Sunday, August 31, 2008

Are You Laboring Today?

I’m tired.

Know the feeling? I’m sure you do. Anyone involved in serving God does. God’s work never seems to be finished. There’s always one more person to witness to, minister to, coordinate with, one more deadline to meet, or one more person needing our help.

Without proper balance, this work known as God’s work becomes a burden.

But, I know in my heart that isn’t what God intended for us as Christ followers.

I know that He has more in store for us than burnout, exhaustion, ulcers, and stress.

Paul said it well, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns” (Phil. 4:6 The Message).

I hope you will join me today in doing just that—giving again to God our concerns. And yes, even our tiredness.

May you have a restful “Labor” Day weekend and worship time!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

We Are Always on Time, Well, Usually

We all remember the little children’s book about the train that could, right? You do remember the story: “I think I can! I think I can!”

Anyway, last Sunday night, Amtrak had a train that, if it could talk, would be saying, “I think I can’t. I think I can’t!

It seems that a quick train trip down the coast turned into a long haul for more than 80 Amtrak passengers when their train from Los Angeles to San Diego ran out of fuel Saturday night.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said the train sat for about two hours on the northern edge of San Diego before another engine came along to push it the last several miles to the San Diego train station. The train, which had left Los Angeles at 8:30 PM Saturday night, didn’t arrive in San Diego until 1:15 AM Sunday morning—more than two hours late.

An Amtrak official said that a train running out of fuel is “an unusual occurrence” and that they are looking into how it happened.

My guess on how it happened is this: SOMEBODY FORGOT TO PUT FUEL IN IT!

What would be your guess? How did the Amtrak train run out of fuel?

Friday, August 29, 2008

The BBQ Song

In honor of Labor Day and the fast approaching end of summer, please take a moment to enjoy this video. Sit back, turn the volume on your computer up, and relax for a couple of minutes. Then, enjoy some BBQ

So, when Al Gore invented the Internet, do you think he had videos like this in mind?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Question of the Day

If you could hangout with just one person from history for coffee (or even a glass of iced cold sweet tea) and conversation (other than Jesus) whom would it be? And, why that person?

Does This Offend You?

A modern art sculpture portraying a crucified green frog holding a beer mug and an egg that Pope Benedict has condemned as blasphemous may have its days numbered.

The board of the Museion museum in the northern city of Bolzano are meeting today to choose whether to side with the pope and other opponents of the frog or with proponents who say it should be defended as a work of art.

The wooden sculpture by the late German artist Martin Kippenberger depicts a frog about 1 meter (4 feet) high nailed to brown cross and holding a beer mug in one outstretched hand and an egg in another.

Called “Zuerst die Fuesse,” (Feet First), it wears a green loin cloth and is nailed through the hands and the feet in the manner of Jesus Christ. Its green tongue hangs out of its mouth.

Kippenberger’s work has been shown at the Tate Modern and the Saatchi Gallery in London and at the Venice Biennale, and retrospectives are planned in Los Angeles and New York.

Museum officials in the northern bi-lingual Alto Adige region near the Austrian border said the artist, who died in 1997, considered it a self-portrait illustrating human angst.
Pope Benedict, who is German himself and was recently on holiday not far from Bolzano, obviously did not agree.

The Vatican wrote a letter of support in the pope’s name to Franz Pahl, president of the regional government who opposed the sculpture.

“Surely this is not a work of art but a blasphemy and a disgusting piece of trash that upsets many people,” Pahl told Reuters by telephone as the museum board was meeting.
The Vatican letter said that the work “wounds the religious sentiments of so many people who see in the cross the symbol of God’s love.”

Pahl, whose province is heavily Catholic, was so outraged by the sculpture of the pop-eyed amphibian that he went on a hunger strike to demand its removal and had to be taken to hospital during the summer.

The museum then moved the statue out of its foyer and into a less trafficked area on the third floor.

But Pahl’s opposition was unflagging and he has threatened to resign as regional president unless it is removed altogether.

Art experts defend the work. “Art must always be free and the artist should not have any restrictions on freedom of expression,” Claudio Strinati, a superintendent for Rome’s state museums, told an Italian newspaper on Thursday.

So…does this offend you? Yes or no? Why or why not?

How Far Would You Go?

I’m not sure where this story is from, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

A mother had her forehead tattooed with the web address of a gambling site after auctioning off advertising space on her head to pay for her son’s school fees.

Karolyne Smith has to live with a permanent billboard on her forehead after she accepted’s offer of $10,000 for the ‘advertising space’. She needed the money to send her son Brady to a private school.Karolyne said: “I really want to do this. To everyone else, it seems like a stupid thing to do. To me, $10,000 is like a million dollars.”“I only live once and I’m doing it for my son. It’s a small sacrifice to build a better future for my son.”Smith’s eBay auction attracted more than 27,000 hits and 1,000 watchers. Bidding reached $999.99 before, an Internet gambling company met Smith’s $10,000 asking price. also gave her another $5,000 for her trouble.Now, first of all, this mother’s concern for her son’s education is admirable. Too many parents today seem not to care about their children’s education or future. So, I’ll give her a brownie point for caring, and a brownie point for providing. And, two brownie points for being creative!

However, some questions do come to mind here. I think I’ll just put them in a short list:

1) What happens when little “Billy” (I don’t know his real name, so I’ll just use this one) needs braces?
2) What happens when 16-year-old Billy wants a car?
3) What happens when high school senior Billy wants to go off to college?
4) What about when Billy wants to get married?
5) What happens when Ms. Smith’s forehead begins to wrinkle and sag? I wonder how proud the gambling company will be then!

I’ve looked at her picture several times. I can’t begin to imagine looking in the mirror every day and seeing that tattooed on my forehead!

Plus, her forehead isn’t that big, so many more sites can’t be added!

Maybe that is an advantage to being bald! I’ve got a huge forehead and top of my head available for rent! Pardon me while I go over and set up my eBay account!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Rest of the Story

Do you have a tendency to read the last chapter of a book first? Do you just want to know who committed the crime before you read how they did it? Do you like to eat your dessert before your main course?

Well, if you answered yes to any of those questions, will you please try to contain yourself just once and read this post one paragraph at a time, in order, without skipping to the bottom? Because, as you read it word by word, paragraph by paragraph, you will see that the entire post could be summed up in the last sentence!

So, don’t cheat!

Vladimir Rasimov passed out and fell asleep between the tracks as he took a short cut home after going out with some friends.

The train driver saw somebody on the line and braked sharply. When rescuers tried to pull the sleeping from underneath the carriages the man was still sleeping. Unfortunately, the rescuers couldn’t reach the sleeping man under the train. So, the train had to move forward until they could reach him.

Train driver Vladimir (does any one in Russia have a different name?) Slabiy said: “I saw a man lying between the tracks and tried to stop, but it was too late. The train went right over him and I thought he must have been killed. But when I got out and checked he was still lying there fast asleep. If he had woken up from the noise of the train he would have lifted his head and been hit by the undercarriage and that would have been the end of him.”

And, here’s the conclusion to the entire post: “It was lucky he was so drunk.”

Pray at the Pump

Rocky Twyman of Washington, D.C., started Pray at the Pump. Have you heard of this? This was a national campaign to urge believers to pray to bring down gas prices.

A colleague of his from St. Louis claimed his prayer sessions caused the price drop in July, pointing to his use of the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” (and his new verse, “We’ll have lower gas prices”).

What do you think? Good use of prayer? Praying for lower prices at the gas pump?

Just where (if any where) do we draw the line on prayers?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Play Ball! NOT!

A Connecticut kids’ baseball team who has a very good 9-year-old pitcher has been disqualified because the team is too good. No, you didn’t read that wrong. The team has been disqualified because one of their players is too good.

The team goes by the name Will Power Fitness. Until they were disqualified from playing, they had a perfect 8-0 record thanks in large part to pitcher Jericho Scott. His pitching is so fast and accurate, the Liga Juvenil De Baseball De New Haven asked the team’s coach, Wilfred Vidro, to replace him so he wouldn’t frighten other players.

“The spirit of the league was community, family, well-being, nurturing,” Peter Noble, the league’s attorney, told the local newspaper. Notice, who’s doing the talking here—the league’s attorney. Kids’ baseball leagues now have attorneys? Are we keeping them on retainer? Or, do they show up at the first sign of blood?

This past Saturday, Jericho and his team showed up to the ballfield despite the fact the league canceled the game because they feared an “unhealthy environment” due to parental bickering, Noble told the paper. Jericho’s parents, Nicole and Leroy, planned to meet with an attorney on Monday. So, now, are you keeping up with the score? Kids 0. Lawyers 2. Parents -2,000,000!

The Scotts said the league wanted Jericho to play for a stronger team (read between the lines here—any other team but one in their league). The parents and the coach claim the reason is because that team is sponsored by a local barbershop where the league’s president currently cuts hair.

Leroy Scott said, “If you keep these kids on the field you keep them off the streets. I’d rather have him [Jericho] in the midst of this controversy on the field than dealing drugs on a street corner.” Hard to argue with that concept, isn’t it?

I played organized sports from the time I was five or six years old. I was always very small for my age, in height and weight (I caught up on the weight part as an adult!). As a very small child, I started out in right field—I think that’s where all players start out, especially the bad ones! Then, I moved to third base because I had a good arm and was pretty agile on my feet.

One thing I picked up on fairly quickly was this: coaches normally played their biggest players at the pitcher position! Always! When I first started playing, it was called “minor leagues” at the time. The division was for 6-10 year olds. Guess where the 10 year olds played? Right! They were always the pitchers!

Was I scared? Only every time I batted. I’ll never forget one game in particular where the opposing coach “ordered” his 10 year old pitcher to hit every batter that came to the plate. His team was in last place, and he didn’t like something our team had done. So, he ordered him to hit every player. And, he did. I got mine square on the thigh. Left a bruise for days. Did my parents storm the field? Well, no. Did we go to see a lawyer? Again, no. What happened? Well, I wore that bruise with pride! I wore shorts just so I could show it off! I was proud of my team and what I had done for the team.

Now, parents want to complain because a player is too good and the team is too good. Lawyers are involved and games are cancelled because it might create “an unhealthy environment.” Give me a break folks! What are we teaching our children? What attitudes are we passing along to them? What values? How sad this event is for sports, baseball, parents. Yes, all of those. But, most it is sad for the kids. How sad. Sounds like to me some parents need to grow up!

What do you think?

A Journey of a Thousand Miles

Let me confess something to you—I am a serious traveler. Now, since my wife may or may not read what’s written here, I’ll go ahead and tell you something that you can’t repeat to her if you ever have the opportunity to meet her. I admit it—I drive my wife crazy with my fanatical attempt to plan out every detail of a trip. Not just the big details mind you. I have this need within me to plan even the smallest detail. Now, before you judge me too quickly, let me add, that’s just the way God wired me. I’ve come to accept that.

And with today’s technology, I can plan every trip down to the smallest detail. Of course, there’s to book my flight, hotel room, and car rental. There’s to tell me about the area I will be in—with a full description of nearby hotels, shopping malls, gas stations, and just about everything else I could possibly want to know.

At I can also print out a satellite view of where I will be! How cool is that!

Then, there’s to not only print out a map of the general area, but to also give me exact directions from my house to the location I am going. But, it doesn’t stop there. also gives my estimated mileage to the area, and even an estimation of how long it will take to drive there!

All I need now is a personal GPS device and I could hold all that information in the palm of my hand.

There is no doubt in my mind that a good journey requires good preparation. Whether it’s maps, or directions, or even your spouse riding along with you to help you navigate, making good preparations will make the journey go much better.

As Christians, we are on a journey for the King. Let’s be clear. We have a choice to make about this journey. We can work alone, in isolation, handling everything ourselves, making do with our skill sets and talents, I started to say that we could be a Lone Ranger-type servant, but that illustration won’t hold water because even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. But, you get the picture. We can tackle this journey alone, if we choose.

That’s one way to serve. And, you know as well as me, that strategy sure seems to be the more logical way to work at times—at least you know you can count on yourself! Most of the time.

However, I don’t really believe God’s intent is for any of us to serve Him alone. Here’s the truth I want you to wrap your arms around today: God desires for all of us to be on a Spirit-filled journey that moves all nations to Christ.

So, I’ve got a question for you: Are you willing to choose God’s journey over maintenance in your daily walk?

That question isn’t as easy to answer as we might first think. Most of us would say, “Sure, who doesn’t?” Or we might ask, “Aren’t we supposed to choose His way over maintenance?”

But listen. If we are to choose God’s way over maintenance, we have to do more than just hope for it to be true. Hoping that we will be involved will not make it come true. Hoping that we journey with Him is a waste of time if all you do is hope and never begin the journey.

Our work for Jesus Christ is not about settling for a routine, monotonous motion of religious activity. Our work for the kingdom is about sacrificing every facet of our lives to make the salvation of Jesus Christ known in all nations. Our work is a total commitment, it is a daily commitment, it is a single focus on taking up our cross each day for God’s work.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Burning Question

Blogger friend Kevin is regularly showing strange pictures of Jesus or the Virgin Mary or other religious figures that have appeared in unusual places. (Kevin, sorry if I missed you showing this one!)

In the picture above, Veronica Dennis stares at what many people believe is a likeness of the Virgin Mary in her fire-damaged home in Mexico.

I don't know what the image really is. But, if I were Ms. Dennis, I think I'd have a beef with the Virgin Mary. My house burns and Mary did nothing to stop it from burning? I think if I had been Ms. Dennis, I would rather have had my house unburned instead of an image on the wall.

What do you think?

Moon over Kansas

I’ve never heard of Fort Hays State University before I saw the story in the news. But, unfortunately, the school is making the news because they have fired their debate coach for losing his temper at a tournament, engaging in a videotaped shouting match, and pulling down his shorts to expose his underwear.

University President Edward H. Hammond also announced last Friday that the school was immediately suspending its debate program until problems are addressed at the national level. He said it was important to take a stand against the declining standards of college debate.

I will admit that I don’t follow debate. I don’t follow it on the local, state, or national level. Who knew there was a massive decline in standards among colleges participating in debate. But, at least according to President Hammond, there is a declining standard that needs to be addressed.

The news article said that the argument between Fort Hays State debate coach William Shanahan and another coach followed a tournament match at Cross Examination Debate Association event at Wichita State University.

The debate coach has this to say about what happened: “Obviously it got out of control, but to be honest I thought I was in a safe house. I thought I was part of a community that handled its problems internally and that recognized the dangers of exposing ourselves—no pun intended—to the rest of the country.”

What? He thought he was in an environment where it was safe to moon someone else? Are there acceptable places to moon and unacceptable places where you shouldn’t moon? Is it okay to expose—pun intended—yourself in such a fashion? Especially, as you are coaching young college-aged students in debate? How did he come to that conclusion? Did he read that somewhere in the Debate Coaches Manual?

I’ve never mooned anyone—been tempted—but never have. I don’t think I’ve got a good enough “moon” to show.

So, what do you think about his behavior? Should he have been fired? Should the program have been cancelled because of his action? Am I totally out of the debate loop? If so, please feel free to enlighten me!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

He's My King

This is one of my favorite videos of all time. I've seen it in various forms, with different kinds of music. However, this version will rock you awake, and the message will rock your heart!

I hope today, that He is your king. If not, He wants to be.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Taking A Risk for Christ

Jakarta, Indonesia, isn’t a great place to hang out. At least if you are a Christian.

The news out of Indonesia isn’t good. Hundreds of Christian theology students have been living in tents since a mob of angry Muslim neighbors stormed their campus last month wielding bamboo spears and hurling Molotov cocktails. (Where the heck has NBC, CNN, Fox, CBS, and ABC been? For that matter, where has Baptist Press been? Associated Baptist Press?)

In talks since the attack, the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology has reluctantly agreed to shut its 20-year-old campus in east Jakarta, accepting an offer this week to move to a small office building on the other side of the Indonesian capital.

The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament, is struggling to balance deep Islamic traditions and a secular constitution. With elections coming next April, the government seems unwilling to defend religious minorities, lest it be portrayed as anti-Islamic in what is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

The July 25 attack injured 18 students and was the culmination of years of simmering tensions between the school and residents of the Kampung Pulo neighborhood.

Senny Manave, a spokesman for the Christian school, said complaints were received from neighbors about prayers and the singing of hymns, which they considered disturbing evangelical activity.

Since being driven from campus, nearly 600 female students have been sleeping under suspended tarps at a nearby scout camp, where they had to dig trenches to keep water out during downpours. Classes are held with megaphones in the sweltering summer heat, under trees or the tarps. A similar number of male students live in a guesthouse. The remainder has returned to their families.

So, we complain because the air conditioning in our worship area isn’t exactly the way we like it. Or, the music is too traditional, too contemporary, too loud, too soft, too modern, or too old. We complain because the preacher preaches too long or not long enough. We complain because the parking lot is too full and we have to walk a little too far.

Give me a break!

I wonder, if we lived under the same conditions as believers in Indonesia, what would we do? Would we remain faithful or would we “tuck tail” and run? God help us to put aside the silly things we complain about and relax that in too many parts of the world, worship comes with the threat of death.

Sure puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Ode to Mr. Bill

Bill the Cycleguy often graces us with his comments on this site. He's usually spot on accurate with what he has to say, other than his love of the Pittsburg Pirates and some small farming university in Ohio. I try to forgive him for those minor character flaws, unless he tries to rub it in my face.

Bill is a good guy. And, he's doing a great job of serving the Lord and his church. I really appreciate what he stands for and does.

Bill is regularly talking about his recent cycling ride that he's been on. For the longest time, I've tried to get him to show us a picture of him riding or to put a picture of him riding on his blog. To date, he's refused.

So...I had to resort to reposting one of his recent posts. Someone sent a video of Bill. Now, I'll warn you, put your coffee down, don't have any food in your mouth as you watch. Okay, you've been warned. Please click here to see Bill at his greatest. Then, come back and tell me what you think.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Classy Is In the Eye of the Beholder

If there’s one thing Texans are serious about, it’s pickup trucks.

A Dallas-area man says his truck is being targeted simply because his homeowners association doesn’t think it’s classy enough. (Well, I’ve always been a Chevy man myself, because my father was, but come on sir! Not classy enough? Really?)

Jim Greenwood said he never dreamed his HOA would have a problem with his new Ford F-150 pickup. Then he received the first of three notices threatening him with fines.

“Mr. Greenwood, you’re violating a subdivision rule that prohibits pickup trucks in your driveway,” the notice reads.

Stonebriar HOA rules allow several luxury trucks on driveways, including the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Avalanche, Honda Ridgeline, and Lincoln Mark LT. But most Ford, Dodge, or Chevy pickups are restricted.

Mr. Greenwood continued by saying, “It’s very frustrating and confusing. It’s hard to imagine how an HOA would try to dictate what type of vehicle you can drive and park in your driveway.”

Bill Osborn of the HOA board said the association also prohibits boats, trailers, golf carts and RVs in driveways. “The high-end vehicles that are allowed are plush with amenities and covers on the back. It doesn’t look like a pickup,” he said. “It’s fancier.”

Mr. Greenwood appealed, claiming his Ford F-150 isn’t much different from the Lincoln Mark LT.

“The response was: ‘It’s our belief that Lincoln markets to a different class of people,’” (Ouch. Okay, that had to hurt!)

What do you think? Should an HOV have that much power? We have a small HOV in our neighborhood. The only time I can find them is when they come collecting our annual dues! They don’t monitor grass-cutting, boats on the street, paint colors, or even garbage cans being left at the curb. But, they sure know how to collect dues!

Share your experiences.

It Ain't From God

Not too long ago, I read about the struggles of a young man who was trying to live a godly live. He was genuinely trying to give God every part of his life. But, he struggled. Listen to a small part of his testimony:

“Following Christ was very difficult. I remember as a young man, stopping one evening, my head hurting, with tremendous mental anguish—trying not to sin against God! This struggle took different forms. Sometimes I’d find myself plagued by the fact that I knew I had sinned. In those moments, I felt lost. I was no longer ready for His coming. I had separated myself from God again. On other occasions I would agonize, wondering whether I had been ‘good’ enough to show that my faith in Christ was real. Struggling so much with doubt and fear of losing my salvation I spent a lot of time ‘feeling my spiritual pulse’ to see if I thought I was doing enough for God to qualify for His grace.”

Wow…what a struggle. His words are powerful, aren’t they? Notice the words he used: “struggling, doubt, feat, losing, agonize, wondering”… Here was a young man, engaged in the battle of his life—fighting with everything he had in him to remain holy and close to God.

Notice the next part of his testimony: “Looking back, one of the things I find most significant is that I went through periods of pride when I considered the list of things I had done to ‘keep’ my salvation. There were times I was convinced that I had kept my end of the bargain, so now God would have to keep His. I felt this was part of the deal. In those moments I felt that God and I were now ‘even’—and with this mutual relationship I felt I really didn’t ‘owe’ Him anything. I had paid my dues!”

Have you paid your dues to God? Have you done your part to keep Him off your back, at least for today?

We sometimes try to get God off our back with our church attendance, by how much we drop in the offering plate, by how much we serve in His church. It’s almost like there’s a quota God has established that has to be met.

Is there such a quota? Where do you find it?

I don’t think there is such a quota, not from God’s perspective anyway. Maybe there is from my perspective. Maybe I’ve lived too much of my life as if it depended upon me punching a time clock for God. Maybe I’ve made others think they too had to pay their “God dues.”

I’m trying to learn to put the time clock away. And, I’m really trying to stop expecting others to punch that imagery clock as well.

Let up on yourself today! That extra weight you are carrying around…well, it ain’t from God.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

You Get A Line, I'll Get A Pole!

David Hayes’ granddaughter needed to go to the bathroom! And, she couldn’t wait! So, what’s a girl to do? She asked her grandfather, David, to hold her Barbie rod and reel while she went to the bathroom.

He did. And seconds later he landed the state record channel catfish at 21 pounds, 1 ounce!

Alyssa’s father had bought the pink Barbie fishing rod for her for Christmas. Up until this record catch, she had caught a few bluegill before her grandfather hauled in the catfish.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported the catch August 5 in eastern Wilkes County has been certified as a record by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Hayes says his granddaughter worried he would break her rod. He landed the 21-pound fish on a 6-pound test line. It was 32 inches long, 2 inches longer than the rod.

There’s my problem! I’ve been using the wrong rod the entire time. I sure thought my Aqua Man rod and reel would do a better job of attracting fish than a Barbie pole.

Does anyone know where I can buy one?

Our Time in the Wilderness

In ancient Christian literature there is a remarkable story of an 18-year-old man named Anthony. Anthony lived in the third or fourth century in a time when paganism was a dominant force in the world.

His parents were pious Egyptian Christians who raised him well, taught him the importance of the Christian faith and prayer.

On his way to church each week, Anthony would meditate on the lives of the apostles and how they left everything to follow Christ. One day, in church, Anthony heard the following words (from Matthew 19:21): “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Anthony soon gave away his inheritance, left home, and went into the desert to serve God in solitude. I can’t begin to describe just how difficult the hardships were that he faced in the Egyptian desert. He suffered from hunger, thirst, and the extremes of temperature. At times Anthony became exhausted and was tempted to return to the world, but with a strong faith in God, he conquered these temptations.

After Anthony had lived in seclusion for twenty years, his friends found where he was living and went to visit him. They expected that he would be weak, close to death, or mentally ill from his seclusion. Yet, they were astonished to find him completely healthy and without a trace of physical exhaustion. Calm, reserved, and friendly to everyone, Anthony captivated his visitors with his love, sensitivity, and spiritual wisdom.

News about Anthony spread throughout Egypt. People flocked to him in large numbers, some for help and advice, some to enrich themselves with the grace that radiated from him, and some to become permanent residents, living close to him in imitation of his monastic lifestyle.

In our Western Christianity way of thinking, we don’t have much room for monastic living, do we? Even though Jesus Himself often lived the basic elements of such a lifestyle, we don’t see how it fits our “modern-day” way of living. Didn’t Jesus live a life of voluntary poverty? Celibacy? Rigorous fasting, continual prayer, and life in the desert? In Mark 1:12, we are told that after His baptism, “immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness” and He spent forty days fasting and facing the temptations of Satan.

Jesus also went to solitary places in order to pray through the night or to commune with the Father. (See Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16.)

Why do we find it so difficult to get alone with God? Are we afraid of what we will hear? Are we afraid of what we might discover about God? About ourselves?

Is there anything that drives you to the wilderness? To be alone with God? To be alone with yourself?

If you don’t mind, share your thoughts with us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Did I Use the Best Keywords?


Keywords are so important as you develop and grow your blog. I'm just learning how all of this works and I really would like to make some kind of impact with my blog. Not sure what that impact is or will ever be. I just want to have some relevance in the lives of those who visit this site, some who visit it daily, some weekly, and some, just once. Maybe my blog will inform you. Maybe you will walk away enlighted. Maybe you will question what has been written or the comments shared. Who knows the impact these words will ultimately have.

Keywords. I searched across the Internet today to see what some of the most used keywords are. I was surprised to see that to really take advantage of keywords, you have to purchase monthly reports, updates, I suppose, to discover a marketing plan of how to use keywords and what the hot button words are. However as I searched, I did see that some of the most common keywords used today are these: Myspace; Facebook; Yahoo; Google; sex; eBay; porn; adult; peace; happiness; and, Jesus.

Interesting mix, don't you think? What is sad is that most of the keywords out there I will not print on my blog. Oh, there are some interesting words. Some keywords that are in common use by way too many people. But, not here.

So, today is an experiment. How many additional hits will I get because I have used these words? I'm curious. So, we'll see.

Yet, of all the keywords in the list that I found, the only keyword that makes a difference is the last one in the list: the name Jesus.

Jesus is the name that matters. Jesus is the name that makes an eternal difference. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We must go through Jesus to reach God, our Father in heaven. How do I know? He told us so.

So, what is your keyword today? What will drive you through the day? What will motivate you? What will be your focus?

I hope you know Him. If not, you can today. Here's a Web site to answer many of your questions. Please take a few minutes to read over that site and then check back here to share your thoughts and insights.

I hope you'll come back to visit here as you have time. We talk about many different things. You are welcome here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Questions I Can't Answer!

After the post this morning, a couple of commenters added their questions to the list (thanks Heidi, Michael, and Kevin):

Why do we call them a pair of pants when there is only one pant?

Why does Hawaii have an interstate?

Why does the drive up ATM machine have Braille on the keypad?

What are waiters or waitresses names if we don't need anything?

Those are good questions. Really, they are. I’m sure you have others you could add to the list. Feel free to join in the discussion at any point. I’d love to know what keeps you awake at night (other than the pizza you ate too late or the caffeinated drink you had with dinner).

After creating my first list and then hearing your comments, I thought I’d pass along a few more of the questions I have been pondering lately. Ready?

Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Can fat people go skinny dipping?

Can you be a closet claustrophobic?

Why is the word “abbreviation” so long? And might I add, so difficult to spell!

When companies ship Styrofoam, what do they pack it in?

When you open a bag of cotton balls, is the top one meant to be thrown away?

Why do they sterilize the needles for lethal injections?

If a word in the dictionary were misspelled, how would we know? Might I also add at this point, when your teacher told you to go look up a word in the dictionary that you didn’t know how to spell, how did she really expect you to find it—if you couldn’t spell it in the first place!

Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes?

Some Simple Questions to Ponder

I’ve been wondering about a few things lately.

Feel free to jump in and answer any of the questions I’ve been thinking about:

Why are only sons named after fathers and daughters aren’t named after their mothers?

If a daughter were named after her mother, would she be a Junior?

Why do we refer to it as a TV set, when in reality it’s only one?

Does a man named Nick have a “nick’ name?

Are zebras black with white strips or white with black stripes?

If mankind evolved from monkeys, why do we still have monkeys?

Do Lipton tea employees take coffee breaks?

Can you cry under water?

What’s a question with no answer called?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blogger vs. WordPress


Okay, I've seen several debates lately about which blog program is better--blogger or WordPress. So, now, here's your chance to express your opinion.

Please share your top 5 reasons I should use one or the other. What makes one better than the other? I'm considering a change. Why should I do it?

God, Please Raise Your Right Hand

Psalm 96-6
A state senator in Nebraska, Sen. Ernie Chambers, says his lawsuit against God might seem funny but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a serious point.

State Senator Ernie Chambers asked Douglas County District Judge Marlon Polk last week to let his lawsuit proceed. Chambers said he wants to make the point that everyone should have access to the courts regardless of whether they are poor or have the means of billionaire Warren Buffett of Omaha.

What in the world does that mean? Does God keep people from being able to have access to court? Where in the world does that idea come from? I’ve never heard of such.

“What brought me to the point of filing this lawsuit was the ill-advised attempts by certain legislators to prevent the filing of certain lawsuits,” Chambers said.

Chambers acknowledges using wit and humor in the lawsuit he filed last September seeking a permanent injunction against God. Chambers said God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents in Omaha, inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the earth’s inhabitants.”

The court told Chambers last week that his lawsuit may be dismissed because he had failed to serve notice on God. Chambers acknowledged that failure in court Tuesday while sitting a few feet away from an empty table reserved for God and God’s attorney.

“Despite my most sincere, zealous efforts, I could not find a location to serve the defendant,” Chambers said.

Chambers argued that courts and the U.S. government already routinely take notice of God. Courts swear in witnesses with an oath that includes the phrase “so help me God.” Plus, the pledge of allegiance describes “one nation, under God,” and U.S. currency proclaims “In God We Trust.”

And the senator said that if the court recognizes God, the deity wouldn’t need formal notice of the lawsuit because he knows everything. And God would be at every hearing because he’s everywhere always.

A senator for 38 years, Chambers skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians. He is being pushed out of the Legislature by term limits.

What do you think? One of my first reactions was that this lawsuit is another example of wasting the already overcrowded court system’s time. Here’s a judge, lawyers, and others who will now have to spend value time on a meaningless lawsuit, by some crazy state senator who is about to be out of a job.

He doesn’t care much for God? Okay. I got that. He doesn’t attend morning prayers? That’s his choice to make. Criticizes Christians? At least he’s being consistent! But, so what? Does that give him the right to create such a frivolous lawsuit? I don’t think so.

But, I would love to hear what you think.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Still Trying to Make That One Person Smile

As I predicted, ONE of you didn't smile at the last video post. So, let's try again today. After all, it is the Lord's Day and He created it for us. So, relax, prop your feet up, watch this video. And, yes, smile!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Okay...time to laugh...this is just funny!

I expect to see a smile on all of your faces, well, not all, I know one person who reads my blog that won't find it funny. But, I fully expect to hear laughs from everyone else!

Don't Forget Your Turn Signal

A 35-year-old Texas woman has been jailed after police say she made her 12-year-old daughter drive her to a bar. Notice. The mother made her 12-year-old daughter drive her TO the bar! Not home from the bar. Not to a hospital because an emergency. Not to church. But TO a bar!

Police in Longview, Texas, say they watched a minivan turn into a driveway without signaling on Wednesday and bump into the home at a low speed. They say the car was driven by Jennifer Lynn Rosenberg’s daughter.

Police say the girl told an officer she had just dropped her mother off at a bar. They say they found Rosenburg at the bar and that she admitted having her daughter drive her there.

Rosenburg remains in the Gregg County Jail on a $2,500 bond.

Could she be waiting on her daughter to bail her out? Did the police take the keys away from the girl so she can’t go to the bank to get the bond money? Is the girl not authorized to sign her checks so she can’t bail her out?

I’ve heard of designated drivers; but, I always thought that was for people LEAVING a bar, not driving to it. Then again, if she allowed her 12-year-old to drive her to a bar, maybe she was already plastered!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hi Ho Hi Ho It's Off to Jail We Go!

“Hey kids! Want to go to Disneyland?”


“Let’s go!”

Fast forward to arriving at Disneyland. This is what you see when you step out of the car:
Cinderella, Snow White, and Tinkerbell being handcuffed, frisked, and loaded into police vans at the culmination of a labor protest that brought a touch of reality to the Happiest Place on Earth.

The arrest of the 32 protesters, many of whom wore costumes representing famous Disney characters, came at the end of an hour-long march to Disneyland’s gates from one of three Disney-owned hotels at the center of a labor dispute.

Those who were arrested sat in a circle on a busy intersection outside the park holding hands until they were placed in plastic handcuffs and led to two police vans while hundreds of hotel workers cheered and chanted.

The dispute involves about 2,300 maids, bell hops, cooks, and dishwashers at three Disney-owned hotels: the Paradise Pier, the Grand Californian and the Disneyland Hotel.
The workers’ contract expired in February and their union says Disney’s latest proposal makes health care unaffordable for hundreds of employees and creates an unfair two-tier wage system. The union also says Disney wants to create a new category of part-time employees who would receive greatly reduced benefits.

Disney spokeswoman Lisa Haines said Disney and the union are in negotiations and nothing has been finalized. She said workers have protested 14 times but sat down to negotiate only 11 times in the past six months.

“Clearly we’re disappointed that Unite Here Local 681 has spent more time protesting,” she said. “Publicity stunts are not productive and are extremely disruptive to the resort district.”

Before the arrests, the picketers marched and chanted outside Paradise Pier, holding signs that read, “Disney is unfaithful,” and “Mickey, shame on you.” They were joined by community activists and religious leaders from local churches.

What do you think? Should they have protested? Or, should they have been at the negotiation table?

Alabama isn’t a huge union state, so my experience with unions is very limited. So, I’d love to hear your comments, from your knowledge of unions and whether or not this was the proper thing to do.

Also, how would you explain seeing Cinderella being handcuffed and hauled off to jail?

We ID Anyone Appearing to Be Under 21

Just nine months before the Beijing Olympic Games, the Chinese government’s news agency, Xinhua, reported that gymnast He Kexin was 13. At the age of 13, He would have been ineligible to be on the team that won a gold medal this week.

In its report on November 3, 2007, Xinhua identified He as one of “10 big new stars” who made a splash at China’s Cities Games. It gave her age as 13 and reported that she beat Yang Yilin on the uneven bars at those games.

The Associated Press found the Xinhua report on the site Thursday morning and saved a copy of the page. Later that afternoon, the Web site was still working but the page was no longer accessible. Sports editors at the state-run news agency would not comment for publication.

If the age reported by Xinhua was correct, that would have meant He was too young to be on the Chinese team that beat the United States on Wednesday and clinched China’s first women’s team Olympic gold in gymnastics. He is also a favorite for gold in Monday’s uneven bars final.

Yang was also on Wednesday’s winning team. Questions have also been raised about her age and that of a third team member, Jiang Yuyuan.

Gymnasts have to be 16 during the Olympic year to be eligible for the games. He’s birthday is listed as January 1, 1992.

Chinese authorities insist that all three are old enough to compete. He herself told reporters after Wednesday's final that “my real age is 16. I don’t pay any attention to what everyone says.”

Zhang Hongliang, an official with China’s gymnastics delegation at the games, said Thursday the differing ages which have appeared in Chinese media reports had not been checked in advance with the gymnastics federation.

Asked whether the federation had changed their ages to make them eligible, Zhang said: “We are a sports department. How would we have the ability to do that?”

Well, Zhang, that brings up a couple of interesting questions for me.

First, how would you have the ability to do that? Let me ask you this: How would you have the capability to use computer generated fireworks to make the opening ceremonies look even better? Oh, and play it off as “real” fireworks until caught red-handed, yes, pun intended.

Secondly, how would you have the ability to do that? Let me ask you this: How would you have the capability or nerve to not allow a seven-year-old child not to sing on national TV simply because it wasn’t in your nation’s best interest? All because she wasn’t pretty enough? Red-handed again.

Now, a third issue comes up, this time for all the other nations completing in the gymnastic competition. Let’s say the girls are too young—they sure look 10-12 years old—how in the world were you beaten by such young children?

In my opinion, if they are too young, they should be disqualified from the competition, their medals returned, and China should face some kind of sanctions for future meets. However, come on. Letting children beat you?

One Chinese official, when asked about the gymnastics being too young, used this as his defense: well, how can you go by looks and say our athletics are too young. If you use that same standard, and apply that to the Americans and others, then you might have to say they look older because of the growth hormones they are on!”

What a great defense there! Ours may be too young, but yours are on drugs!

Not sure I would have expected anything less from the Chinese government! Sounds like they are caught red-handed again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Stop Searching! I've Found It!

Bigfoot may have been found.

At least, that’s what is being told! And, Friday, we’ll have proof…or at least what they claim to be proof. We’ll see.

Two Northern California men and two Georgians say they’ve got a body, a photo, and DNA evidence pertaining to the elusive forest-dwelling man-ape—and that they’ll reveal all at a press conference in Palo Alto, Calif., on Friday.

Robert Barrows of Redwood City, California said, “I think you’ll find that this is the real deal.”

Matthew Whitton, a cop in Clayton County, Georgia, and his friend Rick Dyer, a former corrections officer, say they recently found the body in the woods of northern Georgia.

Veteran Bigfoot tracker Tom Biscardi said he’s examined the body, and that scientists will get their chance soon.

Sure reminds me of another story from a few months ago, about aliens being seen in Denver. That story ran for a day or so and then disappeared.

Wonder how long this story will make the headlines?

Having It Your Way!

Xenia, Ohio, calls itself the “City of Hospitality.” But, even in this very friendly city, one resident’s actions may have gone too far. It seems that some restaurant workers at the local Burger King are in hot water after one of them took a bubble bath at a Burger King. And, of course, in this day of YouTube and the Internet, someone posted the bath online.

I haven’t seen the video (thankfully). But, the article about it said that the employee was bathing nude in a stainless steel sink while other employees and a store manager continued to work.

The health department is investigating and says it plans to talk with prosecutors to see if any criminal charges can be filed.

To be honest, I don’t really care whether or not criminal charges are filed. I would just hope the health department would shut them down! At least, until the sink has been cleaned out.

Burger King responded quickly to this story: All of the employees involved were fired. Burger King’s corporate office released the following statement: “Burger King Corp. was just notified of this incident and is cooperating fully with the health department. We have sanitized the sink and have disposed of all other kitchen tools and utensils that were used during the incident. We have also taken appropriate corrective action on the employees that were involved in this video. Additionally, the remaining staff at this restaurant is being retrained in health and sanitation procedures.” Good answer!

I’ve known people in the restaurant business. To the person, most of them will say, “You really don’t want to know what goes on in the kitchen!” Maybe they are right. I know after eating many times in New Orleans restaurants, I was EXTREMELY thankful that I couldn’t see the kitchen—because if the restaurant looked as bad as it did, the public area, I can only imagine what the more private kitchen area looked like!

In Alabama, the health department assigns a grade to restaurants, from 1–100. The sign is to be posted near the front entrance so you can see it as you enter. Call me paranoid, but I always check the sign! And, if the sign shows a score below 85, I’m back out the door!

Any bad experiences with restaurants in your area that you want to share? I’m sure my blogger buddy Rick can curl our toes with some stories from his early career. Rick, feel free to share!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blowing in the Wind

A 6-foot-tall, 250-pound letter carrier is campaigning for the right to take off his pants.

Dean Peterson wants the U.S. Postal Service to add kilts as a uniform option for men. Yes. You read that right. He wants to wear a kilt as he delivers mail.

The idea was soundly defeated in July at a convention of his union, the 220,000-member National Letter Carriers’ Association, so Peterson knows convincing management will be an uphill struggle, but at least he’ll be comfortable in his kilt, or Male Unbifurcated Garment, as he likes to call it.

Peterson said it all comes down to one word: “Comfort.”

Now, Peterson isn’t Scottish. Far from it! Peterson, 48, has Finnish and Norwegian ancestry but not Scottish. He began wearing kilts a couple years ago when his wife brought one back from a trip to Scotland. Now he wears them everywhere—to one son’s football games, the other son’s concerts, shopping, and even while gardening.

Before the convention in Boston, Peterson spent his family’s $1,800 economic stimulus tax rebate to mail about 1,000 letters and photographs of him wearing a prototype Postal Service kilt to union branches in every state, Guam and Puerto Rico. [Was that the best use of his stimulus rebate?]

The union’s executive committee recommended disapproval, saying there was not enough demand for kilts to be worth the bother of the resolution, and delegates agreed by a large margin. But Peterson said there are plenty of approved uniform items that very few mail carriers wear, including a cardigan sweater, vest, and (my personal favorite) pith helmet.

So gang, what do you think?

Should your local mail carrier be able to wear a kilt if he or she wants to? Am I being judgmental is I don’t think they should be able to wear one?

Better yet, would you wear one? Or want your husband to wear one?

Seeing Isn't Always Believing

Apparently, the Chinese government decided to go to any lengths to make their opening ceremony the best the world had ever seen!

Even if that meant faking what the public was seeing, in the stands and on TV.

Do you remember seeing the seven-year-old Chinese girl singing the song “Ode to the Motherland?” Well, seeing wasn’t believing. Apparently, the girl who was singing the song wasn’t good-looking enough for the Olympics opening ceremony, so another little girl with a pixie smile lip-synched the song!

In the latest example of the lengths Beijing took for a perfect start to the Summer Games, a member of China’s Politburo asked for the last-minute change to match one girl’s face with another’s voice, the ceremony's chief music director said in an interview with Beijing Radio.

“The audience will understand that it’s in the national interest,” Chen Qigang said in a video of the interview posted online Sunday night.

This news follows reports that some footage of the fireworks exploding across China’s capital during the ceremony was digitally inserted into television coverage, apparently over concerns that not all of the 29 blasts could be captured on camera.

I’m wondering now if the Chinese government wishes they had some way to digitally enhance their swimmers so that one of them could actually beat Michael Phelps!

To me, and this is me speaking, these flubs may just be the most exciting thing to come out of the Olympic Games to date! I can hardly wait to see what else was created for the audience that really didn’t happen…or that was good for their national interest!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'll Take Mine Medium, Please

Belarusian athletes who win gold medals at the Beijing Olympics will be provided with meat and sausage for the rest of their lives, a meat company said last week.

The women’s national basketball team, which will take part in the Olympic Games for the first time, will get the reward if they secure any medal, Boris Tsyporin, general director of Latvian-Belarusian meat and frozen foods producer Belatmeat, was quoted by Belarusian media as saying.

In addition to monetary rewards from Games organizers and sponsorship deals, Belarusian athletes will be given $100,000, $50,000, and 30,000 each in their home country for gold, silver and bronze medals respectively.

Too bad I wasn’t born as a Belarusian! I love meat. Especially red meat! Heck, I’ll eat sausage, if I need to. Are hot dogs considered meat?

I wonder how long it will be before Belarusian athletes start looking like NASCAR drivers and cyclists with their sponsors’ logos all over their uniforms?

I guess the days of competing simply because you love the sport or competing is over.

What do you think? Have amateur athletics become too professional?

An Audience of One

Al Franken is running for the United States Senate. Did you know that? Yes, the funny man from Saturday Night Live and Air America radio is running for political office.

Last week, he hosted a roundtable to discuss veteran issues. The roundtable took place in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Too bad word must not have gotten out about the roundtable—only one person showed up for the event. One.

So, what’s a politician to do? Franken gave the former Navy man his entire attention for the hour. According to the St. Cloud Times, Franken spent the hour with Josh John, a veteran who served from 2000–2004. Mr. Franken belittled his opponent. He gave Mr. John his entire speech about his proposals for veteran affairs.

One person shows up for a roundtable—while counting heads and noses isn’t always the best method for measuring success, I’d have to admit that to only have one potential voter show up may not signal a landslide victory, well, other than for your opponent!

Have you ever planned an event, spending hours and hours getting ready for it, only to have a small handful of people to attend? What do you do?

In my current job, I regularly lead conferences. Most of the time, I never know how many I will have. I could have 1 or 100, or more, at times. So, what do I do? I prepare for whoever shows up! I’ll probably print more handouts than I will need—but, it is better to be over-prepared anyway. I’ll be on time for my conference and have my displays set up early. I’ll honor my time and only go for the allotted time.

I’ll do that for one or hundred, the number doesn’t matter.

But, I have found that I will change up my approach when I determine the crowd. It’s hard to break into small groups to discuss when only 1 person is there! In those cases, I’ll spend more time just talking one-on-one, hearing the person’s needs and what I can bring to the table to help them.

There’s an old joke about a preacher preaching on a snowy Sunday morning. Only one old farmer showed up for church, the rest were turned away by the bad weather. The preacher thought for a few minutes about what to do, then he went ahead and preached his entire 90 minute sermon! He screamed. He hit the pulpit for emphasis. He probably even spit a few times in his excitement.

After the service, as the preacher was standing at the door awaiting his “crowd” to leave. The old farmer came up to the preacher and thanked him for the sermon. The preacher said, “How’d I do today?” The old farmer said, “Well preacher, when I go out to feed my cows and only one or two cows show up that day, I don’t give them all the hay I have on the tractor. Might be good for you to remember the next time it snows everybody but me in!”

Al Franken could have used that advice.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What's A Word Here or There?

Thanks to the Web site, Wordle, I have summaried the last few days of my blog in a very creative looking way.

Well, I'm not sure what good the Web site is, but it was fun to watch it work. You might want to give it a try on your blog.

Kevin, I wonder if anyone will see Jesus' face hiding any where in there?

Don't Throw That Away! I Might Need It!

A Las Cruces, New Mexico, woman had been indicted for allegedly keeping more than 100,000 phone directories that she had been hired to deliver.

Apparently, 55-year-old Debra Gottrell is accused of storing the books in three Las Cruces storage units during a four-year period instead of delivering them.

There is no explanation of why she allegedly took the phone books.

Directory Plus (the directory company) owner Hugh Riddle says his company lost an estimated $500,000 from the lost directories.

Why do people horde stuff like this?

My grandmother horded all kinds of things, and when she died, it was a nightmare for my aunts and uncles who were tasked with cleaning it all out!

My grandmother also sold Tupperware. I can promise you, she had hundreds and hundreds of pieces, maybe thousands of pieces, she had collected over the years. What can one person do with that much Tupperware?

I once knew a man who went to the Post Office at the same time as me every day. He drove a station wagon. Ever square inch of that car was filled with newspapers, magazines, junk mail, etc. It seems that when he went to the Post Office every morning, he simply would place the mail he didn’t want in the stacks in his car. About the only place that wasn’t filled was the passenger’s seat, and it was about halfway to the roof of the car.

I guess by now, that’s been eight years ago now, he’s had to buy a bigger vehicle, maybe a 15-passenger van? Maybe a Hummer? Maybe an old school bus? At the rate he was going, his next vehicle would definitely need to be much bigger!

So, what do you horde? Got any secret stashes hidden away? Your attic full? Basement? Been meaning to get to it, but haven’t yet?

Lamentations 1:7 (NIV), says, “In the days of her affliction and wandering Jerusalem remembers all the treasures that were hers in days of old. When her people fell into enemy hands, there was no one to help her. Her enemies looked at her and laughed at her destruction.”

Maybe a better question is, just what treasure have you placed your trust in?

Would You Like Seconds?

When I was a child, my family often went to my grandparents for Sunday lunch. We lived about 15 miles from my grandparents. So, we’d go to church and then head out afterwards for lunch. My aunts, uncles, and cousins would join us for many of those occasions.

Those lunches were really a nuthouse coming together. There were six grandchildren—all boys (with me being the oldest). There were three aunts and three uncles. There were two grandparents, and my parents, of course. So, when we all got together, the house was full! There were 16 of us, if I did the math right.

Even at a young age, I could see the different dynamics of how the different families operated. Their families were far from perfect, but then, so was mine. We all had a peculiar ways, I suppose.

My grandfather would often go out early on Sunday morning to their backyard to catch and kill a chicken or two for Sunday lunch. For as long as I can remember, my grandparents had dozens of chickens. Those chickens laid eggs that were eaten, and when they stopped laying eggs, they were fair game for Sunday lunch!

I remember one of those Sunday lunches in particular. We were having chicken and dumplings. (If you aren’t from the South, you probably don’t know about chicken and dumplings—I’ll have to blog about them more some other time—but, that’s not the point of this blog.) We were all enjoying our lunch, eating as much chicken and dumplings as we could. My grandmother sure knew how to make the best chicken and dumplings! Even my uncle, who didn’t really like anything my grandmother cooked, was really enjoying himself. He not only had seconds, he went back for thirds! I had never seen him eat so much.

All the while, I kept watching my grandmother and grandfather as they watched my uncle eat. They could hardly contain their smiles—I knew something was up! I didn’t know what it was, but my mother was in on it.

After the meal, we all thanked my grandmother for the wonderful Sunday lunch. Even my unusual uncle thanked her—I had never heard that before. Finally, my grandmother spoke up. She said, “So Max, you enjoyed the chicken and dumplings, did you?” “Oh yes, those were the best I’ve ever put into my mouth!” came his reply.

My grandmother was pleased. But, she also wanted my Uncle Max to know that what he had just eaten was not chicken and dumplings. You see, their chickens were laying too good to kill one of them! So, that morning, my grandfather had butchered one of their rabbits! Oh, did I forget to tell you that my grandparents also raised rabbits? Well, they had forgotten to tell all of us about butchering the rabbit and using him/her in the dumplings that day.

That was the last time my Uncle Max ever ate at my grandparents. Honest, it was.

We kept going to my grandparents. The rabbit didn’t bother us. After all, it really did taste like chicken anyway!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Guess Who Came for Dinner

Lynnea Flarry was picnicking with her family Sunday afternoon on Clark Island (off Washington State) when her daughter-in-law saw what they thought was a seal aboard the family’s 31-foot Catalina, apparently after taking advantage of a ladder extending into the water from the stern.

Flarry said her son and grandchildren took a dingy back to the boat. “When they got close (she) hid (her) head behind the lifesaver like a little kid who hides behind a curtain and doesn’t realize his toes are sticking out,” Flarry said.

One effort after another failed to dislodge the sea lion until Flarry’s son used a boat hook to nudge the creature gingerly back to the water. “It was the strangest thing. He was on there for more than an hour.”

The rest of the group went back ashore as Flarry’s granddaughter stayed on the boat, taking more pictures as the sea lion swam in circles around the boat. Then the animal climbed back up the ladder onto the boat and resumed sunning itself. “She was so busy snapping pictures she forgot to bring the ladder up,” Flarry said.

Back came the rest of the family to try to evict the sea lion. “He’d just turn his nose up to the sun and just look at us like, ‘I’m here, so what?’ It was just the darndest thing. I've never seen anything so preposterous, and I’ve been sailing for years and years,” Flarry said.

Her 5-year-old grandson begged in vain to keep the sea lion as a pet. “My grandson was more than willing to give up his bathtub if we could take the (sea lion) home,” Flarry said.

What little boy hasn’t wanted a pet like this? And, what little boy wouldn’t be willing to give up baths!

Ever had a stray animal take up residence with you like this? If so, share your story with us.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Herding Church Members

This post is for all of my blogger/preacher friends...

Trust me...I understand...

Have a great day as you prepare for tomorrow's round-up.

Friday, August 8, 2008

When I Say Hold the Pickles...

A St. Louis, Missouri, man is dead and a teenager is in custody after a shooting over a cheeseburger. Yes, you read that correctly, a teenager killed a man over a cheeseburger.

But wait, the story becomes even more sad as you read the details.

The victim is 26-year-old Carl Sharp. The name of the 16-year-old suspect has not been released. Sharp returned home around 12:30 a.m. Sunday after purchasing three cheeseburgers at a Rally’s restaurant, police said. The suspect apparently became angry because he had requested two burgers, not three, and an argument began.

Take a moment and let that last sentence sink in. An argument, fight, and gunfire started because the victim ordered three cheeseburgers, not two. And, because he was so angry, the teenager pulled out a gun and shot the victim, not once, not twice, but three times. Mr. Carl Sharp died at the scene.

After the shooting, the 16-year-old fled the scene on a bicycle and was taken into custody Sunday afternoon.

No getaway car. No speeding through the neighborhood to get away from the police. A murder suspect left the scene of his crime, the murder he committed, on a bicycle. I hope he at least was wearing his helmet, and used correct hand signals as he turned.

This story is so sad. So many lives are now ruined, all over ordering an incorrect number of cheeseburgers.

I guess it really doesn’t take much to set off some people, does it? I guess it could have been just about anything.

All Toes in the Water! Literally!

Several weeks ago, I ran a couple of stories about feet washing ashore in Canada. The stories were rather strange, a foot here, a foot there. No hands. No head. The feet didn’t match each other or so the local authorities said. And, the last shoe that washed ashore was actually an animal’s foot stuck inside a running shoe. Who knew animals were now into jogging! Maybe they are into cycling. What do you think Bill?

Anyway, an athletic shoe containing a human foot was found on a Washington state beach, and authorities are investigating whether it may be linked to the human feet found in shoes along the coast of British Columbia.

Undersheriff Ron Peregrin said that the King County medical examiner determined the foot was human and detached from its body naturally after floating in the water.

Peregrin said the foot will be sent for a forensic investigation to see if it matches feet found washed ashore in British Columbia. Results are expected to take six to eight weeks.

Authorities said a woman told the Clallam County sheriff’s office on Saturday that she found the black, high-top shoe along the beach on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 30 miles west of Port Angeles.

You know, this story gets more weird every time I see another report. Feet washing ashore. Feet stuffed inside running shoes. Feet not matching.

You know, too bad CSI Las Vegas isn’t around. I have no doubt that Grissom would have this case solved in no time—but then again, he never really solved the miniature killer, did he? Okay, I realize that most of you won’t know that reference, but hey, I have no life. I actually like watching TV and even though it has no redeeming factors, I still enjoy it.

And, I still have both of my feet!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Follow the Money

An Ocala, Florida, man has been paying $800 a month for rent. He’s been faithful in his payments. He’s worked hard to pay on time, even early, each month.

So far so good.

However, unfortunately, he’s actually been paying a phony landlord.

Authorities said Carl Kopsho was at a gas station in January, telling his friends he was looking for a place to live when a stranger approached and offered to help.

The man, who identified himself as Tyrone Grain, showed Kopsho the house, and the two signed a lease.

The sheriff’s office reports the real homeowner called authorities last week to say he suspected someone was living at his house, which was supposed to be vacant.

When investigators confronted Kopsho at the home, he told them about Grain, who has not been located (imagine that!).

Kopsho said he hopes to continue renting the home from the real owner.

So, what happens now? Does Mr. Kopsho have to pay the real landlord back payments? Does the real landlord kick Mr. Kopsho to the curb? Or, does the real landlord offer grace to the “innocent” Mr. Kopsho?

Put yourself in the landlord’s place. WWYD? What would you do?

Give Me A Break!

A death row inmate scheduled for execution in October says he’s so fat that Ohio executioners would have trouble finding his veins and that his weight could diminish the effectiveness of one of the lethal injection drugs.

Lawyers for Richard Cooey argued in a federal lawsuit that Cooey had poor veins when he faced execution five years ago and that the problem has been worsened by weight gain. They cite a document filed by a prison nurse in 2003 that said Cooey had sparse veins and that executioners would need extra time.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Columbus, also says prison officials have had difficulty drawing blood from Cooey for medical procedures. Cooey is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 267 pounds, according to the lawsuit.

Now, Mr. Cooey is too fat (using his own words) to be executed, but I notice that Mr. Cooey wasn’t too fat (again, using his own words) to rape and murder two female University of Akron students in 1986. Fat stops executions but not rape and murder, at least, according to Mr. Cooey.

Mr. Cooey’s public defender, Kelly Culshaw Schneider, said Monday, “All of the experts agree if the first drug doesn’t work, the execution is going to be excruciating.”

One question I’d like to ask Ms. Culshaw Schneider: “So what?”

Ms. Culshaw Schneider, I wonder how the two young college students felt as they were being raped? Wonder how it felt to be murdered by your client? Wonder how their families have felt since 1986 watching your fat client gain one stay of execution after another?

Stories like this make me angry. Yes, we are all entitled to our day in court and we should all have proper representation, but come on! Twenty-two years of this stuff? Give me a break!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where in the World is Honus Wagner When You Need Him?

I collect baseball “stuff.” I especially collect baseball cards. New cards. Old cards. Cards in between. I also collect baseball pictures, pencils with baseball players on them, and even bats and balls.

I think that’s why the following story caught my eye. An Arkansas man bought a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card for $1.62 million at a memorabilia auction in Chicago.

The record price for a baseball card is $2.8 million—paid in 2007 for a near-mint condition Wagner card released in 1909 by the American Tobacco Company.

John Rogers, 35, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, said his winning bid for the T206 Wagner card is the realization of a decades-long dream. “I call this the holy grail of baseball cards,” Rogers said. “I’ve looked at a number of other specimens, sat in a few other Wagner auctions. But this is the one that makes collecting worth while.”

Rogers has collected baseball cards since he was 6. When he was in the second grade, he said he cut out a copy of a Wagner card and carried it around in his pocket.

Bidders at the Friday night auction also spent $42,000 on Ken Griffey, Jr.'s 600th home run ball and $240,000 for a 1938 Lou Gehrig Yankees road jersey.

The T206 cards are from a series issued between 1909 and 1911. Allen said the card was in excellent condition, and said the next highest bid, $1.3 million, was placed on behalf of a client who wished to remain anonymous.

Wagner’s card was among the first of hundreds of cards of major league players produced by the American Tobacco Co. and included in packages of cigarettes. Unlike other players, however, Wagner quickly demanded that his card be withdrawn. A nonsmoker, the Pittsburgh shortstop was arguably the second-greatest baseball player of his era, behind Ty Cobb. Wagner hit .344 during his rookie year of 1897, and batted over .300 for 17 consecutive seasons, winning eight National League batting titles.

One of the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Wagner retired in 1917 with more hits, runs, RBIs, doubles, triples and steals than any NL player.

Why can’t I have a card like this one? Why can’t I be that fortunate, to pull something so valuable and collectable. Then again, I started collecting when I was 6 or 7 and those valuable cards from those days probably wound up attached with a clothes pin to my bicycle spokes. That’s just my luck.

A rookie Nolan Ryan. A mint Brooks Robinson. A Jackie Robinson first year card! Probably all wound up flapping in the breeze on my bike.

Maybe I can teach my son better!

When In China, Do As the Chinese

Dog meat will be off the menu during the Chinese Olympic Games.

That simply means that Rover’s not for lunch or dinner. As a matter of fact, Beijing restaurants have been told to nix dog meat during the August Olympics.

Dog meat has been struck from the menus of officially designated Olympic restaurants, and Beijing tourism officials are telling other outlets to discourage consumers from ordering dishes made from dogs.

Waiters and waitresses should “patiently” suggest other options to diners who order dog, so the city tourism bureau says.

Dog, known in Chinese as “xiangrou,” or “fragrant meat,” is eaten by some Chinese for its purported health-giving qualities.

As Rachel Ray would say, “Yum-O.” Or, at least that’s what the Chinese people would say, if they know about Rachel Ray and how much they love dog meat. I’ve never tried dog, or at least not as far as I know. I do love Chinese food, so who knows!

My uncle served in the military. As he and his family were returning back to the States after serving overseas, their neighbor asked if they were taking their dog with them. My uncle thought they were being extremely friendly and offering to adopt the dog. However, when my uncle pressed them on why they wanted the family pet, the neighbor gave a simple answer: “Dinner!”

Needless to say, they took the dog with them! He lived to a very ripe old age. No pun intended.

Would you eat dog if it were served to you? Or, would you risk offending the person offering it to you?

Give me your thoughts!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What Would Col. Sanders Think?

Read this story for me. Then, tell me what you think. I’ll leave off any commentary on my part until I’ve heard from many of you. Or, at least I will try to not comment.

Dateline: Shelbyville, Tennessee. Workers at the Tyson Foods poultry processing plant in Shelbyville will no longer have a paid day off on Labor Day but will instead be granted the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.

According to a news release from the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, a new 5-year contract at the plant included the change to accommodate Muslim workers at the plant.

Tyson’s director of media relations Gary Mickelson said the contract includes eight paid holidays—the same number as the old contract. Eid al-Fitr—which falls on October 1 this year marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

Union leaders say implementing the holiday was important for the nearly 700 Muslims, many of them Somalis, who work at the plant that employs a total of 1,200 people.


Will Work for Food

This 44 pound cat was recently found wandering along a highway in South New Jersey.

Now, do you think he had recently escaped from his home?

Do you think he's been feeding on rats, mice, or ground squirrels? How could a 44 pound cat actually chase down any other animal? Maybe he would just lay there, pretending to be dead, and when the rats came over to investigate, he would "pounce" as best he could.

Whatever he's been doing, he's had a pretty good life, don't you think?

I'd love to hear what you have to say...or guesses you'd like to make about how this fat cat got to be so fat!

Where Oh Where Did the Drugs Go?

Dallas Police didn’t have to go far to find $400,000 worth of cocaine they had been looking for—it was in an undercover car they’d been driving for two months. Yes, you read that right.

An officer cleaning the car at a patrol station Wednesday discovered the nearly 50 pounds of cocaine carefully hidden in hydraulically controlled compartments.

“These compartments have recently been more and more popular with drug operations,” said Deputy Chief Julian Bernal, commander of the narcotics division.

Dallas police put the two-door 2004 black Infiniti into police service on May 7 after seizing it at a drug house. It had been found at a drug house earlier this year along with a 1999 Honda.
Bernal said the narcotics division searched both the vehicles and found nothing unusual after the seizure. The Honda was sold at auction.

Bernal said police plan to contact the person who bought the Honda to find out if drugs are hidden in that car, too.

What’s the owner of the Honda going to say? “Well, yes, it had drugs in it. I found it while I was cleaning it out. So, I decided to sell it and help pay off some of my bills?”

Don’t you think the police should have found the drugs when they first seized the car? Shouldn’t someone be very sure there’s nothing hidden in the car before selling it off at auction? Or placing it in service?

I’m wondering if someone will be placed on paid administrative leave that we are always hearing about. Do you think that person will be pushing a pencil at some desk in the back room? All alone?

Accidents happen. Mistakes are made. Even police make mistakes. I just hope they’ll remember this if I am ever going through Dallas, a little over the speed limit. I wonder if grace goes both ways?

Monday, August 4, 2008

And I Thought I Had Bad Neighbors!

Sometimes, I find myself complaining about too many things. I complain about the traffic going and coming to work each day. I complain about the price of gasoline. I complain about the rain, the heat, and even the dark.

But, when I read the following story from Cincinnati, I realized I need to stop complaining—my problems really aren’t that important.

It seems that one Cincinnati landlord is so exasperated by street crime outside his building that he’s posted a large sign announcing “Drugs & Sex For Sale 24/7.”

John Wallen says most tenants have left his apartment building because of drug-dealing and prostitution on the street.

The large sign he put up last week urges passers-by to call the City Council to help get the area cleaned up. Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls says Wallen has every right to be angry. She says police should be more aggressive about cracking down on the drugs sellers and prostitutes on Wallen’s block and she promises to take the matter up with the police chief.

Wallen says police come quickly every time he calls but criminals always come back once the police drive off.

Okay, about the worse problem I have with my neighbors is that they don’t always cut their grass as often as I think they should, and they tend to park their cars on the street and not in their garage. But, those are small problems! I know that. And, I’m going to work very hard to straighten up my attitude about them.

Maybe I should offer to cut their grass or trim their hedges. As I do, I’ll probably think of my complaints less and more of the needs of people around me. That would definitely be a far better way to go through the day or week.

Lord, help me to forget about complaining and to focus on the needs of people around me. Help me to realize that these problems of today are really insignificant and meaningless.

To Winglet Or Not to Winglet, That is the Question

Toyota has developed a motorized stand-up-and-ride Segway lookalike designed to help people scoot around at malls and airports. Toyota officials insist anyone can learn to ride it with some practice, including the elderly—its major target buyer.

The Winglet goes up to 3.7 mph, about the same speed as pedestrians, far slower than 12.5-mph Segway, which costs $5,000. The Winglet can go about 3 miles before needing to be recharged.

The Winglet is designed to stop easily with little pressure, pivot full-circle, and go smoothly over bumps on roads. And it is designed to respond almost intuitively—moving forward when you lean to the front, and turning when you sway to the right or left, similar to skiing.

Toyota executive Takeshi Uchiyamada, who zipped around on a Winglet as though he was on a skateboard, said the company is experimenting with new ways of mobility as part of a company strategy to spread robotics.

Winglet evolved out of Toyota's takeover of parts of Sony Corp.'s robotics division last year. Sony, reshaping itself under Chief Executive Howard Stringer, decided to focus on electronics and wipe out its Aibo pet robot and other peripheral businesses.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing a great future for this. If a person can’t walk the malls, are they going to be able to operate this piece of equipment?

How many older people, in particular, say, “I can’t even get my DVD or VCR to stop blinking! I could never figure this out!”

Isn’t this what wheelchairs are used for?

What happens after three miles? The battery runs out, are these elderly people supposed to “carry” the device back to their car? Are we thinking they’ll just stop and recharge the batteries for several hours?

My wife and I were at the mall the other day. The aisles in the stores were crowded with displays. The mall itself is now filled with kiosks at every turn. And, just watching the people walking through the mall, talking on their phone or texting on their phone, not paying attention to what they are doing, does that really leave much room for people who can’t walk but want to use this little Winglet?

I don’t think so!