Wednesday, December 26, 2007

DON THE BAPTIST'S AMAZING 2008 PROPHECIES

Okay, forget the "prophecies" thing. I'm a smart-alec, not a prophet.

I "prophesy" that the media will spend the next ten months pushing an increasing amount of stories to the effect that life-long, rank-and-file Republicans are considering breaking with their party so they can hoist Hillary upon a golden Roman shield and proclaim her Empress of all the Americans.

I "prophesy" that the same media will continue to prop up John McCain--sort of like the dead guy from "Weekend at Bernie's"--so they can pose with him and proclaim his immanent comeback.

I "prophesy" that "non-radicalized" "Muslim youth" will riot in some European country, scaring the Bejezzus out of people too wussy to kick their little non-radicalized asses and put them in jail.

I "prophesy" that some "atheist" sitting somewhere in front of his computer will have an actual life crisis non-related to the safe, antiseptic, comfortably controllable cyber-world and turn to God for salvation.

I "prophesy" that people on the right and left of the political spectrum will proclaim the looming doom of the world--in high-def, 3d, Technicolor with Dolby sound--while the rest of us just live our lives, as usual.

I "prophesy" that the media will spend the next nine months telling us how horrible BIG BUSINESS is, how they rape the average person and how the world would be better off with a socialist economy--followed by three months of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth about how terrible it will be if the next Christmas season doesn't generate more sales and profits than ever before.

I "prophesy" that no matter who wins the presidential election next Fall, the world will NOT end on the second Tuesday in November 2008. I am confident in this prophecy because Jesus said "No man knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man will return."

Post Noel and Merry New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

JESUS IS THE GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO FOR THE FESTIVAS

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Friday, December 21, 2007

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN 20

Gary Ralph, if you're out there, this one's for you...

Thirty years ago I spent the Christmas season working in Wal Mart's original warehouse in Bentonville Arkansas. Back then Wal Mart had, oh, say 126 stores in eight states. I thought they were huge. Now we boast three Wal Mart Super Centers and a boring old regular Wal Mart right here in California's Antelope Valley.

My friend Gary Ralph and I worked loading trucks full of merchandise. As the workers of ages past have done, we sang to alleviate our sufferings (yes, suffering; those trucks got HOT in the summer and COLD in the winter) As Christmas neared, we began making up Christmas Carols suitable for Wal Mart employees. I thought I'd provide a partial list for your amusement:

FORKLIFT BELLS
HERE COMES SAM WALTON
O LITTLE TOWN OF BENTONVILLE
THE TWELVE DAYS OF WAL MART
And my personal favorite...
DECK THE BOSS AND YOU'LL GET FIRED

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

THE LAST CHRISTIANS IN BETHLEHEM

The National Geographic Channel is running a program called "The Last Christians in Bethlehem." It relates the alarming drop-off of Christian pilgrimages and tourism to Bethlehem since 2002. Many Palestinian Christians, whose families have lived in Bethlehem for centuries have had to close their shops and move away. Others have had their property confiscated by Muslims; the ensuing legal actions are bogged down in Islamic courts.

The NGC tried to portray the various elements that contribute to the decline. They cited the ongoing feud between the Jews and Islamic Palestinians. Recently, the Jews have decided that they must build a wall between themselves and the Hamas-controlled West bank. NGC gets a "B" for execution of their project and an "F" for explaining the actual reason for this problem.

The de-Christianization of Bethlehem is a direct consequence of Islamic depredation. If Hamas and the Palestinians who overwhelmingly voted them into office would stop trying to destroy Israel there would be ZERO problem.

NGC pointed to the WALL which makes it difficult to pass from Jerusalem to Bethlehem as the reason for the abrupt drop in tourism. They also noted an Islamist takeover of the church of the Nativity in 2002. For weeks, armed Islamists and Israelis faced each other at said church. The standoff ended without bloodshed but a precedent was set. Worshipers can now expect armed thugs to take over their church anytime it is convenient for them to cower there after antagonizing the Israeli army. Not a great vacation selling point.

This sad state of affairs is nothing new. In fact, if National Geographic Channel would like to paint an accurate picture I suggest they make this a series. here is the line up: The last Christians of Alexandria. The last Christians of Syria, Cappadocia, Armenia, Constantinople, Tunesia, Morrocco, and Kosovo to name but a few. Those are all cities and countries that used to be Christian until they were subjugated by the warriors of Islam.

Fine, theres been a lot of give-and-take over the centuries, but it is Islam that continues to demand that everybody else bow down to their will. NGC better not blink, they might be doing a special called the Last Christians in the Western Hemisphere. I know a couple people who have made that their life's goal.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I RESEMBLE THAT REMARK

A "friend" sent me this comic; as she says, it hits a little too close to home.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN 19

Pastoral Perquisites

1. The Pastor is always right.

2. In the inconceivable circumstance that someone else might possibly be right, rule #1 becomes immediately operative.

3. The Pastor does not sleep in the office; he meditates.

4. The Pastor is never late; he is ministering.

5. The Pastor is never angry; merely vexed in his spirit.

6. The Pastor never leaves work; his presence is required elsewhere.

7. The Pastor never wastes time reading extraneous materials in his office; he studies.

8. The Pastor never deviates from procedure; he uses creative management.

9. Whoever may enter the Pastor’s office with an idea of his own must leave the office with his Pastor’s ideas.

10. The Pastor is ALWAYS the Pastor, even in his swim trunks.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS THE BIAS

This morning on Good Morning America news reader Chris Coumo announced that presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is "in trouble." The contender was asked another lame question attempting to divide the country over non-existent "religious issues." The question concerned Mormonism, a faith that apparently inspires more terror among social liberals than it does Christian conservatives.

Huckabee said he didn't know much about the Mormon faith. He offered, "don't they believe Jesus and the devil are brothers?"Coumo said this has caused problems for Huckabee's candidacy.

I'd like to know why and how?

As it happens, I was raised a Latter Day Saint. I remember being taught this very doctrine as a child. Unless the Prophet, Council of Elders and the Seventy have weighed in with a new teaching on the subject, this is LDS doctrine. So what? Mormons teach that you and I are brothers and sisters as well. In fact they believe we are brothers and sisters of Jesus and the devil in exactly the same way. According to Mormon doctrine we all had a preexistence in heaven before assuming a physical life here on earth.

Accept it or deny it, as far as I know that is what Mormons believe. I repeat, so what? What in the world does this have to do with the price of a presidential election in New York?

Everything. It is an attempt to divide religious conservatives and set us against each other so that we make life easier for social liberals come next fall.

let me help you out, here. Catholics and Protestants disagree over Mary the mother of Jesus, among other things. I seem to recall Christians and Jews have a few areas of disagreement as well. We CAN actually hold differences in faith and practice and still get along as American citizens. Anyway, I thought you social liberals were all for separating politics and religion.

Nice try, though. Don't look now, but your bias is showing.

Mario, we're not voting for the Pope, dude. Keep your holy war to yourself.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

THE MAN THAT CORRUPTED THE NAME "HADLEYBURG"

Its funny, when I originally named this site I chose to bounce off a Mark Twain story. I chose "Observations from Hadleyville" because I resonated with Twain's view on corrupted mankind. But I actually got the title WRONG. Twain wrote "The Man That Corrupted HadleyBURG."

Oops. Not a terrific job of fact-checking, there.

Funny thing is, I'm not the only one. Google offers an analysis site to see statistics related to my Blog. I can see countries and cities from where people access the site. In the US I can see states as well. Don't worry, I can't see your name, address or even computer address. For instance, I have a fan in Sterling, Virginia, who's logged into the site 38 times in the past 30 days. I also know this person originally jumped to this site through Quartz Hill School of Theology, but that's all I know.

On the other hand, Google doesn't always get it right, either. I have a friend in southeast Arizona who's log-on city is listed as Tucson; pretty sure that's not right. My mother is in Mexico, and her log-on city is Tijuana; I KNOW that's wrong.

One other statistic I like to check is keyword searches. If someone was directed to my site by following a keyword, Google lets me know what that keyword or phrase was. It pays to use theological words, like Keregma, or controversial words, like Nixon.

Here's the point: I've seen more than ten keyword searches for Mark Twain's "The Man That Corrupted HadleyVILLE." Twain was big on choosing the correct word, not its second cousin. I think he missed the boat with HadleyBURG.

Go Figure.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN 18


















At last, the mystery is solved!

SLOW POST!

I'm working on a new book lately so i've been slow to post. I've enjoyed keeping this blog up to date so I'm sorry I've been dragging this week. When the fit--make that muse--is upon me I can think of nothing but the current project. I don't want to post about it though. This is going to be a GOOOOOD book and I don't want to give it away just yet.

A tidbit, though. Yes, I must leave you with something. I recently found Pandora Radio. You pick an artist or song and it begins compiling and playing songs in that style or category. You can give thumbs up or down to individual songs and even open new genres. Pretty cool. I've been listening for hours as I write tonight. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

DIZZY






Today, as I drove around town on errands, I listened to the group Sixpence None The Richer. Some people don't like the vocalist, but I find almost all of their songs deeply moving. Today I wept as I heard the following words. I don’t know if the words will move you apart from the music and cadence. Perhaps what I heard was merely the anguish of my own soul. If that’s the case, then I expect even a sterile reading of the words might speak to you as well.

DIZZY

I’M LIKE THOMAS DOUBTING
FINGERS ROUTING THE SCARS
IN YOUR WRISTS AND SIDE
TOUCHING FLESH WILL MAKE MY MIND BELIEVE

BUT I WANT TO BE LIKE DAVID
THROWING HIS CLOTHES TO THE WIND
TO DANCE A JIG IN MY SKIN
AND BE REMADE BY YOUR CLEANSING AGAIN

CHORUS:
I GIVE YOU MYSELF, IT’S ALL THAT I HAVE
BROKEN AND FRAIL, I’M CLAY IN YOUR HANDS
AND I’M SPINNING UNCONCEALED
DIZZY ON THIS WHEEL FOR YOU, MY LOVE

I’M LIKE PETER CRYING
CROWING BURNING MY EARS
STILL YOU COME NEAR
YOU TAKE MY HAND AND PLACE IN MY PALM
AN ETERNAL CHANCE

CHORUS
I GIVE YOU MYSELF, IT’S ALL THAT I HAVE
BROKEN AND FRAIL, I’M CLAY IN YOUR HANDS
AND I’M SPINNING UNCONCEALED
DIZZY ON THIS WHEEL FOR YOU, MY LOVE

PREDICTIVE SOFTWARE

I received another of those interminable internet advertisements. This one from Amazon. On the verge of clicking the delete button, I recognized a book cover. Humm, I already own that book. So I read the notice.

“Amazon.com has new recommendations for you based on items you purchased or told us you own.”

The listed works were: The Cat Dancers & Spider Mountain by PT Deutermann. Serenity—the Movie. Deception by Randy Alcorn. No Legal Grounds & Try Dying by James Scott Bell. Down Range by Dick Couch. 40 Days, Encountering Jesus Between the Resurrection and the Ascension by Alton Gansky. The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden. The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan.

Of these books, I already own the Highlighted ones. There were twelve other recommendations in a MORE category that I don’t own, though My wife owns one. Seems Predictive Software might have something going for it.

One thing their predictive software did not take into account; how they categorize types. There was a single, truly glaring contradiction. The Atheistic Philip Pullman “Dark Materials” trilogy is NOT something I’m looking for. That is, unless I’m preparing lessons for my course on Christian Apologetics.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

QHCC ON THE WEB

Check out the updates to our church's web page. We've added video interviews of members with their comments about the church. When you get to the page, click on the CHURCH tab. That will take you to the WELCOME page. In the first three paragraphs there are two highlighted "here's."
Click on the first and you get videos, click the second and get our new brochure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

HOLIDAY SHOPPING TIPS ADDENDUM

I once heard a comedian explain the differences between male and female shopping styles thusly;

In primitive times, the roles were divided, men were hunters, women were gatherers. This explains our pre-wired shopping styles.

Women had to browse from bush to bush searching for the best looking, smelling and tasting berries. This took a long time, and consequently women are committed to shopping over the long haul, making sure they haven't missed anything really tasty.

Hunting, on the other hand, requires a single-mindedness of purpose. Men on the hunt had to keep their single objective clearly in mind lest they be stomped or eaten by their objective. It went something like this: Mammoth. Must find Mammoth. Here is Mammoth. Kill Mammoth. Mammoth dead now. Haul Mammoth to village.

And that's the way it works today. Women browse from store to store, aisle to aisle, rack to rack, driving men insane because they have ONE SINGLE OBJECTIVE in mind.

Shirt. Must find shirt. Here is shirt. Kill shirt. Shirt dead now. Haul shirt to house.

FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST

I'm guilty of treating a great blessing lightly. I received great news on Saturday but have not reported it til now.

My doctor has pronounced me kidney-stone free. This is a great relief. I've dealt with this particular round of stones since June of 2006. Since October 06 I've gone through four lithotripsy and one laser procedure. The final lithotripsy, almost two weeks ago was the charm. Broke that little monster into talcum powder, they did.

Anyway. Happy to say its over. Now I need to stop making excuses and get back onto a regular exercise schedule.

Friday, November 23, 2007

HOLIDAY SHOPPING TIPS

1. Please get up at 3 am for the 4 am earlybird special deals. That way when I get up at 10am and hit the stores around 1pm you will all be back home asleep and the place will be empty.

2. What is the deal with GROUP shopping? Why does the entire extended family have to go stand in the middle of the busiest aisle discussing where to go for lunch? Do you all buy Christmas/Hanukkah presents for the collektive?

3. Are you aware that you are not the only person in the store? OTHER people, LOTS of OTHER people, want to pass through that doorway you are blocking with your Cadellac Escalade Stroller and a confused look on your face. Get out of everybody else's way while you try to figure out if you spent the exact same amount on everyone in the immediate family.

4. Women seem compelled to take the path of greatest resistance while the shopping frenzy is upon them.

5. Men, NO there is no place to park that shopping cart that ten other people don't want to stand at too.

6. Wanna have some fun? Go pick up some ridiculous piece of crap, hold it up and examine it critically. Every woman in the store will immediately rush to that location to see if you've found a bargain they missed.

7. Honestly, I used to think this stuff was I Love Lucy fodder, not reality. I'm going back to bed.

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN 16

Thursday, November 22, 2007

HUMOR! HA! HA! HA!


I just found the site for my favorite Christian comedian. Paul Aldrich is a terminally funny guy.

You can find this music video by following the link to Paul's World.
It's a great take off on Johnny Rivers' classic, Secret Agent Man.

THE COMMON FOUNDATION OF FAITH AND REASON

Scott Atran, scholar and anthropologist, asserts that religious beliefs are nothing more than a delusion. According to Atran, religious belief means believing “what is materially false to be true” and “what is materially true to be false.” In other words, Atran contends that religious faith is an inane belief in “factually impossible worlds.”

I respond by asserting that I don’t have faith in what is “materially false.” Nor do I reject that which is materially true, though I sometimes question interpretations of the same. I do have faith in a transcendent God who is beyond the scope and scrutiny of the material world. The God I worship is the creator of the material universe. He is not a part of creation, or subject to its laws.

People like Atran often assert that religious folk base their beliefs on unprovable presuppositions. That is, we believe God exists, speaks and works in the material world without any tangible, provable evidence.

I don’t deny the charge. It’s absolutely true.

What Atran et al won’t tell you is that they—hard-headed scientific rationalists all—DO THE SAME THING. What? No, materialists base their thinking on scientifically demonstrable evidence. It’s religious people who base their life on faith.

That turns out not to be the case.

EVERYONE starts with unprovable presuppositions. We presuppose that what our senses relate to us is actual, reliable information. We presuppose that our brains are accurately processing the information received from our senses. We presuppose we are reasonable and not insane. We presuppose that some things are really “right” and others truly “wrong.”

That is pretty much true for all thinking persons down through the ages. However, we also presuppose things about God. Some of us presuppose God exists, others presuppose God does not exist. In neither case is the presupposition “provable” in the scientific, repeatable, laboratory sense.

Atheists like Atran not only believe the unproved presupposition that God does not exist, they also believe the unproved presupposition that anyone who disagrees with them is mentally deficient.

Fine, there are lazy, unthinking religious people who mouth beliefs they have not thought through. There are a LOT of them. So what? There are a lot of people with college degrees who unthinkingly parrot what they were told in school, too. I’ve been there, I know.

I assert that atheistic materialists have a perfect right to presuppose there is no God. I’d simply appreciate it if they would have the intellectual honesty to admit their thoughts are based on unproved presuppositions as well, just as mine are.

That’s not the end of it, either. Once you’ve admitted your presuppositions you have an intellectual and moral obligation to examine them. Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates’ statement is a vivid demonstration that human thought did not suddenly appear a few hundred years ago with the Age of Reason.

What Socrates was saying and I am echoing, is that you and I have an intellectual responsibility to hold our thoughts and beliefs up to the cold light of day. I may not be able to prove it, but I can ask, does what I say I believe correspond to the reality of the life I experience? This is admittedly subjective. However, I’ll give an example. I believe mankind is fallen, that we have deviated from what our Creator desires for us. The world around me is filled with reasonably good, decent people but still full of trouble and pain. Life’s sorrow is caused by the accumulation of a great many small, unkind, and a relatively few, horrendously evil deeds.

We see, experience and absolutely loathe this dichotomous state of being. In our hearts we feel that something is wrong, that we should not treat one another this way. Yet we do. And not just “bad” people, either. Night after night, good, common, decent people lie in their beds, stare at the ceiling and ask “why?" Why did I do that? Why didn’t I do the right thing? Why can’t I change?

I find this a sufficient reason to think my belief in sin corresponds to reality.

Both Science and faith have added great benefits to human life. And the opposite is true as well. Belief in God has been used to justify selfish, ugly, even vicious acts. So has belief in materialism. It is not the underlying philosophy, but fallen human nature that’s at fault. Greed, selfishness, anger, lust and the rest are human failings, not philosophical ideals.

Perhaps we could spend some time examining ourselves and reaching to fulfill the highest expression of the philosophy we espouse instead of calling each other names.

You think?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Dinesh D'Sousa has posted Thank God For America on his blog today. In it, he lists ten things that show what's so great about America. As a naturalized American citizen, born in India, D'Sousa sees things in our country that many of us don't. Read the article, you'll be blessed.

As you enjoy your day, remember to give thanks for all that God has done for you and through you.

I thank God I am an American, and I'm mighty proud of it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

THE THREEFOLD PROGRESSION OF MAN

Augustine, the great theologian, discovered an intriguing progression in the Biblical narrative.

The Bible outlines the possibilities of mankind BEFORE sin came into creation, where we all live now and what God's plan is for our ultimate destiny. These are all summed up in how we relate to sin and death. Augustine called this "The Threefold Progression of Mankind."

1
In Genesis chapters one through three, for mankind it was:
Possible NOT to sin and to die


2
From Genesis chapter three through Revelation chapter twenty, (where you and I live now) for mankind it is:
NOT possible NOT to sin and to die


3
From Revelation chapter twenty-one & two on, for mankind it will be:
Not POSSIBLE to sin and to die

Saturday, November 17, 2007

CHRISTIAN VALUES HAIRSPRAY??!!

Alright, somebody got shunted to this site by doing a keyword search for "Christian Values Hairspray."

Number 1, What kind of information were you looking for? I mean, okay, I can be dense but...what? Is it a hairspray that imparts a halo of spirituality? CHRISTIAN spirituality? Is it a certain stench or aroma that is pleasing in God's nostrils? Is it a new startup fashion label with a Christian--whatever THAT means--emphasis?

I'm stumped.

Moving on to Letter B, Why would that particular keyword phrase lead to MY blog?

Anyone...? Anyone...?

The only thing I can figure is that it must be the ghost in the microchips.

Friday, November 16, 2007

TRIUMPH OF THE WILL

Tonight on the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams announced that desertions are up in the US Army. Congratulations to Brian and the rest of the Treason Lobby. Desertions trending up are a direct consequence of the anti-military, anti-war, anti-American propaganda you’ve been hosing us with for the last five years.

What gall. You loudly proclaim our war effort to be a failure and—wink, wink—quite possibly illegal, then you blandly make this horrendous announcement as if the two had no connection.

Shame on you.

I’d like to tell you what I REALLY think about your demoralizing, treasonous efforts but I happen to know children read this blog. So I’ll content myself with the one thing I know will make you cry:

I hereby question your patriotism.

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN 15

Travels With Farley


Thursday, November 15, 2007

TRAVELIN' MAN

I'm back. Taa Daaaaa! Spent the week in Sacramento, California. I went to our Annual denominational business meeting. That last sentence was carefully crafted. Had I said I went to the annual California Southern Baptist Convention those of you from the North East and the Left Coast might have immediately jumped to some erroneous conclusions. To wit: "Ah! don the baptist is a stupid racist AND he wears funny hats while riding go-carts."

I won't deny the go-cart accusation. I also wear hats a lot, though never a fez. However, You might be interested to know that the CONVENTION was hosted by the Russian Baptist Church of Sacramento. The pastor is a Russian emegre who speaks very little English. The congregation is Nostrovia to the max.

As for the racist bit, half of the state officers we elected for the following year were non-WASPS. Our state executive director is Latino. In fact, on any given Sunday you could choose from over sixty different language and /or ethnic congregations to worship with, all aligned (cooperating, we like to say) with California Southern Baptists.

I'm kind of proud of that; though not in a fleshly, sinful way. I notice some denominations make a big deal about being inclusive and accepting. When they are honest with me, their pastors admit they have no such diversity. Not that its about diversity, its about recognizing that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no black or white. We are all one in Christ.

Not to say we're perfect, the guy next to me wore an ugly suit after all.

As for stupidity? I'm so bright, my mother calls me son.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

DO YOU HAVE A PURPOSE FOR LIFE?

Many people wonder if there is a purpose to life.
What's it all about?
My granddaughter has an answer.

You put your one foot in
You put your one foot out
You put your one foot in
and you shake it all about
You do the Hokey Dokey
and you turn yourself around.
That's what its all about!




video

Saturday, November 10, 2007

HADLEYVILLE'S GOIN' GREEN
















We here at Observations From Hadleyville--that's just me, but I'm fond of pompous sermonizing--have decided that since everyone else is jumping on the GREEN bandwagon, who are we to miss out on another passing, meaningless cultural fad? I put in a neon bulb above the washer-dryer and one in the garage, too. I've shut off the AC for the winter and put a green, eco-friendly sticker on my energy star monitor. Best of all, I've crafted a GOIN' GREEN logo to show I really mean business. The world--which by the way is still going to HELL--is now a safer, greener place.

Monday, November 5, 2007

WARNING: BLOOD DEPRESSURIZATION IN PROGRESS EPISODE # 4

Oh, and while we're at it, WHAT'S UP WITH THE FREAKIN' SCIENCE CHANNEL??!!

They are running ads for the show "Everest: Beyond The Limit!" and the commercials consist of a bunch of whiners who thought climbing Mt. Everest would be a Sunday School picnic. "This is not something you want to do!" bemoans one woman. "I'm crying because of the pain," whines a thirty-something crybaby who apparently needs his diaper changed and 2AM feeding.

Here's some helpful advice; "GO HOME, you whiners!" Who wants to watch this crap? It's supposed to be rugged ADVENTURE for Pete's sake, not Barney's nursery school!

Do you think Edmund Hillary's historic climb sounded like this? No... No, I doubt it.

I've tried to climb Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. It was hard. I gave out a thousand feet below the summit. I griped about being sore & tired, sure. But most of the remarks I remember, from myself, my friends and everysinglepersononthetrail was something like: "I've run out of words to describe how beautiful and majestic this is." Awe was a lot more prevalent than woe.

I'll tell you another thing, when the cameras were rolling, I knocked off the griping.

WARNING: BLOOD DEPRESSURIZATION IN PROGRESS EPISODE # 3

There is a Target commercial currently running on television. It boasts of Target's efforts to invest some of their profits back into local communities. Fine. That's noble. What follows is idiotic. When you shop at Target it is in fact a teeninecy portion of YOUR money that is invested in communities. From there, Target makes a leap of logic that by shopping at Target you are, ipso fatso, a GOOD person.

Can you feel the love?

Just think, as long as you shop at Target you'll never need do another good deed again. PERIOD. You're covered. Washed in the green! Hallelujah!

Here's the equation: Spending money on yourself = righteousness.

I'm not a math whiz but I think I'll have to give this one a big, wet raspberry.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

TOUR DE FATS

What with working on my son's new house and dealing with medical problems I got waaaay behind in my bike riding. In fact, I haven't done much intentional exercise since Yosemite, in July.

In the past month I've gotten back on the aluminum horse and resumed my schedule. Sort of. I'd lost a lot of stamina. Just before Half Dome, I'd ridden a thirty-mile course, with two, one thousand foot climbs, twice. It's taken me a month of riding just to climb that first thousand foot hill. It's summit is three miles from my doorstep. I finally made that climb today.

I still have a way to go in the stamina department. In July I was climbing that hill in the highest-hardest gears. Today I had to settle for the lowest-easiest gears. But the important thing is that slow I may be but I still finished the course.

I'm still being passed by every gray-haired old man and five-year-old in a big wheel, which is hard on the ego. I'm seriously considering having my gear ratio changed. I'm sure that's not cheating. No matter, I know if I keep at it I will do better.

Friday, November 2, 2007

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN 13

More Input from ROBOTMAN

THE KEREGMA

I often hear people discussing what or how much you need to know in order to become a Christian. The standards range from knowledge of the Old Testament sacrificial system and how that relates to Christ's sacrificial death on Mt. Calvary, to "just believe with a sincere heart, Dude."

Let me suggest two approaches that I think give us insight into what the early Church thought about the subject. The first is Paul's point in First Corinthians chapter 15. Paul reminds the Corinthians of the Gospel, which is; "Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures. He was buried. He rose again on the third day, according to the scriptures and he was seen by upwards of five hundred witnesses."

The Gospel is thus reduced to four key points: Christ died for our sins, he was buried, he arose from the dead, he was seen by witnesses. But notice, two of the statements have a modifier: DIED and AROSE are modified by the phrase, according to the scriptures. Why not the other two? How about this, Christ's death and resurrection were fulfillments of prophecy, while his burial and sightings by many witnesses are offered as tangible EVIDENCE that he indeed died and rose again.

I conclude that the Gospel message is quite simple; Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.

Fine, that's the gospel message, sufficient for salvation, but what do you need to know to be fully informed about the foundation of the Christian life? Again, the early Church is already there for you. If you read the early Church Fathers--the leaders following the Apostles--you find many references to "The Apostles Doctrine." This is the message or KEREGMA of the early church. But what is that message?

Simple, it is found in the messages in the Book of Acts. Read them. Acts 2:14-39, 3:11-26, 4:8-12, 5:29-32, 7:52-56, 9:19-20, 10:34-43, 13:22-41, 16:31, 17:3, & 18-31, 18:5 & 28, 22:14-16 and 26:23 & 29.

In those messages the Apostles taught six concepts, over and over. Not every message has all six but the six are repeated in the ongoing teaching of the Apostolic Church. They are:

1. Jesus came from God
2. You and I killed Him
3. God raised Him up
4. He sends the Holy Spirit
5. Believe and Repent
6. He’s coming back

I say with confidence that THIS is the bedrock of Christian teaching. In fact it ought to be the message we preach today. Instead of worrying about which Church is right, or which baptism practice will get you into heaven or are you working hard enough (you're not and never can so trust God's grace), let's proclaim the Gospel. Jesus Christ is God become human flesh. He died for our sins, conquered death on our behalf and is coming back. THAT my friend is a call to believe and repent.

What a concept.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

DEFINITELY CHECK OUT THIS LINK


I am reading Dinesh D'Souza's new book,
What's So Great About Christianity. It took me couple days to realize the title has no question mark. The book is an apologetic refutation to the current militant atheism of the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and company. I am impressed enough by D'Souza's approach that this book will be the text for my future Apologetics classes at Quartz Hill School of Theology.


Two endorsements swayed me to buy the book in the first place. Historian Paul Johnson, for whom I have enormous respect, said,Those who believe in God are at present being subjected to a barrage of atheist propaganda, directed particularly at Christianity. What’s So Great About Christianity is a much-needed response to this offensive. It is wide-ranging, specific, well-researched, and dependably accurate. It will be of immense value to all those who wish to defend and uphold the Christian case." And Michael Shermer, publisher of
Skeptic magazine, cautioned, "although non-Christians and non-theists may disagree with some of his arguments, we ignore him at our peril. D'Souza's book takes the debate to a new level. Read it."

I heartily recommend this book. It will challenge believers and unbelievers alike.

I've placed a link to Dinesh D'Souza's blog in the links section of my blog. Check it out. His site also links to a video debate with Christopher Hitchens at The Kings College, NYC.

Friday, October 26, 2007

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN 12

Bumper Stickers we'd like to See:

He who laughs last, thinks slowest.

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.

A day without sunshine is like, well, night.

On the other hand, you have different fingers.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.

When the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.

Seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it.

Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe

He's not dead, he's electro-encephalo-graphically challenged.

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.

I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.

Honk if you love peace and quiet.

Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how it remains so popular?

Nothing is fool-proof to a sufficiently talented fool.

It is hard to understand how a cemetery raised its burial cost and blamed it on the cost of living.

Just remember...if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.

It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try and pass them.

You can't have everything, where would you put it?

Latest survey shows that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the world's population.

The things that come to those that wait may be the things left by those who got there first.

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

It was recently discovered that research causes cancer in rats.

Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter since nobody listens.

I wished the buck stopped here, as I could use a few.

I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CHEER UP, THINGS COULD BE WORSE

Eric Miller posted some remarks about life's sufferings that are well worth reading. You can find them here. The fact that he quotes me is merely an indication of the depth of his remarks.

Here's a teaser...

"So many people in our lives, so many preachers in church and on TV, tell us that if we just believe enough or do something better our lives will be wonderful. It is very easy to feel tremendous guilt for our failures. I do it all the time. I need to stop and accept the shit in my life. I need to just trust that God loves me and is leading me in a good direction."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

CHECK OUT THE NEW LINK















I've added a link to The HOT ROD Church for Sinners website. Check 'em out. These folks are having fun serving Christ in their daily lives. Since I'm an unofficial CAR GUY, this church intrigues me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

THE EMERGENT RUSSIAN THREAT

































Today, on Good Morning America, Chris Cumo the news reader announced a new Russian initiative. Soviet--oops, I mean RUSSIAN president Vald Putin has announced the development of a new series of nuclear weapons.

The above photos show a couple examples of Russian craftsmanship.

Gosh, I hope they don't hurt themselves.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

DC AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA






































Two summers ago, Karen and I were privileged to spend a month visiting in the Nation's capitol. The former treasurer from my church was doing time in the pentagon and we stayed with her while touring the area. We really had a great time apart from the humidity. As a nearly life-long Westerner I tire quickly of humidity and precipitation. At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier an ambulance took someone away because of heat exhaustion. (doubtless a fellow low-humidifite)

Tonight, while browsing through "My Pictures," I relived our trip. We'd like to go sometime in the fall or spring just to see what all the fuss is about.

Here's a couple shots for you... the first is an inscription in the National Cathedral. The second is a painting by a former church member, hanging in the Capitol Building. The third is Karen and I sitting in George Washington's family Pew in Alexandria. And the fourth us is watching the Beach Boys on the Capitol lawn on July 4th.

I JUST SAVED A BUNCH OF MONEY ON MY CAR BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Last month I was offered a pretty sweet deal on a used car. A 2001 Taurus became available for a good price. 2001, you sniff. And a Ford Taurus? Was it free? Yeah, okay, laugh. Its not exactly the Dodge Charger I was lusting for, but as Paul Harvey used to say; wait'll you hear the rest of the story.

This '01 Ford was owned by an aged couple. By that I mean this six year old car had less than 38,000 miles on it. Plus, I was generously offered a deal considerably below Kelly Blue Book. On top of that, I could put half down and pay the rest off monthly--my schedule. Whoa, that does sound pretty sweet.

You Betsy, Ross! But the icing on the cake came this morning. I received a phone call telling me that the car had been paid off, never mind the details.

Now some of you might be thinking; "Yeah, yeah! Those preachers are always ripping off little old ladies." All I can say is, the little old lady in question has already been promoted to Glory. Technically, I was offered this car by an agent of the executor. Beside that, I have never before received such an overwhelming blessing. To paraphrase Indiana Jones, "This kind of thing doesn't happen to me every day."

This is how God's grace works. Its more than you expect or deserve. In fact, if you can read the Bible--Romans in particular--and NOT say, "No God, you can't mean that! That's too much!!" I would say you do not yet understand grace.

I hope I can remember this blessing the next time I start complaining about being led into wilderness just to die.

Thank God for His marvelous Grace

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A THEOLOGY FOR WARRIORS

CMDR Schwartzel, this one's for you and your sailors.

In Luke 3, John the Baptist is found preaching repentance because of coming Judgment. (by the way, REPENT is a time-honored, traditional Baptist greeting.)

The response of the crowd is; "What should we do then?" The Baptist tells them to share with those in need.

Then some tax collectors come to be baptized. "Teacher," they ask, "what should we do?"
John tells them, "don't collect any more than you are required to."

Finally, some soldiers have a question for John, "And what should we do?" they ask.
John replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely—be content with your pay."

1: John's exhortation to the crowd is nothing more than we would expect.

2: John's word for the tax collectors and soldiers is NOTHING that the people of that day--and I believe our own day as well--would expect.

Many good people believed that tax collectors, as quisling, Roman puppets, had lost any hope of salvation. Yet here they are seeking baptism and, therefore, repenting. And John's word to them is NOT, go to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks, or even to leave their evil profession. He simply tells them to do their job honestly.

John's response to soldiers is truly eye-opening. It makes no difference whether these were Roman soldiers or Jewish Temple police. John does not condemn their profession, either. In fact, he gives them the same word he gave the tax collectors. Do your job honestly, with integrity. Absent, I notice, is any prohibition against practicing the warrior's arts (that's intellectual talk for meting out violence and death)

So here's my point: In a fallen world it is part of God's economy for warriors of integrity to protect us from evil men.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Friday, October 5, 2007

AND I LIKED RICHARD NIXON, TOO

“According to liberals, the message of Jesus, which somehow [Mel] Gibson missed, is something along the lines of be nice to people.”…In fact, Jesus’ distinctive “message” was: People are sinful and need to be redeemed, and this is your lucky day because I’m here to redeem you even though you don’t deserve it and I have to get the crap kicked out of me to do it. That is the reason He is called “Christ the Redeemer” rather than "Christ the Moron Driving around in a Volvo with a ‘Be Nice to People’ Bumper Sticker on It.”

Ann Coulter

.

.

I love you, Ann; in a totally platonic, non-creepy way, of course.

DTB

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN 9


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

WARNING: BLOOD DEPRESSURIZATION IN PROGRESS 2

I saw the following quote today:

" … there’s no moral difference between a stealth bomber and a suicide bomber, both kill innocent people for political reasons.” — Tony Benn

...Nothing says agenda like willful stupidity. No moral difference? stealth bombers--and by implication ALL US military forces--do NOT purposely target innocent people. Suicide bombers do: period. They do it to terrorize the powerless. They do it to get "Peace Loving" idots to weep crocodile tears over poor victimized jerks who blow themselves up along with a bus load of school children. No moral difference! (insert derisive snort, here)

US forces have gone out of their way to develop precision guided munitions to avoid killing "innocent" people.

Benn, you are a fool.

WE'RE GOIN' IN: PART 2

Whew, what a day. When you have surgery you can't eat for twelve hours before said surgery. I'm diabetic, which means I can't take my medications until afterward, either. Because of that They usually schedule me for very early in the morning. Not yesterday. I was scheduled for 10:30 which is still kind of late. I actually went into the OR at 3:00 PM. Dr Lau said he got the nasty little bugger. He blasted it to pop rocks and actually managed to drain most of the bits out during surgery.

I woke up in recovery @ 6:00 and left the hospital at 7:00. FINALLY ate at 8:00. The good news is my fasting blood sugar next morning was 90. (a normal person's levels vary from 75-130)

No pain to speak of. A touch of residual soreness from the garden hose they had up me. Burns when I pump bilges. However, the excruciating torturous pain lessons with each event. I should be fine by tomorrow.

Appreciate all your prayers--you know who you are.

Off to resume normal schedule; defined as a couple hours of "work" followed by a long nap.

Later Duds--er, Dudes!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

WE'RE GOIN' IN : PART 1

Today's the day. Laser surgery. Feeling pretty good here at home. I'll let you know how I feel this evening.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

THE PARABLE OF NATHAN THE WISE

There was once a mighty king, Nathan the Wise one, who had a magic ring. Whoever possessed this ring would be rich, wise & powerful. King Nathan also had three sons. He knew that when he died, his sons would quarrel over possession of the ring. So, he had two duplicate, but non-magic rings forged. On his death bed, he gave a ring to each of his sons, and so died.

His sons spent the rest of their lives quarreling over who was the richest, wisest, and most powerful.

The moral of the story is: If you believe that you have the truth, act like it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN 7

This one’s for you, Eric…

Single-board nuclear reactor Supplies pc standby power for 12 years

Now available on a full-length plug-in card for IBM PC or compatible computers, the QBX-1 add-on nuclear reactor card provides backup power for as long as 12 years. When the card senses a power failure, explosive bolts eject moderator and control rods from the reactor’s interior within 20 msec, bringing the reactor to its fully rated output of 20 kW in less than a millisecond. Over the 12-year active life, the reactor’s power decreases by 25% to 15 kW.

Integral heat fins provide convection cooling of the reactor’s 500W power dissipation while the reactor remains in its standby condition. If your computer’s fans can’t furnish 400 ft3/sec of forced air for cooling, consider buying the manufacturer’s heavy-water cooling jacket and stainless steel pump module, which fit conveniently under a desk or workbench. Latches on each side of the reactor module let you quickly exchange the radioactive core, should you need to replace it. An optional circular viewing port of lead glass lets you check the reactor’s internal mechanical assemblies.

To protect users from undue radiation, each reactor includes a shielding kit comprising five self- stick lead plates and 20 radiation-monitoring film badges. The lead plates mount inside your computer’s enclosure and reduce gamma rays that cause soft errors to floppy-disk and RAM data. For further protection, consider buying the manufacturer’s 200-ft extension cords for keyboards and monitors.

Because the reactor can supply more than enough power for your computer, you can sell excess power to your local utility company. An add-on phasing and metering kit (PMK-1) lets you connect your reactor to the local power grid. Each PMK-1 includes standard power-sale contracts and Rural Electrification Board rules and regulations.

Although not required in all localities, each reactor card package includes a standard 23 volume site evacuation plan. The plan includes blank forms for you to fill in the name and address of your reactor site and then mail to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As an option, the manufacturer supplies the plan on 12 MS-DOS-compatible disks in Wordstar format. User-friendly templates let you type in information so that your word processor can create a complete, printed document.

Reactor prices start at just $2.3 million each (1). Delivery, seven years ARO.

Regus Patoff

Luminescent Electronic Products Inc. Box U-235, Trinity Site, NM 43210

INQUIRE DIRECT

Sunday, September 16, 2007

REPOST--THOUGHTS ON CHRISTIAN FICTION

Let me preface this by saying I am offering a critique, not a sour grapes criticism. I realize that there are business realities to publishing that I know not of. I realize that as an unpublished novelist—articles and cartoons, yes. Novels, no—I do not have the experience in the industry to even know what I don’t know.

Don the Baptist’s

Ninety-five—Give-or-TakeTheses on Christian Fiction

Though I see this slowly changing, it seems that many Christian publishing house’s criterion for the content of fiction is based on the same doctrinal soundness guidelines as their non-fiction materials.

Fiction is what-if stories about real life. Theology is not fiction.

I want to read and sell fiction that is godly in its basic nature without being made to feel like I am choking down a spoonful of caster oil that’s “good for me.”

Often times when I spend money on Christian Fiction, I feel like I’m “taking a hit for the team.” In other words, it’s not really worth the money, but by supporting my cause I’m being a loyal team player.

I hate to finish reading a work of Christian Fiction and think, “well, it was almost as good as a real novel.”

I think a book may be Christian because of the character of the writer, not the overt content.

I do not believe Christian Fiction has to be a sermon disguised—however creatively—as a novel.

I think Christian Fiction should show the outworking of Christian values and God’s providence in the midst of a harsh and fallen creation, warts and all.

I think CBA publishers are excluding men from their calculations of what sells. It is circular reasoning: men don’t read Christian Fiction, so don’t sell fiction that men will want to read.

As a guy and a Christian, I hunger to read things that interest me as a Christian guy. I don’t want to read watered down guy-stuff because that’s the only way women will read it.

Women and men have different interests and tastes; why not have the grace to bless both? I don’t want to exclude women’s fiction, I want to see an appreciation for men’s fiction.

I believe God has called and gifted me to produce works of “art” that give Him glory simply because they exist, not to concoct commercials and ditties that will help to market Jesus.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

ANCHORS AWEIGH 2



I wanted to remind you to pray for my friend, Commander Mark Schwartzel, USN, as he and his troops are serving in the Middle East Area of Operations. Mark is the Commanding Officer of a customs detachment. (Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Customs Battalion TANGO) The command consists of 500 sailors performing Customs Inspections on sailors, soldiers and airmen returning home after serving in Iraq.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

SCIENCE MARCHES ON

Hey, guess what? Kidney stone's not gone, that's what.

Had another x-ray and coffee clatch with my urologist today. He's not happy. After three traditional lithotripsy procedures, this darn stone refuses to break. Must be a diamond, I'm thinking. If I pass it, I'll be wealthy. But no, that's not likely.

As famed Ghostbuster "doctor" Venkman says; "Okay, the usual stuff isn't working." So now I get to have a laser probe inserted. Shades of Fantastic Voyage. Actually, inner-corporeal laser surgery isn't all bad. At least it ought to go over well with my congregation--Trekie Memorial Baptist Church.

However, before we get too excited I must note that there is a slight hazard of burning holes in my ureter; apparently the darn thing--ureter, not laser--wiggles around like a frisky puppy while the laser--Hello, LASER!-- probe is moving around in there. Oh joy.

Now where did I put that ash heap?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN 5




















TIME MANAGEMENT

JIMMY OLSEN BLUES

Years ago, my sons bought me a music tape for my birthday. Since they are practical as well as generous, they made sure that the music was the kind they themselves wouldn't mind listening to. The group is called Spin Doctors; and to my mature, evangelical shame, I must confess that I still like some of their music (Stone him! Yes, stone him!). One song in particular evokes feelings I have experienced in the ministry. It’s called Jimmy Olsen Blues. It paints a somewhat humorous picture of Jimmy’s frustration as he vies with Superman for Lois Lane’s attention. He sings; "I can't believe my dilemma is real, I've been competing with the man of steel."

I know just what he means. It sounds a lot like my own laments when I foolishly compare myself to other pastors who seem to have all the talent, charisma, grace and breaks. When I really want to draw blood from my psyche, I say things to myself like; “Rats! I’m not Super-Pastor. I don’t leap tall pulpits at a single bound. I’m not faster than a speeding youth director.” Do I dare to show my face around real pastors; Super Pastors?

In my saner moments, I realize that this is not only my own problem. We all experience feelings of inadequacy. Of course, never at a pastor’s meeting or anything like that. The good news is that when Paul spoke of each of us as individual members of the Body of Christ, (1 Corinthians 12:12) he was championing individuality within unity.

We are unified by our allegiance to Christ, not our sameness. In other words, God has chosen to build his Church from diverse types. Literally, E Pluribus Unum; out of many, one. This is a liberating concept. God can, and actually desires, to use you right now. Just as you are. You may not get Lois, but you don’t have to be Superman, either.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

ON THE MEDICAL FRONT

So, okay; update time.

1. Last Friday I had lithotripsy to dislodge kidney stone gravel. Usually I pass quite a bit of debris in the form of oh, call it beach sand. This time the pickins are slim. Not much actually collected. However, I did note that some of the very fine bits were passing through the strainer. The Doctor must have blasted that gravel to talcum powder. That sounds good. Its possible that he did nothing of the sort, that the gravel is still in place. However, I do have corroborating evidence; My blood sugar numbers have dropped an average of forty points since the day after the procedure. Yippie.

2. The late and lamented finger tip seems to be healing over. I won't go into the gross and gory details but yesterday when the nurse changed the bandage she did not have to soak it off. It slipped right off the finger tip all by itself. Double Yippie.

I'm feeling pretty good. Haven't had to resort to pain medications much. I may actually resume my exercise schedule this week. Though biking is out until I can trust this finger around the handlebars. I plan to start walking Godde Hill. Its a thousand foot climb in three miles from my front door. If I improve my time up Godde, I can start thinking about Half Dome next summer.
Up, up and awaaaaaay!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

WINDOW PAINS

I’d finally managed to arrange a day off. It was early and my wife and I were rushing to take our sons to their separate schools. As my older son and I sat in the driveway warming up my old car, Karen appeared at the front door making “phone” gestures. “It’s Willard,” she shouted over the engine’s roar, “sounds important.”

Great, I braced myself for the usual litany of Willard’s personal woes. How right I was. When I picked up the phone, Willard spoke in his usual slow-talking drawl. “Pastor, we've had quite a bit of damage done to the church building. It looks like somebody had themselves a field day chucking rocks through our windows.”

So much for my day off.

Talk about personal; it hit me right in the gut. It felt like a judgment against my entire ministry. I felt insulted, I felt enraged. As I drove anger grew within me. I saw everything and everyone on the road as an extension of my problems. Traffic lights seemed timed to delay me. Old men dawdled in ancient pickup trucks clogging the streets. Creeping across town in slow motion, I mentally added up the possible breakage. I wondered how much money we had left at the tag end of the month. My depression deepened. I considered thoughts gloomy enough to dispatch Kenneth Copeland AND Robert Schuller to the pits of despair.

By the time I arrived at the church plant I had whipped my wrath into a fine lather. Then I saw the damage—Ouch! Seven windows starred, holed, and just plain shattered! The windows down one side of the building had been enthusiastically attacked by a storm of rocks. Stones and shards of colored panes littered the auditorium. As my shoes crunched through broken glass, I honestly think I would have preferred to handle a tragedy, even a death. At least those were problems within my area of expertise.

A workday to replace these same windows would have been cause for rejoicing. Now however, I was depressed at the thought that anyone would do such a thing to a church building. To be honest, my righteous indignation was not unmixed with fleshly self-pity.

We had called the sheriff and the window glaziers. What was keeping them? I ached to clean up the mess. My building—God’s House!—had been desecrated. It reminded me of the time my son broke his collarbone and I fumed over the time it took to relieve his pain. Finally, a sheriff’s car appeared, followed presently by the glass truck. While the deputy made his report, he informed me that vandalism of a synagogue or a church was a felony. At that moment—God, help me—I secretly hoped it carried the death penalty.

Anger was a reaction I could have anticipated. It didn’t really surprise me. What I did not expect was the feeling of vulnerability I experienced afterward. I felt defenseless. When the windows had been reglazed, floor swept, glass shards vacuumed from the pew cushions, I saw my fresh, matching golden windows not as an improvement but rather as liabilities. There they were—targets, monuments to vandalism. Here I glaze mine Ebenezer. They could be shattered again—all too easily. I found myself reluctant to leave.

Less than a week later, the windows were attacked again. The same seven were broken. I determined to foil the miscreants. I resolved to catch these vandals—obviously lineal descendants of the original barbarian tribe. I went to work collecting evidence. Willard took photographs of the crime scene. I measured sneaker prints in the dust. My son identified the sneaker brand by the tread pattern. I staked out the building at odd hours. I bided my time until they fell into my trap.

Wise as serpents, eh? I said to myself. I'll show ‘em.

And then one afternoon it happened. Driving into the parking lot I saw three boys walking across our property on their way home from the neighboring junior high school. As I parked, I heard the raucous clatter of breaking glass. The building alarm began its earsplitting razz. I ran around the back in time to see the boys sauntering out the other side of the lot. They studiously ignored my call of “Hey guys, I want to talk to you!”

What could I do? I yelled in a taunting manner, “What’s the matter, scared of an old man?” They stopped.

I stopped too. Then, in as friendly a voice as I could muster I said, “We really can’t afford to have any more windows broken here. It’s cost this church seven hundred dollars in the last three weeks.” They responded by informing me that they had never been, were not now, and never would be involved in such a reprehensible activity, no sir. At least that’s the best translation I could make of their inarticulate mumbles.

There they stood: radical hair, dangling earrings, counter-culture T-shirts, and expensive footwear. I thought briefly of how I’d like to punish these guys. What I actually said was, “I don’t know or care if it was you guys or someone you know. I’m not the police. I just want to say please don’t do it again. If I’ve done anything to tick you off, I’m sorry. I’d like to apologize.”

This time the response was easier to decipher. A sullen, “We didn’t do nuthin’.”

I trudged back to the building to reset the alarm. Sherlock Holmes solves another case. I had physical proof. One of their shoes appeared to match, but without the services of the FBI forensic crime lab it probably wouldn’t be considered admissible. I didn’t really want to put three more kids into the juvenile system anyway, in spite of my hard-nosed philosophy of criminal justice.

As I swept up the mess one small rock had made I heard hesitating footsteps in the hall. Two of the three boys had returned.

“We’re sorry,” they mumbled. “We won’t ever do it again.”

“Thank you,” I said, stunned. “I appreciate your honesty.” They turned and left me alone with my dustpan, and my God.

How do I explain what had just taken place? I hadn’t taken the opportunity to share the gospel with them. I failed to get their names for my prospect file. One thing I do know, grace occurred. It happened to them. It happened to me. Forgiveness of a debt that could not be paid had once more been placed on Jesus’ account.

I haven’t seen those boys since. It used to bother me that I didn’t have the presence of mind to hand them a tract or ask them Dr. Kennedy’s spiritually diagnostic questions. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that God doesn’t waste opportunities. Perhaps He was able to begin moving in their lives through a simple lesson of honesty seasoned with grace.