“The Lord knows how to order things better than I. The Lord sees further than I do; I only see things at present but the Lord sees a great while from now. And how do I know but that had it not been for this affliction, I should have been undone.”

—Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, 36

It’s Good to Be Dad

Dad’s don’t get a lot of respect in pop culture. They get a national holiday like mothers, but most of the advertised gifts suggest that it’s better to placate dad’s playful side than to honor his sacrificial side. That could be because a lot of men with children don’t actually work for their family, but at least they sometimes play (barbecue, boat, throw the ball, etc.) in a way that lets the kids come along.

Our culture has daddy issues, father hunger, vengeance toward the patriarchy. I’m less interested (today, at least) in chastising those errors and more interested in publicly stating my thanks to God for getting to be a dad.

I had only superficial ideas about fatherhood when I was growing up. Getting married and having kids and needing to do something with those kids seemed like the natural progression of life. What I came to realize later, well into parental practice, is that fatherhood is the glory of a man’s fruitfulness. I didn’t know that dad’s had such a divine purpose or how enjoyable the fruit would be.

We have four kids, going on 16, 13, 10, and 8 later this year. We have three girls and one boy. They are all different, they are all great. I love watching them sing, swim, shoot hoops, write papers, draw, dance, perform, plan, and read. Their mother knows them well and helps me to know them better as well. Being their father is exhausting and exhilarating. But even when one of the kids is second-level fussy or in full-on disobedience, I’m glad to be their dad.

The Ministry of Fatherhood is a gracious and great calling. It’s worth celebrating as a father, not just waiting to be appreciated as one.

Kuyperian Plumbing with Thanks

It’s becoming more and more popular to criticize and give warnings about technology. I’ve read 1984, Brave New World, and have owned an iPhone since the summer of 2008 when they first came out. There are certainly problems that exist. Our smartphones can distract us, they can become idols, as can almost every other good thing that God has given. This post isn’t an argument that such tools are only good, but rather an opportunity to express thankfulness.

We had another hot water leak under our house this past week. A similar leak happened last summer and we needed to call a plumber to fix it. This time around I was able to find the leak and, with the researching and know-how abilities of my wife, was able to make the repair.

But it wouldn’t have been possible, or at least not nearly as convenient, without my iPhone.

Could I have done it without it? Of course. Or at least, maybe. As my family and friends know, I stink at repairs. I do demolition. In this situation, though, I was better able to crawl under and over pipes in the crawl space and lay in the puddles with rat poo than other members of my family, and cheaper than hiring a plumber again. To get help and do the work I used my phone’s flashlight, camera, video camera, FaceTime app, and Safari browser to actually watch a YouTube video on how to make the repair. (Okay, I could have watched the video on a regular computer, but I did watch it on my iPhone anyway, which is sort of amazing if you think about it).

All that to say, as a Kuyperian Calvinist I am thankful to God for His common grace in the metallurgy and electronics and WiFi and engineers and Steve Jobs and code jockeys and delivery drivers and a whole bunch more.

Today on the Treadmill

About five years ago I started reading Kindle books on my iPad while running on my treadmill. I know some people think that sounds like hell, or at least vanity for hamsters, but I really enjoy it.

It was also around that time that I began hearing about “plodding,” which is a kind of discipline with little bundles of minutes sustained over numerous days. Plodding is not natural to me. I don’t prefer it. But I have been practicing it and learning to appreciate the slight edge.

Sometimes I plod by reading while running. The earlier days of the week I read whatever commentaries are appropriate for the next passage I’m teaching. When that reading is done I move on to whatever is next, which may be a book for Omnibus or a book that I’m reading with another group.

I just finished an hour on the treadmill today reading six books for ten minutes each. Here’s my annotated list.

  1. Antifragile. This is my second time through the book, now reading it with the elders at our church. Interestingly enough, the section I read today talks about how boring people who surround themselves with books may become.
  2. On Writing. Most of the lists of “favorite books on writing” I’ve read include this one. I’m not sure what I was expecting, apparently something else. But today I read King recount news of his first book getting a paperback contract. My whole face was a smile.
  3. Moby Dick. We started this in Omnibus earlier in the year. I couldn’t keep up with the pace then, so I’m on my own. I finished chapter 99 of 135 today.
  4. Citizen Soldiers. This is another Omnibus leftover. I have really enjoyed this account of the WWII European Theater, and really want to finish it before we visit Normandy beach on a Europe trip later this summer.
  5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I mentioned that our school board agreed to read this together over the next seven months. I started with The Lion again today, and was encouraged by this line in the dedication: “some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” Yes!
  6. 12 Rules for Life. Since watching this video a few months ago, Peterson’s name has come up more and more in our circles/house. Mo has even started listening to his podcast, and, since I prefer reading to listening, I thought this would be interesting. And of course it will be instructive to compare a pagan’s thoughts on handling chaos to a puritan’s

There is nothing special about ten minutes per book, and I don’t always follow that breakdown. But it was a thought-provoking variety today for sure.

The Art of a Calm Heart

My Bible class started to read through The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment the last Quarter of the year. We didn’t quite make it halfway, but I wanted to start rereading it again for myself this summer anyway. Though a repetitive Puritan (is that redundant?), Burroughs convicted me many days in class. If I can keep up the reading I’m sure I’ll have more quotes to share.

The following one made me think about a few things: social media and Matthew 15:10-20 and emotional control. It’s easy to blame our negativity and fear and irritation on external things, when in fact the problem is in our own hearts. We can, and should, learn the art of a calm heart even when the outside is neither smooth or still. (Also, we can unfollow as necessary.)

“A great man will permit common people to stand outside his doors, but he will not let them come in and make noise in his closet or bedroom while he deliberately retires from all worldly business. So a well-tempered spirit may enquire after things outside in the world, and suffer some ordinary cares and fears to break into the suburbs of the soul, so as to touch lightly upon the thoughts. Yet it will not on any account allow an intrusion into the private room, which should be wholly reserved for Jesus Christ as his inward temple.” (23)

The Weight of Irritability

The author of Hebrews urged his readers to run the race of faith by first laying “aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1). Jon Bloom wrote a series of articles that start with the idea of laying aside the weight of something, and I’ve had this particular post banging around my head since 2014: Lay Aside the Weight of Irritability.

He gives some examples of our selfish justification for being irritable:

  • When I’m weary I want rest, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
  • When I’m sick or in pain I want relief, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
  • When I’m preoccupied I want uninterrupted focus, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.

Then he reminds us that there is always a target of our irritability:

Jesus didn’t die for our punctuality, earthly reputation, convenience, or our leisure. But he did die for souls. It is likely that the worth of the soul(s) we’re irritable with is infinitely more precious to God than the thing we desire.

The entire exhortation is worth reading, and repenting where necessary.

Quite Some Ride

Today we passed another milestone. A small group of us finished the sixth and final year of the Omnibus curriculum.

My wife says she knew about Omnibus before we started the school, and I believe her. She was even interested in trying it out as homeschoolers. I also remember the summer before ECS started, our Headmaster along with our first full-time teacher went to the national ACCS conference and learned about Omnibus. We weren’t following the recommendation of the School Startup Notebook and so we needed something for three secondary students, two 10th graders and one 7th grader (who just graduated on Sunday).

Jonathan (our Headmaster) was very excited about Omnibus, a theology-history-literature class rolled into one. It is a six year program that cycles through Ancient, Medieval, and Modern periods twice (years I-III, then again for years IV-VI).

When we started to tell people what we were getting into, a number of adults at our church wanted in, too. What a great problem. So we decided to invite those who were interested to audit the class. For six years, every Thursday morning of school for two class periods, adults who had read (as much as they were able) of the assigned reading came and participated in the class.

I believe the number of books in the Primary reading (there is a Secondary track as well, but we didn’t utilize that much among the auditors) is 104, plus the introductory articles in the textbooks, along with some additional essays on subjects such as philosophy, art, sociology, and more.

I still remember a conversation I had with Jonathan in his living room in July or August of 2012, trying to decide if I should do the auditing or not. I wondered what effect it would have on my sermon prep. It has taken a toll, and I described it in class today as brutally glorious. I am not the same person as I was six years ago and, though Omnibus isn’t the only ingredient, it has flavored and complemented a lot of other inputs. I’ve referred to it here at my blog many times.

Some standouts for me are Beowulf, The Odyssey and The Aeneid, The Divine Comedy, and Moby Dick. Even 1984 and Brave New World made me appreciate That Hideous Strength more. Add in the likes of Augustine, Bede, Burke, Calvin, Chaucer, Dickens, Livy, Luther, Plato, Shakespeare, Sophecles, Toqueville, and Twain, and it has been quite some ride down the river of Western Civilization. Thanks to Jonathan for leading us, and congrats to him along with the other five auditors who finished the course.

The Enthusiasm Industry

I was listening to a podcast episode recently, I can’t remember which one even though I don’t actually listen to a bunch, and the hosts referred to the “enthusiasm industry.” They were talking about people who write and talk about apps (mobile, desktop, whatever). These aren’t necessarily the developers or even marketing employees of a company, these are people who make their living trying out and reviewing apps and services. They are professional buzz makers, stoking enthusiasm that sustains the creation/consumption cycle.

Some of these enthusiasts are helpful, even trustworthy over time. Many of them, though, are just making noise. How are consumers being prepped to distinguish?

It made me think of Dorothy Sayers’ warning about propaganda.

Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined? (The Lost Tools of Learning)

The enthusiasm industry, including (especially?) those who promote productivity apps, may keep us distracted from doing work rather than helping us find the right tool for work.

It’s similar to this argument about why so many of us like sports: then we don’t have to think about how awful our lives are.

We are far too easily enthused. And distracted.

Empire of Bones

5 of 5 starts to Empire of Bones by N.D. Wilson

2018: What Lewis’ That Hideous Strength is to The Abolition of Man, so N.D.’s Empire of Bones is to Death by Living. I reread this along with the Capstone class at our school for sake of leadership training. Great truths enfleshed in great characters. Makes you want to sing while they cut your heart out. You have a life. The time to spend it is now.

And I forgot how much I really am interested in the fourth volume hopefully coming soon.


2013: If you’re looking for a stout, fictional story to complement the philosophy and autobiography in Death by Living, then look here. In other words, this book will fire up your laughing and life-spending cylinders.

The Vanishing American Adult

5 of 5 stars to The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis—and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse

Reread this again with the ECS Board. Fantastic all the way through.


This book is fantastic in almost every way. If the Senator would have used BC and AD instead of BCE and CE, and not capitulated on the age of the earth, then it would have been amazing. As it is, I still give it five stars, will be giving copies of it away as gifts, and encouraging everyone I know to read it. Really, really, good all the way to the end.