Friday, July 31, 2009

Jesus Camp Revisited

Some time ago I wrote a post that included a brief reference to a movie called Jesus Camp. While the movie is a documentary that compares lively churches (lively music, shouting, etc.) to dead churches (hymns, solemn prayers, preaching to quiet congregations) and implies that God is not in dead occurs to me that there are others with views that are exactly the opposite.

Some people think that music can be evil; that drums are tools of the devil. Some people have the idea that you can't teach kids the lessons of the Bible when they are enjoying themselves in church. Apparently we have to drag kids to boring churches before they can learn that God loves them and sent His Son to die for them.

Why can't we recognize that there are many ways that people can effectively worship God and share His love. I am not so arrogant to think that God only likes the way I worship Him and every other way is an act of heresy.

I do believe that there is only One True God. I do have an exclusive view that heaven is only attainable to those that have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. These are basic beliefs of the Christian faith that we are taught in the Bible. I also know that many cultures worship the One True God in many different ways. We worship Him as God using different styles of music, different customs of attire, different presentations of The Word, different types of services. We worship in large churches and small homes. Some worship openly and freely and some are persecuted and have to be discreet in their gatherings.

At some point we have to realize that there are enough enemies of the Faith that we don't need to be fighting amongst ourselves. Certainly we can find a place that we can worship God without criticizing the way others worship or openly condemning their methods--especially when they are effective in sharing the Gospel and people are coming to know Jesus. Maybe it is just easier to be hateful than to share Jesus ourselves.

Even as I write this, I'm forced to look back at a post that I wrote just a few weeks ago. Was I doing the same thing that I am now being critical of? I want to say that my post was more about communicating effectively with kids than style of preaching or worship. You be the I need to post an apology or write a letter that might benefit the camp in the future?

In any case, we, as believers, owe it to our Lord and Savior to be unified in our work to spread the Good News. The armor of a believer is to be used in the spiritual battles that we encounter with the evil one--not to beat up on one another!

John <><

BTW, are you sure of your eternal destination? If you have questions, please call or write.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Notes From All Over

As July comes to an end, I have finished with camps for the year. I was at three camps as Camp Pastor and visited one other to share the Gospel through the use of magic. I only had one VBS program this year but it was a full summer just the same. At the present, August is blank as far as the magic/ministry calendar goes. That's okay. On the eighth, Aaron, Joel (his future father-in-law) and I will be going to Kansas City for a Royals Baseball game. On the weekend of the 21st, I'll be taking Aaron back to Chicago for the fall semester at Moody Bible Institute. Hannah starts her senior year of high school about the same time so August is still a full month.

Opening Act

I usually open my magic show with a brief explanation of the origin of magic. (This seems to be important in churches and works well for me in other venues.) I tell the audience that magic has its origins in science and nature. You may recall the Bible story where Magi from the East come to visit the Christ-child. In other translations the word is translated as wisemen.
They were students of nature--scientists. Because they had knowledge of how the world around them worked, they were thought to have special powers. To be sure, there were those that dabbled with the occult and worked with the spirit world...but still today, much of magic has to do with an understanding of science, math and nature.

I then use a hexa-flexa-gon as my opener. I had worn mine out and for a while they were unavailable. My friend at Dazzling Magic found a craftsman in Europe to make them and now has them available once again. Here is a video of Marty performing with the color flexagon. My routine is very similar.

I am looking forward to the fall revivals that are on my calendar and to watching Hannah in the high school marching band.

VBS continues at Hopedale throughout this week. There are more than 300 kids in attendance! God bless all of the adults and teens that are working.

Busy, busy, busy. Always something to do.

Have a great day. Tell somebody that God loves them...I've chosen to tell you.
God loves you!

John <><

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wake Up!

I'm blogging this morning from the Sleep Disorders lab. Yes, it is once again time for that annual test to see if I can stay awake long enough to provide safe, orderly and expeditious service to the flying public.

It's interesting to note the governments approach to the whole sleep apnea thing. As long as I dealt with my sleep apnea by ignoring it, I didn't have to jump through any hoops to keep my medical certificate and thereby keep working. Once the condition was acknowledged and I started receiving treatment, I now have to show that I can stay awake. Unfortunately, it is this backwards thought process that keeps many controllers from seeking help for a condition that often leaves them fatigued. Other sometimes risk getting treatment but not disclosing that information on their annual physical.

So now I'm wired up and have spent the first of several "test" periods staying awake. They turn off the lights, the TV and any other stimulus and make me lie in bed (actually reclined in a hospital bed) for 40 minutes...and not doze off! Who does this? Most people would fall asleep if they were put in a dark room and told to lie down for 40 minutes. The real irony of the thing is that the FAA says that we can't nap on our breaks while at work. I can watch Oprah or Dr. Phil or play darts or video games...but don't get any rest for your next session on radar! Of course, now I don't have a problem going to the quiet room and reclining in an easy chair with the lights off. I have medical documentation that I am able to do this without falling asleep.
Today I'll have time to catch up on my reading in between test periods (they don't let you nap here, either!). I have my HP Mini and will find ways to keep from being too bored and too tired. The test costs me a day of sick leave...another example of your tax dollars hard at work!

John <><

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back to Civilization

I have returned from the cellular black hole that is Bates Creek Camp.

I had a great week at the Mineral Area Association Boy's Camp. It wasn't a perfect week...but it was a great week.

Here's how the week started: On the drive 3+ hour drive to camp my car stopped running. Yeah, it just quit. I was driving down a state highway and it just stopped running. I managed to coast to a place where I could turn off of the highway and call for help. I notified the camp director of my situation and told him that I'd get to camp as soon as I could. The tow truck arrived after an hour and we took the car to a repair shop east of Steelville MO. Tim's Auto is a one man operation with Tim as the one man owner operator of the establishment. He asks if I'm in a hurry and I said that if it can't be fixed that afternoon, that I won't need it until Thursday afternoon. He says that he'll call me.

The camp sends a guy named Joel to drive the 40 miles to Steelville to pick me up and bring me to camp. BTW, Joel was also the guy in charge of the recreational activities at camp and did a super job of keeping the boys active and burning off their boyish energy in entertaining ways.

Since there were very few places on the grounds that I could receive a cell phone signal, communicating with Tim about what the problem with my car was and when it could be ready was difficult. It was Thursday afternoon as camp was wrapping up that I received a message that the car was ready. Elijah drove me back to Steelville so that I could retrieve my vehicle and return to camp to pack it up and head home.

Kudos to Derick Mickan! It was his first year as the Boy's Camp Director and he did a fantastic job. We had around 80 boys that were third through sixth graders. Eight made decisions to trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior, twelve rededicated themselves to serving Him and many of them committed to telling their friends that Jesus loves them and died for them. We even had one dad (on family night) rededicate to being a godly father and spiritual leader in the home.

Daytime speakers included representatives from the CMA (Christian Motorcycle Association) and a dirt track racecar driver. The speakers brought their bikes and racecar and talked to the boys about how they use these tools to share Jesus with the people that they encounter. The third speaker, a monster truck driver, had to cancel and the boys were stuck with some guy doing a magic show and talking about sharing Jesus through our hobbies and the things that we love to do.

Derick's band, Leaving 99 provided the music each night for the worship service. The boys really enjoyed their time at camp and I hope and pray that they will do a much better job of representing Jesus than my generation has done.

It's good to be back at home and I am catching up on e-mails, blogs and such. I was blessed to have missed the Cardinals getting swept by the Astros and was happy to see that they are still in first place. Now there are calls to be returned, e-mails to be answered and work to be done.

John <><

Friday, July 17, 2009

Commanding Respect

Okay, some of you long time readers may remember this post about how I feel about working with kids. Perhaps I should say--how I felt about working with kids. Truthfully, today I realize that working with kids is a great part of my ministry calling. Like it or not, (and I'm beginning to like it) working with kids will probably be in my future for some time. As a matter of fact, I'm beginning to be a bit critical of others that work with kids and really aren't equipped for the job.

I was at a camp recently where I feel this was the case. I know that camps vary greatly in how they are run. They have different activities, different worship styles, different themes...different personalities--yes, each camp has its own personality.

One of the things that really disturbs me when it comes to working with kids is any kind of manipulation. I don't what to intimidate them into saying or doing something out of fear, guilt, needing to belong to the group or just to please me or anybody else. Another thing is when people talk at kids rather than to them. Or when they have no idea of how to talk to kids and no understanding of when you've reached the saturation point.

The plan for the night at this particular camp was not the best. I was there for one night to present the Gospel using my particular style of magic. I was told that I had from 7:45 to 9:45. Now that is a long time to be in front of a bunch of kids. Even with an amazing program, that would be too long. The camp director told me that she just wanted me to have all the time I needed. She just didn't want to short me--I would end the evening program. I was planning on an hour.

Here's what I didn't know: The regular camp pastor was still going to speak ahead of me. And the kids would be sitting on the concrete floor of the camp gym/utility building.

I've been to many venues with multiple speakers. One of the things that most speakers recognize is that when you go past your scheduled time, you are infringing another speaker's time. This was already going to be a long night for the kids. The camp pastor started his message at about 7. Forty-five minutes would be a long time to preach to adults sitting in comfortable pews. It's a real stretch for kids sitting on a concrete floor. This preacher went on for an hour and a half. Not only did this go way into my time, it put me in the position of having to deal with kids that had already been sitting for a long time.

The pastor started with a reminder to the kids about not talking when he is talking. He told them about having two ears and one mouth and stopped frequently to remind them about being quiet while he was talking. He even threatened to withhold the fireworks display that they were looking forward to at the end of the night. I don't think that I would be exaggerating to say that stopped for talking kids more in one night than I have in ten years of preaching at kid camps.

By the fourth night of camp, the chemistry between camp pastor and camp is pretty well established. That the pastor started with the reminder to be quiet speaks volumes about their chemistry. You just have to talk to the kids--don't preach at them and don't talk down to them.

In the end, I was a bit off timing and out of sorts. I had to allow the kids time to get up, use the bathroom, get a drink and use a little of that kid energy. Then I had to get them back into order to present my program.

Next week I'll be at the Mineral Area Association Boy's Camp. I'm really looking forward to the week. Keep me in your prayers.

John <><

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Health, Health Management and Health Care

As Congress continues to bloviate (Bilbo's word) about health care for our nation with more concern about satisfying their major campaign contributors than the the citizens that need affordable health care, I thought I'd weigh in with a few thoughts.

Actually this health care rant is inspired by a recent family health care issue. A little over a week ago, Hannah was bitten by a neighborhood cat. This cat is not a feral cat or stray, it lives at a home in the neighborhood (at least that's what we believe). We were unable to locate the cat or the owners so to be on the safe side, Hannah is receiving the series of rabies vaccination injections.

Here are some observations and lessons learned from this experience:

Christian County has no program for dealing with stray cats--only dogs.
Though dog bites occur more frequently, cats are much more likely to carry rabies.
NOBODY knows who to contact about rabies shots and it turns out that the only place in our area is the hospital emergency room (even though it may not be a medical emergency).
The County Health Departments only give pre-exposure vaccinations, not post-exposure vaccinations.
Your primary care doctor can't (or maybe won't) get the vaccination for injections in his/her office.
Since you have to go to the emergency room (initially) and it is not a medical emergency, you can expect to get triaged to the very end of the line and be there for a very long time to receive an official okey dokey from a doctor that spent years of school and thousands of dollars to tell you something that everybody already knows--"Yep, that's an animal bite. You should probably get a rabies vaccination."

Any semi-sane individual can see several areas to save lots of money in this isolated case. I'm sure that many of the policies are dictated by insurance companies and are more about liability control than about medical care. By the way, the incubation period for rabies in humans is anywhere from two weeks to several months. However, once a person starts to exhibit symptoms, it is too late. Death will generally occur within a couple of weeks and treatment is pretty much pain management. The series of injections are no longer the 10 painful shots in the abdomen and are only six shots that are like any other vaccination. (we are waiting on #3 as I write)

I think that health management may be a way for companies (and the government) to create incentives for people to take better care of themselves and reduce the need for health care--perhaps discounts or lower insurance rates for people that are participating in fitness programs or discount memberships in health clubs or smoking cessation, weight loss programs or other things that improve health and reduce the need for health care.

An over-simplification of the insurance industry is that the people that don't use the health care system (healthy people) pay for the people that do use the health care system. Maybe we should start rewarding good health--and this from a guy that's 50 pounds overweight! By rewarding good health management, companies can expect more productive employees and fewer sick days. Wouldn't it be grand if they could also expect lower insurance costs?

I guess it is time (actually, way past time) for me to do my part. If they would have had a "fat-boy" award at our family reunion, I think that I would have won it with little competition. Since the beginning of July, I have been making some feeble attempts at better eating habits and getting a little bit of exercise. I'm going to have to do more. I really do need to shed 50 pounds. I started the year with the thought that if I could lose just one pound per week I'd drop 50 in the year. Well, with the year half over, I'm pretty much right where I started. No real plan; no real results. It's time to be purposeful.

I'll let you know how that goes.

John <><

Sunday, July 12, 2009

On the Road Again

This morning we will hug each other, say our goodbyes and get on the road as we each make our way to our respective homes. Aaron and Jenny are already on their way to Wrigley Field for the day half of the Cards/Cubs day-night double header. Then the afternoon/evening drive home from Chicago's northside. Drive times will vary from 3+ hours to around 12 hours with ours falling about right in the middle at 8 hours.

We have the advantage of three drivers (although Hannah will not drive with Chris in the car), no little kids and this nifty new HP Mini to occupy my time.

As always, it has been a real pleasure to get together. The kids are all great kids. They get along well, are generally well behaved, the little kids love the attention of the big kids and the big kids love to give them their time and attention. We find out new things about each other and reminisce about our past. The time always passes too quickly and life will be back to its everyday routine by least for most of us. My youngest sister's oldest girl--Amelia (9)--will be spending the week with my oldest sister in Oklahoma City. I'm sure that they will have a lot of fun!

Time to join the family for breakfast and farewells...

John <><

Friday, July 10, 2009

Where Am I Going? And What Am I Doing in This Handbasket?

I am so ashamed. I've sunk to an all time low...and for what? Food, that's what.

I was enticed by a co-worker's announcement that he had found the best Chicago Style Hotdog outside of Chicago. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you already know that I love a good dog. The problem is that the best Chicago Dog in Springfield is in a place called The Cubbie Hole.
Um, make that in a bar called The Cubby Hole.

And so it was that this Southern Baptist Evangelist (that is a Cardinal fan) found himself in a Cub bar eating a great Chicago Dog. The Chicagoan owner assured me that the Italian Beef Sandwiches were equally as authentic as their Chicago counterparts...of course that was before my buddy ratted me out as a Cardinal fan! I'm not sure if it's safe to order food now...especially after the the Cards beat the Cubs in the first of a four game series.


If you are a Facebook friend, you already know that I'm weekending with my favorite people in the family. We are gathered in Indianapolis and I am looking forward to spending time with everybody. I've already been put to sharing magic with the little ones...and there are a bunch of them. It will be a great weekend!


Oh and a question for the English majors or Grammar police:

Is the conditional statement correctly stated...

"If I were you, I would..."
"If I was you, I would..."

Please explain.

John <><

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Like a Kid at Christmas

I'm am so excited! In a few days I'll receive the new HP Mini that I ordered.

Two things:

1) My current HP Laptop is old and trashed. I am in need of a new one.
2) I have been wanting a Mini. It will be as much computer as I really need and easy to carry with me. It is about the size and weight of a hard back book! I ordered the external CD/DVD drive with the computer so it will pretty much do everything that my older, bulkier HP Pavilion 5700 does...but faster and with less bulk.

It should be here in a few days.

John <><

Monday, July 06, 2009

For the Record...and the Week Ahead

I got a few comments (some on Facebook, some here) about my post on Sarah Palin. For the record...I do not dislike Sarah Palin. I just don't think that she was a good choice as a presidential running mate. I also don't approve of any insulting attempts at comedy that involve their special needs child.

However, I do realize that many feel that some of the insults come from from her own patronizing attempts at securing votes by using her son and family as examples of her understanding of the needs of families in various situations. When a candidate is the one to present her Down's Syndrome son or pregnant teen daughter, it only seems natural (especially as self-proclaimed conservatives) that they would expect it to draw some heavy fire from the brutally inappropriate media. That my post came on the day of her announcing her resignation was purely coincidence.

Even her resignation will have its consequences should she make a run for President in 2012--"winners never quit and quitters never win" kind of stuff. Whatever her future holds, I wish her well.

On to the week ahead...

I'm looking forward to a great week at work. After having worked from 5:30 this morning to 1:30 this afternoon, I now have four consecutive mid shifts--10:30 pm to 6:30 am. It's a bit unusual in the air traffic world to have this kind of schedule--even more unusual to find somebody that likes it as much as I do. No supervisors, no trainees, few other people to work with and little traffic. When the watch is over, you grab a few hours sleep and have the whole day to do whatever needs to be done. It's almost like being off for the week.

When the work week is over, I get to meet with my family for a weekend reunion. As far as I know, all of my siblings will be there. I'm not sure if all of the nieces and nephews will make it, but I'm hoping that they do. Aaron's girlfriend, Jenny will get to meet the rest of the family (pray for her) and they will get to meet her.

Good stuff, eh? I am so glad that we all get along in grand fashion. I really feel bad for so many people that carry lifelong grudges with family members. It ought not be so.

For the future...

I'm really going to try to keep posts uplifting or at least informative. I don't want to be a part of tearing people down or negative posts. Forgive me when I get caught up in my human side and have a lapse. You have my permission to point out my transgressions (gently, please).

John <><

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Last night (July 3rd), Chris and I had dinner on The Landing in Branson with a couple of friends. We decided against the big Independence Day celebration in Springfield and instead opted for dinner with friends in Branson.

We arrived at The Landing to find it packed with people. We didn't know that there was an outdoor concert and fireworks scheduled for the night. The crowd also meant a long wait for dinner. We didn't finishing eating until well after 9 o'clock. As we made our way back to the north end (where we had parked) we found out that the fireworks display was starting at 10 so we decided to stay.

The program was pretty short but very colorful and a decent display. There was some great patriotic music in the background and I couldn't help but think about the great country that is my home. I read somewhere that our country (the US of A) is the only country that celebrates it's birthday. I don't know if that is true or not, but this great governmental experiment continues well into its third century. While our system of government may not be perfect, there are more countries that are striving to imitate it in some form or fashion than other types of government.

What can you say about a young country that is confident enough about its citizen's ideas that it would allow free speech--even speech that criticizes the government?

What can you say about a country that is confident enough about the wisdom of its citizens that it would allow them to completely replace its governing officials every few years if they choose to do so?

What can you say about a country that allows its citizens to travel freely across state lines or even to leave the country without worrying about what might happen to your families?

What can you say about a country that allow its citizens to choose where they live; where they work; what, who or how they worship; and bestows on each citizen the fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

What can you say about a country that produces much of the world's food and possess much of the world's wealth...and is found around the globe sharing that food and wealth when ever disaster strikes?

What can you say about a country that would send its young men and women into battle on foreign soil to protect the rights of people that we don't know...even to the point of giving their lives?

This is my country.
I am proud of her.
I am proud to call the United States of America my home.

Happy Birthday to the United States of America!

John <><

PS--July 4th is also my dad's birthday. Happy 75th birthday, Dad!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Sitting Duck

Much to the dismay of all those that still regard Gov. Sarah Palin as the bright and shining star of the Republican party, she had been awarded the dubious honor of being named as this year's Sitting Duck Award winner.

I know that she had quite a bit of competition for the award this year. Perhaps the SNL Tina Fey skits are what clinched the deal for her. Personally, I feel that Alaska is about as close to Washington DC that I ever want to see her. I think that she is a little too much "Joe Six-pack" for me. I'm not too interested in having your average American in the White House or any other elected office. I want to have the best and brightest; an over-achiever; an above average American. Sorry folks, but Gov. Palin doesn't quite fit that bill.

Comedians and late night talk show hosts will always make fun of the sitting President and Vice President. That's to be expected. But I think that eight years is enough when it comes to the rest of the world laughing at our leaders. I know that President Obama will make mistakes and draw his share of criticism, but hopefully it won't be every time he opens his mouth.

In a sense, I wish that Gov. Palin hadn't won the Sitting Duck Award. I would be happier if she would just fade away into political obscurity along with other losing VP candidates.


Yes, I know...another political rant. Sorry.