Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Hockey Night in Fort Wayne

Went to see the local hockey team last night. They lost 2-0, ending a six-game winning streak, but it was still fun and exciting. Sitting near us was a grandmotherly-type hockey fan. All through the game she kept hollering, "C'mon! Hit someone!"
Ya gotta love hockey.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More Songs

Today one of the local radio stations had a call-in poll about the worst songs. They narrowed it down to three:

Yelling at the Christmas Tree by Billy Idol
Saving Up Christmas by Captain & Tennille
When Santa Claus Met Jesus by Sara Warne

I had not heard them before, but they were all horrendous.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Now For The Good Ones

It wouldn't be Christmas without these Yuletide tunes:

White Christmas by Bing Crosby

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on An Open Fire) by Nat King Cole

Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson (probably doesn't belong on this list, but I like it)

O Holy Night by Martina McBride

Anything by Manheim Steamroller

The Most Annoying Christmas Songs

These songs really get on my nerves. And have you noticed how the radio stations play them constantly?

In no particular order:

Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid
No there won't be snow in Africa, Bob. It's AFRICA! And do we need to be reminded of the 1984 famine, every year?

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime Paul McCartney

Last Christmas by George Michael

Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys

I Like the Sleigh Ride (I don't know who wrote or performs this, but it must be McCartney inspired because it just repeats the same five words over & over)

So This is Christmas (War is Over) by John Lennon
Ugh. No wonder someone shot you

Step Into Christmas by Elton John

Hey Santa by Carnie & Wendy Wilson

Friday, December 16, 2005

Is Santa a Woman?

I don't know who wrote this, but I thought some of you might enjoy it:


I hate to be the one to defy sacred myth, but I believe he's a she.

Think about it. Christmas is a big, organized, warm, fuzzy, nurturing social deal, and I have a tough time believing a guy could possibly pull it all off!

For starters, the vast majority of men don't even think about selecting gifts until Christmas Eve. It's as if they are all frozen in some kind of Ebenezerian Time Warp until 3 p.m. on Dec. 24th, when they--with amazing calm--call other errant men and plan for a last-minute shopping spree. Once at the mall, they always seem surprised to find only Ronco products, socket wrench sets, and mood rings left on the shelves. (You might think this would send them into a fit of panic and guilt, but my husband tells me it's an enormous relief because it lessens the 11th hour decision-making burden.) On this count alone, I'm convinced Santa is a woman.

Surely, if he were a man, everyone in the universe would wake up Christmas morning to find a rotating musical Chia Pet under the tree, still in the bag. Another problem for a he-Santa would be getting there. First of all, there would be no reindeer because they would all be dead, gutted, and strapped on to the rear bumper of the sleigh, amid wide-eyed, desperate claims that buck season had been extended. Blitzen's rack would already be on the way to the taxidermist.Even if the male Santa DID have reindeer, he'd still have transportation problems because he would inevitably get lost up there in the snow and clouds and then refuse to stop and ask for directions.

Add to this the fact that there would be unavoidable delays in the chimney, where the Bob Vila-like Santa would stop to inspect and repoint bricks in the flue. He would also need to check for carbon monoxide fumes in every gas fireplace, and get under every Christmas tree that is crooked to straighten it to a perfectly upright 90-degree angle.

Other reasons why Santa can't possibly be a man:
~ Men can't pack a bag.
~ Men would rather be dead than caught wearing red velvet.
~ Men would feel their masculinity is threatened, having to be seen with all those elves.~ Men don't answer their mail.
~ Men would refuse to allow their physique to be described even in jest as anything remotely resembling a "bowlful of jelly."
~ Men aren't interested in stockings unless somebody's wearing them.
~ Finally, being responsible for Christmas would require a commitment.

I can buy the fact that other mythical holiday characters are men. Father Time shows up once a year unshaven and looking ominous. Definite guy. Cupid flies around carrying weapons. Uncle Sam is a politician who likes to point fingers. Any one of these individuals could pass the testosterone-screening test. But not St. Nick. Not a chance.

Freezing Friday

Somehow we managed to avoid the 8 inches of snow that was predicted yesterday (can you think of any other job where you can get it wrong as much as the weathermen do, and still stay employed?). But the temps have dropped (low 20's today), so everything is icy now.

Trying to get all my stuff done early so I can help Mrs. Soren today. She's up to her eyeballs baking stuff for tomorrow's Kjergaard Open House. I won't be much help tomorrow morning because I'm speaking at our Men's Prayer Breakfast, then I have to go to the theater to schmooze and propagandize our Narnia guests. Oh, and my folks called and said they were coming over today. I tried the Clark Griswold line, "Honey, they're family. It's not like they're strangers off the street. It'll be fine." Somehow she thinks it's poor form to hand my Dad a dustcloth and show him where the vacuum is. So she's a little stressed. It's what happens when you decide to invite the ENTIRE CHURCH over.

Oh, and the kids are starting to spazz a little because it's the last day of school and the Countdown to Christmas has begun.

We haven't sent any Christmas cards yet. And our out-of-town gifts still need to be sent. And I have no idea what I'm getting her for Christmas (-- and I'm pretty sure that wrapping myself up in a bow isn't gonna do it this year...or any year, come to think of it).

Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas Cancellations Revisited

Today I listened to Jon Weece (minister of Southland Christian Church) address his congregation regarding the firestorm of controversy surrounding the decision to have no services on Dec 25 (sermon can be heard here).

I appreciated hearing his side of the story. I still question the wisdom of the decision. But the decision was made, and since I believe strongly in the autonomy of the local church, I believe that it's their decision to make. But I'm still stunned that apparently these guys couldn't predict that there would be an extreme adverse reaction to the decision. However, his message demonstrated the way a good leader handles controversy. The church needed to hear from him. And they heard a humble, reasoned response. I also appreciated the manner in which the church supported its minister with sustained applause, encouragement, and signs of support.

Narnia Mania

The Narnia Movie opened this past weekend. My family is looking forward to seeing it sometime soon.

I just had a mental image of Harry Carey saying, "Narnia? You know Steve, Narnia spelled backwards is Ainran." Weird, huh?

I got this Top Ten list today from Mikey's Funnies. I hope you enjoy it.
By Dave Tippett
10. Narnia City Council votes to remove all images of Aslan, replace them with generic alley cat that represents all felines of world
9. Mega Aslan den draws animal followers from smaller dens with better praise and worship band
8. Metaphors go crazy as Aslan assigns kingdom duties to second in command, a talking rock
7. Sequel set up when, after the victory, Charismatic Aslans clash with Southern Narnia Council Aslans.
6. The movie's original title: "Jesus, Satan, and a Closet"
5. The White Witch wins battle after her ACLU lawyers get injunction against 'lion roaring' in public places
4. Long-haired "Lion King" cast ostracized from Narnia for singing and dancing...and the long hair thing
3. Endless winter in Narnia originally blamed on George Bush
2. Aslan bobbing head dolls wearing little "Pepsi" t-shirts seen in back window of Narnia's mayor's Ford Ranger
1. WWAD? bracelets being sold in town stores
Copyright 2005 Dave Tippett (
Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sign of the Week

Taking Christ Out of Christmas

No, it's not the ACLU or the People for the American Way, or any of the usual suspects this time. I am still stunned by the news reports that a number of churches are going to cancel worship services on December 25. These aren't liberal churches, they are conservative evangelical churches -- including some Christian churches (click here for an ongoing discussion about this). If Wayne Smith were dead, he would be rolling over in his grave.

I agree with my friend David Willis who says that this is the inevitable consequence of abandoning the emphasis on “the first day of the week.” The fact that secular news agencies have picked up on this story demonstrates just how whacked-out it is. Even the world recognizes that canceling is rather strange. Christmas isn’t even the issue with me – it’s the idea of blowing off worship on the Lord’s Day – although the fact that it’s Christmas makes it even more ironic. Can canceling on Mothers’ Day, Father’s Day, or even Easter be far behind?

My father-in-law had a classic response to one of his church members who inquired about worship on Dec. 25. He said, “Well I would hope that at least the CHRISTIANS will be here.”
Please, this isn’t about inconveniencing people in order to test their orthodoxy or their allegiance to Christ. It’s about the fact that many believers actually WANT to worship on that day, EVERY WEEK, and especially on Christmas.

Ben Witherington has a good post about this. And the Get Religion blog weighs in as well.

Truth is stranger than fiction. Granted, I have no idea what it is like to lead a church of thousands, but still... I have to wonder if whatever they think they have "gained" by not having Christmas service (family time, a break for volunteers, etc.) is not going to be far outweighed by the negative press, etc.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To

Last night I watched Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town with my kids. I don't know what is is about the old shows, but I think they are simply better than the new ones (even with the cheesy graphics and such). It's probably because these shows remind me of my childhood.

I still love The Year Without a Santa Claus (Snow Miser and Heat Miser seemed really scary when I was little, yet somehow they were still really cool).

I read in this morning's paper that A Charlie Brown Christmas turns 40 this year. So this show has literally been a part of every Christmas of my life.

Although it is much newer than the films listed above, Prancer has become a family favorite. It was filmed in my hometown (Three Oaks, MI), so it's fun to see the local landmarks. Even though I've seen in a dozen times, I still get verklempt when Sam Elliott reads "Yes, Virginia..." to his daughter.

But the perennial favorite is still Christmas Vacation.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Without Limits

I enjoyed Prefontaine so much, I ordered Without Limits from Netflix. It basically told the same story. I liked the first one better, but this one was pretty good too. I wish I could have seen that guy run.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Chip Off the Old Block

Somehow my son and I got on the subject of life insurance tonight. One of his schoolmates lost his father a few years ago. He must have told Luke about how the gov't takes care of them (I'm guessing he was talking about Social Security), and that his dad had good life insurance (they live in a beautiful home, and the Mom doesn't work).

So Luke started asking whether I had life insurance, what is was for, etc. I told him that I did, and that it would pay for the house, car, college for him and his sister, etc. And that Mom wouldn't have to worry about anything. After pondering that for a moment, he said, in all innocence, "I bet if you died we could afford to get expanded cable."

Is that a classic male response, or what?

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Sad Story

And I Should Care Because...?

J.J. is on the rampage again. Why does this guy continue to get major press coverage? If you are ever unsure about any given issue, just find out where Jesse stands, then go the other way.

I did get to meet him once. My friend Dave Willis and I heard him speak at the Hampton Coliseum. Somehow we ended up in the "shake & howdy" line.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Stay on Target! Stay on Target!

Tonight I watched a DVD of John Ortberg teaching. One of the many good points he made was about drifting from our God-given mission. Picture a bullseye (concentric circles): in the center are the core people in the church, the next ring consists of the fringe people, after that are the seekers, then the lost/unchurched (this is similar to Rick Warren's illustration in the Purpose Driven Church). Who are the people most likely to complain? Those in the center -- the core. "I'm not being fed." or "The music is too loud." or "You're not doing enough for my kids." ad nauseum

Killer quote: The church over time drifts from mission to complaint management. The default mode becomes "placate the critic."

Ouch! You said a mouthful John-Boy!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Scholars of Today

While looking for some other stuff today, I came across this oldie. Thought y'all might enjoy it.

A teacher compiled this list of comments from test papers, essays, etc., submitted to science and health teachers by elementary, junior high, high school, and college students. As she noted, "It's truly astonishing what weird science our young scholars can create under the pressure of time and grades."

H2O is hot water, and CO2 is cold water.
To collect fumes of sulfur, hold a deacon over a flame in a test tube.
When you smell an odorless gas, it is probably carbon monoxide.
Water is composed of two gins, Oxygin and Hydrogin. Oxygin is pure gin. Hydrogin is gin and water.
Three kinds of blood vessels are arteries, vanes and caterpillars.
Blood flows down one leg and up the other.
Respiration is composed of two acts, first inspiration, and then expectoration.
The moon is a planet, just like the earth, only it is even deader.
Dew is formed on leaves when the sun shines down on them and makes them perspire.
Mushrooms always grow in damp places so they look like umbrellas.
The pistol of a flower is its only protection against insects.
The skeleton is what is left after the insides have been taken out and the outsides have been taken off. The purpose of the skeleton is something to hitch meat to.
A permanent set of teeth consists of eight canines, eight cuspids, two molars, and eight cuspidors.
The tides are a fight between the Earth and moon. All water tends towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.
A fossil is an extinct animal. The older it is, the more extinct it is.
Equator: A managerie lion running around the Earth through Africa.
Germinate: To become a naturalized German.
Liter: a nest of young puppies.
Magnet: something you find crawling all over a dead cat.
Momentum: what you give a person when they are going away.
Planet: A body of Earth surrounded by sky.
Rhubarb: A kind of celery gone bloodshot.
Vacuum: A large, empty space where the Pope lives.
Before giving a blood transfusion, find out if the blood is affirmative or negative.
To remove dust from the eye, pull the eye down over the nose.
For a nosebleed: Put the nose much lower than the body until the heart stops.
For dog bite: put the dog away for several days. If he has not recovered, then kill it.
For head cold: use an agonizer to spray the nose until it drops in your throat.
To keep milk from turning sour: Keep it in the cow.

Friday, November 04, 2005

E.P.I.C. Preaching

Leonard Sweet has a good article in the current issue of Rev. Magazine. I'm not sure that I buy his assertion that preaching as we have known it ("old-school", 20th-century style) is on life-support. But I did appreciate these words:

C.S. Lewis once said that writers should have blood in their veins, not ink. The same is true of the 21st-century preacher. Preachers should preach from the blood in the veins, not from the ink of words on a manuscript. Preaching has become too inky, too watery, and too bloodless. And the Christian preacher should bleed the shed blood of Christ, as preaching is ultimately God's act through the power of the Holy Spirit. A preacher sets a table before the people in which there is laid out the body and blood of Christ in bread and wine and in word and flesh . If, when you're finished preaching, you're not finished, spent, wiped out -- if you haven't died a little -- you haven't really preached. I once heard Howard Edington say that if you're truly preaching, you will shorten your life a little, because every time you preach you die a little.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Third Day

The new Third Day CD was released today. These guys rock! I've been listening to them ever since their first release back in '96 (the one with the giant peach reflecting in the window of the old bus). Praise Song is still being sung in worship all over the country, and Consuming Fire still gets to me (and it is awesome when performed live). Still, they've come a long way since then.

The new album is pretty good. My friend Donny Goff told me about the sneak preview he got while attending a Youth Leader's conference. He mentioned the song Communion. Wow!

This is the body
This is the blood
Broken and poured out
For all of us
In this communion
We share in His love
This is the body
This is the blood

I will remember everything, Lord
That you've done for me
I won't take for granted
The sacrifice that set me free
I hunger and thirst for Your love
Come fill me today

We hunger and thirst for Your love
And Your righteousness
We long for Your presence here, Lord
Be with us again

Even though it's a bit "rock-ish" for the older crowd, I've got to figure out how to use this in a worship service sometime.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

This bit from Bill Maher made me chuckle.

Halloween is child abuse. One day every year we lose our minds and send our children into the night to talk to strangers. And then when they get home, we throw away the one health food item -- the apple -- because it might have a razor blade and keep the big sack of processed poison.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Sub-Standard

Faithful readers of this blog (and you know who you are -- yes, all three of you) probably know that few things frost my buns more than people trying to pull a fast one on God's people. A century ago, the Disciples of Christ/Open Membership fiasco was very public and the issues/differences were clear to everyone involved. This time around, the liberal shift is much more subtle. More info here. Follow the links to the articles to learn more.

What a bunch of weak-kneed, limp-wristed, pusilanimous, spineless capitulators. I used to say that straddling the fence can get mighty uncomfortable after awhile. But that's not true if you don't have, um...nevermind.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Air Force football coach Eddie DeBerry was reprimanded for saying out saying out loud what every sports fan knows: You need some blacks guys in the backfield if you want to win. The story is here. Another case of political correctness run amuck. A few nights ago, I watched the updated version of The Longest Yard. Chris Rock told Adam Sandler that there was no way that the team would win without some brothers. The line was humorous because it's true. For whatever reason, God seems to have gifted African Americans with the ability to run faster. Have you ever watched the Track & Field competition at the Olympics? Not many white boys in the sprints. It's not racism, it's fact. Ironically, across the page from this story, our local paper listed the NFL Fantasy Football Running Back ratings. Guess what? All of them are black! What a surprise!

Air Force's Athletic Director Hans Mueh, in an attempt to cover his butt and kiss-up to the PC crowd, said, “Fisher’s already apologized for that statement. What we’re talking about is speed. There’s speed that cuts across black, white, gray, blue, whatever.” Yeah, right Hans. You're an idiot. And that's why you are the A.D. at AIR FORCE.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

God Bless America?

What's with the World Series seventh-inning stretch freakshow? Are they trying to find the most washed-up, horribly voiced, has-been that will take the gig?
Last night, Aaron Neville (moley, moley, moley...Mole!) butchered God Bless America. Tonight, Lyle Lovett took a shot at it and was almost equally as horrific (that whirring sound you hear is Kate Smith rolling over in her grave). Was Julia Roberts actually married to this goober?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

David Crowder Band

I picked up a little CD by the David Crowder Band today. It has some oldies (by that, I mean late 90's stuff) like I Will Not Be Silent and Every Move I Make. Some of the songs are cast-offs that didn't make it on his other albums. Good stuff. And I am enjoying it. Kind of reminds me of my old friends Chris McCarthy and Dave McCants.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I Find This Man Annoying

I love post-season baseball, except for one thing: It means that I will be forced to listen to Tim McCarver. This guy annoys me to no end. He's like a combination of John Madden, Brent Musberger, and that know-it-all WNBA amazon announcer chick. He has a gift for stating the obvious. And he talks down to the viewers, like we don't know anything about the game. And then when a guy makes a boneheaded baserunning error, or the manager makes a decision with which Timmy disagrees, he just won't let it go. He goes on and on and on and on about it. Just shut up already!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Watched Ghostbusters with the family tonight. The kids enjoyed it, but Tracy said, "Now I remember why I didn't like that movie. It was stupid." I liked it. It's hard to believe that it's been 21 years since that movie was first released.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Perfect Day Off

Yesterday was awesome. It was like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Began with a Preachers' Breakfast (hosted by the local Christian bookstore -- they gave us each over $100 dollars worth of books). Then nine holes of golf with my good friend John. After that we went for a run (just like the old days in Virginia). Tracy fixed a yummy lasagna supper which was followed by a great game of Euchre.

And the weather was as good as it gets this time of year. Perfect.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Big 4-0

I hit the big 4-0 yesterday. Man, it still seems like I should be in my late 20's or early 30's.

Had a few friends over for a bonfire (roasted hot dogs and made s'mores).
About 8:30 I got a big surprise when our good friends (one of my Timothies) from Florida arrived. They took off from Tampa after services this morning and flew up here to spend a few days.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Earl Weaver, Where Art Thou?

Watched the end of Game Two of the ALCS. White Sox won courtesy of a terrible call. I'm a Cubs fan, which means that I have to be anti-Sox. But I would have been just as honked off if that call would have been made with the teams reversed (the Angels winning over the Sox). I don't understand why Mike Scioscia didn't argue more vehemently. Can you imagine what Earl Weaver or Tommy Lasorda would have done with that call? They would still be out on the field throwing a hissy fit and inventing curse words.

And People Wonder Why Disco Is Dead

A couple of weeks ago I started a new series: Retro...All the Way Back

Came on stage with Play That Funky Music White Boy playing. I think I was born a decade or two too late. Ya think?

Almost every guy over 50 said, "I used to have a suit like that."


We watched Prefontaine last night. It had been in our Netflix que for a long time. This is a "must-see" film for any runner. Pre was a little before my time, but I have heard about him for years. The movie documents his life as a University of Oregon track star and Olympic runner. It also portrays legendary coach (and co-founder of Nike) Bill Bowerman. It showed him developing the Nike Waffle Trainer (which was one of my first running shoes). It also portrayed a couple of my early running heroes, Jeff Galloway and Frank Shorter. I have followed Galloway's training plans for many years, and I once ran in a race with Frank Shorter (and later got my picture taken with him).

I knew how the movie would end (he died in his prime in a car crash), but I underestimated the "verklemptness factor." When the hearse did the last lap around the UofO track and the crowd began to chant, "Pre! Pre! Pre! Pre!"....Gulp!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

March of the Penguins

Took the family to see the March of the Penguins movie. It's hard to imagine anyone watching it and not believing in God. What incredible creatures these little tux-wearing birds are. Morgan Freeman's commentary kept it interesting. I couldn't help but wonder what the cameramen endured to film this. It's 58 below zero on the sunny days. Amazing creatures of an amazing God.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

In Praise of Preaching

I have been a “full-time” preacher for over 18 years. Yet I never cease to be amazed by the power of proclamation. I suppose that there have been pundits in nearly every generation who have predicted the decline of preaching, claiming that it would fall out of vogue. The naysayers pass on, but preaching continues to not only live, but thrive! How? Because it is the plan of God. “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

Every herald of the Good News knows the look on the face of the hearer who finally “gets it.” It is an “aha” moment, a holy event, as the Spirit of God uses His double-edged sword to penetrate the heart and soul of person, whether he be a saint or sinner.

And God has a sense of humor. The times when I think that I really “knocked it out of the park”, the congregation has a lukewarm response. But when I think that I have preached the worst sermon ever, someone walks by with tears in her eyes and says, “That was just the Word from the Lord that I needed.” Huh?!

I have been reminded recently that people are hungry for solid preaching from the Bible. And the “harder” I preach, the more they seem to embrace it. The words of the old evangelist are true, “Preacher, if you set yourself on fire, people will come to watch you burn.”

Minister Brother, be encouraged. God still takes our feeble sermons and uses them to transforms lives. What an awesome God we serve. So in the words of one of my early mentors, “This is no time for pusillanimous pussyfooting. It’s time to get some sand in our craws and cement in our backbones and stand up on our hind legs and preach the Gospel – heaven-high, hell-deep, world-wide, and shotgun-barrel straight!”

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling

What a game today! My Irish came back from a three touchdown deficit, only to get beat in overtime 44-41. Coach Weis is an offensive genius, but the D needs some work.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Random Blogations

Fantasy football? I don't get it. Get a life people.

I think Grant Boone is a hoot.

What must it be like to be most of the players in the major leagues right now? Their games are meaningless. How to get motivated to show up to work? Well, the $2.2 million paychecks probably ease the pain just a tad.

Netflix rocks! In one year we watched the first three seasons of Alias. Saw Season Four in "real time" (it got really lame, probably because the producer was busy making Lost). Now we are halfway through Season Two of 24. Even better than Alias (although Kiefer Sutherland is no Jennifer Garner). By the way, I think Keifer and Greg Stauffer were separated at birth.

People around here are complaining that we haven't had any rain and therefore the lawns are burning up. Hey, at least our lawns are not six feet underwater. And we have homes in which we can sit around and complain.

The Blame Game

I understand that Dubya is going to address the nation tonight. Yesterday he made his "the buck stops here" speech. I guess tonight he's going to accept the blame that the Dems & the media have heaped upon him.

I can't help but wonder what would have happened if he had done the very things that he is being criticized for not doing (i.e. flying immediately to New Orleans & Gulf Coast, sending in the national guard, cutting through the "red tape, protocol, and proper channels", and basically "taking over" the entire operation). I think those same critics would be accusing him of dissing the Mayor & Governor, political grandstanding, glory-hogging, and violating any number of state & federal laws.

"We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn." The poor guy can't win.

But at least Judge Roberts is making Ted Kennedy look like an idiot (granted, it's not all that difficult).

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Indiana Living

It seems that every little town in these parts has a fair, festival, or fun weekend of some sort.

The big deal in our town is the Grabill Country Fair, held the weekend after Labor Day. Now, when I say "big deal", you have to remember that we get excited when they install a new pop machine in front of the video store. Everything is relative. Just today there was a big traffic jam at the four-way stop (yes, the four-way stop). There must have been three cars and an Amish buggy backed up. I must have waited a full 45 seconds to get through. Yep, Mayberry is alive and well in 2005.

Anyway, back to the Fair...there is some serious eating to be done at this place. My favorite is the pork tenderloin sandwich. The meat is about four times as large as the bun. The trick is to do a tri-fold number on the tenderloin, then add pickles & mustard. Several of the local churches and civic groups have food booths. Our youth group sponsors the "Spud Hut" (baked potatoes & fixin's). I'm not much of a "stand alone" baked potato fan. But gimme a steak and a salad with that Spud and I'm all over it. Thanks to Dr. Atkins and the numerous other food choices, the Spud Hut hasn't done too well over the past couple of years, but it's still a good opportunity to get the church name out in the community. Plus, we get to meet a lot of people.

Another group does hot apple dumplings. Man, are they good. Of course, you have to get it a la mode. Yummy!

Diet starts next week, right?

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

Enjoyed watching our local minor league team with my son over the weekend. They won 7-0. Minor league games are great. Where else can you see:
Kids doing the crazy-spinning-bat game (we used to do this at church camp, cracking up laughing when kids would get dizzy and fall down --yep, it doesn't take much to humor me).
People dressed up as potato chip bags, racing around the field (and staffers dumping real potato chip bags onto the crowd from atop the pressbox).
Jake the Diamond Dog, retrieving bats and taking water to the umps.
Frisbees and t-shirts being tossed and rubber-band launched into the crowd.
Free fireworks.

Good stuff.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Three Months!

Well, I've been blogging officially for three months now. I don't know who reads this, except my wife (when I really make her sit down and do it), a couple of staff members (past & present), and a few friends. But I'm having fun with it anyway.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Audio A Meets Switchfoot

I went to the local Christian bookstore to pick up the new Casting Crowns and Audio Adrenaline CD's that were released today. I popped Audio A into my CD player and thought, "Man they have really changed their sound. This sounds a lot like Switchfoot." Barely into the third song, I said, "This is not Audio A." I popped out the CD and realized that the record company had put the wrong CD in the case. It was the new Switchfoot CD (not supposed to be released for a couple of weeks). So I was bummed out not to be able to rock out to Audio A. But on the other hand, I'm one of the first people to hear the new Switchfoot album.

Katrina and the Waves

Man, I just can't believe the devastation of the hurricane. Some of my preacher friends are Gulf Coast guys. One has lost his house and a couple of others fear that there will be nothing left when they return home.

I can't imagine what those people must be feeling.

Looters! The scum of the earth. I think they should be shot on sight.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

This is So Cool!

I stumbled upon something called Google Earth. Using satellite images from all over the world, you can "zoom in" and explore. It's like the old Microsoft terraserver, but much better. I guess Google combined with something that used to be called Keyhole (I had never heard of it). Anyway, you simply type in where you want to go, and the software will take you there. The resolution and clarity is much better in some places than in others. For example, most of Michigan is pretty fuzzy, but if you go Seattle you can actually see the Seahawks playing somebody (a goal line stand).

I found some of the places where I used to live, the churches where I've preached, famous ballparks and monuments. It's very user friendly. It has a function where you can have it list street names, churches, schools, etc., so it makes it easy to find things. You can make it seem like you are flying.

Have fun!

P.S. I was doing some reading about this program and someone made an interesting comment: "If this software is available for free and it is easy for everyone and his dog to download and begin to use in a matter of minutes, it's scary to think about what kind of top-secret, high-tech stuff is being used by the military and governments around the world." Yikes! Big brother is watching!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Signs of the End Times

MSN had a link to a new Paul Anka album on which he does some covers of rock & roll hits. His version of Smells Like Teen Spirit and Jump are enough to make you want to puke. You'll have to listen to three hours of AC/DC just to recover. The link said "Hot Tracks." Are they kidding? Ugh!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Back to School

The kids went back to school today. Where did the summer go?

Do you remember the feeling of the first day of school? Seeing your friends that you hadn't seen for three months. The excitement of the new classroom and a new teacher. Wondering which kids would be in your class. And not a care in the world except wondering if you would have any homework.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

More Nuggets from the Summit

Bill Hybels
"We are at the helm of the most important ship on any ocean."
"Paint a picture of the future that ignites passion."

John Maxwell
"There's a difference between delegation and total abdication."
"People will not go along with you if they cannot get along with you."
"As followers of Christ, we're not always sure where we're going, we just know we're following Jesus."

Ken Blanchard
"Feedback is the breakfast of champions."

Colleen Barrett
"We're not competing against other churches. We're competing against the alternative uses of people's time."

Rick Warren
"What you think you own is really just on loan."
"Every time I give, it breaks the grip of materialism on my life."
"The world is full of little Saddams."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Leadership Summit

Last week I attended the local simulcast of Willow Creek's Leadership Summit. It was outstanding. Most of my staff and one of the elders attended, and we really enjoyed being able to debrief and brainstorm between the sessions.

Rick Warren had a great message about "Leadership as Stewardship." Several of the other speakers were good too. The thing the kept busting my chops was the idea that the leaders needs to make the vision clear. I need to constantly keep the vision before the people. That was very challenging.

Bill Hybels did the closing session entitled "The Things We Must Do." Four crucial principles of church leadership:
1. Keep the Vision Clear
2. Get the People Engaged
3. Make Your Gatherings Memorable
4. Pace Yourself for the Long Haul

Lots of good stuff to chew on and ruminate over.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Congratulations Ryno!

Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today. I have many fond memories of watching him play. He was Chicago's first beloved #23 (later Michael Jordan would bring fame to that number in a different sport).

The man quietly did his job every day.
Key stats: .285 career BA, 282 HR, 344 SB
Awards: NL MVP, '84, Gold Glove '83-'91, Silver Slugger '84-'85, '88-'92

His fielding percentage at second base is the highest for anyone who played more than 800 games at the position (.989). He did not make a throwing error in seven of his 16 big-league seasons -- is that incredible or what?

Way to go Ryno!

(By the way, it was a little scary today when I realized that this "old guy" is only six years older than me).

Saturday, July 30, 2005

It's Campmeeting Time

Last week we enjoyed a couple of days at the Hillsboro Family Camp. We have only missed a few times since 1987. It's always fun seeing old friends and hearing great preaching. I got to hear my friend Jeff Faull preach a couple of times. Also picked up a CD of one of Tony Sullivan's messages. Hillsboro had a big impact on me when I was a rookie preacher. I've had the opportunity to speak there twice, and Lord willing, will preach again next summer.

This week my son and I will join some other guys from our church at The Northmen. This meeting has a much different "flavor." It's all men & boys, camping out in the middle of the woods in northern Michigan (the nearest town is 12 miles away). No electricity or indoor plumbing (bathing is done in the creek). This too, is a wonderful opportunity to fellowship with old friends. More importantly, it's a great time for father & son bonding.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hey, Girlie Man!

The book that my Wednesday morning Discipleship Group is reading now is called King Me. In one of the chapters, Steve Farrar laments what he calls the “feminization of our boys.” He writes, “Godly women can have a wonderful influence on young boys. But he needs a man in his life to show him what masculinity looks like.” The entire book, by the way, is about how fathers need to proactively and aggressively take the lead in mentoring, training, and discipling their sons to be men of God.

During the time I was thinking through the chapter, I happened to see another book in a Christian bookstore entitled, Why Men Hate Going to Church. I wondered if it didn’t contain a similar premise. Why is it that many churches have a disproportionate amount of women in them? Where are the men?

I think Farrar may be on to something. He writes, “Our sons need to be around masculine preaching and worship. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the importance of being a warrior for righteousness, or being aggressive in telling the truth regardless of the cost? More often the traits we hear lifted up are the more feminine traits: tenderness, compassion, sensitivity, and gentleness.” Wow!

He also talks about “feminized worship.” This is where the guy leading worship is soft-spoken, quiet and passive. And the songs talk about Jesus being “beautiful” or “lovely.’ Keith Drury calls these, “Jesus-is-my-girlfriend” songs. Farrar says, “Am I in a church or a spa? At a deal like that, you don’t bring your Bible, you bring your moisturizer.”

He talks about the pictures of Jesus. You know the ones – the soft, European-looking Jesus with the long, flowing hair and the manicured nails, and the flawless complexion. What’s up with that? He recalls looking at one of those pictures as a young boy and thinking, “Jesus is a Breck Girl!” John Eldredge dealt with this topic in Wild at Heart. His point was that we’re not going to attract men by lifting up a harmless, fluffy, Mr. Rogersesque, really nice guy as the model of Christianity.

I think these guys are right. A real Christian man is a manly man, and yes, there needs to be a tender, compassionate side to that man, but I don’t need to be a girlie man to be a godly man.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ed Youngisms

Brenton Balvin had some great quotes from from Ed Young of Fellowship Church.

I was first introduced to Ed at the Catalyst Conference a few years ago (not as in "literally, personally," but as in "hearing about him and listening to him").

Some of these are pretty good:
1. 'it not about my thingdom, but about his kingdom'
2. 'do I need that, or do I greed that'
3. 'the higher the predictability, the lower the connectivity'
4. 'when I bring God the best, the rest gets blessed'
5. 'we take the American Express to debt, we need to read the Masters Card, and then we get a Visa to financial freedom'
6. Offering is not about giving, it is about 'bringing it'
7. 'too many people are running around talking smack, but not doing jack'

I especially enjoyed #'s 3 & 7.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

How's Your Swing?

Recently I came across an interesting concept on Len Sweet’s website. He wrote about the need for the church to remain rooted in the first century while living in the twenty-first century.

There is a new theory among physicists about how the swing works. Previous theories revolved around the principle of "parametric instability," which pivoted the action of swinging at the middle of the arc, and the rocking forward into a higher center of gravity. Physicist William Case, while watching how children actually swing, has now posited a new principle which physicists call "driven harmonic oscillator." The key to the swing is not in the middle of the arc, but at each end of the arc, where and when the swingers at the same time lean back and throw their feet forward.

That's my image statement. As a historian of Christianity, I want the church to lean back–not just back to the 50s, but all the way back through 2000 years of history, all the way back until we're, in the words of that Sunday School song, "Leaning, Leaning, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." But at the same time and I do mean simultaneously, we must use that energy and power that comes from "learning to lean" to kick forward into the future.

I think that’s a wonderful image for the church I serve. We are part of the movement to restore New Testament Christianity. Biblical doctrine and principles are just as important and relevant today as they were 2000 years ago. The gospel of Christ is still powerful and life-changing. Our task is to engage our culture and build relationships with people, demonstrating the difference that Jesus makes in our lives. Let’s do it, for His glory!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

4th of July Weekend

Heading to Clinton, Iowa (that well-known vacation mecca) for the holiday. Will be visiting relatives and enjoying Clinton's Riverboat Days.

Happy Independence Day y'all!

God Bless America!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Batman Begins

Went to see Batman Begins with my son yesterday. He is getting old enough that we can enjoy this kind of stuff together. And it’s a lot of fun. This is a great movie! It explains how Bruce Wayne became Batman. It brought back a lot of memories. I was a big Batman fan as a kid. C'mon, everybody sing -- "Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na: Batman." I was probably too emotionally caught up in the exploits of the crime-fighting duo of Batman and Robin (Adam West and Burt Ward). But this one was much better without the cheesiness of the late 60's (no "Biffs" or"Zowies"). And the Batmobile was one incredible car. An indestructible Hummer/Tank on steroids. It’s very intense.

Two big thumbs up for this one.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005


So I'm scanning the radio dial on the way back to the office after lunch and I stopped on the country station in time to hear Trace Adkins' new song "Arlington" for the first time. Gulp. If that one doesn't put a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, then you ain't an American.


I never thought that this is where I’d settle down,
I thought I’d die an old man back in my hometown,
they gave me this plot of land, me and some other men, for a job well done,
there's a big white house sits on a hill just up the road, the man inside he cried the day they brought me home,
they folded up a flag and told my mom and dad, we're proud of your son

and I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property,
I'm on sacred ground and I’m in the best of company,
I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I’ve done,
I can rest in peace, I'm one of the chosen ones, I made it to Arlington

I remember daddy brought me here when I was eight, we searched all day to find out where my granddad lay,
and when we finally found that cross,
he said, "son this is what it cost to keep us free" Now here I am,
a thousand stones away from him,
he recognized me on the first day I came in,
and it gave me a chill when he clicked his heels, and saluted me.

(Repeat Chorus)

and every time I hear twenty-one guns, I know they brought another hero home to us
we're thankful for those thankful for the things we've done,
we can rest in peace, 'cause we are the chosen ones,
we made it to Arlington, yea dust to dust, don't cry for us we made it to Arlington

Friday, June 10, 2005

American Justice

I had to report for Jury Duty yesterday. There were about 20 of us who were in “the pool” from which six jurors would ultimately be chosen. The case was a misdemeanor and would last no longer than a day. We watched a video about the importance of Jury Duty and how we were being good citizens, etc. Then we went to the courtroom. Six were chosen at random to sit in the actual jury box. The lawyers then questioned them. This process took place several times as three of the six were eliminated, then two of the replacements were also eliminated. I learned that being a Judge includes long periods of boredom as you listen to the lawyers repeat themselves.

The defendant was a woman who violated a “No Contact” order (kind of like a restraining order). It was obvious that her defense was going to be that she had a good reason for violating it. Talk about lame! I wonder if her lawyer knew that his case was over before it even began.

I’m glad that I never made it to the “hot seat” (although it would have been interesting). One of the questions asked of each potential juror was, “If you were the defendant, would you want you on the jury?” I would have had to say, “No, I would want some bleeding heart liberal who thinks that the law can be ‘interpreted’ in any way one wishes. I would want someone who thinks that “No Contact” only means “No Contact” until you find a good reason to disregard it. If I were the defendant, I wouldn’t want me on the jury, because it’s already obvious that you are grasping at straws dude.”

“Okay, thank you for your time juror # CM5-4, you are dismissed.”

God bless America!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Da Cubs!

Just when I was prepared to resign myself to another disappointing and mediocre season, my Cubs have pulled off a seven-game winning streak. This is what they do to me. They get my hopes up, only to dash them later in the season. After 30 years of following them, one would think that I would be accustomed to this. But like Charlie Brown thinking, "This time Lucy won't yank the football away at the last second", hope springs eternal in my mind. Only to eventually succumb to a gut-wrenching "Arrrggghhhhh!" I still want to throw up when I think about Game Six in 2003.

But this article by George Will about Greg Maddux did bring a smile to my face and an obligatory, "You da man, Maddux".