Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorial Day Plus

We had a cookout for Memorial Day. Up north, this is called a barbecue. Down south, barbecue is a specific type of food, not an event. Nevertheless, my son's birthday is 5/31 and my father-in-law's birthday is 5/29, so we usually have a cookout about this time to celebrate. With my wife and kids leaving for Venezuela on 6/2 for 10 weeks, we also turned the event into a send-off party with the rest of the Venezuelan team here are some photos:

Alysha was the matron of honor at our wedding. She is in the pool with her youngest and our youngest.

Another pool picture.

At the far end of the porch is my wife's side of the family.

My wife's long-time friends and most of their chaps.

Some past, present and future Venezuela teens.

My brother and his wife - and the Sipes. The two IT guys hit it off. My brother does systems programming at Baptist Hospital and Steven does information security for Wachovia. Hank, in the back, lays tile while he studies Bible at Columbia International University, where I studied.

This is the first year for the Ellenburgs to go to Venezuela.

Anyone hungry?

Brent (center) and his family were the first from our church to go to Venezuela. Michael (left) is the team leader for this year's team. Janine (right) is the licensed testing practitioner who administers the yearly national test for our homeschooled kids.

My son and some of the other boys.

More really cool kids.

My daughter and her friend, just out of the pool.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I've Been Tagged ...

By curiouslady. I need to think of 8 things and tag 3 other people.

  1. It took 40 years for me to realize that I had curly hair. I thought it was straight with a slight wave because I've always trained it that way thinking that those stray hairs were just being misfits. My barber mentioned to my wife recently that I have curly hair and I had to consider that those "stray hairs" were just acting normal. So the onset of my controlled "mid-life crisis" involves letting my hair be curly once in a while.
  2. I've studied music, physics and Bible in 6 colleges and universities.
  3. I was a horrible music student and a great physics and Bible student. However, I've since been a professional musician while I've never made a dime at physics or Bible.
  4. My parents thought I was crazy for wanting to be a musician.
  5. I have enough control over my facial muscles to do the wave with my eyebrows.
  6. While I write primarily with my right hand (it's easier when writing from left to right) I'm ambidextrous.
  7. I have a mild case of ADHD. Neither of my parents had it, but my kids all seem to have inherited it to some degree, especially my daughter. My wife doesn't find it amusing.
  8. I taught myself Phoenician (not the whole language) in middle school and then taught it to a couple of buddies so we could pass notes in class so no one would know what we wrote if we got caught. Can you imagine what would go through a teacher's mind if (s)he looked at a confiscated note, asked what it was and heard the reply, "Why, it's Phoenician of course"?
Since it seems that Blogster is well saturated with people who have been tagged, I'll cross the boundary line and tag bloggers outside of Blogster.

I tag Kymmeigh, PaPaTevia and Oceans_Beautiful_View.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Around the House

I'm on vacation this week and methinks there's more work to do than can be done in a week. What will get done will get done. We are hosting a Memorial day cookout. It's Luke's b-day, his paw-paw's b-day and Lois and the kids' going away. I think we're up over 60 attendees with members of the Venezuela team and family all coming. Here are some photos of what we're doing today:

Here's the front porch. You can see where we're painting the railing and putting tin on the roof.

This is a closeup of the new color. The old color is the dark "monkey shine" and the new is the beige.

I'm painting the ceiling where we have rebuilt the roof. I'm kinda wishing we had decided to seal it in insyead of leaving it open.

Here is Lois' dad climbing up on the roof to work.

Here is Hope painting the rails.

Update on the house.... My father-in-law fell down the steps in the shed. At least he didn't fall off the roof. Nevertheless, he hurt himself somehow. He says nothing is broken, but we think he may have cracked a rib. He still won't go get it x-rayed. The roof needs to be finished and I'll go do it myself tomorrow. I'm done with half of the porch ceiling and it'll have to stay that way for now.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Art and the Artist

I was looking through the blogs on my news reader and came across an interesting article on the value of art entitled "Low-Brow Thoughts on High-Brow Art" posted by Justin Taylor on his blog, Between Two Worlds. It concerned this painting which just sold for nearly $73 million:

An interesting discussion ensued. As I contemplated the value of art I was struck by a parallel between art created by humans and the artistry of creation by the Creator. I arrived at the conclusion that the value of art is recognized by understanding its context and posted my thoughts in the comments. I'll reiterate them here for your consideration:

My take is that it's all about context.

If you hang this painting on a blank wall next to a Where's Waldo and don't give me an inkling that this is supposed to be important somehow, then I might give it a glance and head straight for the Where's Waldo.

If I walk into a classroom with a bunch of scribble pictures on the wall, I'll look for the name of my kid and admire the one he did. If you don't tell me which one he did, I'd never give it a second glance.

If I didn't have any idea that we were created in the image of God, I wouldn't bother to look for Him in anyone. God is our context.

This painting is worth little if anything without the history of the genre and knowledge of the artist, which is its context.

The difference between the high brows and the low brows is knowledge of the context. The difference between Christians and non-Christians is the knowledge of the Artist that created us.

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Filming in the Bible Belt

I haven't posted on it because I haven't had much to say. I'm not big on our celebrity culture and don't pay too much attention to celebrities in general. George Clooney has been in our quiet little town of Statesville, NC, filming Leatherheads. He co-authored it, is directing it and starring in it. It's a football movie set in the 1920s. He has found a building or few in the area that fits the style of the time period and works well for the movie.

Whenever they are filming one can go downtown and see a small crowd observing. My wife and I went one evening to see what the hubbub was all about. I found it interesting that they were paying people to stand on either end of the section of street they have blocked off to shout that the cameras were rolling or had cut. We also happened to run across fellow members of the drama team from church who we learned had become regular observers.

Come to find out, these members of our church drama team had intentions other than star gazing. They have spoken to the crew and obtained prayer requests for the filming of the movie. What in the world are Christians doing praying for something so banal as the filming of a secular Hollywood movie? What is transpiring is something notable. Many of the specific prayer requests are being answered to the extent that the crew members have taken notice. The process of filming is generally time consuming and fraught with high pressures and short tempers in an effort to keep on schedule and within budget. The crew is observing that the filming here has been remarkable smooth and enjoyable to the extent that Mr. Clooney has sought to speak with these little prayer warriors of ours.

Does it matter for the Kingdom of God if this movie stays on schedule? No, but God has sent witnesses who pray. Did it matter whether Elijah's wet altar caught on fire? No, but God sent a witness to pray. The altar was consumed. The filming of this movie is going well. We pray that souls are awakened to the grace of God in Jesus Christ through the evidence of our actions. Hollywood has met the Bible Belt. We pray that lost souls meet Christ.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The Deceptive Economy of Taxonomic Reclassification

If you made your way past the title, congratulations.

What is doing publishing an article about Biological Taxonomy? Apparently scientists motivated by the politics of environmentalism are playing accounting games with the classification of species. I suppose where naturalists discount metaphysical epistemologies, they deem it perfectly ethical to infuse (and confuse) scientific discovery with considerations that have political goals.

On another note, I instruct my kids that biological taxonomy is helpful for identifying similar morphological traits, but the use of the phrase, "animal type x is related to animal type y," should not be confused with the purpose of naturalists to use morphological similarities to identify unproven genetic heritage between and above classification by family which indicate irreconcilable genetic dissimilarity despite common morphologies.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Good Philosophy for Christian Apologetical Debate

A Good Philosophy for Christian Apologetical Debate

Apologetics is not for the faint-hearted, the weak-minded or the thin-skinned. Perhaps this is why so few choose to engage in apologetical debate. When one forms a worldview and displays it openly on the block for all to see, one can expect it to be challenged with the coldness of exceptional erudition. Occasionally, those who stop to observe the debate may wring tender hands and beg the mental carnage to stop. Steve Hays answered one such yesterday at Triablogue and finished by expounding on a good well-balanced philosophy for engaging in the academic art of apologetical debate.

You can read his post here:

Hecklers for humanism

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Jerry Falwell - RIP

"Guys, this just in...Jerry Falwell is now a Calvinist!"

I found that off-topic quote among comments of a post at Triablogue. As a Reformed theologian (aka: Calvinist), I have to admit that I chuckled. Jerry Falwell was anything but a Calvinist. He is being remembered now, as he was observed last week, to be a colorful character. The best any of us can say of ourselves is that we are redeemed by Christ. Jerry bore that message as well. I suggest that whether its Reformed theology or some other theology, he likely knows the Truth now. Nevertheless, of all the things we say of him, may we say that he has given his best for God and that God has blessed us for it.

My highest regards to his family and to those who knew him well. Our prayers are with you.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

New Blogger!!!

My wife has just set up a new blog!!!!!!

She plans on using it to tell about what she's doing in Venezuela. She leaves June 2 with the kids and will return in August with the rest of the team - which includes me.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Decision for Position

The Wagner concert was a blast - literally - and if you're familiar with Wagner you know that's a good thing. The balcony box seats were great. Only the second violins were obscured from view without completely leaning over the edge to see them. We also had a good view of most of the rest of the audience. Rodney Harrison, our director of worship, was one of the several added to compliment the numbers of the Oratorio singers in order to tackle the size of the sound that Wagner is known for. His wife and daughter came in and sat on the orchestra level. His daughter waved ecstatically when she saw us and proceeded to plug her ears during the periods of applause.

Lest you doubt the worthiness of such an activity as attending a playing of Wagner, I assure you that I prefer participation in worship. Nevertheless, despite the poor philosophical intent such composers exhibited, it is God who has created music to stir us. Even hymn writers are sinners, but God redeems creation. This sort of brilliant music provides a context for understanding where our musical sensibilities originate culturally so that we may turn music into worship with understanding. But the focus must be on God and not ourselves, and that is the purpose of this post.

As I watched the musicians filter onto the stage and warm up in preparation, I was reminded of my time spent as a physics major at UNC Charlotte. Late in my last year there, I had decided to leave it all to study Bible. I nevertheless finished the year.

My schedule was full. I was taking advanced math and physics courses, logic and computer programming as electives. I was also working two part-time jobs, and I was still acing my courses. I had impressed one professor enough in lab that he offered me a position in his graduate lab although I would still be an undergrad the following year if I stayed. This would have gotten me well ahead of my peers and ensured a healthy placement in a lab or school somewhere where I could earn significant grant or private research money. My area of interest was particle-photon interactions. On a side note, I impressed my professor because I was unwilling to fudge numbers in order to accomplish the task. I was often the last in the lab working diligently to produce the most accurate results with the equipment I was given and record the data accurately. I was also particularly detailed about recording uncontrolled factors that could skew results. (As an aside, my fellow classmates - the ones who rushed through lab - are our scientists and engineers today. Unless they typically have some revelation between undergraduate lab work and a carrer in their field of study, this exemplifies the quality of scientific endeavor we see today. Science is only as good as the scientists.)

Given my heavy course load and work schedule, I was in need of an activity where I could relax. To this end I auditioned for the university wind ensemble. Dr. Bish, then the head of the music department, auditioned me. Having been a professional trombonist in the Marine Corps the audition was a breeze. In high school, I had even demonstrated a capacity to write orchestral scores. He gave me 2d chair, first trombone. He said he would have made my 1st chair, but the trombonist he gave it to was actually a music ed major whose primary instrument was trombone - and he needed the experience. Apparently Dr. Bish called the orchestra who in turn gave me a call and offered me a chair as a trombonist. I couldn't help but think that I could have been one of the musicians taking their seats that night if I had only decided not to leave Charlotte.

I went to Columbia Bible College the next year. While I left all else behind, God gave me a heart for missions there. I had fellow students from around the world. I met people who make a larger impact on the world than the greatest world leaders. I met people who had come from different factions of war-torn former Yugoslavia who met together to worship God. I met a photographer from behind the iron curtain who had the most remarkable historical pictures of the fall of the Soviet Union I'll ever see. I met people from China, India, Africa... I met a man from North Dakoda who discovered in him a call to go to the Bedouin people in Saudi Arabia with the gospel.

I came home from Columbia with a desire to go anywhere that God opened the door for me to go. Lois caught this same passion. Now, while I stay home and work to pay the bills, she is taking our children into the mission field for the summer. Our trip to Charlotte was a final get-away for my wife and I before she leaves.

So as I watch the orchestra prepare, I consider the decision I made. A decision of position. I could have a good position as a researcher and have a good side position in an orchestra. I have chosen another position - that of obedience to God. While God could have called me to the lab and the orchestral stage, He has called me to involvement in missions. I could be a great man, but I would rather be in a garbage dump with the odor of septic garbage in my nostrils, the sight of dust devils carrying garbage hundreds of feet into the air to strew them miles across the land, beholding people the world deems as unimportant and worthless sorting through the garbage for sustenance as I hold the dearest girl I'll never meet again until we meet at the throne of Christ - Genesis. While the strains of Wagner echo yet in my mind's ear, the greatest music I long for is the cry of a sinner who has realized his salvation and become broken for Christ.

I'd rather be nowhere else but in the will of God.

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