Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Often I'm the first one up in my house. Since my dresser drawer and closet are in my bedroom, I try to pick out my clothes the night before and lay them out in another room, so when I get up in the morning, I don't have to pick out my clothes in the dark.

Yesterday when I woke up, I realized that I forgot to pick out my clothes the night before. So with eyes still blurry, I tried to properly match my pants, shirt, tie, belt, and socks.

It's really not that hard, but finding the right colored socks is tricky. Early in the morning, I can't see the difference between dark blue and black. On this day, I just made a guess and pulled a pair out of the dresser drawer.

When I got dressed a few minutes later, I was pleased to see that I had picked out the right pair of socks. I needed black and I happened to pick out black. I was proud of myself; it's the same pride you feel when that wadded ball of paper lands in the trash can on your first try.

Sometime in the afternoon, my shoe got untied. When I reached down to lace it up, I noticed my socks. I couldn't believe what I was seeing--one was dark blue, the other was black. There was absolutely no doubt it. The hue distinction was clear. I was wearing mismatched socks!

In the morning, my eyes were certain that my socks were black and matched each other. But the light of the afternoon revealed that what I saw in the morning was clearly wrong.

It makes me wonder: Of the issues and situations in my life that I assume to see correctly, how many do I actually view incorrectly? What are those areas where more light must shine?

Whatever they are Lord, sock it to me.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Starry Magic

One of the last chores before bed is walking the dog. Last night, my 8 year old came along.

In Kansas, you can't help but look up at the huge night sky. Last night was an especially ideal evening for star gazing. The sky was crystal clear, the temperature mild, and the wind calm. With just your eye, you could see thousands of stars. I enjoyed pointing out Orion's Belt to my daughter.

Looking at the night sky and holding your daughter's hand are just the things to make you reflect upon your life.

Twenty years ago, I never imagined being married and having kids. Freedom was more important than commitments. But now at age 44, I relish the responsibility of kids (well, most of the time). The chance to teach and impart eternal values is a real privilege. I guess as you get older, you think more about doing something significant and lasting.

After we finished walking around the block and came to the back door, my daughter said, "You know Daddy, when Jesus rose from the dead, it wasn't a magic trick."

No, but the walk sure was magical.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Best Place No One Wants to Go To

I call it, "the best place no one wants to go to." I'm speaking of nursing homes.

Little River is fortunate to have one of the better nursing homes in Kansas with Sandstone Heights Nursing Home.

But that doesn't make it any easier to go and live there when you can no longer stay in your own place.

You lose your independence. You lose your privacy. Sometimes you lose your mind.

But one thing you do retain is your dignity.

Just because you can't walk like you used to, or talk like you used to, or take your medicine like you used to, nursing homes testify to the fact that life--at all stages--is sacred.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dogged Procrastination

Each year in my small town (population 500), I have to go to City Hall and pay $2.00 for my dog's tag. The license makes Popcorn--my overgrown, white poodle, who lies at my feet as I write--legit for another year. And, the tag insures that when my dog runs off, as he occasionally does, the one policeman in our community will return him without giving me too scornful a look.

The city sent me the renewal notice in early January. Late that month, Popcorn got a new rabbies vaccination. The vet sent me home with the rabbies certificate. I promptly misplaced it and forgot all about it.

In early February, I rediscovered the city notice in a pile of papers. Since I couldn't find the rabbies certificate, I called the vet and had them fax me a copy. Again, I forgot the matter.

A week later, I found the original rabbies certificate among a pile of papers in the kitchen. I said, "Ah, I must get that new dog tag." Since it was evening, I couldn't get the tag, so nothing was done.

A few days later, I again found the city notice letter. Since I just saw the vet's certificate in the kitchen, I went to get it, but couldn't find it. When I asked my wife where it was, she said, "Oh, I didn't know you needed it. I threw it away." After the steam out of my ears evaborated, I once again forgot the whole thing.

This morning, I found the city notice again: "If the new tag(s) have not been purchased by March 1, 2006, a $5 penalty per dog will be applied." I had to pay that darn penalty two years ago. Yes, for the very reasons you see described here.

BINGO! I just found the faxed certificate. I stuck it on a bulletin board so I wouldn't lose it. But I outsmarted myself. I put it on my wife's bulletin board, behind the computer printer. I can see from where I sit at this computer.

Years ago, my mother told me, "If your head wasn't attached, you'd lose that too."

I think I'll pay for that tag today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

You Embarass Me

One of our children's Christmas presents was A Charlie Brown Christmas. The DVD also contains the 1992 production, It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown.

Somewhere in those two shows is a line that Jenna, my 8 year old daughter, has picked up: "You embarass me." As you can imagine, Jenna has used this line out in public to create some rather embarassing moments for her parents. But I won't share that here.

Currently at church, I'm teaching confirmation class to 8 junior high students. One of my students-- Maggie--celebrated her birthday this past Sunday. I found out because Maggie's mother burst into the classroom and declared, "Hey everybody, today is Maggie's birthday."

When her mom left, I said to Maggie, "Your mother has taken it upon herself to embarass you today?"

Maggie replied, "No, she does that everyday."

POSTSCRIPT: My wife told me that after our daughter had overused the "You embarass me," phrase for several days, she asked, "Mom, what does embarass mean?"

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Walking the Trail

Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, my parents raised me in the Lutheran tradition and made sure that everyone in the family made it to Sunday School and church each week.

There were two ways to get to Zion Lutheran Church from our house. The "sidewalk" route went up two steep hills before finally descending down to the church. But the more interesting way was the "woods" route. I walked to the end of our street, cut through a neighbor's backyard, climbed over their property line fence, walked uphill through a twisting wooded trail, and finally reaching the back of the church's property.

I heard the Gospel faithfully proclaimed, but it wasn't until I was 16 that the Good News really became Good News to me. Then it took a few more years until I became intentional about walking with Christ.

Picking up the example of my parents, my wife and I have been diligent to read the Scriptures at home and be Good News to our kids. Yesterday when I got home, my daughter Jenna declared, "Daddy, I've asked Jesus to be my Savior." When I asked what made her decide that, she said, "I just wanted to." I guess that's reasonable 8 year old logic.

Obviously, Mom and Dad are thrilled. Our daughter has reached the end of one trail and the start of a glorious new one.

Monday, February 20, 2006

About This Blog--Commentary

"If people are 98% water,
they need a little stirring up once in a while;
otherwise, they'll go stagnate."

--Arabella Flagg (Suzanne Pleshette) in the classic Disney film,
"The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin."

This blog will feature occasional commentary on religion and politics. G.K. Chesterton says those two words are simply secular terms for describing Jesus' Great Commandment--loving God (religion) and loving neighbor (politics).

While the press remains obsessed about VP's Dick Cheney's accidental hunting shooting, more pictures of last year's Abu Ghraib scandal appeared on the web. Fortunately, the spotlight of attention has changed that Iraqi prison. But so has another important element--faith--reports Stephen Manfield in a May, 2005 Q&A interview with National Review Online:

"The Abu Ghraib scandal has a faith backstory. The chaplain who was at Abu Ghraib during the scandals was told not to be in the way but to let the soldiers come to her. There was no moral presence and little spiritual influence during the time of the scandals. Chapel attendance was low and many soldiers later said they did not even know who the chaplain was. When that unit was replaced, the chaplains of the new unit were told to be present at prisoner interrogations, at shift changes and in the daily lives of the soldiers. The entire atmosphere changed. Chapel attendance reached into the hundreds and the prison became a model operation. This makes the case for continuous moral influence upon soldiers at war and for a faith based warrior code as a hedge against future abuses."

Faith and the Lord has a way of stirring things up--for the good.

Friday, February 17, 2006

About This Blog--Stories

I really enjoy stories. That why I've titled this blog, "Living the Biblios." Biblios is a Greek word (the language of the New Testament) for "book," or "Bible."

When Dave Mallick at Dallas Theological Seminary showed me a simple "wheel" of how stories move (picture a clock with the ideal world at 12:00; mystery at 3:00; tragedy at 6:00; comedy at 9:00), I thought I had been given the secret to the universe.

And I was. Some preachers disdain telling stories in their sermons. It's "filler" that distracts from the logical explaination of doctrine. But look at Jesus' preaching. What did he do? He told stories about good samaritans, wayward sons, and houses built on shifting sands. Stories are the cradle for sound doctrine. When you hear a compelling story, it stays with you for a good long time.

One of the joys of small town living is being part of Lions Club. Last night our local chapter had its Valentine banquet. Four couples were at our table. We laughed and laughed all evening, telling stories about our lives. As the men were introducing the ladies, answering the question, "How we met our wives," my friend Kent said, "I met my wife on a blind date. Lucky for me, she was blind."

Earlier in the day I read quite a few pages from Annette Simmons' excellent book, The Story Factor, while sitting in the lobby a local car dealership, getting the window of my Honda fixed (how it got broke is a story in itself). She writes that everybody is subconciously living by a story. Don't be blind to yours.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

About This Blog--News

"Nothing has ever happened here my whole life." That's what a rural Pennsylavania man told me recently. The same thing could probably be said here in central rural Kansas where I live. We rural folk have a saying, "Not much happens in a small town, but what you hear sure makes up for it."

This place won't be a source of gossip, but sometimes news worthy events do happen around here.

In 2001, a half hour after I finished taking a guitar lesson in downtown Hutchinson, Kansas, the city was rocked by a series of natural gas explosions. When Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller questioned whether the organization would remain "faith based" after his departure, I heard a 2005 speech from interim CEO Paul Leonard in Lyons, Kansas that convinced me the organization would certainly retain its faith component. As a pastor in the United Church of Christ, and the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference, the denomination's position on same-sex marriage has generated some well deserved criticism. So some stuff does happen around here.

Oh yeah, you're wondering about that rural Pennsylvania man who once told me, "Nothing ever happens around here." His name is Nevin Lambert, the only eyewitness to the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA on 9-11.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

About This Blog--Short Entries

Let's face it: You don't make a living reading this blog. And I don't get paid for writing it! So that in a nutshell explains why I envision most of my entries being short.

I do hope to post something each weekday. So if it isn't interesting, at least it will be fresh.

When I was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, my preaching professor Reg Grant required that we summarize our entire sermon in a short, subject-complement sentence. If we couldn't explain the point of our sermon in a 5 second sentence, its doubtful we could after preaching it for 20 minutes.

Besides, my wife says I spend too much time at the computer already...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Here I Am

Ted Weis has created a blog. And the Internet world said (in the tone of Richard Dawson, the original host of that classic TV game show Family Feud) .... "So what!"

After reading lots of good blogs over the years, I'm finally jumping into the fray. Creating my own blog reminds me of the Far Side cartoon where one penguin stands in the middle of thousands of similar looking penguins and screams, "I've just got to be me!"