Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
I've conducted some difficult funerals in my day. There was a twenty-two year old young man who died when the trench he was working in collapsed on him. He wasn't a Christian, and his parents suddenly came face-to-face with the reality that, while they prepared their boy for life they left him unready for life after death.
Then there was the funeral of a fifty year old active-duty Sargent in the Indiana National Guard. Row after row of service men paraded by his casket, stopping to stand at attention and salute. There were three generals in the audience that day. One of them, who was offended that a chaplain hadn't been requested to preside at the service, refused to speak to me when we met prior to the eulogy.
Tough funerals. But none so tough as that of Saddam Hussein. What does one say at the funeral of an unbelieving, murderous, former-dictator? Good luck with that one, Pastor Who-ever-you-are.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The other night I noticed something that set me back a bit.
Survivor's immunity idol is hanging from a cross.
How appropriate. Our immunity was purchased on a cross. Immunity from sin's consequence, immunity from death, immunity from a godless eternity - all these were hung on a cross when Christ purchased our salvation.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The children played "box ball," a timeless game that was called "four square" in my youth. A student stands in one of four equal squares that are all connected so as to form one large square. Students bounce a ball between the four squares. The goal is for you to pass the ball to another square without it bouncing twice in your own square, or without the ball going "out of bounds." That is where it gets a little tricky. Apparently there is no rule to deal with what happens when the ball is "on the line."
Enter the timeless tradition of school children everywhere: the "do-over." Ball hits a line. Do over. Someone walk through the playing area? Do over. Is there a dispute about carrying the ball rather than hitting it. Do over.
I wish "do over" was an option for me. I oversleep and missed an appointment. Just call a do over. My brain slips a gear and I buy my wife a kitchen appliance for our anniversary. Do over. My kid flunks her math test and I freak out like she's suddenly lost her scholarship to M.I.T. Do over.
Come to think of it, that's what grace is. It is a divine do over. And thank God for it.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I'll admit to preaching another man's material on three or four occasions in the last ten years. (Okay, if you count 40 Days of Purpose, the count balloons to about a dozen times, but I paid good money for those messages and everyone knew it.) Each time the sermon was attributed to the original author, either from the pulpit, or in the accompanying printed material. On those few occasions, I did so because I was hammered for time. Once it was because of a grueling hospital- calling-funeral-during-the-week scenario. On another occasion there was a health crisis in my family.
Some guys tell me they do well delivering another pastor's sermon. Not me. I've never been able to "serve another man's bread" with any kind of authenticity or clarity. It always makes it to the table tasting dry and stale.
The guys at xxxchurch.com have an interesting blog about the whole issue of pulpit plagiarism. The title is The 1.7 Million Dollar Sermon. I would be interested to hear your take on it.
What say you, fellow pulpiteers?
- $75 for team approved basketball shoes for Abby
- $40 for Abby's "practice pack"
- $35 a month for a trombone for Jonah (It's only $600 if we pay all at once)
- $75 for Caleb's Junior High semi-formal dance (ticket, corsage for date, new shoes, slacks)
- $290 for a class ring for Abby
If you believe Peter Benson's research on the 40 Developmental Assets at Search Institute (and I think it is some of the best out there), involvement in things like band, and sports, and positive peer relationships are the very things that help kids avoid destructive behaviors. The price you and I pay, $50 here and there, is small compared to the incomparable financial, physical, emotional and spiritual toll that results from trying to parent on the cheap.
At least that's what I plan to tell myself the next time Caleb hits me up for five bucks to go to the game.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
This isn’t the first time someone pooch-kicked a prediction. In 1966 Arthur C. Clarke wrote in Vogue magazine that houses in 2001 would be able to fly, thanks to building materials made stronger than steel but lighter than aluminum. (Creating all sorts of problems for the family dog.)
In 1967 Science Digest predicted that by 2000, "discarded rayon underwear will be bought by chemical factories and converted into candy." (And what, exactly would such a candy be named?)
A 1981 book predicted solar-powered clothes that retain heat in the winter and coolness in the summer. People would be able to "press a button to formulate our clothing.” (Would one be naked on cloudy days?)
And then there is the grand-daddy of all blown predilections: Y2K. Experts anticipated problems ranging from VISA bills not being issued on time to entire power grids malfunctioning and plunging cities into blackout. I got my VISA bill right on time, and millions of Americans bought generators that have yet to be started.
That is what makes the predictions about Christ’s birth so amazing. Prophets writing hundreds of years before Jesus’ incarnation made some startling statements. Isaiah wrote that Jesus would be born of a virgin. Micah predicted that Bethlehem would be the Messiah’s birthplace. The death of Bethlehem’s infant boys at the hand of King Herod was predicted nearly six hundred years before by the prophet Jeremiah. So many prophecies, and all of them on target.
In his book "Science Speaks," Peter Stoner applies the modern science of probability to just eight Messianic prophecies. He says, "...the chance that any man might have... fulfilled all eight prophecies is one in 1017. That would be 1 in one hundred quadrillion. To understand the odds, Stoner suggests that "we take one hundred quadrillion silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state 2 feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly. Blindfold a man and tell him he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up that one marked silver dollar. What chance would he have of getting the right one?" Stoner concluded, "Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing those prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom."
There will be a lot you can’t predict this Christmas season: what you’ll get for gifts, what the weather will do, who will win their bowl games. One thing you can count on, however, is the love of your Heavenly Father. He sent His love wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Of that, you can be sure.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Naturally, our temperature preferences affect how we set the thermostat. She likes it hovering around 62 degrees while I prefer it a slightly warmer 65 degrees. While 65 is downright frosty by most folks’ standards, let Mrs. Weller catch me fiddling with the thermostat, and the fun begins. Our thermostat rocks back and forth so frequently that our furnace gets seasick.
Apparently we’re not alone. According to a servicemagic.com internet poll, nearly six in ten couples occasionally argue over climate control with 55 percent of
All this talk of temperature makes me wonder: who controls the spiritual temperature in your home? On this point, the Bible is pretty clear. It is the man’s responsibility to see to it that his wife and children are growing in their faith. According to the Apostle Paul, “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.” If my wife’s spiritual growth has plateaued, I need to act. The same is true for my children. The Old Testament makes it clear that I am to “train up a child in the way that he should go.”
Of course, it takes two parents to raise children. But, ultimately, if my household is not a Christ-like one, I am the one who will answer for it. That is a weighty responsibility, one which all men need to take seriously.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Follow me on this logic.
Mitch makes Hoosier republicans mad who. . .
Vote out three incumbent GOP congressmen which . . .
Serves as a bellwether for the rest of the nation's Democratic sweep . . .
That makes Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the house, causing . . .
The world to tilt from its axis, spin out of orbit and crash into the sun.
Therefore, the world is coming to an end, and it's Mitch Daniel's fault. Have a nice day.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I looked ahead to the place where I wanted to take my shot. Ten yards off to my left there was a clearing. If he continued on the same path, he would cross a downed tree right about where I had placed a scent-bomb filled with “parfum de doe.” I worked my deer telepathy: Step over the tree. Meet Mr. Broadhead. As his head went behind a tree trunk obscuring my movement, I stood, swung around left, and drew my bow. Closer. Closer. Now step over the log. Step over the log.
He didn’t step over the log. Instead, he turned and walked along the log straight toward my tree. Hidden by nearby overhanging limbs, I didn’t see the deer until he was at the base of my tree. He stood, twenty feet beneath me, sniffing the base of the maple.
“Okay, plan B,” I thought. Wait until he walks on. He’ll turn broadside eventually, and I can hit him then. I released my hold on the bow, certain that he would hear my labored breathing and hammering heart. The buck moved on. I turned. When he was fifteen yards away, so did he, and I drew my bow. It was then that my safety harness made contact with my elbow. The device meant to keep me from falling to my death was making it impossible to inflict said fate on the deer below. I turned to see what the hangup was. Gingerly, I began loosening the belt that attached the harness to the tree so I could come to full draw.
The belt snagged.
The deer bolted.
I’ve been in the woods several times since, and I’ve yet to see a deer as nice. I’m confident I’ll take a deer, but I doubt I’ll have another chance to take this deer.
I wonder if that buck realized how close he was to death, hovering as it was, twenty-five feet above his head. One moment he was grazing, enjoying the quiet of deepening dusk, and without realizing it, he wandered into a mortal drama. Life and death just inches apart, and the only thing separating them was a happenstance decision to turn left and walk along the downed tree instead of continuing on over the log.
I wonder if you and I really understand the cosmic conflict in which we’re engaged. Do we grasp the enormity of Peter’s words when he warns “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.”(1 Peter 5:8 - NLT) Do we have any idea how closely we’re being watched? How near our adversary is to us?
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.” And while I doubt these unseen forces use tree stands, wear camouflage clothing, and spray themselves with cover scent, they are no less real - and no less deadly. They are intent on destroying you and me.
And they’re far more experienced hunters than I will ever be.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895? This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.
Grammar (Time, 1 hour)
- Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
- Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
- Define verse, stanza and paragraph
- What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of"lie,""play," and "run."
- Define case; Illustrate each case.
- What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
- - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.