Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

Does this picture ring any bells? Just look to the right, if you want a hint. So, what am I doing posting about pumpkin carving? Don't I know that Halloween is the biggest satanic day of the year??? It is, for a lot of people, unfortunately. But we can use it as a force for good, or at least a little harmless fun, if handled the right way.

The debate about how Christians should treat Halloween (no pun intended!) continues. Farrah's dad, for example, is on the end of the spectrum that is totally against having anything to do with Halloween. No costumes, no pumpkins, no candy, no nothing. Give the devil no quarter (or M&Ms, for that matter). On the other end of the spectrum are those who celebrate it full-tilt, even though they know of its pagan, death-related origins.

Without straying off the main point of my post, I'll just state that my wife, son, and I just enjoy dressing up as superheroes, knights, fairies, etc..., carving pumpkins, and handing out candy. Not only don't we do any scary stuff, but we try to use the event as an opportunity to witness for the Lord. The primary way we witness on Oct. 31 is through our pumpkin carving. In fact, just today, my wife ran across a beautiful analogy between pumpkin carving and salvation! Be sure to check it out!

So enough background already. I thought I would show you a gallery of past carvings that our little family has done. We're no Michaelangelo or Rodin, but we're learning.

Pre-Digital Age

I believe we started carving pumpkins together in 2002, when Kylen was almost 3 years old. Of course, he wasn't old enough at first, or really interested, so our first efforts were strictly products of two grown-ups. Please forgive the bad quality of these photos, but I was lazy and just took digital pictures of the originals, while they were still in their albums! You may flog me when ready.


With Kylen nearly 6, he was finally ready to really carve something, all by himself! You can see the cute result below. No, not the baby! The wolf-like creature! I think it may have been supposed to be a bear. Didn't he do a great job, though?

The baby is actually my wife's, who actually stuck a plastic binkie with rapidly flashing lights into its mouth. Unfortunately, late October weather is cold enough, over at our place, to kill most any small battery.

As for me, I decided to get brave and feed my superhero obsession, by carving Superman's insignia. To avoid fully cutting out the diamond shape that surrounds the S, I engulfed it in flames. In the end, it gave it a nice effect.

For lights, we finally settled on using a string of red C9 Christmas lights. We've used them every year since.


Farrah and I were inspired to again carve something about the Lord. We stayed simple, but powerful... just like the Gospel itself!

If I remember correctly, I was trying too hard to give Kylen tips on how to draw on his pumpkin (I'm an incurable perfectionist). He got really upset and decided to just draw something on it, without carving anything. That's why the middle pumpkin has no lights. I'd like to say that I've learned from the experience, but Farrah and Kylen may disagree with my assessment.


Ah, this was the Year of Green Lantern. After endless hours scouring the Internet for an adult-size Green Lantern costume (found one!), I just had to carve his logo on my pumpkin! Again, the rays of "light" prevent the logo from becoming fully separated. And, it just worked out that I had just gotten some red-and-green C9 Christmas lights, the previous year. The green ones gave it the perfect finishing touch.

Kylen carved a castle. His skills definitely improved, although he wasn't sure how to do that skinny roof, between the towers.

Farrah stuck with simple-but-powerful. How totally awesome (perfectly planned!) that such simple symbols as a cross and a heart can convey such a powerful message!


And here we are, caught up to the present. Kylen's carving skills (see rightmost pumpkin) have skyrocketed. He did it all by himself! Although you cannot see it, there is lettering that says, "Jesus loves you."

Farrah read a little about making more delicate designs, by scraping off layers of the shell, allowing light to shine brighter, through the thinner areas. I let her be the guinea pig, because I was busy preparing for my homeschool co-op computer class. The middle pumpkin is hers, and you can see a close-up, further down. She did a great job!

I decided to get way brave, and actually try a real photo. I thought the one of Kylen as a baby, with the Bible, which I use on this blog, would be perfect. I opened it in Paint Shop Pro and reduced the number of colors to three: black, gray, and white (see bottom picture). I don't know if the pros actually project the picture onto the pumpkin, to make it easier, but I just drew it directly. Carving... err, scraping it wasn't too bad, though I had to use a melon baller and a paring knife, to augment my poorly designed plastic pumpkin scraper. And although I drew Kylen's right eye correctly, I accidentally scraped off its bottom part. Oops!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In the News

I had gotten such a good response on my post on worldviews, I was really reluctant to move on, but it was time. I've got something really neat to share, that the Lord showed me a while ago, but first...

Gay "Marriage" Vote in California

Jeff was the first to draw my attention to this latest installment of the nation-wide battle against this abomination. I counted that state as already lost, until I read this article from At stake on Nov. 4 is Proposition 8, which aims to ban gay "marriage" in California. Voters already approved such a measure in 2000, but a recent California Supreme Court ruling struck down that law, forcing conservatives to put the issue up to the voters again. Recent polls show that public opinion is split about 50/50. If you live in California, I urge you to vote YES on Proposition 8!

Anyway, here's a scary peek at the strategy of the pro-gay groups. As you probably know, they've been winning crucial court decisions in several states, while losing at the voting booths, by wide margins. Read what one of their main activists has to say in the article:

Kristina Wilfore, executive director of the Washington-based Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, an advocacy organization that specializes in using ballot initiatives to further liberal causes, says her group picks its battles in fighting anti-gay-marriage amendments largely because most votes aren't even close. "We would never bring gay marriage up before the voters," she says. "This is [our opponents'] strategy." She admits they've been terribly good at it.

In other words, these groups are bent on imposing their secular progressive agenda on a population that largely disagrees with their views! They want the select few (themselves and the judiciary) to force their will on the majority of the populace. But I thought this was a democracy!

But wait! There's a little more:

Wilfore says she's prepared to take the long view in California. "I am not going to be discouraged if we lose," she says. Victory will come over time in the courts, as demographics works its influence on the nation's voting patterns, she says, noting that young people support gay marriage far more than their parents and grandparents do. "A lot of people are going to have to die" before Election Day is an easy day for gay marriage, she says.

I know this isn't what she meant, but she is basically implying that those who oppose government sponsorship of the abominable sin of sodomy should die... and the sooner the better.

We need to stand together and united against the amoral, vocal minority in our country, which desires to remove God from all aspects of our daily lives, starting with laws that make it harder and harder to live the Christian life.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Frequently Asked Friday

What's a Worldview?

We're doing a weekly Bible study at our friends' house, and we just started a unit on popular worldviews. The study materials are based on David A. Noebel's book, Understanding the Times (revised 2nd ed.), available from Summit Ministries. They have not only the book, but an entire curriculum based on it, as well as many other Christian materials addressing moral issues.

In their 1989 book, Worlds Apart, Geisler and Watkins define a worldview as "a way of viewing or interpreting all of reality. It is an interpretive framework through which or by which one makes sense of the data of life and the world." In other words, a worldview is the interpretive pair of glasses you use to explain the world around you. Even if you never thought about it explicitly, you already have a worldview; everyone does!

This past week, my wife received her first issue of Answers Magazine, which defends a literal Biblical interpretation of science and history. Browsing the magazine, I found this cartoon (drawn by Dan Lietha, whose permission I have to use it). No matter on which side of the fence you're on, it is a great illustration of the concept of worldviews.

The intentional irony of this cartoon is that the atheist accuses the believer of having a distorted view of his reality. But in fact, his own so-called "objectivity" is actually based on his belief in the absence of God. Even agnostics are not truly objective, because many of them don't just claim that they don't know that there is a God; they go one step farther, declaring that you cannot know.

Believe it or not, it's really not that big of a deal to us if the earth was created in 6 literal days, 4.5 billion years, or some amount of time in-between; we know God created it (and everything else, including all mankind), and that's good enough for us.

Why Study Worldviews?

Understanding your own worldview, as well as those of others around you, helps you develop a consistent way of looking at things, as well as leading you to understand where other people are coming from. It can help you better understand the great moral and political debates of the day, including homosexuality, abortion, elections, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the economy. It helps you become a better informed voter, more convincing debater, and more understanding of others.

After much time debating atheists and those of other beliefs, I have come to understand and appreciate this problem better. Clashing worldviews and the inability to understand how each developed is probably one of the leading reasons why religious and political discussions can get so heated.

Ultimately, truth is truth, and God's view is all that really matters. Yes, I know, God is central to my worldview, but He may not be in yours. But if we have a mututal understanding of our respective worldviews, we can have a polite, but lively discussion about anything.

I don't know if this stream-of-consciousness makes much sense to anyone but me, but as we continue the study, I'll continue to share my thoughts on it.

"True to His WORD" Award

When I moved our old JesusIsWonderful site to this blog, I did not know how to attract some readers (very lonely out here, without comments). Not to even mention that I wanted to find some devout Christian bloggers to fellowship with. So, I began blog-hopping for bloggers with similar interests, and this person's blog was one of the first I came to. I left him a comment, and he volunteered to steer some folks my way... without my even suggesting it. And, true to his word, he sent lots of folks my way... many of YOU folks! So, I had to thank him in some way....

So Jim of Journaling for Growth, to thank you for your instant friendship, I award you with the inaugural "True to His Word" award!!! May it also comfort you to know that you even inspired its double-meaning name. Just as Jesus was (and continues to be) true to His Word, so you were to yours. Thanks, friend!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

In the News


The Kendrick brothers have come up with yet another Christian hit movie! Fireproof is in theathers now! My wife and I have not seen it yet, but we really enjoyed their previous two movies: Flywheel and Facing the Giants. Here's a CNN article, talking about its unexpected popularity. It's encouraging to see Biblically-based, family-friendly movies enjoy such popularity, in a world that tries so hard to shut God out.

Fireproof is the story of a firefighter whose marriage is on the brink. While on the job, the husband's philosophy is "never leave your partner behind," he's willing to do just that, on the home front. The movie depicts the personal journey he undertakes, in an effort to save his marriage.

While Flywheel and Facing the Giants were two of our 8-year-old's favorites (he wanted to watch them over and over, on DVD), the subject matter in Fireproof is too grown-up for young children. Although the Kendricks handle everything in a sensitive way, adult issues, such as adultery and pornography, are significant in the starring couple's marital problems.

One interesting trivia fact is that lead actor Kirk Cameron has a rule that he never kisses anyone but his wife; a noble creed, given Hollywood's loose morals. So, in the movie, whenever he is shown kissing his on-screen wife, the filmmakers actually used his real wife, as a "stunt" double. Awww, that's sweet! :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Frequently Asked Friday

Does God Exist?

What a weird question to ask, and on a Christian blog, no less! But it's one that I asked myself many times, before Jesus revealed Himself to me, through His Living Word. I also do not expect to adequately answer it in this, or even a million, posts. Philosophers, theologians, and lay-people smarter than myself have already debated this question, without reaching a unanimous conclusion. Besides, I've already answered it for myself, so the question is fairly rhetorical, from my perspective. But, for those of you who are either asking yourselves the same question or who seek to help lead others to its inevitable conclusion, please allow me to address this issue with an analogy.

Where Do Babies Come From?

Growing up, you probably had a mom and dad who claimed to be your parents. And you probably believed them, on faith. You didn't ask for your birth certificate, their Social Security cards, DNA evidence, or the testimony of witnesses under oath. It was enough that you resembled them, that they were part of your life for as long as you could remember, and that others also called them your parents.

But what made them your "parents?" You probably didn't think of it that way, but you probably asked instead, "Where did I come from?" or "Where do babies come from?" If your parents didn't think you were old enough to hear the exact truth, they probably gave you a watered-down version, the stork story, or avoided the question altogether.

At some point, you learned about "the birds and the bees," and you believed it, even though you had no real proof. In fact, if you think about it, the miracle of life is such a wonderful mystery, that even pictures and scientific evidence don't do it justice. You can't fully appreciate it until you get married and experience it for yourself. You feel the tiny kicks inside your wife's belly (or feel them yourself, if you happen to actually be the wife!). You witness the beautiful, precious, little life be brought forth into the world (and maybe get tired of being told to "breathe" and "push"). And then you understand. You've begun to experience parenthood yourself, and your blind faith, from so long ago, has reached its realization.

Back to God

Likewise, all the evidence in the world may not be enough (or necessary) to convince you that God is real. The evidence is certainly there, from the unlikely conditions that support life on this planet, to the complex structures and processes that make up a living thing, to the spiritual experiences that so many testify of.

Ultimately, that question is answered by faith and personal experience. And just as the new parent wants to show everyone their baby (or baby pictures), you will want to tell the world of your own rebirth in Christ.

Just as many doubted God, many will doubt you. But there will be some who will believe, and then experience the salvation of Jesus Christ and the rebirth, for themselves. And then they will want to tell the world!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wonderful Wednesday

Ah, yet another recurring meme makes its debut right here! Wonderful is in this blog's name and it starts with the same letter as this day of the week... well, it was simply unavoidable that this would become a meme someday.

The goal of this meme is to highlight scriptures that demonstrate how truly wonderful our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is, often without any further comment. So, without any further ado...

"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:11-15).

Jesus died on the cross, sacrificing Himself, as a once-for-all payment for our sins. But He didn't stop there. No, sir! He serves as Mediator between us and God (Himself), granting us direct access to God Himself. How far below Him is our humble President, and yet how many of us can ever hope to get a private audience with him? But I can talk to Jesus anytime, day or night, even at 3:00 AM! How wonderful is that???