May 30, 2016

Commonplace Monday #36

"After a while he pulled a sigh that would have fed a blacksmith's bellows all afternoon."  -Archie Gordon in Rex Stout's, "Fer-De-Lance", pg 197



Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

May 26, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Created in our image.

Throwback Thursday is a series of posts, wherein I will on (some) Thursdays post a piece of writing from back in the day. Generally not from this blog. I will edit lightly for readability, but my intention is to allow each piece to stand basically as written. Over the years my mind has shifted on many things, as my knowledge of life, the Scriptures, and myself has grown. I'm not in the business of hiding this fact, so these will probably (at least on occasion) contain some things which even I think are crazy.

Originally posted on Facebook on November 3, 2009 at 2:55pm
"Man created God in his own image: angry, bigoted, and hateful." So said a bumper sticker I saw the other day. (The exact wording may have differed, but that was the gist of it.) And when at first I saw it, I was slightly taken back by it, but just brushed it off as a stupid atheist attempt to minimalize God, and put down Christians. Which of course it was. But later in the day as I sat in Mars Hill church listening to Mark Driscoll preach, he got onto the topic of Greek gods and mythology, and their contrast with the God of the Bible. And my mind went back to the bumper sticker. This foolish attempt to mock God was unwittingly speaking a profound truth.

When we look around the world at pagan religions we see a great deal of judgmental gods, gods whose favor must be bought, or whose anger must be appeased. All the gods that we make for ourselves are selfish, egotistical beings, limited just as we are. No true grace, mercy, or kindness. Everything must be earned. Do enough good, give enough money, make the right sacrifice, help the poor.

But our God demands none of that. In fact, instead of demanding us to get better before He'll accept us, He sent His one and only Son (John 3:16). Jesus came and humbly lowered himself, and walked on earth with us. Then He went and died a horrific death (Philippians 2:8), paying the penalty for our sins. But He didn't stop at paying the penalty, because after three days He rose and conquered sin and death, and offers eternal life freely to those who ask (1 John 1:9). No strings attached.

This great and almighty God graciously saves us from our own sin and filth, and yet we try to replace Him with idols who are so much less...gods created in our own image.

May 23, 2016

Commonplace Monday #35

"We have to murder perfectionism...90% perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100% perfect and stuck in your head."  -Jon Acuff, Quitter, pg 62



Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

May 19, 2016

Reading With Your Kids

This is a somewhat overdue follow-up to my post on Speaking With Your Kids.

A while back, my children and I finished reading through The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne (you can see my mini-review here). While there were things all throughout the book that struck me, this interchange near the end of the final chapter snagged my attention like a flashing red light:
So they began going there, and after they had walked a little way Christopher Robin said: 
"What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?" 
 "Well," said Pooh,"what I like best----" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
What is that called? The thing which brought this particular exchange to my attention was the fact that what Milne, through the honey-stained lips of Pooh, describes is the experience C.S. Lewis would refer to as Joy in his autobiography Surprised by Joy, some 27 years later. The stabbing sense of happiness or satisfaction that comes from the anticipation of a pleasure without or prior to the experience itself. And here is Milne writing about it in a children's book about a boy and his stuffed bear. This sort of thoughtfulness and insight is not uncommon from Milne (see here, and here).

These sort of children's books do exist. Places like the 100 Acre Wood, Narnia, The Lonely Mountain, and Mr. McGregor's garden hold a world of wonderful enjoyment and learning for our children. Leaning about the real world of thoughts, emotions, sin, salvation, courage, cowardice, and on and on.

This isn't any great secret, at least I don't think it is. And yet we still, as parents, fall into three pitfalls, which I shall address in turn.

1) Thinking movies and the television are good for our kids.

I'm not a radical anti-TV type. At least not yet. But I do have serious doubts as to any benefit that will be gained from watching movies or television shows. Screens are a completely unidirectional form of communication; they involve no true engagement or interaction from the viewer. We simply receive whatever the writer, director, producer, etc have determined we are to receive. Sometimes that's good, often it's not. But even when it is good, we have not participated in the same way we do with Edmund when he betrays his siblings or is restored by Aslan. It's a lot harder to see through the animation to grasp that Eeyore isn't actually a sad donkey, he's gloomy person, the sort that will suck the life out of any party if you let them. You are (I hope) actively evaluating these words as you read them. The same is rarely true of what we see coming through the tube (as anachronistic as that term may be).

2) Not reading to our kids.

I may not be (completely) anti-TV, but I am anti non-reading. If you don't read to your kids I'm tempted to say you should be drawn and quartered, but that probably wouldn't solve the problem, so let me offer some advice to you: parents who love their children hug them, spank them, and read to them. Beyond all of evidence which supports reading to your children for the sake of their intellectual well-being, I think there is something profoundly important about the kind of focused attention you are giving a child as they sit on your lap listening to you read. You are both engaged together in this common activity of Progressing with Pilgrim, Adventuring with Bilbo, or Colleting Nuts with Timmy Tiptoes. Your kids need you, and reading to them is an important way that you can give yourself to them.

3) Reading the wrong books.

This one is tricky. For a number of reasons. First, as the Preacher in Ecclesiastes says, of the making of many books, there is no end. People are always making new books. And to be quite frank, most of them aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Second, just as marshmallows aren't always bad, so My Little Pony and Disney princess books aren't always bad. But when that's all you consume, things aren't going to go so well for you. The muscle of you mind, the strength of your imagination, and the health of your vocabulary will suffer. I have purposely made reference to a number of books that I do consider valuable, and I think reading such things is of utmost importance, especially as our children get older. So while I'm not suggesting you make the books based off of cartoons disappear, I would suggest picking up some Beatrix Potter and working in more of that. S'mores are good now and again, but better to serve up meat and potatoes for dinner.


In summary, make a habit of reading with your kids. If they're little, you're at an ideal time to start. If they're older, it's never too late. Some of my fondest memories growing up, even into my teen years, are of sitting around as a family listening to my Mom read books, such as, In the Heart of the Rockies. Don't know where to start? Here are few Dole family favorites:

Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne

Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter (and all the other tales, as well)

Hello Ninja, ND Wilson

Love and Kisses, Sarah Wilson

The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones

Good Night, Gorilla, Peggy Rathmann

These books obviously reflect the young age of our children. As they age, we plan to incorporate more CS Lewis, ND Wilson (his YA books), JRR Tolkien, GA Henty, John Bunyan, RL Stevenson, etc.

You'll also notice that many of those links take you to Kindle versions. I'm a pretty hardcore hardcopy guy (another post for another time), but I realize that building a library, even of children's books, is an expensive business. Electronic versions are certainly cheaper, even if the aren't as wholesome, healthy, or awesome. Just read, man. Just read.




May 18, 2016

Christopher Hitchens vs Douglas Wilson debate





This debate is from 2008, but still interesting today. I am obviously, as a Trinitarian Theist, partial to Wilson's position; but I have always found Christopher Hitchens to be a fantastic personality, a capable debater, and a fascinating individual.



I think debates are an interesting thing. I doubt many minds are ever changed by them. But to hear a capable doubter such as Hitchens attack the things which I believe seems to sharpen my own thinking, cause me to consider how others process the world, and hopefully both inform my belief and shape my witness.

May 16, 2016

Commonplace Monday #34

"Good art clearly conveys the intended message."  -Karey Stivers




Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

May 12, 2016

#StampOutHunger

As many of my blog readers will be aware, my day job is carrying mail for the United States Postal Service. My official job title is Letter Carrier, and as such, I am a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers. Considering that I grew up in a right-to-work state with a lot of deep-seated prejudices against unions, joining one was a big step out of my comfort zone. I'm pretty used to it now, though, and am quite thankful for the work my union and other unions do to protect worker rights.

One of the things the NALC does each year is hold the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. This one day food drive, this year to be held on Saturday, May 14th, is the largest single-day food drive in the country. Last year we collected about 71 million pounds of food, and over the previous 23 years we have collected over 1.4 Billion pounds of food. All of this food stays in the area where it was collected, serving those local individuals and families in need.

Letter carriers across the nation are requesting that each household leave a bag of non-perishable food items (such as peanut butter, canned tuna, rice, etc.) near their mail-box for carriers to collect as we walk our routes on Saturday. This food will then be taken to a local food bank or food pantry, to help re-stock shelves at a critical time of year.

Many folks think of donating food around the holidays, but coming out of winter and heading toward summer is a time when many food distribution centers are depleted and need an extra boost. We are hoping to provide that, and with your help we can make steps to help #StampOutHunger in America.



Throwback Thursday: A few thoughts on God and us.

Throwback Thursday is a series of posts, wherein I will on (some) Thursdays post a piece of writing from back in the day. Generally not from this blog. I will edit lightly for readability, but my intention is to allow each piece to stand basically as written. Over the years my mind has shifted on many things, as my knowledge of life, the Scriptures, and myself has grown. I'm not in the business of hiding this fact, so these will probably (at least on occasion) contain some things which even I think are crazy.

Originally Posted on Facebook as, "A few thoughts on God and us." November 12, 2009 at 2:24am


So this is mostly just writing to myself...but honestly most of what I write is, I comprehend and process better if I have to put things into words. So I shall attempt to share the lesson God has been teaching me of late. The subject is holiness.

We shall start with our premise that we, by nature, are sinners condemned to hell. We are condemned to hell because God is holy and perfect and cannot tolerate sin. But because in addition to His holiness and justice, God is also loving and merciful, He offers His son Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sin, and faith in the redeeming work of Christ is the only way to heaven. Once we have by faith accepted that covering for our sin, we are promised a place in heaven. And we are called to be saints...which is where the fun begins...

Like I said, this is something that I have struggled a lot with lately. Mostly because I love my sin. Sin is quite often fun. I mean, some of it isn't, and then there are consequences you have to deal with afterwards...but lets be honest, if there wasn't some enjoyable quality to most sin, wouldn't everyone be perfect? And so, I have been trying to walk sideways on the slippery slope of sinning whilst trying to maintain my relationship with Christ. Some people call this walking the fence, but I like the slope analogy better, just because it makes it obvious that it will all lead in one direction. But back to the point. I have really felt God calling me into ministry (not sure what capacity yet, we shall see), and so I've been trying to study more and really grow in Him. And interestingly enough, all at once, He has sent influences from every side, whether it be sermons, to sermons I listen to online, to Bible study, to casual conversations...and it keeps boiling down to one thing. We must live holy, set apart lives for Christ. Which is a hard concept for me, but here's what I've been learning.

As I've been hammered with this subject I have found it interesting the large number of different passages that directly address the issue. Let's go over a few of my favorites...

Ephesians 1:4-"just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love..."


He chose us before the foundation of the world. To be holy. To be without blame. Wow. I don't know about you, but this makes me feel two big things right off the bat-1) how amazing that the God of the universe cares enough about me that before the foundations of our very planet were laid He picked me out to be one of His chosen holy. What an amazing privilege. 2) What a huge responsibility. God went to the trouble of making me, calling me to be like Him, and all I can muster is some half hearted attempt to be better than the Jones' down the street. How pathetic I am. But despite how much of a loser I am, there is hope. And we will get to that in a bit, but first let's look more into holiness.

Ephesians 4:20-24-"But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." 


This one is quite interesting to me, because a slight rabbit tail that my brain has been taking with this is the whole idea of "being true to yourself". Everywhere we turn that's what talked about, our entire culture is built upon being yourself and doing what you want. Well I want to propose something here. That the concept of, "being you" is both undesirable and unbiblical. "You" (and me, and anyone walking this earth) are a sinner. Our hearts are corrupt and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), beyond repair. We in ourselves, have nothing. There is no good, no commendable qualities to pursue. But there is a second part to that verse in Ephesians, which closely parallels a more familiar Romans passage...

Romans 12:1,2-" I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 


God doesn't just sit there and tell us how bad we are, but He'll save us anyway. No, he says, yes I saved you from that. I have called you out of the pit and into light-now turn from your wicked ways! Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This blows my mind, people always talk about how Christianity is a set of rules, just ties you down...it's the exact opposite! Jesus offers ultimate freedom, freedom from ourselves. Freedom from the bondage that is sin.

Romans 6:14-"For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."


God pulls us out of sin and allows us to choose life, and choose to follow him, how freeing is that?

My point in all of this is to say that God has called us, as men and women of His, to a higher standard. This isn't just for Pastors, youth leaders, or "spiritual" people. This is everyone who calls themselves a Christian. This world needs changed people. This world needs hope. And that is only going to come through the Gospel, and we will only be effective in spreading that if we are living the life that He has called us to live. Holy. Set apart. Saints of God.

May 09, 2016

Commonplace Monday #33

"Risk is right."  -John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life, pg 89



Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

May 03, 2016

Review: Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child

Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While Esolen occasionally indulges in a "good-old-days"ism that is somewhat tedious and annoying, this is quite occasional, and on the whole this is one of the finest books I have read not only on parenting, but on life in general. A helpful critique of our compulsion, productivity, and technology driven culture.

View all my reviews

May 02, 2016

Commonplace Monday #32

"Deep in the human psyche, all of us long to be chosen by love. It hurts, because we know we don't deserve it, but we want it anyway."  -Michael Lawrence, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church, pg 141


Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

About Me

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @ willdole.com, you can reach me @ contact@willdole.com