Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Truck

Check out this Christmas truck. I've now seen everything!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Merries

Merry Christmas from the Weis'
Billye, Jenna, Melissa, Ted, Valerie, David, and Christopher
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

"Annunciation to the Shepherds"
William Blake

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

"The Nativity at Night"
Sint Jans Geertgen

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advice about What Matters Now

I love good advice. It's stimulating. It broadens your horizons. It may just be the word you need now.

Seth Godin has compiled an ebook entitled, "What Matters Most" that features 70 authors from various fields giving 70 words of wisdom. Each entry is short, succinct, and fascinating.

Particularly interesting is Dave Balter's "Dumb" entry (p. 43) about what makes dumb smart, Dave Ramsey's "Momentum," (p. 27) where he shares the formula for lasting success, and Derek Siver's "Passion," (p. 51) on finding it in everyday moment.

This is a great ebook that stimulates personal reflection.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Turning Tide on Abortion?

Pro-lifers have always argued that abortion is a grievous act that not only takes the life of a human being (Psalm 139), but also brings with it enormously negative psychological and spiritual consequences. Now, that reality is being acknowledged in a surprisingly candid article by pro-choice advocate Jennifer Senior in New York magazine.

In "Just How Pro-Choice is America, Really?" Senior explains how the nation has consistently opposed abortion since Roe vs. Wade, how advances in technology have fortified the pro-life arguments, and--most importantly--how difficult it is for many pro-choicers to emotionally come to terms with this gruesome procedure.

As the Congress debates whether to permit abortion coverage as part of the monstrosity of nationalized health care, may Senior's article persuade more pro-choice advocates like Abby Johnson to decide, "I can't do this anymore."

HT: Albert Mohler and Vitamin Z

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Who Concert Tragedy 30 Years Later

Typically, if you asked me what I was doing 30 years ago, I couldn't tell you, but I could today because this is the 30th anniversary of the Who concert tragedy in Cincinnati.

I was a high school senior attending the show with my friend Janet. We went out to eat beforehand, arrived late before the show's start, and entered the coliseum through a different set of doors than the one where the deaths occurred.

Janet and I had no idea what happened until after the show. The concert went on as normal because the Who wasn't even told what happened until afterwards. Officials were concerned that if the show was cancelled, a riot would have started.

As we were walking out, someone approached us and said, "Did you hear a bunch of people got killed tonight?" I said, "Really? Wow!" I turned to my friend and said, "Did you hear that? He must be drunk." Outside the coliseum on the plaza, television trucks of the local stations were filming departing concert goers with their big flood lights. I said to my friend, "They must be here because the Who is so famous."

It wasn't until we got in the car, turned on WEBN, and heard the dire concern of the disc jockey's voice, that we finally realized what happened. The announcer said, "If you've been at the show, please call your family right away and let them know you're safe." So we drove to a phone booth and called our families. My mother was worried sick. My younger sisters were crying. And that's when it finally dawned on this shallow teenager that we were at a spot of a tragedy.

Initial reports described the deaths as a stampede, implying that fault rested with the concert goers. But further investigation would show that the real fault rested with coliseum officials who didn't open up a sufficient number of doors for a sold out crowd.

WVXU has produced and an excellent radio special and the Cincinnati Enquirer has lots of stories and links about this tragic day, 30 years later.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Pre-Halloween Story

This is a story I told my elementary aged daughter when she said her friends were teasing her for not being a witch on Halloween.

Once upon a time, in the throne room of heaven, there were two little angels. One of them, from the kingdom of light, always lived there. The other, from the kingdom of darkness, was a demon angel, and happened to wander by.

The little angel from the kingdom of darkness yelled, "I know what I'm going to dress up as when I go down to earth to see the children on Halloween night!" The angel who lived in the throne room sighed and thought, "I know. I know. He'll probably be a witch, or a monster, or maybe a wrapped up mummy."

And then the demon angel boasted, "And I got the idea from all of you!"

This declaration troubled the little angel of light and also made him curious because the little angel wore the very same costume every year. It's not that the little angel wasn't creative, it's just that he enjoyed his costume that much. He so much enjoyed showing his costume to the children of the earth. What was the little angel from the kingdom of light on Halloween? He was a voice--a still small voice that liked to whisper the quiet assuring words of God's love, peace, and presence.

The demon angel then cried out, "This year for Halloween, I'm going to be a loud voice! I'm going to going to be the loud voice that accuses people, teases people, and makes people scared. No doubt, they'll listen to me! Because they won't be able to ignore my big loud sounds!" And then the little demon angel proudly said, "Thanks for the idea angel goody two shoes. Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Now this bit of news was truly worrisome. And the little angel thought about the children of earth and wondered, "Will my small voice still be good enough?

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Stock Phrase

Whenever people call into Dave Ramsey's popular financial advise radio show, their first question is often, "how are you?" and Dave's always answers, "Better than I deserve." It's a great stock phrase.

A stock phrase is a witty saying used often. It gets people thinking and spices up a conversation. Best of all, it doesn't take much effort on your part because its your standard line.

So here's my stock phrase. I've been using it for several years. It frequently gets a reaction. Whenever people ask, "What do you know?" or "How are you?" I reply:

"I'm fine, because God still loves me."

Yes, if you know me, be amazed, God still loves me. If you don't know me that well, trust me on this one.

John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 testify to God's persistent, never ending love toward all people. God loves because he created us. God loved us by sending his son Jesus to cover over our sin guilt. God loves us by offering the free gift of salvation. God loves us by giving us a new life in Christ. And still loves us when we trip up, mess up, and screw up.

God still loves me. And you too.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tree House

Mr. Non-Builder here, who is fortunate to make a living with his mouth instead of his hands, actually built a tree house for the kids this past weekend.

The project started long ago with the persistent pestering of my daughter Valerie (pictured in center). For months, she begged for a tree house. When she found a free pile of old barn wood, the project was underway.

I did get some much needed help! Thanks to Jerome (for wood), Jeff (for circular saw and level), Jake (for 4 1/2 hours of help and advise), and Mark at Rice County Builders (for help and advise on the ladder).

Yes, I am proud of myself. And the kids are excited.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Links to the Intergoogle 8/8/09

10 ways parents can help children get involved in the arts.

A good interview with pro-life advocate and thoughtful author Scott Klusendorf

Chuck Colson writes why same-sex marriage and religious liberty can't coexist--just look at how the courts are deciding such cases already.

Fighting to keep slavery out of Kansas--again
. An article exposing the 2009 version of slavery.

I'm seeing U2 in Norman, OK in October. Can't wait! The stage will be incredible. Here's the set list for the first night of the tour--June 30 in Spain.

Check out this new topical search vehicle: Alltop

Take a minute and watch how AAA baseball player Josh Womack swings a bat.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Spiritual Battle Quote

"Being a Christian does not mean there is no more battle. It means we have a strategic point of attack in the battle. The battle position of the Christian is victory, joy, and abundance. The Lord expects us to do no more than to welcome His assistance."

Corrie ten Boom
Don't Wrestle, Just Nestle
p. 50

Saturday, August 01, 2009

An Afternoon at Prairie Dunes CC

After walking in the gallery at the 2002 women's US Open and the 2006 men's Senior US Open at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas, it was my great privilege on Thursday afternoon to actually play the course myself.

Pictured is yours truly getting ready to tee off the famous # 8 hole. After hitting a perfect tee shot and approach shot just short of the green, I ended up taking a 6. That's Prairie Dunes. The right touch is required around the greens, which are protected by rising inclines.

My score? 102. Worst score of the year, but definitely the best experience!

Thank you Milt and Kevin for the opportunity!
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mike Roe and Michael Miller

About 30 people came out Wednesday night to see, in the words of Mike Roe, "the only concert in town" featuring Roe and opening act Michael Miller.

$299 in free will offerings was given to the family of Gavin Schlatter, a seven year old boy dealing with a long term illness.

Roe performed songs from his new release, "We All Gonna Face the Rising Sun," a collection of obscure, old-time gospel songs. He also played tunes from the latest 77s release and material from the Lost Dogs.

And in the "most unusual moment of the evening," Michael Miller was nearly arrested by Little River's police officer, when he entered the Senior Center to arrest a Michael Miller--just not the Michael Miller who came to perform.

My thanks to the Congregational Church and Linda Miller for making the evening a reality!
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Michael Roe Benefit Concert July 29

Singer, songwriter, and versatile guitarist Michael Roe, along with opening performer Michael Miller, will perform a benefit concert on Wednesday evening, July 29, 7:30pm, at the Sr. Center stage, 220 Main St., Little River, Kansas.

The free will offering will benefit the family of Gavin Schlatter, a seven year old boy suffering from a long term illness.

Roe (The 77’s, The Lost Dogs) is an autumnal, bluesy, introspective kind of guy who is a master on any guitar put in his hands. Vocally and stylistically he spans the years from Chuck Berry, to Elvis Presley, to Johnny Cash, to Neil Young, to Art Garfunkel.

His new release, "We All Gonna Face the Rising Sun" pays tribute to the raw old-time gospel performers from the turn of the century, like Blind Willie Johnson, Charlie Patton and Lead Belly. "I listened to hundreds of songs to come up with these," he says of the 11 tracks on Rising Sun. "It's one thing to like a song, but quite another to feel it, and to feel like I can pull off performing it with some kind of authenticity."

Roe can cover any genre and any style without skipping a beat. He is an all-things-to-all men guitarist/vocalist for the rootsy, collaborative group the Lost Dogs. Regardless of the hat he is wearing, Michael Roe has, over the course of his 25+ years as a national recording artist, delivered well-crafted songs and lyrics to his audience.

Michael Miller
is out on the road supporting his second album, "I Made You Up." Bringing together a peculiar mixture of influences ranging from songwriter Steve Forbert to Supertramp to David Bowie, Miller lures listeners with stories of ordinary lives in familiar and far away places. "I just love getting lost, literally, in strange lands, hanging with the locals, the natives, and seeing how they live. It's sort of like soul mining. I get to go dig for beauty and truth in other people's backyards and the discoveries and treasure-finds typically end up in my songs in some way."

Michael Roe has carved out a body of work that is broad, deep, well regarded and much acclaimed. On a personal note, I've been a fan of Mike's for more than 20 years. I'm pleased to welcome him back to small town America.

Earlier, this show required the purchase of tickets, but the Little River Congregational Church has graciously covered the expenses of the performers.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Go Tom Watson!

Tom Watson is nearly 60 years old, yet after three rounds he's leading the British Open, one of the world's most prestigious golf tournaments.

Watson, a Kansas native, played in the 2006 US Senior Open at Prairie Dunes Country Club in nearby Hutchinson. I snapped this photo of Watson on # 2 during a practice round.

If Watson can win the Open on Sunday, it would be one of sports' astounding feats. Go Tom!
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Friday, July 17, 2009

History Repeats Itself

Check out this cartoon that was created during President Franklin Roosevelt's time.

It was inspired by painting "The Sower" from J.F. Millet (1814-1875).

Does not history repeat itself?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Rote Prayer

The other day my wife and I were praying with one of our kids before bed. The kids still say the rote, "Now I lay me down to sleep" and so to teach them to pray beyond that, my wife invites the kids to go further by prodding them, "Say something special."

Valerie, my middle child, then said a short prayer that I often say with the kids at breakfast. The kids have heard this prayer from me regularly, but yesterday was the first time I actually heard one of the kids say it themselves. It goes something like this. Call it Ted's rote prayer:

"Dear God, thank you for this brand new day. Thank you for all the things we're going to see, do, and learn. Help us to love you and obey you. Help us to love and obey our parents and our teachers. (A sentence about any particular need). We pray in Jesus name, Amen."

And that's my prayer for you today.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Psalm 22 and 23

The other day I talked with a local retired pastor over lunch about my burnout. He understood. He's was once there too.

He said, "Have you ever noticed that Psalm 22 and 23 are right next to each other?"

Psalm 22 speaks of despair. Jesus cited its opening words on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" On the other hand, Psalm 23 is one of the most famous passages in Scripture, for it assures the believer of God's personal presence and love.

The retired pastor continued, "I believe you can't fully appreciate Psalm 23 until you've lived Psalm 22. And if you've never lived Psalm 22, you're experience of Psalm 23 is superficial."

Having lived more recently on the Psalm 22 side, I'm appreciating all the more Psalm 23.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pastor Burn Out

While on vacation in Ohio, I read a story about a man who stepped out in front of a truck on a busy highway and ended his life. At first, I thought, "How could he do that?" But then I sympathized. The man must have been in deep despair.

I can relate to that desperate feeling. For the last year, the best description of myself and my pastorate is burn out.

When you're burned out, every problem is magnified. Your heart is burdened with depression. You want to quit and give up.

Whenever my wife said, "Let's get help," I replied, "It's not that bad," "I can handle it," "It'll eventually pass," or "Leave me alone." But the despair kept lingering.

Finally, my wife gently conned me to visit Pastor Dennis & Billie Henderson at Monday Morning Ministry, near Sherman, Texas. We spent the week relaxing and talking with two seasoned veterans. What we experienced wasn't professional therapy. We heard the Henderson's story and they heard ours. It was just what I needed. In many respects, it was a life saver. I've come home with a renewed sense that God is good. And I come home with a renewed realization of the priority of prayer.

If you're a pastor feeling desperate and burned out, you need to step out of your comfort zone and find someone who will seriously listen to your story. As Dennis says, hundreds of lives are adversely affected when a pastor who leaves the ministry. Call Monday Morning Ministry.

As for me, this burned out flame is slowly coming back to life.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I'm Now on Twitter

I'm now on Twitter. Follow me here:

This article by Michael Hyatt convinced me.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Numeric Trivia

At five minutes and six seconds after 4 AM on the 8th of July this year, the time and date will be 04:05:06 07/08/09.


And as a relative said in response to the above, "Did you know that precisely 4 minutes past 5:00pm on 7/7/09…it will be 5:04pm on 7/7/09! This is the only time this will happen – incredible!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Guitarist Mike Roe in Little River July 29

Singer, songwriter, and versatile guitarist Michael Roe--with opening act Michael Miller-- will appear in concert on Wednesday evening, July 29, at 7:30pm, on the stage of the Sr. Center, 220 Main St., Little River, Kansas.

The free will benefit concert will support Gavin Schlatter, a local seven year old boy who is suffering a long term illness.

Roe (The 77’s, The Lost Dogs) is an autumnal, bluesy, introspective kind of guy who is a master on any guitar put in his hands. Vocally and stylistically he spans the years from Blind Willy Johnson, to Chuck Berry, to Elvis Presley, to Johnny Cash, to Neil Young, to Art Garfunkel. Roe can cover any genre and any style without skipping a beat. He is an all-things-to-all men guitarist/vocalist for the rootsy, collaborative Lost Dogs. Regardless of the hat he is wearing, Michael Roe has, over the course of his 25+ years as a national recording artist, delivered well-crafted songs and lyrics to his audience.

Roe is also a much-demanded producer and session player and has spent considerable time discovering, producing and playing on many diverse projects. Some of his additional works have been recorded by both general market players and Christian music’s most popular artists.

Michael Roe has carved out a body of work that is broad, deep, well regarded and much acclaimed. In each of his recordings, Roe desires not only to set forth a well written song but also to show himself as a real human being, writing from his experience of life’s difficulties and struggles as well as life’s joys and promises. “These songs are a forum where I dialogue with myself and with God. A lot of these are prayers, some of them are promises I’m making to myself, some of them are just wishful thinking. Oftentimes my songs tell on me, they indict me, they provoke me, they convict me.” Adds Roe, “We’re only here for a short time, in this veil of tears...I hope my songs help people in general to realize what we have been given and how much is available to us.”

On a personal note, I've been a fan of Mike's for more than 20 years. I'm pleased to welcome him back to small town America.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mark Driscoll on Fatherhood

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has put out a no non-sense book on fatherhood. It's typical Mark and its worth a read.

An excerpt from the last chapter:

To many Christians, the principles I have articulated may seem obvious, but they are nothing short of revolutionary in our day. Instead of enjoying the good life Scripture speaks of, many people are practicing the hookup-shackup-breakup game of death. Birth control is their savior, keeping them from the hell of marriage, children, and obligation. If that fails, abortive murder often suffices. People love sex, but they don't love marriage; they love sex, but they don't love children. This is because they don't love God.

As Christians, we do not emulate these men in any way. They are the world, and we are the church. In the church, things are different because Jesus and his men are our example. Repentant men who desire to walk with Jesus, love women, and love children with masculine dignity are welcome. But men who want to abuse our sisters in Christ and ignore their responsibilities are unwelcome. Simply, churches must demand that sinful men change or leave.

Check it out for free here.

HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thank You Senator Tom Coburn

Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, gave amazing testimony on C-Span 2 before the Senate Health Committee about the harms government run health care will bring:

It will force doctors to participate in government programs and deny liberty.

It will decrease competition among insurance companies and care facilities.

It will decrease choices in treatment because the government will always have its eye on cutting costs, not finding the best treatment for the individual patient.

Government already has burdened citizens and insurance companies with high costs because it underfunds Medicare and Medicaid, effectively on passing costs.

Great job Senator Coburn!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good Quote from Pastor Chuck Swindoll

Yesterday, Pastor Chuck Swindoll on his radio program Insight for Living was talking about Job and the hardships he suffered.

While observing how our media relishes the chance to emphasize the negative, Swindoll said:

"Even the weatherman says, 'Partly cloudy.'"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Great Quote from My Son

This morning I enjoyed "Daddy" time with my six year old son. First we got a donut, then took him to the dentist, followed by a haircut, and then to a swimming lesson.

Over a donut and juice, my son says this out of the blue:

"Daddy, I can dream with my eyes open."

Son, may God enable you to always do so.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Does Letterman's Apology Go Far Enough?

CBS "Late Show" host David Letterman is offering an apology today to Alaskan governor Sarah Palin for a crude joke he recently made about Palin and her daughter.

According to The Live Feed, Letterman says the following on tonight's show:
I was watching the Jim Lehrer ‘Newshour’ – this commentator, the columnist Mark Shields, was talking about how I had made this indefensible joke about the 14-year-old girl, and I thought, ‘Oh, boy, now I’m beginning to understand what the problem is here. It’s the perception rather than the intent.’ It doesn’t make any difference what my intent was, it’s the perception. And, as they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not a very good joke. And I’m certainly – ” (audience applause) “– thank you. Well, my responsibility – I take full blame for that. I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault. That it was misunderstood.” (audience applauds) “Thank you. So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future. Thank you very much.” (audience applause)
It's good that Letterman is apologizing. He definitely crossed the line.

But his apology appears to waffle.

On the one hand, when Letterman says, "my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception," he seems to imply that the problem rests with us, not him. We just don't get it.

On the other hand, he admits fault for putting out into the public square a joke difficult to appreciate with his remark, "It’s not your (the viewer's) fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault."

A true apology focuses on the actions we did--on our guilt. Despite what Letterman says, one's intent does matter. In fact, it's the heart of the matter.

Friday, June 05, 2009

God Bless You Pete Lopez

The Federal government is telling hundreds of GM and Chrysler dealerships that they will no longer be authorized dealers. Incredible that this is happening in America.

Watching C-Span 2 tonight, I heard Pete Lopez, owner of the Spencer Auto Group in Spencer, WV testify before the Senate. Spencer's population is about 3,000 and resembles life in rural Kansas. Like dealerships in this area, Spencer Auto Group is getting both their GM and Chrysler dealerships pulled out from under them. 18 jobs are at stake.

Lopez told how his dealership drives 30 miles each way to pick up and service the car of a 79 year old lady. Spencer sponsors the local 4-H club and provides cars to local high school driver's ed program. Spencer is a community leader. And the Federal government's intrusion into GM and Chrysler--and the Fed's long meddling in the auto industry with its rules and regulations--is ruining this company and reducing the quality of life in rural America.

Dag gone shame.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Links to the Intergoogle 6/3/09

10 Church People You Shouldn't Trust

10 People a Pastor Should Fear

The visual effect of a breaking curve ball

Minor league baseball team loses game with a wild pitch during an intentional walk

Are you smarter than a Confirmation student? Test yourself with these 25 T/F questions that my friend Pastor Bob Thompson gave his confirmation class. Answer here.

The last survivor of the RMS Titanic ship has died.

I like this response in the comment section of an article called, "Stop Starbucks"--"If capitalism is driven by greed, social justice is driven by envy." So true!

Christian music industry is feeling the effects of the recession.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dick Cheney Advocates Gay Marriage

In a speech yesterday at the National Press Club, former Vice President Dick Cheney expressed his support for gay marriage, clarifying that it was an issue for states to decide, not the federal government:
"I think, you know, freedom means freedom for everyone," Cheney said in a speech at the National Press Club. "I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish."

Cheney, who has a gay daughter, said marriage has always been a state issue.

"And I think that's the way it ought to be handled today, that is, on a state-by-state basis. Different states will make different decisions. But I don't have any problem with that. I think people ought to get a shot at that," he said.
Because Cheney is a Republican-- and a very influential one amidst a party that generally opposes gay marriage-- his remarks will be a rallying cry for the gay rights movement.

Cheney's comment is astounding because it's a cart blanche call for any kind of sexual union. Polygamy, multiple marriages, unions between adults and children, near relative with near relative, swinger marriages, etc. Because "any union they wish" means... well... any imaginable arrangement.

Yes, people are free to do whatever they want. But whether they should do whatever they want is the debate of ethics and morality, and society's codifying that behavior is a matter of law. As precious freedom is, freedom is rightfully limited by society through the making of laws. And in the realm of sexual ethics, society is right to limit marriage to one man and one woman. For the Christian, Jesus Christ calls us to respond to his saving grace by willingly limiting our freedom. We are to practice self-control, deny ourselves, and pursue God-defined holiness (Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 12:1-13).

Politically, our society is unlikely to soon adopt an "anything goes" arrangement regarding marriage. But philosophically, Cheney's call for absolute sexual freedom was surprising and incredibly misguided.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Albert Mohler on Tiller Murder

Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, offers some important moral clarity for the pro-life movement regarding the murder of Wichita abortion doctor Dr. George Tiller:
But violence in the name of protesting abortion is immoral, unjustified, and horribly harmful to the pro-life cause. Now, the premeditated murder of Dr. George Tiller in the foyer of his church is the headline scandal -- not the abortions he performed and the cause he represented.

We have no right to take the law into our own hands in an act of criminal violence. We are not given the right to take this power into our own hands, for God has granted this power to governing authorities. The horror of abortion cannot be rightly confronted, much less corrected, by means of violence and acts outside the law and lawful means of remedy. This is not merely a legal technicality -- it is a vital test of the morality of the pro-life movement.
Mohler also makes his appeal pointing back in history to John Brown, a zealous abolitionist who made Kansas history:
The pro-life movement in America must not wage war against abortion by following the example of John Brown. Nor can we allow ourselves the luxury of the logic of defending the indefensible along the lines of Thoreau. We must confront this great evil of abortion from a higher plane, and know that the battle is ultimately in God's hands.
Mohler's bottom line is the ends does not justify the means.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wichita Abortion Doctor Murdered


That's my reaction to the news today that late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller was murdered this morning while serving as an usher at his church.

I am unapologetically pro-life. What Dr. Tiller did at his clinic was kill pre-born human beings. But as much as I oppose Tiller, he did not deserve this fate, nor his family the profound grieve they now feel.

Whoever committed this crime is no friend of the pro-life movement. Furthermore, they heinously failed to live out Jesus' command to "love your enemies and pray for them" (Matthew 5:44).

Tiller lived by the sword. Sadly, he died by it too.

Monday, May 25, 2009

God's Power in a World of Evil

Reflecting on Revelation 6, Bruce Metzger in his fine, concise book on Revelation, "Breaking the Code," reminds us that when the affairs of the world seem out of control, God continues to hold everything in His hands:
One of the features that distinguishes the book of Revelation from other books of the New Testament is the author's attempt to show how power fits into the divine scheme of things. John begins with the belief that all power comes from God. God is the absolute ruler of the world. But because God gave humankind free will, there is always the possibility tha we might misuse the portion of power entrusted to us. When this happens, however, it does not mean tha God is helpless and frustrated. The world is still God's world, and is still ruled in accordance with the eternal laws of right and wrong. The way that God's power is manifested in the world is that the misuse of power brings on suffering and disaster. Wars, starvation, devastation--these are the means by which it is made plain that power abused is still under God's control. These are the "judgments" of God being worked out on the plane of history.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bad Ol' Credit Card Payer

The New Times writes about me and thousands of people who pay off their credit cards every month-- the credit card companies aren't happy and they're coming after us:
Banks are expected to look at reviving annual fees, curtailing cash-back and other rewards programs and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period of weeks, according to bank officials and trade groups.
According to David Robertson, who tracks the credit card industry, folks like me who pay off the card each month--about 50 million people or a 1/3 of all credit card holders, have been "making out like a bandit."

Bandit? Pardon me, but I think these card companies still profit by the transaction fees they charge merchants. And the rebates, points, etc.? While something is given back to me, it certainly isn't much. Chump change actually. And they should know.

Personal money expert Dave Ramsey says that even if you pay off the amount every month, people who use credit cards spend more than those who deal just with cash.

So if the credit card companies start charging me to use their card, I'll seriously consider cutting it up.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Makes Dan Brown So Popular

Ross Douthat writes an interesting op-ed piece for the New York Times that explains why fiction writer Dan Brown is so popular:
In the Brownian worldview, all religions — even Roman Catholicism — have the potential to be wonderful, so long as we can get over the idea that any one of them might be particularly true. It’s a message perfectly tailored for 21st-century America, where the most important religious trend is neither swelling unbelief nor rising fundamentalism, but the emergence of a generalized “religiousness” detached from the claims of any specific faith tradition...
Jesus ministered in a time when plenty of options for religious worship existed--like Roman Emperor worship and gods like Zeus and Artemis. Jesus even visited one of the more popular sites of pagan worship--Caesarea Philippi, place of Panias worship. But it was there that Jesus commended Peter for his insight that Jesus was Messiah and then Jesus promised the "gates of hell" (read--other spiritual forces and alternatives) would not overcome the kingdom his represents.

Jesus never represented himself as "one more god." He made exclusive claims about himself that has consequences for our own lives. John 14:6 is where Jesus says it distinctly and clearly: "No one comes to the Father, but through me."

Douthat goes on to say though that Brown's portrayal of Jesus is historically false and unsustainable. I'm glad Douthat mentions that important piece of information.

The article is a good read to understand today's culture.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama at Notre Dame

So Planned Parenthood gave an honorary doctorate to the President of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman.

Oops, got that a little wrong. Notre Dame--the most prestigious Catholic university in America--gave President Barack Obama--the most radical political proponent of abortion rights--an honorary doctorate and let him speak before their graduates.

Notre Dame's stubborn insistence on inviting a president who deeply opposes core Catholic values at least shows the charity and tolerance of the institution, something we'd never see from those on the other side of the abortion debate.

What struck me most about Obama's pleasant and persuasive rhetoric was his ability to acknowledge how "the two sides were irreconcilable," yet make the debate sound like a choice between paint color on the wall--we both have reasonable opinions, we just disagree, so let's quit demonizing one another and be fair minded.

So if I say abortion is the taking of a human life and those who perform it are killing children, is that demonizing and uncivil speech? Is that not a fair minded description of this tragic procedure?

Then Obama urged, "Let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term."

Surely, Notre Dame realizes that this suggestion bumps against the Catholic Church's teaching against any form of artificial birth control. And when it comes to making adoption more available and providing support for women who do carry their child to term, I think the Church is doing far more than the Planned Parenthoods of the world.

And to see through the ruse of "let's reduce the numbers..." just imagine the debate is about slavery. Let's reduce the number of slaves, but let's never banish slavery and never call it absolutely immoral.

If anything, Obama's address at Notre Dame brought attention to the plight of the unborn. Remember Psalm 139.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Now I've Heard Everything

Check out this club re-mix of Subway's "Five Dollar Foot Long."

I secretly liked the jingle in the original commercial. Now, I like the song even more!

You decide if I'm being sincere or sarcastic.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hubble Telescope Repair Mission

As a resident of Kansas, I've come to enjoy our big skies and the marvelous view of the stars at night. Seeing streaking stars with the naked eye is a joy, but far more amazing is viewing the incredible images of the Hubble Telescope.

For 19 years, Hubble has ushered us into the golden age of astronomy. Now, it's about to get a huge overhaul so it can remain in service for another five years--or about 8000,000,000 miles. Today NASA is sending up a crew to perform Hubble maintenance.

The Telegraph says this will be NASA's most dangerous mission:
Among the greatest hazards facing Atlantis is the intense amount of space junk - such as broken satellites and dead rockets - that is cluttering the area where the shuttle will rendezvous with Hubble...

Astronaut John Grunsfeld likens the intricacy of the tasks he and his colleagues will perform to 'performing brain surgery in space.'

They will face major hurdles, such as unscrewing dozens of minute screws while wearing gloves five layers thick and removing razor-sharp circuit boards capable of piercing the $10 million spacesuits that keep them alive in the vacuum of space.

'I would consider this the climbing Mount Everest of spacewalking missions,' said Mr Grunsfeld, 51.

'The big unknowns are where we’re pushing the envelope further than its been done before in spaceflight…we’re trying some techniques that haven’t been done before.

'In training it’s been going very well…the only hesitation I have is that Hubble has a way of surprising us.'

What surprises me is that this story isn't getting a whole of press. But if something goes wrong...

Pray for the mission's success!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Glaring Mistake

Everyone makes mistakes once in a while. Only some mistakes are seen my millions of people.

Check out this story.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Free Heaven (Book That Is)

Bible Study Magazine and Eternal Perspective Ministries are giving away 40 signed copies of Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. Not only that, but they're also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Randy Alcorn page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

And BTW, if you're searching for great Bible study software, there's nothing like Logos. I absolutely love it!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Links to the Intergoogle

This blog is sorely lacking my attention lately. Church responsibilities and teaching New Testament Introduction at Sterling College is consuming all my energies at the moment. However, here are a few good morsels...

Leadership guru John Maxwell has started a blog.

In a journal article, "A Biblical Perspective on Interracial Marriage," J. Daniel Hays rightly argues, "interracial marriage is strongly affirmed in Scripture. Marrying unbelievers, on the other hand, is strongly prohibited."

Ten lessons from Great Christian minds.
This you have to read. Outstanding.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lego Jesus

It's either a very creative project to engage children, or, another silly depiction...

A Lego Jesus statue.

Really. And, it's almost six feet tall.

It's right here for you to see.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Photos of the Spot of Easter

This weekend the Church meditates on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior.

You know the story, but where in Jerusalem did it take place?

Some suggest the Garden Tomb, a place established in the late 1800's.

But the more likely place is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Check out the very nice photos by Holy Land Photos of the Holy Sepulcher Church, the Garden Tomb, and what the tomb of Jesus likely looked like.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

New Sub Shop at Sterling

The business students at Sterling College, where I teach Old Testament and New Testament Introduction classes, opened up a Quiznos sub shop this week.

KSN has the story and video.

The business students will learn first hand the ins and outs and the highs and lows of running their own small business.

As the manager of School Kids Records in Athens, Ohio for many years, I can testify that running a business is filled with lots of rewards and challenges.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Government Running the Auto Industry?

With the Obama administration running out the CEO of General Motors, this quote from the Kruse Kronicle is apt commentary:
Autonomous individualism is a product of the Enlightenment. But so is the notion that a national government entity can correctly comprehend massive complexity, act with greater wisdom toward the common good than what emerges from people freely engaging one another, and that it can do so with greater moral rectitude than would otherwise be the case.
Amen to that!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

When Faith Really Gets Tested

Here's the story of a woman who really had to put her faith into practice:
Of the three, Mary seemed the least troubled by the unfairness of what had happened, perhaps because she had been through a life-changing ordeal before.

In 2005, while she was teaching at William B. Travis Academy, a teacher from another school attacked her in her classroom, upset over a perceived insult against her daughter. The assault left Mary with serious injuries, and it took her months to recover. Still, she forgave that teacher, just like she has forgiven the driver.

"This may sound cheesy," Mary said from her wheelchair one afternoon. "But every night before I go to bed, I say the Lord's Prayer. There's a line in there, 'Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.'

"I thought about that line sometimes as I lay in the hospital at 2 a.m. I thought, 'Am I going to say those words, or am I going to live those words?' "

The driver should be held accountable, Mary believed, but she felt no anger toward her.

"I only have so much energy," Mary said, "and I choose to spend it on healing."
Wondering what happened? Read this inspiring story from the Dallas Morning News.

HT: Bruce Tamaso

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Small, Daily Sacrifices

This is one of my favorite illustration stories:
Fred Craddock, in an address to ministers, caught the practical implications of consecration. "To give my life for Christ appears glorious," he said. "To pour myself out for others ... to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom--I'll do it. I'm ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory.

"We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table--'Here's my life, Lord. I'm giving it all.'

"But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid's troubles instead of saying, 'Get lost.' Go to a committee meeting. Give up a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.

"Usually giving our life to Christ isn't glorious. It's done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it's harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul."
Taken from Leadership Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 4

Friday, March 13, 2009

Links to the Intergoogle 3/13/09

Why Abraham Piper would make blogging a requirement for seminary students.

Top 5 Christian comic books.

Over 20 years old, yet very relevant today: Ronald Nash's essay, "Socialism, Capitalism, and the Bible."

What $1 Trillion looks like.

Get a masters degree studying the Beatles.

Free through March, an online look at the very fine ESV Study Bible.

Fattening, over the top food. Yum.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Uncle Al Show on WCPO

I must be getting old. Another important person from my Cincinnati childhood has died.

Albert Lewis, aka "Uncle Al" of "The Uncle Al Show" died February 28 at age 84. His funeral was today.

Uncle Al was a live children's show that aired daily on WCPO channel 9 from 1950-1985. With his wife, "Captain Windy," Al & Wanda Lewis entertained thousands of Cincinnati kids like me who grew up in the baby boom generation.

Over the years, 410,000 kids appeared on his show-- my sister being one. I'm still jealous!He was always smiling, making music, and having fun.

Uncle Al was wholesome. He was one reason you enjoyed being a kid.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Listen to New U2

The new U2 release, "No Line on the Horizon," is now available for a free listen at the band's MySpace page.

Under the menu in the audio section, about half way down on the page, select "No Line..." and get a head start listening to the band's first release in four years. The album is released next week to the market.

One song has already jumped out in my mind. "Magnificient" lives up to its billing.

UPDATE: Review by Andy Whitman

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Comic Relief for Our Economy

This Calvin & Hobbes comic strip is the perfect commentary on our current economic situation.

HT: Justin Taylor

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Benediction With Twist

Sunday afternoon I was at our local nursing home visiting our church's members. After spending a few minutes with Luella, I concluded our time by saying to her the benediction of blessing taken from Numbers 6:24-26 and often spoken at the end of worship:

"May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine on you. May He be ever gracious to you and give you His peace. Amen."

Luella looked at me and then replied in all seriousness: "Oh, don't you think that's just going a bit too far?"

I couldn't help but burst out laughing. I've spoken that benediction for years and never had anyone say that!

But I suppose that if we really ponder who it is who gives the blessing and the nature of that blessing, it truly is overwhelming.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Logic of Same Gender Marriage

Being a pastor in the United Church of Christ for over ten years, I've had several conversations about same gender marriage.

Often I've said, "You say remove the gender restriction on marriage. OK, with that same reasoning, why not remove the number restriction?"

Almost always, the reply was, "Oh, that's ridiculous." Only once was someone honest enough to tell me, "Well, we're not there yet."

Now, we're a little bit closer to there. From CNews:
Canada’s decision to legalize gay marriage has paved the way for polygamy to be legal as well, a defense lawyer said Wednesday as the two leaders of rival polygamous communities made their first court appearance.

The case is the first to test Canada’s polygamy laws.

Yes, it is ridiculous.

HT: Earl

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Memory of Dr. Harold Hoehner

Today I was surprised and saddened to learn that Dr. Harold Hoehner, long time New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, passed away today at the age of 74. Hoehner had recently retired after teaching at my alma mater for 42 years.

While I was never a top-drawer seminary student, Dr. Hoehner nevertheless took a personal interest in my life and ministry.

His class on Romans was demanding, yet inspiring. I'll always remember what he proclaimed about Romans 3:21-23: "The Gospel is not, 'Believe in Jesus and then your sins will be forgiven.' Rather, the Gospel is, 'Your sins are forgiven, will you believe?'" After every class in Romans, I carefully filed away his charts and outlines. Later I took his class on Revelation. The smaller class size gave me the chance to know him better. While he was quite adept at handling Scripture, seeing him exposit the last book of the Bible revealed to me his passion for the Good News. But taking his New Testament Introduction class nearly killed me--I could never master all those dates and events! But his bad Texas A&M Aggie jokes kept us all engaged.

After graduation in 1995, I visited with Dr. Hoehner a number of times when I returned to campus. Because Dr. Hoehner grew up in a liberal Congregational church, he was pleased to learn that I had taken an untradtional route for most DTS graduates--by going to a pastorate in a mainline Congregational Church that was leary of its liberal denomination. He graciously took my phone call when I called to discuss the issue of same-gender marriage. On another occasion, he made a point to thank me for the card I sent him when his commentary on Ephesians finally came out.

The last time I saw Dr. Hoehner was in July of 2008. He was pleased to learn I was teaching New Testament at Sterling College and he inquired about my church and family. When he shared that he was retiring, I thanked him for everything he passed on to me. In hindsight, I think Dr. Hoehner was firmly resolved to retire; he said the time was right and the seminary was in good hands. In his mind, the decision was correct. But I sense that maybe his heart wasn't quite as persuaded.

And now, Dr. Hoehner has gone on to his heavenly home-- and to marvel at the glory and riches of his justification made real through Christ's death. May the Lord 's grace and peace be upon Dr. Hoehner's family and friends.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Friday, February 06, 2009

What Abortion Is

This abortion didn't go as planned, but it ended up illustrating exactly what abortion is--the taking of a human life.

Check out this story

Thursday, February 05, 2009

John Martyn Dies

One of my favorite guitarists and songwriters, Scottish folk-blues singer John Martyn, died January 29 in Ireland at the age of 60.

Martyn created many magical albums in the decade of the 1970's and early 1980's.

Solid Air, One World, and Grace & Danger were some of my favorites. I spent many a lonely night listening to those.

Rolling Stone notes:
In a career than spanned four decades Martyn worked with artists including Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Steve Winwood, the Band’s Levon Helm and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
Clapton's "May You Never" is a Martyn original.

Check out YouTube clips of Martyn here.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Bailout Game!

In addition to the Rush-Obama media feud, do you need a little entertainment during these hard economic times?

Go to The Bailout Game.

It's hilarious. I got 1,667 points.

HT: Kruse Kronicle

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama's Mexico City Policy

Scot McKnight, Professor of New Testament at North Park University is right on:
The rescinding of the Mexico City Policy is not about reducing unwanted pregnancies, it's about reducing unwanted infants.
Read the entry with the above conclusion and the introductory piece.

Faces of Amazing Grace

This is such a neat application of a classic hymn, brought to us by the Salvation Army.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New U2 Song

I've been a fan from near the beginning, more than 20 years ago. They're still good!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

People Get Ready

With the presidential inauguration of Barak Obama imminent, I wouldn't be surprised to hear this classic Curtis Mayfield song in the next day or two-- "People Get Ready"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Congregational Church Roots

Lately I've been researching Congregational church history. This past November, I did sermon around our Little River church's founding pastor, Rev. J.B. Schlichter. And right now, I'm delighting in correspondence with family members of Rev. J.E. Crane, who ministered in our church from 1913-15.

Today, I ran across a couple other names that I didn't know had Congregational roots-- J.I. Scofield and Dwight L. Moody. These are two people I greatly admire-- for their faith and impact.

Scofield was an influential early leader in the dispensational movement. He also pastored a Congregational church in Dallas and grew it to hundreds of people.

Dwight Moody was one of the great evangelists of the 1800s. Moody had a Congregational background and later attended a Congregational church in Chicago.

It's a privilege for me to participate in the rich history of Congregationalism.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Sign Got Revealed

One of my pastoral responsibilities is to change the message of the outdoor sign at the church.

Right now it says: "Shine in '09 for Jesus"

Yes, it's hokey, but I don't have space to say much.

Today, my saying got exposed for what it really is.

My 11 year old daughter said to me:

"What's your next sign going to say Dad? 'Call your friend Ben in '10?'"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Was Jesus Thinking of Alexander the Great?

This Spring semester at Sterling College I'm teaching New Testament Introduction. Today's lecture included a brief discussion of what happened during the 400 years of silence between the end of the Old Testament and the start of the New Testament.

One of the important political events was Alexander the Great's incredible world conquest, which included the land of Palestine. But not long after Alexander gained political control of the world, he died prematurely at age 33 in 323 B.C.

Which made me wonder aloud: When Jesus said, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul" (Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25), did Jesus have in mind Alexander the Great?

Any thoughts?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Common Sense

This year in Sunday School I'm teaching the junior high confirmation class. It's a lot of fun, as this exchange illustrates:

Mason: "Why do they call it common sense when so few people have it?"

Tyler: "Common sense? What's that?"