dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish


2007: The Year That Was

A few reflections on this past year.

Favorite class:
Tough choice. I took a lot of good classes, but none stand out. I'd probably choose Thermodynamics, with Dynamics coming in a close second.

Longest time spent studying for a single test:
Actually, I'm not sure. Probably my first Thermodynamics test, at 6+ hours.

Number of nightmares about final exams:
One. I dreamed I got a 70 on my Thermo final--several days after I took it. Why do these dreams always happen after the fact? Weird.

Best memories from an event:
I'll have to give two. The first was a Saturday spent with my younger brother and two of my younger sisters. In the middle of a crazy, non-stop summer, we spent the afternoon playing miniature golf, eating pizza, and fighting with giant foam swords we found at. . . um, I'll just make that another topic. . .

One thing most people wouldn't guess about me:
Toys R Us is still my favorite store. I still love good toys and games, even if it is harder to get carried away in the world of imagination. Toys R Us has it all: sports equipment, boardgames, legos, nerf guns--I could go on. The point is, just going in there and looking around makes me feel like a kid again, especially if I am actually with kids.

Best memories from an event (continued):
Back to Memory #2. Watching the parents and teens at my church put together a 30 minute production of A Christmas Carol with just 30 minutes of preparation. Getting to play Jacob Marley was a lot of fun, too.

Best memories from life in general:
Random, hilarious moments with my family that, frankly, can't be described--not that anyone outside the family would necessarily understand anyway. Wait, I said that last year. Oh well. No reason it had to change.

Book that impacted me the most (after the Bible):
The God Who Is There, by Francis Schaeffer. Although I read a lot of other good books this year, this was an easy choice.

Song that impacted me the most:
Let Your Kingdom Come. If you haven't heard it, take a couple minutes to at least read the lyrics.

Doctrine that impacted me the most:
The eternality of God. Take a minute to stop to ponder verses such as Revelation 1:8 and Revelation 22:13. Having had a beginning, it's impossible for my mind to grasp the fullness of what it means that He is the beginning. Remembering that He is the Alpha and the Omega also tends to put this short life into perspective.

Strangest thing I learned about blogging:
It's a very mood-dependent thing. I can have something I want to write, but still not really want to sit down to write it. (This could be said about writing in general; in which case, it wouldn't be something new I learned. It's still frustrating, though.)

Strangest thing that happened to me:
Last summer, my eye was sunburned.

Realization that needs to bring change:
I still don't pray enough.

Realization that doesn't need to bring change:
I might not be like most engineers, but mechanical engineering still might be the best fit for me. (Looking back at last year's post, I'm reminded that I still haven't changed my haircut, but I needed something more interesting.)

A sobering realization about a choice made when I was younger:
In August I went to The Clash, a Christian worldview conference. I lived on the Messiah College campus for a week. At $550, it was expensive, still not as expensive as the average weekly cost of attending a private college. I'm thankful for The University of Akron.

A sobering realization that comes with growing older:
Money might come in faster, but it goes out a lot faster, too.

Share a few reflections of your own in the comments section.



Book Review: The Cross of Christ

I've heard John Stott's The Cross of Christ recommended more times than I can remember. Now, having read it, I can say that it is so frequently recommended for good reason. The dilemma I now face pertains to how I am going to review it. I've come to the realization that including too much in a book review is likely to cause it to be skipped over, rather than making the recommendation more convincing. For that reason, I'll give a quick overview of the book, highlighting a couple the chapters that impacted me the most.

The Cross of Christ is divided into four sections. The first three chapters serve as an introduction. Stott begins by examining the centrality of the cross in New Testament theology, then addresses the age-old question, Why Did Jesus Die? The opening section concludes with an examination of the following question: "What was there about the crucifixion of Jesus which, in spite of its horror, shame and pain, makes it so important that God planned it in advance and Christ came to endure it?"

The second portion of The Cross of Christ covers the necessity of Christ's substitutionary death for the forgiveness of sins, from the gravity of sin and human moral responsibility, to the holiness and righteous wrath of God. In chapter five, Stott covers several historical perspectives on what it means that Christ's death provided "Satisfaction for Sin." Various theologians over the centuries have argued that Christ had to pay a ransom price to the Devil, or that the Law itself had to be satisfied in a mechanistic sense, or even that God's honor and justice must be defended. Stott stresses, however, that "Satisfaction is an appropriate word, providing we realize that it is [God] himself in his inner being who needs to be satisfied, and not something external to himself." I found this chapter to be especially well written, having seen how easy it is, especially in evangelistic conversations, to misrepresent the necessity of Christ's substitutionary death by trying to fit too neat of an analogy with a judge's responsibility to punish an offender of a civil law (which exists independently, and under which the judge himself must live).

Another theme in this section, which I have neither the space nor the ability to sufficiently recap for this review, is the crucial importance of the fact that it was God in Christ, fully God and fully man, who came as our substitute.

The third section of the book covers "the achievement of the cross," with chapters focusing on salvation, God's self-revelation, and the conquest of evil. These chapters are ones which I plan on returning to often for review. As an example, chapter seven, (which I have referenced in a previous post), provides a thoughtful examination of four words which together illustrate what the Bible means when it speaks of our salvation: propitiation, redemption, justification, and reconciliation. While we may be able to roughly define these words, looking at their full Biblical significance is well worth the time.

The fourth and final section of The Cross of Christ pertains to our response, as Christians, to the doctrines examined in the rest of the book. Topics range from contrasting Protestant and Catholic perspectives on what it means for us to sacrifice (in light of Christ's atoning sacrifice), to a Biblical understanding of the meaning of self-denial and self-acceptance.

The aspect of The Cross of Christ that I most appreciate is the combination of scholarly insight and genuine pastoral care with which Stott writes. Stott provides historical perspectives and careful Scriptural exegesis, but he also writes as a man who firmly believes in the One he writes about.

Rating: Highly Recommended



In Three Days. . .

. . . finals will be over. It's been months since I've read a good fiction book. Any suggestions?



Unexpected Means of Grace

I would like to think that I could be more disciplined through sheer resolve. I'm learning, however, that God often uses increased responsibilities to bring about greater discipline in my life.

For several years, I have desired to operate on an "earlier schedule." Rather than staying up until the early morning hours and sleeping as late as the day's responsibilities would allow, I have wanted--and tried and failed, multiple times--to be more disciplined in this area, especially so that I could begin each day in the Word. Of course, merely setting my alarm earlier would not be effective if I did not also adjust my schedule the evening before. For days or even weeks I might succeed, but then, one way or another. . . late nights and the sleep button.

But a strange thing happened this summer. I got a job, and the job had a thirty-five mile commute. In order to shower, eat breakfast, pack a lunch, and leave for work by 6:45, I had to set my alarm for 6:00. This did not provide much (any) flexibility. From mid-May through August (minus a few trips), Monday through Friday, I had to wake up at six. This, of course, provided plenty of motivation for retiring earlier the night before.

By the time the fall school semester began, I had been doing this for longer than ever before. By God's grace, I was able to continue. Now with finals week ahead, and fifteen weeks of classes behind, I've risen by 6:30 all but two school mornings. For some of you, this may seem like nothing. Perhaps you've been getting up at 5:30 each morning for the past ten years. But for me, this is exciting. Reading my Bible before a dozen other things are on my mind is fruitful, and helps to transform my outlook on the day's responsibilities.

Of course, there's still a lot of room for more discipline. It's difficult to retire early on Friday and Saturday evenings. And Christmas break will be a test: with no job and no school for three weeks, it will be tempting to set the alarm back. But sitting down with my Bible in the early morning has become my favorite part of the day; I hope that, by God's grace, it will continue to be.

What similar experiences have you had? How had God used increasing responsibilities on your life as a means of grace?



December's Quote to Ponder

"[T]he essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man."
--John R.W. Stott, The Cross of Christ