Friday, July 31, 2009

We played Psychiatrist tonight

If you've played "Psychiatrist" before these will make more sense. Here are a few of the best quotes from the game, in no particular order.

Patient (trying to help the Psychiatrist) "What would cause your hair to change color?" Psychiatrist, "Do you drink too much?"

Patient (discussing what our "problem" should be), "We could all be the Platonic ideal of a living yo-yo!"

Patients, "We're all phone numbers."

Patient, "I'm an integral!"

Psychiatrist, "Is this a medically classified condition?"

Psychiatrist, "Why am I even asking you questions?"

Psychiatrist, "Are you the Federal Register?"

From my journal

I found this in my journal from about a year ago. It seems we had recently entered some stuff into competitions at the fair, so with that for context:
"Katrina was sitting by me this afternoon, and commented on how much she loves me. 'You’re almost my best big brother.' Really, what does it mean to be almost the best? 'Well, you’re first place, but Christopher is Best of Show.'"

Tip for viewing pictures on my blog

I've found with my browser that, when I click on an image to view it larger, it displays the image smaller than it was before! So my recommendation is to right click and select "View Image." It should display full size.

City Views

Looking down Charles St. toward the Park Place Church.

Across from the hotel, next to Stuart St.

Valet parking, and seafood... :)

On Stuart St.

Don't remember the names of these streets. I think one is Stuart St., but the important part is the iPod Touch ad.

The Smith and Wollensky "castle."

The hotel entrance next to the valet parking.

First Day in Boston

Tuesday (June 30) was our first full day in Boston, which meant it was our first and only chance to begin finding our way around the city (in car and on foot), before the Reformation 500 began.

Bob showing us John Winthrop's grave

The grave of John Hancock

A typical Boston intersection. That pink thing is called a "Duck Boat." Passengers enjoy a tour of the city, and of the Charles river in the same vehicle (it's amphibious).

A statue of Ben Franklin in front of the Old State House

The previous evening (June 29) we flew into Logan Airport and immediately after loading up our luggage into the rental van, Josh said, "alright Ben, you're driving!" This made me very nervous. First of all you have to realize that I hate driving downtown (anywhere!), and secondly I hadn't driven a 15-passenger van for quite a few months.

And, after all, this is Boston. People don't drive normal here. Regardless of the size of his vehicle, the Bostonian will do absolutely whatever it takes to get where he's trying to go, even if that means picking a fight with a vehicle three times his size. It's kind of like a wolverine facing off with a Kodiac Grizzly.

What's worse, Boston is one of those old "cow trail" cities. The streets just don't make any sense! Once you leave the safety zone around the Boston Commons, you have entered dangerous waters. One way streets don't alternate like you'd expect - many times they all go THE SAME DIRECTION! By now you're probably asking, "why don't you use a map?" or "where's your GPS?" Well, GPS is not a great solution in Boston, because it doesn't get very good reception due to the tall buildings, and it's easily confused by the one way streets and the spontaneous food and craft markets which will often block off an entire street. The driver has to remain very confident and cool in order to rationally compensate for the GPS' deficiencies, and still find the way to his destination. As for maps - you can't consult a map while you're driving because you will probably hit a pedestrian or cream the car in front of you, and you can't pull over because, well, you just can't pull over.

I could recount a number of personal stories about driving in Boston, but most of those will never be published. Just be warned, if you want to visit Boston, plan to GO ON FOOT (or take a cab), unless you like getting lost for an hour 1.5 miles from your hotel, pay a king's ransom on toll roads when you do get lost, and risk missing out on some of the best historical sites on the east coast because your van is stuck in a lonely, dark kuldesack with barely any room to turn around (don't ask...).

Other than that, Boston is great!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Boston at night

The first night we went exploring around the hotel, the Boston Gardens and Commons and some of the surrounding streets. These photos (shot without a tripod unfortunately) give you a sense of Boston at night. You want to go out prepared (i.e. running across a group of sleeping homeless people out by the swan boats in the Boston Gardens can be somewhat unsettling) but it's amazing to see the city all lit up.

An apartment complex right across from the hotel

One side of the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.

The BPPH is shaped like a big slice of pie, bordered on one side by Stuart St. and on the other by Arlington St.

Some other buildings viewed from the Gardens.

The "rotunda" building in the center of the Boston Commons. Oh, and Noah, Joseph and Tyler too (left to right).

Joseph looking contemplative. He said he was going for the "album art" look. Except you don't often see album art where the artist is scratching his head...

Noah scrutinizing his maps. "Boy, this place is messed up..."

"...but I'm ready for anything!" And he was.

Lights and trees.

Three VF interns perched comfortably in the Boston Commons. A rare species.

A baseball field. Apparently a big deal in Boston.

Charles St. runs directly between the Commons and the Gardens, but I can't remember which side this shot was taken from. I just liked the gate and the lighting I guess.

Grabbing a bite to eat in Boston

There was a convenient food court one block from the Boston Park Plaza hotel (where the Reformation 500 event was held), so I stopped in there for dinner on occasion. It was one of the more unusual food courts I've seen in my day, with a very tall ceiling, lots of glass and modern sculpture dangling over our heads. And it seemed really empty all the time, even during peak meal hours.

They had two Chinese restaurants, a grilled sandwich place, two pizza kitchens, and a Dunkin' Donuts among other things. The Chinese food grabbed my eye, so I ordered some of their pork and fried rice, and when Tyler and Noah saw what I had ordered they both said, "Give me the same thing you gave him." I guess they trust me when it comes to food!

I tried to capture everything in this shot - the hungry intern (Noah), his anxiously-awaited meal, oversized soda, and the restaurant which we patronized that evening.

More images on the way!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

First glimpse of Boston

Tyler loved it. He kept saying, "I really like this city, this is great." More posts and images on the way soon.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Have you ever wished you could listen to a free sermon or two in your spare time? Well, you can. In fact you can download any of the 261,000 sermons hosted by, from great speakers and preachers like Voddie Baucham, Ken Ham, Kevin Swanson, Paul Washer, or Timothy George.

I listened recently to two sermons which were very convicting and helpful.

A Biblical Husband (and Prayer) - Paul Washer

A Dagger or a Kiss - Kevin Swanson

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Be Faithful until Death"

Recently I got a used copy of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, and as I read it I keep asking myself the same question, "Would I be willing to die for my faith?" It's a sobering question, but I wish more people would ask it. You wonder why we have such mediocrity in American evangelicalism today - people have never read about the men, women and children who preffered to face the jaws of lions, the terror of the flames, and the horrors of the rack, rather than surrender their allegience to Christ. These people really understood what it meant to lay down their lives for the Lord. For them, it wasn't just some pietistic ritual to serve Christ, it was the heart and soul of their very existence! And for their faith they were slaughtered in the most unimaginable ways to satiate the madness of men - but they inherited an everlasting reward. Are we willing to do the same?

The following are two slightly abridged accounts of men who suffered martyrdom under the Roman emperors.

Under the reign of the emperor Valerian, A. D. 257
Let us draw near to the fire of martyred Lawrence, that our cold hearts may be warmed thereby. The merciless tyrant, understanding him to be not only a minister of the sacraments, but a distributor also of the Church riches, promised to himself a double prey, by the apprehension of one soul. First, with the rake of avarice to scrape to himself the treasure of poor Christians; then with the fiery fork of tyranny, so to toss and turmoil them, that they should wax weary of their profession. With furious face and cruel countenance, the greedy wolf demanded where this Lawrence had bestowed the substance of the Church: who, craving three days' respite, promised to declare where the treasure might be had. In the meantime, he caused a good number of poor Christians to be congregated. So, when the day of his answer was come, the persecutor strictly charged him to stand to his promise. Then valient Lawrence, stretching out his arms over the poor, said: "These are the precious treasure of the Church; these are the treasure indeed, in whom the faith of Christ reigneth...What greater riches can Christ our Master possess, than the poor people in whom He loveth to be seen?"

O, what tongue is able to express the fury and madness of the tyrant's heart! Now he stamped, he stared, he ramped, he fared as one out of his wits: his eyes like fire glowed, his mouth like a boar foamed, his teeth like a hellhound grinned. Now, not a reasonable man, but a roaring lion, he might be called.

"Kindle the fire (he cried) - of wood make no spare. Hath this villain deluded the emperor? Away with him, away with him: whip him with scourges, jerk him with rods, buffet him with fists, brain him with clubs. Jesteth the traitor with the emperor? Pinch him with fiery tongs, gird him with burning plates, bring out the strongest chains, and the fire-forks, and the grated bed of iron...on pain of our highest displeasure do every man his office, O ye tormentors."

The word was no sooner spoken, but all was done. After many cruel handlings, this meek lamb was laid, I will not say on his fiery bed of iron, but on his soft bed of down. So mightily God wrought with his martyr Lawrence, so miraculously God tempered His element the fire; that it became not a bed of consuming pain, but a pallet of nourishing rest.

Under the reign of the emperor Diocletian, A. D. 303
St. George was born in Cappadocia, of Christian parents; and giving proofs of his courage, was promoted in the army of the emperor Diocletian. During the persecution, St. George threw up his command, went boldly to the senate house, and avowed his being a Christian, taking occasion at the same time to remonstrate against paganism, and point out the absurdity of worshipping idols. This freedom so greatly provoked the senate that St. George was order to be tortured, and by the emperor's orders was dragged through the streets, and beheaded the next day.

The legend of the dragon, which is associated with this martyr, is usually illustrated by representing St. George seating upon a charging horse and transfixing the monster with his spear. This fiery dragon symbolizes the devil, who was vanquished by St. George's steadfast faith in Christ, which remained unshaken in spite of torture and death.

These are not pleasant things to think about, but THIS IS OUR HERITAGE. We need to consider their examples and allow their stalwart faith and courage be the proverbial "slap in the face" to awaken us from spiritual laziness, and energize us toward a renewed zeal for Christ.

Men and women perished because they read the Scriptures and believed them. How is it that we can't seem to find time to even read the Bible? I think the reason lies in the fact that far too many Christians (myself included) fail to heed the warning of Deuteronomy 6:
"Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." [Emphasis added]
Many of us didn't have to shed blood for our freedom, so we tend to take it for granted. We didn't have to lay down our lives for the sake of the Gospel, so we value it very lightly. Bibles are readily accessible, available in any book store for only a few dollars, so we place a dollar value on the Word of God.

But consider the price! Read about the men and women who endured unthinkable torture because they owned a copy of the Scriptures, because they preached against idolatry. THEY PAID THE ULTIMATE PRICE! So get a copy of Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Know their stories. Tell others. And most importantly, live for Christ, come what may!
"The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Romans 8:16-18
"For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake." Philemon 1:29

"Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 2:3

"For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God." 1 Peter 2:20

"But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED...For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong." 1 Peter 3:14, 17

"Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right." 1 Peter 4:19

"Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2:10

OK, so it's been FOREVER

And I'm finally back. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activities--combine that with a loaded schedule, a broken backup hard-drive and no room on my computer for new photos, and you have a necessary hiatus from the blogosphere.

But I'm back, and you can expect me to post. No really, you can! In fact I'm writing a bunch of things this evening which I will post throughout the week. And check my other blogs too! So much has happened lately and I want to tell y'all about it!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Some More Food

Stir Fry

Lemon Oregano Chicken

Honey-Garlic Chicken with Barbecued Potatoes and Broccoli

Honey-Garlic Wings

Bean Boy

Focusing On Things Of Ultimate Importance

Most people struggle with the fundamental questions of life: "Why am I here? What is my purpose?" But too often we leave those questions unanswered (or merely assent to certain answers without deeper consideration) for more immediate, temporal concerns. We are so easily distracted by the cares of this life, and the decisions that WE need to make, that we take our eyes off God and the salvation He provided through His Son, and begin to wander without purpose, taking it one day at a time. But ultimately, life isn’t about what car we purchase, or the recognition we gain - our lives are not our own. Why? Because we have been bought with a price, a sacrifice so costly that we can’t fully comprehend it. And yet, we like sheep are led astray, and live lives that proclaim how little we value the Gospel, how cheaply we hold Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and how infrequently we reflect on whom we are to serve.

Ultimately, this life isn’t about us. It is God who created us, "not we ourselves. We are the sheep of His pasture." Did He create man to simply be happy and enjoy himself? No. The chief end of man is love God and enjoy HIM forever (not to love and enjoy ourselves). Were we capable of pulling ourselves out the mire of sin by our own will and power? Absolutely not. We contributed nothing to our creation or redemption, except resistance to God’s overwhelming grace. Isn’t it amazing that, "God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall have eternal life?" Or is it simply taken for granted today? Is the Gospel something you need to "get saved" but can afterward put on the shelf when you get to living the Christian life? This is how many Christians see it today. God saved me and now I can move on to the rest of my life. Sad.

Paul and the other apostles maintained a constant focus on the cross of Christ. It was their life, their strength, and their driving motivation, whereas we like to ascribe to "Christianity" and then keep living for ourselves. Modern Christians don’t seem to be "cut to the heart" when they hear the Gospel (perhaps because the Gospel is not often preached in it’s full glory and depth, especially not to the saved) It’s the mechanism of salvation but not the heart and soul of the Christian life. These are the people that so quickly take their eye off the eternal and fix it on the temporal.

Mankind is afflicted with the sin of ungratefulness, and we see this fact illustrated in it’s ugliest form when Christians don’t have a profound thankfulness and gratitude to God for the salvation He has provided in Christ. Thanksgiving isn’t just something we celebrate once a year - it’s a lifestyle. The Christian must keep his eyes fixed on the cross to understand just how sinful he is and how merciful God is. A superficial Christian thinks he has it all together, while a true believer is broken and humble.

The cross isn’t merely a catchword or some pendant that we hang around our neck. It is the shining symbol of who we were as sinners, who God is and what He requires of us, and who we now are in Christ because He fulfilled those demands for us. A line in the hymn "Ah, Holy Jesus" passionately sums it up. It says, "Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee. 'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; I crucified thee!" The Christian who lives his life in the shadow of the cross, with a heart tender toward God has the right focus. He won’t get bogged down in the concerns of here and now. He will live confidently and thankfully, trusting in the Providence and love of Almighty God to direct his ways. Musically, it might be expressed this way: the Christian life isn't primarily about each note, sequence or phrase - it is a broad composition designed to bring God the glory as it is played out. He composed it, He knows it’s intricacies and difficulties, but He will resolve everything for His own honor and glory.