Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ice Biking: Drat!

Sitting all cozy in my office chair with keys clacking away, the ever droning hum of small office noises fills the air. Scores of small fans whir away while industruial lighting ballasts are buzzing. The occosional soft banter or cough disrupt the unchanging symphony like leaves falling onto a still pond. "POP!" then a rapid whoooooosh... a persistant and loud hissing. I look above for a broken pipe, steam shooting out of the wall or maybe sparks from a transformer. What?! Where?! Am I in danger??!! Looking low, I see the culprit. Alas, t'was merely the front tire of my bike, burst and whistling away every ounce of pressure within it, till at last it reaches equilibrium. The clacking on my keyboard has stopped but the fans whir on and the ballasts buzz and people continue their banter and winter coughs. Guess next time I'll let off some pressure before subjecting my tires to a 70 degree climate change. Thermodynamics is a b17ch.

I wrote this for you, Musical Musician. ;-)

Ice Biking Update

After lifting weights with Percussivity, I headed home for a hot bowl of plain oatmeal and to dawn my ninja-biker apparel. By time I left, it had warmed to 13.5 d- practically summer! During the ride I was mostly shielded from the gentle easterly wind except while headed up "the hill" on Gregory where it was actually at my back. The streets were mostly clear with some packed snow and loose snow-bearings covering the right portion of the street. The cold was fine. Same story as usual there- fingers and toes. Oddly, my hands started to warm up after 4 miles. As I approached my office, I had to make a right hand turn, uphill and into traffic. The rear tire slid out from under me there and I took a spill. But no damage was done and I made it in. Once I defrosted, a strange quiet numbness set over me and for a couple of hours I felt like I was floating- totally zoned out! It was a phschotropic ride. Must've been all the O2.

I'd like to wax eloquent about the stinging wind on my nose (when I'd pull down the balaclava to clear things out), the wonders of nature or the grand silence of being the only one outside at such a time. But the reality is not that beautiful. Burning lungs, cautious turns; always pedalling, pushing and churning. Cars wooshing by and you have to balance on the packed snow. No, there was no pleasure ride today: just a frantic effort in absurd conditions to go from point A to B. For some reason, this all strikes me as 'fun' and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Maybe next time, I'll actually catch the snowstorm.

Ice Biking

5AM. Its 10 degrees with a windchill of -1. The wind is from the east at 8mph. At 10 degrees, a 20MPH wind feels like -9 degrees. That's pretty intimidating. Time for reflection...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Living in his dream

I am posting this today in memorium of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A friend of mine posted video of his famous "I have a dream" speech which my wife and I watched. First let me declare my position on a few things and then I will make some observations regarding the speech. Lastly, I'd like to post a few observations about how we are all living in his dream today.

1. Racism is wrong. Biblically speaking, racism is absurd. There is only one race: man. If there were elves and dwarves in this world, we might have a real "racism" problem. All people are of one race but many families. If there is any classification of people in God's eyes, it is Jews, Gentiles and the Church. God is not a respector of persons. Not of the rich, the mighty or the wise. Not of whites or blacks or mexicans or anyone else.
2. The civil rights movement was due. It was just and fair for the US government to aknowledge all the rights "endowed by their creator" to the black citizens of this country. (The frame of reference of the founders is that our rights come directly from God, it is the responsability of government to aknowledge and protect, never to abridge, those rights.)
3. I believe MLK was sincere. I take that at face value. However, as a Christian, I believe he operated in error on several points. His fundamental mistake was displacing God's mission of saving souls for his own mission of securing rights. He leveraged the Church of God to conduct his mission. He drew from the Word of God to add legitimicay and weight to his speeches, but did so out of context. He handled the Word of God deceitfully.

I realize point #3 is not a very popular idea. I will address why I hold to those opinions shortly. First, here's my observations on his speech:
1. The guy can speak. He's an awesome "public speecher"! Those great, swelling words delivered with force and conviction really sound nice. Very emotive. He's got style, too. The alliteration and imagery he used was beautifully poetic. Again, very emotive. The masses were swooned.
2. I could not escape ever present irritation at the Nation of Islam guys standing about him. Yeah, Dr. King was all about the movement, the end game. This just reminds me that Christ took a back seat: his own rights and his own glory were front and center.
3. There were two posters they showed from the crowd. One said "full rights - full employment" and the other said something like "freedom and jobs". Dr. King was of the mind that part of true desegregation would include "correcting" economic inequities. (This socialist tendancy really irritates my libertarian mindset.)

Now here's the punch. God used Dr. King, but as a two-edged sword. Yes, he was used to aknowledge the full rights endowed by our Creator. But because of the willful way that he worked, he also captured the hearts and imaginations of the black churches; he focused their minds and efforts on what they could get for themselves and he never gave them back over to the Lord. They never should have left. So what do we have today? A nearly complete breakdown of the social fabric within the black community.

2005 Blacks are 6 times more likely to be murdered than whites
2005 Blacks are 7 times more likely to commit murder than whites

Black men ages 18 to 65 are seven times more likely than white men to have a prison record. There are now more African American men in prison than in college.
Nationally, approximately 13 percent of African American men - 1.4 million - are ineligible to vote because of criminal records.
(also, 10% of black men now cannot vote because of felony convictions)

2004 Rate of gonorrhea 19 times higher than for whites

2000 (I can't believe this is the "lates" data from Dept of Health and Human services?) Blacks are 39% of welfare recipients, 8% more than the second largest group, whites.

2003 Blacks are 2-3 times more likely to have domestic violence

2005 70% of black children are born to an unwed mother. (70%! astounding...)

2006 From 1970 to 2001, the marraige rate among blacks fell by 34%.

2004 Blacks have the highest % of weekly church attendance.

All of these problems and immorality, and this demographic has the highest church attendance! Why? Because the majority of those churches are spiritually bankrupt. They have become political instruments and social gather places rather than houses of truth and fervent prayer. To me, that is Dr. Kings legacy. While slavery could not break the soul and moral fiber of the black man, Dr. King stole it by leading astray the churches.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


First, let me address the poll. It seems the jury is in and 40% of respondents are hoping Jesus will return before the insanity really begins while 60% want to continue making a difference in this world and participating in responsible government through gun ownership. This poll has a margin of error of +/- 95%. That is still more accurate than the weather forecast in KC.

Psa 57:8 Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I [myself] will awake early.

I have numerous friends with all types of creative talents, a lot of which are musical. My church seems to be stacked with a disproportionate number of 'artsy' types and many 'demi-artsy' types. People write, paint, sing and strum and all for God's glory. But I'm not artsy, how could I possibly praise God? This verse in Psalms stuck out to me several months ago. David’s summons "my glory"... the psaltery and harp... and his determination to the praise and glory of God. So the real issue is not, can I write, paint, sing or strum, but what can I do? What do I do well- what would be considered "my glory"?

I'm more of a Hiram than a David. I can make stuff. I like to make stuff. Not fancy frou-frou stuff, but stuff. Endless home repairs and remodeling of everything but the foundation, car repairs, setting up computers and networks and of course, making applications. That's probably what I do best, what I have spent the most time investing in and what I believe the Lord has blessed me in. So how to use "my glory" for Gods? Does Jesus need a programmer?

Well, it seems he does! It came up a few weeks ago with my pastor, who is pretty technically proficient in his own right, that he could use me in tweaking an application for admin'ing the churches website. He commented, "This is an answer to prayer!". Yes, it is. Apparently his prayer, too.

Warning! Boring technical stuff following. If you are already pretty much bored, do not read any further.

Joomla is an open source content management system. This is used for collaborative web site management and does not require users to know HTML. My church has settled on using this software and I am getting involved a bit to be able to help modify and administer it as needed. This presents come challenges for me- this program does not use any technologies that I already know! It is designed for Apache on Linux and is coded in PHP and uses a MySQL database. I, on the other hand, work largely in ASP.NET with Oracle and SQL Server databases and IIS on Windows 2003 server. Plus, I haven't really though much of the entire open source trend. For professional computing, I much prefer working on large, ubiquitous and stable platforms supported by companies that have something to lose. However that opinion is largely founded on ignorance and I know it, so I thought it would also be good for my personal development to get involved with this product.

The first challenge was to get it installed. Despite it's intended design, it is capable of running on IIS and Windows 2003 (which is what I run at home) but the setup is a bit different. I first got it installed on my server several weeks ago, but then rebuilt my server and domain with some help from the Pensive Percussionist. So, I had to reinstall and kept notes the second time through. I did have some permissions issues- and am really still working them out- and have installed Joomla a second time on the same server but under a different site and with a different configuration.

Here are the steps I followed:;wap2 1. install PHP (5.2.5)
a. downloaded new installer.msi. Last time this file was corrupt and had to use .zip file.
b. 3 opts for IIS install. I chose the ISAPI extension option since I am vaguely familiar with that and not CGI.--After piddling around with this... it still doesn't work. Thanks for aaaaaaall that, open sourcers...
c. give up on .msi installer and go with the zip file.
d. follow direction per!7FD523D714963B13!321.entry
e. iisreset
f. Bingo! thx to aszelag ;-)
2. install MySQL
a. downloaded latest and greatest version (5.0.45) for windows off of
b. ran GUI installer and it was soooooo easy. good work there!
c. final step in config required opening firewall port for mysql. again, good directions.d. just for fun, i also downloaded the MySQL GUI tools from here I can work in Oracle PL/SQL all day but I just can't get used to writing queries in DOS!
3. install Joomla
a. got the dl... simple unpackage into the wwwroot directory
b. on opening the web install, there's a problem. i remember from last time that PHP and MySQL no longer play 'nice' right out of the box. On searching I turned up this site:,339028448,339271632,00.htm which was excellent in giving steps to config PHP 5 with MySQL. This got me in to Joomla.
c. Next problem... ok so Joomla is connected and my site is created. But I'm not get any graphic content. Just by tweaking, I used IIS 'create application' function and that did the trick.*(See ppg below)
d. next problem... everything is groovy on the server, but not so elsewhere. text only view. hhhh....;wap2

That was for the first install. *What I noticed after that was that permission on the directory became "squirelly". I kept trying to open them up to get a new module to work and they kept changing. It occurred to me that allowing IIS to create this as an application was may not a good idea. I think it started trying to help me admin the site in ways I didn't want. So I set Joomla up again under a different site name and used the same directions as above, only I didn't create it as an application. I did give IUSR_SERVER read and write perms on all subdirs and files. I know, I know... that so unsafe. But I'm a coder, not a security nut. I get satisfaction from making programs and seeing the impact they have, not from spending endless hours tweaking mundane settings to get something to work "just so". So far this new site has worked fine and now squirelliness.

Last thing- this was very important. The default site did not open for me the second time. I think this might be an IIS/Windows thing. I did set the default page in IIS but was not redirected; instead I got a PHP error. The directions included this optional step of going directly to the installation page: http://localhost/joomla/administrator/index.php Once I did that, everything ran fine from the default page (also after removing all installation files as directed).

So far I like Joomla a lot- it's growing on me. I'm going to get to learn it better by setting up my son's wrestling team web site with it and seeing if they want to run it that way. My boss is also thinking about using it for our engineering business unit to track projects with. This would be great as it would get me involved with Joomla at work and really allow me to become an "expert", which in turn would help my church!

If you're asleep, you may now wake up.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Pirates of the Caribbean 3

Last weekend we finally watched Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, henceforth referred to simply as POC3. It is in the nature of all IT professionals to acronymate titles and such... and to make up words like 'acronymate'.

I had heard this movie was long and confusing and not worthy of it's predecessors, so we rented it mainly for the kids. Boy, was I led astray! There were points where it was weird- artsy weird. But I never felt lost or put off by any hyperabstractionism. Rather, I thought there was not only good action and interesting scenery, but a solid plot line with some nice twists.

For some reason, the opening song has been stuck in my head. Perhaps it is the dreary gray cave I work in. It has the same kind of morbid catchiness as the Orc song "Where there's a whip, there's a way" from the old LOTR cartoons. (If you don't know what LOTR is, please stop reading my blog and grab a Dr. Seuss book.) While sitting at the computer tonight and fixing the IIS setup for my chat room application, my wife is clicking away on my BlackBerry playing asteroids and she starts to whistle the very tune that has been haunting me. This began a discussion and a googling for the lyrics to that Poeish peom, which in turn turned into a finding and further discussion... wait... what did I just say? Oh, buggar!

My beloved brought up the point that she thought the song was perhaps a summoning, which idea was supported by the odd reaction of the Admiral when notified that the pirates were singing. He replied, "Finally." Then I came across this post which elaborates:

I love that song. And it turns out to be quite important. Barbosa mentions to Sao Feng that “the song has been sung” while holding a piece of eight up. If you watch the opening scene, the boy also has a piece of eight. The lyrics to the song (emphasis added) are “The king [pirate king] and his men [the lords] took the queen from her bed [Calypso from the sea] and bound her in her bones. [locked her in human form]” This is the song that calls the Pirate brethren together and is a reminder of what they had done. Beckett, when told that they were singing, looks relieved and says “finally” as if he was expecting this to happen and is the signal he had been waiting for. So much detail in that movie. I love it! Glad you liked it to.

I think that is a great analysis and representative of the depth that is really woven throughout the story. I appreciated the quasitragic ending as well, with William and Elizabeth being separated ten years at a time just to spend one day together. Not quite a greek tragedy but not quite a typical cotton-candy ending either. I thought the movie was a good story and well told.

Now, see if you can find the words that I blatantly made up. There should be three... the rest are either typos or one of us is ignorant (I vote for 'you').

And for your listening pleasure:

My beloved and I will listen to this over and over while she finishes reading The Count of Monte Cristo (not a sandwich) and I endeavor to defeat the Azteks with the Chinese in the next campaign of Age of Empires 3: Asian Dynasties.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

RSS feed for tracking comments

If you're like me- and if you have a personality, you're not- you'd really like an easy way of tracking all those comments left by your adoring fans who literally have nothing else to do with their lives but read the crap that you write. Enter RSS!

Now I would think, as a programmer, that this would be a 'built-in' feature of blogger but no, no, no! In fact it appears this used to be a built in feature but has now been deprecated. (No Musician, that does not mean 'pooped'.) Grrr... that makes me so angry. Well at least irritated.

So after much ado about nothing, I have discovered the secret to publishing a comment feed. Blogger is actually already publishing it. But this knowledge is hidden in the labyrinth that is Google and I shall bring it to light now. If you've got a account, your Comment feed is: ''. Once armed with that knowledge, you are ready to go.

What I have done is just to link to an RSS feed icon from the 'net and then post a hyperlink to my comments feed. This in itself doesn't really do anything. But if you click the hyperlink it will (obviously) take you to an HTML version of my comments feed. From there you may subscribe or you may cut-n-paste the URL into your feed reader.

In my case, I found a free plug-in for Outlook 2003 called IntraVnews and configured it to check my comments feed. Anytime someone posts a comment to any of my blog postings I will receive an email. Now ends those sleepless nights and hang wringing throughout the day wonder if there are any exciting new comments for me to read.

I so prefer chatting.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Other highlights of 2007

This is more for my own personal memory, which is ever failing!

Major Tasks Performed

I tend to think in linear and concrete terms. Here's a list of physical accomplishments for the past year.

  • Rebuilt the top end of a 1996 Dodge Neon Sport, 1.6L 16 valve with dual overhead cams. It cranked up right away! With the onset of winter, however, the oil leak as sprung anew from the head gasket and the computer never quite figured out how to make it run smooth. But the job is done. Should I have to re-do the job, I'll be sure to have the manifold inlets and outlets ported this time, and perhaps even have the intake manifold optimized. Customer headers would'nt be a bad idea either. There are so many little tricks left so squeeze power out of that thing!
  • The remaining two trees in our backyard were removed, completing the deforestation of our property. Kind of a bummer because I really like trees, just not big dead trees covered with thorns.
  • I developed a groovy web based, AJAX enabled ASP.NET chat application for me and my homies. Ok, I don't have any homies but it's still a good app and supports a ton of customizations and is tweaked with many bells and whistles. Some of the bells are broken though. :-P
  • I hit 1,500 miles of biking this year. I really picked it up in July, averaging 120 miles per week for six weeks. What an intense time! My rib cage was sore for the first ten days because of the hard and heavy breathing. I'm sure my lung capacity increased quite a bit. Also a week in Branson allowed me four good rides in the Ozark mountains and man, what a difference that makes for tackling hills! The hills around KC seemed only nominal after that. I thoroughly enjoy hillwork now.
  • I installed over 60 linear feet of french drain, using 3" PVC with a 4" gravel base, 2" gravel cover and 2" of topsoil in addition to the fabric. That was a lot... a lot... a whole lot of work.
  • In addition to the french draining, I added a 2 1/2' high retaining wall built from 80 lb concrete stones for about 20' in front of our house. I built about half of a 60' long 2' tall wall between our property and our neighbors who are funneling all their roof runoff directly at my garage. hhhhhhhhhhhh.....
  • Daniel survived his first wrestling season. I am so proud of how he did! He really developed a lot of character and showed a tremendous work ethic. By the end of the season, he had learned to be a student of the art and in his last match even used a move he picked up just by watching. How amazing! I suck at sports so I'm sure he gets that from his mom.
  • Daniel and I and several friends enjoyed... oh sorry- endured- an ill planned backpacking adventure. All in all it wasn't really so bad, but for the pain. The scenery was beautiful, my Blackberry was quiet (an appreciable beauty in it's own right) and the fellowship quite enjoyable. Especially once the cream sherry was opened up. Daniel gave me another reason to be quite proud of him!
  • The whole family enjoyed a great time in Albuquerque, NM visiting my dad's place. The mountains there are beautiful, but the best time we had, I think, was running through the sage with the kids, my dad and our dogs, pelting each other with dirt clods and playing hide-and-go-seek. Here we discovered that our dog, Maximus, is most probably a Rhodesian Ridgeback, aka, African Lion Hound. He is missing the most distinctive feature of this breed- a ridged back- but otherwise fits the breed characteristics to a tee. We suspect he was part of an inferior litter and was culled.
  • I joined Facebook at the prompting of my wife. Facebook is gay. Enough said.
  • I began the remodel of our bathroom by tearing out our main bathroom and hauling the rubbish over to The Pensive Purcussionist's place. He had a big trash bin at the time. The wifey and I worked up some plans as well, which is always painful. But I'm confident she's got us on a good track as far as the design so once Uncle Sam returns my freaking money back to me, I can finish up this project.
  • Since the wall was opened up in the bathroom, I replaced all of the plumbing in our house. It was a mixture of (primarily) copper, PVC and galvanized. The galvanized was severely corroded since the builder failed to use a dialectric union, so that I had two valves break free from the wall entirely when trying to operate them! Also, our service line is 3/4" and the whole house was plumbed with 5/8". Why??? So wasteful! I tore out all the old and replaced it with 3/4" PEX, as far as was applicable. I found a great site to get PEX supplies and used color coded pipling (blue for cold, red for hot) and also added a hot water return line. This line comes from the farthest end of the hot water line run back to the water heater and hooks up to the water heaters drain, which is then opened. Natural convection provides the energy to recirculate the hot water supply. This means we get hotter water sooner since the supply is constantly recirculating. Hopefully it is helping to keep the water heater cleaner as well.

It was kind of a light year, as far as projects go. This year I'll need to finish the bathroom and re-seed the yard and tend to many of those 1,000's of unfinished little details. (I am the master of achieving "substantial completion". ) I've already put in a new whole house humidifier on the furnace. The money pit lives.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 In Review

"Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God" Job 37:14

I am thoroughly irritated by reading the endless, self-righteous rantings of Elihu in the book of Job. But this verse stuck out as I was reading right before diving into this review. Here I would like to "consider the wondrous works of God" in my own life over the past year.

The fast

The year began with a challenge from our pastor: commit to 40 days of fasting and prayer. He laid out several different fasting options but all of them had the same principle effect of allowing us to focus more diligently on the Lord and to seek His face and His favor. For myself I knew a few things: my diet was out of control and I was getting bigger, I was spending too much time watching TV and that my body never responds well to simply 'not eating'. I also knew that I didn't want to bite off something this difficult without having an anchor in the Lord. In other words, it wasn't good enough to do just because 'pastor says so'. Things were going to get hard and I didn't want to end up projecting my frustrations and anger at him. So I got with the Lord and he gave me this verse:

"Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance." Ezra 8:21

In the spirit of this verse, my wife and I set off on a three-fold fast for the purpose of seeking a right way from the Lord:
  • An entertainment fast: no TV, movies or video games.
  • Re-inducing a low carb diet: following the Atkins diet strictly
  • A full fast for a weekend

Honestly, it was hardest giving up TV and video games. For me anyways! I was habitually hooked to these things and now I had more time to read and commit to industrious works. The low carb diet we had done before and was no big deal to me. It is rough, I usually have a debilitating headache for the first two or three days. The full fast almost killed me. By Sunday morning, I started getting dizzy, light-headed, my vision would intermittently dim (aka 'tunnel vision') and the weirdest thing of all... I was having muscle spasms in my neck and shoulders that felt like mild electric shocks. I ended that fast as soon as I could lay my hands on some food!

What we got out of this was control and discipline. We learned to use time for all types of reading which in turn leant itself to us changing curriculums for homeschool. We were in better shape for the spring when we returned to our exercise. But most miraculously, forty new people were added to our congregation. What a coincidence!

Glorifying God at work

This year at work presented me with the single biggest professional challenge I've ever had. The goal was to develop and implement an automated system for facilitating the managment and post installation activities of deploying over 160,000 Automated Meter Reading (AMR) devices. Knowing this was a potential 'feather in the cap' for my career, I was determined to glorify the Lord. My vision was that things would go swimmingly and at the end I would have some big occasion to pronounce my thankfulness to the Lord for Him making everything easy. What actually happened was that everything went to hell, quickly. From the beginning, things did not go well with our project manager. He never gave us any functional requirements, we had to strong-arm him into it and required signatures from him. He in turn required we also sign off on all documents. Our development time line was supposed to be three months and was cut down to six weeks. Our vendor supplied us reams of bad data as they struggled through their own problems. The devil himself inhabited my production server and it took two weeks and several tickets with MicroSoft to resolve the problems. Everyone was stressed and every relationship strained. I began very seriously to doubt if God was ever glorified in such a mess and was constantly questioning my own actions and attitudes.

But some things did go well. The Lord provided me a general plan in short order. He showed me how to leverage our existing work managment and billing systems, He allowed me to exploit the latest technologies to provide near real-time data transfer, how to build reusable components that will greatly hasten completion of this years development of a mobile solution. He gave me grace and wisdom to actually do the development in one week (a very long week) so that we still had five weeks left for testing. He showed me that our IT group is a really strong team as others were able to contribute to key efforts in support of this. In the end, we do have a stable and streamline system that is finally working as designed. The feather is ruffled and dirty, but still there. To God be the glory!

During this time, the Lord opened several doors to share Christ with a friend at work. He was clearly under conviction and began attending KCBT. I'm not sure where he's at right now- it can be difficult communicating ideas at times. But at least I saw God working in his life and He has propped that door open till this day. I am still praying for this friend's salvation.

The Lord opened other doors with coworkers as well. I work in the midst of a hard people so any door opening is a miracle. My constant (although not always diligent) prayer is that Christ would us me to share the gospel at work. He did that this year, in big but unexpected ways. He also showed me the importance of maintaining Biblical fellowship with the few coworkers who are saved, even if we find ourselves at odds regarding work issues. It was a hard year but a growing year so that makes it a success.

CommUnity Team

Our Community Team was hopping along this year, right through 2 Corinthians. But we took a break in mid-summer and I was pressing the Lord for our next study. No answer. People began to ask me more often 'What are we doing next?' I would tell them honestly, I don't know, I haven't heard from the Lord yet. I perceived some frustration from several people at this, but that was the answer. What else could I say?! We set the date for the first meeting of our next cycle and still... no answer! Finally, through what the Lord was showing me in His Word and in the lives of many people, it finally clicked one morning during the sermon. We need to look at relationships! I have never been a part of a topical SOT style study before so that would be a new challenge. The Lord was faithful to show me all the topics we needed to hit and at least one key passage for each.

He also put it on my heart that we needed to get the kids involved with the same concepts of personal Bible study and accountability. That was another struggle. There was seemingly no material that addressed this the way we felt it needed to be addressed and I didn't see myself as being equipped to develop that. Especially not in such short order! But again, after prayer and patience, the Lord provided us with a great little book called How To Study Your Bible for Kids by Kay Arthur. I was already familiar with her book for adults- which does a fantastic job- so I was really excited to see her kid's book. My wife and I rework the format each week and update it to the best Bible version available in English, so there is still a fair amount of work. But it is no more work than drawing water from the well. Thank the Lord we didn't have to dig the well!

The Lord also moved some old friends out into a new area. We still feel their loss but I am happy that they were moved to something specific and that it is clear they are where Christ wants them and they are being used. The Lord was faithful to replenish us with several new friends as well, and I can see that relationships are forming and strengthening several people. There is a lot of growth happening!

Kids Salvation

The single biggest spiritual event in our lives this year was when our nine year old son and eight year old daughter accepted Christ. Daniel had been praying since he was six that God would call him. He struggled through several times of disappointment, as he saw other children come to Christ. With each of our kids, we assure them, Biblically, that they are 'safe' until Christ calls them and they need to bide their time preparing their hearts to that end. Praise God, this seemed to help to give him patience! His disappointment was really rooted in pride and a feeling that he was better than so-and-so... It was the hard road, but I am glad the Lord dealt with his pride along the way. That will pay off huge dividends in the course of his life!

Our daughter, on the other hand, was not so prideful but very... energetic. Strong willed seems like a white wash. Tasmanian she-devil is much closer to how it was. The maniac of South Kansas City. There was more than one occasion I would get a midday phone call from the wife in tears or would come home to find her a furious and exhausted wreck. But she has her sweet side, too. In one day, this little firebrand could manifest the destructive energy of a nuclear meltdown and then the pure and soft love of a perfect little girl. She clearly had a need for Christ but wasn't really getting it yet.

On a Sunday in September, one of the kids workers was talking with Elisa and it opened up into a deeper conversation. Clearly God was at work. At home that afternoon she opened up to us and our son got involved in the talk. This continued again that evening during our family Bible story. They were asking us if they could get saved and this time, it seemed as if they 'got it'. We put them off until the morning to see if they would hold on to this desire, to prove the work of God. In the morning, they continued, asking questions and acting pressed. We put them off one more day, until the next morning, as one final test. But when a child is ready to be born, you can't stop it. It was time for our daughter to be born again and nothing would stand in the way. My wife and I talked with her and prayed with her while she sobbed on the bed. She prayed a simple but beautiful prayer of salvation "Jesus... I want you to live in my heart and clean all the yucky stuff out of my heart.". What a glorious morning!

As we came out to the family room to explain this to the other kids, our son interuppted us to tell us that he had accepted Christ. Now this was a shock. We thought he was close but didn't suspect that while we were praying with our daughter, the Holy Spirit was birthing our son in a different room! At first I was a little suspect of this, but over the next few days the Lord proved it out in him. One of the first things he said was that his heart was sad but was now filled with joy! I still remember my little girl clinging too me and, with a new light in her eyes, saying "Daddy, I feel like a whole new person!". That is just amazing to hear from children.

Two months later, they both followed the Lord in baptism and, coincidentally, got to be the first two people to be baptized directly into our new church :D

New Church Plant

This year our home church ("the motherchurch") commissioned us to become our own autonomous work. From the beginning, our goal was to start a satellite service in order to make disciples in midtown. The goal was NOT to start a new church. But God blessed us so much and so apparently, that the staff at the motherchurch felt they were actually 'holding us back'. Graciously, they offered to let us go. Now this experiment had turned into a full fledged work and we were commissioned and official in November.

More recently our pastor has been laying out an exciting vision for the future. We will be returning to our roots, those roots from which many of us have sprang forth since the early 90's. We will be focusing on teaching good Bible doctrine to everyone, developing leaders and establishing a mode of accountability for all. The long term vision is to become a launching pad for other new works, to be used by God to establish his Word and his people through our city and even throughout the world. This is truly an exciting time and has been an exciting year. After the rollercoaster this year has been, I dare not try to predict what the hand of the Lord will accomplish through us in 2008 but trust that He will be glorified!