Family Defender?

Again, I find myself not posting in quite sometime. This time its been over a year! I also haven’t been using this as a personal blog like I had planned. My intention was, and is, to share my thoughts as a Christian dad but I have really only been sharing devotional thoughts. Which are great and I’m not planning to stop with those types of articles, but I also want to share my everyday thoughts and concerns as a Christian dad and husband. One long standing thought of mine is family and self defense.

I have been avoiding this topic a bit because for some reason it becomes a hot button issue. It can degrade into arguments very easily, but we’re not going to do that here. I appreciate comments and your thoughts on the issue, but I don’t appreciate rudeness or arguments for arguments sake.

As I get older and my children get older, I find myself becoming more and more aware of my responsibility to defend them. I fall into a spiral of self doubt. Am I doing enough to keep them safe? What would I do if someone tried to hurt them? How would I respond if someone tried to take my child at the grocery store or at the mall? Could I even do anything? Do I have any skills or a plan to defend them? Or even myself? As a Christian, do I even have the ability or authority, to physically defend myself or my children? Am I still a child of God if I have to hurt or kill another person to defend my wife’s, children’s, or my own life?

We will often go to the book of Luke to justify our ability and need for protection. Jesus told his apostles to sell their cloaks and buy a sword if they didn’t already have one (Luke 22:36), so we assume that we also have the right to protect ourselves. I think we need to be careful to apply this to ourselves, Jesus reminded them in verse 35 that before they didn’t need to take anything like gear, money, or weapons on their missions to spread news about Jesus because he, the Son of God, provided those things for them. But, after he is crucified they would be going out into the world, past the borders of Israel, without his protection. He is telling them as you go out this time you are going to need to provide these things for yourself. I’m not saying that this precludes you and I today of needing protection, but in this case he is speaking specifically to a certain group of people in their current situation.

But take a look at Nehemiah, basically a governor, and his work in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.

And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.” So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

 

Nehemiah 4:11-14

Some people didn’t want to see the wall rebuilt, these people liked having an unguarded city and easy prey. Evil people. These people planned to sneak in and kill indiscriminately so the wall couldn’t be completed. The friendly Jews who lived in surrounding areas warned Nehemiah, so he made sure there were armed men hiding in wait, willing and ready to do violence, to protect those who were working. Then he charged the rest of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to fight! Why? To protect their friends, their families and themselves.

Paul wrote to Timothy that a person doesn’t provide for his family he is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). Paul doesn’t specify what he means by provide, but I know my wife and I provide food, clothing, and shelter for our children. But shelter also needs safety and security, also know as defense.

But why? Why do I feel the need to defend my family? Why did Nehemiah want his people to defend themselves? Why did Jesus warn his followers they would need to take their personal safety into their own hands? Love. I love my family and want to be sure their safe – by any means at my disposal. Nehemiah loved his people, and wanted to see them safe. That included seeing them properly armed and a protective wall built. Jesus loved his followers, and he loves us, and wants to see us all safe from evil people.

John Lovell of the Warrior Poet Society has some great content about being a lover of people, willing learn how to and to do violence to protect innocent people from the evil people of the world.

Restoring a Craftsman Toolbox

A family friend gifted me a well used Craftsman toolbox. I haven’t been able to find a model number, but I guess it really doesn’t matter. I’m planning to restore it close to its former glory. I’m not a professional metal worker, so it’ll still have some bends, dents, and dings but I’m going to do the best I can. 

I plan to strip it down to bare metal, remove the underlying rust, then prime and paint as close to Craftsman red as I can get. But I am going to paint the drawers black instead of the original red. I like the way the newer Craftsman boxes have the black drawers against the red cabinets.

My only big question is: what to do about the inside of the cabinets? I’m not sure I want to strip/rust treat/prime/paint/clear the interior of the boxes. I’m afraid I may not cover all the metal and just reintroduce the rust. I may just scrub them out really good, plug the cracks and drain holes from the outside and give it a good few coats of rust reformer and call the inside good. No one will ever see the inside anyway. Then when I do the outside, I’ll seal all the openings from the inside so it won’t get stripped away.

Any one out there have an opinion on how to tackle the interior of the boxes?

Ministry Tech – Part 1

Let me start by saying am not an Apple hater! If you like Apple products, that’s great, keep using them. But they’re just not for me. Having said that, I don’t hate on you, Mr/Mrs Apple user, so please don’t hate on me for my preferences. This series of posts is not intended to bash on Apple, simply to highlight the tools that I use on the platforms that I choose to run.

At the Office

I’ll start with the tools I use in the office, both at work and at home.

Hardware

Computer: Dell Inspiron 5765 
It’s reasonably priced and has all the power I need for my day to day work. It comes installed with Windows 10 Home, which I promptly removed and replaced, but more on that later. At the office I connect it to a larger external monitor as my primary display and the laptop becomes my secondary. It sits on a stand and I also use an external keyboard and mouse. At home I just use it as is, with the addition of a wireless mouse – I dislike touchpads.

Operating System: Xubuntu 16.04 LTS (Linux)
I’m not an Apple user, but I don’t use Windows either. Xubuntu is what’s called a Linux distro (distribution), a “flavor” of Linux. Its actually based on another distro called Ubuntu, but it uses Xfce as its user interface instead of Unity that comes installed with Ubuntu, which I strongly dislike. I find Xubuntu to be extremely light weight and fast. Where Windows has always been clunky and unreliable, your mileage may vary.

UPDATE: I ran into a problem with Xubuntu a while back. The system would boot up and run, but anytime the hard drive was written to the system would crash. If this wasn’t my professional/work computer I may have worked through the issues, but since I need it to be reliable I switched back to Windows 10. It has actually surprised me quite a bit, its a huge improvement over previous versions. All other software I use remains unchanged.

Software

Using Linux does mean having to find replacements for more common applications on Windows or iOS, but that doesn’t mean they’re not as powerful, oftentimes they’re on par if not better than the more mainstream.

Most software on Linux is open source (free) just like the operating system itself is. Again, don’t let that word “free” fool you, they’re still very powerful. There are packages out there that cost, but by and large they will be open source. The developers would certainly appreciate donations if you find their software beneficial.

Bible Software: Xiphos
I like Xiphos because its just a solid performing software with great support from the developer. Its based on the Sword Project’s module system. Most of the library you can access through the Sword Project is public domain, so the materials are older and not as vast as you can get through Logos or Accordance. I have several Bible translation modules installed, all in synced tabs in the main pane of the program. When you move from tab to tab, the tabs stay synced to the same passage. Strong’s Greek and Hebrew displays in a small pane to the lower right on my “standard” translations while I usually have Clarke’s Commentary on the right side bar. You can configure the support panes based on the translation, so when I’m using the ESVS (ESV w/Strong’s Numbers) the right pane shows a larger version of Strong’s Greek/Hebrew instead of Clarke’s.

Productivity: Google Apps / Google Drive
I use Google Apps for pretty much everything document related. Its all based in Google Drive, so everything I write in Google Docs: devotionals, lessons, sermons, papers for school, etc, are all automatically saved in Google Drive. This is awesome when I’m co-teaching a class or work with other folks on material like camp or VBS, because sharing is ridiculously easy in Google Drive. I also use Google Slides for my presentations for Bible classes and sermons. Google Sheets is comparable to Excel. Importing from and exporting to other formats is great in Google Apps as well. I have exported Slides to PPT several times for sermons and only had to make minor tweaks. I generally export to PDF for school work.

There are other office type programs out there than run on the system rather than online in a browser like Google Apps. Libre Office is probably the biggest one.

Graphics: Inkscape and Gimp
Inkscape is a vector drawing program, similar to Adobe Illustrator. I use Inkscape a lot, like, a lot a lot. I use it for my presentations in Google Slides, for graphics on my congregation’s Facebook and Instagram pages, for activity flyers, for the graphics on this site, and more.

Gimp is a raster drawing program, similar to Adobe Photoshop. Most of what graphics work I do is in Inkscape, but it doesn’t print well, so I usually end up exporting to PNG from Inkscape and opening it in Gimp to print. Gimp is also far better for editing photos than Inkscape.

Desktop Publishing: Scribus
Scribus is a desktop publishing program, similar to Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Publisher. I have been able to do most printing from Gimp, but I did design our new contact/connection cards in Scribus. I just exported them to PDF and sent them to the local printer and everything turned out great.

Those are really the big ones you’d have to get used to in a switch to a Linux environment. There are other things I use that are either the same or very similar to Windows/iOS, or are Linux specific tools that I prefer to use over the ones included in the distro I’m using.

Here are some odds and ends I use that should be familiar to most people: Google Chrome, Firefox (occasionally), Thunderbird (email), Google Earth, Audacity, VLC, FileZilla (FTP), etc.

Next time we’ll look at mobile devices and apps. 

How big is a Mustard Seed?

Moses grew up as a prince in the then world power of Egypt. He ran away after he killed an Egyptian slave master in defense of a Hebrew slave. Moses settled in Midian, became a shepherd, and started a family. One day he was called by God to go back to Egypt and lead his fellow Hebrews to freedom in Canaan. Moses came up with several excuses why he couldn’t do what God had asked: “they won’t believe me”, “they won’t listen to me”, “I’m not a good public speaker”, and so on. But a question Moses asked God is interesting. He asked, “Who am I?” It seems that Moses didn’t think he had what it would take to do what God called him to do. He lacked faith in himself, he lacked self-esteem, he seemed to feel like he wasn’t worthy to take on the task. But mostly, he lacked faith in God.

But look at Elijah. Elijah took on 450 so called prophets of the false god Baal in a battle of faith on Mount Carmel. He was so bold and courageous that he mocked the prophets, and their god, when they were unable to bring supernatural fire down to burn their sacrifice. When it came to Elijah’s turn, he prayed to God to bring fire from heaven and show who the one true God was. He didn’t just hope or think that God would respond, he knew it. He knew it and believed it with every fiber of his being! He had a mountain of faith in God’s power, and God delivered in a spectacular way.

Who do you feel like most days? Do you feel like you can’t do what Jesus asks of us and share his good news? Do you lack the faith to change the world?

When some followers of Jesus couldn’t cast a demon out of a boy, they asked Him why. He told them they lacked faith. Then He said that if they only had faith the size of a mustard seed they could move mountains. Did you read that, they could move mountains!

We don’t need to lead a nation to freedom, face down idolatrous hordes, slay a giant, or build a boat to change the world. We only need faith the size of a mustard seed.

How do we grow our faith? Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians in Rome that faith is built by hearing God’s Word preached. We need to worship and study to grow our faith. Solomon prayed for wisdom, we also need to spend time in prayer and be asking for the Spirit to strengthen our faith. Pray for ourselves, pray for each other, pray for the church, just pray!

What could you do with faith the size of a mustard seed?

Hats off to you, technology!

So, as I’m sure you know that working full time and having a family makes it hard to go to school at the same time. Well, I’m currently behind a few weeks (like, 5) and need to catch up quickly before I run out of time!

I’m getting to the point, I promise! This week was spring break for our kiddos. We went to Montgomery, AL and Panama City, FL to see family and friends. Each way was about a 10ish hour drive, we broke each into 2 days. I drove from Texas to Montgomery, then down to Panama City. While there, the preacher at the congregation my in-laws go to asked if my wife does all the driving now. I was a little confused and told him no, I do most of the driving. He said when he was in school his wife did the driving so he could read for his classes. Duh! She drove home.

OK, here’s the technology part. I go to an online school that uses Blackboard for assignments and I prefer e-books, so I use the Kindle app on my tablet to read. Well, you need internet for either of those to work! So, I used my phone as a WiFi hotspot, connected my tablet to it and did about 4 weeks of reading for one of my classes in 2 days. I took the quizzes for 3 of those weeks at the hotel we stayed in last night.

I could never imagine having this kind of connectivity when I was a kid! My kids are in the back seat watching DVDs while playing on their own tablets. I got to stare out the window for 8+ hours at a time when I was a kid.

Anyway, that’s my mini weekend take away. Technology.

Any of you have fun stories about technology in school or ministry (or whatever)?

Jonah, a Rusty Gate, and Me

The Biblical account of Jonah has some crazy action! Jonah ran from God, got tossed overboard in a storm, swallowed by a giant fish, vomited out onto land, then finally preached God’s message in a very dangerous city, in a very dangerous country. The people living the city were so vile, that God had planned to destroy them if they didn’t change their ways! Jonah delivered the message to them and God’s transforming word did its work and they repented! God decided not to destroy them, and this made Jonah happy that he finally performed his God given duties. Right? No!

In fact, “it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” (Jonah 4:1) Jonah had a lot of things going into the mission field of Nineveh. He had God on his side, he had a life saving, soul preserving message from God. Through Jonah, God saved many souls on that day! But Jonah was also missing a few things. Things like: compassion, grace, empathy, and love!

In 1 Corinthians 13:1 Paul wrote, “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.”  Jonah spoke with more than human eloquence and angelic ecstasy, he spoke with the authority and might of God! But he did not love. Paul would go on to write, “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” Jonah did end up doing what he was told, he preached God’s life saving message and saved many souls, but he gained nothing. He was spiritually bankrupt! Because he did not love.

Are we any different? I can also go the ends of the earth, or the end of my street, and spread to gospel because it’s what I’m “supposed to do”. But just like a smile that never reaches my eyes, if the gospel never reaches my heart, I don’t benefit at all from the work I do! That’s called going through the motions. The people I teach may end up obeying the gospel and become saved, but if I don’t love them as I teach and preach, I will be lost!

So today, as I labor in God’s Kingdom, I need to evaluate myself. Every word I say, every action I take, every decision that I make, every thought I think… are they done with love?

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Don’t be a clanging cymbal, noisy gong, or a creaking rusty gate! Speak the truth and love (Ephesians 4:15)! 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

Have a great week!