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...