Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snowy Roads and the Radio

Riding home (with my brother); taking turns driving; scanning the radio for Christmas songs.

Popular pop song (#6 on the charts) floats by and says: "And no, you don’t wanna mess with us...Got Jesus on my neck-a-lace" I've heard the song before. I did a music research project for a contemporary youth issues class at college. (Very beneficial, the class AND the researching) But Jesus on my necklace? What does that have to do with anything? It really is irrelevant to the point of the song.

Frankly, it astounds me what profane nonsense our current pop culture spouts. Also, there is another song that includes a reference to Mary and Joseph. (Bottoms Up; This one is #9 on the charts) Let me give you the lyrics and explain. After 7 expletives and references to drugs and waving around a gun, the song includes these words: "Rest in peace to Anna Nicole Smith/Yes, my dear, you're so explosive/Say hi to Mary, Mary and Joseph"

Anna Nicole Smith was an actress, model and sex goddess. She gained popularity through Playboy, but most of the attention surrounded her marriage of an oil tycoon that was 63 years her senior. She died of a drug overdose in a Florida hotel.

And to this woman the musician tips his hat. Saying, "When you're in heaven, say hi to Mary and Joseph for me." Are you serious? You're just rhyming with "explosive." That's all.

And so these religious references in ungodly songs show us where are culture is bedded. It's astonishing, and yet revealing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Life and Work of William Bradbury

Concerning the gospel song and hymnody of the nineteenth century, the name of Fanny Crosby is perhaps the most popular. Perhaps it is at least the name that comes to our mind when speaking of the gospel song. She was probably the most prolific hymn writer since Charles Wesley, and an excellent example of a Christian. What is lesser known about this lady is a co-worker of Crosby’s named William Bradbury. This paper will briefly discuss the life and work of Bradbury and his relation and influence to modern day congregational singing.

William Batchelder Bradbury was born in York, Maine on October 6th, 1816 at the beginning of the nineteenth century. His earliest years were spent both working on a farm and in a shoe shop. But his passion would not be limited to these things, he loved music and got his hands on whatever music or instrument he could. In 1830 his family moved to the big city of Boston and for the first time he heard and played the piano and organ. Actually, he later became quite proficient on the organ and was known for this skill. This led him to devote his life to music. (Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers, n.d.) Bradbury first studied music under Lowell Mason and helped to introduce the organ to church congregations in America. He was the organist at the Baptist Tabernacle in New York and taught singing lessons there. Ruffin tells us that not everyone appreciated Bradbury either. Some complained that he was not a performer, singer or composer, but was ruining American music. However, his settings won out in the end, and the people were delighted with the hymn tunes that everyone could sing. (Ruffin, 88)

Bradbury was indeed a poet, composer, writer, pioneer, publisher, and editor. While there is not a plethora of Information about the life of Bradbury, the information is not scarce. What is surprising is that much of Bradbury’s life and work is divided into three main topics. Firstly, his influence and authorship of Sunday school songs. Secondly, the information deals with his work and collaboration with Fanny Crosby. Finally, information concerning Bradbury is written about his texts, tunes, and specifically his nineteenth century hymnals. (Reynolds & Price, 95-100)

Bradbury’s name is not that popular, except in conjunction with his most popular song, “Jesus Loves Me.” Many Christian children know this song from their earliest Sunday School days. The Sunday school movement arose out of John Wesley’s methodic ways in discipline and form concerning early American piety. Further developments in regards to Sunday School were the songs sung there that appeared in the 1820’s. Bradbury was the one responsible for popularizing these gospel songs that appeared in Sunday School collections of hymns. (Reynolds, 117) A century prior, Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley published songs for children, but Bradbury was the one who truly broke through in children’s music. Keith, a Baptist church musician in his discussion on the gospel hymn and Sunday school music points out that Bradbury was one of several to write “catchy tunes and cheerful rhymes.” However, he quotes a Methodist hymnologist in regards to his concern that “songs learned in childhood carry over into adulthood.” (Keith, 135) While understand their concern, it must be said that a balance must be achieved between Sunday school music and adult singing. More than ever, we need people who will lead quality hymns in their singing and write theologically sound songs for the church.

Furthermore, next to “Jesus Loves Me,” Bradbury’s name is most popular in conjunction with the name of Fanny Crosby (Van Alstyne). She first met Bradbury in New York City. He was a thin man, with a lionlike mane of dark hair and a gigantic beard. They certainly liked each other and instantly they started off their relationship on a first name basis. “Fanny, I thank God that we have at last met, for I think you can write hymns; and I have wished for a long time to talk with you.” (Ruffin, 89) Fanny herself recounts the story later. “He asked me if I would write a hymn for him. I was delighted. I was hungry for someone to ask me that question.” It seems from this information that Bradbury was a ministry opportunity sent from God for Miss Crosby. She returned a few days later with a hymn and he set it to music. She says that “My real work as a hymn writer began from that hour...Mr. Bradbury lightened many of my darkest days and scattered sunshine over my hours of care.” (Jackson, 63-4) It is apparent that Bradbury was a real encouragement to Crosby’s music ministry. Not only this but this text and tune writer was a real help to the popularity of Fanny’s hymns. For Crosby's words, he wrote many tunes including, TO GOD BE THE GLORY, NEAR THE CROSS, I AM THINE, and PASS ME NOT. (Milburn & Price, 118) Bradbury even gave her a very difficult melody to write words to, and she wrote an excellent hymn much to Brabury’s surprise. From then on she went to work for William B. Bradbury and Company. (Ruffin, 90)

Finally, Bradbury’s work (among others) is in fact what prepared the way for Moody and Sankey’s revival work in America. This spiritual movement affected religious life in American and England and deeply intensified the Christian church. (Lorenz, 51) What is interesting is that the mention of William Bradbury is often in a list of names concerning his work with the gospel song, the Sunday School movement or American hymnody. His influence can be felt far and wide. He wrote dozens of hymn tunes and many texts as well. Bradbury's most popular songs probably include, "Jesus Loves Me", "Praise Him, Praise Him, All Ye Little Children", "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us", "The Solid Rock", "Just As I Am", "Sweet Hour of Prayer", and "Take My Life and Let it Be." (Milburn & Price, 117) Not only these songs but Bradbury also published over 70 collections of sacred and secular music. His publications include, The Psalmodist, The Golden Chain, Devotional Hymn and Tune Book, The Golden Censor, Praises of Jesus, and Sabbath School Melodies and Family Choir. (Milburn & Price 117/Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers n.d.)

Let us conclude with a brief note on Bradbury's faith. Bradbury was obviously an accomplished musician, writing and publishing hymns about a relationship with Jesus and also culturally relevant songs including one about the civil war. (Ruffin, 90) He even published a "musical pocket companion" or what is titled A Hymn and Tune Book for Prayer and Social Meetings. His comment concerning this publication is, "Can not something be done to awaken new life in our social religious meetings?" (Foote, 264) However, the truth is, little if any information is available on his decision to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Despite this, his life's work and the words he said are evidence of his commitment to the Christian faith. His life and accomplishments are an inspiration to church musicians today and we should be diligent to give our all in service to further development in the Christian music of today and God-honoring worship in this twenty-first century.


Foote, Henry, Three Centuries of American Hymnody, Archon Books, 1968.
Jackson, S. Trevena, Fanny Crosby’s Story, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1981.
Keith, Edmond, Christian Hymnody, Convention Press, Nashville, 1956.
Lorenz, Edmund, The Singing Church, Cokesbury Press, Nashville, 1938.
Reynolds, William & Price, Milburn, A Survey of Christian Hymnody, Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, 1999.
___________________ , A Joyful Sound, Christian Hymnody: 2nd edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1978.
Ruffin, Bernard, Fanny Crosby, United Church Press, Westwood, NJ, 1976

Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers, retrieved from:

Status Update

Dear Hastings,

I need to blog more often.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day

Let's see...
Dreamed I was buying candy
Finished reading I Samuel
Went to bible study
Won another volleyball game
Listened to/played Christmas music
Think she's exhiliratingly wonderful

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Beginning of Persecution: Nero and the First Century Christians

Below is a beginning draft (forgive any errors) of a term paper for an undergraduate Church History class. Please feel free to read and comment.


Already a decade into the twenty-first century, Christianity marches on. Celebrating 2,000 plus years, the Christian church has long survived many persecutions and affliction from Satan, his demons, and men accomplishing the enemy’s will. Yet Christianity has stood the test of time, something that must be recognized. While church history has been recorded since the life of Christ, it is one period in particular that catches our attention today. In this paper we will zoom in on this period (54-68) and enumerate on the subject Christian persecution under the sixth emperor or Rome during the period of ca. 64 A.D. This paper will be split into two main sections. In section one we will also briefly discuss Nero’s life and hobbies. In section two, we will enumerate the persecution that went on and the influence of Nero’s character upon Christians living in the first century.

The Life of Nero

Nero was born on December 15th, 37. (Interestingly enough, I happen to share the month and date of his birthday.) His full name was Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. He is described as about average height, light blond hair, blue gray eyes, thin legs, thick neck, protruding stomach, suffering from spots and body odor. (Grant, 19) Nero received the typical formal education of an upper class Roman and eventually came to the throne in October of 54 (Ibid., 29, 19) The story behind his coming to power is fascinating. Filled with homicidal drama, Nero’s mother Agrippina, married the emperor Claudius and murdered him with a dish of poisonous mushrooms. Then she had Nero proclaimed as Emperor, supported by a bribed army. (Smith, 4) What is remarkable about this man and his family is the sheer amount of violence that racked his home. In Grant’s introduction to his book on Nero he states, “Nero was born of murderous parents, and brought up in a murderous atmosphere. And he too was murderous.” (Ibid., 15)

Further information about the depravity of Nero’s life concerns the emperor’s sex life. His sex life, even by the cultural standards of that day was “alarmingly depraved and versatile.” (Grant, 15) “From all accounts Nero’s tastes in this direction were inexhaustible.” He was a man filled with lust for men and woman alike. He allegedly went to bed not with his wife, but with his mother, younger boys and older men. Evident of his sexual perversion is that he never really had interest in his wife Octavia, who was 14 when he came to the throne. Furthermore, his sexual acts were not limited to slaves, but to free men. He also was said to have had a mock wedding with one such man named Doryphorus. (Grant, 42-43)

It is not known what caused emperor Nero to acquire such debaucherous tastes, but a couple of things are clear concerning this matter. Firstly, sex is a gift given from God and whenever the devil gets involved with corrupting what God has created as good, he inevitably comes onto the scene of sexual matters. This fact reminds one of C.S. Lewis’ famous novel, The Screwtape Letters in which the young demon is encouraged to do his best to slyly lead a young man to his spiritual demise. The underlying fact is that the devil doesn’t care what the issue is, he will corrupt it to lead us to our destruction. Secondly, Nero’s perversity is perhaps the result of his family life and culture. It is important that we raise gratefulness to God for any traces of His grace evident in our lives. Also, we must raise our children and teach our generation the importance of Biblical sexuality. Finally, we are not aware of what pornographic acts or materials Nero viewed or participated in as a child, but his thoughts and actions led him to the most lewd of acts. What is evident is that sin is as disgusting as the pigsty mud that the prodigal son wallowed in.

Furthermore, Nero also enjoyed the arts. It was really the areas of music, art, poetry, theatre, sports and athleticism that he really wanted to revel in. He in fact was quite famous for his charioteering. In fact, it was highly unusual for a national ruler to devote so much time and money to personal artistic success. (Grant, 15) Nero is almost seen as an immature emperor. However, in reality, when thought is given to it, this fact is not all that surprising seeing that he came to the throne when he was just a teenager.

Following the death of Agrippina, his mother, Nero turned to much personal pleasure. Primarily, his pursuits included singing, acting and racing. He devoted much of his time to being a successful singer, lyre-player and tragic actor - all the rage in those days. He even avoided fresh figs, apples and even fresh bread on certain days of the month, all in an attempt to have an excellent voice. He had a throaty bass voice which was culturally best exemplified in Greek drama and his tastes soon became very melodramatic and bizarre. Nero also played women’s rules and one such favorite was Canace, whose incestuous bastard was thrown to the hounds. This gave rise to the joke, “What is the emperor doing? He is having a baby.” In order to convey the depth to which the morals had sunk, the musical accompaniment to such performances had a deeply erotic effect. “The dramatic displays and musical performances excited listeners so much that their hands began to stray. ‘Their soft and effeminate notes provoke immodest touches and lascivious tickling.’” (Grant, 89-91) This is the kind of culture that Nero thoroughly approved and enjoyed.

Persecution under Nero

It is in the context of this man’s rule that Christians lived in Rome. An important lesson for us to take from this is that no matter how horrible things seem today in our culture, they probably aren’t the worst of times as modern pessimistic “doomsdayers” would have us believe. In reality though, we shouldn’t turn the history of Christianity into a comparative narration of which era has the most persecution. What is important for us today is to be informed about past persecution and present persecution that continues to strike at the body of Christ.

Frankly, a lot of what is available to us concerning the history of Christian persecution comes from Tacitus, a historian of the Roman Empire, in his Annals. In fact, a lot of the research completed for this paper cited the works of Tacitus in relaying the information concerning first century persecution of Christians. First called the name of “Christian” in derision, such followers of Jesus were spreading out from Palestine and into Africa, Asia and Europe thanks primarily to the work of the Holy Spirit and missionaries such as Paul and others. Merely thirty years after Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into heaven under the earthly reign of Tiberius, the emperor Nero begins a persecution of his followers in 64 A.D. Robert C. Walton in his Charts of Church History, lists ten Roman emperors that reigned from 64-311 A.D. We simply are focusing on the first of those emperors, Nero. This first persecution was geographically limited to the area of Rome and its vicinity. The general extent of the persecution is agreed to be that Christians were made scapegoats for burning Rome. Not only this but Nero had no problem using sadistic measures in his crimes against Christians. (Chart 10)

Comparatively, the first Neronian persecution of Christians was definitely not the greatest. We award the most severe persecution to the reign of Diocletian Galerius (303-311). While not posing extremely famous martyrs, it posits such attacks as destroyed churches, burned Bibles, lack of Christian civil rights and mandatory sacrifices to the gods. However, the fame of Nero’s persecution is most likely reflected in the cruel and inhumane treatment of Christians.

Personally, I am well acquainted with the fame of Nero’s actions. In my lifetime I have heard many preachers of God’s Word recount the narratives of Nero burning Christians as torches in his garden parties. The details are that he dressed them in stiff shirts dipped in wax and tied them to trees, and then set them on fire to light the garden. (Forbush, 6) Reminiscent of human tiki torches, this act of cruel punishment seems to be the most dreadful act that the first persecution showed us. What is evident concerning the persecution is that it almost reflects the style and character of Nero himself. He delighted in sports and so made the act of killing Christians a sport for people to watch as ravenous dogs ripped into the flesh of God-fearing men and women. He also crucified them as the culture of the day prescribed for general criminals. They often were hung by roads as object lessons to any passing by. Can you imagine that? Replacing billboards, tall gallows stand by the side of the highway! Finally, the annals of history give us the impression that Nero loved to party and goof off. During his parties of revelling and drunkenness the emperor would walk among the people or race around on his chariot. Of course, the very lighting for these outdoor parties were human beings - people who suffered for following the Lord Jesus Christ. Bainton’s history of early Christianity gives us this account: “They were sewn in the skins of beasts and torn to pieces by dogs. Many died on crosses or at the stake. Others, as day declined, were burned to illumine the night. Nero gave his gardens for the spectacle and put on a circus, himself mingling with the crowd.” (Bainton, 87)

Next, while the persecution under Nero was not the greatest, it was decidedly the start of a slew of anti-Christian sentiment. This sentiment was started on the night of July 18th, in 64 A.D. with the burning of Rome. There are many ideas and statements that revolve around the infamous fire in Rome. In particular this is the event that brought about the famous phrase, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Based on what we learned earlier, this musical instrument was most likely the lyre. The historian Grant agrees. “If he played any instrument it was a lyre and not a fiddle.” (Grant, 152) Nero even took lyre lessons from a professional musician named Terpnus. (Grant, 96) It was rumored that Nero had been so moved by the sight of the burning city that he took his lyre, put on his singer’s robes and sang through a tragic song of his own composition. (Grant, 152) In his song he said that he wished the ruin of all things before his death. (Forbush, 5) However, there is a bit of conjecture concerning how the fire actually started. There are basically three views. 1) Nero started the fire himself. 2) The Christians started the fire. 2) The fire was accidental and the people blamed Nero (who in turn blamed the Christians). Let’s briefly look at these three views.

Firstly, Nero could well have set the fire, this fact cannot be denied. Tacitus tells us that, “Nobody dared fight the flames...Torches, too, were openly thrown in, by men calling out that they were acting under orders.” Whose orders? They were most likely the orders of the Emperor. It was also rumored that he had been seen carrying the torches himself and rejoicing over the ruins. (Allen, 7) Secondly, it is possible that the Christians actually did start the fire and are to be blamed for the arson of Rome. However, this is the least likely view due to the principles and teachings of Jesus that the Christians would have followed. Also, church history accounts would have us know that the Christians were the true scapegoats in this matter. Thirdly, despite relief efforts from Nero’s place, it did not stop the people from believing that it was Nero who had deliberately set Rome on fire. It was customary in that day to “praise the ruler of the world whenever things went good” and so it seems natural that the people would blame the Emperor for this disaster. Grant tells us that Nero had never before been so unpopular and therefore it became “imperative to divert the charge to some other person or group.” (Grant, 152-154) And so what happened in that brief moment of decision by the emperor in the synapses of his brain, unleashed an ocean of hatred and persecution for the Christian population. The accounts tell us that, “The emperor, in turn, accused the Christians, and this began what is called the First Persecution.” (Allen, 7) Author F.F. Bruce really clues us in to the truth of the matter. He states that “rumor was not content to ascribe the fire to accident.” (Bruce, 141) And Nero played on this weakness of man. If the people wanted someone to blame, they would have a people to wreak vengeance on - the Christians!

Martyrs under Nero

There is a bit of information concerning the martyrs in the first persecution. Church historians agree, Paul and Peter were probably the most notable martyrs who were killed under Emperor Nero’s reign. The New Testament is full of information about Paul and his travels including his desires to go to Rome. The latter half of Paul’s life took place during the reign of Nero (54-68 A.D.) Paul, the apostle, the missionary, the man with an amazing conversion was finally killed with Nero in charge of the Roman Empire. Nero sent two of his esquires Ferega and Parthemius to tell Paul of his execution. They came to Paul, and asked that he would pray for them so that they could believe. Paul told them that they would be baptized at his grave. After this, soldiers led him out of the city and after his prayers, offered his neck to the sword’s swift fall. (Forbush, 4) One note of interest is that Blackburn states that Paul was beheaded at the order of Nero in 67 A.D. a few weeks before the tyrant committed suicide at the young age of 31. What an interesting contrast! Paul, a martyr of the Christian faith, Nero, the man weary of his ways. (Blackburn, 18) Peter, the disciple of Christ’s who denied him while standing around a fire outside his trial, was also killed during the persecution under Nero. The emperor sought to take his life and his Christian friends entreated him to flee the city. After a while they persuaded him, and the story is told that he left the city, but when he came to the gate he saw Jesus. Peter asked the Lord where he was going and Jesus told him, “I am come again to be crucified.” Peter understood this to be referring to his own suffering and went back into the city. From there he was crucified upside down, because from Peter’s lips it was said that he was unworthy to be killed in the same manner that his Savior was put to death. (Forbush, 4)

Fox’s Book of Martyr’s also gives us more information about other Christian martyrs who were killed during Nero’s reign. This list includes Erastus, chamerblain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesian, converted by Paul, and co-worker of the apostle. Also martyred were Joseph, called Barsabas, and Ananias of Damascus, each of these men being part of the seventy that Jesus sent out. (Forbush, 6)

Surprisingly enough, the results of the persecution were beneficial. Tertullian, years later would say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. (Smith, 1) Oh, how that statement rings true. As blood was spilled from the bodies of Christians it inspired others to take up their cross and follow in the bloody footsteps of the man who walked the Via Dolorosa. In effect, Tertullian’s statement (though spoken years later) spoke back in time and continues to prophetically speak into the future concerning Christians today. In effect the beginning of Christian persecution under Nero grew the church exponentially. Meeting in the catacombs and in homes, being a Christian was not a casual relationship with Jesus as it seems today. We can imply from the numbers of people who became Christians in the beginning centuries (Anno Domini) of Christianity that the persecution had the effect of multiplying the church. This is an important lesson. Sometimes we may not agree with what is happening to us or around us, but God longs to teach us a valuable lesson. He wants to conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, persecution teaches us that this world is not our home. This world has nothing we need, and death is what we look forward to. Indeed, those first century Christians under Nero’s reign had to reassure themselves that Christ’s kingdom was their hope, not the Roman Empire.


Certainly, it is foolish to invite persecution into our life, but we must recognize it’s value in helping to shape us as Christians and to grow the church. Looking back at the first persecution under Nero, we must think about such things in a somber manner. Are we willing to count the cost and do whatever it takes to follow Jesus? Are we willing to lay everything aside in order to be a Christian? Is living for Jesus worth dying for? While this study of Neronian persecution is not intended to be a manipulative guilt-trip, we must face the truth of Jesus’ call. He said, “Come. Follow me.” and, “If anyone would be my disciple, he must count the cost, take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) With this summons to commitment, there is hope that swells up in our hearts as followers of Jesus. As Christians, we have this promise, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church! What comforting words to those who are on the verge of losing hope. It is my desire and prayer that Christians today will be inspired to do more for Christ and to truly take up their cross and follow him, that they will genuinely become committed Christians and serve God with their whole hearts. (Matthew 22:37)


Allen, Joseph Henry, Outline of Christian History, Little, Brown, and Company, Boston, 1884.

Bainton, Roland, Early Christianity, D. Van Nostrand Company, Princeton, 1960.

Bettenson, Henry,
Documents of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, London, 1963.

Blackburn, W. M.,
History of the Christian Church, Cranston & Stowe, Cincinnati, 1879.

Bruce, F.F.,
The Spreading Flame, W.B. Eerdmans Comany, Grand Rapids, 1958.

Forbush, William (ed.), Fox’s Book of Martyr’s, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1926.

Grant, Michael,
Nero, American Heritage Press, New York, 1970.

Reasoner, Vic,
Revelation, Fundamental Wesleyan, Evansville, 2006.

Smith, Larry,
Christianity Versus the Empire, Church History SS 321, Lecture Notes, 2010

Walton, Robert,
Charts of Church History, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1986.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010


I ran in a 5K today. 28:19 was my time. I placed 368th. That's in the Top 20%. I was 12th in my division. I averaged 9:34 a mile. You should've been there 2.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Words or Phrases That Men Should Never Say:

1) Tutti-frutti
2) Teensy-weensy
3) Cutsie
4) Awwwww

Any more?

Also, the Hebrew word for harp is navel. :-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Something Nifty.

In case you were wondering what time the sun rises on your birthday, or when the next full moon will be, or how many days it is until ______. Check out It's a pretty nifty site.

PS. 62 days until Christmas.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Toto and Kansas and Metaphors

I went to Kansas once. It was March, still kind of cold, with enough sun to not wanna wear a sweater, and enough chill in the air to force you to. It was for my cousin's wedding, (about the longest wedding I've ever been to) and my family stopped in St. Louis on the way (Meet me in St. Louie!). We even rode to the top of the arch. And after the weekend was over, and as we drove hundreds of miles back to home, we crossed the state line, and I thought, (so aptly) "Toto... (you know the rest) we're not in Kansas anymore." (Actually, I'm still in Ohio.) But what's the meaning? It's not like it used to be. Ecclesiastes 7:10 (Oh, no! Don't pull out a Scripture reference!) says, "Do not say, 'Why is it that the former days were better than these?' For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this." (NASB) So don't lament the good ol' days. Why? Because...we're not in Kansas anymore.

-Your friendly friend, blending Scripture and the Wizard of Oz. (*Gasp*)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Briana is 1

...of the most amazing nieces ever.

I went to my sisters today and hung out for Bri's birthday party.

I am so proud of her. She ate her cake pretty much in a dignified manner, with her one little cute index finger.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm engaged!

Sam McConkey & Melissa Phelps

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Week in Progress

36 hours = sleep (or less)
32 hours = work (13+ miles walked)
18 hours = class
25 hours = homework (+ or -)
5 hours = piano
4 hours = exercise

Friday, July 23, 2010


I puppysat today. Yes, puppysat. It's like dogsitting, except worse. His name is Popeye. He's a boxer/husky mix and has one brown eye and one blue. He loves to play and would bark when I wouldn't play with him while sitting in the recliner. I was working on my sermon and he insisted on attention being paid to him. I didn't have the attention to pay until he bit my toes.

Here he is pulling his innocent face. Pshaw.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zoological Escapades

We went to the zoo. It was incredibly happy.

Elephants have dominant tusks just like we have dominant right or left hands.
I don't know what the percentage is for left-tusked elephants.

The polar bear posed perfectly and went swimming later - huge fluffy floaty thing with paws.

Ocelot that went up and said hello to the one laying down.

Mama and her cute little baby that held itself up with its arms and kept flopping it's little legs.

The white lions were sunning majestically. They thought the humans were quite amusing.

This little monkey was very depressed. You could see it in his face.

The fluffy black bear whose wild relative I just saw in Tennessee. Mel adored this guy.

The giraffe who chewed by chomping his lower jaw and caused me to imitate him. We decided they would be very hard to ride with their sloping backs.

(If he could he would - wave, Goodbye!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Notes on Random Things

I love how it doesn't get dark until 930.

I love how I can read whatever I want, whenever I want.

I noticed my surgeon drives a Lexus.

You fool, don't you know you're neked.

I always laugh when I see a product that says, "Specially formulated."

If ever I get lost, I will leave a trail of gummy bears, not breadcrumbs.

I did not know you had to be 18 to buy super glue.

There ya go.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Advice

To do right never gets easy. To not give in to your weakness is a choice. It's a revelation of your integrity. It's not easy to do right when you feel the temptation. Ask yourself, "How bad do I really want to keep the approval and smile of Jesus?" There are people who are watching your life. They will be disappointed. They look up to you. There are people who are watching you. Don't mess up because you will let people down. We need a few good men! By God's grace we can be. If you feel pressure, call your buddies. Pray with others. This is serious business. The devil's fighting. Don't give up! Grow. Be stronger. Choose inside you will not make provision for the flesh. -APB

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer Things

So I went to Meijer with Glowbug, got groceries and laughed about lots of stuff. On the way out I saw a bumper sticker. I thought it was hilarious.

By the way, when you go to IHOP like we did. Don't get the Tuscan Chicken Griller. It has no taste. The chicken breast wasn't good quality. And the sun-dried tomatoes tasted like I was trying to chew and swallow something inedible.

Here's my buddy messing with his cell while we waited for our food.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Poor kid didn't see it coming. By the way, that's the big blue guy himself, the Cookie Monster on his shirt. As soon as I saw him I thought, "Somebody get me some chalk." So I figure this little guy could be one of several things.

1) A homicide case for the local police department. Get the chalk and make an outline.
2) A child's mannequin for Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation exercises.
3) A warning to all eaters of cookies.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Open Mouth. Insert Fork. Smile.

Original flavor with strawberries.* I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars. (4.5 if you want to be technical.) I rate it so because of the taste and consistency, not necessarily the price. This particular cheesecake is pretty soft and creamy. I got it because I wanted to taste the original flavor, but not be boring. My tongue told me it was worth what I paid. I even saved 1/3 of it for later. It still retained flavor and form. Out of the quality cheesecake that I've eaten so far, it's up there in the top 3.

*The Cheesecake Factory

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Best Way to Defrost a Refrigerator

Before I left the dorm I managed to snap this picture. Somebody decided they just didn't want to mop up the moisture. The folded paper towel on top has ink scrawled on it: "Please do not touch this!" Oh yes, and it's a public shower stall.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Your Grace

Finished Yancey's What's So Amazing About Grace last week. I really liked it. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars. This book was amazing! (Pun intended.) I really would suggest that any Christian read it, especially those in ministry. My only critique is that he only talked about one aspect of grace, and that is unmerited favor. i.e., God's love and mercy outpoured to undeserving people. (Eph. 2:8-9) He makes no mention or implication of passages such as I Corinthians 15:10 or Titus 2:11-13. What I'm saying is, grace also includes enabling power. i.e., God giving us the power and desire to do His will.

I would re-read this book as well. It's that good. Yancey does an excellent job of pulling illustrations, quotes, and stories from all cultures and time to illustrate his points. He's got a chapter on forgiveness, a chapter on homosexuality, and so much more. Let me just quote extensively. I think that'll suffice:

"We're all bastards and God loves us anyway."

"I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least"

"Romantic love is the closest experience of pure grace."

"The world starves for grace."

"I learn grace by being graced."

"Grace does not depend on what we have done for God but rather what God has done for us."

"God reserves the right to alter the rules of retribution."

"Paul harped on grace because he knew what could happen if we believe we have earned God's love. In the dark times, if perhaps we badly fail God, or if for no good reason we simply feel unloved, we would stand on shaky ground. We would fear that God might stop loving us when he discovers the real truth about us."

"Yes, he's very fond of me."

"Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God loves us more and nothing we can do to make God loves us less."

"Grace alone melts ungrace."

"Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear."

"We're all oddballs but God loves us anyhow."

"I began to understand that every gay person has heard the message of judgment from the church - again and again, nothing but judgment."

"Grace dies when it becomes us versus them."

"Grace has about it a scent of scandal."

"It is the saints who have a sense of sin."

"Christ accepts us as we are, but when he accepts us, we cannot remain as we are...Every call to
conversion, includes a call to discipleship, to Christ-likeness."

"What God wants is not a good performance, but my heart."

"Blue jeans made a person spiritually suspect."

"The solution to sin is not to impose an ever-strict code of behavior. It is to know God."

"Dispensing God's grace is the Christian's main contribution."

"Every word we say or action we take should reflect God's grace."

"The United Nations reports that over ten thousand people starve to death each day, and most of you don't give a sh--. However, what is even more tragic is that most of you are more concerned about the fact that I just said a bad word than you are about the fact that ten thousand people are going to die today." -quoting Tony Campolo

And there's so much more...So just read the book. You'll be a better Christian for it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pomp & Circumstances

I like Edward Elgar. He seems to offer something to every graduate. You know - that somewhat annoying Pomp & Circumstance. It kind of represents the slow, agonizing way in which you get your diploma. It even has words! Dah. Duh-duh-dah. Dah-duh. Da. Duh-da-dah-duh. You get the point. And then they filed out to March of the Priests - uplifting, but not motivating. May I suggest something more along the lines of Super Mario Bros. Theme or perhaps something upbeat like, It's Over by Hawk Nelson, or We Shine by Stellar Kart.

My niece Briana, happened to sit with me and wasn't afraid of being happy for a photograph.

Neither, was Krista (Melissa's cousin), who is a closet philosopher if you just give her some Italian food, coffee and a book title.

Speaking of Italian food. I am still full from Buca di Beppo's. I rawther enjoyed the Apple Gorgonzola, Cesar Salad, Ravioli, Spaghetti, and Coconut Cake. Here we are, minus the white tie and black mortarboard.

Right now, I'm distracting myself from packing. Moving out of the dorm for the summer on Monday. Accordingly, I went dumpster diving for cardboard boxes a minute ago.

[Sorry. No photograph there.]

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Day in Pictures

First, I had my Junior Interview with the Ministerial Faculty this morning. Here's me with my Bible and Portfolio. Notice the tie. I employed color psychology on this one.

After the Concert on the Carpet, (which included an incredible song from "The Incredibles") we went across the river...

and partook of smoothies.

...and searched for books, and coincidentally, good book titles.

My favorite part of the day? I'll leave you to decide.

Postscript: I avoided a minefield of duck poop to take the skyline picture.

Monday, May 10, 2010

IT'S OVER! It's Over! It's over. It's over.

My 5" stack of paperwork for Spring 2010 semester. (Classes include: Daniel/Revelation, Systematic Theology II, History & Literature of the American Holiness Movement, Choir, Greek IIB, Romans & Galatians, Wisdom Literature, Practicum in Drama Ministry)


Ryan: That, my friend, is pretty serious
Cortney: Oh my word! I have no idea how big mine is
Chelsea: Nice...That's a lot of paper...That's pretty powerful.
Brennan: Wow. Is that all from this semester?
Jon: That looks humongous
Melissa: Wow. Blog-worthy picture. I believe GBS professors are single-handedly destroying the enviroment.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Sam: Good afternoon. I see the assassins have failed.

Rose: Yes, we had a long talk over coffee. They feel under appreciated and want more hugs.

Sam: Tell them I'd be willing to negotiate some increase in PDA's.

Rose: They said they want a Build-a-Bear and four tickets to Barbara Streisand

Sam: What?!? Who do you think I am? The queen of America?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

And I've been thinkin a lot...

I feel like a pregnant woman in these last 3 weeks of school. "Push! Push! PUSH."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This Catchphrase

I would like to talk about a whiny catchphrase that seems to have caught on even among Christians, particularly my generation. Many seem to talk about how their life sucks. (Dictionary: informal "be very bad, disagreeable, or disgusting") While I want to balance my response between something like, "Grow up" and "Aw...Let me give you a hug," it seems that such comments are made by people who do not necessarily have a strong biblical perspective. And I say that carefully. I readily admit my tendency to react against something and hold too strong of an opinion [which is immunity to being told you're wrong/paper, rock and scissors they all have their pros and cons]. I also think that it's wrong to compare ourselves to starving kids in Africa (to borrow a cliche) and tell ourselves to buck up because we have it so much better than so many people! (Which is why I kinda get annoyed when people term Nick Vujicic's story as "inspiring.")

Irregardless, nevertheless, notwithstanding, I would like to proclaim a dehortative on the phrase, "My life sucks," and place it against the cohortative, "I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth." It's a tough balance. Sometimes there is the gritting of teeth. I leave room for sympathy. I exclude all "giddy happy-go-luckiness." But there is something at stake here - our attitude. Prayer is important. I have found that Psalm 34:1 is not a cure all, but it is a proper focus. And if we want excellent, Spirit-led lives...then why not?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just So You Know

I'm running away and getting married. We're going to the Islands and hiring her roommate as our maid. Probably going over winter break. Just to let you know.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pre-Pay, Diverse, Tangerine, Cocoa, Car Door

Methinks that my scarf smells too strongly of Ocean Breeze that the bottle accidentally expelled while I was being the test sniffer

Due to the events here at college two high-schoolers stayed in my room. If you can call it that. They went to bed after I did and were packing up when I awoke. When one asked where the bathroom was I offered to give him a quarter which I said he would need to get in. He believed me. I smiled and told him I was joking and that he didn't need the change. He smiled back and told me that I had really gotten him. Took some flack for it online. Some found it hilarious, others found it insensitive. I trust he wasn't emotionally wounded. I'm not bringing out sackcloth and ashes. I would've offered room service, but it's a college dorm.

Made no-bakes without the proper amount of oatmeal. They tasted amazing and most of them looked like pancakes.

Had an amazing evening.

Loves to play guitar.

Is so excited he can work out again.

Thinks he's addicted to abrazos.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

There's An Ox In My Ditch

Pulitzer prize winning photos are depressing.

There is no 'E' sound in Louisville.

I'm addicted to mint chapstick.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Naked Death

The Memory Keeper's Daughter. The Heretic's Daughter. The Storyteller's Daughter. The Mistress's Daughter. The Alchemist's Daughter. The Tailor's Daughter. The Calligrapher's Daughter. The Abortionist's Daughter. Fortune's Daughter. Eve's Daughter. The General's Daughter. The Hummingbird's Daughter. The Optimist's Daughter. The Preacher's Daughter. Fiction book titles! I can help you title your book. No, really. All you have to do is pick a noun, an apostrophe and "s," then add the word "daughter." Here's some more actual book titles. The King's Concubine. The Time Traveler's Wife. Ahab's Wife. The Philosopher's Apprentice. The Sorcerer's Plague. I was in a bookstore yesterday morning and was laughing heartily at the book titles. Who tells these people to title their books like this? It's formulaic! Just make the observation next time you go to a bookstore. Oh wait, I've got more! It's also helpful to add words like "plot, death/dying, naked, and last." The Last of the Mohicans. Last Night in Montreal. The Last Battle. Seeing Me Naked. The Death of a Salesman. The Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Death in Venice. Basically, I think some author's are trying to sell the book with the title. Then there's this disgusting craze of Jane Austen knock-offs. I thought we were through with her? Stuff like, Mr. Darcy's Daughter. Rude Awakening's of a Jane Austen Addict. Alright, so I have it! The perfect book title! The Death of the Naked Dogwalker's Daughter.

My new bookmarked web page? Google Translate. I love this nifty little website. You can translate just about anything into any language (text, webpages, documents). English to Spanish and vice versa. Russian, French, Korean, Hebrew, Danish, Yiddish. I recently checked how many syllables the word "eye" was in several different languages. You can learn a foreign language by typing phrases in. The only downside I see to this is in pronunciation.

I was thinking last week about my spiritual heroes. Nobody that I idolize, but people that I thank God for. They made a big spiritual impact in my life as a kid. I think of Alice Trouten. She taught me to develop a deep love for God's Word. I remember the incentive of chocolate or something like that. It didn't matter. The reward didn't last, what lasted was the memorization of scripture. I deeply sensed her love of God. I think of Scott Sobie. Boy, I can't say enough. He taught my pre-teen Sunday school class. I loved that class. The study of the Bible and Scott's passion for discipleship for us young guys impacted me deeply. Their smiles are indelibly printed in my memory. Of course there are others. Of course I could tell stories. But I'm glad that there are people I can confidently point to, and say that they represent Jesus.

I'm in my 4th semester of Greek. It's difficult and fascinating. Meanwhile, I still discover things and I like to share. I find it interesting that the Greek word χαρισμα (charisma) is glossed as "gift, favor." It's also translated as "spiritual gift" in Romans 1:11 - something I didn't know before.