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.)