Sunday, 27 June 2010

Blog Signature Tutorial

I've been wondering how to create a blog signature for awhile now but never got around to asking someone how to do it. I happened to see a post about how to make one on Facebook and it's super easy and takes only a couple of minutes.

I found it through Baba's Farm Life who found it through The Frugal Free Gal who based her tutorial on My Live Signature.

But, to save you having to click on all those links, I'm just going to type out my own tutorial here. Cause I'm cool like that.

1) Go to My Live Signature. (OK, you have to click on one link)
2) Click on the yellow words "Click here to start". (You do not need to create a user account unless you want to)
3) Under "Creating a new signature" click "using the signature creation wizard" (in purple text).
4) Enter your name or whatever you want your signature to be (maximum length is 25 characters) and click "next step."
5) Select your font and click "next step."
6) Select the size and click "next step."
7) Select the background colour and the text colour and click "next step." (clicking on transparent is probably the most common for the background colour)
8) Set the slope and click "next step."
9) Your signature has been created. If you want to save it to your computer, right click directly on your displayed signature, click "save image as" and save it to your computer. This is not necessary though.
10) Under your signature you will see your signature ID and you will also see three purple text links. Click on the text link that says "want to use this signature?"
11) Another page will open up that is titled "Generating signature code". Click "Generate HTML code." (in purple)
12) Click the purple text link that says "Generate a code for my handwritten signature."
13) Your signature preview will pop up along with the HTML code - copy the code (select the entire text, right click and click "copy")
14) Open your blogger account.
15) Click on "settings" in your blog dashboard.
16) Click on "formatting."
17) Scroll down to the bottom where it says "post template."
18) Paste the copied HTML code into the "post template" box and click "save settings."
19) Voila - you're done! You now have a personal signature for your posts. Now every time you create a new post, your signature will appear.

If God is Good - Book Club Week 2

Mrs Oz from For Such a Time is hosting a summer book club featuring If God is Good by Randy Alcorn. See here for her post on Session 2: Accept the Diagnosis. I am totally late posting this, but better late than never.

Section 2 is titled Understanding Evil: Its Origins, Nature, and Consequences

The entry of evil into the universe came through the rebellion of Satan and other fallen angels, creatures whom God had originally created good. We do not know how evil could take hold in a perfect being - this is one of the mysteries that we are simply unable to understand and God has not explained it to us. But their rebellion did not surprise God.

One interesting point Alcorn makes...

What's the opposite of light? Darkness. What's the opposite of good? Evil. When asked to name the opposite of God, people often answer, "Satan". But that's false. Michael, the righteous archangel, is Satan's opposite. Satan is finite; God is infinite. God has no equal. (pg 51)

Technically this isn't even a fair fight. God will win and He will win decisively - it will be worse than a trouncing. But for now, Satan does have power. As Alcorn puts it - Scripture always describes Satan's power in the context of God's absolute sovereignty. Satan remains under God's authority at all times. The devil is nowhere close to being omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, or anything like God.......Satan is a lion, yes, but a lion on God's leash. (pg 52)

So why doesn't God end it now?

This quote is a bit lengthy, but I think it so hits the nail on the head that I need to share it...

John Piper writes, "Satan's fall and ongoing existence are for the glory of Christ. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, will be more highly honored and more deeply appreciated and loved in the end because he defeats Satan not the moment after Satan fell, but through millennia of long-suffering, patience, humility, servanthood, suffering, and decisively through his own death."

God has both the power and the right to destroy Satan and the demons now, which would demonstrate his justice. But he wants to display his other attributes as well, among them grace, mercy, and patience.

Every day that God delays his final judement against Satan is one more day to extend his grace to a needy world. And it is one more day for his kindness in Christ to accomplish in this fallen world the work for which we will be praising him ten million years from now. (pg 53, 54)

Another excellent point Alcorn is makes is that we, as humans, don't get to decide what is good or evil. God establishes whether something is good or evil and that is not based on what we want or don't want, what we understand or don't understand, human nature, culture or preferences.

If we come to see the purpose of the universe as God's long-term glory rather than our short-term happiness, then we will undergo a critical paradigm shift in tackling the problem of evil and suffering.
The world has gone terribly wrong.
God is going to fix it.
First, for his eternal glory.
Second, for our eternal good.

OK, this is getting rather long. I'm going to end with the one thing that probably impacted me the most from this section.

We need to grasp the seriousness of our own sin.

God despises sin. Any sin. He despises my sin and He despises your sin.

The biggest obstacle to the gospel today in our culture, is the complete ignorance of our own sin. In our culture, most people think that if they are good enough they will go to heaven. And that hell is only for the vilest offenders in prison. Basically everyone else is good enough. They certainly are personally. We don't see the need to be rescued.

In our current culture, we first need to convince people of the bads news (that they are sinners) before we can even begin to tell them the Good News.

The man swallowing ocean water and going under doesn't need to hear he's drowning; he needs a life preserver. But countless people today, arms flailing, as they attempt to keep their heads above water, don't believe they are drowning - and so don't think they need rescue. (pg 77)

If we don't have a correct view of sin we will never acknowledge our need for a Saviour. And, even worse, we minimize what Christ did for us on the cross.

And we don't only demonstrate evil by what we do, but also by what we fail to do, and by what we stand by and allow others to do.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. (James 4:17)

The following exerpt struck a huge nerve with me because I know for a fact that I would react the exact same way.....

Westley Allan Dodd tortured, molested, and murdered three boys. Dodd was scheduled to become the first US criminal hanged in three decades, shortly after midnight on January 4, 1993. At dinner that evening, both our daughters, then eleven and thirteen, prayed earnestly that Doddwould repent and place his faith in Christ before he died. I agreed with their prayer...but only because I knew I should...
Thirty minutes after Dodd, died, the twelve media eyewitnesses recounted the experience. I felt stunned as one of them read Dodd's last words: "I had thought there was no hope and no peace. I was wrong. I have found hope and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ."
Gasps and groans erupted from the gallery, fueled by palpable anger. How dare someone who had committed such heinous crimes claim that he had found hope and peace in Jesus! Did he really think God would let him into Heaven after what he'd done? Shut up and go to Hell, child killer! You won't get off so easy! The idea of God offering grace to Dodd utterly offended the crowd that had come to see justic done.
That's when it hit me in a deep and personal way - I am part of the same human race. I'd imagined the distnace between Dodd and me as the difference between the South and North poles. But from God's viewpoint, the distance is neglible. Apart from Christ, I am Dodd. I am Osama bin Laden. I am Hitler. Only by the virtue of Christ can I stnad forgiven before a holy God.
This isn't hyperbole; it's biblical truth. Unless we come to grips with the fact that we're of precisely the same stock as Dodd and Stalin and Mao, we'll never get over thinking that we deserve better. Evil done to us will offend us, and having to suffer will outrage us. We'll never appreciate Christ's grace so long as we hold on to the proud illusion that we're better than we are.....

Apart from Christ, we are different from every notorious murderer and ruthless dictator only in degree, not in kind.....

The greater our grasp of our sin and alientation from God, the greater our grasp of God's grace.

Obviously we are not only evil.
Obviously some people do far more acts of evil than others.
Obviously we are capable of numerous acts of goodness - indeed, humanity could not survive otherwise.

But we need to quit denying responsibility for our own sin.
We need to quit casting blame.
We need to acknowledge and recognize our sin, and take the steps necessary to guard our hearts.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Just another day in the life of Olivia

It was just another day in the life of Olivia.

Only it was kindergarten registration day!!

Finally, the long awaited day had arrived (yes, this story is a few months old, but I had to tell it!). I had been very clear with her several times that this wasn't kindergarten, and she wasn't going to get to start kindergarten for a long time yet. No false expectations here!

I had previously made arrangements to drop Jacob off at Nathan's mom's so we could celebrate this special day just the two of us. So, we dropped him off and then off we went to school.

They had a couple of long tables set up outside the office with books and colouring for the kids to do while the parents filled out the registration forms.

So, I sat down to fill out the forms and Olivia quietly sat down and started to read traipsed into the office and sat down behind the desk with the secretary. By the time I was done, the secretary had given her a pen and was asking her whether she'd like to make an announcement over the intercom! So, over the intercom, the secretary introduced Olivia to the school and then Olivia got to say "Recess is outside. Recess is outside."

The kid's not even in school yet and she's already done something 98% of the kids have never done!

Of course, Emma & Sophia heard the announcement and came down to say hi and a few of the teachers did too.

I had told Olivia that we would go see the kindergarten class and if it was empty we could look around a bit. Well, it wasn't empty but Mrs. H recognized Olivia (of course!) and invited her in to choruses of "Hi Olivia!" from the class. The teacher asked her if she knew anyone there (knowing of course that she did) and she said "A! She's my best friend!" at which point another little girl piped up "A is my best friend". Thankfully it ended there. Then Olivia was invited to stay for the rest of story time and she sat down criss cross apple sauce like she'd been sitting down in storytime with this class every day this year. When the story was over the recess bell rang and the kids begged if Olivia could play with them at recess. Unfortunately this whole process had taken significantly longer than I had anticipated (what had I been thinking would happen exactly?!), and we needed to go eat lunch yet! So, we left to choruses of "Bye Olivia!" Yup, she was quite the star!

Then I took her to a local restaurant for lunch.

Which apparently was the highlight of her day. Who needs kindergarten when you've got mom to yourself at the restaurant!

Later I told her to tell her dad/grandma/grandpa/etc what the secretary let her do at school today. You know, expecting her to tell them about the intercom excitement. Nope.

"She gave me a pen!"

Yep, just another day in the life of Olivia.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

If God is Good - Book Club Week 1

Mrs Oz from For Such a Time is hosting a summer book club featuring If God is Good by Randy Alcorn.

This week we read the introduction and Section 1 - Understanding the Problem of Evil and Suffering.

The problem of evil and suffering is likely the world's "best" argument against God. How to reconcile the fact that evil and suffering exist, and that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. The argument goes, of course, that since God is not stopping evil He must be either not powerful enough to stop it, or not loving enough to care.

There is one assumption being made however that needs to be challenged. Perhaps there is a reason God is not stepping in to stop all evil right now.

A couple interesting points brought up in the first section....

1) Personally experiencing evil and suffering puts our theology to the test. We may think we know what we believe about evil and suffering and how an all-powerful, all-loving God fits into that, but when we experience it ourselves, that's where what we really think comes through. We need to study the Word and find out exactly what it says about evil and suffering, so that when (not if!) we experience it ourselves, we will be better equipped to deal with it.

2) Personally experiencing evil and suffering usually destroys a weak faith, and enriches an already strong faith. A weak faith was likely faith in something other than God to begin. And the experience of evil and suffering reveals it to be false. Which will result in either a complete loss of faith, or the development of true faith for the first time. An already strong faith will withstand the experience of evil and suffering and come out stronger than before.

3) Christians often have the faulty notion that being a Christian means that God will protect us from all evil and suffering. In fact, the Bible is clear that the exact opposite is true. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 I think this is a very important thing that we need to teach our children. It's an incredibly difficult thing to teach because we don't even fully understand it all. But they need to know that God is not a genie in a bottle. They need to know that they will experience bad times (some their own fault through poor choices, others not their own fault). They need to know that God will not always rescue them from evil and suffering here on earth. But they also need to know that God understands how horrible it is, and He is with us through it all, and that eventually, eternally, God and good will prevail.

I am thoroughly enjoying this book (I knew I would - Randy Alcorn is an amazing writer and researcher)! Stay tuned for further installments...


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