Friday, June 13, 2014

Vin Scully at the Ronald Reagan Foundation

Earlier this week, Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully took some time out from the season to share a few stories at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He touches on a variety of topics most of which are related to his storied broadcasting career. It is often said that he is a national treasure and you can see why when you watch the video below. It amazes me how sharp his mind still is after so many years in the business. Keep going, Vin. (hat tip: Vin Scully Tweet)


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Favorite Eats: The Pharmacy - Nashville



One the perks of my job is that I can count on at least one trip to Nashville each year. The thing I like most about travelling to Nashville is discovering fun new places to eat. In fact, there are so many restaurants in the greater Nashville area that you could probably visit a different one each day and not repeat in a year.

I always make a point to try to dine where local residents like to eat and just a few weeks ago discovered a place that will be well worth a return visit: The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden. Tucked away in an East Nashville neighborhood it would be easy to miss if you didn't know where to look for it.

The restaurant's slogan is that it is Nashville's Wurst Burger Joint. In that slogan lies the clue to the other great secret of their menu: their wursts (German style sausages) are fantastic. They are all made by hand, then grilled outside on the charcoal grill before finished indoors an the flat top before being served. We sampled both the burgers and the wursts and found them equally enjoyable.

Another great feature is their old-fashioned soda fountain. My youngest daughter enjoyed a creamsicle soda while my older daughter went for the strawberry ginger ale. My wife decided to try the Mexican Coca-Cola from the bottle (which is sweeter than Coke found in the United States) while I enjoyed a Sprecher Root Beer on tap which was just perfect with our meal.

For dinner we decided to share (which we often do when we can't decide what to eat). We ordered two Biergarten platters (each came with 3 wursts) and were able to sample all six varieties of the wursts they had available. Our personal favorite was the Bockwurst as it was the juiciest of all of them though they all had a good flavor. For our burgers, we ordered the Farm Burger (country ham, applewood bacon, willow farm egg, and maple mustard) and the Mission City Burger (guacamole, pico de gallo, slow-cooked black beans, and horchata crema fresca). Both were very good though the Mission City Burger had the slight edge.

But the best part of the entire experience was dining out in the biergarten. It was a lovely evening, not too hot and the atmosphere was perfect. It would be the perfect place to meet friends and hang out.

We all agreed that this would be one place we would visit again. According to the staff it gets busy quickly so you have to be prepared to wait. We went around 5:00 in the evening and had no problem getting seated but by the time we left at 6:30 the line was already out the door.

Nashville is an endless series of gastronomic adventures. If you are ever there, be sure to add The Pharmacy to your places to visit.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Appreciating Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams turns twenty-five this year. I can vividly remember the first time I saw it in the theater. I cried at the end because it had managed to really touch a nerve. I had gone in having already read W. P. Kinsella's novel on which the movie was based but didn't expect it to pull at my heartstrings as much as it did.

Joe Posnanski recently wrote a fascinating column on the movie. For many, the movie is too overly sentimental. But as he points out, that's the film's biggest asset:

This week, I watched Field of Dreams again. It has been a few years. There were two scenes that struck me. Well, actually, I was struck by a lot of things: the mawkishness of the dialogue (it really is more than I remember); the scenery-eating overacting of the great Burt Lancaster (“by a sky so blue it hurts just to look at it!”); the intrusiveness of James Horner’s overbearing music. It would have been nice to let a scene or two breathe just a little bit without attacking us with the music.
But there were two scenes that struck me most. One struck me because I had the script with me and I was following along. Remember the scene where James Earl Jones is asking people in the town about the ballplayer Moonlight Graham, who had become the town doctor? Jones asked one old guy about Moonlight Graham’s wife:
Here’s what the guy was supposed to say according to the script: “Alicia. She moved to South Carolina after he passed. She passed a few years later. She always wore blue. I bet you didn’t know that.” Here’s what he actually said in the movie: “Alicia. She moved to South Carolina after he passed. She passed a few years later. She always wore blue. The shopkeepers in town would stock blue hats because they knew if Doc walked by he’d buy one. When they cleaned out his office, they found boxes of blue hats that he never got around to give her. I bet you didn’t know that.”
Is the movie version sentimental, cheesy, maudlin? Maybe. I love it. In a way, the difference between the script and the movie is exactly what Field of Dreams is about.  The script is plenty sentimental. She always wore blue. But the movie goes for something more. I love Doc Graham, a good man in that small town, stopping at shops because he cannot resist buying his wife a blue hat. I fall for it.
And, I guess, that gets at the heart of why I love Field of Dreams — it is so unapologetically hopeful. It is so unapologetically optimistic. “Bull Durham” is funnier and “The Natural” is more romantic and “Bang the Drum Slowly” is more poignant and “A League of Their Own” is more layered. But none of them are quite as unabashedly dreamy.

Exactly.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekend Playlist - Put Your Records On

There is something about music that can brighten the most dismal of days. That's the message at the heart of Corinne Bailey Rae's hit Put Your Records On. This is a really nice tune that helps set the perfect mood for the weekend. Enjoy.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Book Review: The Israeli Solution


With all the current turmoil in the Middle East one has to wonder whether peace is even possible. Will the Israelis and the Palestinians ever be able to peacefully co-exist? Will the long desired two state solution ever become a reality?

Or, have the Israelis (along with assistance from the United States) been pursuing the wrong policies for decades? Could it be that while the Israelis are willing to do almost anything to pursue peace their Arab neighbors have not? Perhaps it is because the United States has failed to study history to realize what a fruitless effort the two state solution actually is for the Middle East.

These are the issues that are so succinctly addressed  by Caroline Glick in her new book The Israeli Solution. Ms. Glick makes a compelling argument that the regions of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza which have been the subject of negotiations now for many years actually belong to Israel rather than the Palestinians. And although the United States has tried its best to try to foster peace in the region their relentless pursuit of the two state solution has done far more to harm to peace process that to help it.

Ms. Glick is uniquely qualified to make this assertion having previously served in the Israeli Defense Forces and as a core member of the negotiating team that dealt with the PLO during the late 1990s. She has also served as foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Netayahu during his first term in office.

Her case for the one state solution will no doubt cause heartburn in diplomatic circles as even today the U.S. State Department continues to press for a two state solution that is destined to fail. But those same diplomats would be well serve to read this book to gain a better understanding of the historical context surrounding the current conflict and how it can be solved.

The Israeli Solution is an important volume in the continuing history of the Middle East. Anyone who has an interest in better understanding why conflict continues between Israelis and Palestinians would be well served to read this excellent book.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Daily Links 5-6-14

Good morning! A few articles to help you start your day. In today's edition: the problem with seeking God's will, baseball in India, the woman who put herself in the nuthouse, and more.

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Matt Papa on the problem with seeking God's will:

I have spent too much of my life, and my prayer life, asking for God to lead me into His “perfect will”.  “God lead me”.  “Guide me”.  “Use me”.  “Bless me”.  While I know that God is a gracious, condescending God who meets us wherever we are, I something wonder if God has been up there saying…. 
“Um…yeah.  I’m Your Shepherd.  That’s what I do.” 
So there’s a problem revealed here.  If I really believed that God was good….that He was my dad who was all powerful and all knowing and all loving….then I wouldn’t be repeatedly begging him to lead me with this certain twinge of anxiety.  I would relax.  Dad’s got me.  Chill.

Hat tip: Challies

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Could it be that America's favorite books are its favorite movies?

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The new movie Million Dollar Arm (which judging by the previews looks really good) will open in theaters next week. But will the movie spark interest in baseball in India?

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A collection of the best C. S. Lewis quotes.

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Taking God at His word: an interview with Kevin DeYoung about his new book.

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The amazing story of Nellie Bly who once intentionally got herself committed to an insane asylum to expose brutal treatment of the patients.

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Monday, May 05, 2014

Daily Links 5-5-14

Good morning. Here are a few links to start off your week. In today's edition: failure and fostering success, things I wish I knew as a college student, the best time of day to do anything, and more.

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This is an interesting quote from Pixar Studios co-founder Ed Catmull on failure:

We need to think about failure differently. I’m not the first to say that failure, when approached properly, can be an opportunity for growth. But the way most people interpret this assertion is that mistakes are a necessary evil. Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and, as such, should be seen as valuable; without them, we’d have no originality). And yet, even as I say that embracing failure is an important part of learning, I also acknowledge that acknowledging this truth is not enough. That’s because failure is painful, and our feelings about this pain tend to screw up our understanding of its worth. To disentangle the good and the bad parts of failure, we have to recognize both the reality of the pain and the benefit of the resulting growth. 

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Interesting history: how the King James Bible came about.

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This is a fascinating list: 20 things I wish I knew as a college student. I am sure that if I had known at least a few of these things I would have gotten much more from the whole college experience. (Hat tip: Aaron Armstrong)

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Once again, science proves something useful: taking notes by hand is more effective than taking notes on a computer.

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More great reading: finding the opportunity in every obstacle.

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Some useful suggestions on the best time of day to do anything.

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This is cool: a few minutes of footage from the 1919 World Series.

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Quote of the week:


Friday, May 02, 2014

Weekend Playlist - Fallin' For You

This weekend's song is a really sweet song from songwriter Colbie Callat. It's a great picture of what happens when you meet that special someone. It's not always easy to express into words what it feels like but she does a great job encapsulating those emotions in this song. Enjoy.


Colbie Caillat - Fallin' For You (Official Video) by luanabochechinha

Daily Links 5-2-14

A huge roundup of links for your weekend enjoyment. In today's edition: learning from Calvin and Hobbes, rethinking the grind, moon shots, Disney and God, and more.

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What Calvin and Hobbes has to teach us about the medium and the message. Some really good points in this article particularly in how we share the message of the gospel.

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Putting things in perspective: how differently famous landmarks look from a distance (hat tip: Challies)

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Some advice on how to write about writing.

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The power of doing less: how you can increase productivity by saying no more often. I do think there is something to this idea that we have to force ourselves to be less busy and focus on tasks that are most important and most deserving of our time and energy.

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Moon shots:: NASA's Lunar Orbiter Recovery Project has been working since 2009 to recover images taken during the the agency's lunar exploration programs. Some very cool photos in this slideshow.


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Helpful hints on how to protect your privacy online.

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Say it ain't so: is the Oxford English Dictionary disappearing (at least in print)?

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Did Disney prohibit the Frozen songwriters from using the word God in their songs? Not exactly. In fact, the real story is more interesting.

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Baseball continues to be a fascinating game. In fact, it's remarkable how in some ways it can be so very predictable. 

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And then there is this:

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Daily Links 5-1-14

In today's edition: things you're not told about marriage, beggars along the road, how to protect the church in one simple step, and more.

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Marriage is not always easy but always rewarding. Part of what makes it difficult is that there is no way to know in advance everything that you need to know in order to prosper in marriage. But this is a good place to start. 

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A neat photo gallery that celebrates technological marvels of yesteryear. (Hat tip: Neatorama)
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Nate Pyle gets this right: we are all blind beggars along the road.

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Just who is this guy Murphy of Murphy's Law?

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There is a simple way to protect your church according to Tim Challies: preach.

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Need to ask a girl to the prom? No problem! Just get Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez to help you out.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Daily Links 4-30-14

Your daily roundup of interesting links from around the web. In today's edition, habits we need to break, making men cry for 25 years, George Washington's greatest weakness, and more.

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20 habits to quit in the next year. This is quite a list. There are quite a few that I need to break. I have a hard time picking which one to start on first.

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Answering the important questions: why don't more pitchers throw submarine style? It is interesting that such pitchers are rarely seen today.

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Why we are obsessed with Will and Kate (and that's not a bad thing):

In a world where families are falling apart, where choosing family life is abnormal, we need positive examples. And while it’s true that Will and Kate had every opportunity offered to them, they still had to make choices. They chose to marry. They chose a religious and reverent ceremony. They chose to have a child almost right away. And they’ve chosen to let the world share in their happiness.
And in doing so, they give young families everywhere a little boost. We’re not alone, we’re not insane. We may not alight the steps of private jets in stilettos and Alexander McQueen, but behind closed doors we deal with the same struggles: nap schedules, picky eating, nursing challenges, sleepless nights. 
We are equal in our struggles, but equal in our joys, because every child is a prince or princess in the eyes of God and deep down, every parent knows this. And that’s why every parent is secretly delighting in seeing Will and Kate make family life look worth it in a world that says it’s not.
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It's the most unlikely of classic films but somehow Field of Dreams is now considered a classic after 25 years of making men cry (myself included) - tip of the cap to Cut4

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15 ways to fix everything with toothpaste (hat tip: Glenn Reynolds)

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Though George Washington was a man of great statute and accomplishment he had one glaring weakness: his teeth.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Daily Links 4-29-14

In today's roundup: chocolate is good for you, bookplates from famous libraries, how to destroy a church, and more.

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Destroy a Church in 4 Steps. Tim Challies digs into 2 Timothy 4 and shows how a church can easily self-destruct. Sadly, this is the type of thing that is happening all too frequently among churches in America.

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Another thing that unfortunately has become all too common: pastor scandals. But as this article points out, a full and public repentance is the best way to move forward.

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I totally agree with this: it's time to kill the media stereotype of incompetent fathers.

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A gallery of bookplates of 31 famous men.
The bookplate of Sherlock Holmes' creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
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Science once again proves what we know: chocolate is good for you.

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Are we expecting too much or too little from the church?

I am convinced that many professing Christians are simultaneously expecting too much and too little from the church. We are now in something of a “tail wagging the dog” scenario. Many people have expectations so church leaders aim to accommodate them. If one church won’t meet their preferences they can go to another. This becomes a significant long-term problem.
The church’s role is really quite simple: to make and train disciples. If we do this then we will create a culture where friendships grow out of the gospel rather than in spite of it. Other programs will see their rightful place in the life of the Christian. As Christians we should all work together to raise the gospel flag above the other markers of identity and heartily salute it then we would be well on our way.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Daily Links 4-28-14

A roundup of links to start off your week. In today's edition: dispelling homeschool myths, how to worship when you don't feel like it, the Christian Industrial complex, and more.

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Matt Walsh skillfully deconstructs two of the worst arguments against homeschooling. It's well worth your time.

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In celebration of the Bard's 450th birthday, a look at 50 common phrases that come from Shakespeare. (Hat tip: Challies)

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There are times when you may not feel like worshiping. What do you do? Here are some helpful things to try.

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How to read more and remember it all. Some interesting tips in this article.

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This is cool: a Macbook designed to look like a real book. (Hat tip: Book Riot)
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I stumbled across this article from Jenny Simmons this week and was startled by these paragraphs:

Please hear me say: I do not believe there is an enemy or hero, a good guy or bad guy scenario at work here. That type of villainizing or hero-worshipping is far too small and minimizes a vastly complicated issue. The Christian music and book publishing industries are complex. Within the Christian industry there are many good people with many good intentions, some not so good people with some not so good intentions and a multitude of results that both further and detract from the work of the Gospel. Amazing music, books and life-changing conferences have emerged from our industry. And I know first hand the power of a song on the radio to change a person’s life. I’ve heard thousands of stories from people all over the world who have been changed by the products coming from our industry. I believe music, books and conferences deeply enhance God’s kingdom and I will always champion the industry that gave those very gifts to me and changed my life. 
My story is similar to many other artists and authors, in a wide variety of genres. But when it happens within the Christian industries, it should raise a small warning light. A reminder that at the end of the day the Christian industry is still a business. It’s still a group of men and women who are trying to find a way to be authentic and gospel-centered while contending with a $4.5 billion industry. And the truth is, as hard as you try, gospel-centered and $4.5 billion dollars just don’t contend very well together.
I want you to know that there are a sea of voices that will never make it to the radio or the shelf of a Christian retail store because they are not popular enough to be picked up and promoted by the current Christian industry. And some of those voices carry the most powerful stories that need to be shared with the Church. So I believe it is up to the local church, Christ-followers and community to invest in art being made outside of the walls of the Christian industrial complex.
I think she is absolutely right in sounding some warnings here. However, it is interesting that just two days after this article was posted her Kickstarter campaign was fully funded. I believe the internet continues to revolutionize the entertainment industry in ways we can't even imagine. The ability to reach consumers directly without having to go through a large (or small) publisher will open up more opportunities for more artists in the future.

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 This is likely to start a few arguments: the most famous book set in each state.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Weekend Playlist: Upside Down

This week's selection is just pure fun. Jack Johnson was not well known until the release of this song which also happened to be featured in the movie Curious George. Although he has recorded a lot of songs since this one it remains my favorite.

Daily Links 4-25-14

Back just in time for the weekend with a huge roundup of links. In today's edition: lots of baseball-related links (naturally), how to make perfect hard boiled eggs, the house that Bond built, was Colonel Sanders a real colonel, and more.

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It's been a week of baseball anniversaries. First (and most importantly), Wrigley Field marked its 100th anniversary this week. Although I've been fortunate enough to attend games at such wonderful parks as Fenway Park and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Wrigley Field is still my hands down favorite. Here's the incomparable Vin Scully on what makes Wrigley such a special place.



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Meanwhile, Wednesday also marked another anniversary: the 50th anniversary of the only pitcher to hurl a no-hitter and lose. 

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Speaking of anniversaries, it is the 25th anniversary of Field of Dreams. Here's a fun list of 12 things you probably didn't know about the film (including who was really supposed to star in the movie instead of Kevin Costner). Tip of the cap to Neatorama for the link. Appropriately enough, the anniversary will be marked with a celebration on Father's Day.

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Two New York booksellers claim they bought William Shakespeare's dictionary on Ebay. You can decide for yourself whether to believe them. (Hat tip: Book Riot)

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How do you make perfect hard boiled eggs? Alton Brown has a suggestion: bake them in the oven instead of boiling them.

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On Tuesday, Albert Pujols hit home runs number 499 and 500 of his career. That is by itself a remarkable achievement. But as Jayson Stark points out, there's a lot more to appreciate about Pujols than his home runs. 

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Answering the important questions: Was Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders a real colonel? It's a fascinating profile of a true American success story.

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The house that Bond built: a profile of Ian Fleming's Jamaican estate Goldeneye. Interestingly enough it has now been converted into a hotel.

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This season Major League Baseball adopted expanded instant replay. Needless to say it has not gone as well as officials thought it would. I have never been a supporter of instant replay and the difficulties that have been experienced thus far have only reinforced my view that it was a mistake.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Daily Links 4-22-14

Scouring the internet daily for the most fascinating and useful links. In today's edition: Free online college courses, how to prevent bacon shrinkage, photos of vintage book stores, and more.

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If you are in college or about to go into college you may want to bookmark this page from Open Culture: 1001 Free Online Courses.

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Looking for a job? Here's a list of the 50 best employers to work for in America.

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Answering life's important questions: how to prevent bacon shrinkage.

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10 ways to get the most out of your HDTV.

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A collection of vintage photographs of bookstores. (Hat tip: Book Riot)

Either/Or Bookstore, Hermosa Beach, California
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These days everyone is talking about e-readers are revolutionizing the publishing industry. But before the e-reader it was the paperback that changed the way Americans read.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Daily Links 4-21-14

Here's a fresh set of links to start off your week. In today's edition: dispelling the myths surrounding The War of the Worlds, things to remember when leaving your church, viable alternatives to 4-year college, and more.

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For years the story has been told that Orson Welles 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds caused mass hysteria throughout the country. That's not entirely true. But it's still a fascinating story. Ironically it was the media (specifically newspapers) that hyped the mass hysteria story in the days following the broadcast.

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Further proof that there is an app for everything: A new app called Doughbot will locate the closest doughnut shop to wherever you happen to be. (Hat tip: Food Riot)

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At some point over the course of your lifetime you will likely leave your church. Here's a helpful list of six things you should remember when leaving. Please note that I don't necessarily endorse leaving a church but having done it a couple of times I know from experience it's not easy.

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If you are a Gmail user like me no doubt you have been bombarded by ads. The good news is that there is an easy way to get rid of them.

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Is college for everyone? The better question is whether a four year college is the best option for you. Here is a compilation of ten alternatives to a four year college.

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It pays to go the extra mile: 11 of the best customer service stories you are likely to ever read.



Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: What Works - Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America


Political books are a dime a dozen. They mostly follow a familiar pattern. If written by a liberal then everything a conservative stands for is bad. If a conservative is writing the book then they use the book as an opportunity to rail against liberals. Too often politicians are focused on scoring political points and preserving power rather than finding solutions to problems.

What sets syndicated columnist Cal Thomas' latest book What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America is that it provides exactly what the title promises: common sense solutions that seek to solve America's problems rather than score points for a particular political party or viewpoint.

What's missing from our political discourse is an agreement among our leaders to work together to seek solutions that work and that can be supported by a broad public consensus. Ironically, many of the solutions to our most pressing problems are things that in the past we have tried and used successfully. A brief look back at our nation's history (which Thomas helpfully provides) shows that some of the solutions have already been created. We only need the courage to actually try them again.

The other most compelling message of the book is that our solutions do not necessarily need to come from Washington, D. C. In fact, many solutions can be found in the vibrant laboratories of state government. By embracing innovation at the local level we can find a way to solve our most pressing problems.

Regardless of your political point of view you are likely to find much to agree with in What Works. I highly encourage you to read it and see that the solutions that we seek to our everyday problems are right in front of us - if we only have the courage to break out of our tired political ruts and look for ways to improve the common good.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekend Playlist: If I Could Build My Whole World Around You

This week's song spotlights one of the outstanding duos of Motown's heyday: Marvin Gaye and Tammie Terrell. During the couple of years during the late Sixties they recorded together they had numerous hits and performed live together on tour. If I Could Build My Whole World Around You would mark the third top 10 record for the duo and is (at least in my opinion) their best record. Unfortunately the partnership would not last very long as Terrell collapsed in Gaye's arms during a performance at Hampden Sydney College in October of 1967. Less that three years later she was dead at age 24 having succumbed to a brain tumor. Still, they made some wonderful music together and this has to be one of the finest examples of this outstanding pairing.


Daily Links 4-18-14

A roundup of links for your weekend reading pleasure. In this edition: Would Paul have used video, the coffee shop as your office, it's okay to fail, things healthy couples don't do, and more.

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Aaron Armstrong poses an interesting question:

If Paul were ministering today, would he use video? 
This is an important question, and it’s not one that is as clear cut as you might think. Many who have embraced video venue gatherings point to Paul as their example. Because he was all about becoming all things to all people in the hopes of winning some to the gospel, he would surely use any (non-sinful) means at his disposal to extend the reach of the gospel.
That’s generally how I’ve seen the argument go, anyway. (I realize I’m probably oversimplifying a bit.) 
The question of whether or not Paul would use video is an important one, but I wonder if it might also be the wrong one.
Would Paul use video to share the gospel? Probably, sure. But, more importantly, what would he use it for?

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Mr. Met was once threatened by the Secret Service. No, really. Just goes to show the lengths they would go to protect the President.

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Fun facts about one of the best baseball movies of all time, A League of Their Own.

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If you do a lot of work at the coffee shop, you should read this.

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Forget the bucket list. How to make moments that matter.

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Now this is what I call a cool tablet keyboard.

Hat tip: Book Riot

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8 things that healthy couples don't do. #3 is the toughest for me.

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10 productivity tips to make your life easier.

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The best thing about shopping at Ikea is that their furniture is cheap and can be repurposed for numerous other uses. The fact that there is a whole website devoted to Ikea Hacks should be a clue. Here are 20 of the best Ikea furniture hacks.

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Instead of a to-do list how about a done list? Harnessing the power of progress.

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Contrary to popular belief it's okay to fail.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Thing of Beauty

Home runs may make for great highlight reels but for a true baseball fan there are few things more fun to see than a triple play. The New York Yankees pulled off the feat tonight in their game  at Tampa Bay.


A couple of interesting things about this play. The Yankees pitcher, CC Sabathia, has been the pitcher on the mound for the last three Yankee triple plays. In addition, Scott Sizemore, who was playing first base was making his major league debut at that position. Talk about a baptism of fire.
Hat tip: Hardball Talk

Daily Links 4-17-14

In today's edition: Reader's Digest Christianity, revisiting the great Dungeons and Dragons scare, confessions of a Christian film critic, the aggregation of marginal gains, and more.

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Exposing the flaws of Reader's Digest Christianity. Unfortunately this is what too many sermons have started to sound like.

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How do I talk to my teenage daughter? This is a struggle that every father of girls faces.

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The 4 Stages of Writing and 3 Common Mistakes We Make. I can relate to every bit of this article (particularly the mistakes).

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Recalling the great 1980s panic about Dungeons and Dragons. I recently shocked my kids when I confessed to them I had played the game (more than a few times) when I was younger. Somehow I managed to survive. (Hat tip: Challies)

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12 Places in Pixar movies that exist in real life. Some of these are less obvious than others.

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This is an interesting read: Confessions of a Christian Film Reviewer:

If it’s a challenge to write about Christian films as a Christian, it can be just as problematic to review nonreligious films, especially the bad ones: The humility and loving kindness I try so hard to cultivate in my daily life doesn’t hew to the snark and downright cruelty that can be the occupational hazard of the reviewer’s job. Where I’ve become much more unforgiving, however, is in depictions of violence. As a student of film history, I know that violence is a long-standing, even essential element of cinematic grammar and audience catharsis; as a Christian, I find it increasingly difficult to accept portrayals of brutality that are glib, meaningless, played for laughs or cynically nihilistic. As Underhill wrote, “We cannot begin the day by a real act of communion with the Author of peace and Lover of concord, and then go on to read a bloodthirsty newspaper at breakfast.” If a bellicose tabloid is enough to give peace-lovers a case of indigestion, they should try watching a Quentin Tarantino film on an empty stomach.

Hat tip: Breakpoint

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How to keep your marriage strong. These are great tips. #5 is the one I find the hardest.

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This is very interesting: the aggregation of marginal gains. Having the patience to make small changes will result in bigger changes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Becoming a More Effective Reader

Last year, I set an ambitious goal for myself to read more books. I set a numerical target and started the year with great intentions of meeting it. But I got bogged down in my fifth book (which in retrospect I probably should have abandoned rather than continue plodding through it) and ultimately had to give up on my goals. Simply setting a numerical target for myself didn't work.

I still love to read. It's dangerous for me to walk into a book store or even a Goodwill store (where I am finding more and more of my books these days). I have figured out though that I need a better plan than simply setting a numerical target. Rather than concerning myself with numbers I needed to be more purposeful in what I was reading and how I was reading. In order to do this, I have decided to adopt a more specific plan in how I am going to read.

First, I need to be more deliberate in my reading. Witht the Internet and a smartphone at my fingertips I realized that it is way too easy to waste time. And it's time that could be better spent reading books. This means also being willing to even schedule time each day to devote to one of my reading projects.

Second, I need to be more focused in my reading. I typically don't try to read multiple books at the same time but have come to the conclusion there is a case to be made for it. My reading needs to be focused on three areas:


  1. Spiritual enrichment - As a Christian, I need to be reading Scripture every day. In addition, I plan to select books that will draw me into the Bible and help me understand it better.
  2. Business - I am a manager for my employer. In order to be more effective in my job, I need to be learning how to do it better. I also need to select books that will allow me to draw insights that I can share with my team to help them be more successful.
  3. Pleasure - not all reading has to be "assigned" reading. There should still be room for reading books that are fun and interesting to me. 
Third, I need to write in my books. This is something I typically haven't done. But nearly every article I have read on effective reading and comprehension calls for both highlighting and making notes in the book. It's a way to pick out those things that are most important. By making notes I am taking the opportunity to write in things that I have thought about what I have read - particularly when it is my first time through a book. It's also important to note that in order to do this I have to have a physical copy of the book. Although I enjoy e-books (and they certainly have their advantages) the big disadvantage is that you can't write in them. The experience of reading is not the same as it is turning the pages of a physical book.

Fourth, I need to take notes. This is separate from highlighting or writing in the book. Some books are best read with a notebook beside you. By writing notes as you are reading you can increase your comprehension. I find that whether reading a book or listening to a sermon I comprehend more when I am taking notes. It forces me to be a more active listener engaged with the speaker or author.

Finally, I need to take my time. One of the problems I had with setting a numeric goal was I always felt I needed to rush on to the next book and didn't have the ability to really take my time and dive deep into a book. Sometimes the best books are those we meditate upon and turnover in our minds. Those are the books that are most likely to make the biggest impact on us.

This is my plan at least for now. I don't know whether this will be more effective than any other strategy that I have adopted. Regardless of how we go about it, we need to invest more time in books. They are an endless treasure trove waiting to be discovered.

Daily Links 4-16-14

In today's edition: protecting your family from pornography, a new song from an old friend, art available for download, and more.

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With the proliferation of pornography on the internet (and elsewhere) it is best to have a plan for how to deal with it as a family. Fortunately, Tim Challies has some terrific advice on how to develop a comprehensive approach to protecting your family.

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How you can spot a leader you can trust. Some good advice. (Hat tip: Trevin Wax)

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Should I go see Noah or not? A frank discussion on how to engage popular culture.

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My friend Annie Parsons (no relation) has written a lovely new song. She's a talented gal. Take a listen below and then leave a comment for her and let her know what you think.



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Everyone knows that Chick-Fil-A has some of the best food around. But here's something you may not know about: the best items featured on their secret menu.

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The stories of 11 incredible acts of courage.

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You can now download over 35,000 images from the National Gallery of Art.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Daily Links 4-15-14

Links of interest served daily. In today's edition: seven habits from Navy SEALs, getting the most out of family dinners, Prince George's first overseas trip, a lineup of baseball books, and more.

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7 Habits from Navy SEALs. While the word habit normally would have negative connotations, as this article explains, there are habits that can be good habits to adopt.

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Ann Voskamp on why you have to keep falling in love. 

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How you can use family dinners to create a positive family culture.

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It was fun while it lasted: the rise and fall of the bullpen car.

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Speaking of baseball, here's a fascinating list of 33 non-fiction baseball titles you should consider reading. There went my to be read list. Truth is, I have read 10 of those titles. Still lots more to do though.

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Prince George made his first overseas trip to New Zealand last week with his parents William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Honest Toddler filed this hilarious report on the trip and helps us figure out what the young prince was thinking about in all those photos taken of him.

Woolf Crown/AFP - Getty Images

Monday, April 14, 2014

Daily Links 4-14-14

Here's a roundup of links to help you start the week of right. In today's edition: the difference between successful and unsuccessful people, the man who stumbled on Hell, the idolatry of modesty, and more.

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Here's an interesting list of 16 differences between successful and unsuccessful people. Lots of good advice in this post. (Hat tip: Neatorama)

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The amazing history of the Choose Your Own Adventure books.

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Increasingly, folks are having issues with food. Here's some useful advice on how to determine whether foods are making you sick.

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The headline says it all: the man who stumbled on Hell. The true story of Lieutenant John Randall, the first Allied soldier to arrive at Bergen-Belsen. (Warning: graphic and disturbing images in the article)

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15 things we have to explain about Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama.

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The top 10 words that will help you win at Scrabble. (Hat tip: Book Riot)

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How should Christians deal with the issue of modesty? We should be careful not to make modesty into an idol:

Because promiscuity is so prevalent today, we in the Church have reacted by elevating modesty to unhealthy proportions. We jump too quickly into behavior modification and don’t realize that most of our modesty campaigns are actually borderline legalism. 
One rule in particular that “Christian” schools, universities and clubs like to enforce is the “skirt test.” It usually involves the woman getting on her knees to see if the skirt touches the ground, which if it does, it’s deemed acceptable.
My question though is what are we doing in that moment? Is the gospel being exalted, or are we heaping shame and condemnation on them? 
The fact that she is on her knees for the test couldn’t be more symbolic of submission, power, shame and guilt. The trouble, however, is that while modesty standards are set up to not make women’s bodies an object, it is in fact doing that very thing. 
Highlighting the girl’s dress in front of everyone, and telling her she should dress a certain way because she doesn’t want “to make the men stumble” is simply making her an object.
In the Body, we need to realize using men’s sin and lust issues as the reason why a woman should dress a certain way is actually making her just as much an object than if she were to dress promiscuously.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Weekend Playlist: Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

When it comes to classic show tunes it's hard to beat George and Ira Gershwin. Let's Call the Whole Thing Off was originally introduced in the 1937 film Shall We Dance starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Noted for the different pronunciations of different words throughout the song, it was meant to highlight class differences between the two singers rather than just a disagreement over how to say "tomato". Like many songs in the Great American Songbook, there are numerous versions of this song. This particular version is my personal favorite as you can hear in the singing how much Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong obviously enjoyed working together on this song.


Daily Links 4-11-14

A roundup of links for your weekend reading pleasure. In today's edition: presidents and first pitches, what "essentialists" do, some neat wedding gifts, and more.

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The history of U. S. Presidents and ceremonial first pitches. This article will certainly enlighten you on how the practice got started.

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Say it ain't so: Hasbro has announced they are changing the rules for Monopoly.

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In praise of public libraries: a new book offers a wonderful collection of photographs of the most interesting libraries around.
Globe chandelier in the children's library, Central Library, Los Angeles, 2008
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NASA recently sold artifacts from the Apollo moon program at auction.

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Regular readers of this blog know that I frequently link to articles on improving productivity at work. But one author I have recently started following is Greg McKeown. I am intrigued by his upcoming book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This article provides a nice summary of what his book is all about. Perhaps there is something to being an "essentialist".

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Kevin DeYoung reminds us that we need to pay careful attention to the issue of sexual purity. (Hat tip: Aaron Armstrong)

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Hollywood is missing out on an opportunity to tell some great stories. Six baseball biographies that would make great films.

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Five great kitchen tool wedding gifts you won't find in department stores.
Monogrammed cutting board by LetsEngraveIt


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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Daily Links 4-10-14

In today's edition: Victorian Buzzfeed, memorable quotes from children's literature, chatting with George F. Will, Tom Hanks and Walt Disney, and more.

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This is really cool: 25 Stages From Courtship to Marriage. Or, Victorian Buzzfeed. (Hat tip: Acculturated)
Photo Credit: The Public Domain Review

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The myths of success that hold us back from being really successful.

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Hugh Hewitt chatted with George F. Will, author of A Nice Little Place on the North Side. I am reading the book now and it is fantastic. (Audio at the link)

Related: George Will sang during the 7th inning stretch last Sunday. The Cubs won the game. Good luck charm? Ironic considering that Will says Harry Caray is responsible for him becoming a Cubs fan.

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The odd off-season jobs of 10 Baseball Hall of Famers. There was a time before baseball players got rich just playing the game that they had to do something else in the off-season to make ends meet. Fascinating stuff.

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Hard to believe that thirty years ago Tom Hanks was an unemployed actor. But one thing helped him make it through the hard times. No surprise that it helped serve as an inspiration for one of his most memorable roles.

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Quotes from classic children's literature:


20 inspiring children’s book quotes.
Courtesy of: Quotery

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Daily Links 4-9-14

In today's edition: handling differences online, a spy's toolkit, stop misusing the Bible, a book recommendation, and more.

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How to handle differences online. Generally speaking, the internet is not a place to debate issues but there are some useful tips here to consider.

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Why Wegmans is America's best grocery store. I can say from personal experience that it is far and away the best grocery store I have ever shopped at. It's (almost) worth moving just to be closer to one. It's even better than Trader Joe's (and that's saying a lot).

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I do not think that means what you think it means: five Bible verses you need to stop misusing.

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How Jane Austen's heroines find happiness. Some very interesting thoughts on the character traits of Austen's female characters. (Hat tip: Acculturated)

When it comes to book recommendations, my go-to guy is Tim Challies. It's not because I agree with everything he says (I do often but not always) but because he is such a thougtful, thorough book reviewer. So anytime he recommends a book I take notice. Here's his latest recommendation: Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung.

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This is a neat infographic: the spy's toolkit.



Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Daily Links 4-8-13

Your daily dose of fun links. In today's edition: questions of Christian education, love and baseball, lessons in good listening, and more.

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Four questions that will help parents understand whether Christian education at either private schools or universities is successful. For anyone concerned about the education of their children these are questions you will want your child to be able to answer. (Hat tip: Aaron Armstrong

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Debunking myths about millenials and the church.

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More research about millenials and the news is not good.

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A children's bookstore designed to look like a long winding rainbow.

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Love and baseball: a pair of Red Sox fans who met on Twitter got married at Fenway Park.

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50 wonderful ideas for sprucing up your home library (Hat tip: Book Riot)
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It's difficult to be a good listener but applying these lessons will go a long way towards improving our ability to listen.

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15 grammatical errors that will make you look silly: 15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Daily Links 4-7-14

A roundup of links to help you start your week off right. In today's edition: God is not a magic 8-ball, the benefits of real community, legal blogging, and more.

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Kevin DeYoung, from his book Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will:

God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience and invites us to take risks for Him. We know God has a plan for our lives. That’s wonderful. The problem is we think He’s going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds. We feel like we can know—and need to know—what God wants every step of the way. But such preoccupation with finding God’s will, as well-intentioned as the desire may be, is more folly than wisdom. 
The better way is the biblical way. Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we’re going. 

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Which classic movies have you seen? I would say the term classic is applied very loosely to this list. I only got 65 with the large majority of them being films that were released prior to 1980. My interests tend to skew towards older films, I guess.

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Quote of the week:



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10 reasons that community has more benefits than you think it might. Some good food for thought.

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Baseball has a lot to teach us about life. Here's yet another example: 4 Manly Lessons from the Minor Leagues.

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The Volokh Conspiracy is one of the best legal blogs on the web. Here's the fascinating story of how it has become one of the most influencial legal blogs around. (Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds)

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Friday, April 04, 2014

Weekend Playlist: Fare Thee Well

This week we go old school with a new cover of an old song. Fare Thee Well is an English ballad dating back to the 18th Century. It's been covered numerous times by a wide variety of artists. The latest cover was featured in the Coen Brothers' movie Inside Llewyn Davis and features Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford on the vocals. This is a wonderful rendition of the song. Enjoy.





Daily Links 4-4-14

Here are a few links for your weekend reading: when Scripture is the controversy, stolen art, escape from Auschwitz, a normal celebrity couple, and more.

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When Scripture is the Controversy. Yes, the battles that are to come don't have so much to do with particular issues but how we deal with Scripture:

If we learned anything from last week, maybe it’s that the real controversy among evangelicals in the coming days will be about the Bible, not homosexuality. 
Beneath the surface of the recent scuffle is the more vital issue of how disciples of Jesus posture themselves toward God’s word. It’s not simply about our grasp of what Scripture is, or our conviction of Scripture’s inerrancy, or even where we land with different interpretations. It’s fundamentally about how we approach the words of God, even before we get to the interpretation part. It’s about how we look when we’re looking at Scripture. 

Hat tip: Challies

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Trevin Wax says that World Vusion's embrace of same sex marriage and immediate reversal is a sign of bigger divisions to come in evangelical circles.

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Whovians rejoice. You can now own a Tardis backpack.


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Hidden treasures: an Italian factory worker discovered that the paintings that had been hanging on his kitchen wall were in fact stolen masterpieces worth millions.

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Fun facts: 21 things you might not have known about Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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The true story of four men who managed to escape from one of the most hellish places on earth: Auschwitz.

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A collection of wonderful illustrations from the original manuscript of The Little Prince.

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Kudos to New York Mets second baseman  Daniel Murphy who wanted to take some extra time off to be with his wife and newborn son. He's unfairly caught a lot of flack for just wanting to be a good dad.

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A normal, healthy celebrity couple? Is that even possible? It certainly is.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Daily Links 4-3-14

Your daily dose of fun links from around the web. In today's edition: Pixar hidden goodies, baseball's new instant replay system, a class act, and more,

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The interconnectedness of everything: 30 Easter Eggs you will find in Pixar movies. Only goes to show what geniuses those folks are. (Hat tip: Wardrobe Door)

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Kids say the darnedest things especially in bookstores. Prepare to be heartwarmed. (Hat tip: Book Riot)

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Baseball's instant replay system was supposed help umpires get calls right. Except when it doesn't. My prediction is there are going to be a lot more stories about an overturned call being a deciding factor in a lot of games this season. That is not what Bud Selig wanted.

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When Platt wasn't enough. I really like this insight on why a church needs a flesh and blood pastor:

These days, Christians can slip into treating preaching like a consumer commodity and preachers like buffet selections. With the internet, a believer can choose a different style and a different preacher for every mood and preference. 
However, my church realized they needed a pastor. A flesh and blood pastor is crucial for the local church because preaching is an act of spiritual warfare. A pastor is a shepherd who fights in the trenches next to his sheep, defending them from the wolves. You can’t simply phone that in! Only an in-person preacher can bear the burdens of the congregation, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. That’s what we see clearly in Scripture. Preaching and teaching are normative functions of the shepherding pastor (1 Tim 3:2b, 5:17, 2 Tim 4:2, Titus 2:1).
That is to say,pastors care for the flock by preaching and teaching, rebuking those who contradict sound doctrine (Titus 1:9). Can a preacher disconnected from a local church—in fact, completely oblivious of it’s existence—defend that flock from false teaching? Can he fend off the wolves? Can he shepherd the flock, exercise oversight, or rule well? 
A church ought to receive preaching from a man who knows the church’s struggles, their strengths, their needs, their victories—in short, knows them. True biblical preaching not only rightly interprets the Word, but it also lands and applies uniquely and specifically in the people who are sitting under that Word.
Hat tip: Challies

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Follow the truth:

Given what is taking place in the world today, do we have any indications that to follow Christ will become more and more comfortable? The Bible Belt, long the cultural bastion of “biblical values,” has long been heading toward the spiritual ruins of post-Christendom. Cultural Christianity is wasting away. And the outside world is becoming more and more hostile to the things of faith. Even some professing Christians are becoming hostile to those who will not move according to the shifting winds of the culture. And if God is doing anything in ordaining these cultural shifts to come to pass, it may be this: We are finding out who the real Christians are. (Even today, some are announcing in anger and embarrassment that they will never again call themselves evangelical, to which we must respond with all sincerity and soberness, “Thank you.”)

Hat tip: Aaron Armstrong

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Class act: Ed Sheeran grants a dying teenage girl's request by serenading her during her last minutes of life.

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Searching for a mentor? Look no further than your bookshelf.

It has become apparent to me that many people, especially young Christians seeking maturity, desire for someone to come alongside them and mentor them. I myself have profited immensely from sitting underneath the godly influence of men of faith. I believe it is a noble and holy thing to seek out men and women of faith that may speak truth into your life. You can pursue these people through getting involved in community and service. As you meet seasoned saints, you can ask them to carve out time to meet with you. However, in a church context where we have significantly more young people desiring a “mentor” than we have people who have walked through a long life of faith in God, we must be aware that there will not always be men and women of this stature at our disposal. 
We hope that a mentor will share their life with us, speak truth, lead us to pray and worship, share with us a greater knowledge of Scripture and offer insight into living a godly life. I believe that a great book can do some of these things. Your shelves can be overflowing with mentors.