Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My New Favorite Word


It means Fear of long words!

And because of Mike's recent post and comments from Bilbo, I felt that I had to share this video!
(Also appropriate for Fiona's Sunday post...Shame on me for making the contribution!)


Sunday, December 28, 2008


Well Blogger is telling me that this is post #300. Sometime this past week the hit counter went over 15,000 since it began counting in August of '07. Cluster maps says that since August of '08 I've been getting regular to irregular (10 or more) hits from 25 countries. Legit shows an average of about 75 hits per day. I know that it isn't much when compared to some of the blogs that I read, but it is far more than I ever expected when I began blogging two and a half years ago.

I have a great appreciation for bloggers like Bilbo and Mike that find something to post about on a daily basis. If I manage three per week that have anything to say, I feel like I'm doing well.

I would have liked to post a really super entry for #300, but I haven't really tried to organize my thoughts for this post as 2008 winds down and we get set for a new year. I've been looking back a bit at the past 12 months and trying to figure out a way to do the next 12 a little bit better.

Here are a few observations and plans:

I'm going to end '08 at about the same weight that I started it--that's not a good thing. I managed to lose about 16 pounds in the first four months of the year but have gained it all back plus a few bonus pounds that I've managed to shed prior to '09 showing up. I am starting to eat a little bit better and am starting to be a bit more active (again). The plan is to eat at home more often (which means eating out less). This will help to control portion size as well as what we're eating. I realize that this also means that I'll have to do more cooking but I am counting on some of the great recipes that fellow bloggers like Sicilian and health nut, Heidi post. Bilbo is also good for an occasional recipe. I am contemplating a garden, maybe just a small one...you know, tomatoes, peppers (hot), cucumbers and maybe some string beans. I'll have to see about that--I know that it's way more work than I would do by myself. I'll have to see if Chris is up for it.

I've noticed that some of my posts and/or comments on various blogs have not always been what you might expect of a preacher. That needs to change. If any of you readers or writers have been offended by a post or comment, please accept my apologies. I doubt that 2009 will find me without controversy and I know that my readers will not always agree with me. But I sincerely hope that we can have our disagreements without hurting one another.

In ministry, I am going to work towards my Bachelor of Biblical Studies degree. I am also going to be better about planned time and purpose for reading the Bible. The Bible is a great read. For anybody that has never read the Bible, but enjoys reading, give it try. There are stories of kings and adventurers from far away places. There are stories of wars and betrayals. There are love stories and stories from history. There are stories of success and stories of failure and reconciliation. And there is of course, the Greatest Story Ever Told...the story of a God that loves you so much that He would die so that you might live! I will continue to share some of my favorite stories from the Bible from time to time in the coming year.

I am also going to devote more time to magic. I am currently reading through the Tarbell Course in Magic. I have owned the eight volume set for some time and have used it as a reference. I recently decided to read it through from volume 1 and use it as a course in magic. I am also wanting to redo my show for the coming year. I have an idea of what I would like to do with it but am not yet ready to put the time into the new effects and production.

I seriously doubt that I'll have the time to take any musical instrument lessons. I would like to...there just isn't enough time to do it well.

I do enjoy blogging and reading the blogs that I follow. I don't know if '09 will find me posting more or less often. I do know that posts will continue to cover a variety of topics and provide insight, humor and an occasional rant.

I hope that 2009 is good to you. I hope that it is good for the United States and for the global economy. If any of you plan on traveling to Southwest Missouri or if you read that I'll be in your area, please let me know. I would consider it a great privilege to get to meet you.

Wishing blessings of good health and prosperity to you and yours in the coming year,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I know that sometimes people think that I see things differently than others do. I'm not sure why, I just keep looking from different perspectives to try to find out what is really happening.

Take the Christmas story for example: it seems that the focus of Christmas is always about the birth of the Christ (or Messiah, Anointed One, Savior,...Jesus). We seem to want to look at the human part of the God/man...and why not? After all, we're human. We look at the gift of Christmas and later we'll look at the great sacrifice that the man Jesus makes at Calvary. I tend to think that the greater sacrifice was made that night when God left heaven and took on the flesh of man.

In Paul's letter to the church at Philippi, he says that we should all have the attitude of Jesus, who didn't consider his godly nature as something to be held on to. But rather, he set aside those things to take on the role of a servant and humbled himself and became obedient to death...even death on the cross.

We think of God as a being that is omnipresent (not confined by space/time; all places at once), omnipotent (all powerful), and omniscient (all knowing). Jesus, though he remained fully God, set these things aside to become fully human. The all present being humbled himself to be confined in the body of a human...and not just any human, a baby. In a moment, He went from the all powerful God that spoke the world into existence, to an infant child that was completely helpless. From omnipotent God to a baby that has to cry if he's hungry and needs to be fed; or is cold and wants to be held; or if he's soiled himself and needs to be changed. It's a bit hard to grasp the idea of God needing his diaper changed...but he did.

The Bible also tells us that he grew in wisdom and in stature before God and men--he learned. Something tells me that he had a better memory than I do and that he was more attentive to his studies. This God/boy knew that there was a purpose to his being here on Earth.

Somehow I can't help but think that the sacrifice that Jesus made to come to Earth (Christmas) was far greater than the sacrifice Jesus made when He was crucified. In either case, the love that this God demonstrates is far beyond what I can imagine. God became man and then died a brutal death so that I could have eternal life. So that you can have eternal life.

Merry Christmas,


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Keeping a Promise...sort of

I'm late. I told Lindsey that I would post these links last night but didn't get around to it.

The Ocarina is an ancient instrument and somebody has developed an app for the iPhone so that you can play an Ocarina flute on your phone. Lindsey has an unusual way of playing the iPhone Ocarina. Check out her videos here and here.

You've gotta like a girl that can play her nose!

Right now I'm writing from the waiting room at the Surgery Center in Springfield. Hannah is having a ganglion cyst removed from her wrist. A great way to spend Christmas break from school, don't you think? This way she didn't miss any of the fall band semester and should be back to playing when school starts back. She'll also resume drum lessons in January (she stopped when marching band started). I've toyed with the idea of going with her and taking guitar lessons (I haven't played in decades and never really took lessons or played well) or perhaps bass guitar. I would rather take piano lessons but don't know that I want to put in the time to practice any of it. There is just too much to do this year.

I do want to work towards a Bachelor of Biblical Studies degree (finally) and am really planning on retooling my magic for the coming year. Both will take as much of my time as I can spare. They will both require lots of reading (which I enjoy) and learning about things that I'm interested in. I am really looking forward to 2009. Even though '08 has had its depressing side, I'm really feeling pretty good about it and looking more good things for next year.

A short post, I know, but surgery has gone quickly and it will soon be time to move to recovery. Hannah will be home today and probably doped up a little. Tonight and tomorrow she'll feel the discomfort but should recover quickly.

Just a little more shopping to do!


Monday, December 22, 2008

A Real Post....next time!

I promise.The next post will be a real post. For today I have some shopping to do and some assigned errands to run before going off to work. So for today...another Christmas video!

Hope that this helps set the record straight.


Saturday, December 20, 2008


Okay, so I'm not the brightest guy when it comes to technology or just plain computer stuff. Actually I'm a bit of a computer moron. But now that I've figured out how to put videos on my blog, I might as well share some of my favorites.

This one is a couple of years old but a great performance by a mens' a cappella group called Straight, No Chaser (gotta at least love the name).

By the way, at 6:04 AM CST on Sunday, the Earth will slip past the magical plane that marks the Winter Solstice. The Twelve Days of Winter Celebration begins and then ends at the New Year.


Sunday morning note: Woke up to 4 degrees (F) this morning, that's -15.5 C for my overseas friends. Welcome to winter!

Editing note: This morning I found that the video I loaded last night is no longer available due to copyright infringement. Straight, No Chaser has reunited after ten years and is performing again. The video posted now is from a month ago in DC.

Trying Something New

Here's one for the Christmas Season: Jesus vs Santa



Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Shopping

In about 30 minutes the date will turn to December 20th, giving me just 5 shopping days until Christmas. I'm thinking that I should start seriously considering what I'm going to get Chris for Christmas.

Before anybody thinks that the master procrastinator is thinking of running out on the Saturday before Christmas to brave the crowds and beat the last minute rush, I only said that it was time to consider what to buy. I still have 5 days. Actually, 4 days...between work on Wednesday and Christmas Eve stuff at church, I probably shouldn't count that day.

I guess I'll be ahead of the last minute shoppers after all!


Aaron is home...and as expected is out with the girl tonight. We'll manage to see him for a few moments each afternoon when he gets out of bed and figures out what he and Jenny are going to do for the rest of the day. He'll tell us if Jenny will be over for dinner or if he'll be eating at her house or if they have other plans (or whatever Jenny tells him they're going to do). Ain't young love grand?!

I think that Aaron may still have some shopping to do. I'm glad that he is following the example set by his dad.

Oh well, I guess I'll get a jump on Saturday and start considering while it is still Friday! I'm so proud of myself...getting an early start on Christmas shopping this year!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

From The Book of Acts

I'm currently reading through the Book of Acts. It is an exciting time in the history of Christianity. Christianity is in its infancy and isn't even called by that name...yet. Early believers simply referred to themselves as followers of The Way or disciples of Jesus. The church today looks to the Book of Acts to learn about church growth. Several different church planting organizations use the word "Acts" as a part of their name.

One of the things that stood out as I was reading was found at the end of the second chapter.

The Fellowship of the Believers
42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(emphasis added)

Why do we miss this part? It's not like this is a new teaching or a new way. If we really want to see the church grow today like it did 2000 years ago, why not follow the model?

1) Devote ourselves to the apostles' teaching.
Today we have the written word to study along with countless commentaries and studies.
2) Devote ourselves to fellowship; to the breaking of bread.
Hang out with each other. Support one another. Take care of each other. Eat together.
3) Pray.
Pray together. Pray alone. Pray a lot.

This passage goes on to say that they met in public. They met in their homes. They ate together with glad and sincere hearts. They praised God and they enjoyed the favor of all the people! When was the last time that the church of today could say that it enjoyed the favor of all the people? When was the last time your local church could say that it enjoyed the favor of all the people? Why not make it more personal? Do you, as a believer, enjoy the favor of all the people?

I know. I know. Even Jesus had enemies or at least, those that didn't like him. And we'll have people that don't like us, too. Jesus even said so. But let's not give them a reason by being hateful, hurtful and judgmental. There is a real attraction to wanting to be around people that are joyful and enjoying life. If we are not causing people to want what we have, maybe we don't feel that it is worth having or worth sharing. Maybe we are not all that happy about our salvation.

...enjoying the favor of all the people.
It was just one of those lines that jumped out at me. Thought I'd share.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Party Time

'Tis the season for gathering together with people that you normally wouldn't hang out with and for bringing your spouse along to meet the people that you work with. While co-workers gather and discuss things from work, spouses (that have no idea what you're talking about) linger, mingle and anxiously await the magical moment that you can safely leave, having fulfilled the annual requirement of your presence at the festive gathering (where half of the people only know half of the people and the other half only knows their spouse or significant other).

Of course, there are other Christmas parties that you both enjoy; meeting with common friends from various places like clubs, church, neighborhoods, family, etc. For the most part, either gathering is okay for me...I'm pretty comfortable in a crowd of strangers as long as I have some justification for being there. I also look at any social gathering as an opportunity to network and make some connections with new people from various backgrounds and fields of work, knowledge, etc.

Perhaps the best way to insure that both you and your spouse (or significant other) know and enjoy the people at the holiday gathering would be to host the party yourself. You are in charge of everything from the guest list to what food and drink will be served. You are also in charge of set up, clean up and spending some money. There always has to be a downside.

Progressive dinner parties are one way to share the downside and still deliver on a great night for a small group of friends. Sharing costs for a party room at a restaurant or having a caterer are other ways. I say all of this and it sounds like I'm a great host or party going sort of guy...I'm not. I'd be just as happy with a good cup of coffee, a Christmas cookie (or two) and my laptop or a good book to read.

I started down this rant because of another blog that I read. It had posted about a hosting a party of a different kind that immediately made me think of a few readers and fellow bloggers that may enjoy this particular kind of party. And it is not related to the Christmas season so you could do this anytime.

Bilbo enjoys cooking and he and Agnes seem to be the host/hostess type of people. Sicilian blogged about her mother's holiday fare and open house atmosphere. Perhaps she'd like to share some of those Italian recipes. I also thought that Heidi (who always has healthy eating on her mind) would be able to use this type of venue to help teach a few people about healthy choices and great meals. My brother Pat would use a party like this and I'm sure that other readers might also enjoy this kind of recipe sharing.

Personally, I'm more into the recipe tasting side of the equation and feel bad that I won't be able to be there to sample the cooking/baking that will taking place without me.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Looking for $$$ in All the Wrong Places

Okay, so I'm getting real tired of hearing how the Union has put the Auto Industry in the proverbial crapper. It may be true that union workers are getting paid a little bit more than their non-union counter parts, but I seriously doubt that this has been the demise of the industry.

Has anybody taken a look at what the big shots of the auto companies are making? According to this article CEO compensation is up from 25 times the average laborer's salary in 1970 to 500 times the average laborer's salary in 2004! My guess would be that has close to doubled that for 2008.

This USA Today website shows that the CEO of General Motors had a total compensation package worth nearly $16 million for 2007. Ford was nearly $23 million. Wal Mart's CEO (that's the company with a small full-time to part-time worker ratio...you don't have to provide benefits to part-timers) made over $29 million for '07.

I think maybe we need to shift the focus of salary to somewhere a little bit further up the line. If there is money to be found to save the industry, how about a little top-down trimming rather than the other way around?

For all of the non-union workers out there--laborers and management alike, you can thank the labor movement for your 40 hour work week, overtime compensation, employer paid (or partially paid) health benefits, paid holidays, paid vacation time, workman's compensation (if injured on the job), retirement plans, safe working environments, freedom from harassment and a host of other benefits that are taken for granted in today's work world. Don't be crapping all over the unions unless you're willing to give up ALL of your many benefits that they've won for all working men and women (that means protection against child labor, too).

National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) AFL-CIO
former District 9 International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chillin' on a Saturday Night

Today was a nice quiet Saturday at our house.

It began with an almost unheard of full night's sleep (eight hours!). The only problem that I have with a full night of sleep is that I wake up with a bit of a sore back. That doesn't happen with a normal four and a half to five hours of sleep.

In any case, I was well rested and ready for the day. After a quick shower, a cup of coffee and a few minutes to print off a couple of things from my computer, I was off to the monthly meeting of the Ozarks Chapter of the American Christian Writers (OCACW). This month's meeting was the annual Christmas/winter reading session. Writers brought some of their work to read to the rest of us. There are some fantastic writers in this group. One would expect the published writers to excel, but everybody that participated by sharing their own work did great. Poetry, stories, devotion type writing...all of them were extremely well done. I have a lot to learn!

We skipped the critique session afterwards and I headed for home. Just as I was leaving the house in the morning, Chris got a call from her dad. He was in Branson with a friend and they were wanting to stop by before heading back to Festus, MO. I called home and they were just getting ready to go to lunch. I gave Chris my order and arrived at the restaurant moments before the food came!

The afternoon proved to be a very lazy afternoon. Hannah and I went to take care of the horses and we all spent a few minutes this evening at the local Wal Mart. Now I'm just relaxing in front of the TV while watching the UFC Ultimate Fighter Finale.

I'm catching up on reading blogs, e-mails and e-news while keeping an eye on the fights. I'm looking forward to church tomorrow and a relaxing Sunday before the weather turns nasty tomorrow evening.

Hoping that your weekend is great,


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Live for Today

I know that it is sometimes very difficult not to get wrapped up in what might happen tomorrow. I know that in the times of a troubled economy it is hard not to worry about a vanishing retirement plan or even what you're going to do about buying Christmas presents. This past weekend I was reminded of a passage from the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew, chapter 6. There Jesus says:

25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

That last verse pretty much sums up the lesson that is mentioned by the sister of John Challis at the end of this video. John had plenty that he could have been dwelling on about a future that held one certainty--each day could be his last. The video ran on ESPN in August and was re-aired the other night.

Even though no one is promised tomorrow, we all live like we'll be here for sometime to come. I wonder how we might change if we were to think that there might not be a tomorrow. I'm not talking about living a reckless or irresponsible lifestyle. I'm wondering if we might not be more appreciative of the simple things in life and the people that we interact with every day.

After watching the video, I'm thinking that I really have no problems that I could compare to what John Challis faced...and no excuses for not living life to the fullest.


  1. Matthew 6:27 Or single cubit to his height

Monday, December 08, 2008

Just Plain Mean

I know that the Bush Administration has spent the last eight years actively destroying the gains made by organized labor. During the Clinton Administration, President Clinton had signed an Executive order that declared air traffic control to be an inherently governmental function. That simply means that the responsibility of providing safety for the flying public belongs to the government. Oversight of safe air travel is a duty of the Federal Aviation Administration.

President Bush quickly signed an Order that stripped the "inherently governmental function" from air traffic control to pave the way towards privatization of the industry. A vital part of the system--Flight Service Stations--has been contracted out in what has turned out to be the grand fiasco of the decade. The government now pays a private contractor to provide pilots with the information and services that were once provided by government employees. This was supposed to be a cost savings move. Instead, it just provides some politically savvy friends of Washington with a lot of money and little oversight. The service that was once providing general aviation pilots with all kinds of pertinent information is now the joke of the industry.

All of that happened some years ago and we (air traffic controllers) have been fighting to keep the FAA from consolidating facilities and getting air traffic controllers ready for contracting out. We have been in a contract dispute for the past two years, operating under imposed conditions when our Agreement clearly states that it will remain in effect until a New Agreement is reached.

And now, as a parting shot to federal labor unions, President Bush has signed an Executive Order to deny bargaining rights to certain government employees. You can read about it here.
Talk about just being mean! If our soon to be former executive wants to do something in his last 43 days (and counting) in office, why not do something meaningful? Why force soon to be President Obama to waste his time signing executive orders that nullify the personal attacks on organized labor? Why not just get around to issuing Presidential Pardons to our convicted Alaskan Senator and what ever other buddies he's going to pardon...and go home?

I know that the President's actions won't always be popular with all of the people...but that is just plain mean. It makes me think of the kid on the playground turning around and sticking out his tongue as he's being sent home for misbehaving.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Did You Ever Wonder...?

It’s Christmas time. When Christmas time draws near, we read and reread the Christmas story from the Bible. One of my favorite parts is the visit of the Magi. (go figure!)

Matthew 2

The Visit of the Magi

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east[b] and have come to worship him."

3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ[c] was to be born. 5"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'[d]"

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east[e] went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Escape to Egypt

13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod.

Have you ever wondered about the gifts that the Magi brought?

I’ve heard sermons that talk about the gifts themselves...odd gifts for a child—gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold, a gift for a king. Frankincense, a gift for a priest. Myrrh (the strangest of all), a burial spice. (but that's all stuff for another post)

I think that God sometimes has an odd way of presenting us with the gifts that we will need. Often times they come in such a way that we readily dismiss them as coincidence. All of these gifts were valuable. I’m just making a guess that Joseph and Mary weren’t very wealthy people. I doubt that they were ready to move suddenly or take a long journey. Surely they would need supplies for the journey. They didn’t have the time to sell the goods that they couldn’t carry with them—at least, not at a good price. The Bible says that they left in the night. They may have taken some things...but they couldn't have taken much.

Somehow I see God providing Joseph with some quick getaway cash and also with something to sell later on. He would need funds to escape and then he would need a way to provide for his family. Maybe he would sell the incense to buy tools for his trade or to find a home once his family arrived in Egypt. The Bible never makes another mention of the gifts.

It just seems too well planned for this family of modest means to be given gifts of great wealth right before God tells them to move to a far away land. It makes me wonder...it causes me to do a little self examination. What gifts has God provided me with? And for what purpose? What gifts has God provided you with? And again, for what purpose? Are we using the gifts that He has given us for the purpose that He intended? Or have we decided to use them for our own benefit? Or maybe we’ve decided not to use them at all.

I was just wondering.



  1. Matthew 2:1 Traditionally Wise Men
  2. Matthew 2:2 Or star when it rose
  3. Matthew 2:4 Or Messiah
  4. Matthew 2:6 Micah 5:2

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Another Favorite Bible Story

This is another one of the great stories found in the Old Testament. It is a story that tells us something about the past as well as teaching us something about the present.

To give you just a bit of background, the Bible tells us that Solomon, the King of Israel, is the wisest king in all of the earth. He also has more wealth than any other king of his day.

1 Kings 10

The Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon

1 When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. 2 Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. 3 Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. 4 When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, 5 the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at [a] the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed.

6 She said to the king, "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 7 But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. 8 How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."

10 And she gave the king 120 talents [b] of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

11 (Hiram's ships brought gold from Ophir; and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwood [c] and precious stones. 12 The king used the almugwood to make supports for the temple of the LORD and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. So much almugwood has never been imported or seen since that day.)

13 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.

So check this out...

A rich young Queen hears of a King in a far away land that has far more riches than any other kingdom on Earth and is the wisest man that has ever lived. Naturally, she assumes this to be an exaggerated tale that is being told by the merchant caravans that bring news and supplies from far away to her own kingdom. Surely there can be no king that can have amassed the fortunes told about by the travelers that have come to the south.

But caravan after caravan repeats the same stories of this magnificent King of the north. Finally, the young Queen of Sheba must go and see for herself. Being no slouch in the wisdom department herself, she loads a caravan full with the riches of her own kingdom. She will bring them as an offering to the king and as a statement of her own wealth and prosperity. The Queen of Sheba and her mighty entourage set out on a long journey to visit the great king that she has heard so much about. When she arrives in Jerusalem, she can hardly believe her royal eyes.

In her audience with King Solomon, she tests his wisdom and asks him all that is on her mind. I imagine that many of her questions concerned the people of her kingdom. She may have asked about certain sicknesses and how to treat or prevent them. She may have asked about how to produce more food or conserve on the resources of the kingdom. Whatever her questions, King Solomon had the answers. She was truly impressed by his great wisdom. But even more than that, she was impressed by the subjects in his kingdom. Look again at verses 4 and 5:

4 When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, 5 the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at [a] the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed.

Certainly she was impressed by the possessions that he had, and equally impressed by the possessions he gave up (sacrificed to the Lord), but she also arrived at her opinion of the king by the way his servants acted. She was impressed by their appearance and by their manner. She noted that they happily served their king. In the end, she said that even though what she had heard was hard to believe, she hadn’t heard half of the wonders and wealth of this great king!

She gave all of her gifts to Solomon and returned to her home.

If the Queen of Sheba formed her opinion of King Solomon based on his servants, I have to wonder what opinion people might have of Jesus based on His servants. What image do the officials (church leaders) of His courts give to those that come to check out our King? What is the appearance of the cupbearers and servants like? Do we happily serve our King? Would seekers of Jesus want to be a part of His Kingdom based on our attitudes of being members of His Kingdom? What do unbelievers think of Jesus based on how I (or you) act?

Because the Queen of Sheba recognized the greatness of King Solomon, she gave him many gifts from her own kingdom. You may be thinking that in order to recognize Jesus as your King, it will require you to give Him a gift of great worth. In one sense you’re right. It is not a gift of physical value or worth, it is the gift of your loyalty; the gift of your heart. He wants to give you an eternal home in His Kingdom. He wants for you to happily serve Him. Nobody is forced to endure the blessings of His Kingdom. Everybody is given the choice: recognize Jesus as Lord and live by the Kingdom Rules, or choose to live outside of the Kingdom.

Before you make your choice, there is one more thing that you should know about how the story ends. This visit by the Queen of Sheba is also recorded in 2 Chronicles, Chapter 9. Verse 12 says: “King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for; he gave her more than she had brought to him. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.”

Jesus is the same way. He will give you more than you can give to Him; more than you desire; more than you will ask for. He will give you an eternal place in His Kingdom.


a 1 Kings 10:5 Or the ascent by which he went up to

b 1 Kings 10:10 That is, about 4 1/2 tons (about 4 metric tons)

c 1 Kings 10:11 Probably a variant of algumwood ; also in verse 12

Monday, December 01, 2008

Can You Believe It!

It's December already!

Here in the Ozarks, we've welcomed December with a dusting of snow and some cold temperatures. (It's supposed to be back to 60F by Wednesday) Where has 2008 gone?

December 1st means that it's only 24 days to Christmas, 30 days to 2009, 50 days 'til Bush is out of the White House, 126 days 'til the Cardinals open the 2009 season at Busch Stadium, and 3 years, 1 month, 6 days until I'm eligible to retire!

Aaron was in Chicago last week and was able to check out the Moody campus and meet with the volley ball coach. Looks like he may be playing on the team when he gets to school in January. The kid is really growing up into a fine young man. I don't think that his mom is going to like it that he is going to be so much farther away from home. Such is life!

Hannah is also growing up way too fast. I enjoyed her company on the drive back from Chillicothe, IL Saturday. She'd like to be a writer but doesn't know how she might support herself while waiting on book sales to start rolling in. Hannah is very creative and I'm positive that she can make it as a writer if she sets her heart and mind to it. She is looking at colleges that are far away from home (no big surprise there). ACT in the spring. Scholarships are the name of the game!

Have a great December!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Deck the Halls...

...and anybody that gets in your way of a great holiday deal!

How could this happen? How can we become so focused on a great deal that we will push, shove and trample over people to get a deal? Happy Holidays? Are you kidding me?

I know that retailers are hurting for business and that everybody is looking for a deal, but I've been to a few "Black Friday" morning events (not this year) and people are rude! There are exceptions but the rule of the day is nice guys lose the great deals. When the kids were little I would venture out for a deal on a toy and be back at home and in bed before they were out of bed! In those days, the early Friday morning spree was new and had not yet earned the name "Black Friday."

Now I would rather pay a few more dollars or wait for a later sale than to risk life, limb and a good night's sleep to try to get one of the 15 low priced items with thousands of other shoppers fighting for the same deal.

I hope that you are able to find something nice for your loved ones and that it won't endanger your life to shop for presents this year. Maybe we could all pay a little bit more attention to the Peace and Joy themes of the Christmas Season. Maybe we could celebrate the birth of a Savior. Maybe taking a little time to help somebody instead of hurting somebody would make our little corner of the world a better place.

Even as the shopping season begins, I want to wish you an early Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

What a great day Thanksgiving is. I hope that you all have many blessings to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving seems to be a day for setting aside all practical and decent eating habits in favor of pure, unadulterated gluttony! Since Numeric Life is no longer keeping us up on the statistics of life, here is a link to some Thanksgiving Day calorie consumption and how to be guilt free!

Since Heidi has been filling my head with ideas that I might actually be able to improve my health by diet and exerc..., I can't say it--the "e" word, this link is for her. A friend told me to replace the "e" word with an "a" word--activity. It's much less intimidating and sometimes more practical.

I'm actually fascinated by how different foods effect our body chemistry. Along with that, it's good to know how medicines and chemical additives effect our systems.

As I have been reading, praying and studying, I am becoming more aware of the testimony that I give with my unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits. The Bible teaches us that our bodies are a temple--a holy place. If I truly value what God has given to me, I should take better care of it. I actually think that this attitude will take me farther than a diet to lose weight attitude has in the past. I certainly don't want the stereotyped image of the overweight Baptist preacher. (God knows that we have enough of those already) But all of that is a blog for another day.

This is about being thankful.

Last Friday I made the drive to Tulsa to have dinner with my two sisters. Hannah came with me and that certainly made the drive easier. It was three hours to meet them, about three hours of visiting and then three more to drive home. It may seem like quite a bit for a short visit but we see each other so little that I couldn't pass up this opportunity. I may have mentioned that I have a great family!

Aaron stopped to pick up my parents on his drive home from Chicago so they will be with us for Thanksgiving dinner. Chris' dad is driving in from St. Louis and will be here. Aaron's girl, Jenny and her family will join us as well as a friend from church. I am working the mid-shifts on both Wednesday night and Thursday night, but thankful to have a good job and still be able to have time to share our home with family and friends. Chris, Kathi and Tracey will be preparing all of the meal and I know it will be great!

One of my co-workers once asked if Chris was a good cook. I said that I'm about 75 pounds heavier than when we got married...yes, she is a good cook! Today we eat out far more often than we should and will be cutting back some--both for better eating habits and also for some cost savings. In any case, I'm thankful that we have the choice and have more than enough to eat.

It really seems like an impossible task to name all of the many blessings that I have and for which I am thankful. I hope that you will take a few moments to reflect on the things for which you are thankful. Share them with someone you care about or write a few of them here. I'd be honored to post them for you.


Thanks to Sarah for sharing this quote:
"The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank."
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti

PS Mike, I'll still indulge in some Ted Drewe's every time I get the chance!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Who do you want to be?

The other day as I was reading through the many blogs that I subscribe to, I ran across one that I want you to check out. Jesse does a great job in this video talking about behavior modification and self improvement. I was thinking about what he said as I was reading Ken Hemphill's book EKG: The Heartbeat of God.

In his book, Hemphill talks about emulating Jesus; taking on His characteristics as our own. This is the same message that I was getting from Jesse in his video. I know that we tend to think that it is impossible for us (mere mortals) to be like Jesus. That's not Biblical teaching. As a believer, we are empowered (one of Jesse's favorite words) by the Holy Spirit--we have the Spirit of the Living God within us. It becomes a matter of whom do we serve...God or self. The Bible teaches that we can't have two masters. Our problems come when we say that we want to serve God but our actions emulate our self-serving selves.

To apply Jesse's lessons to our Christianity, decide that you want to be like Jesus...then BE like Jesus. We could change the once popular What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD) to If I were Jesus, What would I do? Then do it! Assume the character of Jesus.

In Philipians, the Paul says that Jesus gave up the characteristics of God and took on humanity. The Bible also teaches that as believers, we are to set aside our old nature (humanity) and take on the characteristics of Jesus.

As a shout out to Jesse, I'm adding a link to his blog Living Infinitely in the blogs I frequent section. Do yourself a favor and bookmark or subscribe to his site. You'll be better for it.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Occupational Hazard

One of the occupational hazards of being a preacher is that you tend to engage people (including strangers) in conversation. Yesterday, after visiting one of our church members in the hospital, I went to lunch with my pastor and our worship minister (we all arrived at the hospital separately but at the same time). Since it was lunch time, there was a bit of a line at the Subway when we arrived. I was going to work after lunch and was wearing my work badge which is on a American Red Cross lanyard.

The guy in front of me notices the lanyard and says that his wife works for the Red Cross in Jonesboro, Arkansas. After talking for a little while, I asked what brought him to Springfield. It turns out that he is a part of a good sized group of men that are on their way to Wichita, Kansas to help with a church plant! Imagine that! Two Southern Baptist preachers (one a pastor, one an evangelist) that just start talking to each other only to find out that they share so much in common. There is a moment of disappointment when you've engaged somebody in conversation and you realize that you are not going to get to share God's plan of salvation with them or ask them if they go to church anywhere or what they think about heaven, hell or eternity. But then you rejoice that they already know Jesus as Savior and greet each other as brothers in Christ.

If you are so inclined (and I hope that you are) please remember Pastor Ric and the crew of men that are partnering with God and the church plant in Wichita when you go to God in prayer. I know that they will appreciate your part in the Kingdom Ministry.

Meanwhile, I'll keep working on getting over this shyness about talking to strangers!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Favorite Stories

I've been thinking about sharing some of my favorite Bible stories. I'm going to share the stories along with the reasons why they are among my favorites. Some of them have been used in sermons, and I'm sure that others will be used in the future. Perhaps someday, I'll have my collection of favorites published; then again, perhaps not. For now, I'll just share them here at Out of My Hat.

I've adapted this first story from a sermon text. As I complete other stories, I'll share them with you. I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.

Ehud, The Left-handed Deliverer

One of my favorite stories from the Bible comes out of the Book of Judges. It’s one of those stories that you never hear, never remember reading and yet it is Classic God. It has all of the elements of the stories of God’s love: man’s rebellion, God’s judgment, man’s repentance, God’s deliverance.

In typical God fashion, He chooses a deliverer that isn’t anything like what you would expect a mighty deliverer to be. God chooses the very last guy that a man would choose. God chooses the perfect guy for the job.


12 Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms(Jericho). 14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.

15 Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way the men who had carried it. 19 At the idols near Gilgal he himself turned back and said, "I have a secret message for you, O king."
The king said, "Quiet!" And all his attendants left him.

20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, "I have a message from God for you." As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king's belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, "He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house." 25 They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.

26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.

28 "Follow me," he ordered, "for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands." So they followed him down and, taking possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab, they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.


Whenever I’m reading the Bible, occasionally words or phrases seem to jump out at me. It is generally because they seem out of place or unusual. I tend to accept that as a clue that there is something more to the story—something that the average reader is going to miss. That’s the case in this story of Ehud, The Left-handed Deliverer.

The words that I’m talking about are found back in verse 15. The Bible says that God gave them a deliverer—“Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite.”

I would have expected that the Bible would name him with his father and tribe. That is they way that was done. But what about being left-handed? Is that important? It doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the story. I decided that it was worth a little looking into. What I found was that Ehud’s being left-handed is central to the story.

Even today, being left-handed is somewhat of an anomaly. Only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed. Being a lefty is not near as big of a deal today as it once was. It can even be an advantage if you are a pitcher or batter in baseball. For the most part, it is a right-handed world. Scissors, power tools, hand tools and sports equipment are plentiful if you are right-handed and harder to find (and more expensive) if you are left-handed. Writing from left to right is no problem if you are a righty and a little awkward for a lefty. Today, kids are no longer discouraged from developing their left-handed tendencies. It wasn’t always so.

There was a time when left-handedness was associated with witchcraft. To prevent children from developing left-handed tendencies, drastic measures were taken. Arms were tied down to prevent use—hands might even be broken to prevent their use and force the use of the right hand.

Still today, in the Middle East, the left hand is the hand of defilement—the dirty hand. You don’t touch people with your left hand. Without being too graphic, the left hand is the hand that you use for certain personal hygiene actions. (I will mention that toilet paper isn’t the plentiful commodity that it is in the Western world!)

In Ehud’s day, lefties were also thought to be weak. A left handed man was not allowed to carry a sword. He could not accompany his tribe into battle. That alone made him less than a man. When the rest of the able bodied men went to fight, Ehud had to stay behind with the old men, the crippled men, the boys too young to fight and the women. Ehud was the kind of guy that would get all of the jobs that nobody else wanted to do. He would have been somewhat of and outcast among his own people. I think that it shows a bit of God’s sense of humor and irony that Ehud is from the tribe of Benjamin (since Benjamin means son of the right hand).

One of those jobs that Ehud got stuck with was carrying the tribute of the people to Eglon, the king of Moab. I don’t know how often the people of Israel had to bring their tribute to the king, but I’m sure that nobody wanted to carry the money to the pagan king. So somebody gets the bright idea, “Let’s make Ehud do it.” And so Ehud gets the undesirable task of bring the tribute to Eglon, a very fat man. (We’ll get back to the fat man thing.)

The Israelites have had enough and cry out to God. They repent of their sin and God chooses Ehud as their deliverer. So Ehud makes a small sword. It’s big enough to do the job (about eighteen inches long) and small enough to hide. Ehud would have had to make the sword in secret and keep it hidden—even from his own people. They would have taken it away from him if they had known about it. He makes the sword and hides it and waits for the day that he is to bring the tribute to the king. On that day, Ehud hides the double edged dagger in the folds of his cloak on the right side. (A right handed person would have carried his sword on the left side.) The Throne Room in the palace would have been heavily guarded. A soldier would have been allowed to keep his sword as he entered into the presence of the king. It may or may not have been secured with a “peace knot” which would make it impossible to draw quickly. Nobody would have searched Ehud and nobody would have expected him to be hiding a sword.

Ehud and the delegation from Israel deliver the tribute and begin their return trip home. Ehud allows sufficient time for all of the other delegations to complete giving their tribute and then tells the rest of Israel’s delegation to continue homeward and he returns for an audience with King Eglon.

When Ehud arrives at the palace for the second time, the Throne Room is empty. He announces that he brings a message from God and is brought to the king’s private chambers. The King clears the room (apparently he doesn’t want anybody else to hear this message), and Ehud approaches to give the king the message. As the king stands to hear the message, Ehud reaches into his garment with his left hand, draws the dagger and kills the king.

Eglon must have been a very prosperous king (since he was so fat) and the fat of his belly closed in around the handle of the dagger as the point pushed out of his back. Ehud locks the door and escapes through the porch.

Now I kind of wonder about what happens next. Maybe the servants left the area and took their union mandated break when the king sent them out of the room. Maybe they went to the palace’s designated smoking area to burn a quick one while the king received this message from the Israelite’s God. In any case, nobody saw Ehud leave and the doors were locked when they returned. They weren’t in any hurry to interrupt the king because they figured that he was relieving himself. (That’s the politically correct way of saying that they thought he was taking a dump.) Note: I’ll probably have to edit that dump part. Anyways, they wanted to allow enough time for the air to clear since some poor servant (probably a left-handed one), was going to have to take care of emptying that chamber pot.

By the time they finally got around to unlocking the door and finding their dead king, Ehud was on his way back with the armies of Israel. And God delivered the Moabites into their hands and they lived in peace for eighty years.

Now that’s a good story.

But I think that there is more to it than just being a good story. I think that there is a life lesson for us. The preacher in me can’t just leave it alone. When God places a great story like this before us, I believe that He is trying to tell us something.

Up until that moment in his life, Ehud had always been considered relatively useless. There is little doubt that he had been an object of ridicule and scorn for his entire life. I can’t help but wonder what he was thinking when he felt that God had called on him to deliver the Israelites from the hand of Eglon, King of Moab. I wonder when Ehud first realized that he had been created for this purpose. I wonder if he suddenly felt that all the years of torment had been worth it because now he knew that he had been created for this moment.

I wonder how many of God’s children suffer today with feelings of inadequacy. I wonder how many of God’s children are living their lives without purpose. Far too many believers feel that they are not equipped to serve in God’s Kingdom. They think that they are too short, too tall, too fat or too skinny. They think that they can’t talk to people or that they are not smart enough. Maybe they think that they are too poor or that they don’t have the right social stature to share God’s story and God’s love.

Ehud surely felt that God had forgotten him. And yet, when the time came, he was ready to serve his God and deliver his people.

Perhaps you feel that your life lacks purpose; that God has forgotten you and that life is leaving you behind. With all of my heart, I believe that there is a God in heaven that loves you dearly. He has created you for a purpose. He has equipped you for that purpose—maybe physically, maybe mentally, maybe emotionally. The only thing that that you need to bring is a willing heart.

James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us that life is fleeting. He says that it is like a vapor, here for a moment and then gone. I would encourage you to endure. Stay with it. Your moment is coming. Love God. Serve Him. Be patient. And remember, the task before you is not for your own recognition and glory—it is for the glory of God.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Yeah, I know. It was two days ago that I met with my old friend and classmate at the Springfield Airport. It's not that the meeting didn't go well. It's more like sometimes I'm a slacker blogger. Making contact with Jeff was one of those benefits of the social networks like Facebook. It always amazes me at just how small the world has become because of the internet.

For several years now, my family has kept up with each other through regular (or irregular) e-mail updates. I think that all of my siblings read my blog, though only a few of them comment. There are other readers from around the globe. Some are friends, some found the blog through other bloggers that have posted links, some probably come from the links on my e-mail signatures and some I have no idea of how we have become virtual friends. I also have a blog link on my Facebook page.

So Jeff locates me through FB and then a few weeks later ends up with a business meeting in Springfield! It has been thirty years since we've seen each other, so the hour that we had really wasn't adequate to do much more than a brief recap of the past three decades. Jeff started in radio broadcasting when we were still in high school. I wasn't surprised to hear of some of the markets that he has worked in, or that he is now traveling the country as a consultant to radio stations.

Our little reunion ended too soon when LJ, the midday DJ for KKLH The Cave, came to pick him up. If you're a Classic Rock fan, follow the link to listen via the net. Mike will appreciate the Heartbreaker of the Day picture. Being interrupted by LJ wasn't too bad. If you look to the Air Staff and check out LJ, you'll see that she has a look that is wasted on the radio. I enjoyed meeting LJ and getting reaquainted with Jeff.

If anybody else is planning on being in the Springfield/Branson area in the near future, give me a call!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Now Where Did That Come From?

For those that read the Bible on a regular basis, this is probably a normal occurance. You read something that you have read before (perhaps many times) but this time you see something that you've never really seen before. It's been there all along, but this time you finally notice it. It's as if the words jump off the page and shout, "Here I am! Read me!"

So this happened to me as I was reading the familiar passage from Exodus, chapter 20. This is the place where God gives the Israelites the Ten Commandments. Right after the big 10, the Bible says this...

Beginning at verse 18: When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."
Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."
The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Wow! Did that line jump out at you like it did at me?

"Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

I don't think that we fear God any more. Not that God wants us to be afraid of Him. He wants for us to revere Him; to understand that He is omnipotent; to know that He is greater than anything in the world. And at the same time, to know that He loves us and wants to be loved by us.

We have become pretty self sufficient today. We don't need God for much. (sarcasm intended) I mean the world has been set in motion by the Creator and will run its course. God doesn't need to intervene and we just don't need to think about God on a daily basis. Right?

Maybe it's that attitude that finds the world in its current state of moral decay--no fear of God. Not only do we not fear God, we really don't count on God for much. We are satisfied to rely on government, jobs, the market, financial institutions (all of the things that are failing today) to give us a false sense of security and a false sense of peace. When these things fail, then we worry and wonder about who or what we can trust. We fear what may become of our personal finances, our jobs, our homes, etc. But we have no fear of God.

Moses told the people that it is the fear of God that keeps us from sinning. The world certainly has given us its share of fearful things--God isn't one of them. In Matthew 10:28, Jesus says, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." I'm not sure why we don't fear God any more. At least it would appear that we have little fear of God.

So I was wondering...when you're about to do something that you know you shouldn't do, and then you don't do it, what is it that keeps you from doing it? Fear of getting caught? Fear of God? Integrity? (you just want to do the right thing) How about love of God? You know, really wanting to be obedient.

I used to think that if at the end of time it turned out that the atheists were right and there was no God, what would be the worst case scenario for all of the Christians? That they lived a life striving for a higher purpose? That they tried that "do unto others" thing? That they taught others a way of life that was based on love? Even if the end of life is just the end of life...wouldn't it have been a life worth living?

On the other hand, what if...well I think you know the what if of the other hand.

So, do you revere God?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Good News

Yesterday, Aaron received the letter that we were all waiting for--the letter stating that he has been accepted to The Moody Bible Institute for the winter/spring semester. I am so excited for him! (but I wouldn't want to be moving to Chicago in January! Been there, done that and burned the heavy winter coat!)


Monday, November 10, 2008


SPLASH is the title of the new book by Ken and Paula Hemphill. More than a book, it is a lifestyle of evangelism that fits so perfectly with my own philosophy of sharing Jesus. The acronym SPLASH stands for Show People Love And Share Him.

I have always believed that the best way to effectively share the story of salvation is to build a relationship that allows for the free discussion of eternal matters. For the next two days, Dr. Hemphill will be sharing the nuts and bolts of SPLASH with the pastors and lay leaders of the Tri-County Association of Missouri Southern Baptists.

New evangelism strategies can be expensive for churches to purchase all of the necessary training materials. The Hemphills have made this an affordable tool by putting all of the training materials online...for free. You only have to purchase the books. Even though my work schedule won't allow me to attend these training sessions (they actually expect me to show up like 5 days per week now) I'm looking forward to reading the book that Dr. Hemphill practically gave me.

I was buying some of his books and devotionals yesterday (I've decided to drop by and pick up a couple more today) and was totaling up what I had when he came over to help me. All of his books were discounted by 20-25%. I had my total at $39 plus the $7 SPLASH book. But he said just to make it $40 for the whole thing. He said that he knew that I would be telling pastors and churches about the material as I travel to churches and wanted me to have it. Nice, huh?

Looking back over my posts for the past few months, it's easy to see that I'm not your stereo typical Southern Baptist Evangelist. I'm not positive that's a good thing, it's just the way it is. What is positive is that I really believe that God created us; that He loves us; and that He has redeemed us (bought us back) from our sin. I really believe that there is no way for us to earn salvation and so we have to trust that God has paid for our souls by the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. I believe that to be as true for you as it is for me.

A while back, I had a short conversation with an atheist. He wasn't really an atheist, more of an agnostic. He believed that there could be a supreme being--a designer of the universe, but really wanted some proof. In our conversation, it came out that he also believed that we have souls that live beyond our physical bodies--he believed in ghosts. He really wasn't comfortable talking about the possibility of places like heaven or hell but admitted that those places may indeed exist. My question/challenge for him was this: If you believe that there might be a supreme being (and you do) and you believe that we have souls that live beyond our physical lives (again, you do) and you think that there might be places like heaven and hell; then don't you think that it would be worth your time to investigate what it takes to get into one and stay out of the other?

What about you? What do you believe happens to you when you die? Is that it? You take the big dirt nap and life is over. You live on only in the brief memories of those that knew you and then...nothing? Does the soul cease to exist, the mind grow quiet when the lights go out? Against the background of eternity, the Bible says that life is like a vapor...here for a moment, then gone. Have you made any plans for whatever is beyond living?

I know that there are readers from beliefs that vary from atheism to Christianity to "I believe in a god," and many in between (or outside of these). For the past few weeks, we've been open about our political beliefs. How about an open forum for our religious beliefs?

Any takers?
Be nice.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Reading and Writing

Actually, Writing and Reading would have been a better title...but it just doesn't sound right. Speaking of not sounding right, I had the opportunity to listen to a man that pays very close attention to the way things sound.

Barclay Newman and his wife Jean were the keynote speakers at this month's meeting of the Ozarks Chapter of American Christian Writers. Rev. Newman has written Bible Commentaries, Bible dictionaries, books and children's books. He was also lead on the team of translators for the Contemporary English Version of the Bible. A big part of this translation includes translating the original text into the thought patterns and speech patterns of today. Since the Bible is a book best read aloud, how the translation sounds when read was also of important consideration.

Mrs. Newman is the illustrator for the children's books as well as the manager/secretary/agent for the business. Both were very interesting speakers and it was quite a privilege to meet them.

I think that much of the club was more interested in Mrs. Newman's information that dealt with the publishing of their books (this is a writer's club) than with Rev. Newman's Bible work. For me, I could have listened to the stories and subtleties that went into the Bible translations for the entire time. Kudos to the team that secured this month's speakers.

This evening, at Hopedale Baptist Church, I heard author, lecturer, pastor, past President of Southwestern Theological Seminary and the go-to guy on Sunday School growth, Ken Hempill, D. Min., PhD.

Wow! What a day for listening to a couple of great Christian authors. In the morning I plan on purchasing several of Dr. Hemphill's books (signed of course) since he will be at our church for the day.
I can't wait to hear what he has for us tomorrow!


Friday, November 07, 2008

Social Networks

It seems that more and more people are joining social networks like My Space, Facebook, and there are still a few on Xanga. I have an account on each of those. I never really got into the whole network thing. I signed up on My Space when the kids started, but I never did anything with it and Tom is still my only friend. I signed up on Xanga when I wanted to post on a friend's blog but had to have an account to do it.

My Facebook (FB) account was the result of an experiment testing the effectiveness of social networks in fund raising. It was brother Steve (the social minded activist) that was involved in fund raising for a Baltimore organization. The cause is Prevent and Eliminate Homelessness. So Steve recruited members to Facebook and to his cause and then was a part of the experiment raising funds through Facebook.

My Facebook account is the only one that I ever use. I'm up to a whopping 74 friends that include family and friends from school, work, church, other churches that I've visited, e-mail lists and even some fellow bloggers. I've managed online chats with a few of them, written on their walls or sent them a message. I haven't sent plants, drinks, bumper stickers or pieces of flair but have received quite a few. (I'm not sure that I understand the point of it. If I want someone to know that I'm thinking of them, I just say hi.)

Next week I'm meeting an old friend and high school classmate at the airport in Springfield. We found each other on FB and his business travels find him in Springfield every now and then. A simple FB message and reply and we get the chance to catch up the last 30 years or so. There is a link to this blog from my FB page but I don't know if anybody has found this blog from FB.

The network does have a way of making the world a bit smaller. I've reconnected with some people that I never would have and been surprised by the people that have contacted me. I know that I don't use my account to the extent that most college kids use theirs...I'm not sure that I even have an idea of the potential that I'm missing out on. But I'm having fun with it, just the same.

How about you? Any other social networkers that are readers?


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Who Am I?

As I was driving in to work tonight, I was thinking about the many comments I've heard about the election of our President-elect Barack Obama. There still seems to be a great fear in this part of the country of what lies ahead. I received one doomsday e-mail of the judgments that await our country for the election of this liberal, baby killing, anti-Israel, anti-military, false Christian, gay loving person to the highest office of our country.

The question still comes up, "How can a Christian vote for a liberal, pro-abortion candidate (Democrat) for public office?"

My question is, "How can somebody be so single minded or one faceted?" I know the moral high ground that many want to take and I don't think that there is anything wrong with a person's single mindedness when focusing on God (or whatever/whoever their god is, should it be different than mine). But in this case, we're talking about government and...well you all ready know how I feel about mixing religion and government.

I realize that I am quite the conundrum for many of those that think that they know me. The problem is that they often only know the part of me that fits into their world. I am a very multi-faceted person and most people are only exposed to one or two sides. It occurs to me that readers of this blog may actually have a better perspective of the total me than many of the people that I know personally.

So, who am I? What is it that influences my thoughts, actions, philosophies, beliefs and decisions? How does a conservative, evangelical Christian (not to mention--a registered Republican) end up supporting a Democrat? What other areas of beliefs are influenced by factors that some would view as worldly or ungodly?

I actually think that these are fair questions to ask of an Evangelist. Let me introduce you to myself. I really don't think of myself as a very complex individual. Mostly, I'm just a simple man with simple thoughts and simple needs.

First, you should know that I come from a large (by today's standards) and diverse family. Mom and Dad are both still living and still married after 50+ years. There are six kids, four boys and two girls. I'm second in the birth order. I'm also the least educated or at least the only one without a college degree of some sort. We are a great family, though not a perfect family. Of the six kids, there was one teen pregnancy, one divorce, and one blended family. Two are in the military or guard. Though we were all raised in the Catholic Church, today some are still active and devout Catholics others are Protestant or Evangelical and others are not attending church at all. We live in big cities and rural areas from Oklahoma to the East Coast. We are as politically diverse as you could imagine. But when we are together, we laugh! All in all, there are Mom and Dad, six kids, five spouses and seventeen grand kids...30 total. This alone gives me many perspectives on family and family values.

I've had several different jobs since I entered the work force some three decades ago. Currently, I have a government job. I am an air traffic controller (ATC) and have spent most of my ATC career actively involved with the union that represents the controllers...the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). I have been a state legislative coordinator (Iowa), served on two national standing committees (Legislative and Constitution) and been Facility Representative (local president) at two facilities. I have worked in environments and conditions where the workers flourished and I have worked where the workers have dealt with tactics of intimidation and abuse of power. Labor/management gamesmanship and playing inside or outside the rules is a game that I no longer enjoy. It is a game that I can play very well, but I usually become a person that I don't really like anymore. This is my second union job. I was also shop steward at an aluminum factory and served on the union committee at that plant. Politics from a Union perspective is way different that the politics from a church perspective.

If you were to put me into a religious box, I would best fit into the conservative, evangelical Christian box. I am a Southern Baptist evangelist. I believe that I am called to preach the Gospel of Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. I believe that we are God's creation and that He loves us dearly. I believe that He demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ (Jesus) died for us. (Rom 5:8) And yes, I do believe that Jesus is the only way to get to Heaven. (John 14:6) I also believe that is not my place to judge your testimony. Your belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior is between you and Him.
I keep reminding myself of Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The part that haunts me is when Jesus says that we will be judged by the standard with which we judge others. If that's the case, I want to be judged with a merciful and forgiving standard. I want to be judged in love. I didn't grow up in a Baptist church and so I don't have a lot of the Baptist baggage. I'm not going to say that you can't be a Christian and still drink alcohol or tell you that drinking is the social sin of the day. It's just not that important to me.

I'm also a dad that isn't quite sure of how to be a good dad (at least where teenagers are concerned).
I'm a husband that worries that I'm not letting my wife know just how much I love her and how much she means to me.
I'm a home owner that is absolutely lousy at home maintenance and repair and a man that doesn't know enough or care enough to work on his own cars. My philosophy in this area is: they pay me well to do the job that I know how to do; I should be willing to pay somebody else well to do the job that they know how to do.

Today, I struggle enough with John doing the right thing and I don't have the time nor inclination to make sure that everybody else is doing the right thing. I want to teach my kids to do the right thing and to make good choices.
I like being generous. I think that my kids are generous, too. I like to tip well when we go to a restaurant.
I should probably worry more about retirement and what lies ahead. This may sound incredibly naive, but I really do trust God. I mean I know that I have a responsibility to be a good steward, but I'm not going to spend a great deal of time and energy worrying.
I know that I need to live a healthier lifestyle. I even know a lot about what I should be doing/not doing and eating/not eating. It's just a matter of getting to it!
I like to read and I love to learn.
I like to tell stories. (they don't even have to be true stories!)
I like to smile and I like to make other people smile.
I'm a people person...but I also like to be left alone.
I have an ugly side; a bad temper. I really hate it when I lose control and say something that is hurtful. I'm getting better and lose it much less frequently as I get older.

Some would say that I'm getting more liberal as I get older. I disagree. I'm just less insistent that others agree with me all of the time.
Although religion and politics are often subjects to avoid, I'd gladly discuss them with anybody that would agree not to get mad about our differences.

Now you probably know more about me than anybody could possibly care to know. So if you ever have a comment, question or argument about one of my posts, feel free to discuss it here or by e-mail or phone. My contact info is in the right column.