December 2007

29 Dec 2007

Comments are open: Has anyone had experience with free audio conferencing services like Powwownow? There are others like this, this, and this.

We tried a test on Powwownow and it worked fine and was as easy to use as the instructions said: call the number and put in a PIN. No memberships, no fees. All participants pay is the long-distance charge, which is basically free for those on cell phone plans or those of us who get unlimited (free) long distance via cable phone service. We’ll check our phone bills in a few days to make sure there’s no funny business. The area code is from Iowa, so it’s not a “toll” code.

It seems too good to be true, but if it’s “for real” there are endless possibilities since these services allow you to talk to 50+ people at once. You could talk to your entire family at one time, you could have a weekly prayer meeting with long-distance friends, etc.

Those of you with blogs of your own who are sufficiently intrigued by this may want to ask your readers if they have experience with these services. I couldn’t find much online in the way of independent reviews of them.

28 Dec 2007

No one prays for anything deeply who has not been deeply alarmed. -Martin Luther

26 Dec 2007

For any who are job searching over a Christmas break, this Sproul anecdote may be of help. This is the way we are to make decisions in all “gray areas.”

After declining the invitation to teach at [a merged] seminary, I was without a job and had no prospects. It was a frightening situation. My wife and I prayed seriously for God’s providential guidance for our family. I had some Christian friends who were aware of our struggle and our desire to be where God wanted us to be. While we looked at job possibilities, some of those friends told me in all earnestness that God had revealed to them that I should take job number one. Another advised me to take job number two. I received five different reports as to where God desired me to be employed. Finally I pointed out that unless God wanted me to work in five different cities at the same time, some of my friends were not being led by the Holy Spirit. As it turned out, I took a sixth job offer, about which none of my friends had had a private revelation. I made the decision by following scriptural principles, soberly analyzing my gifts and talents and the needs and opportunities available. [my emphasis] -R.C. Sproul, from Truths We Confess, p. 18

18 Dec 2007

We have been told that we have to make the Church attractive to the man outside, and the idea is to become as much like him as we can. There were certain popular padres during the first world war who mixed with their men, and smoked with them, and did this, that, and the other with them, in order to encourage them. Some people thought that, as a result, when the war was over, the ex-servicemen would be crowding into the churches. Yet it did not happen, and it never has happened that way. The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. That is how revival comes. That must also be true of us as individuals. It should not be our ambition to be as much like everybody else as we can, though we happen to be Christian, but rather to be as different from everybody who is not a Christian as we can possibly be. Our ambition should be to be like Christ, the more like Him the better, and the more like Him we become, the more we shall be unlike everybody who is not a Christian. -Martyn Lloyd Jones

11 Dec 2007

My sister called awhile back and said hey, my daughter and I have been talking. “About what?” “About how we’d like you to support us.” And I replied, “Well, I’ve been sitting around trying to figure out how to get paid without doing anything.”

All right, that was not edifying. But it goes to show you that some people hate their jobs, most tolerate them to some extent, but not many love what they’re doing. Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend, as the song goes. That’s reality for most people. I’ve asked many fellow workers if they’d do their job if they won the lottery (yes, the lottery is a tax on the stupid, but work with me here, people) and the answer is nearly always a quick laugh and a “no.” It’s not necessarily that people don’t want to work. They’re the same folks who spend all night working on things that make them no money. They just don’t want to do whatever they’re being paid to do.

Do you love Friday night and dread Sunday night? Check. Been looking forward to that one-week vacation for the last two months? Check. Do you sometimes dread going to work? Check. Do you sit around and think, how am I going to do this job 10 years from now? Check. On Tuesday night, are you thinking, well, tomorrow is hump day, only three more days until the weekend? Check. Do you think your job lacks meaning? Check. If you’re a Christian, do you think man, I’m not in the game– The pastor and the missionary is out making things happen, and I’m over here on the sidelines tripping over the water cooler? Uhh… Check.

If you answered yes to a lot of those, go listen to this White Horse Inn broadcast. It may be like an electrical shock.

07 Dec 2007

If I had to pick a favorite Christmas CD, I’d go with Sinatra’s Jolly Christmas. This classic was recorded during his 1950s peak.

Sinatra’s version of Jingle Bells is the definitive one. The harmless if childish ditty just never sounds the same once you hear Frank’s version. Judy Garland did the definitive Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, but Frank’s comes close. Then there’s one of my favorite (secular) songs, the splendid Christmas Waltz. Frank does two versions. The Nelson Riddle arrangement is OK, but the Gordon Jenkins effort is sublime. It’s one of the few times an arranger ever bested Mr. Riddle.

Perhaps most surprising about Jolly Christmas is just how good the sacred songs are. Oft-heard hymns like The First Noel and O Little Town of Bethlehem are moving and dignified. The arrangements are fantastic.

What’s your favorite Christmas CD?

03 Dec 2007

Recently I come across some old reruns of Let’s Make a Deal, the 60s and 70s game show where Monty Hall offered prize deals to a costumed studio audience. I remember wishing that I was in that ooh-ing and aah-ing group, competing for the wonderful merchandise.

The enjoyment of watching the shows now, 35 years removed, is that the prizes are so shabby and unappealing: A station wagon, a $400 encyclopedia set, nasty-looking furniture and carpeting, a camper, a refrigerator with an AM/FM dial, an 8-track unit, a 19″ tube TV. That which was new now looks so old. Once coveted, these items now litter junkyards across America. Doesn’t the same fate await the things in today’s Christmas ads?

Only Christ remains valuable and worthy.