’ 20 years…..

Starting with the first single for my album…which will FINALLY be ready to drop next week (hopefully).

Okay, time to update. :)

I’ll be updating my design gradually in a few hours…..well….over the weekend. After grading gets done.  Thankfully, me and my burnt-out self (and my wife) are on Spring break now until the 10th.

In greater news, my homie Mike gets married on the 2nd.  In around 10 hours or less, he’ll be seeing his future wife as she lands in Detroit.

God is great. 🙂

A few 1/1/12 reflections as I get ready for church (a few weeks late)

For the past few weeks, I’ve been jokingly telling friends (and even my wife) – I’m ‘fat, happy and content’.  There’s probably 90% truth to that statement. I do need to lose weight (takes discipline).  I am very happy right now (even with the general stresses of life and work, all things are going well).  Most of all, I am content (wife and I just purchased a house, so we’re finally apartment-free and we’re in a good area with low crime….and lots of deer….although we spent most of the month of December moving….while still working, doing concerts, etc…).  I generally have everything I need at the moment.

Food, clothing, shelter, income, possessions, companionship, fellowship at a good church, sound teaching….

1 Timothy 6:6-8 is a good place to find yourself.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Could some things be ‘better’ ? Sure. I’d love to have a more active social life with my friends, but the problem (part of it) is that I live too far away from most of them and FB is a poor substitute (indeed NO substitute) for keeping up in person.  Could my students act better and be more focused ? Absolutely. But it’s the nature of teaching middle school. The challenge every year is to reproduce and exceed the excellence from the year before. I think I’m well on my way to that point at the moment.

All of these things come with new challenges and levels of difficulty that I may not necessarily be equipped to properly handle at the moment. And that’s why I’m reflecting back to this passage again and again and considering my life as it stands at the moment.  I really do have it good. More importantly, God in His providence, has seen fit to place me in the point in life where I am right now because in His all-wise counsel, this is the absolute best for me right now (Romans 8:28).

That last point right there helps me to view life through the wisdom of God in how He deems to execute the life-plans He has for each of His elect, specifically at the moment, for me and my wife.  That, my friends, helps me to learn to trust Him more (especially when He gives me ‘glimpses’ of what I could’ve gotten myself into if I’d married someone else, taken another job, etc….).

Two Years of Marriage: Reflections

I’ve been incredibly blessed to have been married for two years to a wonderful, understanding, cute :D, loving, godly woman. Although both of us have a boatload of things to get done over the next few weeks, the most either of us is doing today are things that do not require labor….and in another hour and some change, we’ll be doing nothing other than relaxing.

Over on LDM, one person asked me about what things my wife and I got out of our two years of attending the Weekend to Remember conferences put on by Family Life Today.  One of the best things has been to serve my wife by being patient, quick to forgive and understanding.  All of these things involve a fundamental biblical truth – putting others before ourselves.  In marriage, this is probably the #1 way to keep a marriage together. If you’re thinking about your mate first, you won’t be pressed about what “I” want to do all the time…..from how to spend money to where to spend vacation to even what to wear.

Men, we have a heavier burden according to scripture. Scripture primarily meets us at the area we have the most problems with – listening and understanding.  1 Peter’s command for husbands to dwell with their wives ‘according to knowledge’ or ‘with understanding’ or ‘in an understanding way’ cuts at our tendency to want to ‘fix’ everything and reduce everything down to a simple formula.  Some women like routine – some don’t. Takes work to get to know her individually and adjust yourself accordingly.  Remember – we are servant-leaders.

There is no command in scripture for wives to dwell with their husbands according to knowledge. 🙂 Women can figure out most of our basic desires pretty quick. Those of you married – haven’t you noticed how your wife is able to pre-think some things that you might forget, have that stuff ready and all set up for you just when YOU are starting to realize “Oh no! I forgot to take care of item X or item Y” ?

Ladies, have you noticed that when you do stuff like that, your husband’s eyes light up and he just begins to gush on how awesomely terrific you are ?  There is a command for women to respect their husbands. When you do stuff like this, husbands think “wow. she respects me and appreciates me enough to make up for the areas I fall behind in.  I’d stop a bus for this woman.”

There’s a bunch of scientific data out on how women are wired for this level of attention to detail already , but science is simply finding out what the Bible has already taught on the issue.

So….

Another great thing I took away from these sessions is the need for consistent, regular time in the scriptures together. I admit freely – I’ve been lousy at this as of late. But I’m going to get ‘us’ back into it soon.  Remember Ephesians 5 – the husband who loves his wife washes her and cleanses her with the Word.  Men reading this – your leading of your wife in and through scripture is part of the means of her sanctification (as well as yours).  And you’ll also both find yourselves growing together more as you spend time in the Word together.

Be ready to forgive and not make every offense a big deal. Be ready to apologize. Ephesians 4:32 is big here.  Remember patience – the same patience you want folks to use when dealing with you and your shortcomings, failings, etc…. extend that to your mate.  The doctrine of total depravity reminds us that all humans are fallen beings, all corrupted by sin and even when we come to Christ in faith, we are still dealing with the lingering effects of the flesh for the remainder of our lives. The same grace and mercy that Christ showed us, let us be quick to show it to our mate.

All this in two years. 🙂  May the Lord give my wife and I 80-90 more (of course, we’ll be old as dirt by then…if not dirt).

I’m out for now. Off to spend the rest of the day with my wife. 🙂

The Sovereignty of God and HD Crashes

Day before yesterday, while using the laptop near a hard surface, I’d accidentally knocked it over.  Mind you, my laptop HD had been gradually starting to click since the middle of last year.  I preemptively bought a 630GB internal HD that I’d planned on transferring everything to in late May, but didn’t get around to doing so.

Well, it (my 320GB internal HD in the laptop) finally died, much to my dismay.

I bought a 1TB external for more back ups, but the old 320GB internal isn’t coming up.  And I have (literally) 30-50GB of new things I’ve been doing since my last back up (which was January).  While it was still in the laptop, it WAS coming up as a Firewire drive, but now as USB….nothing.

It’s another one of those “Live Your Theology” moments, as I’ve found myself having to come back to the point of realizing that even a hardware malfunction with the data arm of a hard drive is not outside of the Sovereign control of God. And once again moving back to Romans 8:28, I must remember that all things (including this) are working together for my ultimate good and His highest glory.

I must not form my theology based on my experiences, but allow my theology to dictate how my experiences should be interpreted rightly.  Too many people do it the other way and end up denying that God is God.  They say He is ‘Sovereign but not in control’ and other rubbish.  They say that God didn’t know the future, otherwise He would’ve never allowed a tree to fall and strike someone’s car, killing them instantly or (fill in your calamity here).

Repeatedly in scripture, we’re confronted with God knowing and ordaining things as tiny as a bird falling from a tree (Matthew 10:28-29) to things as large as kingdoms coming into power and specific rulers coming to power (Cyrus in Isaiah 45, Daniel 4:29-37).  It is foolishness to think that God doesn’t know the future or is simply a casual observer to it, fretting all the bad things that happen. It’s insulting to call God a chess player who reacts and ‘always has the upper hand’ after a tragedy of sorts strikes. We cannot speak out of both sides of our mouth and call God Sovereign, yet deny that He is in control of every molecule in the universe.

So while I sit here and pray with my wife, I’ll be putting in a call to MacAuthority in the morning (and a few other places) to see how many hundreds of dollars I’ll be spending to retrieve all the video and audio work I’ve built up since January.  In the meantime, I’m thankful for my wonderful wife who has constantly reminded me to pray first before taking out a hammer to strike things and get them working again. 🙂

While we’re waiting: Old Reading

I’m so thankful to the Internet Archive. I was in the process of looking up some old posts from prior to my converting my blog from b2evolution over to WordPress (which I did back in 07 or so….) and to my dismay, a lot of ‘huge’ posts I’d done were lost. 🙁

Until today. 🙂

I decided, on a hunch, to put in the URL to some of my old blogposts that were cut off at “More::” (as in “click on this link to read more”). Turns out the archive saved a LOT of my old blog back in December of 06. 🙂

I even got back all of “The Bible as the Word of God….for CHRISTIANS….” which I’ve been meaning to get back for ages now.

I also managed to get all of my post back where I talked for a bit on Calvary Chapel and restore the entire post.

I was reading my wife a bit of old blog posts to my wife and noticing that I’ve been a perfectionist a lot longer than I really realized (I even mentioned it in an old post). It’s interesting to look back at old blogposts and see where you’ve grown from.  Strangely, I had a lot more time years ago to blog more consistently.  I blame work and the rest of life.

Well, off to blogging again.  If I know how God operates, something I read recently on my blog will arise in my life as a reminder in the next few days and I’ll be posting on it in hopes of others being edified as a result of it. 🙂

2008

Well, this is probably the most non-2008 celebrating or acknowledging I’ve done since I was around 10-12 and fell asleep through the New Year. I played Spider-Man 2 on GameCube longer than expected (I finally started figuring out how to do certain controls and things) – Oh yeah, for those who I haven’t had a chance to talk to, I finally got a gaming system (the last one I had was a Super-Nintendo….so you KNOW it’s been a while for me….).

Anyway, I got a GameCube for $30 from GameStop (yep, they’ve really went down in price), 2 controllers (one came with it) and I’ve bought about 10 games. I actually think that aside from one game (super mario kart double dash), I have all the games I plan on buying for the thing. I may buy a Wii later on if I have the right amount of money available.

Anyway, off of that tangent. The GameCube is actually supposed to be not just for me, but as something else additional for when I open up my home to fellowship for a game night.

A few things have ‘clicked’ for me during the past year. Some within the past few days.

More and more, the words “God doesn’t care how you feel about it, your job is to make yourself feel the right way about it and to be obedient to doing it” – these words have stuck in my head and have made me rethink how I conduct myself in terms of some of my relationships to folks in the body of Christ.

So one of my first tasks this year is to establish relationships with my brothers and my sister. Yes, you heard right – 3 brothers and a sister. Only one is a full blood brother. We’ve actually started communicating more as of late. You may recall me mentioning that last year, my grandmother’s death opened up a line of communication between he and mother that previously hadn’t existed.

Praise God for that. My mother had my brother, his wife and my niece and nephew over for Christmas….and things went VERY well. I was happy about it, but more importantly, I could see how much it really meant to my mother and my brother that they were all able to have a real dinner together as family. Yes, I was there. 🙂 I really enjoyed seeing my niece and nephew, though my nephew could use a few strokes to the behind to teach him some self-control.

So I realize that I have a responsibility to my immediate family to build and establish stronger relationships to my blood relatives.

I missed seeing my dad today (got in the house late, but I’ll try again later today). I have a MacArthur daily devotional for him that I got him as a Christmas present. I pray that he will read through it daily. My dad’s not saved.

I talked to my younger brother (yes, I have one of those!) earlier today. We had a good convo about music. My older brother has been in regular contact with him, but passed my number on to him. His birthday’s coming up – it’s strange – he’s been in the US since 94 and I have yet to meet him in person. My sister too.

Then there’s my other younger brother Nigel up in NYC.

Yeah, see…there’s a lot people don’t know about me.

Anyway, just contemplating the entire thing, there’s a lot that I need to do on my end of the fence to build some relationships with the people I already have around me. God will hold me responsible for that.

Speaking of relationships, there’s a few old ones that need mending….so I’m starting to put in some work there as well. I realize that I must change my thinking and my presuppositions about people in order to properly seek reconciliation and building with them.

Needless to say….I have some work to do in my personal life.

In the area of my finances, I have some work to do with being consistent about putting away money. My goal is a house by the end of this year. I’m well on my way there so far – I actually have enough in the bank to take care of a decent down payment.

My pastor made a point a few days back about slaves in OT times. I’ve taken too many ‘anal glaucoma’ days at work.

For those who don’t know, anal glaucoma is the condition where you wake up in the morning and you just can’t see your behind goin’ into work, so you call in sick. *cough cough*

Sometimes, you do need a ‘mental health’ day. But maybe that’s just an American thing. I know large parts of it came from the stress that accompanied going into work because I felt nothing was getting done around the school by those in charge…. and even in one of our staff meetings, someone (God bless her!) brought up the fact that 10 people a day call out from the place because they don’t feel supported and they don’t feel like the administration is going to support them on discipline….so a disorderly school environment doesn’t make one feel good about work NOR coming into work.

Prayerfully, things will be much different the second half of the year.

My Bible reading has fallen off a bit. I’m about to pick that back up along with some other ‘disciplines’ that helped to keep me on track. One of which is my staying in the scriptures and working through the issue of God’s holiness and my own sinfulness. I’ll be redoubling my efforts to stay consistent with things.

Thankfully, the Lord has granted me the favor of having brothers in the Lord like Mike and Derek.

The engagement thing is getting a bit nearer.  I feel it.  But I’m going to have to work for it.  My eHarmony subscription ends next month.  Let’s see what becomes of it all……..

*jumps into the fray of 2008 with swords drawn and teeth gritted*

Whoohoo!! New projects coming up….

Aside from getting the Fourth Friday Fundamentals website up and running, I’ve also got a professional site (MrGilliardMusic.com) that I’m working on getting up.  It’ll be an all-purpose resource site designed to pull some of the tedious tasks off of my hands and make my kids and their parents responsible for getting and applying info quickly.

I’m also FINALLY going to do something with this theme.  I’ve spent the past 3-4 days reading theme-code for WordPress, so I have a VERY good idea of how code operates now in wordpress….along with a lot of PHP.  So stay tuned.

On a personal note, as 2007 draws to a close, I find myself looking back (as usual) reflecting on things I’ve gotten right and things I’ve gotten wrong.  I’ll be digging into my resolutions list from 2005 going into 2006 that I developed back when Meeky and I were dating.  Even looking at this blog one year ago with grad school, Grandma having a stroke, my mother and brother just getting back in contact and a host of other things, I see progress in some areas and stagnation in others.

Time grows shorter…. but in all things, God is Sovereign (Romans 8:28-30).

Oh. Wow. Just like that, I’m back.

Wow.

That’s pretty much all I can say.

I caught a killer deal on eBay the other day for a mixer and two professional CD players (Gemini CDJ10’s or something like that).

Long story short, DJ K-NYSE was reborn over the weekend.

Uh, yeah. Seriously.

Those of you who know me, know that in addition to everything else, I *love* good house music. Not the ‘booty shake’ music from Florida or the ‘trash’….er….’Trance’ stuff, but good, deep underground house music from Chicago and such. Not even the home-grown Baltimore club stuff.

So….I found TraxSource and I’m making a wishlist.

Might see what I can do with some holy hip hop too. But right now…. just enjoying the fact that I can DJ again. 🙂

Getting some more writing done for the album. Working on grad school stuff…. all the usual. Truthfully, work and grad school have taken up most of my available time.

On another note, I’m on a strict budget as of next paycheck. Keep that in prayer. Right now, I generally follow that same budget and have $416 left over at the end of the month, but now I have to document it. I’ve actually been pretty straight since last summer when grad school started.

Okay, I’m out. Work to do and a home to get to.