Friday, December 26, 2008

Off to the Sangre De Christo's

We are on our way to Colorado where I'm speaking at a Family Winter Camp at Horn Creek. We love going to Horn Creek in the summer, this will be a different experience for sure. One of the features of this camp is a ski package with Monarch Mountain close to Horn Creek.

I'm going to try snowboarding this year. Skiing is fun, but too much gear to lug around and coordinate especially with young kids in tow, hence the switch to snowboarding. I'll let you know how it goes. It could prove to be ugly and painful.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

The Apostle John wrote as the first words of his gospel account-

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

On this Christmas remember:

1. Christ is our life. In him is life. There is no true life, no eternal life, apart from Christ. People may have a heart beating in their chest, at least for a short 70 years or so, but if they are not united to Christ by faith, they are in fact dead. If you trust on Christ, give praise to God that He has given you life. You are no longer dead in your trespasses and sins! Christ doesn't give just any life, He gives abundant life. There is so much vanity and waste that passes for "living the life" today. I'm sure some of my unbelieving friends would say I'm missing out on living. In reality, however, look at the "life" of a spiritually dead person. Would you really trade with them? No way. Life in Christ is real living.

2. Christ is our light. Christ shines on everything and reveals what is true about it. When light comes to darkness previously hidden danger can be seen and the pathway is made clear. Christ came to redeem us and give us life but He didn't stop there- He came to guide and direct us with truth (Himself). Those who are alive together with Christ are not aimless, purposeless, wanderers. The Word of God is made effectual and profitable by the Holy Spirit sent by the Father and the Son. The Word of Christ can now dwell richly in us. This is Christ as the Light. When we have Life in Christ we gain a new perspective. We see the world in light of the Light.

Christ is our life and light, please don't forget it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Newsflash: Santa is a fake

Just in case you didn't know...and in case you were tempted to lie to your kids. :)

Pope Pius on John Calvin

In my research for a recent sermon that required addressing the issue of materialism, I ran across a rich quote from Pope Pius IV. Pius was Pope in the mid 1500's during the latter part of the so-called "counter reformation" that saw the culmination of the Council of Trent. He was no friend of the protestant reformation, but did make a very telling statement about John Calvin immediately after the great reformer died-

“The strength of that heretic [Calvin] consisted in this, that money never had the slightest charm for him. If I had such servants my dominion would extend from sea to sea.”

I wish this could be said of me (not the heretic part...).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nathan Clark George at Redeemer this Sunday

For those of you in the Kansas City area, you are invited to a special Christmas concert by singer/songwriter/guitarist Nathan Clark George this Sunday night.

Nathan and his band will be presenting a Christmas concert at 6pm in the Redeemer sanctuary. There is no cost for the concert, an offering will be taken instead.

Visit Nathan's site to sample his music. I assure you it will be a blessed night.

He was rich, yet for your sakes became poor!

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Christ was rich before coming to save us. Can you fathom that? He wasn't rich in the superficial way we describe “rich” as in having lots of money and stuff. Rather, before the incarnation, He enjoyed the richness of perfect fellowship and communion with the Father. There was nothing between He and His Father. There was not the limitation of a body to thwart perfect unity with the Father. For eternity past this is how it was. There could be no greater wealth than to enjoy perfect communion with the Father.

As imperfect as it is, human unity feels great. It feels good to be in one accord with each another. When our households are at peace because husband and wife have nothing between them feels so good. Unity in a local church promotes a great sense of peace and acceptance. To be worshiping our God in one accord with unity between us is a small taste of heaven on earth. The Psalmist captured this phenomena when penning these words- “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.” In an even greater way than this Christ was as rich as one could be. Paul captures this when He says “that though He was rich, for your sake he became poor.” And He certainly became poor. He subjected himself to a kind of broken fellowship with the Father for a time, took on the limitations of a body, and allowed Himself to be subject to His own creation to the point of death on the cross. There is no way to quantify the incarnation. It simply doesn’t make sense. At least not to my human way of thinking. God's Word clearly declares it and explains as much as I need to know concerning it, but I am still left in reverent awe when I consider the incarnation. The word “incarnation” includes the Greek word for flesh- karnos. It means that something previously without a fleshly body, takes on such a body. This is what Jesus did precisely.

The willingness of God to enact His plan of redemption and to fulfill it by the Second Person of the Trinity becoming man never ceases to blow me away. Yet, we read ever so clearly in the gospel of John- and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Eternal Christ, who for eternity past beheld face to face the glory of His Father, gave a great measure of that up (for a time) in order to dwell among us! Very bluntly, without this enigmatic, mysterious, even bewildering reality of the incarnation- there is no salvation. Packer states it well-

“The incarnation is in itself an unfathomable mystery, but it makes sense of everything else that the New Testament contains” -J.I. Packer

I hope we have become alarmed once again to the magnificence of God becoming man. It is so hard to imagine, yet it is so plain in Scripture. Perhaps to better grasp how amazing Christ’s condescension is, think of it in terms most of us can relate. When we go to the doctor’s office for a physical, it is because we want to be healthy people. The doctor conducts the physical and tells you upon its conclusion that several things in your lifestyle need to change in order to get healthy or stay healthy. Watch your cholesterol intake, watch your salt intake, get more exercise, lose weight, quit taking in so much caffeine, take this or that medication, the list goes on. We receive these instructions, yet we rarely make the changes for long. We want to be healthy, we want to do what it takes to live long and well, yet we seldom can make the seeming sacrifices to accomplish that goal. Now, if we are so reluctant to give up things in order to better our estate, how much more reluctant would we be to better someone else’s estate? Especially to better someone else’s estate who was rebellious or antagonistic toward us. If you told me I needed to change my lifestyle for my children, I might do it and have some success. If you told me I needed to change my lifestyle for someone who was an enemy, I would be very unmotivated to comply. Yet, Christ, for us rebellious and sinful people, gave up His eternal riches for a time, became man, and saved us.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just itching to spend

What would you do if you were running out of money? Buy more stuff you couldn't afford by borrowing (against your future) or would you stop spending and start working (producing) to get money?

Well, like a person who just received a new credit card with a huge (ridiculous) limit cannot wait to break it in, it seems President Elect Obama is just itching to start spending.

Obama looking at $850 billion jolt to the economy
By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Anxious to jolt the economy back to life, President-elect Barack Obama appears to be zeroing in on a stimulus package of about $850 billion, dwarfing last spring's tax rebates and rivaling drastic government actions to fight the Great Depression.
Obama has not settled on a grand total, but after consulting with outside economists of all political stripes, his advisers have begun telling Congress the stimulus should be bigger than the $600 billion initially envisioned, congressional officials said Wednesday.
Obama is promoting a recovery plan that would feature spending on roads and other infrastructure projects, energy-efficient government buildings, new and renovated schools and environmentally friendly technologies.
There would also be some form of tax relief, according to the Obama team, which is well aware of the political difficulty of pushing such a large package through Congress, even in a time of recession. Any tax cuts would be aimed at middle- and lower-income taxpayers, and aides have said there would be no tax increases for wealthy Americans.
While some economists consulted by Obama's team recommended spending of up to $1 trillion over two years, a more likely figure seems to be $850 billion. There is concern that a package that looks too large could worry financial markets, and the incoming economic team also wants to signal fiscal restraint.
In addition to spending on roads, bridges and similar construction projects, Obama is expected to seek additional funds for numerous programs that experience increased demand when joblessness rises, one Democratic official said.
Among those programs are food stamps and other nutrition programs, health insurance, unemployment insurance and job training programs.
Obama advisers, including Christina Romer and Lawrence Summers, have been contacting economists from across the political spectrum in search of advice as they assemble a spending plan that would meet Obama's goal of preserving or creating 2.5 million jobs over two years.
Among those whose opinions Obama sought were Lawrence B. Lindsey, a top economic adviser to President George W. Bush during his first term, and Harvard professor Martin Feldstein, an informal John McCain adviser and the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan.
Feldstein recommended a $400 billion investment in one year, Obama aides said, and Lindsey said the package should be in the range of $800 billion to $1 trillion. The aides revealed the discussions on condition of anonymity because no decisions had been reached.
"I do recommend $400 billion in year one and expect a similar amount in year two," Feldstein said in an e-mail message. "The right amount depends on how it is used."
Lindsey could not be reached.
Obama aides also pointed to recommendations by Mark Zandi, the lead economist at Moody's and an informal McCain adviser who has been proposing a $600 billion plan.
"I would err on the side of making it larger than making it smaller," Zandi said in an interview. "The size of the plan depends on the forecast — the economic outlook — and that is darkening by the day."
"Even a trillion is not inconceivable," he said.
Only one outside economist contacted by Obama aides, Harvard's Greg Mankiw, who served on President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, voiced skepticism about the need for an economic stimulus, transition officials said.
The advisers say they agree with economic forecasts that predict that without a government infusion unemployment will rise above 9 percent and not begin to come down until 2011.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday that Obama has indicated that Congress will get his recovery recommendations by the first of the year.
"He's going to get that to us very quickly and so we would hope within the first 10 days to two weeks that he's in office, that is after Jan. 20, that we could pass the stimulus plan," Reid said. "We want to do it very quickly."
In a letter to Peter Orszag, Obama's choice to be White House budget chief, Reid asked, among other things, that the stimulus package include tax relief for middle-class families, including a reduction in rates and an extension of the child tax credit.
Obama's aides have said they hope to work with Republicans in writing the bill, particularly in the Senate, where the GOP could slow action if it chooses. This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were preparing their own recovery bill in the range of $600 billion, blending immediate steps to counter the slumping economy with longer-term federal spending that encompasses Obama's plan.
A stimulus package that approaches $1 trillion could run into significant Republican opposition in Congress. It also could cause heartburn for moderate and conservative Democratic lawmakers, known as Blue Dogs, who oppose large budget deficits.
"Republicans want to work with the president-elect to help get our economy on the path to recovery, but we have grave reservations about taking $1 trillion from struggling taxpayers and spending it on government programs in the name of economic 'stimulus,'" House Republican leader John Boehner said in a statement.
In February, Congress passed an economic stimulus bill costing $168 billion and featuring $600 tax rebates for most individual taxpayers and tax breaks for businesses. Pelosi largely bowed to President Bush's insistence to keep the measure free of spending on federal projects.
The upcoming effort would dwarf that earlier measure as well as a $61 billion stimulus bill the House passed just before adjourning for the elections. That measure died after a Bush veto threat and GOP opposition in the Senate.

Wow. Just wow. George Bush was irresponsible and unconservative in how he spent money. Obama will make him look like a miser in his first two weeks in office. Don't be fooled by the term "stimulus"- this is a "bankrupting our country's future" package straight up. Jolt the economy in the very short term? Maybe. Causing the inevitable but needed market correction to be more brutal in the not so long term future? For sure.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Miser vs Heat Miser, MMA style

Before the days of CGI (1974, to be exact) there was this funky sort of claymation we witness in the greatest Christmas special of all time- "The Year without Santa Claus".

Since I was a kid I have never forgotten the archnemesis brothers- Snow Miser and Heat Miser. I'll admit preferring Snow Miser over his brother, probably because he's a more "gregarious, friendly, jocular sort, given to gales of laughter and bad puns."(Wikipedia) Heat Miser on the other hand is a "vaguely demonic ogre-like being...a blustery, quick-tempered hothead."

What I'd like to see is a Celebrity Death Match type scenario with the two brothers battling it out, maybe in an MMA match format. Don't you think that would be cool? It would give a whole new generation of kiddies a vivid image of the two brothers. What warm memories it would make! Who do you think would win and why? In addition to stating your opinion in the comment section, be sure to answer the poll on the right.

Personally, I think the Snow Miser's superior reach and more agile movement would ultimately lead him to a rear naked choke victory over his chubby little long as "Mr. 101" doesn't find a way to burn him- keep in mind, what the Heat Miser touches only starts to melt in his clutch, turning to magma is not immediate, hence the Snow Miser has an opportunity.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More common sense

No more bailouts. They still mock Schiff. Amazing.

Listen closely to the Senator's complete and scary ingnorance concerning what a free market actually is.

For Facebook users

I have enjoyed participating in Facebook, a self-described "social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them."

As with any such things, Christians should approach with biblical wisdom. In this light, Nathan alerted me to a very helpful post, check it out:

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Dog House

One of the funniest advertisements I have ever seen...and a touch scary.

HT: Scott

Lay off the chin beard (updated)

"There are some details of the body which are there for simply aesthetic reasons, and for no practical purpose - for instance, the nipples on a man's chest, and the beard on his face, the latter being clearly for a masculine ornament, not for protection. This is shown by the fact that women's faces are hairless, and since women are the weaker sex, it would surely be more appropriate for them to be given such a protection." - Augustine (City of God, book 22, chapter 24)
"How shall we then live?" asked Francis Schaeffer. Apparently with a sweet looking chin beard.
Last year at this time I decided to branch out stylistically and sport a "soul patch" through the Advent season. This year I decided to grow a little chin beard, again in the spirit of Advent.

It's remarkable how open members of my beloved congregation feel in giving me their opinions about such facial hair choices. It's a mite funny.

Here's the thing about facial hair- a full beard itches and makes me look fatter, a goatee looks a touch satanic and accents my double chin issues (something I admire about Rick Warren's comfort with self), a moustache is too 70's, and I did the soul patch last Advent. I like the chin beard for now. My wife isn't crazy about it, but she didn't protest hard enough for me to shave it.

"There are two kinds of people in this world that go around beardless — boys and women — and I am neither one." -Greek saying

I received a funny response from a woman in my church (I will not mention Susan's name so as not to embarrass her) on my Facebook posting of this blog post. It shows how closely my dear parishioners pay attention to my various stylings, but it also makes a great point about the importance of wearing a robe-

"I must confess to being a little distracted in Sunday school. The combination of your Italian heritage, the black suit and the new facial hair somehow brought with it images of the mafia and I was actually on the verge of giggling. However, the robe during the service helped immensely and I now appreciate the pastoral robes (which are totally new to me) more than ever. I also confess that this probably says more about my maturity level than it does about your choice to wear a "chin beard." Giggling is not very becoming in one over 35."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Amazing predictions

Schiff was right on- in a very big way on virtually every front. Staggering. The "experts" push Goldman, Merrill Lynch, and Washington Mutual. Wow. What's sadly amusing is the way he is laughed at.

Watch the whole thing!

HT: Jake

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Foster to Adopt

As many of you know, my wife and began pursuing adoption well over a year ago. At first we were working through a private agency to potentially adopt a baby who was referred through a crisis pregnancy center in town.

About 8 months after being approved, we did not have a baby and in fact had only been reviewed by two biological mothers in that time period. Both passed us in favor of people who had no children. We began meeting people who have been waiting far longer and still had no baby. It's remarkable that over one million babies are aborted each year in our country while literally thousands of couples wait to adopt infants.

Some time in early summer Shari and I really began to wrestle with our motivation for adopting and even our method (a subject for a future post). At the same time God lead us to talk with people who were currently foster parents, one family in particular who was working to adopt the child in there present care. We found ourselves becoming more open to the idea of becoming foster care providers, something which amazes me knowing how closed to such a notion I once was.

We decided to enroll in the "PS-MAPP" class which is required to become a licensed foster care provider. This meant taking ten 3-hour classes from late August through October. Frankly our schedules just didn't have that time to give, but the Lord provided for several schedule provisions and special grace within our family structure to allow for taking it. During those ten weeks Shari and I began to catch a vision for foster care as ministry. There is a HUGE need for foster parents. There are hundreds of kids who regularly become temporary wards of the state for various reasons and need care. In preparation for adoption we had moved two of our boys in to the same room and consequently have an open room just sitting empty. That's not good stewardship in our minds, why not give a child or two a place to stay while waiting to rejoin their family? Better yet, we can help the family get their child back by mentoring and encouragement. Even better than all that, we can share Christ with these families and have opportunity to mentor them from a Christian perspective if they ask. I think this is what God wants us to do.

We would still like to adopt a child. If one of the children we care for becomes adoptable, meaning there is no way they can go back to their biological home, we will seek the Lord's will about adopting that child. We are reasonably sure this will happen eventually, which is exciting, but if it doesn't, being a foster family is something we can surely do, by God's grace.

So today we began to finalize our licensing process, just a few more visits by the state to become official and ready to take our first "placement". We've had to do all sorts of adjustments to the house and are a bit overwhelmed by the huge manual and all the rules and requirements we must some how remember and follow, nevertheless, we're looking forward to this new adventure.

We have decided to license for children aged 0-5 to start as our youngest is 6 years old and feel more comfortable fostering children younger than our own. We would be most grateful for your prayers in this endeavor and will keep you posted to how things are going.

I hate being right on stuff like this

For full effect, listen to this music clip from Youtube while reading the article below and recalling what I said in a previous post.

U.S. Could Take Stakes in Big Three

Lawmakers negotiate legislation that would give the U.S. government a substantial ownership stake in the auto industry and a central role in its restructuring.

Greg Hitt, The Wall Street Journal/Monday, December 08, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Congress and the White House inched toward a financial rescue of the Big Three auto makers, negotiating legislation that would give the U.S. government a substantial ownership stake in the industry and a central role in its restructuring.

Under terms of the draft legislation, which continued to evolve Monday evening, the government would receive warrants for stock equivalent to at least 20% of the loans any company receives. The company also would have to agree to limits on executive compensation and dividend payments, much like those contained in the government's $700 billion rescue of the financial industry.

In the case of General Motors Corp., such a move could give the government a large stake in the company and may hurt existing shareholders. GM is seeking about $10 billion in short-term loans and has a market capitalization of about $3 billion. The legislation didn't specify what kind of stock the government would take, leaving open the option it could be preferred, common, voting or nonvoting.

Assuming congressional Democrats and the White House come to agreement on the plan, the car industry would be the latest to submit to strict government scrutiny in return for a bailout, joining most prominently the banking sector.

The auto industry would undergo a restructuring process akin to bankruptcy reorganization, only with fewer rigors and with the government, not a judge, in control, and with many associated political complications.

The program would be overseen by an official, tapped by President George W. Bush, whom congressional aides and lawmakers describe as an "auto czar." This person would act as a kind of trustee with authority to bring together labor, management, creditors and parts suppliers to negotiate a restructuring plan. He or she also would be able to review any transaction or contract valued at more than $25 million.

"We call this the barbershop," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. "Everybody's getting a haircut here, in terms of the conditions of the bill," she said, noting the likely impact on labor, bondholders, shareholders, car dealers, suppliers and executives. "The management itself has to take a big haircut on all of this."

Senior congressional Democrats and top Bush aides wrestled late Monday with final details of the package, which the White House would prefer were even tougher on the car makers. GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC have asked for a total of $34 billion to weather the downturn in the economy and steep slump in vehicle sales. GM and Chrysler say they need a cash infusion before the end of December to avoid shutting down.

Look out, a clone army might be next...

Friday, December 5, 2008

2008 Rifle Buck

Well, after a LONG bow season and facing only a few opportunities to hunt before the entire deer season closed, I laid down my bow and picked up my Remington .308 and headed out ready to shoot a mature whitetail buck.

I set up on the east side of a ravine that went North-South. There are several such ravines located on a wide open 500 acre tract of CRP field and cattle pasture. It's land that I hunt with my bow but usually end up frustrated seeing deer a long way off and unable to lure them to my various set ups. Not a problem with a scoped firearm.

The wind was light and from the southeast. I got to my spot an hour before sun up and sat in the 20 degree crisp December air again counting my blessings for being able to enjoy such solace and scenery. Daylight began to dawn, then the sun crested the horizon to the east behind me. I gazed across the ravine to the long grass beyond and saw two does travelling north to bed in a stand of timber a half mile away. I was now alert hoping a seeking buck might show up also. The rut is all but over, but it's possible to catch a buck out cruising hoping to get lucky one last time. The does were 150 yards away which should be a relatively easy shot for an experienced rifle hunter, which I am not. Since coming to Kansas I killed one buck with an open-sighted 30-30 in 2002 and have been bow hunting ever since. Before this year Kansas only allowed hunters to buy one buck tag designated for one season/weapon. I have been choosing "archery only" for the past 5 years. Well, this year the rule changed and you could buy one buck tag good for any season, meaning I could now take up my rifle during rifle season. This time, however, I had a scoped .308 I bought at a pawn shop for my father to use if he ever wanted to hunt. I have only shot 20 rounds through this gun, but had a good practice session a few days ago giving me the necessary confidence.

Sure enough, ten minutes after the does came a mature 8-point buck on their scent trail at the same 150 yards. I knew he was above average and mature (4yrs old or better), at this stage of the season I'm happy to let a deer of his caliber ride in my truck! He took a while to saunter in to a shooting lane. When he did, I put the cross hairs on him and dropped the hammer. He fell immediately. 2008 season over.

While I was not able to harvest a huge trophy buck with my bow this season, it was pretty fun gun hunting today. I can say for certain I still prefer all that goes in to bow hunting and will continue to pursue whitetails with a stick and string. Having said that, if December rolls around and I haven't tagged out with my archery tackle, I'm getting out the .308 and letting it bark again!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

You can kind of see how this is going...

There's a slow, but sure evolution occurring...
Our Congress voted to give over $700 Billion dollars of our money to bail out poorly, if not illegally, managed finance companies, which by the way, were under direct governmental oversight and review through the U.S. Treasury Department. The bailout was for the purpose of buying bad mortgages to assist the lending agencies and came with assurance to U.S. taxpayers there would be a return on their "investment" as those purchased properties regained value. Good thing the government has such a long standing record of wise investing. Dang.

Then it turns out that much of the $700 Billion is going to be used to buy stock in various banks and financial institutions. Boy, I feel better already- the U.S. Government will have part ownership in various banks. Oh great. Now things will get better for sure.

Here it is today, and I listened to outrageous snippets of the "Big Three" auto execs begging for Congress to bail them out also. Unbelievable! It's sick. It's wrong. It's got to stop, but it won't. The U.S. Government will give a big bailout package to the U.S. Automakers in return for some kind of ownership or stake in the industry. Just wonderful.

So the government, who essentially had all this happen on it's watch, will now be given unprecedented stakes in our financial institutions as well as the auto industry.

What's left?

This socialistic governmental transformation sort of reminds me of something....

"In order to ensure the security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the First Galactic Empire! For a safe, and secure, society." - Emperor Palpatine (Darth Sidious)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

AJ's First Deer Harvest

This morning was one of a life time. My oldest son AJ and I went out on his first deer hunt, being the opening day of Kansas rifle season. He harvested a beautiful little 8 point buck just 6 minutes after sun up.

We were hunting on a brushy hillside that faces a long barb wire fence. While bow hunting I have seen deer travel along that fence line to an opening. Before first light we set up high on the hillside looking down at the fence line, but soon after daylight (which is approximately 30 minutes before the sun actually rises) I could tell AJ would have a very tough time shooting a deer from a kneeling position because there was too much long grass in the way. I decided to do what I never like to do- move just as it's getting light. The chances of a deer seeing you move are too great in most cases, but I knew there was little chance AJ would be able to kill anything from that spot,not being able to stand and shoot (the gun is a bit too heavy for him to shoot standing). We picked up and moved about 70 yards east and a bit closer to the fence line opening. We quick sat in front of a juniper bush and no more than 10 minutes later I saw antlers coming from the west right along the fenceline. I said, "there's a buck coming AJ.". I pulled the hammer back on his youth model Rossi .243 and handed him the gun, then flipped the safety off for him. He quickly came to shooting position, which for him is a low kneeling squat. He saw the deer moving slowly along the fence line 80 yards away and said a bit too loudly, "I see him!" The deer heard him and came to attention but couldn't see us as were dug in pretty good with the bush and long grass around us. The deer calmed down and proceeded as he was going. AJ was incredibly patient as we waited for the deer to get on the other side of a large bush before readying for the shot. I told AJ to be ready when the deer got on the other side of the bush. He followed directions well and positioned his firearm and was going to look through the scope when the deer seemed to come to alert again. We both froze. The deer calmed again and moved forward as AJ moved the gun up so his eye lined with the scope. The deer stopped at approximately 45 yards and just as I was going to tell AJ to take him- BOOM- AJ fired the gun, the deer mule kicked and ran straight through the fence opening obviously hit hard. We watched him run in to the woods until we lost sight of his white tail. I was pretty sure it was a lethal hit, but my rule is to wait 30 minutes before picking up the blood trail.

The next 30 minutes were awesome. We high-fived, AJ was just ecstatic, and so was I! It's hard to describe how it feels to see your son accomplish something like this. It really is quite a feat for a 9-year old to harvest a deer. I texted a few friends to tell them while we waited the 30 minutes, then we took up the blood trail. We followed the trail and found the deer about 100 yards from where he was shot.

Of all the great moments I have enjoyed hunting and harvesting deer, this experience with AJ surpasses them all.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lego's rule

I want to thank the inventor of "Lego's" as well as the company that produces them.

From Wikipedia:

Lego, officially trademarked LEGO, is a line of construction toys manufactured by the Lego Group, a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company's flagship product, "Lego", consists of colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, minifigures and various other parts. Lego bricks can be assembled and connected in many ways, to construct such objects as vehicles, buildings and even working robots. Anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects. Kits are sold which contain all necessary pieces for a particular project. Some hobbyists try to collect, buy, and sell various other pieces in different shapes and colors, to construct other hobbyist-created designs. The toys were originally designed in the 1940s in Europe and have achieved an international appeal, with an extensive subculture that supports Lego movies, games, competitions, and four Lego-themed amusement parks.

Lego's have provided hours of enjoyment for my boys and I. Just tonight I came home for 90 minutes to see the boys before having to go back to church for a meeting. We played Lego's for 85 minutes straight. It's something Jordan can do at age 6 and AJ still loves them at age 9, and I think they are awesome at age 37. What else is like this? All the while we are creating various things, we are talking about stuff. I can ask them about school, their friends, their relationship with God. Conversation flows when you are constructing Lego masterpieces.

I really believe we will all look back at our Lego sessions with great fondness. Lego's rule.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Encourage one another

I shared this occurrence and reflection in a recent church newsletter and wanted to share it here also-

From what Scripture indicates, Barnabas was a great help to Paul. Barnabas literally means "son of encouragement". What an awesome namesake.

I am so grateful for the encouraging words of a Redeemer brother in Christ who made a special effort to share some positive observations about one of my sons a few Sundays ago as I was on my way to the worship service. Particularly, he noted how my son was showing maturity being respectful toward him and kind to his children. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated his willingness to share this short, but very personal and meaningful observation with me.

We all need encouragement during our spiritual journey. As a father, I especially need encouragement because I feel pretty incapable much of the time. I’ve read “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” several times, I have a very gifted wife who exercises great wisdom with our children regularly, still, for my part I wonder if the time and effort I spend discipling our boys is “working”. Do you ever feel this way? It could be about parenting or it could be some other aspect of our walk with God and call to assist in the spiritual maturity of others. We wonder if our efforts are having an eternal effect. No matter what the specifics are regarding our walk with God and interaction with others, we all need encouragement along the way. Mutual encouragement is a precious feature of a loving church community. I really felt this that Sunday morning. We have so many opportunities to build one another up by what we say. I am sure the brother who spoke to me had no idea how profoundly God used his words to encourage me. What a simple thing to do for each other- to offer genuine encouragement- yet most of us do it so little.

Can we be even more encouraging of one another? A little genuine encouragement (it has to be genuine!) goes a very long way. I want everyone to feel as uplifted as I did after my brother in Christ shared with me. I know there are many of you with the “gift” of encouragement, for you it comes more easily, so please use your gift in our midst. But let us make no mistake, we are all called to encourage one another, we see this in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Life is full of challenges and quite a few failures. When spiritual growth and maturity manifests itself, encouraging someone gives glory to God. When my brother complimented my son’s maturity there was a brief sense of personal pride, but very honestly, it vanished quickly because I know how deficient I am as a person and a father. If my son is exhibiting spiritual maturity, it is because of the grace of God, not because of me. Frankly, the fact that God’s grace is the mover in my son’s maturity is the ultimate encouragement, so a more objective “outside” party giving testimony to the work of the Spirit in his life is supremely encouraging and moves me to praise God.

So there it is- When we encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ for spiritual progress, it moves us to praise God- the One who is responsible for any spiritual growth!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Nathan Clark George Release

My friend and brother in Christ, Nathan Clark George, has released a new album- "Pull up a Chair: A Live Musical Conversation with Nathan Clark George".

The album was recorded in conjunction with a neat film documentary showing his life on the road as a folk singer. I just ordered the DVD and the CD an hour ago and recommend you do also! Here's the link:

I will do a review of the CD in a couple weeks. I have listened to most of it on his site. It includes live versions of some of his best songs as well as a remake of "What if I were in the Garden". It also includes 3-4 never released songs. The DVD has concert clips as well as lots of great family footage. I know Nathan and his family, I don't have to see it to recommend it. I will give my analysis of this latest NCG offering after listening to it thoroughly.

Nathan and band will be at Redeemer December 21 for a Christmas Concert at 6pm. Don't miss.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

My family will celebrate Thanksgiving twice, once here with my parents and a family from our church, then on Friday in Elbing, Kansas with Shari's parents and brothers. The latter gathering will be a traditional Thanksgiving meal with the Turkey, gravy, corn, etc. etc. The former will be a traditional Sicilian Thanksgiving. You can see the main course above (albeit, made by my Irish mother).

Special Sicilian rant: "Lasagna" that has "vegetable" in it's description is not Lasagna. Furthermore, "Lasagna" with cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese is an abomination. Also, I love Mexican culture, but any "Lasagna" that has Mexican in it's name is a burrito, chimichanga, Gordita, or something Taco Bellish, but it's NOT Lasagna. Lastly, cream, chicken, or the like belong in soup, not genuine Lasagna.

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Text: Henry Alford, 1810-1871

Music: George J. Elvey, 1816-1893


Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home; all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin. God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied; come to God's own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God's own field, fruit as praise to God we yield; wheat and tares together sown are to joy or sorrow grown; first the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear; Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take the harvest home; from the field shall in that day all offenses purge away, giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast; but the fruitful ears to store in the garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring thy final harvest home; gather thou thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin, there, forever purified, in thy presence to abide; come, with all thine angels, come, raise the glorious harvest home.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reep Confesses

In the interest of being truthful, I have to rescind my post from Sunday about the Vatican forgiving John Lennon for his blasphemous statements in 1966.

Very simply- the Vatican, meaning the Pope, didn't forgive John Lennon of anything, in so far as I can tell.

I was under the impression that L'Osservatore Romano was the official newspaper of the Vatican. It is not. It is semi-official. I'm not entirely sure what "semi official" means, but it's enough to say the paper has a degree of independence that allows it to editorialize without direct consent from the Pope or his administration. I was also under the impression L'Osservatore Romano made some kind of statement of Lennon being forgiven by the R.C. Church, I do not believe it did so. I have been unable to locate the full article printed by L'Osservatore Romano, but from what I can tell, it nowhere grants forgiveness to Lennon as widely reported by various news agencies, but rather dismisses and downplays his blasphemous comments by noting his youth and sudden blast of worldwide popularity. A strange article with unsusual laud for a pagan band, but not a statement of forgiveness. I was wrong to have reported it as such.

I am very sorry to those Roman Catholics who were offended by my rush to judge the Vatican's alleged exoneration of John Lennon and will do better to be more accurate before posting something like this again. Please forgive me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

MLS Cup Champions: Columbus Crew

Soccer is the world's game and Major League Soccer in the United States is getting better every year. Today Columbus, the best team in the regular season, justly won the league championship defeating the New York Red Bull 3-1.

Columbus deserves the cup as they have been MLS's most consistent team all season. Led by league MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who assisted all three Columbus goals today, the Crew claims it's first MLS title.

Congrats to the Crew.

It's all good

I have rescinded some of my comments concerning this post due to my error in the facts. I will keep the post online as there is a valuable theological point brought up and discussed.

Vatican forgives John Lennon for Jesus quip
Sat Nov 22, 2008 6:17pm EST(Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican's newspaper has finally forgiven John Lennon for declaring that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, calling the remark a "boast" by a young man grappling with sudden fame.

The comment by Lennon to a London newspaper in 1966 infuriated Christians, particularly in the United States, some of whom burned Beatles' albums in huge pyres. But time apparently heals all wounds.

"The remark by John Lennon, which triggered deep indignation mainly in the United States, after many years sounds only like a 'boast' by a young working-class Englishman faced with unexpected success, after growing up in the legend of Elvis and rock and roll," Vatican daily Osservatore Romano said.

The article, marking the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' "The White Album," went on to praise the pop band. "The fact remains that 38 years after breaking up, the songs of the Lennon-McCartney brand have shown an extraordinary resistance to the passage of time, becoming a source of inspiration for more than one generation of pop musicians," it said. Lennon was murdered in New York in 1980.

It's strangely unbiblical to forgive a person who was not repentant and thus not seeking forgiveness, but it's especially unusual since the man was steadfastly anti-Christian when he was alive. Now, 28 years after Lennon died, the Vatican felt it important to forgive the dead, unrepentant, "source of inspiration form more than one generation of pop musicians"? How lame and discrediting of Rome.

Who else will the Vatican forgive for spewing hatred against our Lord ? Lennon's comments in 1966 were relatively benign compared to those of recent pop musicians like Madonna. Will she get a pardon 30 years after her death also? What does this accomplish? Was Lennon in purgatory and thus released to heaven now that he has been forgiven for his statement. His full quote from 1966 is- "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first - rock and roll or Christianity." How nice of the Vatican to forgive him. The great, newly forgiven philosopher Lennon also said- "I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong."

Hey, it's all good now, right?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Superior animal

This is some incredible footage on a couple levels. First, it shows the superiority of deer over canines. Second, this deer is unfazed by the human camera man in his advance upon the dogs. However if the man isn't there, I'm guessing this feisty 3-year old buck (who, based on his busted up left main beam, enjoyed a good scrap) would have gored the two yippy dogs. Now that would be an awesome video!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nathan scores on bruiser!

Big congrats to Nathan for scoring on this awesome buck yesterday morning. This buck is a mainframe 8 pointer with a 2-inch "kicker" point of it's right G-2. It gross scores in the upper 130's and will probably net around 135 (after the mandatory 60 day drying period) thus making the Pope and Young record book. He's a mature 4-year old buck.

Nathan set up in a thick entrance to bedding cover where several trails converge. Yesterday morning there was lots of activity with young bucks cruising around looking for receptive does. Apparently this guy was en route to confronting some younger bucks when Nathan let the air out of him. The main beams on this bruiser are 23 inches. Great Job Nathan!

As for me, I plod on. I hunted all day yesterday and today. That makes 7 full days of hunting and no buck. I've seen probably 100 deer and have had 20 in range. I've passed on 2 borderline shooters (one of which I'm kicking myself over), and missed a fully mature deer at 16 yards. I have only seen one other deer that I would have liked to shoot. Having said that, it's been an exhilarating 7 days in the woods in the midst of God's creation. One day of vacation left and I can only hunt in the morning. It'll be mornings before work after this, hopefully the right deer will walk in front of me at some point...and I won't get buck fever and miss again!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

An old song in new form

I have to say that Todd Agnew's re-working of Amazing Grace has been a blessing to me personally. It's not for congregational singing, but his arrangement brings out the essence of Newton's great hymn and I have listened to it dozens of times during my personal times of worship in recent weeks.

Who said I'm not "contemporary"?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Did you get a deer?

"Did you get a deer?" is a well meant question but quite frankly it annoys me. It comes from well-intentioned people who know I spend quite a bit of my free time, especially in November, bow hunting deer. This past Monday through Friday I spent 48 of the 55 daylight hours sitting in a tree stand or ground blind waiting for the right buck to cross my path. After all that time, I didn't shoot a deer. I had over 25 deer come in to range at one point or another. During the course of the week I actually drew back on two borderline "shooters" (a term we hunters use to describe a deer that meets our minimum standard for shooting), but opted to let down and let them walk. One of them I spotted bedded in tall switch grass and managed to stalk up to 15 yards away before deciding I wouldn't try to take him. After he spooked and ran off I saw he was a bit bigger than I had estimated through the grass so I'm kind of second guessing my decision now, but it's a choice you have to make in a one-buck per hunter state like Kansas. I also saw an absolute monster from a distance but couldn't get him to break from his doe to come in for a shot (remember, you need to have a deer within 20-30 yards, without obstruction, to take a shot). I also had a fully mature, giant 8-point come right to my calling in a thick woodlot only to shoot under him at 16 yards yesterday morning! Did I get any deer? No, but man it was a tremendous week. Someone asking "Did you get a deer?" (even the phrase "get a deer" irritates me) sort of implies that not shooting a deer means the week was unsuccessful. My favorite is when gun "hunters" ask me the question, then after I say "no", they go on to tell me all the deer they've sniped, I mean shot. Hey, I love shooting guns and have taken deer with them, but seriously, there's no comparison regarding the kind of skill and preparation it takes to get archery close to an animal and shooting one from 50, 100, even 400 yards. I think gun hunting is certainly legitimate and a worthy past time, but please, it doesn't stack up against bow hunting. Hours of tuning and shooting your bow, tweaking this and tweaking that, learning to discern yardages quickly (even with a range finder), scouting in the off season to determine food sources, travel patterns, knowing when it all changes because of the stage of the mating season (the rut), setting up multiple treestands in the heat of summer, picking ticks out of your skin, poison ivy outbreaks, buying gas, camo, and hand wamers, getting up at 4am to be on stand before light day after day etc. etc. is not paralleled by shooting a 30-06 the weekend before rifle season opens, then sitting on a bluff with an orange jacket opening morning and plugging a deer that got spooked by some other hunter with a scoped high power rifle from a heated box blind from two football fields away.

"Did you get a deer?" I hate that question before January 15 when the season ends and it still bugs me a bit after.

I don't hunt to kill stuff. I hunt because I love the outdoors, the solitude (with the exception of the occasional text message on stand), the escape from noise, and the chance at a crack at a beautiful animal and worthy quarry. I can confidently say the 2008 season will have been a success if I don't kill a thing based on the experiences I have already had. I was hunting on the ground Tuesday night and had a deer literally walk to within 7 yards of me and stare at me. He was a 2.5 year old 7-point buck. I am sure he had never been that close to a human ever. I didn't want to startle him and have him blow and make noise alerting his buddies (especially his grand daddy) there was trouble over his way, so I calmly said- "please don't make a fuss, I don't want to spook off the other deer because I'd really like to shoot a big one". He just cocked his head and sauntered off without appearing overly spooked or alarmed. He made no noise whatsoever. My wife found this interchange concerning, I thought it was pretty cool. Now, if God had given the deer speech like Balaam's donkey to say something like- "Dude, you are a nut, you are speaking to a deer", I would have fainted and fallen backward in to the draw I was hunting, probably tearing my rotator cuff or some other such injury. Anyways, I hunt for such experiences, not simply to kill things. Last season I only shot one deer, the buck I took in December. In years prior I have successfully harvested a few does keeping one for meat and donating the others to food kitchens. I also try to take a good buck, one that is at least 3.5 years old, but more preferably 4 years old or older (very rare). This means passing on dozens of young bucks in a given season. One year I didn't harvest a buck at all, but every year I love my time in the field.

"Did you get a deer?"- please don't ask me that. It's the wrong question.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Jordan!

Dear Jordan,

That's a cool Darth Vader cake your mother made for you!

On the occasion of your 6th birthday, I apply the words of Paul in Romans 15 (verse 13) to you as a blessing my son- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mountain Oysters

I'm staying with some good friends while hunting. They are primarily ranchers raising cattle, they just got in 103 new calves yesterday, so that means one thing (or two things, as it were)- mountain oysters. I got to partake tonight. Yummy.
Mountain oysters prove my theory- you can fry just about anything and it will taste good. A bit spongy, but otherwise mountain oysters taste like chicken. Wait a minute...what's that? Yep, a new patch of hair just sprouted on my back! These things are powerful!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Funny how it goes

Day one of the hunt was pretty wet and windy. I toughed it out, but ended the day drenched.

I had some deer around me during my morning hunt, but nothing big enough to shoot. The bucks are with does so you have to find the does or wait for the bucks to break free to find another lady friend. I left my morning stand at 1pm to head to my evening stand a couple miles away. My truck was parked in the middle of a pasture a good mile from my stand. I got to my truck and started to load my stuff in the back when just 100 yards to my south there was a good buck and a doe bedded. He wasn't as big as the buck in the picture above or I would have tried to stalk him. It's funny how you can take all sorts of measures to set up on deer and then have two lay down close to your parked vehicle.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gone Hunting

I have just about 2 weeks vacation time left, there is no question how I will spend the next ten days, minus Sunday. I will be in a tree stand or ground blind somewhere for all daylight hours. I might move at midday, but only to relocate to a different stand. Bottled water and granola bars will be my sustenance. I will become one with the habitat as I sit and or stand in wait. For a guy who talks too much and can't sit still, it's amazing how much I enjoy the opposite while hunting the whitetail "rut".

I have written various posts on the joy of bow hunting (here, here, here, & here) so I'll say no more for now. Instead, as I come in each evening I will blog about something- since I will have plenty of time to think. Hopefully, Lord willing, I'll be able to lay the smack down on a mature buck before the 10 days are up.
I'll be in touch.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Credit for trying

You have to appreciate the attitude of a python. This one tries to swallow a whole kangaroo! Cool.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The election of Barack Obama is certainly historic since he is 1/2 African American. While I didn't vote for Obama and disagree with most of his positions, I am heartened that our country has seemingly moved past the color of a person's skin as some kind of litmus test for voting.

At the same time, I think it is interesting to note the map of the U.S. in 1857 showing slave (red) states and free (green) states. Then compare it to yesterday's election map.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The 44th President of the United States

"And he changeth the times and the seasons; He removeth
kings, and setteth up kings; he giveth wisdom unto the wise,
and knowledge to them that know understanding. He revealeth
the deep and secret things; he knoweth what is in the darkness,
and the light dwelleth with him." ( Dn 2: 20-22 )
"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the
Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto
governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the
punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do
well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may
put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. As free, and not
using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the
servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood.
Fear God. Honour the king." ( I Pt 2: 13-17 )

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The best and the worst?

I just got back from 4.5 days in Mexico. I kept up with the news each night before bed, unfortunately CNN is the only English-speaking news station I could get.
Watching the Obama infomercial on Wednesday was surreal. I kept wondering what Neil Postman would say if he were still alive. Just a few days before election day, I think we may be witnessing the best and worst campaigns in the post-TV era.

On one hand, there is the masterful campaign of Barack Obama. He has handled every aspect of his long run for president with discipline and skill. He has fund raised like no one has ever seen before. He has exploited his massive media advantage to the absolute fullest. He has various grassroots service groups working as his minions (Many pro-Obama internet efforts as well as the "Rock the Vote" city to city tour and others like it- which are basically campaigns to register first time voters to vote for Obama). When the various attacks have come from the other side (Ayers, "lipstick on a pig", his various non-supportive statements about the war and our troops, Jeremiah Wright, his mysterious birth certificate, Joe the Plumber, "share the wealth", etc.) he fends them off and even turns some of them around to his advantage (apparently lots of people like his Marxist economic theory). He even muddies the water with some "Christian" voters when he was asked what book influenced him most and he responded "The Bible". Now I think that's hogwash because of his numerous misquotes and clear ignorance about the content of Scripture, but compared to McCain's answer- "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (oh come on!), he clearly had a better answer. There are many Christians who are going to ignore Obama's radical pro-abortion promotion because of his carefully worded seeming promotion of his brand of Christianity/spirituality. He also out-Christianed McCain when asked what he would like written on his tombstone. He said: That "he was a good man, and an honest man." And that "he was a good father and a good husband." And that "he tried to give something of himself to make the world better" McCain's answer? "He served honorably...and he put his country first." Sorry John, "country first" is too nebulous any more- it dates you. Obama scores big points in such comparative interviews. Obama's 2008 campaign for president may well be the most well organized, best strategized and executed campaigns the post-TV era has ever seen...if he wins on Tuesday.

On the other hand, there is the dull and depressing campaign of John McCain. I will vote for John McCain on Tuesday based on some core principles, not because of his campaign. Very frankly, every time I see side by side interviews with McCain and Obama I am amazed Obama isn't ahead by 25 points in the polls. McCain has been totally knocked off message since the week after the Republican Convention which is partly a credit to Obama, but his own lack of discipline and unclear communication about how he would be different and better than George Bush has been burying him. Some have blamed the choice of Palin as the reason for McCain's slide over the past 30 days. I say that's a total joke. Palin gave McCain the lead over Obama for the week after the convention. Her tangible energy solutions were starting to gain traction and expose Obama's real dirth of a plan for this very important issue. McCain's decline has come because he has not been able to clearly articulate how he is different and better than George Bush especially since the so-called financial crisis hit. His choice to go after various weaknesses of Obama (mentioned above) has seemed to be his main message, not a vision for the future with him as president. Like Obama, he should have been stumping his particular vision of governance with his right hand and jabbing Obama's weaknesses with his left hand. Instead, he looks like he's got nothing in the leadership column so he's going to convince us all we shouldn't vote for Obama because of his socialistic, terrorist friendly ways. Sure, that's enough for his shoe-in voters, but for a great many others, it doesn't work. Then, the mother of all mistakes- McCain votes for the bailout. He says he's different and better than George Bush economically then votes for the bailout? That may well have sealed his fate. The bailout doesn't hurt Obama, he's a spend-happy democrat who salivates whenever the government can gain an interest in the private sector. The bailout was McCain's chance. He blew it in a monumental way. The last 30 days of McCain's 2008 campaign for president may well be the most poorly focused, mismanaged, and uninspiring campaign in the post-TV era.

Yes I still think John McCain would be a better president than Barack Obama. Admittedly I base this on Obama's clear message concerning who he is, what he values, and how he proposes to govern and not because McCain has offered a radically superior alternative. Unfortunately I can't see how McCain can overcome Obama's mastery of these past months and his own botching of the last 30 campaign days.
Why do I keep using "post-TV" era as a description of these campaigns? Because I seriously doubt that either of these candidates would have been chosen as representatives of their respective parties before the "Age of Entertainment". See Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" for more...

Monday, October 27, 2008

To the Land of Blanco

Catch you Saturday....I'm off to Mexico (the land of Blanco) with my bride for some R&R.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Metallica Concert Review

Saturday night I attended the Metallica concert at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. It was a phenomenal show headlining the greatest heavy metal band the world has seen so far.

Now, before I go on, I apologize to those who are disappointed with my appreciation for the music genre known as "heavy metal" (there are many sub genres, Metallica is often referred to as "thrash metal", but this is a sub genre of "heavy metal"). I recognize it is not everyone's cup of tea. Sorry. What can I say? I enjoy headbanging without apology. I think opera is awful and hideously painful to listen to, but I acknowledge the right of people to listen to it, etc.

I have been a heavy metal fan since my early teens, I believe Metallica is the most talented metal band of all time. They recently released a new album which hearkens back to the sound and style of their earlier years. They have sold something like 90 million albums in their career and are teh 7th highest grossing live musical act of all time. These are amazing stats for a metal band, we're not talking Celine Dione here! The concert last night featured something like 15 songs plus an encore, 5 or 6 songs were from their new album.

There is much I could write about why I enjoy heavy metal, but it is simple enough to say I appreciate the tremendous talent it takes to rock well. I took drum lessons for a couple years and even played for a while. Keeping rhythm for a quality metal band takes tremendous talent. Lars Ulrich, Metallica's beat-keeper, is one of the best who has ever lived. He was in rare form Saturday night as his band played for two hours straight. These guys seem ageless even after touring hard for over 25 years (I'm sure their collective decision to stop drinking and partying after shows has helped).

It's not my intention on this particular post to expound the value of considering the musical work of unbelievers like Metallica. I by no means endorse all their work or their underlying worldview. Listening to Metallica is akin to listening to any unbelieving musician. It must be done with discernment and care. Music, art, literature- same thing. Even when the writers of the songs and composers of the music lack godly wisdom, you can catch a glimpse of the talent God grants human beings. It is most glorifying to God when musicians/artists realize the source of their abilities and give Him glory, but even when they don't, there is something praiseworthy about the arrangement of notes and the skill used to play them. They even stumble upon truth in some of their lyrical observations. Obviously it is important to separate the wheat from the chaff and to maintain a discerning ear. Well, I said I wouldn't expound, so I won't further. At any rate, it was a rockin' concert by one of the true pioneers of heavy metal.

Rock on.

2008 Westminster Eagles

Our church has been laboring, by God's grace, to establish a parochial Christian school for over 12 years. God has blessed our efforts in humbling ways. Our vision is to expand Westminster through High School, we have just added ninth grade this year.

I coach our school soccer team, Brian is my esteemed assistant coach. The team is made up of a stellar group of boys who are on their way to becoming men. The ninth graders are already young men and I am excited by how God is maturing them. Our first High School class maybe small in numbers, but not in character. I can't imagine a better group of students to make up Westminster's first graduating class (the Class of 2012), they are true pioneers and fine representatives.

Since our numbers are still relatively small in the upper grades, we have to field a team of 6-9th graders. We play in two leagues, one is a junior high school league (7-8th grade students), the other is a junior varsity league (made up of teams with a wide range of high school aged students). We practice and function as one team, but the 9th graders can only play in the JV games and 6th graders don't play much in the JV games. In either case, our team is usually a bit younger than whoever we're playing. Still, after 13 regular season games, we are 6-5-2. This is a tremendous accomplishment. I am very proud of their hard work and healthy competitiveness. I am more pleased with the way they maintain a Christlike attitude on the field. I am convinced that team sports provide a tremendous laboratory for discipleship, this is why I spend so much time coaching this soccer team.

We still have junior high playoffs and a JV tournament the first week of November, but no matter how we place, this has been a great year for the WCA Eagles.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's not all gloom and doom

Despite being sick of the oppressive onslaught of political debate and focus, I am looking forward to several key events in the next days and weeks:

1. Metallica concert with my buddy Jon Lindstrom on Saturday night. Very cool.

2. 15th Wedding Anniversary trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my bride next week.

3. Dr. Calhoun's visit to Redeemer next weekend (he was my Church History prof at Covenant)

4. The ordination and installation of Redeemer's new deacons and elders on November 9.

5. Westminster Eagles soccer playoffs (the team I coach) the first week of November.

6. The Buffalo Bills continuing to win.

7. The Kansas City Wizards playoff run.

8. The Buffalo Sabres continuing to win.

9. Two weeks of hunting vacation in the greatest and best month in the world- November.

10. Advent

What is most important to Americans? We'll see...

Almost two years ago, when many were predicting the Clinton machine triumphing over the upstart Barack Obama to capture the Democratic presidential nomination, I was pretty convinced the rookie senator from Illinois might well pull it off. A year later, before wrapping up his party's nomination, I said it again. These predictions were before the Republican's chose John McCain as their nominee. For a brief while McCain made things interesting, mostly due to the choice of Sarah Palin for Vice President nominee, not because of anything specifically profound about him and his record. For me, John McCain is a better choice than Obama, but that's not saying much. Let's face it, Obama's supporters are far more passionate than McCain's supporters. Many, if not most of Obama's supporters are under the mistaken impression that he will do all sorts of good as president. Many of McCain's supporters see the multiple concerning flaws in Obama, so would much rather McCain be president, it's not that McCain is such a tremendous choice.

Passionate, well-funded, media-promoted, and supremely organized support is hard to beat with a dull, ill-managed, relatively underfunded, and poorly communicated campaign.

If McCain wins, it will be one of the most amazing victories in the post-TV era we have ever seen. There is virtually nothing going for McCain at this moment except some breaches to Obama's experience and character which are not likely to impact any committed Obama voter.

All that analysis aside, the main issue that confronts McCain and bodes well for Obama is the state of the economy, because like I have said, Americans vote based on their wallets. Just a month ago, against the backdrop of gasoline approaching $4 per gallon, the selection of Palin looked like a real asset to McCain's campaign because she has a real connection to a short term energy solution. For all the Al Gore "green" talk and driving of hybrid vehicles, few Americans really believe we are anywhere close to seeing effective alternative energy sources impact their lives. We need more oil and we need it to be American, even the most common folk among us gets this. I really believe McCain would have won this election if the vote was taken 40 days ago. If the recent mass failings of several key financial institutions didn't happen, McCain's fiscal propositions would have appeared more viable, he could have toned down his attacks on Obama's character flaws (though not all together, many of these needed to be exposed), and he might not have appeared so angry. Chances for a McCain victory were high just over a month ago.

Then we had the "collapse". Years of joint financial mismanagement came to roost and the deck of cards came down. It seems clear there are several factors which have contributed to the current financial situation and outlook, both political parties can share blame, but it happened on Bush's watch and McCain has not done a good job separating himself from the policies of the White House, he just hasn't. He only made it worse when he did a most un-maverick-like thing and voted for the ridiculous bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I think McCain's populist decision to use tax-payers money for the bailout made him hard to distinguish from Obama, at least for us common folk. In the end, once again, I think Americans vote based on their wallet and the current crisis is largely seen in connection with George Bush, and so is John McCain. The people cry "change", regardless of reality Obama represents that change, plain and simple.

McCain's chance to clarify his supposed fiscal conservatism went down the toilet when he voted for the bailout.

His chance to become president has probably been flushed as well. Perception is reality as they say, and many Americans are simply fed up with the way they perceive things to be economically. McCain is too closely associated with the way things are economically.

In the end Obama will likely win the presidency due to the perception that he is better for our wallets. What a complete joke this perception is, yet I think that's why he will win. Obama won't win the presidency for his foreign-relations experience, he has none. Obama won't win the presidency because he is the right man to be the "Commander and Chief"- even the members of our military will tell you that. Obama won't win the presidency because of his tax and spend plan no matter how much he hearkens the romantic days of Bill Clinton. Clinton rode the Reagan-Bush I wave which meant no war (no slight meant to the Bosnia occupation), the "Dot Com" phenomenon, while ignoring Enron-like corporate growth and promoting mass lending to people who could not afford mortgages long term. If people think Obama is a return to the supposed economic growth under Bill Clinton,they need to take a remedial course in economics and history. Obama won't have the "Dot Com" tool and the lending sector is in total shambles. His energy-plan is a genuine farce (it really is) and he also has an ongoing military effort to fund. All of this is the back drop for a trillion dollars in new programs he wants to implement. An Obama presidency with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate? Wow. Can you say Jimmy Carter on steroids?

Unless something very profound happens in the next 10 days, Barack Hussein Obama will become America's next president. I think such a happening would be profoundly bad for America, but it's not because of my wallet. Even if I thought Obama could help boost the U.S. economy I would not vote for him. Even if I was O.K. with Obama's troubling ties to Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, the Fannie/Freddie debacle architects, and Acorn, I wouldn't vote for him. Even if I thought his Marxist, socialistic leanings weren't more radical than the current form of socialism we have (even in the White House), I wouldn't vote for him. You see, it's true that Americans vote based on their wallets. This is what's so wrong with us. It is God who gives wealth and prosperity.

Cultures which sacrifice moral purity for the chance at more wealth and material comfort eventually implode and are overcome. America is clearly on such a road.

Obama and McCain are not profoundly different on the matter of economics, they really aren't. I happen to think McCain's proposals and potential (due to the real possibility of a workable energy plan and solution) are more sound than Obama's, but not overwhelmingly so.

The fact is Barack Obama thinks it's OK to leave a baby to die if an initial attempt to abort it fails. There are politicians who are hesitatingly pro-abortion, Obama is not one. There are politicians who try to keep the matter of abortion out of sight so it's out of mind, Obama isn't scared to defend the radical practice of "partial birth" abortion. He can look an aborted fetus squarely in it's dismembered face. Obama is radically in favor of abortion, check the facts on his votes. He thinks a baby is punishment for woman having sex out of wedlock. I think God will judge America for it's moral decadency, Barack Obama as president will plunge us further in the downward direction we are heading. Obama as president, among other things, means another generation of Roe and the promotion of abortion in our country. But Tony, "why are you a one issue voter"? to which I reply- I am not a one issue voter, except when the issue is the governmental promotion of murder. Obama's moral bankruptcy on this issue says much about his worldview, and it's not one I share or think is good for the longevity of this country. Voting based on the perception that Obama will be good for our wallet but overlooking his radical promotion of killing unborn babies reveals how far America has fallen.

John McCain is no doctor of righteousness, neither am I. I do think McCain will uphold the sanctity of life in a much better way than Obama, simply compare their records. I honestly am not sure of McCain's spiritual state or doctrinal commitment, however Sarah Palin seems to be committed to Christ. This gives me further hope that a McCain presidency is more likely to make better moral decisions than an Obama administration. I can think no more important baseline question than how a candidate views Christ and subsequently the sanctity of human life. I do think McCain has better overall policy commitments than Obama, but consideration about my wallet is secondary to the fundamental question of respecting human life. God can give our nation prosperity, as he has for the better part of 200 years, but He won't continue to do so if we go on slouching toward Gomorrah.

Knowing Obama's seriously flawed worldview and still voting for him indicates very hard days ahead for America, even if our wallets are stuffed.