Friday, February 23, 2018


Reflections on Billy Graham, 99

Dr. Al Mohler

Billy Graham died yesterday at the age of 99. Graham was one of the titanic figures of American evangelicalism and his life spanned some of the interesting and tumultuous years of world history. We cannot even speak about 20th-century evangelicalism without referencing the impact of the ministry of Billy Graham and the movement he led. Born to a farmer in North Carolina in 1918, Graham lived a rather traditional childhood in rural America and he also experienced the tumult of adolescence, describing himself in retrospect as rebellious, though it was a rather quiet and uneventful rebellion.

He continues:

Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of Graham’s life and most commendable is his sterling moral character. One of the things we must observe on the day after the death of Billy Graham, is that during his lifetime there was never even a hint of moral scandal in his ministry.

John Piper reflects on Billy Graham's life and death:

While only God can rightly assess the ripple effect of a person’s life in all the ways it has influence, my own judgment would be that Billy Graham’s greatest impact is the eternal difference he made in leading countless persons, from all over the world, out of destruction into everlasting joy and love. This was his primary mission. “Because God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Nine Things You Should Know About Billy Graham, via The Gospel Coalition. A sampling:

No other American has slept in the White House Lincoln Bedroom more than Graham, who was often referred to as the “pastor to the presidents.” Graham had a relationship or personal audience with every U.S. president from Truman to Obama. He was particularly close with Eisenhower, who asked for Graham while on his deathbed, and Nixon. He presided over the graveside services for president Lyndon Johnson in 1973 and spoke at the funeral of president Richard Nixon in 1994. The only president who didn’t like Graham, as the evangelist frequently noted, was Truman. Truman called Graham a “counterfeit” and said “he was never a friend of mine when I was President.”

Photo credit: Desiring God

A non-Christian before coffee


What can I say? I'd rather that people don't see me (especially my patients!) before I have coffee.

IRVINE, CA—According to sources close to local man Alan Carter, the believer in Christ exhibits absolutely no evidence of being saved, from the time he wakes up each morning until the moment he has his morning cup of coffee at his local coffee shop.

Observers claim the committed Christian is totally unrecognizable as a follower of Jesus throughout his morning routine and commute down the 405 freeway, right up until he begins sipping his favorite coffee beverage at the Starbucks near his work.

“He’s angry, bitter, impatient, unkind—he displays absolutely no fruit of the Spirit until he gets some caffeine in his system,” a co-worker told reporters. “He’s like a completely different person.”

More here.

The Babylon Bee gives me my dose of daily humor!

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Got this from Austin Kleon, who inspires me to bring a notebook all the time (download it here). He reasons that the best time to keep a resolution is on February, the shortest month. I figured I should at least study all the time. I've had intermittent breaks once or twice a week when I'd be immersed in a book or, better yet, in Netflix.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


To post or not to post

Jon Bloom writes:

Christians should be the most careful speakers in the world. We ought to be characterized by two kinds of trembling when it comes to words: we should tremble at the words God speaks and we should tremble at the words we speak.

I'm rebuked by this:

There really is a time to keep silent. And that time comes more often than most of us are conditioned to think.

We live in an age of unceasing talk. Never in human history has the noise of human communication been so constant. Even when we are quiet we are not silent, as we receive and dispense talk through our digital media. Our culture does not believe that “a fool multiplies words” (Ecclesiastes 10:14).

Then, he strikes a balance.

But Christians must not always keep silence. There is a time to speak and there are things we must say. Our God is a speaking God and we know he most definitely wants us to speak (Matthew 24:14; 28:19–20).

But when God speaks, he speaks very intentionally and, considering his omniscience, he speaks with tremendous restraint. And that’s the way he wants us to speak, as his exceedingly non-omniscient children and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20): intentionally and with restraint. He wants us to learn to speak like Jesus.

Read the rest here.

This blog may be older than many kids running around these days, but for me the struggle to choose which to post and not to post hasn't abated. Perpetual questions that (should) hover over my head: will this encourage others? Will this teach them something or make them smile or help them see the grace and sovereignty of God over their lives?

I'm thankful for this essay by Jon Bloom. If you haven't read his book, Not By Sight (read my thoughts on it here), then you may want to check it out.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


On a mission for the Ekumen!

Valerie Stivers imagines the food described in The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin and concocts what looks like a cookbook. I'm fascinated: I loved the characters of Genly Ai, a human male, and Estraven, an ambisexual (male and female, alternating depending on the time), but I can't, for the love of me, cook anything more than instant pancit canton.

Here's a sampling.

Karhide Hot-Shop Soup with Mussels and Buddha Lemon

2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped
handful of green beans, chopped
2 lb bag of mussels, washed and debearded if need be
1/2 Buddha lemon, chopped (alternatively, 1/2 ordinary lemon, cut into wedges)
2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped

Monday, February 19, 2018


Doubly exposed

via Instagram

My new pastime: double exposures, inspired largely by British photographer Kevin Meredith who recommended the iOS free app, Dubble. There you can "collaborate" with other photographers—you contribute one photo, which will be superimposed on a photo (called a "single") taken by someone else. Here's my cookie photo superimposed on hkdonnie's building. My TWSBI Eco floats in the background.


If you want to generate double exposures using both your photos, use Studio MX. The free version doesn't let you save photos, but you can export or upload them to social media, notably Instagram. Here are some of mine.

Flowers along Diversion Road to General Santos City Airport + clouds over Sarangani Bay taken from a Cebu Pacific airplane.


Decrepit bahay kubo + wild grass, General Santos City.


Tatay at a flower farm in Tupi, South Cotabato + sunset in Maasim, Sarangani


Myself, swimming in Glan, Sarangani + shoreline


The final photo shows me floating just near the shore, when I'm so far from it.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Let me know if you have a copy of America Is Not the Heart

I'd like to get a copy of Elaine Castillo's America Is Not the Heart, her first novel.

When Hero De Vera arrives in America–haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents–she’s already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn’t ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter–the first American-born daughter in the family–can’t resist asking Hero about her damaged hands.

An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable grip of history.

Eleanor Pritchett, writing for The Paris Review, smiled after reading it.

This is Castillo’s first novel, and it is masterful. It has drama and tragedy in spades, but it also has so much love of every kind spilling out of its pages that I closed it each night with a huge, warm smile. I might go home and read it again.

I think it was the writer Miguel Syjuco who said that we're not a reading nation—we don't have a reading culture. Novels and books don't figure into our every day, and they're not strong enough to be the subjects of conversation—a baffling phenomenon, considering this country has Jose Rizal's novels at the heart of her history. A chicken-and-egg problem, whose solution escapes us: writers are not writing enough because nobody's reading them; they're not being read because books by Filipinos are hard to come by.

This is why I'm on the lookout for things written by Filipinos. Castillo was born and raised in America, but her story seems like something that's closer to home, too.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

"On my own..."

Dr. Roni Baticulon writes about the challenges of being a first-generation doctor. If you're in the medical field, you should really bookmark his site.

Being a first-generation doctor, I had to start from scratch. My parents are not doctors. No one among my immediate maternal and paternal relatives is a doctor. My family cannot afford to buy shares of stocks in private hospitals. After finishing specialty and subspecialty training, I did not have a clinic to take over and neither did I have practice privileges waiting to be used. As to which course my neurosurgical career would take, whether things would pan out after I obtained my diplomate certificate at the end of last year, there was no way to be certain. Where to begin? How to begin? I was on my own.

Friday, February 16, 2018

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Cancer and art: a marriage

Cancer and art don't always go together, but a scientist has found a way to marry them.

By day, Dhruba Deb studies lung cancer. A postdoctoral researcher at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Deb puzzles over disease-causing genes and the scores of signaling pathways in which they act. Searching through this sea of data, he often has trouble deciding where to focus or how to push forward.

In the evenings, Deb leaves the microscope and pipettes and enters a different world—his home studio—where canvas and paint brushes await.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Kottke on blogging

Jason Kottke's interview on The Nieman Journalism Lab makes me long for the internet of days past. As his site celebrates its 20th year, Jason talks about blogging, social media, and what has changed since then.

I don’t really think of myself as being a writer; I think that’s a label reserved for people who actually know how to write better than I do. How I think of my job is: I sit down and I’m lucky enough to read about interesting stuff all day, and to try and figure it out enough that I can tell other people about it. You can take that and do it in a number of different jobs: It’s what a teacher does, it’s what a journalist does, it’s widely applicable. When I talk about what I do with my kids, it’s in the context of that. I went to a small liberal arts college and I feel like I’m still kind of in college, in a way. I write about science, art, psychology, photography, and I can’t imagine a better way to spend my time.
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