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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Importance of Tithing

Two men crashed in their private plane on a South Pacific island. Both survived. One of the men brushed himself off and then proceeded to run all over the island to see if they had any chance of survival.

When he returned, he rushed up to the other man and screamed, "This island is uninhabited, there is no food, there is no water. We are going to die!"

The other man leaned back against the fuselage of the wrecked plane, folded his arms and responded, "No we're not. I make over $250,000 a week."

The first man grabbed his friend and shook him. "Listen, we are on an uninhabited island. There is no food, no water. We are going to die !"

The other man, unruffled, again responded. "No, I make over $250,000 a week."

Mystified, the first man, taken aback with such an answer again repeated, "For the last time, I'm telling you we ARE doomed. There is NO one else on this island. There is NO food. There is NO water. We are, I repeat, we are going to die a slow death."

Still unfazed, the first man looked the other in the eyes and said, Do not make me say this again:

I make over $250,000 per week...
I am a Baptist and I tithe...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Feel Better Instantly

I received the following instructions in an email this morning. It really works.

1. Create a new file folder on your computer.
2. Name it 'Hillary Rodham Clinton'.
3. Drag it to the recycle bin.
4. Empty the recycle bin.
5. Your PC will ask you, 'Do you really want to get rid of 'Hillary Rodham Clinton?'
6. Firmly Click 'Yes.'
7. Feel better instantly.
Next week, we'll do Nancy Pelosi.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Alright! Second Place!

The Bible lesson here, boys and girls,is: Finish the race! Thanks to Joe for the link.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. --1 Corinthians 9:24 (NASB)

Friday, September 21, 2007


It's not a lie as long as you believe it's true -- Jerry Seinfeld

Thanks to the Underminer for the cartoon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thin Skin

One of the blogs I frequent created some satirical posters a while back, pointed specifically at the "emerging church" movement. I thought they were funny, clever, and showed a lot of creativity. At the same time, the posters pointed out some of the silly arguments and activities of a group that believes THEY have "discovered" how church is to be done. I can only assume that many of them have not heard of the Regulative Principle nor taken the time to read and understand the Scriptures from which the Principle is derived. Our pastor is currently taking us through a study on this very topic. Very interesting and informative.

A commentor on another blog (just to be fair, here's the blog link) had this to say about the posters:

I think the photos chosen are telling. First, there is a strong prevalence of dreadlocks in the photos. While the individuals sporting them are white, the implication is clear: dreadlocks are “weird” and definitely not normative. (I think of the justification for mocking “weird” people: we aren’t to give an appearance of evil. So maybe dreadlocks are evil.) Unfortunately, dreadlocks are a big part of the black culture in this country. It’s in poor taste to mock a style of hair that is so closely linked to the black community.

Second, the posters, ironically perhaps, are more diverse, presumably, than the churches these men attend. There is at least one man of Asian descent and several that appear to be Latino.

Tackling the simpler--and maybe sillier comment re: the "diversity" of the posters: I have personally attended the church where Phil Johnson ministers and actually **gasp** sat by person "of Asian decent." I also not only SAW several Latinos in the congregation, the gentleman sitting on my other side was Latino! We had ourselves an ETHNIC people sandwich going on there!

As far as the "dreadlocks" comments, below are three posters (out of my count of 54) that feature individuals sporting dreadlocks.

First of all, 3 out of 54 doesn't add up to a "strong prevalence" (5 percent of the total ain't gonna win an election, fella!).

Second, the charge of "racism" isn't going to fly either. I don't think the point of the posters is dreadlocks are “weird” and definitely not normative. (I think of the justification for mocking “weird” people. I don't believe the creators of the posters were making any statement about any particular race of people...other than WHITE people that THINK they look good in dreadlocks! I made the following comments to the blog re: this bogus accusation:’s not the dreadlocks that look/are weird–it’s the WHITE folks sporting them, trying to look like something/someone they are not that looks weird! It’s almost as painful as listening to an all-white choir trying to sing backup for Larnelle Harris (showing my age) or Kirk Franklin!

My sister-in-law is a “person of color;” My wife and I are not. My sister-in-law can and does wear clothes/hair styles that look great on her, that would never work for my wife (or me). Her skin color and features are such that she can wear those things and bring a beauty to them that whites/caucasians cannot.

We can’t jump and we shouldn’t wear dreadlocks!

Some people just look for something to complain about. And when they can't find it--they make it up. Grow some thicker skin, people!

I noticed there there are SIX posters featuring bald people. Maybe we should get our BVD's in a wad over that! Bald people of the world UNITE! Maybe they are saying bald people are weird and evil! I say: BUFFALO BAGELS!!! (aka bovine excrement).

See all of the emergent posters here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Leave General Petraeus Alone

"He's got medals on his chest!...he's done stuff!!!"

Friday, September 14, 2007

Riots and Friday Photos

Inmates Riot Over Sausage
MSNBC reported the following from HOBBS, NM: Some Lea County inmates set fires and broke toilets and windows after being told they would be allowed only one sausage at dinner. Jail officials said the inmates began yelling and banging on their doors in what they described in a news release as a "temper tantrum."

Officers from the Lea County Sheriff's and Hobbs Police departments were called in to restore control, and the jail was locked down after Tuesday night's incident.

Some 33 prisoners were involved, Warden Jann Gartman said. The remaining 300-plus prisoners at the jail accepted the meal without incident, authorities said.

The damage to the jail was light, with some smoke damage and broken toilets and windows, the warden said.

(NOTE: The sausage already had "smoke damage.")

Friday Photos
Today's photos are a bit unusual. I spotted this house on my way to work yesterday. I have no idea what the story is, but it appears the homeowner has a "walker/wheelchair/bedside toilet salvage yard" business going on. I'm not sure what the golf bag has to do with it, but I thought it was a nice touch.

flickr: Friday Photo Group

Thursday, September 13, 2007


On a completely different "note" than usual, I'm not a fan of "the opera," but this is amazing. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Prosperity Praise

One of my "new" favorite websites is A Little Leaven. I don't know where they find this stuff!

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Question for Kyla

Kyla Ebbert is the 23-year-old coed that was asked to "cover up" or get off a Southwest Airlines flight about two months ago. According to the flight attendant, Kyla's outfit "was too revealing." After adjusting her clothing to better conceal her offending body parts, she was allowed to make the flight from San Diego to Tucson for a doctor's appointment (all the San Diego doctors were busy). Recounting the incident on The Today Show Ms. Ebbert stated:

I didn’t want to draw attention. I just sat there crying. [I] was so embarrassed [I] requested a blanket to cover myself for the flight. I was humiliated, I was embarrassed. I felt like everyone was staring.
OK, Kyla, a couple of things: (1) I've seen the "outfit" and I'm not surprised people were staring. If you don't want to be stared at, don't flaunt the goods. (2) YOU WORK AT HOOTERS!!! Besides having great hot wings (I've been told; I've never been to a Hooters restaurant), my understanding of their marketing strategy is large breasted women in tight shirts and very small shorts serving food to dirty old men who will be STARING AT THEM!!!

I've got a question for Kyla: You weren't the valedictorian of your class, were you?

PS: She's already got an idiot lawyer; they'll sue; they'll probably win. What a great country.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

All Dogs Go to Heaven?

Disclaimer: Names have been changed for obvious reasons. I'm not looking for my blog to get tons of hits; this is just a place for me to vent and write about the "things that go through my head." This particular post is not intended to be disrespectful or rude to any particular individual. Really.

I heard on the news today that this famous guy named Leon Palamino died. He was supposedly a very well known yodeler, and I had heard of him, although I can't say I've every heard him yodel. Lots of people must of really liked his yodeling, because EVERY 6:00 News program led off with the story of Leon's death.

I googled Leon's name, and found tons of websites dedicated to him and his yodeling. He died this morning, and there were already a lot of "tribute" blogs/websites where people could post their thoughts about Leon. They were saying things like:

  • I saw Palamino with the Three Yodelers...incredible!
  • Man, that guy could yodel! And...
  • Heaven has a new yodeler.
I saw and heard that last comment several times and thought to myself: How do they know that? Now, let me say right up front: I don't have any idea where Leon is right now. I don't claim to know all about him, but I honestly haven't heard a single thing that would make me think he's singing in heaven. He yodeled in a different language, so maybe he was yodeling all this time about Jesus, but you'd think he or someone would have mentioned it.

Here's the thing-- I don't believe that just because you're a good singer or a good person, you go to heaven. All dogs DON'T go to heaven. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. I'm not reveling in the idea that Leon may not be in heaven; in fact, I hope he is, but there seems to be this thing that when someone we really like dies, we say things like: "They're in a better place" or "She's not suffering anymore" or "He's singing in God's choir." It's not enough to be good. It's not enough to simply say, "Yeah, I believe there's a God/Higher Power." It's just not enough...nothing we do on our own is enough. It may make us feel better to say those things, but they're just not true.

In simplest terms, there is only ONE way a person goes to heaven, and that's through Jesus Christ, by putting their faith/trust in His death on the cross to pay the price for their sins. Jesus said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6) I hope Leon put his faith in Jesus; I really do.

Friday Photos

Corner Post of the Patio Cover

Objects in Mirror

flickr: Friday Photo Group

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Different Way

We began a study of the Gospel of Matthew in our Sunday School class yesterday, starting with the story of Jesus' birth, which was kinda weird since it's not "Christmas time." But, I think not being caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season actually allowed us to step back and see some things we might have missed.

We went through the genealogy, noting that three of the four women mentioned (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth) were Gentiles; Bathseba, who is not mentioned by name in some translations, may have been an Israelite (cf. 1 Chr 3:5). We also noted some interesting things such as:

  • Matthew's genealogy is ascending from Abraham to Jesus.
  • Luke's genealog is descending from Jesus to Adam.
  • Matthew's genealogy traces Jesus' "legal" heritage, i.e. His legal right to the throne of David via Joseph's lineage.
  • Lukes's genealogy traces Jesus' "royal" heritage, i.e. the bloodline through David via Mary's lineage. (The "Eli" mentioned is believed to be Mary's father.)
  • Beyond Zerubbabel to Joseph, we know nothing of the descendants listed.

We spent some time looking at the Magi. These guys (and we don't know that there were only three of them) show up, looking for "He who has been born King of the Jews...for we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." (Matt 2:2) Just a little side note here: the idea of three "wise men" or Magi comes from the three gifts--gold, frankincense and myrrh that are given to Jesus. According to Wikipedia, the bones of the "three"--named Melchior, Balthazar and Casper--are said to be in the Shrine of the Three Wise Men in Cologne, Germany. Personally, I'm not buying it, but I digress.

A couple of things in Matthew's Gospel stood out to me:

The purpose of their visit was "to worship." The Magi can be traced back to the time of Daniel when he was made ruler over the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:48). It's not a stretch to believe Daniel would have spoken to them about the coming Messiah, maybe even pointed them to this prophecy: "...A star shall come forth from Jacob, And a scepter shall rise from Israel..." (Numbers 24:17). This could explain their comment of seeing "His star."

So here it is, some 500+ years later, and these men are looking for sign of a new king that they know very little about. They DO know that something significant is connected with the "star" they have seen in Israel and because they believe this to be the king Daniel spoke of so long ago, they have come to see for themselves...and to worship.

They met Jesus and were changed.Matthew tells us that the Magi fell down and worship Jesus. When they got ready to leave, God spoke to them and warned them about Herod's evil intentions, so they "left for their own country by another way.

I think there's a little more there. I think they not only took a different route, but they returned home DIFFERENT--a "different way." They had encountered the Christ, and they would never be the same. Isn't that the right response? Notice how the priests and scribes responded when Herod asked, "Do you know what these guys are talking about?" They KNEW the prophecies concerning the Messiah. They knew exactly where the Messiah would be born (just a couple of miles down the road!!) and yet they didn't even bother to check things out.

I would have LOVED to have been in the Magi's caravan as they made their way home. They had traveled so far. They had arrived not knowing for sure what they would find--and they ended up meeting the Son of God, the Promised Messiah...and they were going home "different."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I Think This is Funny

A couple of things on this Saturday evening that may upset some folks. My aplogies in advance, but I think this stuff is funny.

The poster above was posted on a blog that disagrees (for lack of a better term) with Phil Johnson and the other Pyro's Emergent posters (which I also think are funny). I think they think this is an "Oh, yeah...well take THIS!" I just like it because it's Barney Fife--and it really is funny. (Poster originally uploaded by Revmhj (Matthew Johnson)

Saw this quote on another blog: "Referring to an illegal immigrant as an undocumented worker is like referring to a drug dealer as a unlicensed pharmacist!