This is War: Christ’s First And Second Coming

If you’ve ever met me in the flesh, I’ve probably told you about the huge impact that Bible Study Fellowship has had on my life in the past two years. This year, we are studying Revelation. While I was theoretically excited about the study, it felt so abstract. In the bible, so much of what we are doing is studying what has been written in the past to people in the past, whereas with with Revelation we are studying what was written in the past that describes the future. Suffice to say that I had been having a hard time this year tying the coming Christmas season with the second coming we see in Revelation. I was loving both aspects of God’s plan, but had a hard time thinking of them being the same Jesus. That was, until one morning on my way to leader’s meeting on Saturday at 5:40 AM…

But first, by way of background, a quick story. If you’ve ever met me, the conversation has probably turned to music as well. And in that conversation I’m sure I’ve told you about how much I love Dustin Kensrue. About 5 years ago he put out a Christmas album with a combination of both original songs and covers. The original closing track1 of the album was a song called “This Is War”. While I liked the message, I didn’t love the music of it. The sparseness of the arrangement just didn’t hit me. Last year, Dustin released a new Christmas EP under the name The Modern Post. On that EP, he re-interpreted “This is War” and let me tell you I am a fan! Just listen to it!

The song just sounds apocalyptic. The crazy horns. The driving nature of the drums. I love everything about this version.
And so, that one Saturday morning, driving on the freeway at 5:40 in the morning, with the sky black and with a prepared heart, I saw the connection between Christ’s First and Second Coming. It’s maybe better if we look at some of the lyrics of the song.

This is war like you ain’t seen
This winter’s long, it’s cold and mean
With downcast hearts, we stood condemned,
But the tide turns now at Bethlehem.

This is war, and born tonight
The Word as flesh, the Lord of Light,
The Son of God, the low-born King,
Whom demons fear, of whom angels sing.

The first two verses of the song really got me into the Christmas mindset that Christ is coming as a baby. And then, it was like we were stepping right into Revelation:

Hallelujah! A Child is born!
He is the rescue we’ve waited for!
The Throne of David, He will restore
And reign with mercy forevermore!

So much of what we’ve been studying in Revelation 1-7 has been that Christ is the rightful king and He alone is worthy to take the scroll from God’s hand, open the scroll, and to fulfill God’s plan for the end of this Earth. He holds the “Key of David” (Revelation 3:7), and is the Root of David who has conquered (Revelation 5:5). This reminded me that he was born in the town of David. We are also spending so much time in BSF studying being in God’s throne room in Revelation 4-6. We see God on His throne, with the elders, living creatures, angels, and all of creation worshipping God and His Son, the Lamb.

Then, the next verse really solidified the connection:

This is war on sin and death,
The dark will take its final breath;
It shakes the earth, confounds all plans,
The mystery of God-as-man!

In Revelation we are seeing the finality of God’s judgment. We studied the Day of the Lord in Joel and saw how God has been calling for us to repent for millennia, yet we have hardened our hearts and reject Him as King. God is patient, giving all an opportunity to repent. Our during lecture, our BSF teaching leader pointed to the fact that Jesus completed the work of defeating sin and death 2,000 years ago on the Cross. That is something that is so easy for me to forget as we study God’s final judgment of those who are not covered by the blood of the Lamb.

As the line “it shakes the earth, confounds all plans” played, I couldn’t help think of Revelation 6:12-17 (ESV) (emphasis added):

[12]When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, [13]and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. [14]The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. [15] Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, [16]calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, [17]for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

The plans of those who did not trust Jesus to cover their sins are confounded, the earth is in disarray, this Lowborn King is bringing about God’s final plan for this current Earth. He will bring about the New Heaven and the New Earth. While we wait for His second coming, may we rejoice and share the good news He brought with His first coming.

It also makes me think of another Christmas song: “Come thou long expected Jesus”

Scripture quotations marked “ESV” are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

  1. 2 additional songs have since been added. 

The Mrs. Has A New Blog

Allow me a moment of personal privilege. I have lots of things I’d like to write up for my blog, but don’t have enough time right now. In the meantime, my wife recently relaunched her blog about cheerful home design. While I had initially tried to get her to use WordPress, we moved her over from Blogger to Squarespace. In the end, it turned out to be a good platform for her to be able to design the site how she wanted.

There are two things that drive me absolutely batty about the platform, though.

  1. It is basically impossible to link to a post on your site without knowing the exact slug. You can pull up a list of pages, but not a list of posts.
  2. There is no common media gallery, every image lives within the specific post you are working on. So, if you need to reuse an image in another post or page, you need to upload it again.

Also, I don’t want to even guess what kind of JavaScript voodoo they have running there.

Monoprice Earbuds

At the beginning of May I had a meeting with the guy who was our Lab Tech while I was in college studying Audio Recording. Both of us are no longer in the industry, but we spent a good amount of time talking about how much the consumerization of audio has changed where the transducer industry is going.1 During that conversation he mentioned that you could get a great deal ($13.99) on a pretty good pair of in-ear, noise-isolating2 headphones at Monoprice.

I'm super easily distracted when working (I have a curious brain) so, I decided to try them out, and despite the fact that they're always wiggling around in my ear canals, I really like them. These are not the best in-ears out there, but for under $15, they are a great deal. The low-end usually overwhelms the mids and highs, so I just turn on the “Bass Reducer” EQ preset on Spotify/iTunes/Apple Music. Then things sounds pretty great (again, for $15).

In fact, as I'm writing this I'm sitting up at the cabin my in-laws rent reading and typing from the kitchen table while the rest of the adults watch The Bourne Supremacy about 10 feet away and I have been focused on reading and writing since I took out the earpods and put these in. I'd highly recommend you check out these if you're easily distracted by sounds and need to work remotely often.

07-15-2015 09:50 PM: It looks like the headphones are temporarily on sale for $10 – you may want to get them now!

Hi-Fi Reflective Sound Technology Earphones w/ Microphone-Black/Bronze –

  1. BLUE Microphones will always be a professional brand that happens to make some consumer products in my mind. I remember when the Mouse and Dragonfly were the two cheapest mics that they made. And let's not forget about their short-lived Red Microphones. A few years ago, even though had stopped recording years earlier, I picked up a Blue Kiwi as it was always my dream mic and I found one for an incredible deal. 
  2. Note these are noise-isolating, not noise-canceling. Noise-cancelation makes me feel queasy due to the phase-cancelation techniques it uses. I'm all about passive noise-isolation. 

529 Moon Shot

Save or Die

It's impossible to escape the temptation to compare student loan payments to mortgage payments. Both are methods of post-funding “American dreams” using either direct federal funds or rely heavily on federal guarantees. Both are highly profitable and “too big to (let) fail”. Both represent a de facto securitization of middle class salaries by a blend of federal agencies and Wall Street.

At least a mortgagor can sell their home in a healthy housing market to extinguish mortgage debt. The security backing student loans isn't so liquid: the salary of the college graduate. This asset, too, can be sold, but only in installments of time for decades.

My goodness, Eddie Smith has written a real barn burner about paying for college. As the father of two daughters (and hopefully more kids in the future), the skyrocketing cost of higher education infuriates me. The scenario that Eddie didn't discuss, and which I think is the most likely, is that as the country liberalizes, state-run colleges and universities become free.

While I agree with Eddie that it'd be bad for society to lose those in the liberal arts, I know far too many of my peers with Medevial Art History or Youth Ministry majors that cost $80,000-100,000 and earn all of $40-45,000/year. There needs to be some check-and-balance system so that people stop paying for degrees that they can never pay off out of their future earnings.

My wife and I are both unbelievably blessed that our college educations were paid for either directly or indirectly by our parents. My parents set up a business that I had to manage and then the earnings were mine to pay for school. I hope to be able to do something like that for my kids so they still have to work hard for their education, but without needing to wait tables.

This dovetails well with the article that Bradley Chambers referenced:

The more and more I use online learning from places like, Codecademy, and even to supplement gaps in my personal knowledge and technical training, the more I'm hopeful that somehow, non-traditional learning will gain traction and pop the bubble of assembly-line learning found in most higher-ed today. And just in case that doesn't happen, I'm working my tail off to save for my kids.

How To Rest

Someone I follow on Twitter tweeted a link to one of Shawn Blanc’s weekly newsletters entitled How to get it all done. I’ve never really read Shawn Blanc’s content. This piece, however, may change all that.

Spend less time on counterfeit rest: things like television, video games, social media, mindless internet surfing — these things can be time sinks. Moreover, they don’t leave us feeling refreshed, motivated, or recharged. You most definitely need breaks and time to rest, but there are some great ways to do it other than zoning out.

During this school year I have been attending Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) on Monday nights. One of the themes that keeps coming through as we’ve studied in Exodus 20, 34, Leviticus 25, and Deuteronomy 5 has been taking a day of true rest every week. So when I read Shawn’s post, it really resonated with me.

While taking a Sabbath may sound really legalistic and “Old Covenant”-y, it’s not. God rested at the end of the creation account. Christ came “to fulfill the law”. I recommend you check out Tim Keller’s excellent sermon on resting in a modern context.

For Christians, taking a Sabbath to truly rest, is for our good in multiple ways.

  1. It demonstrates, to an increasingly busy world, that God will provide for our needs when we trust Him instead of our own works.
  2. It causes us to put our faith in God in specific ways and see the miraculous outcomes. Concerned that X won’t get done and your life will unravel because you didn’t “do anything” on Sunday? Trust God to provide and see what happens.
  3. Obedience to God deepens our relationship with Him and pleases Him.
  4. It gives us the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual rejuvination necessary to continue loving Christ to the best of our ability.

I’m not saying that nothing that resembles work can be done: we still need to cook and shower and take care of our kids on Sunday. Churches still need people to be ushers, serve communion, and preach and clean. What I have been so encouraged by through BSF is the heart attitude we need to take to resting on Sundays. That can be through the no-work, only paper plates and MRE’s on Sundays or it can be through joyful, active service to God. The BSF notes say it better than I could:

The important question is: do you observe the [Sabbath] in any significant way?

And one of the other core issues BSF has really hit home this year as we’ve studied The Life of Moses is the importance of obedience. Obedience does not gain us salvation, but it is an outward demonstration that indicates that we are children of God.

Thinking about obedience makes me paraphrase the Mute, Demon-Possessed Boy’s father from Mark 9:24 (ESV)

“I obey; help my disobedience!”

May we rest in the finished work of Christ tomorrow.

Scripture quotations marked “ESV” are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

Comcast ≠ Blockbuster

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always felt like Dan Lyons was desperate for attention. Now I know he is:

Daniel Lyons, visiting fellow at AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications and Technology, thinks antitrust regulators may be too stuck in the present when it comes to the Comcast-Time Warner Cable. He cites a blast from the past to make his point:
“Ten years ago, the FTC successfully blocked the merger between Blockbuster and Hollywood Video because the combined company would have dominated the market for video store rentals — failing to appreciate that technology was shifting so quickly that ‘video store rentals’ was no longer a relevant market,” he writes. “Without the scale to compete against new technologies, both companies eventually collapsed. It remains to be seen whether regulators have made the same mistake here.“

Comparing Blockbuster (a company whose revenue was already on the decline in 2005 and didn’t provide access to anything critical to our society) to Comcast (a company whose revenue continues to grow and has roughly 20% of the country’s broadband subscribers) is absurd. But, as John Gruber has pointed out, Dan Lyons specializes in the absurd.

The billionaire’s typewriter

Still, I wouldn’t say that Medium’s ho­mo­ge­neous de­sign is bad ex ante. Among web-pub­lish­ing tools, I see Medium as the equiv­a­lent of a frozen pizza: not as whole­some as a meal you could make your­self, but for those with­out the time or mo­ti­va­tion to cook, a po­ten­tially bet­ter op­tion than just eat­ing peanut but­ter straight from the jar.

I’ve never understood Medium. This quote just about sums it up for me.

Using Siri Better to Write Posts and Messages

It’s not convenient to explain punctuation to Siri, but if it’s just occasional, or you don’t have your hands free, these commands can save some time in the editing process.

I think it’s best if you use Siri inside a text editing app like Drafts…It’s easier to edit things there, and sometimes Siri botches things so using the service by pressing and holding the home button still feels a bit risky.

Jordan Shirkman does a fantastic job explaining the best way to use Siri on your iPhone/iPad. He also has the best list I’ve ever seen of punctuation commands for Siri.

Personally, I go back and forth between his method of speaking text into Drafts and just making an audio note in Evernote. I generally try to keep my documents as text, if possible to make sure they’re searchable, but when I need to get an idea out quickly or it’s technical in nature, I find it works better to make them an audio note in Evernote and transcribe later.

Two Map Photos Workflows on iOS

A few weeks ago I thought I’d be clever (too clever it turns out) and try to integrate Dr. Drang’s Pythonista Script with Workflow so I could map photo locations directly from I was hoping to use Workflow to create an action extension that could grab a photo, put it to the clipboard and then run to display the location of the photo on a map without having to launch the script through Launch Center Pro or, slower still, opening up Pythonista, navigating to the script, and then tapping run. Unfortunately that project turned out to be a miserable failure because clipboard.get_image() in Pythonista doesn’t allow you to get the metadata of the image on the clipboard. Out of sheer laziness I left the useless workflow on my phone, taunting me every time I opened the app.

With the advent of general stability in Workflow 1.11, I decided to spend some time thinking about how I could better use the app. Tonight, for some reason, inspiration struck when I saw the Map Photos workflow looking me in the eyes. So I decided to take on the challenge.

The initial workflow idea was to create an action extension that could select multiple photos and display them all as separate pins on the map. While I think this is possible, I didn’t want to get derailed with that. I just wanted a reliable way to serially display multiple images on a map on iOS. The easiest way I could figure out how to do this was by using an X-Callback-URL. The problem is that there isn’t a reliable way to return to the source app when using an X-Callback-URL from an action extension on iOS. Also, Apple Maps doesn’t support the callback function of the X-Callback spec, obviously.

So I looked online and it turns out that Google Maps on iOS does support the X-Callback-URL spec, making the choice a no-brainer. So I built two different workflows:

  • one that would be able to run as an action extension to map photos directly from as well as other apps, and
  • one that could take a series of images, display them in Google Maps, then return to Workflow to load up the location of the next image and send that one to Google Maps.

The what I like better about the Dr.’s method is that it actually grabs the Latitude and Longitude from the image file, whereas my workflows grab the address. I typically prefer Lat/Long because, especially in rural or newly developed areas, using the address can be highly inaccurate. This is another reason why I’m using Google Maps on iOS for this project. Three years into Apple Maps I still trust Google’s data more.

  1. probably because now I know that the steps of my workflows won’t just randomly be erased when running the workflow 

Dustin Kensrue on The Reformed Pubcast

I’m really bored with the whole beer scene, so I just rolled my eyes when I saw that there is something called The Reformed Pubcast. However, I did see that they had Dustin Kensrue on the show recently so I decided to check out that episode.

Aside from the boring beer talk at the beginning and the seemingly endless “Would you rather” game at the end, it was a pretty good show. Some things I enjoyed learning about:

  • Dustin wasn’t reformed until sometime in The Alchemy Index or possibly Beggars
  • Dustin pointed to Tim Keller helpful view on the Doctrines of Grace – it’s like a jawbreaker. The outer shell is so hard, but the inside is so sweet once you get through the tough stuff
  • From Dustin’s view, Thrice is an introverted band.

Go check it out if you’ve got 90 minutes or so to spare.