Thursday, August 30, 2007

How Many More?

This morning I was working in the tower when a charter airline, Kalitta Charters, brought home one of our country's fallen soldiers. There were military personel and a hearse on the ramp waiting for the plane to arrive. I imagine that there will be video on the news later today.

When I got the chance for a break, I called a friend that I knew would be deploying soon. It turns out that I caught him at the airport, getting ready to say his goodbyes to his wife and two little girls. Not wanting to take the time away from his family, I said my goodbyes quickly and left him to his girls. From time to time he reads these senseless ramblings and I'd like for him to know that I am praying for him and his family and will check on them when I can.

How I wish that they could all be safely on their way home instead of being rotated back for another tour of duty. If you have a moment and are willing, I'd ask for prayers for all of our service men and women--especially for my friend Chad and his family.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Looking Up

Last night, as I was looking to the stars, it suddenly came to me that summer is almost over. Really. It was the stars that reminded me. Tonight, just after the sun sets, look high in the southern sky. That really bright "star" that you see is actually the planet Jupiter. Just below Jupiter is a reddish star. This is Antares. Antares is one of my favorite stars.

The name Antares means warlike because of its similar look to the red planet Mars, named for the Roman god of war. It is a red super giant and is many times larger that our own sun. Antares is the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpio and points us towards the center of the galaxy. Just below and left of Antares (in the tail of the Scorpion) is the most dense part of the Milky Way and it ribbons through the sky back towards the north east.

You'll have to find a dark area and get out early tonight as the moon will be rising about an hour after the sun sets. Once we enter into late fall, our night sky will point us away from our own galaxy and the Milky Way will become invisible to us for several months. But the winter sky is beautiful. So many bright stars! I need to note here that I've never seen the night sky from the Southern Hemisphere and have noted several readers are from below the equator. It's on my list of things to do. Here are some interesting pictures. On the one hand, they can certainly make you feel small and insignificant. On the other hand, the Bible says that your Creator knows you; knows everything about you, even the number of hairs on your head! That should make you feel very special.

You should be able to click on each picture to enlarge it.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Yesterday morning I slipped into my pastor's Sunday school class. The class is for parents of young children and called "Family Matters." I heard him ask a question that was something like, "What is your religious heritage?"

Since I was disengaged from the class anyways, I was free to stop listening to the rest of the lesson and enter my own little world. I thought about that question in a way that would have been quite different from the discussion that was taking place in the class. If you were to ask me that question, I would have to say that I grew up knowing about God. I knew who Jesus was and what Jesus did. But I never really knew God. This is important because I sense that we (the Church) are still doing the same thing today. We want to tell people all about Jesus. We talk of God's great love. But the reality still exists that we are not helping people to know God.

Many of you that are reading this blog actually know me. Many others can only say that they know about me. There is a difference. I believe that as a church, as the body of believers in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we have to stop telling people about Jesus and really start modelling His behavior. God will become relevant to people when they begin to relate to a living God. I wish that I knew how to pull this off. I'm supposed to be the evangelist--the guy that's the expert on sharing Jesus. Unfortunately, I think that we have to change our mind set in this area. I guess I would be crazy to say that it's time that we stop telling people about Jesus. But I think that it is time for us to stop telling people about Jesus--at least in the way that we always have been. He is a better story than the way we've been telling it. He is a story of love and forgiveness. We tell it as a story of judgement and punishment. If I were an unbeliever today, I would be turned off by people that are telling me that I'm wrong, I'm lost, I'm going to hell and they have the answer. Guess what? I'm not listening!

If somebody out there has the answer, I'd love to hear it. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus lived and died because of a great love for us. I believe with all of my heart that each one of us needs to know Him. I just don't know how to make that happen...and I believe that I'm supposed to have a part in making it happen. Perhaps you can sense that I'm a little frustrated today. I feel like I've been given a job that I'm ill-equipped to do. And yet I know that I must do it well. God, help me!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Did You Know...

Did you know that back in a time when dirt floors in homes were still common, home owners would often spread straw on the floor during the winter months? This served a couple of purposes. It helped with moisture that was tracked in on shoes and also helped give the floor a warmer feel. One problem, however, was that each time the door was opened for somebody to go in or out, the straw would be blown out of the door as well.

This problem was solved by placing a board (about an inch thick) in the doorway to hold the straw in the house...a thresh hold (threshold)!


Saturday, August 25, 2007


On Bilbo's post, he's been blogging about reading. On Amanda's, I responded about discipline. All this got me thinking about word origins. I've always loved finding out about how certain words or phrases came to be. I think that is is interesting that some words started out as acronyms. Scuba, for example--from Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Or laser--Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

When things get messed up, we may say that we've hit a snafu. Snafu is from Situation Normal, All Fouled Up (although I don't think that fouled is the original "F" word that was used!). That reminds me of another one.

It really wasn't until that mid 19th century that prisons as we know them came into existence. Until then, prisons were primarily for political purposes and housed those that were rebellious to the King or present form of government. Criminals were punished quickly and publicly for their crimes against society and everybody would then know of their particular crime. An adulterer may find himself (or herself) in the stocks on the town square with his (or her) crime written for all to see--For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, now one of our more vulgar words.

Manure, used as a fertilizer, was dried, bagged and shipped in the holds of barges and steamboats along our country's rivers. All was well until the bags started to get wet. Then the once dry manure would rehydrate and begin to form methane gas. The smell was the least of the problem. When the crew would enter the dark hold with their lanterns the trapped methane would explode. After many deaths and damaged vessels, the cause for these explosions was discovered and then to keep the manure from getting wet it was labelled--Ship High In Transit.

Imagine with me what it would have been like to live without the media that we have today. What if the only way to spread news was by word of mouth. No books, no newspapers, no television, no radio, no internet. It was once like that. Travellers and merchants would share news that they picked up on their journeys and a place where roads intersected was a place where much information was shared. At the rare place where three roads came together, all kinds of information was exchanged. I'm sure that plenty of it was very useful information. However, most of it, though interesting, was mostly useless. This useless, interesting information was given a name; a name that would indicated the source of the information. And where did it come from? From that place where the three (Tri) routes (Vias) intersect.

That information, like the information in this post, is just trivial information!


Friday, August 24, 2007


As I was reading my favorite blogs the other day, I noticed that I had been dropped as a link on the Magic Utopia page. I guess that's okay because I haven't had a lot to say about magic lately. I have been looking at some different venues although I realize that the ministry aspect is really where I spend most of my magic work. I do know that I'll need to branch out a bit as I near the end of my ATC career--both for something to do as well as a supplemental income. For now, magic is not the center of my focus. In fact, I only really spend a lot of thought on it as I prepare for a coming event.

Besides, I am extremely honored by some of the blogs that have added a link to this page and I am enjoying reading their blogs and the pages that they read as well. Even though we have varied backgrounds and interests, people are people. We love our families and bragging on them from time to time. We love to laugh and realize that not everything is a laughing matter. We are curious about each other and about life in general.

So we read and we write. We use our imaginations. We entertain. We teach and we learn and we find out that though we may be worlds apart, we are more alike than we are different.

If you've come here looking for something about magic, I guess I owe you an apology. If you've come because you know me as an evangelist and have come here looking for more in the way of spiritual matters or theology, I suppose that I owe you an apology as well. What you will find when you read these posts will just be me, John. The posts will be as varied as my interests and weighted toward the things that I am most passionate about. I hope that you will visit often, laugh occasionally, and leave a comment when you feel inspired to do so.

In person, I'm trying to be a nicer John. You know, a bit more tolerant, a bit less negative, a bit more helpful. In short, I'm trying to be a bit more like Jesus. I've got to tell you, it's not easy. In fact, it's pretty hard. In some way, I hope that it will come through in these posts as well. If you ever want to know more about my motivation to follow the teachings of Jesus, e-mail me directly or better yet, give me a call. The information is on the right side of the page.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Toys

As I have been reading other blogs, I see some of the cool things that they have. I think, "I would be so much cooler if I added something like that to my blog." Most of the time I have no clue about how to add these cool things which is why I pretty much remain uncool. But I was playing around last night and added a counter and a visitor locator. You can make me appear to be an internationally known writer by e-mailing all of your friends around the world and asking them to stop by and visit for a few moments.

I toyed with the idea of the Bush days in office countdown widget, but decided against anything that might be offensive to some. I don't want for anybody to feel unwelcome. After all, I did vote for the guy...once!

I'll continue to visit other sites with my usual blog envy and dream of the day when I can be as cool as David Stone, John Carr and all of my other blogging heroes!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just for Fun

A special post for my friends that drop by from Numeric Life:

I wanted to share a fun site with you today. Grab a paper and pencil and then go to this site. Just click on the guy in the corner to move to the next screen as you follow his directions.

If you figure out this simple math trick, you'll find it to be a fun effect to use on your friends and family. Remember, the magic is in the presentation--not the effect, so ham it up! Put on your best mind-reading/concentration look before revealing the answer.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

To Boldly Go...

The deed is done. A new adventure is beginning. Today we dropped Aaron off at Columbia College, in Columbia MO, where he will pursue a degree in Forensic Science. He actually checked into his dorm Wednesday evening. We stayed at a nearby hotel and rejoined him today to buy books, check out the campus, have lunch and then watch a brief but interesting history of the college and witness a Columbia College tradition of issuing a pin to the freshman class that recognizes the commitment that the student and the college are making to each other. It was then time to say good-bye and let the students get to know each other. I'm sure that the next few days will be very exciting for Aaron, his roommate Doug, and all of the other new students at Columbia College as well as the new students just a mile or so away at the University of Missouri.

Aaron has already hooked up with a senior named Mark (a Cardinal fan) that invited him to a Thursday night volleyball/bible study on the Mizzu campus. They went there tonight after the days events and Aaron said that he will plan on joining them for church on Sunday.

Aaron's girlfriend, Jenny, accompanied us on this trip to see Aaron off. She rode up with Aaron and helped him get checked in, and then we joined them a little later in the evening. We brought her home today and she will leave for Chicago's Illinois Institute of Technology tomorrow to pursue her Engineering Degree. Both Aaron and Jenny received full scholarships from their respective colleges. We will see them again over the Labor Day Weekend. Aaron and I have tickets to one more Cardinal game--the last home game of the season. With only one exception, we've been to the last home game of the season for about ten years now. I hope that it is a father/son tradition that we can keep up for many years to come.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Completely at Random

Just some random notes:

I've realized that the calendar link is not working and will try to fix it soon or go back to posting coming events. For now you'll have to link to my web page and use the calendar link there.

If you noticed Bilbo on the recent reader's section, you'll want to note that I've added his blog to the "Blogs I Frequent" section as well. I think that I'd like this guy. I tend to enjoy and agree with much of what he posts. Although he is a few years older and at a different life stage, it would seem that we have grown up with the same ideals and similar beliefs about right, wrong, social etiquette, work ethics, common sense and the like. Give him a read from time to time and let me know what you think.

Also you are invite to sign in on the recent readers. If you blog, I'd enjoy dropping by.

Aaron is off to college in just a couple of days! It will be a different environment around here for sure. Keep him in your prayers!

How about those Cardinals? Just when you want to write them off for the season, they go and give you a glimmer of hope. Kind of the opposite of what Cub fans experience every year! Not to worry Cub fans, at least you have hope at some time during the season. Imagine what it would be like to be a Royals fan.

Working on a couple of new magic effects. I used Daryl's "3fly 3" for the first time the other night. Got some interesting reactions/looks too. I'll keep working on it. Also working on the effect "Torn," a torn and restored card effect.

We're still trying to work out a deal on the house/hospital purchase (but that's a whole 'nother blog).

Retirement eligible in 4 yrs, 4 mos, 23 days!


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Tomorrow morning will find me preaching at a country church that suddenly finds itself without a pastor. I don't know much about the circumstances that surround the pastoral resignation but I do know that it happens (for whatever reasons) far too often. I spent a few minutes looking through a very disorganized room for a booklet written by a fellow evangelist. In it (I believe) is the staggering statistic that 1300 pastors leave the ministry every month in the United States.

You can't help but wonder, "Why?"

I'm sure that the reasons are varied. No doubt, some of the reasons are quite similar. But for the church that finds itself without a pastor, the real question is, "What now?"

Tomorrow morning, I want to offer them some encouragement. I want to remind them that the "Church" isn't the building they meet in; it isn't about the clergy or lay leaders of their fellowship; they are the "Church." And the purpose of the "Church" goes on in spite of the vacancy in their pulpit.

There is a great story that takes place towards the end of John's Gospel. It is after Jesus has been crucified and His followers now find themselves without their Teacher. They are confused about everything that they have learned over the past three years and they don't know what to do. Peter pipes up and says, "I'm going fishing. Anybody going with me?" And so it is that several of them end up fishing throughout the night. In the morning, the resurrected Jesus appears on the shore and calls out to them. He asks if they've caught anything and then tells them to try the other side of the boat. It isn't until after the huge catch that they recognize that this is Jesus.

The conversation that follows is the one that Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. Three times Jesus asks the question. Three times Peter answers yes. In the end, Jesus says to Peter, "Follow me."

There are a three things that strike me about this story. The first is this: You can't go back to the place you were before your encounter with Jesus. Peter was a fisherman. When he didn't know what to do next, he retreated to his comfort zone, to what he did know. He went back to fishing. C. S. Lewis once said that God is unscrupulous in His pursuit of us. Like with Peter, He will hunt you down and remind you of your calling.

The second is this: The calling hasn't changed. If you look at when Jesus first called Peter out of his fishing boat, the call was..."Follow me." Three years later Jesus uses these same words, "Follow me."

This story continues with Peter questioning Jesus about one of the other disciples. Jesus tells Peter that he should only concern himself with his own responsibilities. I guess we can easily look around and ask, "Well, what about so and so?" Or we can make the excuse, "If so and so hadn't left..."

And that brings us to the third thing: We should only concern ourselves with our relationship and our calling to serve our Lord and Savior. I think that Jesus would would answer us in much the same way that He answered Peter. "What concern is it of yours how I deal with so and so. You follow me."

Since it is late on Saturday night as I finish this post, I doubt that anyone will read it before you make your way to church on Sunday morning. But I will encourage you just the same--the first chance you get, hug your pastor, tell them how much you appreciate them and offer them some words of encouragement. And then, go out and be as Jesus-like as you can be! It will be the best encouragement of all.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Lost and Found

I have found that this blog has served an unusual purpose. I received an interesting e-mail from the "Land Down Under." An individual that was looking for an old classmate did a "google" search on his name. As it turns out, he is a friend of mine and I have mentioned his name in a previous post. I don't know how many pages the person looked through, but there was eventually a link to this blog. The e-mail gave me a little more information and I knew that they were talking about the same person. I've made the contact , forwarded the e-mail, sent a response, and put two old friends back in touch!

So of course, it got me wondering. Now John Hill is a pretty common name. An image search for John Hill says that there are 9 MILLION+ images. I looked at page after page figuring that I would stop at 500 images. An there on the 25th page, the last page that I would look at, was an image of yours truly...and it wasn't from my blog/site! It was from Joseph's Closet!

I looked at 100 images for "John Hill, magician" and didn't find one, but under "John Hill, evangelist" it was the third image displayed! (again from Joseph's Closet) So why don't you take a few moments to "google" your name. Feel free to post your findings here. You may find yourself, or maybe an old friend.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Blogging by Proxy

Today's post comes by way of response to a friends blog. I hope that you will read this post and my response.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

New Stuff

You may have noticed a couple of subtle additions to this page. In the right column there is now a link to my new web page. It's still being worked on. For now, it looks a lot like this page. But that's only because I've been using this as a substitute web page as well as a place to rant. Check it out and feel free to comment.

I've also added a place for you to leave your name as a reader. Please sign in and say, "Hi."

Under "Blogs I Frequent" I've added My friend Rich. Rich is our slightly strange, fun loving Worship Leader at Hopedale Baptist. His blog is generally entertaining, sometimes thought provoking and always fun. You won't have to read very far to understand the "slightly strange" description.

I do hope that you have taken the time to check out my favorite blogs. Some of them may become your favorites as well. If it turns out that you like any of them and book mark a site for yourself, let me know. I read The Main Bang and Numeric Life daily. The others listed post about as often as I do.

Although I haven't worked on the "Links" part of my web page yet, I think that I'm going to include a link to a young magician's site that I met a couple of years ago in St. Louis. His name is Todd Duff and he has been earning a name for himself in his area. I'm sure that you will enjoy his page and the videos of his performances. I wish that I could make it to his newest project debut in Paducah on the 17th. The best I can do for him is to wish him all the best!


Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Dog Days of Summer

It's August and it's hot in the midwest (and most other areas of the country). These days at the beginning of August have been called the "Dog Days of Summer." Try asking several people why they are called the "dog days" or even when the "dog days" are and you will get varying answers that are most often preceded by the disclaimer, "I'm not really sure but I've heard that..."

Alpha Canis Major is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (or The Big Dog). The common name for this star is Sirius and it is often called the "dog star." You may recall that the symbol for Sirius satellite radio is a dog with a star for it's eye.

Anyways the star Sirius has just come out from behind the sun and is the last star visible in the morning sky during the first week of August. Incidently, the name Sirius is Greek for burning or scorching. As with all stars and constellations, it will continue to rise about four minutes earlier every day and will soon be burning brightly in the early morning sky. See Sidereal day to understand the four minute difference between a sidereal day and a solar day.

I should mention that Sirius is also the brightest star to the planet earth (excluding our own sun, of course!)

Have fun with this one the next time you hear that "dog days" phrase. You may even have to throw it out there yourself. But have fun anyways.


Class dismissed.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Day to Remember

August 3rd, 1981.

The day that PATCO, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization went on strike.

Here and here are a couple of posts that are good reading. If you read the comments that are associated with the posts, be warned: my brothers and sisters are very passionate about their careers and often express themselves with language that you wouldn't use in church! The video clip with the second article is a stark reminder that things are more the same today than they are different, and any difference is worse than it was twenty-six years ago.

Here is another article from an independent travel site that may make you write to your Congressman or reconsider your travel plans.

Four years, five months, three days.