Saturday, June 30, 2007

Random Thoughts 6/30/07

  • Jay-rod, Kyle D., and I repaired the hand golf course at the church camp this morning. The cups are new and clean and flush to the ground. It was so perfect, that after finishing our other work, we had to play a quick round. We certainly made the course more difficult. We moved the location of one of the holes to increase its difficulty and changed a couple of the other holes entirely to make the back nine more interesting, longer than before, and as difficult as the front nine. I can't wait to play it again.
  • I'm seriously considering going to the North American Christian Convention (NACC) next week. It's right here in Kansas City this year and there are countless reasons and incentives to go. Generally I'm not a "North American" kinda guy, greatly preferring Ozark's Preaching and Teaching Convention in Joplin each year. But I'm sure if I go, I'll enjoy it. I just need to pull the trigger and actually do it.
  • The Kansas City Brigade are out of the playoffs, losing today 49-42. The Colorado Crush beat them again (making three times this year in close games, by a touchdown or less, each time). Somehow it made sense that Kansas City went out in the first round of the playoffs.
  • This video from David Letterman made me laugh, making fun of both Paris Hilton and Larry King at the same time.
  • I've had a few people ask me about the iPhone. And, no, I'm not going to drop $600 on a phone, even if it is the coolest gadget to come along in several years. Not that I don't want one, I just refuse to spend that kind of money when I already have a phone. We'll see how things look down the road when my current cell phone dies or the contract expires; eventually the technology will trickle down to folks like me. And I'll be waiting!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Greens Keepers

We're leaving at 7:00am tomorrow to work up at the church camp. Our church is scheduled to mow and we're also doing some odd jobs around campus.

Jarod and I are going to work on the hand golf course (yes, I said "work" not "play"). If you've never played hand golf, it's basically an 18 hole course with bucket-sized holes, played with softballs thrown underhanded. It's a lot of fun, but our course needs work (some of the holes are partially collapsed, filled with debris, etc.).

Wyandotte County won the Kendall Bates Invitational Hand Golf Trophy in 2006, and we'll see if we can't defend it this October.

Gone Pro

Former Jayhawk Julian Wright was selected #13 in the NBA Draft last night, selected by the New Orleans Hornets in their first year back home after Hurricane Katrina.

Brandon Rush would have stayed in the NBA Draft but withdrew because he tore his ACL in a pickup game. Instead he's coming back to Kansas for his Junior year but won't be ready until December.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Because Some People Are Haters

Why do I question if the leftist, anti-Bush crowd really supports the troops? Because of junk like this (found recently in Madison, WI):

I'm sorry but there is no way you can claim to support our troops and then compare them to Nazis. Uncle Jimbo over at Blackfive was nearly apoplectic after seeing this–and for good reason: Hitler and the Nazis are considered the personification of evil in our culture. In a debate, as soon as you use Hitler as a point of comparison, you lose the debate because nobody is as bad as Hitler. And yet the Bush-haters use Hitler/Nazi/fascist references toward the President and our military on a regular basis. Why is this okay? Why does it not cause outrage in the mainstream media?

It's beyond the pale.

Consider the Source

Rick the Mouseherder thinks I should have warned you about Pete Hegseth, Iraq veteran and founder of Veterans for Freedom. "The Mouseherder" says "Vets for Freedom is a front organization run by a GOP PR firm dedicated to defeating candidates who what to end the war in Iraq." "…this organization Lt. Hegseth fronts is really kind of a GOP Swift Boating in reverse."

Fair enough, I'll identify Hegseth as a conservative thinker that unabashedly pushes conservative issues but, um… that's exactly why I was quoting him and linked to his article and website. He made an excellent political argument. I'm also a conservative thinker and anyone who has been on my blog for very long knows exactly where I'm coming from.

But partisan punditry is what Mouseherder also does from the secular progressive side. Mouseherder's own blogger profile lists his interests as: "energy independence, climate change, pushing back American fascism, social justice, ending the war in Iraq, defeating the Christian Taliban, new technology, great books, great ideas, TED, alternative energy, LOHAS, and ecological living." So here we have an environmental activist who thinks America is led by fascists, wants to defeat the "Christian Taliban," and wants to end our efforts in Iraq. Should we dismiss Mouseherder's opinions as quickly as he did Lt. Hegseth's?

Then Mouseherder makes a dubious statement, "Pete is only a very part-time soldier who fools around a little bit in the Army NG. I honor his service." Really? So a year in Iraq and a year at Guantanamo is "fooling around a little bit"? That sounds a lot more like Mouseherder is belittling Lt. Hegseth's service and dismissing his well-crafted arguments through ad hominem attacks (bashing the person instead of the argument). It's as if Mouseherder was saying, "He's not a real soldier, he's just a GOP political hack. Therefore instead of countering his argument, I'll just disqualify him from having a valid opinion."

A conservative opinion is not invalid just because it's conservative. But what do I know? I'm just part of the Christian Taliban.

4 to 1 Odds

About 80% of Wyandotte County voters voted for the slot machines and casino. It'll mean lots of revenue and development and jobs – and most folks seem thrilled. But at what cost? Like my friend Jeff said, it'll tax Kansas City area folks who probably can't afford it.

I was particularly appalled at the gall of the gaming proponents websites. In their FAQ they conceded that gambling causes certain social concerns, and that money must be set aside to address the problems, but they quickly divert your attention by saying KCK already suffers those negatives from the four KCMO casinos (!) but Kansas doesn't get a share of the money.

Hey, if you can't solve the problem, then by all means you ought to at least get a piece of the action! If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

So what am I going to do about it? I'm going to start by talking with my Elders at their meeting on Thursday for their guidance. I'm certain we'll continue to offer the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes at our church. And I'm going to stress to my friends and family that no matter how good you are playing for fun, if you go to the casino, you're usually just making a donation.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Combat Nerds

Yet another classic from Military Motivators:

See, nerds are heroes too!

Vote Here

I went to vote (No) this morning and was surprised to see a lady standing outside my polling place holding a Vote Yes yard sign and waving it at the traffic pulling into the parking lot. I'm pretty sure that's illegal but I don't think the "vote yes" camp worries too much about matters morally gray.

I was also surprised to see how busy it was. I've never seen so many people out to vote at that particular polling place and it was still busy later in the morning when Shannon went to vote (sans sign-waving-lady). There were lines of little old ladies with overly-muscular right arms voting yes for slot machines and casinos. I think I saw Tony Soprano there as well.

Since I expect this measure to pass with flying colors, let me sound the warning again. You and your "system" are not so clever that you'll actually beat the casino in the long run. Maybe once, maybe for awhile, but not long term.

A Vet Chimes In

Pete Hegseth wrote a brilliant editorial in Washington Post, refuting the backward thinking of Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) about the War in Iraq. Please read the whole article here.

Hegseth, an Iraq vet, slaps down the Senator on three main points, the third of which is reproduced below along with his conclusion.

[Levin said:] We are "supporting the troops" by demanding an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Levin says that "our troops should hear an unequivocal message from Congress that we support them." He explains his vote to fund and "support" the troops while simultaneously trying to legislate the war's end. But what kind of "support" and "unequivocal message" do the troops hear from leaders in Congress who call their commanders "incompetent" or declare the war "lost"?

Such statements provide nearly instant enemy propaganda to every mud hut with a satellite dish in Iraq and throughout the Arab world. These messages do not spell support, no matter how you spin them. And they could inspire insurgents, making the situation more dangerous for our soldiers and Marines.

Veterans know firsthand that numerous mistakes have been made in the war. But that does not change the unfortunate reality: Iraq today is the front line of a global jihad being waged against America and its allies. Both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have said so.

We face an important choice in the coming months: provide Gen. David Petraeus the time and troops he needs to execute his counterinsurgency campaign, or declare defeat and withdraw from Iraq. It seems that Democrats in Congress have already made their decision.

In his op-ed, Sen. Levin invoked the example of Abraham Lincoln, who endured years of challenges before finding the right generals and strategy to win the Civil War. After four years of uncertainty in Iraq, America finally has both the general and the strategy to turn the tide. The question is whether 2007 will unfold like 1865 or 1969.

President Lincoln chose to fight a bloody and unpopular war because he believed the enemy had to be defeated. He was right. And to me, that sounds more than a bit like the situation our country faces today. What path will we choose?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Gambling on KCK

Tomorrow is a special election here in KCK to approve 800 slot machines at the Woodlands dog track and a separate question to approve the construction of a new casino. If I had to guess, it'll pass overwhelmingly.

I'm going to vote against it however because gambling hurts people.

I don't have a problem with spending money on frivolous entertainment (have you seen how much a movie ticket costs?), but the lure of gambling can trap a person and destroy families. The lottery, horse races, slot machines and most casino gaming is a "tax on people that can't do math." Those huge casinos, with millions of lights and all-you-can-eat buffets, are paid for by the money you lose. Every person walking in to a casino needs to stop and consider that a fool and his money are soon parted.

So I don't gamble; I've never even bought a lottery ticket. Which is interesting because I love to play cards (especially games that favor skill over luck) and I've hosted a poker game (not for money) at my house for over a year. But I've also played billiards without every going to a pool hall, I've played darts without ever entering a bar, and I've watched football without ever having money on the game.

As a minister, I feel an extra burden for those addicted to gambling. I turned down an opportunity to go to a charity poker tournament last month because I was so uneasy about it being held at a casino. If only it was held somewhere else! I just don't want to cause someone to stumble who might gamble away their rent money and borrow more money to win it back.

Beyond that, by operating a casino our local government will be partly dependent on the poor judgment and bad luck of people who may not be able to afford it (you know… like the lottery). We'll profit from the very thing that will cause divorce, end careers, and ruin lives of some of our citizens. How can I be for that?

Random Football Thoughts 6/25/07

  • The Chiefs' running back, Larry Johnson, is perhaps the most likely player in the NFL to holdout. He's in a bad spot when you consider his age (28 - just past prime), his salary ($1.8 million - one fourth of the best RB salary), and his situation (a younger team with less experience and talent). Since the Chiefs just cleared up $7 million by trading Trent Green, I've got a feeling that they'll pay Johnson that money. But with Michael Bennett, rookie Kolby Smith, and NFL Europa MVP Derrick Ross on the roster, I almost hope they don't pay Johnson. As I said earlier, "…the Packers have supposedly offered their 1st and 4th pick [last April] for Larry Johnson with four other teams interested, which would be an excellent move… Why get rid of Johnson, perhaps the best runner in the league? Because the Chiefs are not likely to get their act together while Johnson is still in his prime, especially with a reduced offensive line, while running back may be the easiest position to replace." Invest $7 million somewhere else, this team may need it.
  • Speaking of NFL Europe, which concluded its 16th year Saturday, the rumors are flying fast and furious that the league may fold. That's too bad if it does. Though it's not compelling to watch (99% of the players are complete unknowns), the League is healthy and serves several purposes for the NFL. Attendance is at an all-time high (20,000 per game) and the game is growing in popularity in Germany. Players are developed, coaching internships are offered, while the NFL officials rotate through and get more game experience. It would be a shame if the NFL closes the doors in Europe.
  • Of course maybe the All American Football League will catch on. They're are supposed to start play in the spring of '08 with college graduates playing on a team hosted by a university, with preference given to players from that school. We'll see if this professional league for the college fan actually works out.
  • The KC Brigade arena football team made the playoffs this year with a 10-6 record. They play Saturday in the first round of the playoffs and they're actually getting some discussion on sports talk radio this week. I've really enjoyed the arena league games I've been to and hope that this game catches on with the public.

[Note: NFL Europa was officially disbanded on June 29, 2007]

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Puppy Crate

Sophie loves her puppy crate.

You can see her bed that Shannon made and some of her toys, including her red-collared stuffed beagle. She crawls right in and takes her naps… although sometimes she gets visitors.

The similarities between Sophie and Graham are legion. It just starts with the puppy crate.

Take Me Home!

Brennan is at day camp; he'll be back this evening. It was hard to see the little guy go. He actually had to tell Mom he loved her and it was okay for her to leave him now. Shannon cried the whole way home.

So it seems appropriate to play the Allan Sherman song, Camp Granada.

I couldn't find a video of Sherman performing the song, but there's an endless supply of videos with people lip syncing Sherman's performance. Sherman re-wrote the song when he went on the Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, which started like this:

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.
I am back at Camp Granada.
And I'm writing you this letter
Just to say my compound fracture's getting better.
No one here knows where my trunk is
And my bunk is where the skunk is.
And this year the food's improving
'cause the little black things in it are not moving.

A Little Reminder…

I don't mean to ruin anyone's weekend…

…but 160,000 of America's finest men and women are in Iraq right now fighting al Qaeda in probably the largest battle since the invasion. Read what Michael Yon has written on the eve of battle and pray for our soldiers.

Here's another update from Yon.
And here's one from the New York Times.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Somebody's Hero

Here's a great picture from a series I saw a few weeks back. The reaction of the kid in the spotted shirt was priceless: he circled around from the running crowd to cower in the shadow of an American soldier who was facing the danger. The pictures spoke volumes.

This picture, like the one following, is from Military Motivator. Thanks for the great work!

39,000 Hits

We passed 39,000 hits this evening. Thanks for reading.

This was the slowest 1,000 hits in almost a year, which I half expected since I didn't add any content for the week I was at camp. The summer seems a bit slower for traffic on my blog in general but I'm glad everyone continues to drop in and thanks, especially, for leaving comments.

Coprophagia and You: Why Doggy Kisses are Gross

If we hadn't read about it first, we would have discovered this on our own soon enough: Beagles eat poo.

It turns out that Beagles are one of least finicky breeds of dog; they'll eat pretty much anything. And they love to eat poo! It's called cocrophagia and Beagles are the best at it. They'll eat their own poo, cat poo, neighbor dog's poo, any steaming pile of poo will do. When it comes to Beagles, fecal is fantastic and doo-doo is delicious!

Sophie is a sweet puppy but every time she licks me, I throw up just a little.

Laziest Puppy Ever?

Sophie is a study in contrast. She will absolutely bounce off the wall… for a few minutes. Then she's off to take a nap, and then another and another, and then down for the night.

I just sent the boys outside and sat the puppy in the grass where she collapsed in a heap. She rolled over and laid there, snoozing. I know she's only seven weeks old but I think she has narcolepsy. Only the cat (and Elijah) sleeps more. It seems that the only sustained burst of energy she shows is between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning, when she sucks the life out of me by bouncing around instead of sleeping.

When Sophie wants to nap she usually goes to her puppy crate where Shannon made her a doggy bed and pillow. It's about as cute as something can be.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

AFI's Silly List

As released yesterday, the top 10 movies on the 2007 AFI List of Top 100 Movies

1. "Citizen Kane," 1941
2. "The Godfather," 1972
3. "Casablanca," 1942
4. "Raging Bull," 1980
5. "Singin' in the Rain," 1952
6. "Gone With the Wind," 1939
7. "Lawrence of Arabia," 1962
8. "Schindler's List," 1993
9. "Vertigo," 1958
10. "The Wizard of Oz," 1939

I can see why all of these movies are on the list and why they're at the top, but how do you really quantify which movie is better than another on a numbered list? How can you compare The Godfather to The Wizard of Oz?

Obviously you can't made this list objective and the AFI shows this by how volatile the list is. In 1998, the AFI rated Vertigo as #61. Yet the perception of the movie improved enough to make the top 10 this time around. John Wayne's The Searchers (1956) jumped from #96 up to #12, while Doctor Zhivago (1965), Dances With Wolves (1990), and The Jazz Singer (1927) all dropped off the list entirely.

UPDATE: I went through the list and discovered to my surprise that I haven't seen as many of these movies as I'd supposed. I've seen eight of the top ten but only 55 of the top 100 (only counting movies that I've seen the whole way through and can remember), so I've got a lot of catching up to do. Classic movies are important, not just as cultural markers but as studies in communication and story telling. In short, knowing the tales of a culture helps you communicate with that culture.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Jayhawks

I know it's June, but…

High School basketball star Travis Releford committed to play at Kansas yesterday, the first freshman of '08. He's a 4-star, 6-5 guard.

The 2007 freshmen will include:
Cole Aldrich, a 4-star, 6-11 center from Minnesota
Tyrel Reed, a 4-star, 6-2 point guard from Burlington, Ks
Conner Teahan, an unrated 6-4 small forward from KCMO

And the Jayhawks should be returning everybody but Julian Wright, who went pro, though you never know which kids will transfer, get injured, or just flake out.

Arguing Worldviews

Finally some decent debate and conversation… sort of. You might be missing a great argument if you haven't read the comments here.

Originally, the article (at one point titled "Glass Houses") was going to be about Sen. Harry Reid recently calling Gens. Pace and Petraeus incompetent. Pretty strong words for a Senate majority leader who has an 18% approval rating, about half of the low approval ratings our President has. And so why do the secular progressives in our culture (like Reid and Pelosi) get to bash our military leaders and withhold necessary money our military needs and yet still claim they support our troops?

That seemed like a good question, but I cut to the chase and addressed what I see as a fundamental difference in worldviews. Anybody who wants to argue secular progressive vs. traditional or liberal vs. conservative, come on over. I won't delete your comments unless it crosses into the profane.

Please, no yelling.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Misunderstanding Heroes

Why does the Left trash the military?

I believe that the Left does NOT support our troops. It pities them. The Left considers our soldiers to be the victims of the bourgeoisie (society's wealthy capitalists, i.e. Halliburton, Big Oil, the Military-Industrial Complex, etc.). The military, in their view, is a relic, a use-only-in-case-of-emergency federal police force, or a job program for civil servants. If a soldier is forced to actually wage war, then he is now a victim, a tool, of the powers-that-be.

Thus to pander to the proletariat, working-class, victims, the Left swoops in to rescue them from the evil ilk of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and our current military leaders. They grieve the "senseless" loss of our soldiers, not as fallen heroes but as the victims of a lost cause. Therefore, slamming the military and what it does makes sense… sort of.

[Thanks to Blackfive and MilitaryMotivator for the heads up.]


I was up with our beagle, Sophie, at 10:30pm, 12:30am, 2:30am and now 5:30am. I think Shannon got up with her once as well but I'm in enough of a stupor that I could have been fooled… *snore*

*snort* *gasp!* Each episode is a half hour or more that includes her going potty outside, chasing the cat, rolling somersaults, whining and crying and curling up to go back to sleep. The little squirt is laying on my foot right now attempting to consume my big toe. Cute… *snore*

Monday, June 18, 2007

Random Thoughts 6/18/07

  • I heard that Pepsi has introduced cucumber soda in Japan. After catching a few episodes of the game shows MXC (Takeshi's Castle) and Ninja Warrior (Sasuke), it somehow makes sense. Japanese culture is just… different.
  • Here's a friend from our church, Justin, who made his way on to the Royals' blog. He and his friends made t-shirts celebrating the team's new draft pick, Mike Moustakas. The shirts have a moose and a taco (get it? moose-tacos? Moustakas?). Way to go Justin!
  • Kansas City's Arena League team, the Brigade, are 10-5 with one game left and the playoffs locked-in. They're actually one of the better teams in the league.
  • A lot of the horror stories people tell about owning beagles is simply not true – Sophie is a dream. Not that we're sleeping much, she naps off and on all day and then is up half the night. It's like having another infant, sans diapers.
  • The Air Force and Army have agreed on a new joint cargo aircraft, a small cargo plane that can land on very short runways. The winning design is the updated C-27J Spartan, sometimes called the "Baby-Herc" because it looks like a shrunken C-130 Hercules. It actually uses systems from the most recent C-130 version and should reduce the need to fly a C-17 or C-130 with only one cargo pallet on board and get that pallet much closer to the troops who need it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sophie's First Afternoon

Our sweet puppy, Sophie, arrived today. Bart and Sarah brought her to our house about 8:30am and after church we came home and have been playing with her all afternoon. She's young enough that she alternates between naps and bouncing off the walls. All of that energy is quickly drained and Sophie slows down and is ready for yet another nap before we know it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Random Dog Thoughts 6/16/07

  • Sophie joins our family tomorrow!
  • I can't say enough good things about our friends through whom we've gotten this new dog, Sophie. We couldn't have done this if it weren't for you. Thank you so much.
  • The start up costs for owning a dog are crazy. You have to buy the dog (fortunately we're getting Sophie at a fraction of the normal cost) and then you have to get all of the doggy paraphernalia: collar, leash, tags, crate, dishes, dog food, chew toys, pooper scooper, brush, shampoo, house training stuff, books (for me – Sophie can't read), etc. etc. And that doesn't include all of the vet visits over the next year.
  • We've been told that it'll take a bit to beagle-proof our backyard. Beagles can potentially jump over or dig under almost any fence. We have a six foot fence but going under it is probably pretty easy, so we'll see what can be done.
  • I ran into my cousin and his wife and kids at PetsMart today. Brennan, Tanner, and I were buying an identification tag that had a Jayhawk logo on it and Aaron and Abie, K-State nuts, uh… I mean alumni, immediately objected. In their eyes we were corrupting an innocent puppy. I'm sure many of my K-State and Mizzou friends would agree.
  • Shannon is thrilled to be adding another female to the family. Maybe she's a little too excited. It'll be all I can do to prevent her from dressing Sophie in a pink, sequined tutu.

VBS 2007

Now that I'm back for camp, I need to re-focus on what's happening the rest of the summer. One of those items is Vacation Bible School (VBS). Our website includes all the basic information including registration forms.

The dates are Monday, July 23 through Friday, July 27, 6 to 8pm.

More to come later.

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's a Girl!

While at camp we discovered that our friends, Bart and Sarah, had access to someone who breeds dogs. Sarah's family in South Dakota breeds beagles and they were able to get us a deal. On Sunday, they will bring us a female puppy which we will name Sophie.

That's our girl on the left. Brennan, Tanner, and Elijah are excited and Shannon and I can't wait. Graham doesn't understand but I'm guessing he'll be a big fan. I'll write more later!

Home From Camp

We're home from Church Camp and we are exhausted! It's hard to even go through my email without nodding off.

I've got lots more to write about later.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Random Thoughts 6/9/07

  • The Kansas City Brigade arena football team has officially clinched the playoffs (granted that's a twelve team playoffs in a nineteen team league – but still). They are now 9-5, winning five out of their last six games with one of the best defenses in the league.
  • A reminder: I will be out of touch, electronically speaking, all week while I'm at camp. No email, no internet, no blog until Friday afternoon. Why do I do this to myself every year? I just keep telling myself, "It's for the kids." I will have my cell phone though.
  • I recommend coming back to Not Greener and reading old posts while I'm gone. 1) It generates hits. 2) I might get access to the internet and blog at some point during the week. 3) You can help me find posts to link to from the sidebar. 4) I won't be able to delete your comments if you disagree with something I've written. 5) You can play a scavenger hunt with all of my typos.
  • I spent most of last night working on camp stuff. I got less than three hours of sleep and here I am working into the night this evening as well. I've got to get some sleep!

Random Family Photos 6/9/07

Here are the boys (Brennan, Elijah, and Tanner) sitting in a Huey helicopter. It was a static display at the Great American Barbecue and they thought it was pretty special. This particular Huey still has shrapnel holes in the fuselage after several years of service in Vietnam.

And here is my beautiful wife at the same event pushing Graham in a stroller. Four boys and still look great? No problem!

Here's a shot of Graham hanging out at home. He may be even more photogenic than Brennan; at least he certainly likes to ham it up for the camera.

Graham models his new swimming trunks and hat we bought for him this summer. What a cute little squirt.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Em Chamas

Last Friday was our 11th anniversary and we had the opportunity to go to the Em Chamas Brazilian Grill for dinner. It is a fancy, all you can eat, meat-lover's paradise.

Em Chamas is a moderately expensive restaurant which describes its service as "a continuous table side service style called “rodizio” which is controlled by our guests with a specially designed coin on the table. One side signals the gauchos to present the various meats to the table and the other side signals them to stop. If you desire the particular cut of meat presented to you, our gaucho will carve the meat directly on your plate. The guest may have as little or as much of any or all of the different cuts of meat or seafood they desire."

We couldn't have enjoyed it more. The service was unique and enjoyable and the food was outrageously good. I sampled prime rib, two or three kinds of steak, chicken, lamb, fillet mignon, and a few things I couldn't identify.

Thanks so much to our friend Nathaniel B. who made it possible (he works there).

Church Shopping

People are very demanding about what they want from church, but not always what's good for them. I received an email last week from a lady who was church shopping in the area and said, "I enjoy Praise Worship services and am trying to find a church family that is affirming, friendly and all inclusive."

There's nothing wrong with different styles of worship services, but as I tell people at Wyandotte, the worship is the part that's NOT primarily for you (the audience should be God alone). Thus the popular appeal of the worship is not nearly as important as the intent and content.

I'm also nervous about the use of the phrase "affirming, friendly, and all inclusive." If that means that we embrace a diversity of people, then that's great! But if it means we embrace a diversity of moral behavior… well that's just not going to happen.

Our church has several young families – probably at a higher ratio than most churches – but it also includes single adults, couples without children, the elderly and middle aged, etc. etc. We have both poor and wealthy, professional and working class, Republican and Democrat. We don't have a lot of ethnic diversity but we accurately reflect the area in which we live.

But when it comes to moral behavior and God's Word… we step on toes. In fact, in my response to the lady's request above, I told her it's my job to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I will take a stand for what's right in what we teach and preach; I'm not going to soft-sell the Gospel just to avoid offending people.

I know it doesn't seem like good salesmanship (to make people uncomfortable and ill-at-ease) but I'm selling a peace treaty to the already defeated, an acquittal to the already condemned. Mincing words doesn't serve anybody well.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For

Here's a fascinating little article from

The Baghdad Droid Hospital

June 6, 2007: In Iraq, the terrorists have come to realize that the small robots American troops are using, are sometimes more dangerous than the Americans themselves. There are several thousand of these small (under 100 pounds, and look like a miniature tank) droids in use, and they have become a primary target for the terrorists. The most common use of these robots is to check out objects that might be roadside bombs. Terrorists will detonate their roadside bomb if they see a robot going to check it out, and will fire on the droids as well. Users have come to rely on the droids for all sorts of things, and have adapted to the terrorist attacks on the droids, by treating the robots like "one of the team." Thus troops will provide covering fire for droids, as necessary, and will not send the robots out on suicide missions unless it's really important. They will also recover damaged droids, make battlefield repairs if they can (some guys have developed reputations as "droid medics"). There is even a droid hospital in Iraq (Joint Robotic Repair and Fielding Activity), that repairs about 400 broken or "wounded" droids a week. About that often, the staff there will have to deal with one or more teary eyed troops, carrying the blasted remains of their droid, and wanting to know if their little guy can be rebuilt. Many of the droids are given names, which are painted on the robot chassis.

One of the proposed upgrades for combat droids is voice recognition (so troops can give it verbal commands) and a voice synthesizer, so that the droid can, well, talk. This will be used, with foreign language software, to enable the droid to talk to locals, and, in English to its users. This will, no doubt, make the emotional bond with the troops even stronger.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Minority Report

I recently read of Hank Hanegraaff's latest book, The Apocalypse Code (2007) and highly recommend it for any student of the book of Revelation. Especially if your main exposure to the End Times is Tim LaHaye, Jack Van Impe, or Hal Lindsey, I'd almost insist on a book like this to balance out what you've already been exposed to.

As Hanegraaff explains, "Failure to interpret Scripture in light of Scripture creates a genuine conundrum for Christian Zionists [those who push Israeli nationalism in order to prompt the Second Coming]. If temple sacrifices in the Millennium are efficacious for ceremonial uncleanness, Christ's atonement on the cross was insufficient to pay for all sin for all time. The teaching that the temple must be rebuilt and that temple sacrifices must be reinstituted not only stands in direct opposition to the book of Hebrews but undermines the central hope of the Christian faith – the atoning sacrifice of Christ for all sins past, present, and future."

The great value of Hanegraaff (or any other teacher) training us to "interpret Scripture in light of Scripture" is that it becomes a valuable tool for reading all of the Bible, not just Revelation, and to do so consistently.

My own personal testimony is that I grew up with a pre-trib, premillennial dispensationalist view of Revelation, though I didn't know that terminology at the time. And why shouldn't I have believed this way? The vast majority of every Christian book, radio show, tract, movie, song, etc. that I had been exposed to was uniformly in the Hal Lindsey camp. But as I went to Bible College, I began to really study the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and my understanding of Revelation was radically transformed. How relieved I was to discover that the conclusions I couldn't avoid were already an age-old understanding of eschatology called amillennialism. In fact this system was older and more thoroughly vetted than the currently popular dispensationalism.

Though most Christians in America in the last 100 years are firmly in the LaHaye/Lindsey camp, that doesn't mean that the debate is over. In fact, with Hanegraaff, the "Bible Answer Man," on our side, I feel like those of us who have been teaching responsible Bible interpretation for years have gained an important ally.

Mis-Reporting on D-Day

What if the left-leaning, militarily-ignorant, America-loathing media of today were to report on the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944?

Random Thoughts 6/6/07

  • Today is the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day invasions of Normandy, France. My grandfather was in the follow on forces that hit the beaches days later, advanced across France, fought the Battle of the Bulge, and invaded Germany.
  • The Chiefs finally traded their QB, Trent Green, to the Dolphins. As usual, Chiefs' head honcho Carl Peterson made sure the transaction was as drawn out and acrimonious as possible. But he did get the Chiefs a fifth round pick for Green that could be upgraded to a fourth rounder if Green plays a lot. I guess he called the Dolphins' bluff.
  • Have you seen the new iPhones? The ads posted on the website look pretty impressive, it's just a shame that they'll be too expensive for folks (hopeless gadget nerds) like me.
  • I've officially seen the first flattering articles on the Chiefs' young QB Brodie Croyle. I hope he's as good as the experts seem to think, because I was a Trent Green fan (until he got hurt) and was content with Damon Huard last year. But since the Chiefs haven't drafted, groomed, and then started their own QB in over twenty years, it would be nice to see it happen at least once every generation.
  • So what is it with Russia that they think everyone wants to invade them? Napoleon and Hitler each tried it but failed miserably when confronted by the harsh Russian winter. But just as Russia sees that as precedent-setting (Western Europeans keep invading us every hundred years or so), so does everyone else (invade Russia with an army and you'll die a miserable frozen death). I suppose that the Russians figure that if their people are distracted by the "threat" of the U.S. and Europe, they may be distracted from their own failed domestic situations. But I can't imagine that anyone in NATO would actually want to attack Russia… unless they know something about that Global Warming…
  • I just heard that our awesome church softball teams won again last night. I guess they're pretty good!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Camp Week Coming Soon

Next week is my week at camp, so I probably won't be blogging much between next Sunday and the following Friday (June 10-15).

It's fairly stressful to be in charge of a week of camp, especially when it's junior high camp. I do the preaching at my own camp to save the camp some money but that only doubles my workload. I know that everything will work out just fine and camp always goes well, but please pray for me as I get ready for next week.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sowing Seeds of Discontent

With each debate and campaign stop, the Democrats are clarifying their vision for our future. From their point of view, it goes like this:
  • We must quit in Iraq, it's the fastest route to shame and defeat.
  • We have to bring our troops home from Bush's unnecessary war so that we can send them to do peacekeeping in areas vital to the national interest [sic] like Darfur or Kosovo.
  • Terrorism is mostly our fault anyway.
  • You will have your taxes raised, in every way imaginable.
  • Protecting our borders is fundamentally racist.
  • What our health care system needs is more bureaucracy.
All of this fits their worldview to a tee: Government gains more power from having more dispossessed and disaffected victims so that it can exercise that power to control society through taxation and regulation.

38,000 Hits

We passed 38,000 hits this afternoon.

The traffic has slowed a bit these past few months (roughly 60-70 hits per day) but I sure appreciate everyone who checks my blog, even if it's not clear why you keep coming back. I was talking to a friend from Emporia State who said she was reading my blog a lot during finals week. I mis-heard her to say "my final week" and asked, "What? Are you dying? And if you are dying, what are you doing reading my blog?!"

For whatever reason you drop by, I'm still glad you're here. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

All Grow'd Up

Brennan (6) is becoming an independent little critter. In recent months he has begun showering on his own, answering the phone, feeding the cat, carrying the baby up and down the stairs, using the microwave and computer, as well as reading everything in sight.

And today he learned to ride a bike without training wheels. We were at Grandpa's and I put him on a bicycle and gave him a push out of the driveway. He veered across the street and promptly smacked his face on the side of the neighbor's mailbox, knocking him clean off the bike. It was hilarious, though poor Brennan screamed like a banshee. But I insisted he get right back on and soon he was cycling with enthusiasm.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Transformed Thinking

Here is a short devotion I wrote for church camp this summer. I thought I'd share it here.

Transforming My Thinking
Jared Altic

Have you ever daydreamed about winning a million dollars? How about 100 million? Do you spend time imagining yourself to be wealthy, beautiful, successful, and powerful? Quickly those dreams begin to include the fulfillment of every desire: your enemies are humbled and your fantasies come true.

But have you ever thought of your daydreams from God’s perspective? Would He want you to be so rich that you forgot your need for Him? Would He want you to treat your enemies the way they have treated you? In fact, how does God feel about you scheming and plotting and thinking the way everybody else does in this world?

Shouldn’t our thoughts be different?

Romans 8:5-8 (NLT) says: “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.”

When God transforms us, our minds begin to change. We can’t possibly see the world as we used to see it, but rather as God sees it. We have different priorities. We value things and people differently than before. We understand God’s will for our lives.

Read Romans 12:2 and 2Corinthians 5:17.

Now daydream. Imagine yourself as successful in God’s eyes – someone who stands up for the truth every time. Picture yourself as a person who is faithful for a lifetime, always seeing the challenges of this life as God sees them.

Spend time in prayer, asking God to transform your thinking.

Friday, June 01, 2007

More Progress In Iraq, Part 2

Here's another interview at Pundit Review Radio, this time with Michael Yon. It's certainly worth a listen as he explains what he sees happening in Iraq right now (including a strangely quiet Anbar province).

A term that I'm seeing more of in reference to Iraq is "the Awakening." It refers to the anti-al Qaeda trend beginning in the provinces surrounding Badgdad (Anbar, Salahadin, Diyala, and Babil). In recent months, Iraqi tribes are beginning to reject the foreign Islamic radicals in their midst. There's even talk of a cease-fire between some insurgent groups and the Coalition/Iraqi government because the foreign terrorists are a bigger problem to the average Iraqi. This could really be the turning point in the Iraqi Theater of War if America is willing to wait it out and see.

It's also noteworthy that Sunni tribes may be rejecting al Qaeda. That's a big deal in the overall War on Terror and ought to be a big deal to those who've ballyhooed the "Arab Street" for years. If the "Arab Street" kicks Islamic radicalism to the curb, this world will be a better place.

11th Anniversary

Today is our 11th wedding anniversary.

Since we started dating at fifteen and are now thirty, we've officially spent half of our lives together. This year is also important statistically because we pass the median length of marriages in the United States (which some studies say is eleven years).

The best aspect of our relationship is the quality of communication we have. Shannon and I are best friends and we've learned to discuss absolutely everything. Even with things we would rather avoid, we've acquired a knack for confronting them head-on. Parenting, personal feelings, disappointments, expectations, the plot-lines of our favorite TV shows… it all gets discussed.

It helps that we had to talk eight hours in the car every weekend for the first four years we were married as we drove to my ministry from college. That's a lot of time in the car to discuss our future and how we would respond to various challenges. We would (and still do) play out hypothetical hurdles in life and plan for how we would overcome them. And this puts us on the same page time and again.

In the end, it's our practice to actively, aggressively, and thoroughly talk about every aspect of our relationship together. And that has made all the difference.

I love you, Shannon.