Welcome to Andy's little corner of the web.
This site is set up as a portal to the other websites I have, as well as a Gospel message.
I am a Born-Again Christian with (mostly) Reformed views. I'm also politically very Conservative, with strong Libertarian leanings. Currently (February 2013), I am a stay-at-home dad with three kids, with a professional background in architecture. My interests include: family, theology, computers, and aviation.
The main purpose of this website is to provide a landing place for the aolson.net domain, which is primarily used for email purposes. It also serves as a place for me to experiment with web development, as I learn how to code HTML, XHTML, CSS, and (in the future) perhaps Ruby on Rails, PHP, and other web programming languages. This page was constructed entirely from scratch using Notepad++, using strict XHTML and CSS.
My blog & podcast, echo zoe (Greek for "I have life") began as my personal blog back in October, 2003. Beginning in May, 2008, the podcast was added to the blog. The podcast is theological in nature, and from the perspective of the Christianity of the Reformers (with a few exceptions), and focuses primarily on discernment and apologetics. New episodes are released on a monthly basis. In each episode, I interview a different guest on various theological topics, sometimes addressing bad teaching in the Church, and sometimes explaining sound teaching.
Since the addition of the podcast, echo zoe has been transforming into a site that is dedicated to theological topics, and has become my personal ministry. In fact, Echo Zoe Ministries was incorporated in July of 2011, received 501(c)3 status from the IRS a year later (tax-deductible donations greatly appreciated).
Written (non-podcast) content at echo zoe includes a series of articles about logical fallacies, and scripture that is often misused and taken out of it's proper context.
Podcasting has been an exciting experience. I began with no experience in podcasting, radio, or audio recording. I set out with no expectations of whether it would become a short-lived and failed experiment, or continue on successfully. I started out with the most basic of equipment, and guests that were in my circle of friends. As time went by, I began to get the hang of things, and not only figured out the ins-and-outs of the audio equipment, but managed to branch out and land guests that had a larger reach than my local church. I took a step out of my comfort zone and approached people involved in national ministries, in many ways my theological heroes. I got some first-hand insight into the world of talk-radio in the process. I now understand how radio personalities put together a show, and how they get guests. It has been an experience I very much have enjoyed, and one that I hope will continue for as long as possible.
Just a Vapor was created late in 2010 to replace echo zoe as my personal blog. The name comes from James 4:14 "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." It is a recognition that, in the grand scheme of things, I am insignificant - here today but gone tomorrow.
At Just a Vapor, I opine about current events and issues, write about techical issues (as I am an avid computer user), comment on politics from the point of view of a Christian Libertarian/Conservative, and write on any other general issue not appropriate to the new echo zoe.
I know that once something is posted to the internet, it is always on the internet in one form or another. In light of this, it is my belief that it is better to archive something on one of my own sites than allow people to find something I wrote years ago archived someplace that I have no control over. Even if it's something I might be embarrased by now, I think it's important to own what I've said. It's much better to retract a statement, post, or opinion than to try to hide it. Echo Zoe was literally copied to a new site, a new theme was installed, and I've deleted posts at both sites. No post will be completely deleted though, every one of them will remain on one site or the other, or occasionally both sites. Echo Zoe is intended to retain theologically relevent content, while everything else will live at Just a Vapor.
Andy & Jessica is the blog that I share with my wife. We started it shortly after getting engaged to chronicle our dates and wedding plans, and have kept it going to share what's going on in our lives. In the beginning, we wrote up descriptions of dates and other events in our lives, and back dated them to when they actually happened, allowing the site to read in chronological order.
After getting married, our activity at the site slowed, but it has never really stopped. We've posted family events such as the births of our kids, and even a daily briefing on our stay in the ICU of Children's Hospital during the week of Thanksgiving in November of 2010 when we learned that our oldest son, just three years old, had a brain tumor.
In recent years, Andy & Jess has been a tool that we have used in conjunction with social media, particularly Facebook, to keep friends and family updated with the goings-on in the Olson family. Sites like Facebook are limited in their capabilities, and the website is relatively limited in its reach. We can post detailed articles about what is going on, and then share the links with our friends and family at Facebook, as well as via email. It gives us a the ability to write just once what we might pass along to many people.
The first three years of the Andy & Jessica blog is available in book form and the Andy & Jessica online store.
We also have a photo album up as well. There are photos of past vacations, family events, and our children.
Will you go to Heaven?
No site of mine would be complete without a Gospel message, which doubles as a statement of faith.
Do you consider yourself to be a good person? Will you go to Heaven when you die? Ask yourself these questions, and be honest. Have you ever told a lie? What do you call someone who tells lies? Have you ever stolen anything? Value is irrelevant. Have you ever taken the Lord's name in vain? Jesus said, "you have heard it said of old, do not commit adultery, but I say to you if you have ever looked at a woman to lust after her, you have committed adultery with her already in your heart." So if you are like the rest of us and answered "yes" to whether you have ever told a lie, you are a liar. If you are like most of us and have stolen (taking a cookie from mom's cookie jar counts), then you are a thief. If you have taken the Lord's name in vain, used his name in place of a four-letter filth word, you are guilty of blasphemy, a very serious offence in the eyes of God. If you have red blood in your veins, you have surely looked with lust, and are an adulterer. You have to face God on Judgment day. What will you say? How will you avoid the punishment we all deserve for violating God's Law? We have only looked at four of His ten commandments, and we are all guilty of violating the other six as well. If God gives you justice, you will end up in hell!
I don't know you, but I don't want you to go to Hell. God doesn't either! Do you know what He did so that you wouldn't have to go to Hell? The Bible says that while we were still sinners (violators of his Law), and still his enemies, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life to die on the cross in our place. We broke the Law, and Jesus paid our fine. It would be like if we committed a felony and went to court. We are found guilty, and despite any good deeds we may have done before or since, we deserve the punishment prescribed by law. The judge, if he is good, MUST sentence us. However, the law allows the judge himself to step down from the bench and pay our fines for us. That is what God did; he stepped down from His bench and paid our fines for us.
What must we do in response? First of all, we must repent, which means to completely turn from and forsake our sins. Also, we must place our trust completely in the Savior, the way a skydiver trusts his parachute. Nothing we do can ever make up for violating the Law of a perfect, Holy, and righteous God. The only salvation we have is in the infinite penalty that He paid on our behalf.
That is the Good News! We deserve Hell, but we don't have to go there. Nothing we do can earn our way to Heaven, but nothing we have done is too severe to receive the forgiveness that comes through the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross.