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Showing posts from March, 2010

The Infamous Eleven

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Maybe you’ve seen that church group from Topeka, Kansas that attends the funerals of soldiers slain in battle, and holds up signs with hateful sayings on them. Their favorite seems to be “God Hates Fags”. In fact, that’s even the name of their website. Wikipedia reports that their church has 71 confirmed members, 60 of whom are related to the pastor. Apparently this pastor is the patriarch of a large family who all inherited his ‘hate’ gene, and blindly follow him in his folly. And a church packed full with the members of one confused and demented family is fairly easy to understand and dismiss. A church packed full with the members of one confused and demented family is fairly easy to understand and dismiss... But my question is, “Who are these other 11?” I mean, does somebody just drive down the street, pass a church with a sign that says “God Hates Fags” and say, “Hey Martha, let’s visit that church” - “Sure George, they look like the nicest people.” And how dysfunctional does a

Fearsome Confrontation

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A few mornings ago I was backing out of my garage to go to work, but there was a man sitting in a little red car on the street in front of my house, blocking me in. You may know that we live at the very end of a cul-de-sac in the very back of a housing addition. The only cars that come down our street are folks who have lost their way and parents of little-leaguers practicing at the church field next to us. So this guy sitting in his idling car in front of my house at 7:30 in the morning was a bit curious… even unnerving. I quickly grew weary of waiting and backed toward his car. He saw me and drove away… at least a few feet away so that he wasn’t in front of my house any more. And I drove on. But when I saw that he wasn’t leaving the neighborhood I picked up the cell phone and called Stephanie back at the house. She looked out the window and told me that he was back in front of our house again. I decided to turn around and confront him. Confrontation is a dicey thing. It can escala

Valuable Blood, Precious Blood

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I have very valuable blood. Of course, everybody’s blood is valuable – at least to them. But my blood is valuable and highly sought after by many. Let me tell you why. If you passed high school biology you probably know more about this than I do, but as I understand it there are eight basic blood types: A, B, AB and O, with something called an RH factor either present (positive) or absent (negative). My blood is O-negative. O-negative is not the rarest blood type there is. In fact there are 3 or 4 types more uncommon, depending on your ethnicity. What makes O-negative so valuable is that it's the universal donor type . That means it can be given to anybody, no matter what their blood type may be! In emergency rooms, if they don’t know what blood type somebody has and they have to be given blood immediately, they reach for the O-negative. We’ve all seen a show on television where they rush a guy in on a gurney and the doctor yells “two units of O-Neg, STAT!” I always grin when I

Facing the Fear

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Depending on whose list you believe, the greatest fear that faces mankind is either dying or speaking in public. And really, most people that are forced to speak in public will tell you they’d rather face death. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I suspect most dead people would rather be speaking in public. I guess the worst case scenario would be to die while giving a speech about dying! While facing the rigors of bible school I was simultaneously dealing with the dread of my first speaking engagement. I had a call from God on my life, of that there was no doubt. And I wanted more than anything to go out and preach… or teach. But would I be able to stand up in front of live human beings? And if so, and I raised my finger and opened my mouth, would sound come out? Or would my knees just lock up, causing me to pass out and knock over the podium? Would I be able to stand up in front of live human beings or would my knees just lock up, causing me to pass out... A few weeks before

Guys and Dolls

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A couple of weeks ago I got the rare pleasure of spending some time with my brother, Joe. We got updated on the details of each other’s lives; the joys and frustrations of day to day existence. Then, as always, our conversation turned to the past. See, we live about 20 miles apart and don’t run in the same circles, so other than a few relatives, what we mostly share is a common childhood. We saw something – I can’t remember what – that caused us to laugh at ourselves for how we used to hide our girly magazines in the attic, under the pink insulation. (Dads – if your attic stairs are seeing a lot of action, you might want to check for loose bats of insulation.) Now, in case you weren't aware, that pink stuff is pretty itchy... turn the page, scratch your arms, turn the page scratch you neck... you get the picture. Are arranged marriages the way to go? Well, I’d say that depends on who’s doing the arranging... I need to stop the train right here for a moment and point out a coupl

Old Friends

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One of the neatest things about the internet, and specifically Facebook is that you can renew acquaintance with old friends. I am “Facebook friends” with a number of people I probably would have never again seen or known about if not for this cool tool. I’m looking forward to spending a weekend in Branson and seeing my old friends Pete and Janice, with whom I had lost touch for years. And just last weekend Stephanie and I were invited over to Scott’s home. Scott is a guy I worked with about 10 years ago. And another guest that night was David, another co-worker from that same job. Our conversations picked up as if the ten years had never happened. My scope of friends has again expanded and I am richer for it. I was saddened to hear of this great loss. Dennis was a good man and a true friend. But the other side of that equation is finding out about old friends that have passed. I learned from them of the death of Dennis, a man in Phoenix I used to do network installations for. You ma

Mulligan Time

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Spring has sprung and a man’s thoughts turn to… golf ! There’s a saying in golf – Drive for show, Putt for dough! The gist of it is: Drive for Show - If you can’t take a driver and hit a golf ball in the general direction of the fairway, then you should probably take up table tennis. In all fairness, Tiger Woods doesn’t hit the fairway every time. But if your ball flies off the tee and lands 30 feet behind you, or 3 inches in front of you, and that happens consistently, you might consider selling your clubs on CraigsList. But if you can advance the ball in the general direction of the green, then the course is pretty forgiving. A ball hit a few feet off to the right or left is still pretty easy to bring back into the fairway and advance to the flagstick. You won’t be joining the tour any time soon, but you’ll have many pleasurable weekends stomping through the poison ivy in search of your ball. Whether it’s a three foot putt or a duck-and-run tee shot, anything short of perfection

A Tale of Two Chiefs

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Some do it when they are very young. Others only began to feel the compulsion as they reach the twilight of their days. But at one time or another everyone makes a list of the places they want to go and the things they want to do before they die. A recent movie made the term ‘bucket list’ popular, and it was an ok movie, so we’ll go with that phrase. Very near the top of my bucket list is a trip to our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. From what I’ve heard the ultimate tourist destination in D.C. is the White House. And surely the greatest thrill of seeing the White House is to have your picture made with the President of the United States. Now, never having been there I can’t really say, but I’m guessing he doesn’t have a photo booth in the hall outside the oval office where he is available for pictures at 10 bucks a pop. Perhaps he should. It might help with reducing the national debt. But I understand he’s a pretty busy guy, so I don’t see it happening any time soon. ...do me a

The Sappy Old Geezer

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Are you familiar with the intricacies of the Malthusian growth model? No? Don't worry - I wasn’t either. The Malthusian growth model says that if you lean up against a tree, you will get sap all over your shirt. Now, you can’t just use a wet towel on it like you can blood or dirt. And you can’t peel it off with your fingernails, although you can’t resist the temptation to try. It just smears around, sap-afy-ing an ever increasing area. Sap is exponential! And thus you have proven Malthus’ theory of compounding. OK… I confess... the Malthusian growth model has nothing to do with sap. It has to do with population growth. I just wanted to talk about sap. And in all fairness, the more people there are, the more tree sap gets on shirts. So there! That was before I found myself struggling to cope with one day at a time. For me it could have said “Five Minutes at a Time, Sweet Jesus…” The reason I want to talk about sap is because I’m trying to figure out why I’m getting more and mor

A Charismatic Handshake

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A ‘charismatic handshake’ is when you extend your hand to shake another, and when you withdraw your hand it contains something it didn’t have before… usually green and folded over. Charismatic handshakes are fun to give, and fun to get… sometimes! I'll explain. There’s a scriptural teaching that when one prays a prayer asking God for material provision, that prayer is done in secrecy. In other words, ask God to provide, but tell no man. Thus you have not prodded another individual to step in and ‘meet your need’, but have truly trusted God to provide – either the answer to your prayer or an understanding of how His plan is better. When someone evokes the ‘God told me’ clause you don’t dispute it... In 1980 I prayed such a prayer. My wife’s birthday was coming up and I had decided I wanted to give a $100 bill as a present. And, while in this day and age a $100 bill may be about average for a gift, back then it was an insurmountable obstacle… at least to me. So I took it to Go

Playing Favorites

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I’m going to tell you a secret but I’ve got to ask you to keep it to yourself. See, I love my brother and sisters and I wouldn’t want their feelings to be hurt. And this information might just do that, so please don’t tell my secret. What could such a potentially hurtful secret be, you ask? Here it is – Of all us kids, I was dad’s favorite ! Oh, he never came right out and said it… not in so many words. But we had this special bond, and it was unmistakable. I tried not to let on so as not to hurt their feelings, but on the other hand I reveled in his favor unashamedly. Now, that may sound like a question to you, but it wasn’t. It was really his special code word that indicated to me I was his favorite... I remember one time when I was really young, maybe three or four. Dad worked as supervisor on a freight dock. As I remember the story there was some damaged freight, or salvage freight or something of that nature. I’m not sure of the particulars. All I remember is dad’s lunch pail

The Devil’s Fire

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We’ve all known someone that, because of their easy going demeanor or comical personality, can get by with things that you or I would surely be called on; jokes told, comments made, judgments passed. Those things, and especially decisions made and actions taken are the things of which reputations are woven. Reputations are a funny thing. Sometimes they’re deserved, sometimes undeserved… and sometimes a person actually seeks out a reputation that doesn’t really represent him at all. At one time in my life I fell into that category. I sat on the proverbial fence, and warmed at the wrong fire… and people noticed. It was Passion Week and Jesus had been taken to the high priest’s house. Peter followed the crowd, but far enough back that he wouldn’t be recognized. It was cold so some people started a fire and Peter sat down with them to warm himself. But a woman in the group recognized him as a follower of Jesus. “This man was with Jesus”, she declared, pointing at Peter. Peter denied

My First Felony Offense

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I suppose most of us hide secrets in our heart, some out of the fear of embarrassment, others because they’re just private and should remain private… and some to avoid a prison sentence ! You may have thought you knew me, but you’re about to learn of my first criminal offense. The Romans would have called it MCMLXVIII. It was 1968. The Green Bay Packers won the Superbowl, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In debuted, Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States, Martin Luther King was assassinated, and I committed my first felony. WAIT… that makes it sound like my crime had something to do with Dr. King’s death. While that was a terrible crime, it was not my crime! I was only 11 years old. I figured my crime was good for at least 10 years of hard labor in striped pajamas... Back in the 60s we had elementary school, junior high and high school. Somewhere along the way junior high became middle school, and they started messing with the grades. Now I’m not sure what school a 6th gr

Almost Arrested... For Praying!

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For a few minutes I thought I was living behind the iron curtain, or maybe in some third-world country. I found myself on the verge of being arrested… for praying! It was the year 2000 and I was in Phoenix to install a computer system for a client. I was there alone for several days, and so, as a guy is apt to do when he is staring at the four walls of a hotel room, I headed out to see what the City of Phoenix had to offer. I stumbled across a sports bar type restaurant with a few cars around it, and ventured in for a bite to eat. Now, even back in my ‘wild’ days I wasn’t much of a drinker of adult beverages. In fact, back when I ran with a crowd that frequented those types of establishments I was always the designated driver. And so I ordered water with my meal. And the second time my glass ran empty I was brought a whole picture. “Would you consent to take a breathalyzer test?” My alternative was a trip downtown, so I consented… A couple of hours later the game was over and I w

The Call of the Wild

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There’s an inner urging deep inside all of us for a return to the wild - to live off the land - to build a shelter with our own hands -to catch a fish or trap a rabbit or shoot a pheasant, and drink fresh water from a cool, clear stream… and then to sneak off to town for a hot shower, a burger and a shake! My wife has made me promise for several years running now that I would take her camping. But between valid reasons and trifling excuses, our tent and cook-stove have continued to gather cobwebs. Perhaps this summer… Had she not stepped out at just the right time, her little yapper may have been the victim of an unthinkable fate. But in backing out the driveway the other morning I realized we don’t need to go camping to return to the wild. See, a couple of years ago we bought a new house on a cul-de-sac with empty lots around us. And with a church lot behind our house to the north and another to the west, we are surrounded on three sides by raw nature. But what I noticed that mo