Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saying "no" when tempted to sin

James 1:14-16 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
I am preaching on James 1:12-16 tomorrow. I will be addressing the matter of temptation and our need to say "no" to sin. In preparation for any sermon I try to read or scan sermons from various men of God who I particularly admire, one such preacher is Spurgeon. I think God allowed him to be wrong on baptism so he wasn't right on everything.

But seriously (OK, I was serious, but anyways...), check out his very pastoral counsel on how to avoid falling in to sin when tempted:

What settings are you in when you fall? Avoid them.
What props do you have that support your sin? Eliminate them.
What people are you usually with? Avoid them.

There are two equally damning lies Satan wants us to believe:

1) Just once won't hurt.

2) Now that you have ruined your life, you are beyond God's use, and might as well enjoy sinning.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bob Dole says McClellan is an "ingrate"

OK, I promise this will be the last time I post a string of political entries, it's just all too interesting for me to resist. In response to Scott McClellan's book bashing the Bush administration, former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole wrote this email to McClellan:


There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don't have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues. No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique.

In my nearly 36 years of public service I've known of a few like you. No doubt you will "clean up" as the liberal anti-Bush press will promote your belated concerns with wild enthusiasm. When the money starts rolling in you should donate it to a worthy cause, something like, "Biting The Hand That Fed Me." Another thought is to weasel your way back into the White House if a Democrat is elected. That would provide a good set up for a second book deal in a few years.

I have no intention of reading your "exposé" because if all these awful things were happening, and perhaps some may have been, you should have spoken up publicly like a man, or quit your cushy, high profile job. That would have taken integrity and courage but then you would have had credibility and your complaints could have been aired objectively. You're a hot ticket now but don't you, deep down, feel like a total ingrate?


By the way, an "ingrate" is a thankless wretch, or an ungrateful person.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Obama's Church keeps getting better!

Here's a much appreciated guest preacher at Barack Obama's home church.

My favorite quote- "Jeremiah of the greatest biblical scholars this nation has..."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

With friends like this who needs enemies?

Does anyone besides Michael Moore and CNN buy "tell all" books by former Bush staffers? The latest Bush back-stabber is former press secretary Scott McClellan. "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" chronicles his time as Press Secretary and based on the attention-grabbing title apparently spends time blasting Bush as well as his various advisers. Great guy, that Scott McClellan.

Perhaps George Bush is responsible for a "culture of deception" in the White House, I don't really know. I do know this- if such a culture and practice existed during the two plus years McClellan served as Press Secretary, he was part of the culture, not some unwitting victim of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Give me a break Scott. I love this telling quote from the book-

“The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. There was one problem. It was not true. I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."

I am supposed to believe poor little Scott "unknowingly" passed along information? Come on. I feel fool enough for thinking Roger Clemens might have been telling the truth, I'm not falling for this one.

McClellan worked closely with Bush since the 2000 presidential campaign, served as deputy press secretary for a time, and finally press secretary. It took him 6 years to note the dishonesty of his superiors before finally getting fired. That's right, he was fired. He didn't resign. This sounds a whole lot like a disgruntled employee trying to make a buck more than a morally convicted public servant who longed for the purification of leadership in America.

I'm glad the Bush era is passing for a number of reasons. If there was deceit and dishonesty going on, McClellan was no doubt part of it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Not sure what to think

Aside from being sick of people equating the civil rights struggles of women and African Americans with people who practice homosexuality, as Ellen does in this recent clip, I am left a bit confused by how I feel concerning McCain's responses.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Preparing, Cooking, and Eating your Wild Turkey

OK, you've just legally harvested your trophy gobbler and you have your hunting buddy take a few "hero" shots to post on your blog and preserve the memory of the hunt. What's next?

Well, it's time to take the edible meat from your bird so you can enjoy the fruit of your hunt. Below is the process of butchering your bird, preparing the meat to cook, and chowing down on it.

First, you will note the relative bloodless process of taking the breast meat from a wild turkey. You simply lay the bird on it's back, find the breast bone, make a one inch incision, then rip open the chest cavity exposing the breast meat- the only real edible meat on a wild turkey. The legs are not like fat, dark meat, domestic turkey legs, instead they are skinny and very sinewy. Not good eating unless you're a pilgrim who just came over on the Mayflower and haven't had fresh meat in 90 or more days.

With the meat extracted and in a plastic bag for transport home, you can have the rest of your bird for a cool mount, if you so choose. I have mounted several of my turkeys. When you get the meat home, it goes in the refrigerator immediately. I no longer freeze my wild turkey meat. I eat it within days of harvesting. I don't think wild poultry freezes well. I shot my bird on Monday, we ate it on Saturday. When I was ready to cook it, I took the meat out of the bag, washed it, and cut it in to strips.

This time I had several different seasonings I wanted to try, as you can see below. I made a hotter (more spicy) batch, and some that were just plain poultry seasoning. I have tried grilling, broiling, baking, and frying my wild turkeys. With no question, frying is the best. Frying in peanut oil is supreme. This time, however, I didn't have any peanut oil, so corn oil was fine.

I dip the strips in milk (buttermilk works great too), then bread the pieces. Then I plop them in to the deep fryer (not in view).

After one batch is done, I put them on a baking pan and keep them warm and crisp in the oven while the others are cooking.

BAM! They're done. Add a side of fried potatoes, and you have yourself a great meal!

How does it taste? Well, honestly, not as good as domestic turkey, but still very good. Remember that a wild, mature gobbler like the one I shot is 3-4 years old. Domestic turkeys you eat for Thanksgiving are less than 18 months old and the "Young Hens" so many people like are 6-9 months old. Further, domestic turkeys are usually penned up, fed grain non stop, and even injected with various things before and after they are slaughtered. Wild Turkeys live on the nervous run most of their days, eating insects and anything else they can forage. There's no way an old wild turkey is going to taste like a Butterball.
Despite not being as tasty as a domestic turkey, the satisfaction that goes with making a meal out of something you spent hours hunting is indescribable. I also think it's the proper way to honor the animal you harvest. Nothing should be killed if it won't also be eaten.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oh please, please, please, won't you come? We'll give you ice cream!

I just got the mail at my house. I received the above enlarged glossy post card invitation from a newer church that has started in my immediate neighborhood. The church has been meeting at a junior high school right around the corner from my house. I'm sure it's part of a mass mailing targeting the entire zip code. There are a number of similar churches doing the same thing within a 5 mile radius of my house. Most schools around here have newer churches meeting in their auditoriums each Sunday.

I'm all for the planting of new churches, it's the way so many new churches are marketing themselves that causes me abdominal pain.
On the front of the postcard is declared - "Sweet Summer" with the name of the church below in smaller print. In the upper right corner there is a promise that all first time guests will receive a free Dairy Queen Blizzard! There is also the promise that "Kidz Blitz" will entertain the entire family, I guess during the service.
My favorite part of this advertisement is the description of the "sermon" (a word not actually used to describe the teaching time during the service), I'll change the pastor's name:
"We are starting our new series called 'Sweet Summer' where every week Pastor John will use your favorite sweet treats to teach spiritual truths. All in attendance will get a tasty treat throughout the series. We invite you to come and experience God's Word in a new and exciting way at XYZ Church."
Oh man....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Initial take on Caspian...and Reepicheep

Having only seen the movie once I feel ill-equipped to give full analysis at this time.

My initial response-

- Not exactly like the book, but basically faithful to the storyline

- Interesting interpretation of their temptation to enlist the White Witch...scary too.

- Italian actor Sergio Castellitto did a masterful job as Miraz

- Peter Dinklage did a wonderful job as Trumpkin

- This rendition of Caspian depicted Peter as a bit more rash and impatient than the book

- The movie is too scary for young children, in my opinion

- It was totally cheesy and so egalitarian-21st Century to have Susan steal a kiss with Caspian before going back to England. Lewis would have never had Susan initiate such a thing...oh well.


Reep has been my favorite fictional character since I first read the Chronicles of Narnia as a young teen, so my imagination's standard for what Reep would look and act like has long been too high for a screenwriter and filmmaker to reach.

I thought Adamson, Markus, and their team of writers did a good job overall with Reep. My opinion might change one way or the other after I watch the film again more closely. They keep to the gist of the book's lines for Reep, but do add and embellish in almost ever sequence. Some of Reep's comments are a bit cheeky, but not all together out of the realm of possibility for him. I was a little disappointed with the climactic Reepicheep scene where Aslan restores his tail. There was a touch too much humor in the almost sacred event. Like I said, any rendition of Reepicheep would be tough to meet 25 years of personal imagination and expectation. They didn't ruin him by any means, but they didn't nail him perfectly either.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is my favorite book of the series and it features Reepicheep very prominently. I hope they stick closely to Lewis' lines for him in the movie version of Dawn Treader, there is NO need for improvement. Dawn Treader will be out next summer already.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Not Just Academic

Nathan and I will be teaching through Nancy Pearcey's book Total Truth on Sunday evenings through the summer. Here's a great statement in her introduction to the book-

As the concept of worldview becomes common currency, it can all too easily be misunderstood. Some treat it as merely another academic subject to master- a mental exercise or "how to" strategy. Others handle worldview as if it were a weapon in the culture war, a tool for more effective activism. Still others, alas, treat it as little more than a new buzzword or marketing gimmick to dazzle the public and attract donors.

Genuine worldview thinking is far more than a mental strategy or a new spin on current events. At the core, it is a deepening of our spiritual character and the character of our lives. It begins with the submission of our minds to the Lord of the universe- a willingness to be taught by Him. The driving force in worldview studies should be a commitment to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind" (see Luke 10:27)

That's why the crucial condition for intellectual growth is spiritual growth, asking God for the grace to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). God is not just the Savior of souls, He is also the Lord of creation. One way we acknowledge His Lordship is by interpreting every aspect of creation in the light of His truth. God's Word becomes a set of glasses offering a new perspective on all our thoughts and actions.

What a cute little dog

Little Poofy the poodle is ready for a precious!

Monday, May 19, 2008

2008 Gobbler Down

Nathan dropped me off near my location and I trekked about a mile to where I set up right at 5:30 AM. I set my decoys up, found a comfy tree, waited for it to get a bit lighter, hoped no ticks would find me tasty, then started calling as if there were three hot hens just yelling out for an old longbeard to come take'em on a date. I called off and on for the better part of an hour with no audible response from a turkey. The wind was blowing around 15 mph so it was difficult to hear for long distances, likewise it would be difficult for a marauding turkey to hear me calling. I usually like to move around on foot and locate a bird with an owl or crow call and set up on it, but given the weather conditions, I decided to set up in a big draw that had a creek running down the middle. I knew a gobbler would check that spot for hens eventually.
At 6:51 AM I heard a faint gobble a good distance away, but it got me energized to start a new calling sequence. Right around 20 minutes later I heard the shuffling of leaves and branches behind me and to the left a bit. I slowly moved my head around to see what it was, sure enough it was two big ole' toms with their gaze cast beyond me and squarely on my decoys (I had a young gobbler decoy with two hens...old gobblers get very jealous when they see such a set up). I knew they were committed to coming down the hill to put a smack down on the young turkey who had stepped in on their girlfriends. I couldn't see which gobbler was bigger because of the leaves and such, one gobbled at the decoys as he puffed himself up to intimidate the intruder- very cool. I waited right until they got just feet away from my decoys, then I picked the lead gobbler and pulled the trigger. He dropped immediately when the #5 shot hit him in the head and neck. The other tom initially ran away, but wasn't too sure what had happen. He actually hung around within shooting distance, but I elected not to take him as I want to save my tag to take my oldest son hunting next week when he's out of school for the summer.

My gobbler (which is an Eastern-Rio hybrid) had an 11 inch rope (beard) with the longer spur being a little better than 1 1/4 inches. He's most definitely a 3-4 year old bird, just what I was looking for. I got about 7 pounds of breast meat from this big boy. I'll provide a post showing the process of preparing, cooking, and eating my wild turkey in the near future.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

An important day for sure

Here's a picture (click to enlarge) of me behind my beloved tomato garden. I have been preparing the soil for the last two weeks and finally introduced the first tomato plants this evening. I planted seven plants consisting of five varieties (Mr. America, Grape, Brandywine, (2)Park's Whopper, and (2)Celebrity). My father will be giving me five more plants which are called "Italian Tomatoes" because they are supposed to have come from the old country and kept in circulation for several decades by my Dad's buddies and him. My final plan is to have 12 tomato plants.

1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Biblically Orthodox Worldview makes a difference

Nathan shared this with me today-

Ron Sider’s recent article in Books and Culture, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience,” contains the too familiar stats on how evangelicals and born-againers live lives a millimeter above the pagans in America, or sometimes below, in the Bible belt. Nine percent of born again people (who say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus which is still important in their lives) have biblical world view (absolutes exist, God is the all-knowing, all-powerful, Creator who still rules the universe; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; Satan is a real, living entity; salvation is a free gift, not something we can earn; every Christian has a personal responsibility to evangelize; and the Bible is totally accurate in all it teaches). However, this group of people stand out with significantly different behavior from the worldly “born-againers” and “evangelicals.” Here is Sider’s comment: "Barna’s findings on the different behavior of Christians with a biblical worldview underline the importance of theology. Biblical orthodoxy does matter. One important way to end the scandal of contemporary Christian behavior is to work and pray fervently for the growth of orthodox theological belief in our churches” (Jan/Feb, p. 42). Indeed, orthodoxy was the only factor the article pointed out correlated with a significant difference in Christian behavior.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blanco has the MLS Goal of the Week

I'm a huge soccer fan. I think it's the greatest team sport in the world. Here's a clip of the MLS goals of the week. My favorite current MLS player is Chicago Fire forward Cuauhtémoc Blanco. He's 35 yet still can carry his team to victory. Much is made of David Beckham, but I would have Blanco on my team before Beckham, no question. Blanco's goal (shown in the clips above) was chosen as goal of the week. A left-footed upper corner blast from 30 yards is pretty special.

Pray for China

The number of human casualties in the Myanmar cyclone has climbed over 100,000. Now, the recent 7.9 quake near Luoshui Town, China is estimated to have killed close to 50,000 people. These numbers are hard to imagine. My prayer is for the witness of the church to be powerful in these places at this time. The picture below is a building that cracked down the middle, yet it was over 150 miles away from the epicenter of the quake.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Senators probably don't make good presidents

If a person has served in the U.S. Congress for more than a term, especially the Senate, I doubt they could be a very good president. Senators are constantly cutting deals and compromising their personal convictions in order to get legislation passed. They rarely have to make quick, independent, on the spot decisions. Such decisions show what a person really believes and is convicted about. Years of political compromise and deal-making severely numbs a Senator's ability to think independently and remain principled.

John McCain has been in the Senate way too long to be a very effective executive, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I would rather have John McCain in the White House than Barack Obama, but it's not with excitement. If I vote for McCain, it's only because I'm hoping he appoints the right kind of judges and he is not Obama. My expectations are extremely low when I think of "President McCain".

The above clip shows why I think a long time senator like McCain is weak executive material. The guy has drunk the kool-aid on the global warming farce. Climate change is part of the Earth's cycle. Maybe we're in a warming trend, maybe not. If we are, man's contribution to this trend is vastly overstated. For all the propaganda and "green" talk, the facts remain clear- We are not running out of energy or natural resources. The wrong people have control over current accessible supplies, but we're not running out. We need to drill more in this country and forget the Middle East. Beyond this, ever-fewer people in the world are starving. Food is increasing per head of the world's population. In fact, the biggest threat to third world countries would be enforcing the ridiculous KYOTO regulations on them. The world's species are not disappearing at an alarming rate, in fact new discoveries are happening regularly. Acid rain does not kill forests. Air and water supplies are becoming less and less polluted (thanks to our hard working Black and Veatch engineers!). Forest cover across the world has increased. Oil spills and toxic chemicals in the sea have declined. An honest assessment shows our situation on earth has vastly improved. Much more could be said here, but hopefully by now thinking people have checked both sides of the global warming debate and can make an intelligent judgment on reality. (See This, This, This, and This).

As I watch the clip I see a guy who is doing his best to say the right things to win the right (or should I say left) people. McCain has been around plenty long enough to craft a campaign platform that will appeal the widest group of people. We'll never likely know what he really thinks until he's in the White House, which I think is a dangerous thing. The only thing worse would be Obama in the same situation.

Generally governor's make better presidents. A president is an executive. He or she personally picks a cabinet of advisors to assist in decision making, but the president is the final decision maker for the executive branch of our government. How does a guy or gal who has been making decisions by committee for 21 years and with all sorts of "necessary" compromises fill such a role? Not well, I would suggest.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away?

As I take a brief break from reading and editing my sermon for tomorrow morning, I confess to being conflicted about the seeming non-stop rain we have been getting in the Kansas City area.

On one hand, the rain is good for the antler development of the whitetail deer. Right now is when bucks are growing their new antlers and lush, green grass and plants are their chief food source until crop fields start maturing (sorry farmers). There is a direct correlation between heavy rainfall in the Spring and more massive antlers on mature bucks in the Fall. Further, does are starting to fawn now (be careful on the roads, there will be lots of does and young deer running across the street right about now, for the next month also) which means good rainfall will enhance the vegetation and give the does better, more nutritious milk. It is important for young deer to get a good start as they move toward being a deer who's head is worthy to hang on my wall. So, in that way, lots of spring rain is good.

On the other hand, how can a guy get his tomatoes planted when it won't stop raining? My father gave me his trusty rotor-tiller (mine died a smokey death last year) to prepare my garden with. Providentially I was able to till it once this week, but it need a couple more tillings with some added manure, peat moss, sand, and top soil before I can introduce God's prize vegetable creation- the tomato. I had hopes of getting my garden in before May 15. My hopes appear to be dashed as the wind howls and the rain pours down this evening as it has for most of day. The ground is saturated and the garden is a mud pit.
UPDATE: Incredible tomato story (let's see grapefruits like this Jeff!)

So I am torn. Big antlers vs. properly timed Tomatoes. Life if full of strains and struggles.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Giving credit where it's due

I have long been frustrated with the Roman Catholic Church's lack of ecclesiastical discipline towards members who promote abortion. I think the RC Church has failed to use it's considerable influence by seeming to ignore the actions of various elected officials who claim to be Roman Catholic while promoting and advancing abortion in the U.S.

In light of the recent actions of local Archbishop Naumann, credit must be given for movement in the right direction in this crucial area as he has recently spoken publicly about our governor's need to refrain from communion. Frankly, she should be excommunicated, but this is a start.

Sebelius urged to refrain from Communion

The Associated Press
Published Friday, May 9, 2008 at 1:25 p.m. CDT

The Roman Catholic archbishop for northeast Kansas said today that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius should refrain from taking Communion until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion rights.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, also criticized her recent veto of a bill imposing new restrictions on abortion providers. He called upon the governor, who is Catholic, to take the “necessary steps for amendment of her life.”
Naumann said he wrote to Sebelius in August, asking her to refrain from Communion, but learned recently that she had participated in the sacrament. He said it prompted him to write her again, asking her to respect his request and “not require from me any additional pastoral actions.”

“The spiritually lethal message, communicated by our governor, as well as many other high-profile Catholics in public life, has been in effect: ‘The church’s teaching on abortion is optional!’” Naumann wrote in a column published today in The Leaven, the archdiocese’s newspaper.
The issue of Catholic politicians taking Communion arose again recently because of Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to the United States. In New York, Cardinal Edward Egan said former mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Guiliani had broken “an understanding” by accepting Communion at a papal Mass.

Naumann wrote: “I hope that my request of the governor, not to present herself for Holy Communion, will provoke her to reconsider the serious spiritual and moral consequences of her past and present actions.”

Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said the governor hasn’t seen the archbishop’s column but, “Receiving Communion has not been a problem in the past for her.”
Sebelius has been a strong and consistent supporter of abortion rights throughout her political career, starting as a Kansas House member in 1987-94. In 2002, when she ran for her first term as governor, she sought to reassure anti-abortion voters by promising not to seek major changes in Kansas’ laws on abortion.

But she also has repeatedly vetoed legislation sought by anti-abortion groups and supported by the state’s Catholic leaders.

This year’s measure was partly a response to allegations that Dr. George Tiller has performed illegal late-term abortions at his Wichita clinic. Tiller, among the few U.S. physicians who perform such procedures, has said he follows state law.

Sebelius objected most strongly to provisions allowing a patient’s spouse or family members to go to court if they believed a doctor had performed or was about to perform an illegal late-term abortion. The patient herself also could sue, but so could a local prosecutor.
She argued that the bill would encourage litigation, jeopardize patients’ privacy and allow lawsuits to block a woman’s abortion “even where it may be necessary to save her life.”
Also under the measure, doctors using ultrasound or monitoring fetal heartbeats would have to make information from those sources available to a patient at least 30 minutes before an abortion. They would have to tell their patients whether their fetuses are viable and, if not, why.
The governor rejected the bill last month, and legislators failed to override her action. Naumann wrote that Sebelius’ action showed a lack of respect for legislators and Kansans who are embarrassed that their state “has become infamous for being the late-term abortion center for the Midwest.”
“Since becoming archbishop, I have met with Governor Sebelius several times over many months to discuss with her the grave spiritual and moral consequences of her public actions by which she has cooperated in the procurement of abortions performed in Kansas,” Naumann wrote.
Good for the archbishop.

Dandelions and Sin

It's spring in Kansas, no doubt. My lawn is pretty sad because I just haven't put enough time (and resources) in to making it look green an plush. I try to maintain it just enough to not stand out as the neighborhood slum lord, but I admit it's never going to win a lawn and garden award.

What really annoys me is the way dandelions appear and reproduce. Each spring, when the first few dandelions appear, I zap my lawn with some pre-emergent herbicide. That only addresses the seeds that haven't sprouted yet, when the already growing dandelions have already popped up I zap them with the broad leaf stuff. Of course, my neighbor to the west has some big contract with a local lawn care company who comes out and nukes the entire lawn. Their lawn looks like a carpet practically year round. Never mind the toxicity levels in their turf are probably higher than Love Canal (I wouldn't be surprised if their huge dog gets a 4-pound tumor some day). Oh yes, back to my point- dandelions. They're ugly little flower weeds. People in the suburbs secretly view them as the sign of a lazy home owner, at least that's what I think when I see a property laden with the fuzz balls. When a lawn has a bunch that go to seed (fuzzball stage) that further ticks off the surrounding neighbors who are fighting the good fight because those flying seeds litter all the yards in the neighborhood making the battle much harder for the conscientious home owners. Dandelions are tough to stop, difficult to manage, and the source of a constant battle in suburbia. If you don't engage in the battle, you can be sure you will be overrun very quickly.

That reminds me....

Sin in my life, our lives, is very similarly to dandelion management. Recently I preached through Hosea. I came to this verse-

Hosea 12:1 Ephraim feeds on the wind and pursues the east wind all day long; they multiply falsehood and violence; they make a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried to Egypt.

Israel succumbed in the battle against sin. They succumbed for many reasons, but it is clear from this verse and others their yard was overrun with dandelions and the multiplication process could no longer be stopped. That's what happens with unchecked sin in our lives. Please understand, I am not referring to the ongoing battle we all wage against sin (by God's sustaining grace, of course), I am talking about our decision to ignore or deny sin at certain times. When that happens, sin just busts loose and multiplies. This side of heaven we are in a constant struggle against sin. We will never see total victory until glory, still though- we have to keep struggling and battling. When we stop struggling against sin, we effectively give up the yard. When sin goes unchallenged, it necessarily multiplies.

Recently I heard John Walters, the U.S. Drug Czar, when asked if the problem of drug trafficking could ever be stopped say this- “No, our goal is to disrupt it and keep it at bay so that it doesn’t radically effect the nation’s ability to function well.”

I think such an answer is close to what is reality for us in our battle against those sins which so easily beset us. Get over the idea of being perfect or sinless. Understand that you will fall at times. Just don't quit fighting against sin in your life. I'll never get rid of every dandelion in my lawn, but I will hopefully reduce the number over time. We'll never get rid of all the sins in our lives, this side of heaven, but over time, by God's contiuing grace (specifically the means of grace God has appointed- the Word of God and the Sacraments) we will see our sinful falls reduced.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fine Dining at Freddy T's

The pastoral staff at Redeemer frequents a local eating establishment several times each week. We bring many of God's Elect to share a meal with us there. Ah, Freddy T's...I am reminded of a song, sing it with me- making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same you wanna be where everybody knows your name.
Freddy T's of Overland Park, in addition to unmatchable ambiance, offers a varied menu in the genre of greasy American bar food. Without hesitation I give the place 5 stars. Admittedly, despite their multiple items, I tend to stick with the "Buffalo Chicken Salad" (because it's about 11 Weight Watcher points) or the BLT on special on Fridays.

T's appreciates the Redeemer pastoral staff and our patronage. They donated two sweet t-shirts and a gift certificate to our mission trip auction last week which fetched something like $75 (I was sniped in the last minute by two unsavory guys). I thanked the owner today and she was so thrilled with the money the T's items raised that she gave Nathan and I a priceless gift- a Freddy T's beer glass (pictured above). I hate to brag, but a person has to be very special to be given one of these glasses. 100 years from now my great great grandchild will take this glass to the Antiques Roadshow and some English-accented dude is going to light up when handling the glass. He'll say something like- "How did you come to own this glass?". My grandchild will respond- "It's been in the family for several generations. I remember my great grandfather sipping Italian Peroni from it while talking of his grandfather Felich's description of a place called Freddy T's". To which the English Antiques roadshow dude will say- "Well, this is very special indeed...most of these original glasses were destroyed in a huge bar fight that occurred back in 2024. There are only two known glasses to have survived, you have one in your possession now. Do you have any idea how much this is worth?" My grand child will play coy and sheepishly respond- "Um, no, I really don't". Then will come these words from the expert, "This glass will easily get $150,000 dollars at auction."

I am thinking it is time to ask the ownership if they would be willing to sponsor our Thursday night soccer team. The Chicago Fire have "Best Buy", the L.A. Galaxy have "Herbalife", the Columbus Crew have "Glidden", and D.C. United have "Volkswagen", I think a silk screen of the Freddy T's guy on our uniforms would place us in an elite grew of U.S. soccer teams with prestigious sponsors, don't you?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pray for Myanmar

I confess to not knowing as much about Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) as I should. When a catastrophic event like a cyclone occurs and takes so many human lives my heart is moved and I grieve over the death of so many and for the suffering of the survivors. As you have probably heard by now, "Cyclone Nargis" raged through Myanmar this past Sunday killing over 22,000 people! There are twice as many still missing. Truly staggering. Reuters reported:

Myanmar cyclone toll climbs to nearly 22,500
Tue May 6, 2008 10:04am EDT
By Aung Hla Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's military government raised its death toll from Cyclone Nargis on Tuesday to nearly 22,500 with a further 41,000 missing, nearly all of them from a massive storm surge that swept into the Irrawaddy delta.

Of the dead, only 671 were in the former capital, Yangon, and its outlying districts, state radio said, confirming Nargis as the most devastating cyclone to hit Asia since 1991, when 143,000 people died in Bangladesh.

"More deaths were caused by the tidal wave than the storm itself," Minister for Relief and Resettlement Maung Maung Swe told a news conference in the rubble-strewn city of five million, where food and water supplies are running low.

"The wave was up to 12 feet high and it swept away and inundated half the houses in low-lying villages," he said, giving the first detailed description of the weekend cyclone. "They did not have anywhere to flee."

Myanmar, a country of 50 million people, has had a military dictatorship for it's government for the past 60 years. It is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia and it's people have suffered all sorts of hardship during this time. AIDS is a major health problem there, as well as a myriad of other diseases. The life expectancy in Myanmar is 63 years old. Religiously the country has been predominantly Buddhist, much like India. There are several Christian missionary efforts presently going on in Myanmar, however, the estimated amount of professing believers is less than 4%. The country is backwards and purposely isolated.

I am praying this catastrophe would open the door for Christian disaster relief efforts which would allow for a more permanent place for such missions in that country. I am also praying for the Church that already exists there, that they may be used of God to be the hands and feet of Christ to their suffering countrymen, particularly those who have been worshiping the false gods of Buddha. May this humanly tragic event be the catalyst for the saving of many souls and the glorious growth of Christ's Church in Myanmar.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Empire Strikes Barack

This is well worth the 5 minutes to view. Hilarious! The best political spoof video I've seen this year.

Hat tip: Jeff

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Meleagris Gallopavo

Meleagris gallopavo is the Latin name for the wild turkey. notes-

"Although the Wild Turkey was well known to American Indians and widely used by them as food, certain tribes considered these birds stupid and cowardly and did not eat them for fear of acquiring these characteristics. By the end of the 19th century, the Wild Turkey had been hunted almost to extinction in much of its original range. Now, with protection, restocking programs, and the return of the mature forests favored by turkeys, this species is making a marked comeback. It is now common in areas where it was totally absent a few decades ago. Turkeys are swift runners and quite wary. They often roost over water because of the added protection that this location offers. They are polygamous, and the male gobbles and struts with tail fanned to attract and hold his harem."

Hey, no wisecracks about my acquiring their characteristics! The population of Eastern Turkeys (the most plentiful of several breeds of wild turkey) has exploded in Kansas over the past 20 years. I started hunting them five years ago and enjoy it very much. The weather hasn't cooperated well enough to get out this season and we're already a month in. Tomorrow morning I will head out with Nathan to spend the first 5 or 6 hours of the day trying to put some #5 shot on the head of an old polygamous Tom. I hope their gobblin' their fool heads off as I move in on them under the cover of dark.

Friday, May 2, 2008

From Every Stormy Wind that Kansas

There is really nothing quite like a Spring storm in the Midwest, especially in "Tornado Alley", of which we (the Kansas City metro area) are barely on the upper edge. I have lived in Kansas for 12 of my last 15 years and I am still amazed with the fury unleashed in a seeming instance by one of these powerful storm cells. I will never forget being in my apartment in Wichita in Spring of 1994 when I heard sirens blaring. "What is that?" this newly transplanted western New Yorker thought. I peaked out to see my neighbors piling in to an underground storage area. I grabbed my cat and followed them (Shari was at work,otherwise I would have ushered her to safe quarters too!). We sat huddled in the small, dark space until the storm passed. What a strange thing for someone not used to such an event. Tornadoes and hail are certainly what comes to mind when you think of this area in the Spring, however the straight line winds are what actually produce the most damage. Last night there were wind bursts of 65-75 mph right in my neighborhood. Thankfully they don't last long (nothing like a hurricane), but anything not structurally sound is going down.

Just before the storms rolled in last night, a faithful band of Redeemer members gathered in our sanctuary to pray on the "National Day of Prayer". It was a blessed time together. We sang one of my favorite hymns- "From Every Stormy Wind That Blows". The irony was thick as a powerful storm cell moved right over our area, one which produced a tornado just a few miles south of our location while we were meeting. Pastor Nathan was leading in prayers of adoration for God's various attributes when the tornado sirens started blaring in the distance. The dark clouds were rolling over us, deep green ones in the distance (usually indicative of hail), but of course, we prayed on! The service was divided up in to several parts, we were almost to the final one (prayers of petition) when Brian reported the tornado touchdown he had learned about on the local Internet weather report (he ran over to the WCA teacher's lab where there is a computer)- we decided to finish the meeting in the basement using the youth room. When we finished at 8:30 pm and came upstairs, it was raining with a vengeance no doubt reminiscent of Noah's day. It was pretty cool.

The relative speed with which conditions can turn bad in this part of the country is truly amazing. I praise God for the awesome display of his handiwork...and for substantial structures to hide my cowardly self in! As we prayed, heard Scripture read, and sang, the heavy rains and wind howled with the tornado siren going off intermittently. I couldn't help but think of the great words of Hugh Stowell's hymn-

From every stormy wind that blows,

From every swelling tide of woes,

There is a calm, a sure retreat;

Tis found beneath the mercy seat.

So true.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dropping like a rock

Have you ever seen a rock drop through water? If you haven't, look no farther than Barack Obama's last 6 weeks of running for the Democratic presidential nomination- that's what it looks like.
Obama's once messiah-like presence is really starting to crumble. Virtually all polls show Hillary making significant gains. The Jeremiah Wright debacle, which is still ongoing, has damaged Obama no matter how many empty statements of renunciation he makes regarding his pastor of 20 years. The Republican's have to adore Jeremiah Wright and yearn for him to speak publicly more. In addition to Obama's wrong association with Wright, his view on human life as it relates to abortion is becoming more known(calling a baby "punishment" and an Illinois voting record that makes Hillary look pro-life), his derogatory remarks about small town America paint him as a big city, uppity, elitist, and a highly questionable relationship with terrorist bomber William Ayers has completed a complex of problems for the media-anointed savior of America.

Though not the lock it appeared to be 6 weeks ago, I still think Obama will get his party's nomination for president. The nomination process will have been like an NHL Conference finals play-off that goes 7 games and renders the winning team seriously wounded going in to the Stanley Cup championship series. Obama will be damaged for a showdown against McCain in the general election. McCain is old for a candidate and a bit of a loose cannon, but I'm betting a battle with Obama for the Presidency looks pretty soft compared to his time as a prisoner of the Viet Cong.

If Obama thinks Hillary and co. have been tough on him, he ain't seen nothing, he is in for a total smack down. The chosen one who promised to bring "common sense and team work to solve our nations problems" is now looking more and more like an old school politician, but worse yet- an old school politician who has no real executive experience, a building pile of baggage, and a wily old war hero resting up for the final duel.