Friday, December 28, 2007

Rated PG?

I guess I going to have to clean things up around here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Indescribable Gift

I work for a manufacturing company that designs and build shell-and-tube heat exchangers which are used primarily in oil refineries. The company has been in business since the early 70's, with several employees still working there from day one (I've been there almost 20 years). Over the years, as the company has prospered, the principles/share holders (of which I am one) have shared a portion of the year's profits with the employees in the form of a Christmas bonus.

This year was an exceptional year--in fact, we recorded record sales and in appreciation of the shop's hard work and in celebration of the year's exceptional profits--management gave away $1 MILLION to approximately 110 shop employees! The bonus pool was distributed based on an employee's tenure and base pay. Several individuals walked out the door that day with a bonus check in excess of $20k! It was really a fun day to watch and hear the expressions on those people's faces. They had no idea a bonus of this size was coming.

I spoke with one man that has been with the company long enough his bonus, well, let's just say: It was REALLY good! I walked into his office right after he had called his wife with the news. "Keith," he said, "my wife is STILL bawling. This is the best Christmas bonus I've EVER gotten in my life! If you took ALL of the bonuses I've gotten from every place I've wouldn't equal THIS!!!" I heard comments like that all day. People had received a bonus (gift) that was beyond anything they could have imagined.

Tomorrow is Christmas- the day we celebrate God's greatest gift to mankind. He is undeserved, we are unworthy, He is holy, we are not, He is The Savior, we are sinners in desperate need of a Savior. Jesus is the REAL "indescribalbe gift" given to man. On this day, praise Him, worship, Him, give thanks to Him for being the gift beyond anything we could imagine.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! -- 2 Corinthians 9:15

Monday, December 17, 2007

Light of the World

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood. (John 1:3-5)

Last week at this time, we were running around looking for generators, chain saws, groceries, and gasoline because our area had been hit by an ice storm. We were without electricity for four days; there are some STILL without power a week later. Yards are littered with broken limbs of trees that could not hold the weight of the ice. Two weeks before Christmas, our lives were disrupted by cold and darkness as people scrambled to find someway to heat and light their homes.

Darkness is an interesting thing, especially in town. All of a sudden, we were able to see STARS in the night sky. The moon seemed to be more in focus and clearer. The air felt more "crisp" and there was an eerie quiet in the surrounding neighborhoods. There was a sort of "peace" within the darkness, and yet, we struggled to avoid it. We wanted LIGHT! We found lots of ways to "create" it. Flashlights, candles, oil lamps, gas logs, wood fireplaces, lamps plugged into generators...but there never seemed to be enough light to overcome the darkness.

Our world is a lot like that--we don't like the darkness of life, so we look for all kinds of ways to bring light, i.e. joy, peace, happiness, into our lives...but none of that really satisfies. In a lost and dying world, there is only ONE True Light that can illuminate our lives...Jesus Christ, the One whose birth we celebrate this December 25th. Sadly, many will miss "the Light." They will look for light/happiness everywhere but where it can be found.

Jesus came to earth as a baby, to become the Lamb that would be slain for the sins of men. He came to be "The Light."

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by "MrsMama". View her Flickr site here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ice Storm - Friday Photos

NOTE: I know there are a few people from the Michigan/Minnesota area, as well as Canada that read this blog. This is probably nothing for you; I admit it--we are "winter wussies" down here.

Sunday-Dec 10 - A winter storm moved into our area (Tulsa OK) this morning. Throughout the day, it rained and sleeted. Because the ground was fairly warm, the roads stayed passable, but we began to see ice building up on the trees, bushes, etc. People began losing power early Sunday (we did not) and by the end of the evening, there were large areas of town without power. North of us, the storm was worse and would continue to worsen.

We went to church and then, like everyone else, drove around looking for a grocery store that had power. We bought what we figured we would need for a couple of days and headed home in a steady, freezing rain. We still had power that evening when we went to bed.

Our front yardMonday-Dec 11 - I woke up this morning around 2:00 AM to the sound of tree branches breaking. One major limb of the river birch in our front yard was lying near the front door. I could hear branches breaking throughout the neighborhood; things were not looking good. I went back to bed, but was awakened around 6:00 AM to DEAD SILENCE! That could only mean one thing: we had lost power. Turning on the emergency radio, I discovered we were definitely not alone-most of our county and several to the north were seeing massive outages. By the time the storm ended that day, over 600,000 would be without electricity.

Throughout the day, we listened and watched as trees all around us gave way to the weight of the ice. Both of the trees in our front yard are nearly stripped of their branches. Our neighborhood looks like a "war zone." Authorities are saying power may not be restored in some places until after Christmas! I've never seen anything like this. We have no electricity, no fireplace or woodburning stove, and our cooktop is electric—we cannot cook indoors--we do have an outdoor gas grill--and we have NO heat. Actually, it's not that bad in the house right now, but if this lasts like they say it will, we are going to be in trouble. We charcoaled hamburgers this evening and ate by candlelight. Not a five-star dining experience, but hot food nonetheless.

Destruction on my in-laws propertyTuesday-Dec 12 – No electricity again today. The temperature in the house is—supposedly—62 degrees F. It feels cooler than that, but I'm sure that's just knowing there's NO HEAT. I checked several places in town for a generator—none to be found, but promises of "new shipments" abound. The problem is you have to either put your name on a list and be there when the generators show up or just happen to luck upon a delivery being made. Each place I checked regarding getting my name on a list, they had already allotted the number of generators they hoped to receive.

Dana's parents called (we have cell and land line phone service of all things; you can't cook with that or heat a home, though) and invited us to come to their house for supper (or dinner, depending on what part of the country you live in). They don't have electricity either, but they do have a gas log fireplace and a gas cooktop. A hot meal sounded great, so we loaded up and went to the in-laws for a few hours. They live only eight miles north, but it was AMAZING how much more severe the storm was there! We returned home and slept at our house; it's getting cooler--thermostat doesn't go below 60 degrees, but I can tell. I've got to start thinking about what happens if this continues.

Wednesday-Dec 13 - Still no electricity. We've seen crews from our local power company, as well as from Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas that have come to help with the massive outages. We are now hearing that power may not be restored in some areas until after Christmas. The problem is that many areas have overhead powerlines and many of the poles have broken due to the weight of the accumulating ice. The good news is that the ice/rain has slowed significantly. Temperatures are hovering around mid-30's during the day and low-30's to high 20's at night. We've made use of that situation by putting all of our perishables out on the back porch. Thank God for "natural refrigeration."

Some of the restaurants in town have gotten electricity, so they are doing a BOOMING business. The Taco Bueno near us has had traffic lined up for days. McDonalds and a couple of other fast-food joints also had power in some form by the second day. I went by Braum's this morning and picked up a sack of sausage biscuits and a couple of cups of coffee (The coffee had been sitting there a while, but it was hot. No complaints)

I called around again looking for a generator; NONE in town or surrounding area. Thumbing through the phone book, I noticed the name of a locally owned lumber yard (Pixley Lumber) in Claremore- about 20-25 miles east of us. I had heard that they had not received near the devistation we had, so I called thinking: (1) maybe they haven't had the run on chain saws (those are rare, too) and generators we have had and (2) hopefully no one or few have thought to call them. Praise God! They had 120 generators they had just received that morning. An hour later, they had one less.

I got the central heat up and running, dragged several extension cords through the house and we were set! HEAT! I can eat a lot of cold Pop Tarts® as long as I'm warm. We also had cable TV of all things. Now we just need a way to cook. We returned to Dana's parents' this evening. She has two sisters living in the area, so we all got together and the girls cooked three-way chili. Good stuff on a c-o-l-d night.

Thursday-Dec 14 - A warm night thanks to the generator. We ran the generator all last evening until we went to bed, then shut it down. I didn't like the idea of "broadcasting" throughout the night to the entire neighborhood and any potential thieves: "Hey, there's a generator over here!" I got up this morning, fired up the heat and made coffee--first fresh coffee in days. Dana and I set out looking for an electric hot plate. We split up--divide and conquer--and a few hours later, we were the proud owners of a two-burner hot plate. Generator + hot plate = home cooked meal tonight.

Candle isle at Wal-MartIt's been really interesting to notice some of the things people buy during a power outage. The obvious items: generators, candles, oil lamps (the sign in the picture says they're "temporarily out"), flashlights, etc. If you really want to see something interesting, be there when a store wheels out a new shipment of WHATEVER! People will buy pretty much anything in quantity if they think there's a limited inventory. Really, what do you do with a dozen flashlights?! I also noticed that people buy a lot of beer during a power outage/ice storm. Human anti-freeze?

I went back to Dana's parent's and hooked up their central heat this morning. Her Dad was able to buy a generator by getting up at the crack of dawn and standing in line. A couple of people didn't show up for generators they had "signed up" for-- "must be present to win."

I grilled pork chops on the outdoor grill while Dana made mashed potatoes and corn on the hot plate. Not really "roughing it," but it was actually kinda fun. Around 7:00 PM, the "miracle" happened: after four days, the electricity came back on!!! We spent the next hour putting the house back in order and stowing away the "survival gear."

Watching the weather this evening, they are predicting SNOW Friday and Saturday anywhere from one to six inches. Temps remain in the 20's and low 30's.

Postscript: Officials are saying this morning (Friday) that 328,500 are still without power. Our neighborhood has been checking on each other; yesterday several of us got out and began cutting up the downed trees. Most of the wood was snatched up for firewood--God provides even in a disaster.

Oklahoma has been declared a disaster area by President Bush. Supposedly that gives us some type of assistance from FEMA. We'll see.

You can see more pics of the storm here.

Some final thoughts:

  • God is good, all the time. Even though we didn't have heat, etc. for a while, we DID have a roof over our heads and food. He even provided things like generators when we needed them.
  • I am grateful for men and women that work tirelessly for power companies during times like these.
  • I saw a LOT of good/kind acts--neighbors helping neighbors, people being patient in long lines, etc.
  • I saw greed and price gouging. Also heard about low-lifes that had no problem taking advantage of the situation in numerous ways.
  • I learned some things about some people in particular. No details here, but suffice it to say, I didn't like what I saw.
  • As a family, we really enjoyed the time together: no TV, no outside distractions. We played cards, talked and simply enjoyed each other's company. Not that we weren't doing any of those things, but I hope they continue beyond the "storm."

Friday Photos

Frozen Flowers

Tangled Branches and Ice

flickr: Friday Photo Group

Sunday, December 09, 2007


It's been raining/sleeting all day long. The high temp was mid-20s, so everything is coated with ice. They cancelled Sunday School this morning, but had Worship Service. They cancelled Evening Worship and all other church activites for the next two days, since the forecast is for continued rain/sleet/winter storms.

We have a tree in our front yard that will probably come down due to the ice/weight. There are LOTS of trees all around town and especially north of us that have seen a lot of damage as well.




Thursday, December 06, 2007

With All Due Respect

We (human beings) are an interesting lot--especially when it comes to our vocabulary. We/they combine some of the strangest words to express ourselves (profanity and the like). Take the phrase: "It's colder than h*** out there!" Does that really make sense? And yet, people understand exactly what you're talking about. It's not just's REALLY cold. How did inserting that one word make that comment more understandable or imply a more sever degree of "coldness?"

Even more interesting, is how disengenuious we can be in our converstations. Think about some of the possible responses to these questions/statements:

  • Does this dress make me look fat?
  • Do you think she's pretty? (Men, don't answer this one if your wife asks)
  • Have you read [fill in book title here] or seen [fill in movie title here]? I loved it!
  • Does my hair look OK like this?
  • What do you think about or how do you feel about so-and-so?
In some cases, you may answer honestly, but may not be quite as "harsh" VERBALLY in comparsion to what you are thinking. In some cases, you may just flat-out lie.

I'm thinking about words and honesty here because of a blog I was reading yesterday. A fairly civil "debate" suddenly turned ugly when one commentor wrote (in response to a previous statement) something like: "With all due respect..." and then proceeded to tear into the guy like a monkey on a cupcake! As I read the post, I thought, "This guy is showing absolutely NO respect! In fact, it's obviuos that was never his intention." When someone begins a sentence/statment with "with all due respect," you can pretty much bet you're not going to get any--respect. Same thing goes for...

To be honest...Red flag!!! Most of the time, the sub-title to this statement should be: "Normally when I talk to you, I'm lying, but TODAY, I'm telling you the truth." Maybe we should approach this from the opposite angle and just say: "Well, to bald-face lie to you..."

Bless his/her heart...Let's face it. Most of the time this phrase is used, it's because we've just ripped someone apart and we're trying to recover the conversation or at least end on a high note. Years ago, I worked with a guy that was in his 50's and still lived with his mother. She called him every day at work, and ever day they would get into some kind of argument on the phone. They'd raise their voices (you could hear her on the other end) and within minutes he'd be slamming the phone into its cradle. EVERY TIME he hung up on his mom, he'd exclaim: "That b**ch!" Followed by: "Bless her heart." I guess that made it alright.

No offense, but...RIGHT! A conversation that starts out like this IS going to offend you. That's a fact.

In my humble opinion...Actually, I am NOT humble about my opinion. I believe I am right, that I am the absolute authority on this subject, and you are a blithering idiot!

With all due respect and to be perfectly honest, this is my humble opinion. Bless your hearts.


¹ dis·in·gen·u·ous adj. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007

They are Mean-We are Not

It should be obvious by now to anyone that reads this blog that I enjoy a good debate. Some people may say I just like to argue. I have been known to be "snarky," or a little smart-aleck. There have been occasions I have been nice and cordial in my interactions with others. I admit that I have been wrong on occasions. I believe I am right about some things.

Any way, one of the blogs I read has basically set itself up to refute other blogs (this one in particular) they disagree with. They also tend to use words that I would have a hard time working into everyday conversation. Today's post was interesting to say the least:

I offer this without much comment, understanding that many will see irony in posting it here.

In his anti-[N.T.]Wright book¹, Piper says:
Faithful Christians do not love controversy; they love peace. They love their brothers and sisters who disagree with them. They long for a common mind for the cause of Christ. But for this very reason they are bound by their conscience and by the Word of God to try to persuade the church concerning the fullness of the truth and beauty of God’s Word (31-32).

I simply don’t believe that most polemicists² love their opponents in any way, desire peace or want a common mind. They want and need to fight. I think they have a psychological need to right, and will divide from anyone in order to establish that game and win it. They redefine love and discipleship so that arguing and the various tools for winning arguments become “loving.” This may not be true for all, but it’s true enough to make Piper’s statement absurd in many cases.

So, I guess it's everybody else that "wants and needs to fight"...but not them. Everyone else has a "psychological need to [be] right"...but not them. They "love their opponents...desire peace [and] want a common mind"...but everybody else doesn't. (I think their "common mind" is like saying "Teamwork equals everyone doing what I say") OK. Now I know the rules. And just in case you find any of this hard to believe, just check out the thread that ensued from today's post. It's pretty pathetic--like watching a couple of junior high girls standing around slapping each other!


Speaking of pathetic, I passed this sign today while I was out running some errands. Makes you wonder about our public education system.


¹ Click here for a review of Piper's book, The Future of Justification
² Polemicist n. 1. A controversial argument, especially one refuting or attacking a specific opinion or doctrine. 2. A person engaged in or inclined to controversy, argument, or refutation.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Weekly Wrap Up / Friday Photos

Pile of, well you know...

What a Pile of...
What do the two pictures above have in common? They're both a pile of...well, you know. The "pile" on the right is one Cardrico Lajuan Nash who was arrested this past week for leaving his four children--ages 3 months to 7 years-- in his car...parked outside a local topless near freezing temperatures (35 degrees according to the Tulsa World)!

Nash had picked up three of his children earlier in the evening after having not seen them in a year according to Tulsa Police Captn Rick Helberg. The mother of two of the children was working at another Tulsa strip club; the mother of the other two children was at home. Nash has been booked into the Tulsa jail on four felony counts of child endangerment. He already has felony convictions for "failing to provde for a child, false impersonation and possesion of a firearm while under Department of Corrections supervision." He is also facing a Jan 23 jury trial on a felony drug-trafficking charge. Bail was set at $25,000. (Source: Tulsa World)

Several observations re: this story--

  • This guy ain't up for the "Father or Citizen of the Year" award!
  • There are two VERY STUPID women out there who should have kept their clothes on around this idiot.
  • When you haven't seen your children in a year, your first thought after picking them up should never be--"I think I'll drop by Suds-N-Jugs and leave the kids in the car!
  • Cardrico Nash is my choice for the 2007 Support the Death Penalty Poster Child.

Microwave Instructions
I was heating up my lunch today, reading the all important instructions when I noticed the last sentence: "...remove product from microwave. WARNING: container is hot!" Of course it is! Isn't that WHY I put it in the microwave in the first place? it would get "HOT!" I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Road Trip
Silver Dollar City- Photo by SDCLoaded up the fam last week and went to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO for their "Old Time Christmas" celebration. They claim to have over 4 million lights--I lost count around 956, 228. They whole town is decorated for Christmas and there are several stores/areas that have been revamped especially for the holidays. Our favorite places are still the glass blowers shop, the candy shop and the woodcarvers.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at one of the restaurants in the park and then spent the evening just walking around, looking at the lights and enjoying the fragrances and sounds of Christmas. We returned the next day so the boys could ride the roller coasters, etc. while Dana and I did some shopping...and EATING! (The photos directly below and the one above are from the SDC website. Click on the thumbnails for larger view)

Glassblower Woodcarver Christmas Hollow

Friday Photos

Santa Claus at Silver Dollar City

Snowman Christmas Ornament

flickr: Friday Photo Group

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Hate/Love Christmas

I hate Christmas...
There's just too much to do and too little time to do it. Traffic is terrible around the shopping areas. Actually, I try to just stay away from shopping areas.)

People are rude, they drive like maniacs! "Peace on earth?!" Who are we kidding? People are shooting each other over parking spaces! (Not "Christmas" related, but still...they're shooting each other!)

People spend way too much money--that they really don't have--to buy presents for people they really don't like.

I eat too much.

All the stink about wishing someone "Happy Holidays" versus "Merry Christmas." On top of everything else, Target stores still aren't allowing the Salvation Army to ring bells outside their stores, (but they ARE making a $1M donation to the organization).

And--If I have to look at ONE MORE inflatable navitity scene yard decoration--I'm gonna scream.!

I love Christmas...
Christmas meant home-made candy around our house when I was growing up. My mom would make peanut brittle, chocolate covered cherries, and bon-bons by the gross (it seemed)! Our house ways filled with the smells of baking pies or cakes for a whole month.

We had louvered doors leading from the "foyer" of our house into the living room, so Mom would hang all the Christmas cardswe received through the slats in the doors. By Christmas day, the doors were covered.

My favorite Christmas album was--still is--Jim Reeves Twelve Songs of Christmas. I remember my Dad and I singing the "Twelve Days of Christmas" whenever we'd drive to my grandmother's house. My favorite part was the "FIVE GOL--DEN RINGS!!!" We'd sing it at the top of our lungs! The "Little Drummer Boy" is another favorite, but it's not near as fun to sing loudly.

What I really love about Christmas, is, at least for a few weeks a year, people that normally wouldn't do so...stop and think about the baby born in Bethlehem. Immanuel. "God with us."

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. -- Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Too Many Words

Peter Paul Rubens - The Four PhilosophersOne of the blogs I read from time to time is run by a group of people that are obviously educated to some degree. They throw around some pretty big words sometimes, usually when they are attempting to prove a fairly simple point.

Yesterday, they were discussing an interview with Doug Pagitt (emergent church people love the guy) where, in the hearing of some, he came across as "hesitant and most unable to give clear answers to simple questions." (NOTE: DO NOT speak ill of Doug Pagitt on emergent friendly blogs! They really become upset when you do that.) I didn't hear the interview, but it appears that at some point, Pagitt pulled a "Joel Osteen" and "hummm'd" and "haaugh'd" around a question. One commentor took him to task for not hitting the softball out of the park.

Question: When a muslim dies where does he go?
Answer [what Pagitt should have said]: He goes to hell which is why we must tell him about Jesus.
Sounds right to me, but then one of the regulars (big emergent defender) jumps in with:
Here is the Platonistic dualism (emphasis mine) you are right on… yet biblically all will be judged according to what they have done. Jesus stated that, that is what is stated in Rev 20 in the Great White Throne Judgement...

I took a psychology class my senior year in high school. Not because I wanted to, but because I already had enough credits to graduate and I had to take some classes to fill up my schedule. The class was taught by one of the football coaches (go figure) who took a pretty lax approach to education. Most days were: "Read the next chapter." or "What did you learn from the chapter you read yesterday?" There were, occasionally, pop quizes or tests over some of the material, but all-in-all, it was a pretty easy class...especially the "year-end final."

Coach walked into the classroom, stood at the front and stated: "Today is your final. Get everything off your desk expect a clean sheet of paper and something to write with." Then he walked over to the chalkboard (remember those boys and girls?) and in large letters wrote:

What do you think?

"That's your test," he said--and he sat down at his desk. We all looked at each other with that "what the?..." look. That's IT?! "What do you think?" How is that a test?

The students around me started writing feverishly, recounting many of the topics we had covered throughout the year, waxing eloquent about all kinds of philosophical and psychological theories. I sat there a moment...pondered the question, and then, in my best penmenship wrote: "I think it takes a big dog to weigh a ton." I signed my name to the paper, gathered my things, walked up to Coach's desk, turned in my "test," and walked out of the classroom.

Several days later, Coach walked into the classroom with a stack of papers--our graded finals. We sat there as one by one, he passed out the papers. Then he came to my desk. "Whitfield," he said, "you actually answered the question--what do YOU think? Not exactly what I was lookin for, but you told me what you thought." He handed me my test and there at the top...was a big, red "A"!

Sometimes, it's best not to use too many (or too big) words.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Dad / Thanksgiving

My Dad
Today is my Dad's birthday; he is 76. Lots of people live to be 76, but for my Dad, it's a pretty big milestone. He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL) in 1997 and lived through two pretty rough bouts in 1999 and 2002 (if I remember correctly). On Christmas Day 2006, he was admitted to the hospital where he remained until the end of February 2007. Unrelated to the cancer, he had picked up an infection somewhere that ultimately made it's way into his blood stream and into his brain causing him to have all kinds of memory lapses/hallucinations/etc. To this day, he has little recollection of that time period.

In May of this year, he was treated for blood clots in his legs, and recently, he was rushed to the hospital because he was vomiting and passing blood. They discovered an ulcer that had "eaten" through one of the blood vessels in his stomach. He came within hours of bleeding to death.

Today, he is home, a little weaker, but nowhere near as sick as he has been in the past. In fact, he visited his cancer doctor yesterday and the doctor told him that it wouldn't be necessary for him to come in for a checkup in three months (like he'd been doing for the past 9+ years). "I'll see you in six months. Your cancer has been in remission for quite a while--close to five years--and I'm thinking we just may not hear from 'it' again." That's good news! From what I've read, many NHL patients dont' live much more than eight years after diagnosis--Dad is in his 10th year! And, the fact that the cancer has remained in remission/dormant for so long is also encouraging. God answers prayers.

My Dad and I aren't really close, but I call him (he and my Mom live in another state) from time to time, especially on his birthday. I called him last night. "Well, I made it one more year past my allotment," he said. He says that every year since his 71st birthday. When he turned 71, I called and in the course of the conversation he said, "You know, the Bible says (I assume he's referring to Ps 90:10) that we get 70 maybe 80 years on this earth. I figure anything I get beyond 70 is a gift." That's not a bad way to look at matter how old you are--every day is a gift.

Thursday is Thanksgiving. I'm doing the politically incorrect thing and being thankful. (Click here for the politically correct Thanksgiving.)

I'm thankful for:

  • God who saved a unworthy, sin-filled worm like me.
  • My wife. We met 30 years ago and we've been together ever since.
  • My two boys. They drive me crazy (some days that's a very short trip). They are good kids.
  • My church. God's Word is preached. No programs. No clown worship. No silly "hooks."
  • My dad's birthday.
  • My parents. They raised me right. I'm the one that made mistakes along the way.
  • Simple things: sunrise, sunset, beautiful music, a happy thought, smiles, laughter, a good night's sleep.
H A P P Y   T H A N K S G I V I N G .

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Coarse Joking

...and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. Eph 5:4 (NASB)

I read and heard it repeated numerous times that, upon his deathbed, W.C. Fields was caught reading the Bible. (Fields was known for his disdain for pretty much any type of religion.) When asked if he had reconsidered his opinion of religion he reportedly replied: "Just looking for loopholes." (Hold that thought for just a sec.)

The topic of profanity or "coarse" language has been the topic on at least two blogs I've read in the past week. Apparently, there are plenty of Christians (and pastors) these days that see nothing wrong with what many classify as profanity. Mark Driscoll, Senior Pastor at Mars Hill in Seattle has been called "the Cussing Pastor," a title according to Tim Challies, Driscoll "seems to feel is both funny and well-deserved." Althought I've never heard him use profanity, descriptions of Driscoll sound similiar in content to others I've run across on the internet.

So what does that have to do with W.C. Fields?! I think the drive behind the "cussing pastors" and those who agree with them is this idea that the Bible is full of loopholes.I've heard more times than once: "The Apostle Paul used the "S" word (cf. Php 3:8)! Or comments such as this one:

Don’t you find it the least bit absurd to think that documents written ~2k years ago by mostly Jewish men in ancient Greek would contain in them a list of English words that are forbidden?
It's this whole idea that because the Bible doesn't SPECIFICALLY forbid SPECIFIC words, then the door's open. Or if we can do enough linguistic gymnastics, we can claim that Paul was as much a potty-mouth as the next guy. Besides, "they're just words, right?"

Even though Paul didn't give us a list of words (similar to George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say on Television--which I won't repeat here), he is obviously making a point about SOMETHING when he refers to "coarse joking." James makes a similar appeal as to the language we use (James 1:26) Both writers, it seems, have something--either specific words or phrases in mind, don't you think?

One individual I was discussing this topic with stated:

...the key difference in “coarse joking” would point to the purpose of the conversation, and not the individual words chosen (going back to using particular topics specifically for the purpose of titillation or “for the hell of it”, which would fall under this description).

I doesn’t seem at all like Paul is suggesting that there are a specific list of “coarse” words, but that it is the topic of conversation which is being addressed and the manner in which the topic is being addressed.

I'm sorry, but that sounds like the biggest bunch of gobbledy-gook aka bovine excrement I heard in a while.

Why must there be a "loophole?" Why is is necessary that we supposedly have the liberty to use words that others may find offensive, simply because "Paul didn't give us a list?"

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm Not Dead! / Friday Photos

I was thinking about the fact that I turn 50 next year (March), which--for whatever reason--made me think of the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
Bring out your dead
Bring out your dead!
[cough cough...]
[...cough cough]
Bring out your dead!
Bring out your dead!
Bring out your dead! Ninepence.
Bring out your dead!
Bring out your dead!
Bring out...
...your dead!
Bring out your dead!
CUSTOMER: Here's one.
CART MASTER: Ninepence.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
CUSTOMER: Nothing. Here's your ninepence.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
CART MASTER: 'Ere. He says he's not dead!
CUSTOMER: Yes, he is.
CART MASTER: He isn't?
CUSTOMER: Well, he will be soon. He's very ill.
DEAD PERSON: I'm getting better!
CUSTOMER: No, you're not. You'll be stone dead in a moment.
CART MASTER: Oh, I can't take him like that. It's against regulations.
DEAD PERSON: I don't want to go on the cart!
CUSTOMER: Oh, don't be such a baby.
CART MASTER: I can't take him.
DEAD PERSON: I feel fine!
CUSTOMER: Well, do us a favour.
CUSTOMER: Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He won't be long.
CART MASTER: No, I've got to go to the Robinsons'. They've lost nine today.
CUSTOMER: Well, when's your next round?
CART MASTER: Thursday.
DEAD PERSON: I think I'll go for a walk.
CUSTOMER: You're not fooling anyone, you know. Look. Isn't there something you can do?
DEAD PERSON: [singing] I feel happy. I feel happy.
CUSTOMER: Ah, thanks very much.
CART MASTER: Not at all. See you on Thursday.

My boys say "you're old," which I'm sure they believe. I remember being a teenager and thinking that 30 and 40-year-olds were ancient. Now, here I sit...I graduated from college 30 years ago, my hair is thin/falling out, my beard is WHITE, my gut is protruding and sagging. Yep. I'm getting older--but I'm not dead yet! I think I've got a few more good years in me.

Speaking of being "old," my wife and I did one of those "old people" things last weekend (maybe that's why I'm thinking about age). We went for a drive along "scenic 412" here in northeastern Oklahoma. The leaves had started changing about a week ago, and that area typically has some beautiful trees. So...we took off after Sunday School and drove over to Siloam Springs, AR, ate lunch, and looked at all the fall colors.

On our way home, we stopped at Natural Falls State Park. I wasn't able to get any good pictures of the waterfall; my camera has a limited apeture and it was in the middle of the day which was not a good time for trying to get that "foggy" waterfall look. Anyway, it was nice just to get out of the house, spend some time together--UNINTERRUPTED--and not hearing someone say: "You're old!"

Friday Photos


Fall Bridge

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Non-Biblical Defense

If you can't make your case from Scripture, just use crude language. It may not make your point, but it will certainly catch people's attention. WARNING: Very crude language for a supposedly "Christian blog."

Apparently, some of these guys (another Christian blog) think the "favorite song" is appropriate. I look forward to hearing how they work it in to a Sunday morning sermon.

PS: Todd (you know who you are), I tagged this one "blasphemy" just for you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Let It Be...Christmas?

Granger Community Church (Granger IN) recently announced a new sermon series entitled Let It Be...Christmas, obviously based on the Beatles album. They are sending out mailers announcing the series. I took the liberty of creating some additional artwork for them, just in case they're interested (see below). I put an elf hat on John Lennon because he really doesn't believe in anything that's real (except that he was more popular than Jesus)...although Santa Claus isn't all that real either. Anyway--thanks to Slice of Laodicea for the heads up.

You can probably guess where I am on this one.

Let It Be Christmas

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kingdom Equality / Ridin' the Pine

Kingdom Equality
We are going through the Gospel of Matthew in our Sunday School at a rapid pace--11 weeks and we're already at the "triumphal entry", the week of Jesus' death. This Sunday, we're focusing on chapter 20, verses 1-16. In this section, Jesus tells the parable of a landowner that hired many laborers to work in his vineyard. He hired some early in the morning, some at midday, and still some only an hour before the workday ended. At the end of the day, he had the foreman pay the workers, beginning with those hired last...and the astonishing thing was: HE PAID THEM ALL THE SAME WAGE! Whether they worked a full 12-hour day or one hour, each man received the same pay.

The workers that had put in a full day didn't think this was fair.

"These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day." But [the landowner] answered and said to one of them, "Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous ?"

We're like the all-day workers sometimes. We get it in our heads that because we've been serving in the church longer or have been a Christian longer than others, somehow God owes us more. We forget that God doesn't think or operate the way we think He should (Isaiah 55:8). We fail to remember that EVERY person who comes to faith in Jesus Christ recieves the same salvation. An individual's "tenure" is irrelevant for receiving God's grace/salvation. John MacArthur put it this way:

Believing tax collectors, prostitutes, criminals and social outcasts will have the same heavenly residence as Paul, Augustine, Luther and Wesley. There are no servants quarters or lower class neighborhoods in heaven. Everyone will have a room in the Father's house, specially prepared for him by the Son. (MacArthur Commentary, Pg 215)

Some things to remember (from MacArthur's Commentary):

  • God and God alone accomplishes salvation. He does the seeking after the laborers.
  • Salvation is on God's terms. The laborers don't negotiate their wage.
  • God continues to call men to His kingdom (labor).
  • God redeems everyone who is willing...even those who come late.
  • Everyone who came to the vineyard worked.
  • All who wanted to work were hired and at the end of the day, there was no shortage of funds to pay each one the full amount. (God's resources never run out).
  • God always gives more than is deserved.

Ridin' the Pine
My youngest son mows his grandparents yard on Saturdays. Most weekends, I'll get up and drive him to their home (they still live in the town where my wife and I grew up--about 8 miles from where we now live). I drop him off and go on about my Saturday; my oldest son or my wife picks him up when he is finished. Today was the last mowing day, so I dropped him off--and having nothing else to do--I drove around town taking pictures.

I ended up at the City Park, in particular, the ballfield where I played Little League baseball. A lot has changed in 40+ years. They've rebuilt the dugouts, put concrete where there used to be grass behind the backstop and replaced the old wooden bleachers with metal ones. But it's the same field.

I wasn't that good, but I loved the game; I loved wearing the uniform; I loved the smell of the freshly mowed outfield and the raked dirt infield. I sat on the bench (rode the pine) more than I played, but I loved being part of the team. I loved it when we won and we'd pile in the back of one of the dad's pickups (that was before bike helmets, shin guards, knee pads, child seats, etc.) and we'd chant--all the way to the "Cardinal Dairy Dip"--at the TOP of our lungs: "We won by golly, we won!!!"

You can't beat the memory of Little League baseball.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Patriotism = White Crap?

I salute the flag. I say the "Pledge of Allegiance." I stand at attention and sing the national athem--loudly--including the high notes. In spite of all the things that are wrong with America, it's still a great place to live. There's a guy down the street from our shop that seems to think so, too. He took several days and painted his privacy fence red, white and blue. Then some knucklehead came along, decided the paint job was lacking and added his own, personal touch (opinion) to the fence. I guess it's now considered racist to be patriotic.

White Crap?

flickr: Friday Photo Group

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hot Church

According to this video (it's real), the way to determine if your church is "hot" and doesn't s**k :

  • The pastor is good looking
  • The pastor can play ball
  • The pastor's wife "is too hot for him to have."
  • YOU can find a "hot wife!"
Thanks to A Little Leaven for the video link.

Jesus came to seek and find a really hot wife. -- First Emergent 3:16 (from the New We Do Church More Relevant Than You version. Coming to a bookstore near you.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Self-Serving Missional Post

This post appeared on the Christian Research Network (CRN) this past weekend. Seems a church in Kentucky is encouraging its members to "send letters of love and support to troubled pop star Britney Spears, described by the pastor as having made 'devastating life choices.'" You can read the entire news article here.

I don't doubt for a minute that Ms. Spears needs, not only love and support, but more importantly, salvation. Her bizarre lifestyle of late also indicates she probably could have used a little more parental oversight during her growing up years...and maybe the "rod of discipline" applied to her "seat of knowledge" a little more often.

That said, I think the church in question is using Britney's latest media grabbing antics as nothing more than a publicity stunt themselves. As others have already asked, and I tend to agree: Would the church be so quick to offer their "love and support" to someone less famous? Are there not any young adults in their area making some of the same bad choices as Britney?

Whatever the church's reason, CRN's decision to question their motives has raised the ire of the contributors to this website, whose sole purpose appears to be critcizing most anything and everything CRN posts. They refer to CRN as a "watchdoggie" site. That's kinda funny. They are the "watchdog" for the "watchdog."

The bottom line, I'm looking for a few more hits on my blog myself, so I've purposely included "britney" in the tags for this post. I wonder if there is a "watchdog" watching me?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Photos

This is a really busy day, so I don't have much time to write. This time last week, my two sons and I were in Cleveland OH, visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. We stayed at the Radisson Hotel downtown--hence, the first picture.

The second photo was taken in the Dallas/Ft Worth airport. My youngest son was amazed (I was too, actually) that they had a vending machine for iPods. Obviously, people are actually buying stuff from the machine--there were several empty bins.

Radisson Bottled Water

Can We Get One, Dad?

flickr: Friday Photo Group

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jobs Americans Won't Do

From, is this another example of "immigrants doing jobs Americans won't do?"

Six illegal immigrants who were suspected of stealing relief supplies from Qualcomm Stadium were arrested by Border Patrol agents after San Diego police stopped them Wednesday morning.

A woman who had been evacuated to the stadium told officers she saw the group load up two pickup trucks and a car with cots and other supplies, leave and then return, said police Sgt. Jesse Cesena.

When officers stopped them, a member of the group said they were being paid to take things of value from the stadium.

"They were stealing a lot of stuff," Cesen~a said. "We took the stuff back and we escorted them out. They were stealing from the people in need."

Because some members of the group spoke Spanish, officers called Border Patrol agents at the stadium for relief efforts. They determined the people were in the country illegally and arrested them.

The Border Patrol agents are among 100 that the federal agency has been providing for relief efforts, said agency spokesman Matthew Johnson. He said the agents are not looking for illegal immigrants among people seeking refuge at the stadium.

"We're not out there doing immigration stuff in the middle of a disaster," he said. "However, we still enforce the laws."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Harry Potter / R&R Hall of Fame

Harry Potter Character is Gay
Neither I nor my children have ever read a Harry Potter book or seen a Harry Potter movie, therefore the following news item did not phase us/me:

"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling stunned fans at a Q&A session at Carnegie Hall Friday night when she said that Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay.
Since I am unfamiliar with Harry Potter, I don't see the significance of "Hogwarts Albus Dumbledore [being] gay." What I am puzzled by is WHY it makes any difference. To my knowledge, the Potter series of books and movies are FICTION! Right?! So...what does a fictional character's sexual orientation have to to with anything? From what I understand, this tidbit of "news" has no effect on the storyline(s) or outcome of the FICTIONAL events desribed. Since the character isn't real, does that mean that the homosexual orientation (and by implication, sexual activity) is fictional?!

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
My sons and love music. They both play guitar--my youngest has been dabbling with the keyboard lately; he plays mostly by ear. I play the drums. This past week, we made a trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (R&RHF) in Cleveland, OH. We've wanted to go there for a while; in fact, we went through Ohio several years ago on our way home from Washington DC, but my wife didn't think the R&RHF sounded like "fun," so we kept on driving.

This past week was "Fall Break" for our local school system, so a couple of months ago, we planned our trip. My wife had to work that week, both boys were out of school, and I had some vacation to burn. We flew to Cleveland on Thursday, visited the R&RHOF on Friday, and returned home on Saturday. A whirl-wind trip...but a BLAST! We just happened to arrive in Cleveland the same day as Game Four of the ALCS between Cleveland and Boston. What a spectacle! I've NEVER seen so many people in one place in my life! (Bad news for Indians fans...they ain't going to "the series"...even though the politically incorrect Indians mascot is still smiling.)

We walked around the downtown area, mingling with the baseball fans on Thursday. Ate at the Hard Rock Cafe that night. Friday morning, we were at the R&RHF when the doors opened. The R&RHF and Museum opened in 1995 (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was formed in 1983), as "the preeminent home for the celebration and study of rock and roll music. [The] exhibits, educational programs and performance events have made the Museum a mecca for fans, scholars and the artists themselves. In fact,...research shows that the Museum is the most popular and best-attended hall of fame in the country."

rockhall_31The museum is definitely a trip down memory lane (at least it was for me; for the boys, it was just "COOOL!"). There were exhibits--some large, some small--highlighting groups such as (in no particular order) The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Allman Brothers Band, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, ZZ Top, and Aerosmith. There were artifacts from every era: clothing worn by performers, original lyrics scribbled on notebook paper or hotel stationary, ticket stubs, posters, etc. Several exhibits showed videos of artists or events. The "sad" thing for me...I recalled seeing alot of the arists/groups on television or live...some of them over 40 years ago! It doesn't seem that long ago that the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show or that I was watching American Bandstand on a Saturday afternoon. Time flies.

RockHall_125I'm a big Allman Brothers fan, so one of the highlights for me was seeing Gregg Allman's Hammond B-3 organ. It's right there in the museum. I could almost hear the band cranking out "Whippin' Post!" Two of my favorite groups--Yes and The Doobie Brothers--haven't made it into the Hall of Fame...yet. It was a very quick, very memorable trip. Both of the boys said they were going back "some day." I hope they think of our trip back in 2007 when they do.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


My sons and I just spent the past couple of days in Cleveland, Ohio. Our ultimate destination: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We had a BLAST! More pics and blogging later. I'm tired and glad to be back home.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Time Out

I'll be out of pocket for several days, but don't worry. If you:

  • Enjoy reading my blog on a regular basis OR
  • Stop by from time to time but can take it or leave it OR
  • Think I'm a hate-monger and wish I'd drop off the planet.
DON'T WORRY. I'll be back.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I Love the 70's (Music)

I graduated from high school in the 70's. I graduated from college in the 70's. I met my wife in the 70's. I love the 70's.

I dont' really care for the clothing or hairstyles of the 70's (of course I have to say that now since I don't have much hair left), but I really like the music from that decade. We had some great bands then: the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles, Aerosmith, and Led Zeppelin. Other groups I liked were the Marshall Tucker Band, the Allman Brothers Band and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. However, my most favorite groups were Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Some of these guys are still touring, although they appear to have aged a lot worse than I have [ big grin ]!

My junior year in high school, I wrote my term paper--remember those?--on ELP and that was no easy accomplishment since personal computers or the internet didn't exist. I spent many a Saturday at the library, searching through the card index for anything I could found about those guys. I got an "A", which incidently back then, had to be at 93 or above. None of this 90 crud! I was at the 1974(I think it was) concert in Tulsa, OK which was recorded and heard on the King Biscuit Flower Hour. I think I read somewhere that some of that same recording is part of ELP's Welcome Back My Friends...(Live) album.

I got to thinking about all this 70's stuff this morning while I was listening to an internet "classic rock" station. I had to go in to work and since no one was there, I took the opportunity to crank up my speakers and "blast through the past" with some of my favorite tunes. While I was listening to ELP's "Karn Evil 9," I rembered a couple of projects I had done in college, which I dug out as soon as I got home.

Below is a pen and ink sketch of Keith Emerson. The second piece was an album cover assignment done with a combination of pen and ink, opaque watercolor and acrylic. Pretty dated looking, but I like it. Just for kicks, here's an opaque watercolor of Todd Rundgren from the same college semester.

Artwork : Keith Emerson


Artwork : Emerson Lake & Palmer

Friday, October 12, 2007

Top 100

Outreach Magazine recently published a list of "The 100 Largest U.S. Churches". In the top 20, there are at least six that I would classify as "seeker sensitive/emergent." Thank goodness there weren't any more than that. Sadly, four out of the first five fall into this category.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pornographic Bible

In this previous post, I decried the use of what I considered a crude/crass euphemism attributed to Mark Driscoll to describe (in part) the circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth. In recent days, I have interacted via the internet with several individuals that basically take the stance:

  • "There's a lot worse in the Bible!"
  • "I think Mark is closer to things the way he is stating it."
  • "I love it when people apply a particular contemporary sub-culture’s stringent understanding of language to their readings of pre-modern (read: ancient) texts of Holy Scripture."
  • "What I do have a problem with is denying the circumstances of the Biblical narrative out some misplaced sense of propriety. I don’t care if you think the bare facts laid out by Driscoll are somehow shameful and unworthy of Jesus to the point where we have to clean up or deny what was actually going on."
  • "The quote, “At least we know who our father is…” comes to mind. Now, what could they have meant by that?"
When I think about it, to some degree these people are right. Seriously, why should we shy away from things in the Bible that we find offensive--only because we are applying some modern-day criteria of what is and what isn't appropriate?

We're not living in the days of the Puritans! For whatever reason, God deemed it necessary to include EVERYTHING we have in our Bible, including passages such as Ezekiel 23:18-23 which was noted by several people in our conversation. (WARNING: This could be considered very graphic language by some.)

When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her nakedness, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister. Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled. (NIV)
A little rough? Yes. Biblical? Yes. Should we be offended? Not according to the emergents! God is simply describing how wretched and defiled the people had become. I have to admit, it certainly drives the point home.

I'm working on a flannel-graph of these verses for our 8-year-old Sunday School class. I hope I can get it finished before Sunday...

This post has been rated "S" for heavy sarcasm.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Jesus Air Freshner

I am speechless. I am without speech.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What Did He Say?!

I've never listened to a single sermon by Mark Driscoll. If he really said this, I don't believe I ever will...especially if he thinks this is appropriate content for a sermon:

Roughly two thousand years ago, Jesus was born in a dumpy, rural, hick town, not unlike those today where guys change their own oil, think pro wrestling is real, find women who chew tobacco sexy, and eat a lot of Hot Pockets with their uncle-daddy. Jesus' mom was a poor, unwed teenage girl who was often mocked for claiming she conceived via the Holy Spirit. Most people thought she concocted the crazy story to cover the fact she was knocking boots with some guy in the backseat of a car at the prom.
Steve Camp attributes this comment to Driscoll. The original post is here.

I think this is what those in the "emerging" or "emergent church" movement call cutting edge or relevant. I call it smug and potty-mouthed.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Slow Week and Friday Photos

Not really much to talk about this week. I am trying to wean myself from a couple of blogs I read on a regular basis. I not going to link them here, but suffice it to say, they do not encourage me in my Christian walk. (Don't worry--they're not "porn" sites or anything like that.)

Friday Photos

Fire Bouquet

I named this photo "Fire Bouquet." Some of the metals we use in our shop require us to preheat them before they can be welded. This burner is sitting on the inside of a channel cylinder for a shell and tube heat exchanger.

Drill 1

This is one of the Carlton vertical drills we have in our shop. It looks old because it is!

flickr: Friday Photo Group

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Septic Truck

The Presidential election isn't until November 2008! I'm already sick of the whole mess...and I can't even begin to imagine another eight years of a Clinton in the White House, but I'm afraid that's exactly where we are headed.

Check out the "vanity tag."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Take A Number!

I had been standing in line for about 5 minutes when she walked up to the checkout. She didn't go to the back of the line; she just walked around everybody and started talking to the sales clerk. She wasn't buying anything; she just wanted some information, but it was still aggravating.

She didn't say "excuse me" or anything, she just walked right up to the cashier, ignoring those of us in line and asked, "Where can I find such and such?" The cashier, who was already engaged with another customer, looked at her, turned and looked (with a "what should I do?" expression) at those of us patiently waiting in line, then turned back to the "intruder" and answered her question.

The "line crasher" said "Thank you" as she walked off. NOW she has manners?!

OK. It was only a 10 second delay. No harm. No foul. The cashier is back to her original customer. I'm next.

"How can I help you?," the cashier asked me. "I'd like to exchange these items and..." That's all I got out. I was interrupted by LINE INTRUDER NUMBER TWO!!! He was obviously more important than me. He dressed better than me and that's got to count for something, right? He was also in a hurry and when you're in a hurry, well, no one else even exists! His problem was most likely a BIG problem, much bigger than my exchange, which in turn warranted his cutting to the front of the line.

Line Intruder No.2: "Where are the florescent light bulbs?"
Cashier: (wearing previous "what do I do?" face)"Well, they are, uh, I think, er uh, they're on (pointing) that aisle."
Line Intruder No.2: "Gotcha." (I think that means "thank you" where he comes from)

The cashier turned to me, said "I'm sorry. What was it you wanted?" So, I proceeded--again--to explained that I wanted to exchange some items, pick up a couple more things, blah, blah, blah. She punched then buttons, printed the receipts, I signed several documents (I think I signed up for swimming lessons at one point), she asked to see the credit card I had used to make the original purchase. I gave her my social security number, driver's license and a quart of blood. In short order, the transaction was done--no more intruders.

I didn't say anything to the cashier about the line crashers. She was young and probably wouldn't have understood what I was talking about, unless I used the phrase "you know" alot. I don't understand why people are so rude.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Beatitudes and Friday Photo

Sometimes I don't enjoy being a Sunday School teacher. The past couple of weeks has been one of those "sometimes."

Things at work have been a struggle lately; there are so many personality conflicts, people jockeying for position, too much "sucking up" (I don't like that term, but it's the only one I can think of at the moment) to the boss(es), back stabbing, gossip, anger, distrust, manipulation, deception, and downright meanness ...whew!... that it's been an effort some days to make myself show up. And sad to say, I'm not just talking about the people I work with-- in some cases I'm talking about myself!

Now, what does my work situation have to do with Sunday School and/or being a teacher. Well, we've been working our way through the Beatitudes portion of the Sermon on the Mount and frankly, I just feel so, so...unworthy, cruddy, [fill in frustrated mental/emotional state here], especially when I come to:

Blessed are the meek (gentle), for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

That's a TOUGH list--particularly of late. Take a look at it. Meekness. A hunger and thirst for God (righteousness). Pure in heart. Peacemaker. It's near impossible--no, it IS impossible to be those things when you're gritchin' and gripin' all the time or joining in on the lastest round of "man, I can't stand THAT guy," or...well, you get the picture. All of those attributes are/should be visible in the lives of people that belong to the Kingdom and it's hard to teach that when you're not doing it yourself!

Ah, but there's light at the end (actually the beginning) of the tunnel. Take a look at verses 3 and 4 of Matthew 5, the first two Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
The Beatitudes build on each other and it all starts with recognizing just how "poor in spirit" we are. We don't deserve ANYTHING other than death, but God shows us mercy. Recognizing our depraved spiritual condition and then mouring or confessing our sin are the first steps toward becoming gentle, merciful, hungering and thirsting seekers of God's righteousness, who are pure in their hearts (motives), always seeking to live in peace with others...because we have been saved by THE Prince of Peace.

I look at my own life and realize just how filthy (Isaiah 64:6) I am and I'm driven to my knees to cry out as the tax-collector: "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13). That's encouraging to me, because I see my recognition of sin (my poorness of spirit) and my turning to God (mourning over sin) as the Holy Spirit working in my life to move me toward being the person God wants me to be. I am ashamed to admit that I fall into those times of anger and resentment. In doing so, I am in a sense, doubting God's love and provision for me, and yet, I know that God will not abandon me and that he will not ask me to do anything that He hasn't already equipped me to do.

It is a struggle some days, but there is hope. First John 1:9 says--"if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse us..." People that aren't "in the kingdom" don't acknowledge their sin or grieve over it. I am grateful to see those attributes in my life. It spurs me on to know that God is working, molding, and correcting me for His glory.

Yep. Some days I don't like being a Sunday School teacher. But most days, I thank God for the awesome privilege He gives me each week to share things He has taught me throughout the week.

Friday Photo


flickr: Friday Photo Group

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Voter Test

Maybe we should use this for a "voter test."

Suppposedly, pre-schoolers all over the United States were shown the picture below and asked the same question. Ninety percent of them reportedly answered the question correctly. The question?

Which direction is the bus traveling?
Left or right?

Click here for the answer.

Voter ID Required? Bring it ON!

The New York Times (as well as other news outlets) recently reported that the Supreme Court has agreed...

to consider whether voter-identification laws unfairly keep poor people and members of minority groups from going to the polls (emphasis mine)... The justices will hear arguments from an Indiana case, in which a federal district judge and a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in January upheld a state law requiring, with certain exceptions, that someone wanting to vote in person in a primary or general election present a government-issued photo identification.

I am not wealthy, nor would I be considered poor; and generally speaking, I do not belong to a minority race--although that is changing quickly in the area of the United States in which my family live. Maybe that is why I don't understand the statement above. What in the world does one's race or income level have to do with their ability to VOTE?! Nothing. Here's what I think it's all about: stuffing the ballot box.

Somebody, somewhere has figured out that there is a very large number of individuals living in the United States that do NOT carry identification, not because they are poor and/or part of a minority group, but because they DON'T HAVE ANY! Some of those people have been able to vote without showing any proof of citizenship and to require them to do so NOW, might effect the outcome of the vote.

I don't care what the case is trying to prove. I think it's pretty simple. Regardless of whether you are rich, middle income, or poor, black, white, brown, or even green--if you can't prove you are who you say you are--and even more importantly, that you are a UNITED STATES ain't votin'! Just because you happen to be in the neighborhood doesn't give you a "say-so."

There are some pretty dumb rich people out there, just as much as there are dumb poor people. There are some pretty dumb people in EVERY ethnic group in this country. There are some smart ones, too. I've proposed this before, and I still believe it's a good plan. Effective immediately, absolutely NO ONE is a registered voter. End of discussion. If you want to vote in an upcoming election, you must do ALL of the following:

  1. Go to your nearest voter registration office in person to register.
  2. Present three (3) forms of ID, one of which is a government issued picture ID-e.g. state issued driver's license, a birth certificate from an AMERICAN hospital and an official social security card. These three items could vary to some degree, but you will need three forms of ID, proving you are an American citizen of eligible voting age.
  3. You must be able to read the entire Gettysburg Address, IN ENGLISH, in two minutes or less. (Note: I realize that for one reason or another, some individuals may not be able to read. I'm still thinking about this one. At the very least, I think an applicant should be able to recite/paraphrase the first sentence of the Address--again, in English)
  4. And finally, applicants should be able to sing or recite the Star Spangled Banner. (Extra points if you can hit the high notes.)

If a person can't comply with the simple criteria I've outlined above, do we really WANT them voting?! The down-side to my plan: it might eliminate a significant number of members of Congress.