Cease and Desist

Based on my lack of time, lack of writing skills, and lack of anything constructive to say, I’ve decided to discontinue my regular contributions to this blog. Posting once every 18 months has proved to be a much-too ambitious goal, so I’ve resolved to officially let this thing go stagnant until further notice. If this makes you sad, you can always follow @sees on Twitter, where I post updates at least twice as often as I do here on the blog. There you can stay up to date on things that matter to me; namely, the greatness of God, and the cute, funny, and/or inappropriate things my kids and/or wife may say or do.

So, until I have something important to say in more than 140 characters, so long my faithful reader(s).

Still Learning

I meant for this to be posted back in January, so please pardon the tardiness.

Last year was one full of life lessons, many of which are probably understood to be common sense to all you smart people out there. But, lo, I had to be taught these things the hard way. Here are the top 8 bits of wisdom I learned in 2008, in no particular order.

1. Owning a home does not automatically equate to a slew of tax writeoffs.

2. Crabgrass is much easier to grow than Bermuda.

3. My quiver may not be full yet.

4. The Word of God is living and active.

5. God is completely fulfilled, glorified, and soveriegn in and of Himself.

6. I am completely arrogant, selfish, and apathetic in and of myself.

7. Boasting about tomorrow is a symptom of pride and ignorance.

8. My wife is very patient and forgiving.

So long 2008, thanks for the memories.

Worship Matters

A year ago I started reading Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin. I’m a slow and inconsistent reader, so it took me quite a few months to finish it, and now even longer to blog about it. To get an overview of the book, dig these videos:

Part 1: The Leader

Part 2: The Task

Part3: Healthy Tensions

Part 4: Right Relationships

With no explicit biblical definition of a worship leader, Kauflin uses this book to expose the truths in scripture and applies them to the context of modern-day worship services and how they should be lead. With music being one of the biggest (if not the biggest) area of tension in the church for centuries, Kauflin gracefully and unapologetically offers resolution, in light of the unity we all share in Christ.

As one of the foundations, Kauflin offers a fantastic definition of a worship leader:

A faithful worship leader
Magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ
Through the power of the Holy Spirit
By skillfully combining God’s Word with music
Thereby motivating the gathered church
To proclaim the gospel
To cherish God’s presence
And to live for God’s glory

As Kauflin mentions in the 2nd video, there’s a lot to unpack there. And he takes 1/4 of the book to do so.

I’ve been one to ramble about the inconsistencies and ignorance played out in congregational singing, as well as the way we (the modern church) toss around the word “worship” fairly flippantly. I’ve realized over the years that some of those rants are based on biblical truths, while other issues are simply my own personal preference, based on my “humble and right” opinion. Fortunately, I didn’t write this book. Kauflin presents the concept of “heathly tensions” that gives validity to both sides of seemingly opposing views and preferences, such as traditional verses contemporary, wordy verses simple lyrics, and Windows versus Mac. (Actually, I think he’s saving that last one for another book.) All the things I had ranted about were suddenly articulated in a much clearer and more graceful way…and then there were twice as many other thoughts that I hadn’t ever considered before.

In the book, Bob addresses a slew of topics involved with leading and facilitating a music ministry, from personal spiritual issues to musical skill and technique. As I read, I was refreshed by Kauflin’s encouragement, proclamation of truth, and overall desire to see God’s people use the tool of music to worship their Creator in spirit and in truth.

After reading Worship Matters, I was encouraged to

  1. Do what I’ve been gifted to do, not necessarily what I want to do
  2. Study the Word more intently, realizing that it is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword
  3. Read more books on theology, rather than being so music-centric
  4. Pray for my pastors and leaders, submitting to their authority, understanding that God has placed them over me

As excited as I was about this book, and as cool as I think Bob Kauflin is, I have to remind myself (or perhaps my wife will remind me) that no book or person should take our attention away from the true Person and Word of God Himself. The cool thing is that every time I’ve talked to people about the book, the very nature of the text has spurred God-honoring spiritual fellowship.

On a scale from 1 to Awesome, I give it 5 stars. Read it.

Finally Launched

LiftoffWell, I finally got around to officially launching SparrowVisual.com. It was originally due in January, but my heavy workload wouldn’t allow for it…and I’m thankful for that.

From here on out, I’ll be diverting design-related posts to the Sparrow site, and reserving this blog for more personal stuff. Nerdliness and matters of faith will be imminent in both sites because I can’t deny those things.

So, of the 2 of you who subscribe to this RSS feed, I would imagine that at least 25% of you would also enjoy the Sparrow Journal.

Back to work.

Sparrow Visual

I’m happy to announce that I’ll now be doing business as Sparrow Visual.

Sparrow Visual

December 1 marked my first day of being a full-time self-employed designer, and so far its been a great week. I’m currently working on a custom website for a photographer in Arizona, which should launch before Christmas. You can check out the landing page at lyralyra.com.

It’s been exciting and humbling to see the Lord provide for us. I’m sure that our faith will be stretched all the more as the months and years go on, but it will be good to be reminded that He is the one who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field. And if He says that we are more valuable than the sparrows and flowers, then we will be well provided for.

Major Injury

I’m laying on my back right now with my left foot elevated and ice packed. This morning I experienced a first: breaking a bone. And this isn’t some silly head injury; it’s my pinky toe.

Here’s the story. I was out on an early morning crime fighting expedition when my foot caught the edge of a cell phone tower that was recently installed on top of a tall building that I often leap over in a single bound. (more…)

Do Unto Others

Rather than forwarding an email everyone, I’m going to properly utilize the technology of the Internet, via blog software, to share something I read today that I considered quite funny.

This is from a blog post by Kevin Cornell from his Bearskinrug Articles.

…you don’t need to have magic powers, or have super-strength to be a hero. There’s a hero in all of us, just waiting to come out. Like yesterday, I was driving the car, and I came to this four-way intersection. And there were three other cars at the intersection. So I waved one fellow on, even though I could have gone. Then I waved the next fellow on. And then, I felt so good, I waved the other car on. But cars kept appearing behind all those cars I waved on. So I selflessly waved a few of them on as well. And behind me, all the other cars were honking their admiration for my sacrifice. Until finally the guy behind me got out of his car to congratulate me, or get my autograph or something. But I don’t go in for that kind of ego-inflating, so I just ignored his taps on my window. Anyway, I don’t have the right kind of pen for signing a tire iron.

(I didn’t ask Mr. Cornell if I could include his writings here. Hopefully he won’t try to find me and ask me to autograph his tire iron.)

Jeffer’s First Ballgame

Jeffer and I got to go to see the Fresno Grizzlies play on Sunday night. It was a fun time with Popop and Uncle Joey. We had some awesome seats right behind home plate.

photo

The Rissington Podcast

The Rissington PodcastThe Rissington Podcast is one of the nerd podcasts I listen to regularly. It’s hosted by Jon Oxton and John Hicks, two well-respected and talented designers from the UK. Their show primarily relies on questions sent in from listeners, and they often plead with their audience to send in questions. Until this last episode (12), I hadn’t heard them specify that they wanted good questions that related to design or technology. So I wrote the following email to see how desperate they truly were.

Greetings gents,

I am considering picking up a British accent because they have become quite popula’ here in the states. Are there any books you have read that have helped you refine your own accents, or did you take private lessons? Also, why is it that in sci-fi films, people from other planets always speak with British accents? Also are there any differences in the written languages of American English and Englandish English? For example, when you folks across the pond say, “Darling, would care for more sugar and mustard in your tea?” would you spell everything as I just did, or would it be more like “Dahling, would you caiah foh moh sugah and mustahd in yoh tea?”

Thank you for your helpful insights and have a lovely day.

Nate Sees

P.S. My father lived in England for a couple years when he was about 5 years old. His is called Larry. Do you perhaps know anyone who knew him? He doesn’t have a British accent.

I was very pleased to have my question(s) answered in detail by the Jo(h)ns in Episode 12. (Mom, if you don’t want to wade through the vulgarity that sometimes crops up, fast forward to about 9:13 and you’ll hear my name broadcast on the Internet in a grand British accent).

Tally ho!

JungleDisk

I’ve never been good about consistently backing up my hard drive. Hence, I have lost a fair amount of files due to crashes. Now that I work at home on my own equipment, I’ve been searching for a reliable backup solution. My first thought was to get a massive external hard drive, specifically a gigabit network attached drive that I could plug into my wireless router and access it from multiple computers. But those proved to be pretty expensive, and external hard drives (in my experience) have proved to be less reliable than internal drives.

I’m really glad I never bought anything because I recently purchased JungleDisk, a utility powered by Amazon S3. First of all, S3 is a fairly new service for storing and serving static content. JungleDisk is a simple tool that lets you access your S3 bucket from your local file system, and shows up as a network drive on your computer. Since all the files are stored on S3, the reliability factor is a googilian times better than an external hard drive. Cost is another plus. Jungle disk costs $20, one time. They also offer an upgraded service for $1/month with some added functionality. S3 has it’s own separate pricing, based on file usage and bandwidth, but it’s dirt cheap, too. I think my bill last month was like $0.44.

So, even if I ended up spending upwards of $3/month, it would still take years to equal the amount I would pay upfront for an external hard drive…which would probably fail in a couple years anyway.