Thursday, July 28, 2005

Random Thoughts 7/28/05

  • I heard that the Slurpee is 40 years old this summer. Hmmm…
  • I've had a few days off this week. While enjoying every minute with my family, I'm feeling like a total slacker. Doing ministry is what I'm about. It's hard to take time off from that.
  • My brother dropped off his Playstation 2 at my place but I'm getting pickier about my games in my old age--I want something mentally challenging, realistic, complex, with a steep learning curve. Everything else, well… I just don't feel like I have time for it.
  • By the way, I'd read that the average age of video gamers is now… 30 years old. That's just old enough to have spent quality time on the Atari 2600 before moving on to the Nintendo. The rest was history. Also 19% of Americans over 50 and 75% of the heads of households play video games. And 43% are female.
  • Set phasers to stun! The AESA radars in the new Air Force planes (like the FA-22 shown below) can send out a high-powered microwave beam that can fry electronics from miles away. Enemy radars, missiles, and computers will simply begin sizzling and stop working. And this can be done up to 100 miles away! Is there a point where the bad guys simply stop trying to defend themselves?

  • Disturbing fact of the week: I found out that my family can earn another $10,000 a year and still qualify for welfare. Not bad for a college graduate, huh? Well, anyone who says I'm in the ministry for the money can go buzz off. That being said, Christian churches are notorious for having low paid ministers. Other denominations do much better.
  • My sister received her new iMac G5 computer today. She's going to leave it in the box for a few days until she gets around to it. AHHHH!!! How could we both be from the same family?!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Chasing Steeples

I received an email from a concerned believer who, while investigating the purpose of steeples, came across a radical and controversial analysis. It basically said that steeples on churches represent crude sexual references and sun god worship. Yikes!

I responded:

Dear Friend,

It looks like you got a hold of something written by a bitter anti-Christian skeptic who assumes that everyone else is as perverted as he is. Actually, there's a lot of that out there.

Here's a good article. It's comprehensive, well researched, and cites its sources.

Everything else being equal, I don't have a lot concern over church design. We could have church in a muddy field if it were necessary.
I've never heard the conspiracy theory version of why steeples exist but I've heard similar rants coming from those you'd least expect, other Christians. You see, this reminds me of the type of things you hear from religious iconoclasts (people who like to tear down idols, real or perceived). Anti-Christmas, anti-Sunday School, anti-catholic, anti-whatever. The purpose is to connect the target to an unacceptable pagan origin. A lot of these turn out to be half-truths or outright fabrications.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Look, I'm on Vacation

Really, I'm on vacation. I am.

This means I'll be in the office 30 hours or less this week. Guaranteed. But I've got my laptop at home. And my books. And I'm still on call if I'm needed.

I feel relaxed already.

Placing the Order

I got online, placed my order, entered the credit card information, and was told the brand new iMac G5 computer would arrive in just days. Unfortunately, not at my house.

My sister, Sonya, is getting a computer for her family. It's their first home computer! (Yes, next year they'll be getting cable tv and the year after that, cell phones!)

Hopefully, with a little help they'll soon be sending email, burning CDs, surfing the web, and maybe even reading my blog! I'm excited about helping them. Computers can do so much now, anyone and everyone can find a way to use them to make life better or more interesting.

I think the two greatest things computers bring (at least in my life) are instant information and communication. With websites like I can answer any question in moments. With tools like email and blogs, family members can be a part of each others lives even if they're on different continents. That's awesome.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

IQ Test

Ok, put away your calculators and dictionaries. I found a quick and simple IQ test on another blog.

The questions are actual IQ test questions but there aren't very many of them. Thus this test has the usual problem associated with trivia: you can only answer the ones you know (exposure to information is not the same as intellectual ability). You see this when playing trivial pursuit. You might know the answers to most of the questions asked (and feel pretty smart), but if you're unlucky enough to get questions you've never been exposed to, you lose.

It's also true that people who lived long ago did not have the accumulation of knowledge that we have today. But that doesn't make them less intelligent. In fact, reading the biographies of folks like Mozart, Newton, Calvin and others, you have to wonder, with so many more people today, why we don't have even more prodigies?

Well my results were favorable, as I got questions I happened to know. Here's the results:

Your IQ Is 140

Your Logical Intelligence is Genius
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Genius
Your General Knowledge is Genius

I've actually taken professionally administered IQ tests before and got different results, but this one's just for fun.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Why I Don't Go To Church

Thanks to Garland for pointing out this article by Mart De Haan, the president of RBC Ministries.

…I want to go to church to confess with others the life-changing truth that meeting together is not just about us. From the beginning, the church was established to be a place where the words of God are contemplated, where the Spirit of God is heard, where the goodness of God is confessed, and where the wisdom, power, and love of God are praised…

Please read the whole article by following the link above. We used it as a devotion in an Elders' meeting a few months ago.


We had something like 45 adults and just under 100 kids here each day for Vacation Bible School. "I don't care who you are, that's impressive" (that quote is an inside joke--there are a select few out there who are "lol," laughing out loud).

Seriously though, 45 adults working on a project like this is quite an accomplishment. And credit should go to Bertha and Sarah for doing such a fine job.

VBS makes such a difference. And not only in the lives of the kids but in the lives of those who serve as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Tough Times

Thank the Lord that his comfort is ever present. I'm not sure how someone would keep their head above water if they didn't have the hope that comes from God.

I've had some tough counseling sessions the last few days. Add to that the two children that drowned this week (visitation today, funerals tomorrow), VBS everyday, no time off this week, 3 back-to-back meetings tonight (scholarship committee, board meeting, elders), along with all the normal responsibilities and whatever.

But it's hard to get too down when God is still so good.

UPDATE: Even if you don't get down, you certainly can feel great sorrow. I just got back from the funeral home. The sight of two little caskets containing a couple of toddlers clutching their toys was enough to rattle even the most stoic.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I've been using my TiVo to search out and record classic movies. I'll often watch an hour at a time every night before I go to bed and I've seen quite a few classics now. In recent months that's included the Alfred Hitchcock movies like Life Boat, Rear Window, and Vertigo.

I liked Life Boat (1944) the most, but that's to be expected since I'm a WWII buff. I actually saw Ron Silver's Lifepod (1993, made for TV) first, which is essentially the same story but in space.

I thought Rear Window (1954) was the most suspenseful and interesting. Jimmy Stewart's character was more likeable here than in Vertigo and you could really feel his helplessness.

I was least impressed with Vertigo (1958), which is supposed to be one of Hitchcock's best. Maybe the problem was that I knew that and set my expectations too high. I had trouble connecting with Stewart's character and was stuck on some sort of supernatural explanation to understand what was happening in the end.

All three movies surprised me to some degree. This is the 40's and 50's -- aren't they supposed to be morally pure? I thought bad stuff in movies was a recent invention [insert sarcastic eye rolling here]. They didn't have blatant nudity or four letter words but they weren't exactly redeemed either. I guess I'm saying that the absence of these things does not a clean movie make! And Hitchcock seemed to like flirting with adult themes like adultery and voyeurism. In fact most of his work revolves around sex and murder.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the skill of story crafting that Hitchcock had and I learn a lot from watching his works. I had someone tell me this week at VBS that I was a good storyteller. Maybe I should give some credit to the "Master of Suspense."

Funny Doggy Pics

Here's a couple of pictures I found amusing. The first is a fake ad for doggy botox treatments. I just get tickled everytime I see these two dogs.

The second is just funny.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tragic Loss

We just heard information about two little kids that have drowned in a pool. The two families involved are members of a church up the road a ways but we have several connections to them through MOPS and such. The children were both about 3 years old.

The news is devastating.

UPDATE: Here's an initial report.

UPDATE #2: The visitation for the two children is Thursday evening. The funerals are Friday morning and afternoon. For more information please call me.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Campus Christians

Our church supports one of the campus ministries at KU, Campus Christians. School starts in about five weeks and they are asking you to contact them with the names of any new students for them to contact. This is a good ministry to kids that are being influenced by the college lifestyle and philosophy. If you know any KU students please let CC know.

You can email Lanny Maddux or give them a call.

Campus Christians
1320 Ohio St.
Lawrence, Ks 66044
(785) 842-6592

Friday, July 15, 2005

Random Thoughts 7/15/05

  • We're hosting a garage sale for my mother-in-law today and tomorrow. Yay! (…) Shannon moved her van out of the way but the neighbor backed into it anyway. That broke a headlight and dented the fender and bumper. Oh, well.
  • My brother has been a sight to see; he apparently got some poison ivy on his face. A few days after mowing at camp, his face swelled up into this horrific, puffy, oozing mess -- the kind of face that scares small children. It looked like he'd been beaten with a chain. I kinda liked it! It made me the handsome brother for a few days!
  • Here's an interesting website. tells you which politicians have served in the military and which ones have not. It breaks down all three branches of government with biographical information. You can see past presidents as well as the current members of the armed services committee or your state's current delegation. There's always a temptation to say that those who served have more right to be a decision maker. That's a dangerous assumption--it's untrue and more than a little fascist (but you'd like Robert Heinlein's book Starship Troopers -- where only veterans have citizenship and voting rights). I do think these vets need to be seen in a different light to some degree however and ought to be afforded our respect and gratitude.
  • Oh yeah, if you saw that horrible movie a few years ago by the same name as Heinlein's book, you still don't know what I'm talking about. The book and the movie had almost nothing in common but a few character names and the idea of fighting aliens. Everything else was dumbed down and changed. Too bad, but it's not the first or last time Hollywood turned an intriguing book into a mindless waste of time. Someday, I'll make a list of movies that don't hold a candle to the books from which they were inspired.
  • Speaking of books, the sixth Harry Potter book comes out tonight at midnite. I've not read them, but I've seen the movies and I'll be in line tonight to get a copy for a friend (I'm a geek but not a Harry Potter geek). This will also mark the sixth time that Christians across the country have issued warnings and advisories against these evil books. [sigh] There are so many real spiritual battles that are fought and lost every day and we're worried about Harry Potter? I mean really, what's a kid going to do? Go to Hogwarts and become a witch? It's fiction people. There are more corrupting influences almost everywhere you turn in this society and Harry Potter is pretty far down the list, if it's on the list at all. Any child that might actually be devoured by Harry Potter was already lost to the wolves we ignored. If the Lord loses an entire generation of children, it won't be because of Harry Potter. Final Word: Every mature Christian I know who has read the books has no problem with them. Every person I've met that does have a problem either hasn't read the books or they struggle with legalism and external signs of spirituality.
  • If I were an Aussie (pronounced with a "z" I'm told), I'd be proud to have John Howard as my Prime Minister. He said this in an interview recently about terrorism and Australian foreign policy:
    Maxine, these people are opposed to what we believe in and what we stand for, far more than what we do. If you imagine that you can buy immunity from fanatics by curling yourself in a ball, apologizing for the world - to the world - for who you are and what you stand for and what you believe in, not only is that morally bankrupt, but it's also ineffective. Because fanatics despise a lot of things and the things they despise most is weakness and timidity. There has been plenty of evidence through history that fanatics attack weakness and retreating people even more savagely than they do defiant people.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Club Gitmo

I've been hearing about the "Club Gitmo" merchandise that Rush Limbaugh has been selling, but I didn't really pay any attention at first.

But with all the fuss about prisoner abuse, I couldn't help but notice. The Club Gitmo stuff pokes fun at the severity (or lack thereof) of being held in Guantanamo Bay. It turns out to not be as severe as has been claimed by the Bush-haters, who compared it to the holocaust or the killing fields of Cambodia. The IRCC and thousands of international journalists have had access to Gitmo and it's something less than a concentration camp. A lot less.

So Limbaugh started poking fun. The shirts and mugs, mostly in "institutional orange," have sayings printed on them such as:
  • I Got My Free Koran and Prayer Rug at G'itmo
  • What Happens in G'itmo Stays in G'itmo
  • My Mullah went to Club G'itmo and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
  • Club G'itmo: Your Tropical Retreat from the Stress of Jihad
If you're still offended, please try to recognize the humor here and please consider this examination of the topic. In fact, just surfing a blog like for awhile may do you good. You may also want to consider the Gitmo Cookbook.

I Pod, Do You? Part 2

Part 1, here.

Ok, this is getting cool. We bought a car adapter for the iPod so that we can use it in the van. It broadcasts a low power FM signal to our car radio and it works great. So now the kids can listen to their most favorite Veggietales songs in the van. And skipping to a different album, different singer, different genre, or whatever is just a button click away.

I've been doing yard work with our iPod. Mowing and tree trimming is now a blast! I can listen to over twenty hours of Third Day or OC Supertones or whatever without hearing the same song twice. By creating playlists, Shannon and I can build a group of songs that fit a particular activity or mood. You always have the perfect music for any activity.

And since we listen to Christian music. Boring activities are now becoming opportunities to worship! The iPod is hands down our favorite gadget right now (sorry Tivo).

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Give Blood

Can you give blood? There's a shortage according to these sources. I'm sure that anything you can do would be appreciated.

Needles are one of the few things I'm really hung up on. I've tried to give plasma in the past and I've had an intravenous line a few times, but it's just excruciating to me, causing me to squirm and sweat and feel panicked -- I hate having something in my arm! But when it's needed so badly, you can't help but reconsider.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Running of the Buffalos

I stayed home today and enjoyed my wife and three sons. While watching the news, a video clip of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, came on. I asked the boys to describe this amazing sight in their own words and Brennan confidently declared, "Daddy, those men are racing the buffalos." To which Tanner chortled, "And dey fall down! A lot!"

Shannon had to work this evening, so I had the boys all to myself. I set up the sprinkler in the yard, stripped them down to their shorts, and set them loose while I read on the deck. Elijah is not a big fan of getting wet, but Brennan and Tanner love it. So the yard and the children got watered.

After a quick bath (indoors), we went upstairs and wrestled. Elijah likes to crawl all over me and sit on my head. Tanner likes to stand on my back. Brennan imitates a Velociraptor (read: dinosaur with sharp claws) and swipes at me with his big toe before pouncing on me, sound effects and all. I pull them each down to the carpet, tickle them, pop their toes, and generally toss them around. Nothing is as satisfying as three little boys giggling hysterically.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Remote Blogging

This is me blogging from my Mom's computer in Platte City, Mo.


Pretty much the same. I think I'll go home now.

[Shannon hosted a baby shower at our house for one of the ladies at church, so the boys and I were in exile.]

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Tree Trimming and Other Upper Body Workouts

We had a fantastic morning this morning.

It kind of reminds me of the old Army commercials: "We do more before 9 in the morning than most people do all day." I got up about 5am and drove to meet my dad and brother to go work up at church camp. There we met several other church members who helped us mow and weed-eat and trim trees.

Not only did we finish in record time, we probably accomplished more than any other church group. We mowed anything and everything that was mow-able. We pruned about 13 or 14 trees that have probably never been trimmed before. I was cutting branches that had been dead or diseased for years. And when we finished, they looked great. The whole camp looked fantastic!

And it was fun. It's not so bad working when you have so much company and when you see the job disappearing so quickly. I wouldn't want to do it again unless we can have a crew like that with 10 or 12 people. Imagine if we had 20 or more. We could really accomplish a lot!

I want to thank Dad, Dustin, Kenneth, Dean, John, Sheldon, Joy, Gary, Leonard, and Perry for helping. God bless you guys!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Snide Remarks

Some folks never change. You know those sarcastic know-it-alls that criticize everything. It reminds me of the farmers that drink coffee at the diner down the road from me. It doesn't matter if it's the weather man, the president, or the guy down the road -- everybody is an idiot, who should have foresight equal to these guys' hindsight. Boy, if only they could be king for a day, they'd straighten the rest of us out!

Here's a letter-to-the-editor from that kind of person, complaining about the Tom Cruise-wannabees who buzzed the local mall in their fighter jets:
A letter to the Editor;

Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show?

Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns' early-bird special?

Any response would be appreciated.
Well, it turns out the flight of jets was part of an honor guard flying over the funeral of a soldier who died in Iraq. The response in the paper from the air force commander was as follows:
Regarding "A wake-up call from Luke's jets":

On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt Jeremy Fresques.

Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day.

At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.

Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the president of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.

A four-ship flyby is a display of respect the Air Force pays to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.

The letter writer asks, "Whom do we thank for the morning air show?"

The 56th Fighter Wing will call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.

Lt. Col. Scott Pleus
Luke Air Force Base
For the whole story, click here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Random Thoughts 7/05/05

  • I came home this afternoon to find my yard half torn up. My wife decided to tear out a dozen bushes around our porch and re-landscape the whole thing. So she did. And it looks really good. You've gotta shake your head. Who else could take care of three kids, cook three meals, go to Wal-Mart, do a dozen other things, AND landscape the yard?
  • It's pretty easy to get cynical about people. You hear complaints and whining, see apathy and disinterest, and you start to get jaded. But then someone comes along who is eager in the faith, gracious toward the shortcomings of others, and full of hope. I live for folks like that! Praise God for those of you who've been that for me in the last few weeks. I only hope I can give you as much encouragement in return.
  • I'll have a funeral to do Thursday. My heart breaks for families in their grief. At the same time, a minister rarely has a better opportunity to minister to people in a meaningful way and communicate the Gospel.
  • The Army is having serious recruiting problems this year. But the problem seems to be more perceived than real, affecting potential recruits more than soldiers in the field. The 3rd Infantry Division, in its second tour in Iraq, has passed its re-enlistment quota by 250%. That says a lot about the mission in Iraq.
  • Shannon and I watched the Day After this evening. That's the movie about the survivors of a nuclear war slowly dying in Lawrence, Ks. Even today, twenty years later, it is deeply disturbing. Not only do I remember the effect it had on me as a kid, but I actually remember when they filmed it. We saw the refugee camp under the bridge in Lawrence. If you get a chance, see this movie. Some people have described it as a civic duty to see this movie (kind of how I feel about Saving Private Ryan). But Lawrence and KC residents will recognize a lot of locations including the Liberty Memorial, Union Station, Allen Fieldhouse, Memorial Stadium, etc.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Wounded Blogger Speaks

There are several servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan that are blogging. They tell about their experiences, they gripe and complain, they show pictures, they respond to the "main stream media's" coverage of the war. It makes for an amazing read.

One such blogger, a gruff and often profane officer (Capt. Chuck Ziegenfuss, C/2-34 Armor), was injured by an IED. He was on foot patrol and an informant led them into what appears to be a trap. He blown off a bridge and landed upside down in a canal, where the weight of his body armor would not allow him to right himself. Another officer jumped in and saved his life.

Now he's in Walter Reed Hospital recovering from his various burns and injuries. He's been chomping at the bit to blog again and so he sent this message thru his wife:
Great, now I'm surrounded by a bunch of Virginians!

Current mood music: "Half the man I used to be" by Madonna

Notes to self:
1. "July is never a good time to visit DC - very humid."
2. "When falling off a canal river bridge wearing body armor, it is never smart to fall in head first."

You can talk about our President, his politics, and his family, but you can never talk about his character. I met him face-to-face today and I will protect him as well as I protect my own.

His wife says, "Yes, we met President Bush today. He is an AMAZING man! As human as we all are... and genuinely cares about the American people. I will not go into detail about what we talked about, that will be up to Chuck. Let's just say it was a day we will never forget. If you do not support Bush, that is your choice... please do not post your opinions (if they are negative) on this blog. I do not want a political debate. My husband met his Commander in Chief - and the honor was all ours."

Saturday, July 02, 2005

How Should We Live?

How should we live? "In such a way that we are well prepared to die," I read recently. I'm inclined to agree, whether our death comes soon or the Lord returns first. Peter says it this way,
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
You better have your act together at all times. And in Christianity we realize that the only way to do that is to let God do it for you (trying to be "good enough" on your own is a surefire way to NOT have your act together).

Friday, July 01, 2005

I Pod, Do You?

We were blessed to receive a silver iPod mini the other day as a gift.

We've been wanting something like this for awhile. Shannon and I are both feel strongly about the role of music in our lives; there's nothing like replacing the negative content of secular music with the positive of Christian music, especially if you can find a band you really like. As for style we favor alternative and rock, but I have a strong pull toward folk, classic rock, or anything that requires knowing more than 3 guitar cords. In fact, I have a strong preference in any genre for songs written by piano players versus those written by guitar players. That means Michael W. Smith or Chris Rice over Steven Curtis Chapman. I'm telling you, there's a difference!

And above all, I want the lyrics to be meaningful and true. That's what makes a song Christian.

I also needed an easy, dependable, backup storage device. I stored all of my documents (going back years) plus over 300 songs and the iPod is less than half full. Awesome!

We listen to it while exercising and driving and doing whatever! It's a pretty cool little gadget. Thanks so much!