Monday, February 25, 2008

Angry New York City

We made it to New York! We've taken tons of pictures, and my wife, Heather, has already posted several. What an amazing place! So many people; so many angry people!

During our ride from the airport, Pala, our driver, told us that an average one bedroom apartment in Queens ran about $1,800/month! And that didn't include electricity, gas, water, etc. A 2-bedroom in Manhattan is $6,000/month! And automobile insurance is about $6,000/year for 2 cars, and that's a good deal.

"That's why New Yorkers are angry," he said. "We work 16 hours, fight our way home through traffic just in time to go to bed and get up the next day to do it all over again." Pala told me he had been looking at houses on-line in Texas. "$54,000 is a down payment here. There it is the whole house."

My conversation with Pala helped me put my life in perspective a little better. I thank God for the way he has blessed me and my family. We truly have no idea how blessed we are until we see things in the proper perspective.

"Thank you, Father, for your great blessings in my life!"

- Todd

P.S. - Heather will probably have more time to post than I will (because of class), so check her blog for more regular updates.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New York, NY

photo by Walter Rodriguez
If you can't tell, I've been a bit busy with work and school and church. I hate it when work and school interfere with blogging! :-) I am part of a project team at work that is implementing a new help desk and change control system, and I've been pretty slammed for the past month. I am also taking Greek Syntax and Exegesis at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and I've been pretty slammed at school for the past month.

One nice benefit of working on this project at work is that they are sending me to New York city for training. We made arrangements to leave the kids with Heather's mom and dad, and Heather and I are going to make the best of the opportunity. We are flying out of Nashville, TN early on Sunday morning, and I am hoping to visit Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church for an evening worship service. We'll be staying only a few blocks from Rockefeller Center, Carnegie Hall, FAO Schwarz, Saks Fifth Avenue, Radio City Music Hall, and the Museum of Modern Art, and I hope to visit Grand Central Station, the Chrysler Building, and Ground Zero, among other places.

I am really looking forward to taking this adventure with my wife. You can purchase a 7-day, unlimited ride subway and bus pass, and I hope this will give us the ability to explore the city as much as we want.

Too bad I have to go for training and not just for vacation!


Friday, February 15, 2008

Clemens: In a Class By Himself?

Photo by Michael (mx5tx)
Roger Clemens is a Major League Baseball player, if you didn't know. And, as a pitcher, many believe he is in a class of his own. He has won seven Cy Young awards, played in six World Series championships, earned two World Series rings, an MVP, eleven All-Star nominations, 4,672 strike outs, and an ERA of 3.12.

And he cheated.

This week he testified before Congress about his alleged use of steroids, and his credibility took a nose-dive for me personally. In my opinion, Roger Clemens is not in a class by himself; he shares a class with Barry Bonds. Both have attained the lofty heights of baseball legend while arrogantly denying any wrongdoing. Both exude contempt for anyone who questions their integrity, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. And I know I am not the only one who noticed his lack of credibility.

Janine Driver, an expert on body language, teaches law enforcement officers how to analyze physical cues to determine someone's credibility. And Clemens rated an 8 out of 10 on her scale as probably lying. Not only that, Clemens was also obstinately disregarding the testimony of Andy Pettitte that Clemens was guilty. In each case, Bonds and Clemens, the testimonies and evidence points to guilt, while the accused arrogantly deny all charges.

Of course, I'm not in place to judge the truth of their claims, but we should exercise discernment. We shouldn't be gullible. What do Clemens' and Bonds' accusers stand to gain by accusing them? What do Clemens and Bonds stand to lose?

At the very least, Bonds and Clemens have earned the very unenviable reward of having their dirty laundry sorted through on a public stage. Unless, however, they put all their dirty laundry in Christ's hands, this will pale in comparison to the public trial they will face on the day of judgment. And in that day, Clemens will find himself not in a class by himself, but on a broad road with lots of company facing destruction.

"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. . . . And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." -- Revelation 20:12, 15

"Forgive them Father, and us, and do not judge us according to our lives, but find us in the book of life!"


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Weather and the Glory of God

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." -- Psalm 19:1

The weather over the past couple of weeks has been an interesting testimony to the sovereignty and power of God. Union University was rocked by a tornado, the same night my family was huddled around in our bathroom. We have seen near 70 degree weather, and we have seen near 7 degree weather. And last night we had beautiful 4-5 inches of snow turn ugly with a half-inch or more of ice falling on top of it. Here are some pictures:

“Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen."
-- God speaking, Job 38:28-30

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Lessons on Sovereignty During the Storm

Photo by chefranden
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth? -- Job 38:22-24

I woke up groggily at about midnight last night thanks to the weather sirens blaring out their tornado warning. We checked the local television stations for weather information, and then we decided to wake up the kids and listen from the windowless master bathroom. As we were sitting in the bathroom listening to the wind and rain, I asked my children, "Who is in control of this storm?" Of course, the mini-theologians that they are, they said, "God." We talked for a few minutes about how God could make such devastating storms with his fingertips, and I pointed out that even if our roof were to rip off and we were to be hurt or killed, we trust in the God who makes the storms.

There is nothing like an object lesson during a tornado warning. Praise God that we had no damage to home or household!


Monday, February 04, 2008

Does God Care Who Wins the Super Bowl?

Last night, the National Football League celebrated its championship bowl game. As I enjoyed the game with several friends at our pastor's house, I wondered what role God played in the sports arena. Should we pray to win a game of ping-pong? What about a computer or video game? What if we were being paid to play a game? What if that game is televised and millions of people are watching? From Super Bowl to "backyard bowl", does God care who wins?

I don't know what purpose God might have in orchestrating such events, but do I believe Scripture clearly indicates that all of life rests squarely in the sovereign hands of God. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father" (Matthew 10:29). "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord" (Proverbs 16:33). There are no truly random or chance events in history. If God does not rule over all of his creation, he is not Ruler.

So, how am I to understand this stunning win by the underdog, the New York Giants? Is God a Giant's fan? I'm afraid I have more questions than answers. But what I know is that Christ "upholds the universe by the word of his power" (Hebrews 1:3).

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Does Christ elevate men like Tony Dungy or Steve Spagnuolo on this earth in order to glorify himself? Does he use the world stage to humble the proud and exalt the humble? Does he work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose? (Romans 8:28) What about Christians on the losing team? How does God use them? We may never know how or why God does what he does, but if we believe God is Sovereign we must stand in awe of the way he works.

So join me in worshiping this year's biggest Giant's Fan.

They couldn't have done it without Him.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Gearing Up for Greek

The past couple of weeks have been a blur. One particular project at work has been monopolizing my time, and our evenings have been busy too! Unfortunately, I have successfully put off studying my elementary Greek for almost the entire break, lining myself up perfectly for a miserable first few weeks of Greek Syntax and Exegesis. I did however, have a nice review Wednesday night, thanks to Steve L. Thanks bro!

I am really excited to dive in again into this ancient language, but I dread all the mental sweat and time required. Thankfully, I will only be taking this one class.