Memorize scripture with your iPod

Don’t let your iPod come between you and time in the Word of God. Rather put the Word of God in your iPod and in your heart. Psalm 119:11 says: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” And it doesn’t just get there unless you hear it, know it and live it.

As I’ve previously mentioned, you can download the audio version of the ESV either as a podcast or entirely to put on your iPod or MP3 player. But, also very helpful, B.C. McWhite shares at the weight of glory how you can put individual passages on your iPod to assist in scripture memory. I know I am always looking for ways to help me and my family “hide the word in our hearts,” so I am very glad to hear this tip.

Online software for filing taxes reviewed

With January past and the W-2s out, tax season is upon us. If you’re like me, you can appreciate being able to file online and save yourself some time and, hopefully, some frustration. Don Reisinger, who blogs at The Digital Home, reviews four different online tax preparation software packages in an article for C-NET — H&R Block TaxCut Online, TaxAct Online, TaxSlayer.com and  TurboTax Online.  I’ve used TaxAct for a few years now and have been very satisfied with it, but Reisinger’s article is good because it points out the strengths and weaknesses of each site and who may or may not be in interested in using each one.

Daily Bible reading plans now as podcasts

You can know download the Bible to put on your iPod or else sign up for daily reading podcasts — for free!

You can know download the Bible to put on your iPod or else sign up for daily reading podcasts — for free!

All the English Standard Version (ESV) daily reading plans are now being offered as podcasts.  Or, if you don’t want to wait for a podcast to arrive but would like to listen on your own, you can buy the ESV in a download to put on your iPod or MP3 player. Either way, you need to get into your Bible — for your own good.

God’s chief goal is not my self-esteem

As I looked at the post I linked to yesterday and the then the responses to that person’s post, I came across a warning from one person that the video and accompanying post presents a too man-centered view and is just as fallible as the medieval church and its harrassment of people like Galileo and Copernicus. Well, since we are only able to see the universe from this perspective, how else would we be able to interpret such a remarkable thing as the universe.

In one respect, yes, we are the center of God’s creation. If you look at Genesis, man was the crowning creation of his work. He made man, called it good, and then rested. But we fool ourselves greatly and risk great danger for our lives if we think that God is all about how good we feel about ourselves. I have heard people — often children, but adults as well — say that the reason God created this world or man was because he was lonely. While it sounds innocent enough, it also implies that we supply something that God was lacking and thus works to elevate us and lower God in stature.

We were not created to have our deepest joys come from ourselves through the boosting of our self-esteem. Rather, we were created to get our deepest joy from God, who created us. John Piper explains:

We are all bent to believe that we are central in the universe. How shall we be cured of this joy-destroying disease? Perhaps by hearing afresh how radically God-centered reality is according to the Bible.

Both the Old and New Testament tell us that God’s loving us is a means to our glorifying him. “Christ became a servant … in order that the nations might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:8-9). God has been merciful to us so that we would magnify him. We see it again in the words, “In love [God] destined us to adoption … to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6). In other words, the goal of God’s loving us is that we might praise him. One more illustration from Psalm 86:12-13: “I will glorify your name forever. For your lovingkindness toward me is great.” God’s love is the ground. His glory is the goal.

This is shocking. The love of God is not God’s making much of us, but God’s saving us from self-centeredness so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. And our love to others is not our making much of them, but helping them to find satisfaction in making much of God. True love aims at satisfying people in the glory of God. Any love that terminates on man is eventually destructive. It does not lead people to the only lasting joy, namely, God. Love must be God-centered, or it is not true love; it leaves people without their final hope of joy.

I agree totally with this. But it is a never-ending battle against the god of myself and my constant desire to boost my own ego for my own sake. And it is everywhere. How often have we heard that it is important to love yourself before you can love someone else? It is as if we didn’t have a natural-born love already hardwired into us. Love of myself doesn’t motivate me to love others, but love of God motivates me to love others and be much more happy as a result.

Obama calls out McCain on abortion

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! — Isaiah 5:20

The Associated Press is reporting that Barack Obama is attacking John McCain for being too adamantly pro-life:

Obama is calling out McCain in ads that say the GOP nominee takes an “extreme position on choice” and “will make abortion illegal.” He is spreading his message through low-profile radio ads and campaign mailings, though, hoping to avoid being tagged as too liberal on a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy.

The article, written by the AP’s Liz Sodoti, says that each of the candidates are dancing around perceived “extreme” views in order to woo voters. But, if you listen to the candidates, I would disagree. In fact, the only “dancing” I’ve heard this election season is Obama’s “it’s above my pay grade” and Sen. Joe Biden’s “good people disagree” statements. McCain has been clear about what he believes, and we know where Gov. Sarah Palin stands. Let’s be clear here: McCain is pro-life and has voted that way. Obama is not and has voted that way. I’m not sure what a “moderate” position on abortion is just like I’m not sure what a “moderate” position on murder is. Honestly, I will give both candidates credit for not trying to occupy that ridiculous ground.

The hard life of living with a Down syndrome child

My precious niece Amelia is popular with my two children.

My precious niece Amelia is popular with my two children and all of our family.

The Washington Post did a front-page story this past Sunday on what it’s like to live with and raise a child with Down syndrome. For those who haven’t been through it, it is an eye-opening look into what is a very difficult life.

Articles like this, of course, are being written because of the attention that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has brought to families who have Down syndrome children. These children are all around us, but, as one of the parents in the story says: “Before, kids would stare, but not adults. Everybody’s curious: ‘What’s it like to have a kid with Down syndrome?’ “

What’s it like for these families is put this way in the article:

Amelia is a blessing to all of our family and to those who meet her.

Amelia is a blessing to all of our family and to those who meet her.

They spend more time in doctors’ offices than most parents. They endure stares from strangers but feel as if they and their children are invisible. They often find themselves fighting for their kids, not just raising them. Earlier, and perhaps more dramatically, they wrestle with the complex emotions that come from knowing that a child might never fulfill the lofty dreams that a parent often envisions before the child’s birth.

But the parents of children who have Down syndrome say that raising a child with a disability can also unlock profound and uplifting truths about themselves, their children and the value of life in ways that others could never see.

In our family, we have a beautiful gift from God named Amelia. She was born with Down syndrome to my wife’s brother and his wife to join their other three children. At age 2 she is still learning to stand on her own and maybe utters a handful of words, but she is world class in drawing tenderness from anyone who encounters her. It is a hard life for her parents as she has needs that press daily on them and her family, but I don’t doubt for a second that they love her every bit as much as her older brothers and sister.

One of the parents in the Washington Post article recounts an encounter with her sister that is a cruel reminder of how many in our society think the cruelest thoughts when it comes to Down syndrome children:

“My sister looked at me and said, ‘Why didn’t you abort her?’ ” Marsili recalled. “I said, ‘What? Because we love her, and she’s my baby, and we love her!’ ‘But you knew,’ my sister said. . . . It was pretty shocking. Even people that close to me.”

It is a dangerous place we’re at when we consider killing to be a solution for children who’s abilities are diminished. If it takes someone like Sarah Palin entering the spotlight for us to expose this kind of thinking — and rebuke it — then I think it is a good thing.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

National Association for Down Syndrome

National Down Syndrome Society

HT: Wesley J. Smith

Is Joe Biden saying what he means on abortion?

Recently, on “Meet The Press,” Joe Biden said that, as a Roman Catholic, he’s “prepared to accept the teachings of the church” and that “I’m prepared as a matter of faith to say that life begins at the moment of conception.”  Yet he also says he is unwilling to impose his religion on anyone.

Gregory Koukl, at Stand to Reason, has some questions for Biden:

First question:  What, specifically, is Biden’s religiously based conviction on abortion?  Since he said in the interview that he was “prepared to accept the teachings of his church”—and he specifically confirmed his belief that human life begins at conception—then I take it he thinks abortion ends the life of an innocent human being and is therefore an act of homicide.  If not, why oppose it?

Second question:  Does Joe Biden believe that his belief is true?  Does he hold that his conviction is correct, that as a matter of fact human life actually does begin at conception and that abortion really does snuff out the life of a defenseless human person?

Koukl, who admits that his second question is really a trick question, but says he does that to bring up an important point about what passes for political discussion these days:

The reason for this question is tactical.  I’m taking away the weasel-room that this way of talking affords to duplicitous politicians. The query sets up a logical dilemma to show that the modified pro-choice view is simply political double-talk.

If Biden denies his beliefs are true, then I have no idea what he means when he says he believes anything, whether religiously motivated or otherwise.  If he doesn’t believe his beliefs are true, then what is the difference between believe and make-believe, between fantasy and reality?

But if Biden actually believes abortion truly takes the life of an innocent human being before birth in a way that is not morally distinct from killing a newborn immediately after birth, why would he not vote against such a thing?  Would it make any sense to say that as a matter of religious conviction I believe that all men are endowed with inalienable rights, but I could never impose such a personal belief on slave owners?

Here is Biden during his “Meet The Press” interview:

College survival tips

From Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds:

John Mark Reynolds has a helpful column here offering 10 tips for college students getting ready for Fall.

What follows is the barebones outline, but if the topic is of interest, you’ll want to read the whole thing.

1. Ignore advice to “remake” yourself the first day you get to college.

2. Do something each week that puts you in contact with people older and younger than your peer group.

3. If you have a decent relationship with your parents keep it up.

4. If you are going to college, then go. You are in college to learn. In America, education often includes getting a job skill, but should also be about becoming a good, civilized citizen.

5. Find a faculty mentor during your first year.

6. Take classes that are hard from full-time professors that love to teach.

7. Secretaries and support staff are overworked, underpaid, and very powerful. You should be good to them out of virtue, but you must do it to thrive. The friendship you make with the department secretary now will pay dividends over the years. (One way I judge the character of a student is by how they treat the support staff.)

8. Books are not yet antiques. Go to the library. Talk to librarians. They are faculty members that are often under-utilized.

9. Don’t be too quick to pick a major, but try to do so by the end of the first year.

10. Live like an adult in college which includes moderating your passions.

Allyson Felix runs for the glory of God at the Olympics

Allyson Felix takes a handoff from Mary Wineberg on the second leg of the Olympic women's 1,600 relay. The U.S. women won in 3:18.54.

One of my favorite all-time movies is Chariots of Fire. I love it when Eric Liddell tells his sister that when he runs he feels God smiling on him. It sounds so self-centered, but the point is that Liddell is running for God’s glory, not his own. And that is a good way to look at sports or any other interest that we may pursue. It is because God has blessed us with a talent we should do it our best for His sake, not ours.

All of that brings me to the recent Olympic games in Beijing, China, where many athletes did many outstanding things. I am sure that there were many who understood that the talents that got them to China were bestowed by a great God on humble human beings. One of those great athletes is Allyson Felix of the United States. Felix, who is a sprinter, won a gold in the 1,600 relay and a silver in the 200. She was disappointed in her performance in the 200, where she was the reigning world champion, but she didn’t let that stop her from giving her all in the relay.

In a feature segment run during the games, she is clear about where her heart is. Clink on the image below for the video:

And, to remember  a truly great Olympic athlete and a dedicated servant of God: