Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Death, Hovering Above

I heard him before I saw him. About sixty yards out, he came picking his way through the tall grass at the edge of the woods where I sat my tree stand. I was twenty-five feet up, in a swaying maple tree. The wind was in my face. There was no way he could smell me, and with plenty of brush at intermittent points between him and I, there was no way he could see me either. I waited for him to work his way into range. He strolled about nibbling grass, careless, oblivious to my presence. I took the time to count his tines. A nice four by four, he looked to be a large bodied, mature buck. I willed myself not to freak out. “Just breathe . . . stay calm . . . stop shaking.”

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.

Bark snapped.

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

Eighth Grade Education

Local legend Rick Minehart passed this along to me today, and I thought it of interest to regular readers of Frankly Speaking. . .

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.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS -1895

Grammar (Time, 1 hour)
  1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
  2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
  3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
  4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of"lie,""play," and "run."
  5. Define case; Illustrate each case.
  6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
  7. - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
  1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
  2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
  3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
  4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
  5. Find the cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
  6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
  7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre?
  8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
  9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
  10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
  1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
  2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
  3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
  4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
  5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
  6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
  7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
  8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.
Orthography (Time, one hour)
  1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
  2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
  3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
  4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.'
  5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
  6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
  7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
  8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
  9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
  10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.
Geography (Time, one hour)
  1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
  2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
  3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
  4. Describe the mountains of North America
  5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
  6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
  7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
  8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
  9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
  10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.
Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete. Gives the saying "he only had an 8th grade education" a whole new meaning, doesn't it? Also shows you how poor our education system has become... and, NO! I don't have the answers, and I failed the 8th grade test!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It only took nine-and-a-half years . . .

Sunday morning our attendance was 222 people!

I did a little digging in the archives and saw that the last time we had an attendance that big (other than Easter and our new building dedication) was in May of 1996. That was before "the big split" that saw a third of our folks leave to start a new congregation.

Some thoughts on those ten years:
  • My first month here, we averaged 111 people. Last week's attendance was precisely double that figure. It only took nine-an-a-half years. Imagine what God will do with the next near decade.
  • My first week at BCC a friend phoned to see how it was going. "Well," I told him, "on the one hand we had our lowest attendance in over a decade last week. On the other hand, we've already managed to plant a church."
  • Christ's Church at Butler, the daughter church born of our schism has done well. Their eighty souls who founded the church have worked hard in the Lord's vineyard. Now there are 170+ people who attend there on any Sunday, and they have a great bus ministry that connects with troubled kids.
  • The "church across the street" as some folks have come to know our brothers and sisters at Christ's Church recently purchased a home in which they intend to hold Sunday school classes. Their new property adjoins a parcel that our congregation purchased earlier this year to increase our parking lot. Two churches. One heritage. Adjoining property. Hmmmmm. I wonder if God might use this irony for some greater purpose. Hmmmmmm.
  • God took our folly and did something great with it. Between our two churches, we're reaching twice as many folks as BCC did prior to our split. Frankly, I struggle to understand this, or to place it in a context that makes sense. How is this possible? Is God's blessing in spite of our mis-conception?
  • We've got a long way to go. Even with 222 people meeting at the corner of Oak and Eastern, that is still less than 10% of the folks who live in Butler. A town that, by some estimates, remains 70% unchurched. What are we going to do to reach those people with the good news of Jesus Christ?
  • Finally, God is good, and I am grateful. I look forward to seeing what He'll do next in this great adventure.