Monday, June 30, 2008

Our Precious Boys

Yes, we're biased. But we think our boys are beautiful. Here's the evidence:

Here's our precious Graham and Tanner with Sophie, the beagle, getting in to the picture. The dogs are such a blessing (usually).

Here's Elijah, pointing at Mom's new camera. She loves her new toy and we like it too! It even shows all the spots of dirt on the four-year-old.

The previous two pictures show Brennan in his new "serious phase." He's a happy, goofy-acting 2nd grader but point a camera at him – and suddenly he's Mr. Solemn. If you only looked at the pictures we've taken of him in the last few weeks, you'd call social services.

An Uneasy Feeling

You know that sick feeling you got just before an important exam? I get that every Sunday before I preach.

Each Saturday evening, I start getting queasy. That's why I usually shy away from doing anything socially on Saturday nights – it's hard for me to enjoy an activity when I feel so distracted. I can barely sleep and wake up about ten shades of green. I don't completely recover until I've had lunch Sunday afternoon (during football season, the ill feeling continues right through the Chiefs' game and then some).

This last Sunday I was particularly pekid. I commented to a friend that someday, maybe, I won't feel ill every single time I have to preach. That might mean the Lord's coming back or taking me home, but who knows.

I only hope folks at church don't think I'm too distant or rude or anything. I'm just trying not to throw up on them.

The Maneater

A new threat has entered our home.

About two or three inches long with ferocious incisors, this malevolent creature is trying to eat each one of us, one bite at a time. It's Tanner's new hamster.

One of the two small hamsters is what I would consider normal. The other one, an obese little critter, is quite aggressive. She chases your hand around the cage trying desperately to bite you. It's hard to pick her up or play with her at all. That little rodent has drawn blood on me more than once and you know what they say about hamsters once they taste blood…

I'll report back here as the casualties mount.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Light Dusting

I just got "dusted" again by the cleaning lady a few moments ago. I'm not sure if I should say anything… but if I have both elbows on the desk typing away at my computer, then I'd rather not have her feather-dust the workspace in front of me right between my arms!

It's distracting.

And kind of weird.

But she didn't steal any candy this time. So that's a plus.

Random Thoughts 6/27/08

  • Pixar's movie WALL•E is out today. It's a Pixar movie, so we'll have to see it sooner or later. Upcoming Pixar movies include: Up in 2009, Toy Story 3 in 2010, newt and The Bear and the Bow in 2011, and Cars 2 in 2012.
  • The NBA Draft was last night. Five Jayhawks were drafted (and all five were traded). Brandon Rush went 13th overall but Darrell Arthur barely made it in the end of the first round (he was supposed to be a lottery pick). Mario Chalmers went in the second round, lower than anticipated. In the end, Rush went to Indiana, Chalmers ended up with Michael Beasley in Miami, Arthur was traded to Memphis to play with OJ Mayo, and Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson both were drafted and then traded to Cleveland. I still don't believe Chalmers and Arthur were helped by leaving school early.
  • Have you seen the trailer for Bolt? It's a new Disney (but not Pixar) animated movie slated for this Thanksgiving. It's one of the first Disney animated films to be supervised by the guys from Pixar – they reportedly "fixed" what was wrong with this movie. It looks good!
  • Less than a third of the NBA draftees were college seniors (or foreign players 21 or 22 years old). A record twelve freshmen were drafted. And, yes, I'm still bitter about Chalmers.
  • In related football news: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is talking like he'll insist on a rookie salaray cap, saying that untested players earning $30 million guaranteed is "ridiculous." Good for him.
  • It's two months until Fantasy Football begins. We're having our Fantasy Football draft party on Monday night, August 25. If you were in our league last year and I haven't contacted you yet, give me a holler… we need to get the league re-assembled!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Boys in the Park

Shannon took the boys to the park today. Here are a few of the pics:

Brennan turns 8 in a few months.

Tanner is six and a half.

Elijah is four.

And Graham Ryker is two.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Feature

Yesterday I added Blogger's new "blog roll" feature to my sidebar. It adds a few links and updates their most recent posts, which is nice. So I added a few of the ones I read regularly and have linked to in the past, making it that much easier to navigate to some of my favorite writers.

I'm also open to suggestions and recommendations to lengthen that list…

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Random Thoughts 6/24/08

  • I was rooting for the Celtics, but those Boston fans sure are spoiled.
  • Sometime in May of this year, the global population passed 6,666,666,666. Just thought you should know.
  • We're winning in Iraq and have been for 18 months or more. Soon we'll be able to say that we won in Iraq yet Obama still wants to quit and run away. The good news about Iraq is legion and growing daily if you just have the desire to find it (like this huge news item for instance). But I found this short list of Iraqis you ought to know particularly interesting.
  • Go to jail for questioning global warming? Lock me up. It is a pseudo-scientific misanthropic religious devotion which seeks to control people and squelch human development. Yeah, I'm against it.
  • I was really disappointed to see that Mario Chalmers didn't go back to school. I guess the only thing to do now is hope that he gets drafted into a good situation. The draft is in two days. Unfortunately, forfeiting an education for the easy money is rarely a good choice. Oh and by the way, the Jayhawks are going to be nearly unrecognizable next year.
  • Just what we need: another movie and television strike. Now it looks like the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) may strike as early as next week. Great. On the one hand, most of what Hollywood produces is utter dreck and we won't be missing a thing. On the other hand, there are a few worthwhile shows/films and they might be completely ruined a second major strike in less than a year.

Monday, June 23, 2008

61,000 Hits

We passed 61,000 hits this morning. Thank you so much for reading. But why do you read?

The poll that I posted, asking why folks read my blog, has closed. I received 25 responses, 80% from people who read because they're family or friends. About half read because they like what they find here (which could mean almost anything) but one person read my blog because they don't like it (and I know who they are).

I didn't learn a whole lot from the poll; it's just about exactly what I anticipated. But I'm glad that family and friends and few other interested parties can drop by and check out what's going on in my life. Most important to me however is that I record my thoughts for my four boys. I want them to have access to a record of what we did and how I felt while they were growing up.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Of Woodchips and Hamster Wheels

When I came home from camp, Shannon and Tanner (6) met me at the door. "Come here! Hurry! We want to show you something!" We go upstairs to the boys' room and, lo and behold, the fish tank from the garage has been set up as a home for two fat little hamsters.

The really fat one is named Bella. The less fat one is named Zelda. There's both white with black spots, about half the size you'd expect a hamster to be and adorable.

These are the first pets that I've not named in Greek. They're also the first pets that truly belong to the boys.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's two adults, four little boys, two dogs, two hamsters, and one intrigued kitty.

Convicting Sermon

Give this sermon a try. It's Paul Washer's famous sermon from a 2002 youth conference on authentic Christianity. It's powerful and convicting.

The Gall

I just had someone steal from me while I sat ten feet away watching them.

It was the silly old woman on the janitorial crew at church. I see them almost every week, as I often work late. When I do, she comes in to dust my office, including my desk, while I'm still sitting at it! She will reach over me and move my papers as I'm trying to work. Often, I just get up and leave for a few minutes because there's no stopping her; I'm the one in her way.

Well, I was sitting in my office this evening and she steps in without looking at me. She was kind of turned to one side and began dusting the shelf across the room with my candy jars on it. I could tell she hadn't seen that I was there. Then without hesitation, she opened a candy jar, reached in and stuffed two handfuls of hard candy into her pocket. It's the candy I give to kids on Sundays.

As I sat there and watched her, she dropped a few peppermints and when she bent over to pick them up, she saw me. She startled and immediately went back to dusting. I just sat there silently in stunned disbelief. Then she awkwardly reached into her pocket, withdrew a candy and began unwrapping it. Her shaky voice explained that she forgot her candy at home and when you get older you forget stuff like that. "You don't know, being young and all," she said.

I never said a word. She knew what she'd done and she knew I'd watched her do it. I don't care about candy; if she'd asked I would have offered as I do with everyone. I'm just intrigued by the unashamed willingness to steal trivial things. She may steal candy from me every week and I'll bet she never felt bad about it until tonight when she was caught in the act.

It's not the value of the thing you steal that makes it wrong. It's the act of taking something, anything, that doesn't belong to you that's wrong.

Back From Church Camp

I'm back from Church Camp. After tying up loose ends at camp and driving others home, I finally rejoined my family at home about 4:30 yesterday. Camp is so exhausting; it's worth it but it's exhausting.

Which Camp?
This was Jr. High Camp, mostly kids going into 7th and 8th grade. It was the second week of camp at Mission Lake Christian Camp and the theme this year was "Got Fruit?" from Galatians 5.

Total Campers and Staff
We had about 60 campers and staff, not counting the younger children of our staff (7-9 little ones).

Our Missionary
The mission we supported was Nathan Smith of Narrow Road Ranch Ministries. It was one of the best presentations that I can remember at camp, using horses and dogs to display principles of Lordship and obedience. I highly recommend him for camps, revivals, and vacation Bible schools.

No. I went to bed about 1am or later each night and was up at 6:30am. Our staff meeting was at 7:30 each morning.

We swam twice, played all kinds of games and sports, and (most brutally) walked up and down that hill to the chapel a thousand times. We had campfires every night and a movie; also skits, game night, and an evening of bowling.

Recovery time
I slept about 12 hours Friday night and I'm still tired.

Best thought about church camp
From our missionary: The "spiritual high" of camp is not because of the camp itself, as if it were something that can only be had at camp. It's because every day you were worshiping, praying, reading your Bible, and fellowshipping with other Christians. That's something you could do every day but you don't. If you choose, you could take the best part of camp with you.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Devotion

This is our last daily devotion from camp, written by our youth intern, Josh.

Friday: Endurance
by Josh Tatem

“What you sow is what you reap…”
Do you ever get tired of doing the right thing? Do you sometimes just want to let loose and go with the crowd because it is easier than standing firm in what you believe? We all feel that way because sin is attractive and our human nature desires sin. As followers of Jesus Christ we must endure and fight the temptation and the desire to fall into a life of sinful “fun”. If you live in this sinful life then ask yourself: “How much pain and brokenness do I have in my life because of my sinful nature?”

Read: Galatians 6:7-8
What you do you sow into your life? Do you sow to please the sinful nature, the fast life of parties and sinful fun or do you sow to please the Spirit through worship, prayer, and devotion to your creator?

Read: Galatians 6:9-10
Do not grow weary in your life of righteousness. Yeah, it may look like you are missing out on a lot of fun, and for a time they might be having fun, but in the end it leads to brokenness. So do not grow weary in doing good and living in a life of purity. Help those who need it and think of others before yourself and you will reap eternal life.

Think: about those in your school that live to please their sinful nature of drugs alcohol and a good time on the weekends. Yeah they might seem to have the great life but in reality they are broken inside. They might just need someone like you to come along and show them genuine kindness and possibly friendship. That might be the act that changes their life from gratifying their sinful desires to seeking out Christ because of the way you act. So once again, endure and do not grow weary in doing the right thing.

Pray: for instances were you are put into situations to show endurance. Pray for you to live a life of purity and be able to show comfort to those who live a life of brokenness. Pray for you that when you are put into a situation that may challenge your walk in Christ that you endure through the temptation and that your perseverance through your temptation will inspire other believers to endure through temptation. Finally, pray that you will not grow weary in doing the right thing that you will have the strength to stand firm.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday Devotion

Thursday: Be Gentle Now
by Jared Altic

Dean Kaman is an inventor. He invented the self-balancing Segway scooter in 2001 and this year he’s invented something else just as amazing. It's a prosthetic arm that weighs the same as a human arm, has the same range of motion and some of the same sensitivities too. When the government asked him to build it, he wasn’t even sure it could be done but now amputees are testing this amazing computerized arm that can shake hands, bring a cup to your lips, or handle something as fragile as an egg.

Perhaps that’s the most amazing part: that this powerful machine can lift a heavy weight one moment but then delicately handle an egg without crushing it the next. The machine is able to exercise self-control and gentleness that is a rare trait in machines.

But sometimes gentleness is a rare trait in people too. Read Titus 3:3 and Romans 1:28-32. People are notoriously bad at handling each other. We cause pain and hurt one another on a regular basis

But when the Spirit comes into our lives, we should begin to produce different traits. We should become the type a person who can be trusted to treat people with love and respect. We should become less selfish and sinful and more Christ-like.

Read 2 Peter 1:5-9.

- How do these Spiritual traits affect how we treat others?
- What do you think it means to “minister” to a person?
- When have you treated others roughly in the past?
- Do hurting people trust you to treat them well?

Take some time to pray now.
- Pray that God would help you to treat people with love.
- Pray for opportunities to minister to others who need help.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday Devotion

Wednesday: Relationship Trouble
by Jarod Anderson

“Love is patient, Love is kind…”
How are your relationships? Yesterday, we talked about our relationship with God, and what He did to bring us to Him. Today, it’s all about our relationships with each other. So I’ll ask again: How are your relationships? with your parents? with your brothers and sisters? with your friends? with the kids at school or church that you wouldn’t classify as “friends”? If your relationships with the people around you aren’t always smooth and friendly, join the club. We all have people that we clash with; how can we make it better even if we’re not the ones at fault?

Read James 1:19
Are you a patient person or do you have a quick temper?

Read Luke 6:31, The Golden Rule
Now read verses 32-36. We’re called to be kind and merciful to people whether we like them or not; whether they are kind to us or not. The world says to stand up to people who treat us badly; Jesus tells us to love even when we’re hated.

Think about the relationships in your life that you wish were different. Do you love these people unconditionally? Are you patient and willing to forgive, even repeatedly if necessary? Are you kind in the way you act toward them, in the way you speak to them? When they are impatient and unkind with you, do you treat them the same way, or do you take the tact that Jesus describes?

Pray for God to help you with the relationships in your life. Ask him to help you to love people, even when they don’t feel the same about you. Ask him to provide patience for those who don’t deserve it. Ask Him to teach you how to show kindness. Pray for the person who you struggle with most. It’s tough to hate someone you pray for on a regular basis.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Devotion

Tuesday: Strings attached?
by Jared Altic

There is a Latin phrase, quid pro quo, which means roughly, “this for that” or perhaps, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” This is related to another Latin phrase, do ut des, which means, “I’ll give so that you’ll give.”

Roman people would say this to their false gods. “I’ll offer you a sacrifice, so you give me wealth.” Do ut des. “I’ll be loyal and say prayers to you; you give me safety in battle.” Do ut des.

But God doesn’t work that way. He gives us his love, contentment, and salvation without us paying him anything! He doesn’t choose us because we are worthy. In fact, we do not deserve his mercy at all.

Read Titus 3:4-6 and Ephesians 2:8-10.

- Why can’t people trade their goodness for God’s love?
- What does God prove by forgiving us anyway?

God’s love for you doesn’t care if you’re worthy. His joy for you isn’t diminished by your circumstances. His peace for you can’t be prevented by your hostility or your anxiety. God is unconditional.

- Why do people feel obligated to make a fair trade with God?
- How do you feel when God offers his love to you freely?
- What does this unconditional love, joy, and peace say about God’s character?

Take some time to pray now. Reflect on how God doesn’t require you to deserve his gifts.
- Pray for his love in your life.
- Pray for his joy that you may be content in every circumstance.
- Pray for peace with God.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Devotion

Monday: I’m okay, You’re okay
by Jarod Anderson

People are basically good, right? I mean, we all start out good and get corrupted by our parents, or our friends, or our culture, or maybe it’s the tv… This world tries to teach us that it’s not our fault we’re the way we are; it’s somebody else or some other influence that turns people into selfish, dishonest jerks. If we could only tap into that “natural goodness” that sits deep inside each person…

I have three kids under the age of six. Most of you who’ve been at camp before have seen them in action. From birth, they’re so cute and funny and…evil?? Don’t get me wrong, my kids aren’t some sort of devil children that need holy water sprinkled on them to “exorcise the demons,” they’re just kids. And kids, from a very early age, are inherently selfish. Some of my kids’ first words were, “no!” and “mine!” I didn’t have to teach them to steal toys from other kids. I didn’t have to teach them to hit other kids when their toys were taken. I didn’t teach them to scream at their mother or to deceive their siblings, and I definitely didn’t teach them to look at me defiantly and say, “NO!” They learned these things on their own, almost as if they were programmed that way.

Read Galatians 5:19-21. These verses talk about the “acts of the sinful nature.” Literally, Paul calls these evil things “the acts of the flesh.” It’s what comes naturally, what is ingrained in all of us from an early age. I’d like to say that I can read these verses and not see myself at all, but it’s not the case. All of us can see ourselves in at least one of these “acts.” Can you honestly say that you’ve never been jealous? or harbored bitterness toward someone? or had impure thoughts?

Now Read Romans 3:23-26. All of us have sinned. We’ve all come up short of what God wants us to be. But the good news is this: God made a way for us to be made right. In sending Jesus to die for us, he saved us, not only from the sins we’ve committed, but also from the sins we will commit. What we have to do now is make it our goal to become the people he wants us to be. Only by his help, by his sacrifice, can we do this.

Take Time to pray. Ask God to forgive you for the things you’ve done that you know were wrong. Be honest with Him; if you really want Him to help you change, ask for His help. You can be forgiven; you can change. It starts right now.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Going, Going…

I'll be gone to church camp for the next few days. So there won't be much blogging until Friday. That said, I'll post daily devotions from camp each morning. You'll be able to read the same devotions that we're reading on the same day, posted about 8:00 each morning. The campers will be having devotions at about 9am or a little later.

Have a good week and pray for our ministry (it's Jr. High week!).

Friday, June 13, 2008

Random Sports Thoughts 6/13/08

I've been watching the NBA Finals – go Celtics! – and I've noticed a few things:
  • The announcers are in love with Kobe Bryant. Win or lose, hit or miss, Kobe is fawned over with praise and adulations like I've never heard. Easy there guys. Remember that guy, Michael Jordan? He was pretty good too. I'm not an NBA fan, but I'm guessing that if this is purposeful and that it must be an effort to recreate the Jordan phenomenon and recapture the glory days of the NBA. I'm actually turned off by all the "greatest player on planet earth" talk.
  • I wonder if there's a more consistent, reliable way to referee something as fast as an NBA game? Because, to me, the calls sure look like a very subjective and random kind of thing.
  • I think it's awesome that the Celtics are up 3-1. I'll miss the rest of the series because I'll be at church camp. But it sure has been fun rooting for former Jayhawk, Paul Pierce.
  • If you're all about the spectacle of high-flying basketball, then the NBA is your game. The NBA has a much better payoff in the oohs and aahs department than college ball. The threes are longer, the passes are better, and the athletic prowess of every player on the court is vastly superior! That said, I think I still prefer college ball; it seems more tactical, more coaching-centric. I think I understand now why people like women's college basketball – but men's college ball is the perfect balance IMHO.

In other news:
  • The World Series of Poker tournament is this month, 55 events in all. The winners win the coveted WSOP bracelet (the Olympic gold medal of poker). In recent years it's seemed that a lot of amateurs have won but so far in the first twenty events of this year, several pros have won bracelets. David Singer, Erick Lindgren, Mike "the Mouth" Matusow, and Daniel Negreanu have won so far, with Andy Bloch, Ted Forrest, Mike Sexton, Patrik Antonius, Phil "the Unabomber" Laak, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Howard "the Professor" Lederer, Erik Seidel, Barry Greenstein, and many other noteworthy names making final tables. And that's in just the first 20 events!
  • NBA Draft: So far 24 underclassmen have hired agents and another 36 have declared early but not hired an agent (they have until Monday to withdraw their names). There's also 20 international players who are eligible. That's 80 underclassmen, not counting the hundreds of graduated seniors, vying for 60 spots in the draft. Someone is going to be disappointed.
  • The 2008 Olympics start August 8 in Beijing. Yawn…
  • I've been playing pick up basketball every Tuesday in Bonner Springs. Lately we've been playing a lot of "21" with tips. A tipped shot puts you back two points and if you're stuck on 20 you go back to 13. We foul blatantly and fight for every rebound. I've never enjoyed "21" so much as I have the last few months.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cell Phone Karma

I was sent this commercial a few months ago by a friend. I'd forgotten about it until today.

It tickles my funny bone on so many levels, not the least of which is having seen boorish behavior (not quite this bad) at funerals. I've seen a person discretely take a phone call while I'm still conducting the grave side service or interment. And I've seen all kinds of inappropriate attire and behavior at visitations, in churches and funeral homes, and at the cemetery. At least the guy in the video was dressed for the occasion.

The Grind

In ministry there are seasons of weariness. This is one of them.

I'm about halfway through a four-week spell with no days off. I normally work six days a week anyway but I just keep missing my day off with various obligations; it's just the way it happened to work out. The last day I had off was Memorial Day and, with VBS, Church Camp, and other needs, I won't get another free day until June 23. That will be about my fourth day off in two months.

I'm not meaning to complain too loudly – I set my own hours, I can work from home, and I have a lot of flexibility to arrange my work schedule around my family's needs. And I enjoy working. Being a minister is a diverse and interesting calling and I really miss it when I'm away from it for too long.

But I realize that I'm exceedingly tired today. And I was tired yesterday. My physical and emotional health is suffering a bit too. I just need to get through next week and the next two weekends and then Monday the 23rd I'll sleep for like 15 hours.

Nobody's ever happy with how much the preacher works. Many think he works too little. Some think he works too much. Both are probably convinced that its sinful or shameful or both. In the end, a preacher must answer to his Lord. It's not a job as much as it is a calling, not what he does but what he is.

[Update: I just checked my calendar and I see that I have a counseling appointment on the 23rd. Of course.]

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Random Thoughts 6/10/08

I have bunch of links from the past several days to share. Here's a bunch of good reading, among other thoughts:

  • Strategically plant trees to save on home energy costs. I have a great shade tree on the Southwest side of our house; I'm sure it saves us a bundle on those hot Summer afternoons.
  • Here's a great new (to me) term: bete noire - French for the "black beast" meaning someone who is particularly disliked. I heard Dick Morris call Hillary "the bete noire of blue collar American men." Asking men to vote for Hillary was too much like asking them to elect their mother-in-law president.
  • Obama. Looks great. Sounds great. Offers next to nothing of real substance. Have you seen the youtube video of him trying to articulate his foreign policy? I mean seriously! Do you hear what he's saying? And this goofball might win!!! Make sure you click "more info" to read what the video author wrote about this clip – it's good stuff.
  • "Last week Democrats tried to kill the economy in the name of solving a problem that doesn't exist." That the lead sentence in this article about congress' attempt to fix global warming when it's not proven that our efforts can affect temperature in either direction.
  • Was the war in Iraq worth it? Before you give a knee-jerk, uninformed response, read this.
  • All the buzz is about the new iPhone, but have you watched the guided tour to Apple's new MobileMe service? That's exactly how it should work – your phone, your computer, and your work computer all sharing contacts, calendars, and emails seamlessly. Apple is calling it "Exchange for the rest of us."
  • I got a call at work today asking if anyone in our church is selling English Bulldog pups. Uh… I don't think so… Better luck next time.
  • Don't know anything about Black Liberation Theology? Read here.
  • Best line this week: "Historically, performers, of any kind, singers, actors, actresses, storytellers (i.e. fiction writers) and the like, occupied the lowest rung in society. And for good reason - they didn't do anything constructive." - William Zeransk

Monday, June 09, 2008

On the Porch Swing

Better All the Time

Apple announced today that the newest version of the iPhone, improved in almost every way, will now sell for $199. Originally, the iPhone cost $500 and $600 (depending on the model). Early adopters, the folks that rush out to be the first to own some new technology, paid a lot of money to have an iPhone last year. Now you can get a better version for a fraction of the price. This is how technology works, everybody.

Eventually, I'll get an iPhone. In two years, when my current contract with Mephistopheles Verizon is up, the iPhone will have been out for three years. It will be an even better phone and at a more reasonable price. I can't wait.

New Poll

I've added a poll in the right hand margin asking why you read this blog. I fully expect the results to heavily favor the option of friends and relatives because that's surely 90% or more of my regular readers. But you never know.

Please note that you can vote for more than one option. Check all that apply.

God Bless.

Help Lower Gas Prices

I keep getting these same emails (which must be ten years old now) which suggest that we boycott gas stations on a certain day. "If we don't buy gas on [insert special day here] that'll show 'em."

Except that it won't help. [Thanks again Snopes]

The only thing that will bring down gas prices is the global reduction of demand (or dramatic increase in supply). But with hundreds of millions of new drivers in China and India, demand is going up, not down, and that raises the price worldwide.

But if you want to do your small part to lower gas prices:
  • Stop taking those 2000 mile vacations each and every year.
  • Carpool or take public transportation. Have you ever carpooled to church?
  • Drive a more fuel efficient car. Remember that less mass takes less energy to move, so consider taking the junk out of that trunk [interpret that however you will].
  • Vote for politicians who will lower punitive gas taxes and allow Americans to drill for and refine more oil.
  • Shop with a list to prevent return trips to the store.
  • Use Google maps and/or GPS equipment to find the shortest route to your destination.
In my mind there are two political points to remember:

1. Some people want higher gas prices because they think it'll force us to develop an ideal alternative fuel source. That would be nice, but by the time we find anything that's remotely close to the effectiveness of gasoline we could sabotage our country's economy. We're not that close and China and India have no intentions of making the same sacrifices.

2. It's better to conserve on your own than to have your freedoms taken away. Many folks want to manipulate your behavior through taxes and new laws. Gas is $11+/gallon in Britain because of 70% gas taxes; that's what I call punitive. With increased big government socialism in our government and the global warming crazies running rampant, we're at serious risk of being punished for our "sins" of using energy and doing our own thing.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

House Guest

We've been happy to have Josh the Intern as a house guest this week. Actually, we only had him Monday night, Tuesday night, and Saturday night but he's been a wonderful guest and it's been great to get to know him.

He'll be at camp the next two weeks but he'll stay with church families the rest of the summer.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Whipped Cream up my Nose

At Vacation Bible School the kids were raising money for missions by putting their dollars in competing buckets decorated with pictures of Jay-rod and me. The incentive was that whichever bucket received the most money, that minister got a pie in the face.

Well the children (and some of the adults) were ecstatic. We raised about $450 for missions or just about a dollar per child per day. Of course the whole thing was rigged so that we would both end up with a pie in the face, so we hammed it up.

We announced a tie but Jay-rod interrupted and added one last nickel to my bucket forcing me to the "gallows." The kids who wanted him (or both of us) to get a pie went nuts at this point. But I refused to sit down, so Jay-rod handed the pie to Shannon, who was also on stage, and forced me to sit by grabbing me from behind. When Shannon went to throw the pie, I ducked to the side and she hit Jay-rod full in the face. I jumped up and celebrated while Jay-rod recovered, grabbed the second pie, tapped me on the shoulder, and got me in the face. The children went insane with glee!

Actually a few of them were not impressed. Jay-rod's two year old daughter cried when her daddy got a pie in the face. And my four year old, Elijah, had a similar reaction; he didn't like it at all. But the others were thrilled.

Shannon tried to be careful about hitting Jay-rod, because of his glasses, but Jay-rod nailed me. I had whipped cream up my nose and in my ears and I had to shower to get it out of my hair. The kids were coming up to me and trying to swipe a finger through one of the dollops located all over my chest and shoulders. All I could think of was ice cream… but not as cold.

It was good - and I don't care for whipped cream.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

(re)Making a Buck

At VBS today some kid tore up a dollar bill and put it in the offering plate for missions. My mom, who is one of the VBS directors, brought the pile of green debris to me and said, "Here you like [puzzles]."

So I got the tape out and fixed it. That's one more dollar for missionaries to spend on needy children around the world. I brought the dollar out to the VBS ladies and said, "If you give me something silly to do, I might just do it."

I'm not completely sure the "scotch tape dollar" is still legal tender but for missions it was still worth the 15 minutes of my time.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Random Thoughts 6/4/08

  • The World Series of Poker started a few days ago and the first tournaments are finishing up. It's always interesting to see how the famous professional players stack up against plain old amateur players. There aren't very many games or sports where any normal person can walk up, pay the entry fee, and play in the same game as the best professionals in the world.
  • Only three weeks (and change) until Wall•E hits the theaters. If you're not sure about the movie, follow this link and watch the "vacuum vignette."
  • Have you seen Young Hillary Clinton? It's funny. [Thanks to again to Conservatism With Heart for the great find.]
  • I still can't find a decent protective case for my new cell phone. All that seems to be available are holsters (which I don't care for) and those weird silicon skins. But I need something to protect my phone from my own oily skin. My oily complexion has always been detrimental to watches, sunglasses, phones, etc. and I don't want to corrode this phone if I can avoid it.
  • Does Obama realize that we're winning in Iraq? He keeps talking like he's going to cut and run asap. Maybe he doesn't know how much things have improved in the last 18 months. This guy is so unrealistically naive it's not funny.
  • Did you see the news on the fuel storage tank in KCK that was hit by lightning last night? There was over a million gallons of gasoline in the tank when it got hit during the storm. It's still burning as of this afternoon. Here's a pic.

All VBS is a Stage

I had the opportunity to teach a Vacation Bible School class yesterday. Which means, full costume and acting out the lesson in character. For my part, I played an adult Mephibosheth (look it up) and told the life story of King David.

It seemed to go well but it's a real challenge to act out a monologue four times in two and half hours to kids ranging from four years old to eleven or twelve.

When I act these stories out, I always enjoy a bit of anachronism in my story. So my Mephibosheth had a modern wheelchair and would make occasional reference to things outside of the Bible setting. I know it's over the little guys' heads but it keeps me entertained and sometimes the adult class leaders catch my little in-jokes.

60,000 Hits

We passed 60,000 hits yesterday; thanks for reading!

I'm also posting daily on my church blog. It's largely reports and commentary on our church events and activities, but I'd still encourage you to check it out.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lord of the Ringtones

I've done it! I have figured out a work-around for my contacts and ringtones on my new cell phone (without paying through the nose to Verizon). Thanks to my handy-dandy laptop, I was able to push the data, in one form or another, to my phone via wireless connection. Then I could jump through a few hoops on the phone itself and, voilá, I have my contacts and ringtones.

Rich Mullins' Creed plays when I receive a call:

And I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am.
I did not make it, no it is making me;
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man.

I'm almost surprised that it was so easy in the end; Verizon goes to great lengths to make you pay for everything, every time. I just didn't want to pay for information and music that I already owned. I'm not looking to steal anything from the phone company but I don't want to be held over a barrel when I can do the work myself.

But Verizon's merciless gouging only encourages hacking. And most people, once they figure out how to go through the back door, will steal all kinds of copyrighted material and services.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Doing VBS

Our Vacation Bible School is this week and I'm teaching tomorrow. The way we do VBS, we set up our classrooms with stage props and decorations and our teachers teach in character and in full costume.

It's a bit of challenge, but I've enjoyed it and I think the kids like it a lot. I'll let you know tomorrow how it went.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Make it a Dozen

Today is our 12th wedding anniversary. That's 4,382 days, nine cars, four boys, four homes, three macs, three TVs, two ministries, two dogs, and a nine year old cat.

We went out Friday night (thanks, Coopers, for watching the kids). We had our usual steak dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse and we intended to go to a movie. But with gas like it is and our own poor timing, it just didn't work out. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed walking around the Legends and having the evening to ourselves.

I couldn't be happier; I love you, Shannon.