Showing posts from March, 2007

Yeah boy! Get your Geek on!

If only I heard this as my geekiness comes through I think I would be more encouraged. I am doing some XSLT work right now in a "new-to-me" tool called Bonfire Studio. Kind of a nice tool to coordinate all XML and XSLT in a single project and get it all working well together. I want to transform a super-small DITA XML instance into a WordML XML instance. I do like XML to XML transformations as they are what XSLT is all about. Once that is working what I want to do is attach the XSLT to a FrameMaker structured application and then automatically transform the DITA instance to WordML upon export. If I have time (and haven't lost interest) I will write another XSLT stylesheet to get the WordML back into DITA and back into FrameMaker for editing. Splendid geekery if I do say so myself. Of course, all of this calling myself a geek means nothing unless it is recognized by someone else. Thankfully it has been by numerous people so the moniker is as solid as it can be.

Interesting night

We had an interesting night last night at the Champions club. I think we, as leaders, struck a nice balance between instruction (both formal and informal) and fun. We started with game time (as we always do) and then moved to the formal instruction. I had the kids write down some questions that they always wanted to ask about the Scriptures or their faith and hand them in. Then we sang some songs (the kids even sang "Happy Birthday" to me). I also made them guess my age - the highest guess was 45 and the lowest was 26. Then we talked about parables and why Christ taught in them. We then read Adam Raccoon and the Flying Machine (a good parable) and looked for the heavenly meaning in the earthly story. Then, there was an impromptu request from one of the clubbers to here how my wife and I got together. So...I invited my wife to my side and we told the story. I think that stuff is critical in our ministry. We, largely, did things right when we were dating and when we decided to

Just below the surface

What lies just below the surface? What races through my mind when I lie in bed alone with my thoughts. My thoughts are not broadcast to the world like my face, clothes, and words are - so what's there? I certainly am and in the calmness I hear insecurity and fear. But I also hear my words coming back to me : "Don't doubt in the dark what you knew to be true in the light." And that's faith? Yes, that's faith. Knowing that he will be well taken care of when he spreads his wings and tries, but fails. Knowing that he will be built up by the One who is continually crafting me. More than poetry this is my life. Lord, please teach me what that means.

When boys play

"Man...good thing you were wearing your helmet!" - Overheard and promptly filed in the I-can't-believe-this-came-out-of-my-mouth department. What would a couple of boys do with a Frisbee and a bike? Well - probably exactly what I did with my oldest son yesterday: throw the Frisbee at him while he rides his bike and try to hit him. Of course the oldest is all boy so he loved that little game. His mother was less than amused but can we blame her? She is just a girl and can't help it. He only wiped out once trying to avoid the Frisbee and survived numerous head shots because he was wearing his helmet. All in all it was a "good thing".

The bright light

If I was driven, driven ahead by some noble ideal Who took the wheel? If I was given, given a glimpse of some glorious road When was it sold? - Jesus Is for Losers - Squint , Steve Taylor The depth of my depravity speaks to the miracle of this new birth. How is it that I have noble thoughts (as imperfect as they are) or even have a glimpse of the deep things of God? How is it that He allows me into His presence as "stiff-necked and proud" as I am with my hands and heart full of idols? He doesn't cast me out, He doesn't remove the abundant life from me, He doesn't cease to pursue me, He doesn't call me by any other name than the one that will be mine at the end of this age...none of it. Why do I continue to choose to offend Him so? Bone-weary every climb Blind-sided every time Just as I am I am needy and dry Jesus is for losers The self-made need not apply Just as I am In a desert crawl Lord, I'm so thirsty Take me to the waterfall

The danger in finding a reason for everything

I apologize in advance for the impersonal nature of this post. We were watching a hospital show last night where there was a conflict between a character who was a believer and one who was not. The show was flawed a bit in that Romans 8:28 was quoted but not used in the right context and that a relationship with Christ was reduced to a mere coping mechanism, but it did raise interesting points. There is a danger in trying to find a reason for everything that happens. Not only do we tread in the halls of the Mind of God, but we reduce His activities to our understanding and acquiescence. In other words we may be saying, "If I can find out why this happened than all is well and God is who He said He is. If not, well, I guess He is less than what is revealed in the Scriptures." Or it very slowly dissolves our trust in Him. Not only that, but we also have a tendency to be focussed on how the situation affected us and ignoring the others that may have been caught in it. I heard a

From the "Well, that explains a lot" department

The first Christian music group I ever (and I do mean ever) heard was Stryper. I remember by older brother getting the album Soldiers Under Command for Christmas and I was, shall we say, hooked on the sound coupled with the message. Christian Heavy Metal was a natural for me later in life when I was converted in college. I came out of a background of listening to New Wave, New Age, Jazz, and Punk music when I became a Christian. At that point, the only real "alternative" sound in Christian music at that time was Metal. Now you can find any musical genre expressed in contemporary Christian music, but at that point even The Choir, Damiel Amos, Undercover, and the other "out there" artists were a bit tame for me. Enter groups like Deliverance, Bloodgood, Barren Cross, Tourniquet to fill the "void" and provide the antithesis (in more than music) to Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Rich Mullins, and DeGarmo and Key. Not that those artists have not ministered to me

Sometimes it takes me a little while

One of the more annoying things I do when I am exercising is look at the amount of time I have left until I can stop. I haven't gotten to the point where exercising is so much fun that I am disappointed when it is over. Imagine that. I guess if I ever get to that point I will have crossed some line somewhere that I do not want to think about. Anyway - this is an issue because I am always telling myself "OK, Mark, just 12 more minutes." or "Five minutes - you can do this for five more minutes - right?" Well, today I did something about it. Once I got up to my "jogging" speed (5.0 mph) I covered up the time elapsed with my iPod and just had the calories burned indication showing. Now I know that I burn about 310 calories per session, so it is a bit of a tip off where I am at in my exercising, but less of an issue (it seems) than looking at the time. I also know I can get through about 8 songs on the iPod during the session, but, again, less of an issue t

Sometimes I just open my mouth and see what comes ...

Sometimes I just open my mouth and see what comes out. Sometimes that is a really bad idea. My post today (not this one, but the previous one) was a result of such an exercise. The determination of how fruitful it was is left as an exercise to the reader.

Why can't broccoli taste like steak?

Unpleasant but necessary. Sometimes bones need to be broken in order to be set right and healed. The pain that I feel is a reminder to me that the medicine I am to take may make my face wrinkle and leave a bad taste in my mouth, but, when it has had its full course, it will make me well. Pain is a gift that lets me know that I need to change the way I do things in order that I may have and abundant life - in order that I may, at times, live at all. If I avoid the pain of correction and die a happy man, I will have squandered that which I have been put in charge of and vacated my responsibilities. Then there will be pain. And not the pain that produces and enlivens, but the pain that permanently, consciously, and eternally destroys. If my sadness here produces something greater There then sadness it is. My joy intact a sad face is good for the heart for it produces a longing for the way things should have been...and will be again.

I want to learn - so I teach

There is a lot of truth to the statement that if you want to learn then you should teach. God has put me into many different positions where I have been able to teach His Word. I have taught adults, teens, junior high, middle school kids - almost all the way down the line. I think I have bottomed out at about 3rd grade. I think that is the lowest age group I am interested in teaching anyway. What is great about teaching is not only do I have to internalize the subject matter, but I have to figure out how to communicate it so that it can be learned by my audience. I am a firm believer in the fact that the teacher is not only responsible for knowing and communicating the subject matter, but also that the students learn it. Yes, the teacher is responsible for the student's learning. How far does this go? Well, let's just say that I have fully embraced the implications of this in the settings where I have taught. This makes me defficient as a teacher and maybe even a hypocrite. But

So this is what has been happening

I have been kind of "blah" lately. Almost like I am in a holding pattern of sorts waiting to get clearance to land. There is (was) a lot going on and I am jazzed about most of it, but there are times when I just feel like I am not engaging the world around me, not playing the ball when it is hit towards me, letting stuff fall where it may rather than attempting to divert its path. I am human and sometimes I get worn out. I wonder if this is one of those times? Maybe I just need to grab a bull (any bull - there are a lot of them to choose from right now) and wrestle it to the ground. And maybe, just maybe, all the general, cliche-ridden content in the preceding sentences will get some specificity behind them.

A good definition of love

I found this definition of love on the net: a purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another. Sounds so romantic, doesn't it? This isn't the love I read about on Halmark cards or even express in the words I say or write to my wife. It isn't even, quite frankly, what comes to mind when someone says "love" to me. But, it is the love that captured my heart and literally stood the world on end. Beyond any gun or missle it will conquer not only lands, but hearts and is the halmark of the Kingdom to come. It interrupted the consequences of my actions (thanks, Bono) and is the ground of my salvation. I firmly, even more in these days, believe that deliberate focussed love is the most powerful force in the universe. And I also belive that if I and my brothers and sisters, as Christians, showed it as much as we should, God would have conquered the hearts of the men of a million worlds.

Momentum - shorten, don't skip

I took my own advice this morning. I could not get to sleep last night at all. I have no idea when I fell asleep, but I know it was close to midnight. At that point 6:00 a.m. comes early and I knew it was going to be difficult to get up and exercise. But as the alarm went off I heard it in my head: "Shorten, don't skip." I went downstairs and began to walk (4.0 mph) on the treadmill. Then at about the 18 minute mark I started to jog until the 28 minute mark. OK - I was lazy, but not LAZY. At least I did it. And it was better that I did it that way than skipping it altogether.

Just a big act

There are days when I feel that who I project myself to be to others is just a big act. I mean how much of this "change" in my life is all the way down. How much of it is cosmetic? That to me is frightening but also is the foundation of the Wonder that God is. He knows everything, literally everything, about me. No secrets, lies, misunderstandings, perceptions...none of that. And He wants me to serve Him. He wants to sit right next to me and put His arm around my shoulder and whisper, "No, do it this way." He killed His only Son in for His own Glory - and in that pursuit of that which He so rightly deserves He saved me. No one has ever done anything like that for me. Save One. And is there now any doubt why I shake when I talk about Him? Is there any doubt why He has my heart? Take more of my heart, Lord, for I fear that even my prayer is fraught with selfishness and pride.

Shape and form part 2

I know the feeling well. When I lay my head on my pillow at night knowing that the work that I performed that day was good. When satisfaction floods my heart and I close my eyes tired but tried and found true. Helen Keller answered that she did not know if she closed her eyes when she slept because she never stayed awake long enough to find out. I can imagine a smile on my face as I drift off to sleep on those days. He knows the feeling well. When He lays my head on my pillow at night knowing the work that He had performed that day was good. Setting my pace ever more firmly on the path to Christ-likeness satisfaction floods His heart. He was tried this day for the thousandth time even as His servant descends to his sleep, and He was found to be true. His face beams as He sings over him and the angels flee His presence for it is too awesome a sound. Ever vigilant, His will is to preserve him through this night. "Sleep well," He sings ever so softly, "and know that I have

True to their form

...that the creation itself also will be set free form its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole of creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. Romans 8:21-22 I long for the shape of things to be true to their form... Benediction, Wakened by the Wind, Susan Ashton When I walk into the coolness of the shade in the new heaven and new earth what will the breeze feel like? Will it give me goose bumps? Will it hearken me back to what it does now? When I stoop to smell the tulip when it bursts forth in its true form will it remind me of her? What will its fragrance be like? What will the cool grass feel like beneath my feet when its groaning has ceased and the sons of God are fully revealed? How will its sweet sweat grace them? How warm will the light of the Son feel? Will it be as comforting as it is awesome? Will I have any ability to behold it? Creation's form rests squarely in the mind of Him

Two woefully unrelated topics: a machine and Dr. Who

What I am listening to right now: All the time, Stay , Jeremy Camp; Symphony #1 - Adagio Molto, Beethoven I just realized something today. Well, realized is less of a description for it than "became conscious of" maybe. Well, at any rate, I became conscious of the fact that I put ground coffee beans and water into this machine on my desk and press a button. Then, without any intervention from me, it makes coffee while I do other things. I think that is cool. I mean this machine does something that I cannot do by myself and while I do other things that I enjoy more or that make me productive. .................................................................................................................. It has been said that the Doctor that you first saw and began to watch in the Dr. Who science fiction series is the one that you appreciate the most. He becomes your favorite. That is absolutely the case for me as my favorite Doctor is Peter Davison. Hands down. I have seen e


The Word is a sword that pierces the heart; And the Truth is a light that cuts through the dark Of this world. Nations shall rise and nations shall fall; But nothing shall stand in the way Of the Word. - Kells, The Book of Kells , Iona

No end of things

What I am listening to right now: Time - Bubble , DBA; Victory Dance - Step On It , Jet Circus; Stumblefoot - Crawl to China , Tourniquet; Smellin' Coffee - Past the Edges , Chris Rice “He who has God plus many things, has nothing more than he who has God, alone.” C.S. Lewis "If it all comes true; and our dreams fall like bombs from the blue..." - Chagall Guevara There really is no end of things to write about. Even when I am writing about the fact that there is no end to things to write about. I finished the book Me, Myself, and Bob by Phil Vischer. Our family has been big VeggieTales fans since the beginning much to some people's dismay. The book that Vischer wrote about his experience in the founding, growing, and dismantling of Big Idea is excellent reading. I have to say that the read is much more compelling now that he is not the Christian Walt Disney that he longed to be. I personally think that the final three or four chapters should be required reading for C