Christmas Lights and Static Explosions from Selfish Drivers

I would like to continue my complaints about the less intelligent people in our society. This person had the appearance of being a nice, classy lady, but her actions tells me that she is dirty as can be in her core. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but she frustrated me.

We went to the Shell gas station in Coldwater, Michigan. I pulled up next to the gas pump, turned my car off, did all the necessary procedures and began to fill my car. I quitely stood next to the pump like I am supposed to.

Then an upper class 35 year-old white female pulls up in her nice, new Envoy to the pump next to me. She hops out while refraining from turning her car off. She then begins to start refueling. After the pumping begins, she proceeds to climb back into her running car and wait until the refueling process is over. The only thing she could've done that would've increased our chance of going up in a fiery inferno would be to smoke during the whole process.

At that moment I realized why the educational efforts to teach Africans to use condoms weren't working. I understood why people in Arab countries still celebrate by shooting bullets up in the air. Some people are just so stupid that you can't educate them. (I don't really believe that. I just feel that way while reliving this moment.)

For those who have been living isolated for too many years and haven't read all of the various warning signs that have decorated the gas pumps across America, here is a page from the National Safety Council on how to pump gas without increasing the risk of killing the family in the car next to you. Here is a page from the Petroleum Equipment Institute warning about static causing car explosions. I can't find a page that explains why having your car on while refueling may cause fires, but I take their word for it.

The moral of this story is "don't be a jerk." If the government asks you to do something that isn't against your religious convictions, then submit and do whatever it is they ask. I bet this car-sitting, car-running bandit sits in her nice, warm pew on Sunday mornings while she risks the life of unsuspecting children strapped into their car seats at the gas station on Monday. The audacity.


Last night Isaac and I went with my mom and dad to view a house with Christmas lights over by Paulding (the next town over in a south-easterly direction). We had just spent the evening driving home from Coldwater, so Lindsay decided to sit this one out because Eli was sick and tired of being in the car. (I personally think he was still frustrated with the unecessary risk that the rich (only in monetary possessions) Envoy driver placed him under.)

My parents told us it was a house with Christmas lights. I thought it would be neat; however, I never thought it would be as extravagant and entertaining as it was. It was the most spectacular Christmas exhibit I have ever seen. Some rich guy, Mr. Baughman, that lives over there goes all out in decorating his gigantic yard for Christmas. He has a long circle drive that you just drive through while experiencing the amazing Christmas lights.

Here were some of the stats on a sign that was posted for everyone to see.

They use 500 gallons of gasoline a night.

They have 56 generators to keep them going.

They have 500 miles of lights.

They have 50 miles of electrical cords.

They have 1 of only 2 Christmas light merry-go-rounds in the United States.

I was so impressed. It was a fun experience. Isaac wanted to keep going back through it. I figure we spent 45 minutes driving through it four times. He wanted to keep going, but it was getting late. He especially liked the dinosaurs. What do dinosaurs have to do with Christmas? I don't know, but Isaac seemed to have liked them the most.

I figure 40 cars went through the driveway while we were there. It was amazing. I guess this might be an effective way for this guy to give back to the community. It made our family feel great. I have yet to and probably never will contemplate the moral question of whether the economic and environmental impact of burning that much fuel a night is worth the happiness that going through the exhibit brings.

And by the way, there was a church, Noah's Ark, and a baby Jesus in a manger display.

I'm still amazed. I wish I had my camera with me, but I didn't.


I'll get back to church leadership and other biblical discussions as soon as I quit having events like these happen in my life. Today is back to the grind, so nothing spectacular will probably happen. But you never know.

Watch out for the potholes.

A Complaint Letter to Autozone and a BPA

First, I must give credit to Mike Fabian for creating the BPAs (prounounced bip-ah). It it the "busy-est person" award. I have a nominee.

I went in to Autozone on Saturday to pick up a gas cap and some gas line water remover for my car. I had been driving without a gas cap for a few months and decided it was finally time to fix it. So I walked through the doors to Autozone.

I understand waiting and have no problem with it; however, I don't like getting cut in front of . I'm not the type of guy that is going to say, "Excuse me sir, but I was in line first." Autozone exacerbates the problem by not having a line. You just stand looking at the workers waiting for them to acknowledge that you were the next one in line. It's such a barbaric system, especially when the barbarian hordes (otherwise known as white trash) arrive.

One could conclude that I am white trash by the car I drive in, but I think white trash goes much deeper than physical appearances. White trashiness emanates from the core of one's being.

I was standing there patiently minding my own business. I looked at the impluse items that were supposed to be somewhat tantalizing. They weren't. Maybe it's because I'm not that big of a car guy. I was bored waiting in line when another individual comes and stands behind me. (That individual reminded me a lot of Ben Brown. I must still miss the people from the Lasning church a lot. People are reminding me of them. For those who don't know Ben, he is usually a nice mild-mannered, calm, and collected individual. The type of guy you wouldn't be scared of running across in an alley on a dark and rainy night unless he was done up in his Darth Maul face paint and swing a lightsaber around.) Anyway, the two of us are there minding our business, waiting in line, when a short, plump, hairy, dirty gnome walks through the door carrying some big honking chunk of something that is supposed to be located under one's hood. I'm not a car guy so that is as descriptive as I can get.

The gnome walks right in front of me and demands service. The Autozone workers don't remind him that we were there first, and he is out the door with a new healthy honking chunk of something. He probably had his car fixed before I made it to the register.

And much to my surprise the white trash parade continued for what should walk through that door after the gnome left? Why, a big hairy ogre and his daughter. They immediately proceeded to jump in front of the line and demand attention. They even get upset when they aren't helped immediately because the workers are all busy. But don't worry. They did receive help prior to me.

Then one of the workers decides to take a break. I'm fine with breaks. I personally don't get any because I work alone, but I understand the need for them. It wouldn't have bothered me so much except for the fact that I had been standing there fifteen minutes longer than I should have because of a gnome and an ogre cutting in front of me.

So me and the Ben Brown impersonator waited a little longer. Then one of the Autozone workers finished helping a customer that he was stuck on the whole time this was occurring. He does a novel thing asks, "Whose next?" Now, I would've been interested to see what the gnome of ogre would've done in this situation, but the nice Ben Brown impersonator pointed at me and said, "He is."

Two minutes later I was out of Autozone with my gas cap and gas line water remover.

So I award the gnome and the ogre a dual BPA. Neither one of them deserve a full one because I don't think they will take good care of it.

The experience also inspired me to write a letter to Autozone. Unfortunately, their website is having problems with me uploading my email. I'm debating on never going to Autozone again, but the Napa in town was just as bad. Maybe car guys just aren't good retail guys.

The letter to Autozone:


I went to the Autozone store in Defiance, Ohio, yesterday and was shocked at what happened. I stood waiting for an Autozone associate to help me find what I needed. This is normal and fine. I understand waiting. However, when a man comes in and just cuts in front of me and a worker proceeds to help him, I get a little frustrated. When this happens a second time, I get even more frustrated. Those of us who are more civilized and considerate get ran over in a store that doesn't seem to acknowledge the order of people waiting.

I just wanted to write to propose a solution. Create some type of waiting line. Banks and post offices have one line in which people wait for the next available window. If this was the case at Autozone, my visit would've been less frustrating and done fifteen minutes before it was actually was.



Watch out for potholes.

The Ship of God

Journey with me through my corny illustration that I have been working on in the depths of my mind.

The church is like an old wind-powered ship. It's sails are up and the wind blows. Now the captain of the ship can either take the ship in the direction the wind is blowing or fight against the wind and try to take it in the direction he prefers.

On a healthy ship, everyone wants to go where the wind is blowing. They even help point out shifts in the wind to the captain if he hasn't already become aware to them. A healthy ship is all about the wind.

On an unhealthy, disease-ridden ship, the captain might want to take the ship where the wind blows, but the crew could be too lazy to help get the sails in the right position to take full advantage of the wind. In the worst case scenario the crew might become mutinous and prevent the captain from guiding the ship in the direction the wind blows. The wind might not be taking them where they want to go, so they will fight the wind, usually in the form of fighting the captain, until either the captain gives up or is thrown overboard.

It could also be the other way around on an unhealthy ship. The crew could want to go where the wind blows, but the captain doesen't allow it. He is set on reaching the island that he planned on reaching rather than shifting his plans according to the way the wind blows. Maybe he just read a great new book of charts and wants to go to the places in that book. However, that book of charts was most likely written for a different ship in a different place than the ship the captain finds himself in.

A healthy ship doesn't fight the wind. It has a trained crew that knows how to utilize the sails most efficiently. It has a captain who is solely focused on going where the wind blows and helping the crew have his abilities as a captain. A healthy ship guided by the wind won't have the struggles of other ships. They let the wind be their guide.

If only God's will was as easy to decipher as the direction of the wind.

Watch out for potholes and bad currents.

Someone We're Thankful For

Following is a bunch of photos we had taken a few months back of Eli. I didn't get to scanning them until today. I'm not feeling creative today, so I didn't make captions. Feel free to make a caption if you want.

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

Church Thoughts on Thanksgiving

I wasn't even planning on writing a blog this morning, but I woke up earlier than planned with a lot on my mind. Lindsay probably won't be up for at least another hour, more likely two. So I'm left with you, the random passerby on the internet. Happy Thanksgiving!

The first thing I did was hop in my car and drive down the road. I had to pick up a roaster from my mother's house to cook the turkey in today. Everyone is coming over to our house this year. It feels sort of weird being the hosts. I guess that is part of growing up. I went 30 mph in a 55 mph zone the whole way there. It was somewhat relaxing despite the sheet of ice on the road.

Anyway, Lindsay had a Christian station on. I don't usually listen to Christian music; I'm a talk radio type of guy. So please excuse me for pointing out something that has been played a thousand times over.

These lyrics from the Casting Crowns song were very touching:

If We Are The Body

It's crowded in worship today

As she slips in trying to fade into the faces
The girls teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know

But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way

A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgmental glances
Tells him that his chances are better out on the road

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the body of Christ

Jesus is the way
It's a sorry state for the church in America that a song like this has been written. Not that it is a bad song, but that there are wasted lives that have influenced the writer. I want to live my life and be in a church that lives their life in such a way that nobody will ever be able to rationally think that about me and my church.


I've been putting a lot of thought into church leadership lately. This tenure as a complete layman outside of any form of leadership has taught me a lot.

Here's what I've come up with. Let me know what you think if you think anything.

My definition for a healthy church is a church where the body of believers are individually seeking and growing in their relationship with God. They try to be selfless and seek his kingdom.

Also, please understand that there are beliefs and actions that aren't up to the leading of the Spirit. We are to be loving. We are to be in Christ. Etc. However, many times God seems to have specific ways that those universal truths need to be lived out on a local level. I write so many disclaimers.

In a healthy church, the direction the church needs to head in is born out of the desires of the congregation. The job of the leader is more of helping the congregation fulfill the calling they are receiving. He is a vision catcher and disperser. He helps people turn the nudgings on their heart into concrete actions for their life.

If I was the pastor of a healthy church, my job would be to listen to the leadings of the congregation. God is working in their midst. He is inhabiting their lives. His Spirit is guiding all of us, so I would not have the sole attention of God's guidance. He would be working through everyone to bring us where he wants us to be.

In an unhealthy church, things would probably be somewhat different. I don't think I would want to minister in an unhealthy church. I guess I might just be selfish.


I won't be posting things tomorrow because I have to leave for work by 6:00.

Watch out for potholes but they might be filled with ice.

A Theme for the Holiday Season

A verse popped into my head during the singing at church last Sunday. I think I'm going to make it my theme for the holiday season.

"If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absenece, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippian 2:1-13)

This was actually going to be the basis for my next Christmas sermon, but I found out last night that we are having a guest speaker come in and preach for the month of December. No Christmas sermon from me; however, here is the Christmas blog right before the Thanksgiving dinner.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves."

That's my holiday theme. It was perfectly modeled by Christ. And the world needs to see Christ through us this holiday season.

I was in a conversation yesterday at work with the kid that I'm helping to homeschool and a random group of people. What makes a hero? The conclusion was that a hero is someone who is selfless. A hero does what he does because it is right, not because it will make him famous. A hero does what he does because it is loving, not because it will garner him accolades. There is no better hero that Jesus Christ.

"For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure."

This holiday season I hope to let Christ be the hero to others through me. No selfish ambitions. Just a life empowered by God to bring about things for his pleasure. That would make for some Happy Holidays.

Watch out for the potholes.

All Things Are Permissible

I can't find my NIV. That shows how much I love that translation. I haven't used it in months.


I have decided to take a new approach when I do a word study type post. I will include all the geeky information below the text. That way if you want to see how I came to the conclusion I ended at, you can go down there and see my work. You can critique, analyze, and tell me where I failed to be accurate. I have come to the conclusion that I am a certifiable geek because of the amount of work I have put into this post and knowing the meaning of the verses in question. And I figured some of you might want to avoid my geekiness. I have spent way too much time on this today, but it is my day off of work.


One of the central themes in 1 Corinthians is the body of Christ concept. The church is a family. Individuals in a church are one. Actions of believers are not done in isolation; they effect one another. If we want to be a healthy church, then we need to stop being selfish and live our lives focused on the good of the body rather than our own enjoyment or gain.

There are two verses that I hear tossed around frequently among Christians. I think it is extremely important to keep the theme (being the body of Christ) of the letter these are from in mind when trying to get a proper understanding of these difficult passages.

1 Corinthians 6:12 - "'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are beneficial. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be dominated by anything."

1 Corinthiasn 10:23 - "'All things are lawful,' but not all things are beneficial. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up."

Lawful pertains to whether it is legal. Whatever word your translation uses, that seems to be the meaning of the word the author used. The word is a legal term associated with either the laws of the land or the laws of the faith. It is about legalilty, nothing else. In particular, the chapter 6 passage immediately follows the discussion of suing a brother in the courts and the chapter 10 passage deals with eating meat sacrificed to idols.

In the first passage, Paul state that it might be lawful to sue a brother in the courts but it isn't beneficial. Paul is trying to shift the focus in the mind of the Christians in Corinth from being hung up on what is lawful to being focused on what is beneficial. The struggle didn't only spring its head up in Corinth; it seems to be a constant struggle with believers today. We have a tendency to settle for minimal Christianity when we are called to complete discipleship. Our faith shouldn't be about what is acceptable by the letter of the law. We shouldn't be worried about what are the minimal requirements for salvation. Living out our faith should be about doing what is beneficial for the good of those around us. Just because something is legal in our nation or in Scripture doesn't mean it is acceptable for believers to participate in.

We have freedom, but we have to be careful to not abuse that freedom. The early church seemed to constantly be struggling with this issue. Paul also wrote about it to the church in Galatia: "For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' (Gal 5:13-14).

Paul is pointing out that despite something being legal, it is not okay to do. It is not beneficial for a Christian to sue another brother or sister in Christ despite the fact that the law allows it. It is not okay to divorce someone for anything except marital unfaithfulness despite the fact that the law allows it. The law allows many things that are not beneficial to the Chrstian: pornography, lying (except to the authorities or in contracts), drunkeness, materialism, and idol worship. Most things that are sins are not illegal. Paul is pointing out that just because something is legal, that doesn't make it an action that a Christian should be participating in. We should not be focused on the minimum standards but upon a life of complete surrender. We should not be worried about the legalities but upon what is beneficial to others.

In the second passage he is talking specifically about eating meat sacrificed to idols. This one goes even more into the central idea of doing things for the common good. Freedom isn't about having a license to do whatever we want. We need to be focused on doing things that are for the good of all. Eating meat was legal. It wouldn't hurt an individual's faith to eat meat sacrificed to idols. But that wasn't the concern. We aren't to be selfishly focused on ourselves growing closer to God. We are to be concerned about others. We decided to follow Christ. And that means to completely give our lives up to God and follow the example Jesus showed in sacrificing his life for others. We grow in Christ in order to help others to grow.

"So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Cor 10:31-33).

"Take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak" (1 Cor 8:9).

"But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall" (I Cor 8:12-14).

They had the freedom to eat meat sacrificed to idols. It was legal. However, they were to do it in such a way that it didn't tear down the weaker consciences of those who felt it was wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols. And if that wasn't possible, what would be the benefit to the good of the whole if they were to continue doing it?

Selfless living is a tough concept to grasp in a culture that worships the god of individualism. But when we take off the clothes of this world and put on the holy life of Christ, we are throwing away selfish living and choosing to live for others. The almost ironic thing is that when this is done, true happiness that could never be found through individualism springs forth in our life.

We need to stop being worried about our liberties and our own lives and begin to be focused on living in such a way that our lives are beneficial to those around us. The selfless life of Christ is a tough act to follow. Let's be imitators of Christ.


Verses that make me think the theme of 1 Corinthians is about being one body:

1 Corinthians 1:10 - "Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose."

1 Corinthians 3:9 - "We are God's servants, working together; you are God's field, God's building."

1 Corinthians 8:13 - "Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall."

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 - "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many."

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 - "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all refjoice togeter with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it."

1 Corinthians 13 - It is well worth reading. Love is more important thant tongues, prophetic powers, knowledge, faith, and loving the poor.

1 Corinthians 14 - The Spiritual gift chapter. The focus is to be on spiritual gifts that build up the body.


Beneficial (NRSV). Also translated profitable (NASB), expedient (KJV), good for you or helpful (NLT), helpful (HCSB). All carry a similar meaning.

The original word (symphero) doesn't seem to have a consistent translation, but after study it does seem to have a similar meaning. It is translated (NRSV) good (7), beneficial (2), advantage (1), appropriate (1), collect (1), common good (1), gain (1), helpful (1).

Examples: (Little note: apparently the concordance considers "better for you" as "good" because it is under the "good" section. A little weird.)

Matthew 5:29 - "If your right eyes cause you to sin, tear it out and thorw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

Matthew 18:6 - "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.

John 11:50 - "You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed."

Hebrews 12:10 - "For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness."

1 Corinthians 12:7 - "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."

1 Corinthians 10:32-33 - "Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of may, so that they may be saved.

2 Corinthias 8:10-11 - "And in this matter I am giving my advice: It is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something - now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means."

Acts 19:19 - "A number of those who practiced magice collected their books and burned them publicly; when the value of these books was calculated, it was found to come to fifty thousand silver coins."

2 Corinthians 12:1 - "It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord."

Acts 20:20 - "I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house."


Lawful (NRSV). Also translated permissible (HCSB), lawful (NASB, KJV), allowed to do anything (NLT).

The original word (exesti) is the same word used in various places in the New Testament. It is translated (NRSV) lawful (25), may (2), permit (2), allow (1), legal (1).

Matt 12:2 - "Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do."

Mark 10:2 - "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"

John 5:10 - "It is not lawful for you to carry your mat."

Luke 14:3 - "Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath."

Acts 22:25 - "But when they had tied him up with thongs, Pausl said to the centurion who was standing by, 'Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who is condemned?"

2 Corinthians 12:3-4 - "And I know that such a person - whether in the body ofr out of the body I do not know; God knows - was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat."


Watch out for the potholes.

Knowledge for Knowledge's Sake

My point yesterday leads me to discuss this.

However, I will try not to repeat anything that Sam wrote on this, but I'm sure I will. I have no original ideas. He's going through my favorite devotional book of all time, Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ. I keep a copy of it in my car at all times. I read it and was never the same. I think it is the first book that shook my comfortable American Christian beliefs and made them more radical. Most are just ripped off of historical church figures like my cats' names, Luther, August (who is awol), Calvin, Joanie, Wesley, and Francis. I want to use them as an educational tool to teach my children church history. Something that the modern American church seems to ignore. But I digress.

Lately, I could be accused of emphasizing knowledge too much. I have encouraged the church to teach all trainable laymen a working knowledge of Greek. I have encouraged sharing your beliefs in order that they may be refined. I believe strongly in the believers in the church having a knowledge of the Scriptures equal to or superior to the knowledge that people trained for the ministry have. (I'm not saying there aren't lay people out there who have attained this, but they seem to be few and far between.) The church needs to make educating the believers a priority.

Today, I want to make sure that we keep knowledge in perspective. If I had to choose a group of loving, ignorant believers or a group of educated, stale believers, I would choose to be part of the loving, ignorant believers any day of the week. The kicker is the fact that we don't have to choose. We can be loving and educated at the same time. They aren't at odds with one another. They actually seem to be two components of a life dedicated to following Christ.

Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:3-11:

"His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitul in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you."

I want to be a participant of the divine nature. I want to never stumble. I want to be in the eternal kingdom.

I read the Message and it uses the word "complement" instead of "support". After a little further research I found that the KJV uses the word "add," the NASB uses "supply," the NLT also used the word "add."

Here is a word study on the Greek word. It talks about why "add" is not the best translation of the word and gives a lot of great insights. I love word studies, especially when I don't have to do them.

I came up with this illustration (probably not original). Imagine a painting. The base paint is faith. A painting isn't beautiful with just one coat. Nobody is going to think that it's painter is a master. But add another color and another - add goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, and mutual affection, and you will start to catch people's eyes. They will begin to wonder what wonderful hand created such a beautiful painting. Top it all off with love, and it will be a masterpiece worthy only of the creator of the universe. We need to be glimpses to the world of God's intention for his creation. By clothing ourselves in all of those things, we are "participants of the divine nature," we join him in his work of redeeming the world.


My wife says that I'm the only one that hates pictures. I was at a wedding last weekend and the whole thing is the bride and groom posing for pictures. At the reception, it is moving from one pose to the next. I would love to go to a wedding that isn't pictures but worried about creating memories. No cameras allowed.

Watch out for potholes.

Sharing Opinons and Beliefs

Thanks for all of your prayers and encouragement yesterday as I wallowed in the mud of self-pity. Nothing bad happened. Today the sun has yet to rise, but I'm sure it will.

I had a young man in my store yesterday who was conversing with myself and others about the war in Iraq. He made this comment when asked his opinion, "I don't want to say because you will cause me to change it."

I thought that he was an ignorant and stupid kid who needed to get over this silly mentality. I hope he grows out of it. The whole reason to express one's thoughts isn't to convince others of them but to test them. I don't go around trying to manipulate people into believing what I believe. I go around trying to test what I believe in order to insure that it is the truth. Throwing an idea into the public arena is like throwing something rough into a machine that smooths it (the analogy machine was broken here. I couldn't think of an example. An award of absolutely nothing to the best comparison in the comments.)

That is one of the roles this blog plays. I love critical constructive criticism of my thoughts. I'm not too fond of the attacks on me personally by the likes of the near infamous Mr. Anonymous, but I do appreciate people taking jabs at my thoughts. If you have something personal against me, please bring it up offline. You can email me, and I would give you my phone number. But if you disagree with a thought I have, don't be selfish. Be loving and share your disagreement, so that I can chew on it and possibly change what I think. Although it would be nice and relaxing, I don't want to live in a existential world where there is no testing of ideas because every idea is legitimate in its own right. Disagreeing with me in a friendly way is one of my love languages. I know that it isn't one of the official love languages, but it is with me.

So feel free to criticize my thoughts. Just make sure you present a valid alternative. Many times all possible answers are like ships with holes; we just need to choose the one that will keep us afloat long enough to get us to shore. We might just disagree on what ship would sink faster. Other times there is a good ship and a ship with holes. It is through constructive conversation that we will have right thinking.

I hope.

Watch out for the potholes.

All For a Bag of Pumpkin Seeds

Last night was one of the more frustrating nights of my life. In comparison to the real sucky nights of life it doesn't compare, but in isolation it really sucked. It's not the event that I am going to described that was the downer. It was what was going on in my head during the event. I guess I'll share both although I'm a little embarassed from the latter.

Last night after work, I stopped at the grocery store. Lindsay has a cold and we ran out of kleenexes. We were also out of bread. I picked up a few other items that we needed like frozen vegetables, apples, bananas, and one item we didn't need, a bag of pumpkin seeds. I like to snack on them on the way home and they are very cheap.

I got back into the car and drove my normal route home. I turned down the normal back road that I turn down, all the while eating my pumpkin seeds. Apparently, the process of eating the pumpkin seeds caused me to go left to center two times. At least that is what the cop said when he pulled me over. He also informed me that my plates were expired. That one was news to me, and bad news at that. So I received my first ticket of my life. Something I never wanted to do. I try hard to obey traffic laws. But I'm a failure. I guess it is the same way with trying to be holy. It is only through the blood of Christ that I can truly be who God wants me to be. More frequently I am a failure when it comes to holiness.

Anyway, I'm a little ashamed of sharing this, but you guys come and read my rants almost every day. You might as well be allowed a glimpse of another part of my life, my financial life. It shouldn't be more secret than my spiritual life, but it seems much more so.

Lindsay and I are struggling to make ends meet. And with winter coming up and the propane tank needing to be filled another time, we will be in even more dire straits than we currently are. It doesn't help that our better car needs to be taken to the shop because it is leaking power steering fluid. But every month we seem to fall deeper and deeper into credit card debt. The only frivolous expense I can find in our budget is the internet for $9.99/month. We don't buy much else. I did join Sound & Spirit, but we haven't bought anything yet. I did purchase Greek resource books (but those were paid for by my mom for Christmas). We haven't purchased a new book since June, haven't been out on a date since we moved from Lansing a year, and a half ago (partly due to Eli breastfeeding), haven't even bought the plastic to put on our windows for the winter to save heat, we haven't done anything. Now, with me going to get my allergies removed we're really screwed (of which the first two appointments were paid by mom because she wanted to encourage me to go), but I don't want to spend my life going to bed between 6-8 because of exhaustion. I need to get it fixed. And with another $190 bill plus plates and a title (we can't find it - don't even know for sure if it was ever tranferred from my father's name to ours) I don't know what we're going to do. Although the people in our life that can't afford it the most have already volunteered to give us $250, it still doesn't solve the monthly process of not making ends meet.

God seems to always provide. My pants get ruined at work sometimes and I was beginning to run low on stainless pants when I was contemplating how we would get another pair (why are pants called pairs when they're only one item? Is a pant just the leg?). When my uncle stopped by with a brand new pair of dockers that he said was a gift to him but they just didn't fit. They fit me perfectly. Then I had to get long-sleeved shirts ready for winter. I didn't have enough. I began contemplating on where the money would come to buy new shirts when last week my brother came over with shirts he was going to give to Goodwill. Now I'm set on shirts. God always provides, although it seems like for the last year it has been about $100 or more short a month. Maybe if we didn't put groceries on our charge cards someone would just stop over and give us meals. I guess I'm not that trusting.

Now, I know I'm not supposed to worry. However, I do wonder what I am supposed to do. Do I need to find a different job in order to better provide for my family? That is what was running through my head last night. I've been pounding my head on trying to find different avenues of making money on the side. I can't come up with any that are working. I just don't know what God wants me to do. (And for those of you that believe God doesn't have a will for people's lives, now isn't the time to inform me of that. I already know all the arguments. Thanks.)

So I'm left frustrated and hopeless about our financial future. I don't want to leave my father's business but would. I feel sort of tugged back into the ministry, which insanely pays more, but I don't want my church search to be like a businessman trying to find a job and submitting resumes all over the place. I want to be guided where to go. I'm frustrated and poorer.

Three crazy days in a row. Hopefully today will be better, or at least cheaper.

Watch out for the potholes, especially if you're eating pumpkin seeds.

Eli would like to say, "Thanks for coming to my daddy's blog and checking out all the pictures. I hope they make you as happy as I am." Posted by Hello

In honor of the once female Joanie. Now she sits by me as an "it." Actually, this is a neat picture of Joanie chasing a Praying Mantis. Posted by Hello

Here is Isaac blowing out the candles on his cake. He is now 3. Actually, he was on October 24, but I'm slow in getting these pictures up.  Posted by Hello

Isaac enjoyed unwrapping his presents. He acted this way for everything including the clothes. He just loves unwrapping. It's children this age that makes unwrapping presents at Christmas fun. Also, I would like to put a plug in for Wendy's. Go buy Wendy's. They should have to pay me for this advertisement. Posted by Hello

Here is a picture of the Indian peacefully meditating like all good Indians do. Posted by Hello

The cowboy posing in his Sunday best. Posted by Hello

Here is a picture of an Indian captured by a cowboy. It was a very dramatic chase scene. Lives were lost, and I risked everything to get this photo. I'm looking for some prestigious award for the dramatic capture pictured in this photo. Oh, the humanity. Posted by Hello

Here is a picture of the Indian trying to escape the cowboy. Those Indians. You can never trust them. Do you think it is politically incorrect to dress up your children as cowboys and Indians? How about General Custer and Indians? Posted by Hello

Isaac prowled the streets while the community celebrated Halloween making sure nobody was up to any shananigans. He was successful. There were no needles in any candy in this town. I must also give thanks to my wife for making our lovely cowboy and indian outfits. I think she did a wonderful job.Posted by Hello

The Praying Mantis Game. Can you find the praying mantis in this picture? Posted by Hello

Here is another bathtub shot of Eli. He hopes you have a good day because he sure is having one. Posted by Hello

A burning barn and an allergy treatment

I took yesterday off. You might have noticed.

Yesterday was a crazy day. We woke up bright and early to take Joanie, our only female cat, to get fixed. Then we went to Michigan to get an allergy treatment for myself. It took its toll on me. I was feeling nauseous and tired the rest of the day, so that is why I didn't post.


On Sunday afternoon I was out burning my trash. That's something us country folk are allowed to do. The brush around the trash area was very dry. If you would step back and look, you would see that the brush runs all the way from the burn pile to the fallen barn. It still has a lot of good and useful wood, so we don't want to get rid of it yet. Anyway, the brush caught on fire. I watched it for about three minutes thinking that it would just burn itself out and quit spreading. What a moron! Needless to say, within five minutes I ran into the house and tried to call my brother for help. The phone was busy. Then I ran outside, was happy that I hadn't put my hose back last time I used it, and turned on the spicket. I rounded up some buckets and the fun began. For the next half hour I was making trips from the end of the house to the burning brush with buckets splishing and sploshing all over my legs. The first ten minutes of the half hour I was running. The next twenty minutes I was complaining about how out of shape I am. Needless to say, the barn did not burn down. The brush only burned about a 1/3 of the way there. I was successful. However, I wouldn't want to do it again.

Here is the moral of this story - something I also learned in my days at Solomon's Porch (the first phase of the church plant in Lansing). Deal with problems quickly. If you don't, they will grow and grow. At some point they grow so large that they aren't even able to be dealt with. However, the longer you wait to deal with them, the harder it is to deal with them. I have never seen a problem just blow over in a healthy way. Every problem needs dealt with. The earlier the better.

Watch out for the potholes.

Who is this Paul?

An anonymous person wrote this in reply to my last post:

"who is this paul youre talking about?"

My reply became a little longer than I intended, so I decided to make it a post. Here it is in all its uncensored glory.

For starters, I will assume that you're not the same bitter and soon to be legendary Mr. Anonymous that posted previously and are someone that just doesn't know who Paul is.

Paul is an apostle of Christ who spread the teachings of Christ throughout much of the Roman empire. He wrote many letters that are included in the New Testament including the section from 2 Corinthians posted above. So it was what he wrote.

Now, if you are the bitter Mr. Anonymous, I assume you are mocking that I said Paul wrote it and not God. See, I know you better than you think, Mr. Anonymous. Anyway, Paul was the writer, so I used Paul rather than God. I agree that God inspired him. But when I do a loving action that God has told me to do, people wouldn't describe it as God doing it. They would describe it as being able to see God through what I did. I doubt if you are the sinister Mr. Anonymous, that you would agree with me, but that is the way I see it. Each writer does have a different style and seems to have a different emphasis in their writings. That doesn't make the writings less inspired by God, but it does show that God didn't write them. He inspired humans, like Paul, to do the writing. And that doesn't make them fallible. If it does in your mind, I'm sorry. I believe those facts and don't feel the Bible is any less inspired. I feel the Bible is the authority on truth and the foundation for my faith in Jesus.

And if you're just one of my silly friends being crazy, you wasted five minutes of my time writing this and another five trying to find the link to the historical run of posts from Mr. Anonymous. Next time I see you I going to punch you (my friend, not Mr. Anonymous). (That's a joke, Mr. Anonymous. You can't use that to say I'm not right with God. Stick to the Twelve Monkeys bit. I'm non-violent.)

Have a good day.

Peddlers of Christ

I had something interesting and radical to say about something, but I can't remember what it is. I thought of it on the ride home yesterday. However, it has left my mind. Maybe the world is a better place without it.

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 reads:

14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him.15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;16 to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?17 For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many;f{f Other ancient authorities read like the others} but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.

The New Revised Standard Version, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1989.

I found this on the history of the word translated peddler. (I'm really into history of words right now. Please pardon the fascination.) I copied this from a website article on archeology and its benefits to Bible study. "The foreword to McRay (McRay, J. Archaeology & the New Testament. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1991) gives an example. In 2 Corinthians 2:17 there is a Greek word kapeleuo, which most modern versions translate as peddle. This is the only place in the New Testament the word is used. In other Greek literature, it is translated as peddler, shop keeper or retailer. Several years ago, an archaeologist discovered a perfectly preserved Hellenistic house on the West Bank in Palestine. On the floor were some broken pottery with writing on them. The dialog on one of the pieces contained details of a transaction between two men. One man owed 32 drachma to the other who was called kapelos. However, there were no details of any commodity or service being supplied; therefore the meaning of this word was extended to include money lender."

I'm a retailer, and here is what I do. I create displays to make an item look more appealing. I try to sell people items that I feel they might want in the store. I'm not a high-pressure type of guy and will never pressure someone to buy something they don't want. I actually wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I did that, but I do think a "successful" retailer practices that tactic. I try to sell people things they would want if they knew about them. I guess I'm more of an informer than I am a retailer. I try to benefit from everything I sell. I'm in business to make money.

I think Paul is using the negative view of a retailer here. Our typical used car salesman view. I found an interesting link on the internet. It's for Canada, but I doubt the results would differ much. Religious institutions are considered less trustworthy than the judicial system, chiropractors, financial advisors, the environmental movement, and television and radio personalities. Thankfully the religious institutions are more trustworthy than auto mechanics, journalists, lawyers, new home builders, the press, labor unions, CEOs, politicians, and cars salesmen.

So what does it mean to be a salesman of God's word? Would trying to make church as entertaining or emotional as possible in order to manipulate people into a decision for Christ fall into being a peddler of God's word? Would doing neutral events, like sports, to bring an individual in and hook them make us a peddler of God's word? Would watering repentance and the kingdom of God out of the "good news" in order to be more appealing make us a peddler of God's word? What makes us a peddler of God's word?

I would say anything that we use as a tool to win people to the Lord besides the message of Christ, our life lived in obedience to that message, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. When we resort to any sort of manipulation, we become a peddler of God's word.

Paul contrasts two lifestyles in this passage. One is that of a peddler. The other is that of a sincere person who stands in God's presence and emits an "aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." The key is us being in God's presence. We do not have to resort to peddling if we are in the grasp of God. When we are the type of people God wants us to be, we will naturally bring people to Christ. No peddling necessary.

So if we notice our spiritual aroma stinks, we need to step back and grow closer to God. God wants us to be the sort of people that others will be able to see him through. We are God's fragrance to the world. If we want people to think highly of God, then we need to live our lives in such a way that God is glorified. God's image is oftentimes linked to his follower's lives. No peddling necessary, just Christ-like living.

Watch out for potholes.


Sound and Spirit gave me four extra cds as a result of the letter. Thanks to them for being kind and switching my membership to the other program.


Jerry Falwell is scary. "Seeking to take advantage of the momentum from an election where moral values proved important to voters, the Rev. Jerry Falwell announced Tuesday he has formed a new coalition to guide an "evangelical revolution." He appears to be trying to profit off of something he had nothing to do with. Did you ever read Jimmy Bakker's book? I'm not going to support any coalition Falwell is in charge of after that. What's that say for Christian unity? I don't know, but unity with a terrorist is not something I want. Okay, that might be going too far, but you get the point.


2 Corinthians 1:3-7

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation,4 who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.6 If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering.7 Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation."

This verse really struck me the other day. We are consoled in order to be consoling to others. When our suffering increases so does the consoling we receive from God. When we suffer it is so that we can become who we need to be for our salvation. No matter what sorrow or suffering happens in our lives, our hope is that Christ will share that time of sadness with us. He will be there to console us.

I found a website that did a lot of research on the Greek word translated "consolation" here. It really gives it a much greater meaning. He used all the tools that I wished I owned.

Anyway, the conclusion, which I think makes these verses more powerful is this: Consoling, in our culture, means to be sympathetic to someone in a time of need. However, the term used in the original text means more of a combination of that and working alongside of them to get them out of what they are in. God doesn't just listen to us and sympathize with us. He gets himself dirty and helps to carry us out of the muck we find ourselves in.

And as he does for us, we are to do for others. We can't be scared of the appearance we might have by loving someone that is looked down upon by the community. No matter how deep a muck some people find themselves in, we need to be like God was to us for them. We need to be willing to get dirty in order to turn their suffering into their salvation. We are the representatives of Christ to the world. Jesus saves, but sometimes he chooses to use us as his hands.

Watch out for the potholes.

Stupid American Court System

I had one more thing to write after glancing at the news.

This is from the Scott Peterson juror dismissal case.

"Earlier Tuesday, sources close to the court told CNN a juror may have been carrying out independent research on the case. Such activity is forbidden because jurors are supposed to consider only the information they hear presented in court."

This is a stupid system.

We can't think of truth that wasn't presented because it wasn't presented. Sounds silly to me. Maybe we should allow jurors to be involved and ask questions. That way the side that would be against what they are thinking is allowed to rebut. I don't know, but I think this system we have is pretty silly if this is what happens as a result of a juror thinking of a possibility.

I think I should take a break from the news.

Watch out for the potholes.

Scammers, Religious Politicians, and Tiredness

One thing I like about not being a paid minister who has to preach week in and week out is that I can have a week of mental rest without going on vacation. For the life of me, nothing is coming to my head this week that inspires me to write a spiritual article. So you are left again with random ramblings of a mad man.


I found an interesting website the other day. It has an incredible story about a scammer who gets the scam turned around on him. The site encourages wasting scammers time and trying to reverse the scam. They have all the correspondence of the time they really did it. It is hilarious. I recommend going to check it out.


I wrote this in the GLCC Alumni Forum at some point regarding John Lennon's lyrics in Imagine.

"Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace..."

It all depends on what you mean by religion. I think John Lennon was meaning Christianity and not just religion. He was meaning, especially in the song Imagine, anything that divides. Being a good Christian sometimes divides.

Here is the first definition of religion from

1. a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers
regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a
spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious

So, by some of the definitions, I am a proponent of religion. Actually, if you take out the phrase "or institutionalized system," then I am would say that religion is a good thing. The only problem I have with religion is when it is an "institutionalized system." I think John Lennon had a few more issues with it.

One of my Catholic aunts is devoutly religious (in a good way) and doesn't understand Protestants who say they are anti-religous. It doesn't make sense to her. I don't know if it really makes sense to me either. However, I am devoutly anti-institutionalized system. That belief probably helped spawn the house churches. However, I don't think they would've been successful without all of the great people involved. I am forever grateful. (That's serious. Not just corniness. Okay, it might still be corny, but I mean it.)


One thing that baffles me is all the political talk about how the Democrats can appear religious enough to win over the hearts and minds of those of us in religious America. If you're worried about appearing religious, then you aren't.

John Kerry said during the Second Presidential Debate:

"First of all, I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. I'm a Catholic - raised a Catholic. I was an altar boy. Religion has been a huge part of my life, helped lead me through a war, leads me today. But I can't take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn't share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever. I can't do that. But I can counsel people, I can talk reasonably about life and about responsibility."

We in religious America cannot seperate our faith from any part of our lives. We actually believe faith shouldn't be compartmentalized. Can only my secular beliefs influence politics? If I am a person of faith, I shouldn't have any secular beliefs. All my actions, including my political actions, are to be holy.

You cannot trick religious America by quoting Scripture and by acting holy. It might take us a while, but we will see through your masks. Okay, maybe not all of religious America. There is the branch of us that keeps some phonies in business, but the majority of us can see through fakeness.

Mr. Liberal, everything you turn into legislation is a result of your beliefs. You can't discount a belief because it stems from religion.


I sent two articles into the editior of the Christian Standard tonight. It's out of my hands now.

If you know of a magazine that slants towards my crazy way of thinking or would possibly publish my ravings, please let me know. I'm trying to be an aspiring writer. I figure I can't even call myself an aspiring writer yet because I still have a job and don't have to live off of Ramien Noodles. Not that I could, anyway, with my wheat allergies.


Some day I'm going to publish a photo journey of my ride to work. There are some really neat things that I drive by every day. Well, not every day. It depends on what way I take to work.


Watch out for the potholes.

Communicating With Companies

I contacted the Christian Standard about being a freelance writer for them. But I need your help. If you we're to choose a few of my best posts for publication, what would they be? If any? I want to rework them and submit them. Are there any that stick out in your head?


Lately, I've been on a kick of writing letters and emails to companies.

Today, I tried to contact ebay concering a few changes I would love to see them implement. The crazy thing with ebay is they don't have a way to communicate. You can only communicate with them if it is about specific issues that their menu system allows. I think I will just choose some randomness and hope that my email gets sent to the right place.

One, I would like ebay to allow another auction method. I hate snipers. For those of you who aren't ebay savvy, snipers are those individuals who wait till the last minute and bid just to snipe the auction out from the person currently winning it. I would like to see an auction that doesn't have a posted end time. The seller creates an end time when he lists the item; however, the end time is not shown on the page. I think it would result in items being sold for more, which would result in ebay making more money. I would like it much more.

Two, I would like ebay to create a mailing list for products like has for authors when they publish a new book. I could input the words that I want and when something new is put on ebay with those words, an email would be sent to me notifying me of it. This is necessary when it comes to my remote control that I've lost. Model #RM-C252-1H. When that pops up on ebay I want to be notified. I don't want to pay the $30 retail for a new remote.

Then I wrote Sound & Spirit, a subsidiary of BMG music.

We used to be members of this music club a few years back. Well, they called me about a month ago and told me what a great deal they have for me if I return as a member. It's appealing to us because I haven't bought a new cd in a while - meaning around a year. We would like the new Third Day, Jars of Clay, Caedmon's Call, Fernando Ortega, and Andrew Petersons. Whether they will be available or not is another question, especially now that Andrew is using an indy label. Bob keeps us posted on things like that.

Anyway, here is what I wrote them:

I just recently rejoined the club through a phone call from someone.
Then I came to login online and saw that the promotion there was buy one
cd, get 12 free. The offer I received was buy one cd, get 7 free. This doesn't
seem like a good business procedure to me. It makes me feel like I have been
ripped off. Is there any way I can get moved into the program that gives me the 5
extra cds?

xxxxx xxxx
I also wrote a suggestion to the Science Fiction Book Club:

I would love to have a wishlist option on the website. One of the
books in this month's grouping looks interesting, but I just don't have the
time to read it now. If I get the time in the future, I won't remember
it. I'm also too lazy to write it down; however, if you had a wishlist
option, I would put it in there. Then when the time came around that I
had extra time to read, you would have a sale because I would have the
book sitting in my wishlist.

Just a suggestion that would probably wind up with me buying more.

xxxxx xxxxm
I might have a little too much time on my hands.

And what is the spiritual lesson to be learned from all of this. As Pee Wee Herman stated while presenting the evidence of his bike in Pee Wee's Big Adventure, "I don't know."

The person who comes up with the best spiritual lesson to learned from my writing letters to companies will win absolutely nothing.

Watch out for the potholes.

Dietary Remedies and Desires for a Pastor

This is post #250. Crazy.

It will be randomness because that is all I can think of today.


On Monday I will be heading to Coldwater to go to a to begin the process of getting rid of my allergies. Normal doctors say it can't be done, but this will be an experiment that you can come along with me on. The good thing is that, unlike me, it won't cost you a dime. I have severe wheat allergies and mild dairy and corn ones. I can't eat wheat without getting extremely tired and acquiring severe headaches. We will see what happens.


More people from my church are arriving here. I was asked a couple times at church this Sunday what the address was for my blog. So if you're one of the new ones, welcome. I hope I don't offend. If I do, you won't be the first. Feel free to comment. Criticize if you like. Just remember to be cordial and identify yourself. Anonymous critiques are mocked and made fun of. And the crazy thing is that we enjoy doing it.


If you're wondering why things are going to be tamed down, it is because people are coming here from my church. Just kidding. Things won't tame down. I do wonder if there is stuff in the archives that will cause trouble. I hope not. But I guess if it is something I believe, then it is probably okay that it is out there. Either I can be corrected if I am wrong, it can be ignored if it is true, or things can change.


And just to prove things are taming down:

Our church handed out forms to fill out for what people are looking for in a minister besides the givens of being godly and the like. They wanted three things.

Here is what I have written down so far.

1. They have a passion for using church finances in loving ways.

I didn't explain my whole feelings on this subject on the paper. I think it is a good goal for a church to spend 50% of all of its offerings on tangible loving actions. Although I church is currently in a financial bind, I see nothing wrong with making every future decision that we come across with that goal in mind. Whether that is through supporting missionaries, helping people within the church, or loving projects to those outside of the church, doing acts of love is the main way for us to be an example of the kingdom of God. I will probably go into loving actions more in the future, but I also have gone over them a lot in the past.

2. They are very comfortable with sharing the pulpit and sharing ministries.

The last thing a church that is on its way to becoming a priesthood of believers needs is for one person to come in and take over the ministries of the church and quench all the progress. I have thoroughly been blessed by hearing other people preach rather than the same guy preach every week. I hope it is true for other people in the church. And we do have many people involved in ministering. There is no reason for one individual to come in and take charge of everything.

3. They aren't scared of going to the bar for a meal. This goes more towards their attitude towards the lost and their activities. We can talk all we want about having a heart for the lost, but if they aren't willing to go where the los are, they aren't going to be overly effective at showing Jesus' love to those in dire need of it.

This one will, obviously, be the most controversial. I included it because of something that I was really convicted of this morning. A minister in a town like Antwerp should be in touch with the bartenders and barkeeps. The minister could work with them, not in selling beer but in helping people who have needs. The bar is a place where people confess their sins and share their needs. Unfortunately, the church has nothing to do with it, so we don't know those things. But if we have a healthy relationship with the bartenders, then we would be able to discover those needs and help. I don't know if that would break barkeeper/beer drinker relationships, but I think it would be worth a try.

Antwerp only has two bars. If I were the minister, I would take the bartenders out for a dinner and share with them my idea. One of the bartender's wives already goes to our church, so I don't think it would be a tremendous stretch. The only problem is the fact that the Nazarene denomenation is a dry denomenation, and many people would view working with the bar in this manner as compromising the faith and condoning drunkeness. However, I do believe it is what Jesus would do. Am I wrong in thinking that?

It doesn't just stop at being loving to them. If they want to have a relationship with God, we would have to help them become holy. For some of them that might mean giving up alcohol. But alcohol isn't an evil in moderation. If you think I'm wrong, I'm open to you showing me Scriptures that prove otherwise.

I think the town of Antwerp would be touched by a community of believers who focused on spending their offerings on helping people, had an active laity, and was out in the community where the community actually is. I think having a minister that focused on these things would be incredible. I know it would be controversial, but I do think we follow a Savior who was a little controversial himself.


I saw no movies this weekend. That is the way my life is. I wish I was like Bob and could watch movies. I just don't seem to get around to it.


I have written 141,054 words to date on this blog not counting today. I thought it was approaching a 1,000,000, but I guess I have a long way to go to reach that. Sorry if I lied to you and say I was at 1,000,000.


Alan Keyes didn't call Barack Obama to concede and congratulate him. He did concede to the public, but he didn't do the cordial call. I think he makes a good point. If you believe abortion is killing babies, yet someone beat you in a race which empowers him to legislate the killing of more babies, would you be comfortable in congratulating him for getting the power to kill more babies? You can go here and decide for yourself. Or you can choose to ignore it since it was the Illinois Senate Debate.


I watched My Big, Fat, Obnoxious Boss tonight. What bufoons. I'm going to have to watch that show regularly. It's a study in how low humanity will stoop if they think they are going to get rich. And it's also hilarious at the same time.

Watch out for the potholes.

A conversation on Knowledge and the Holy Spirit

Troy wrote in the comments section:

"I am one of the ignorant ones with no formal Bible college education. I agree with Regan and yet disagree with Regan. I do believe that we should seek the Holy Spirit's input and direction. I do not believe that every minister needs a formal college education. Look at the church in China. Many housechurches have a single Bible to use. Those people still have the faith to heal the sick. They are growing (in numbers and spiritually) by leaps and bounds. How much formal Bible education do you think they are getting? I doubt if they have a Strong's or a Greek or Hebrew study. No, they have a faith that the Holy Spirit still guides and teaches. Yes I do own a Strong's. I do have Greek and Hebrew study helps. I do not let them dictate my view on scriptures. I think we may have too many study helps. Too many translations. If we don't agree with one translation, it's off to the next until we find one that matches what we feel. I think we need to rely more on the Holy Spirit's leading."


Hi Troy and everyone else.

I respect your faith. Your life as a Christian is one of the few I know where a person is totally dedicated to God. I don't think you are an "ignorant one." You are trained. You know how to serve God and study the Scriptures. I admire and am encouraged by that, so I hope this isn't misconstrued as a personal attack. It is just the thoughts and questions I have from the approach you mentioned above.

I agree that ministers don't need to have a formal education because they should be receiving all the necessary training from the church they attend. There should be no Bible colleges or seminaries in the ideal church. The church would be an institution of training and knowledge. But not having formal training doesn't mean not having any training. The church should be sending out people who are not ignorant of the Scriptures and the life of the Spirit, but people who have learned them while ministering in a practical setting.

How would you measure the truth if you don't weigh your leadings with the Scriptures? What if what I feel the Spirit leading me to believe is different from what you feel the Spirit is leading you to believe? Do you not use your knowledge and common sense along with the leading of the Spirit when you come to Scriptures? If we just let the Spirit lead, then does it doesn't really matter what any translation says - does it even matter what the Bible says?

I think we run the risk of running too far either way. We need to be guided by the Spirit and we also have to be filled with knowledge. I think a lot of the time we use the Holy Spirit as an excuse for ignorance, and we use knowledge as an excuse for ignoring the Holy Spirit. Some churches go way too far one way and other churches go way too far the other way. Knowledge is not an enemy to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not an enemy to knowledge. I don't see anywhere in Scripture where they are pitted against one another.

I know you don't throw out the Scriptures, but I'm just wondering what role they play if we don't look for what the original author intended to say and discern through the guidance of the Spirit how that applies to us today. If I was to just read your words not knowing you, I would have to say you don't have a high regard for Scripture. I know that's not true, but it is the feeling your comments gave me. As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Watch out for the potholes.

The Lazy Laity

On election day, I had no idea on who to vote for concerning many of the people on the ballot. I went into the polling booth and after voting for the items that I knew what to vote on, I turned the page to a list of the Supreme Court Justices for the state of Ohio. I could've depended upon the Holy Spirit to guide me on which ones to vote for. I even contemplated that for a second. I had no idea, but I'm sure God did. Wouldn't he tell me? But God had given me every opportunity in the world to do research prior to the election and find out what the people up for election stood for. And he has given me his word to know what he stands for. I could've compared the two. But I didn't. I shouldn't expect God do to give me divine guidance, although he could, when he already gave me the opportunity and the knowledge to make a good decision on my own.

Oftentimes, we have the same encounter with the Scriptures. We could do a little research and properly understand things, but we refuse to. Sometimes, we even label the act of doing the research as an act of hatred towards being led by the Spirit and an unhealhty dependence upon our own knowledge. But it's not. God has given us the knowledge of the Scriptures. He has given us everything we need to properly understand what lays within. It is our responsibility to do the research and learn what the Scriptures are telling us. Learning how to study the Scriptures properly is one of the greatest feats of education any Christian will undertake. Unfortunately, I believe many churches have failed in educating the priesthood of believers in this regard and have left the Biblical interpretation to the professionals. Studying the Scriptures to acquire knowledge is not evil. It is what God gave them to us for. It is preparing ourselves for the decisions we have to make every day. This way we will have the knowledge to go along with the leadings of the Spirit.


One of the biggest problems with our churches today is not the paid ministry but the priesthood of believers. The paid ministers believe strongly that the priesthood needs to be involved in ministry, but, oftentimes, the priesthood is too lazy to do anything about it.

One of the greatest tools of the priesthood is education. True, it isn't the most important. 1 Corinthians 13 says love is. But I don't think 1 Corinthians 13 is saying that the others aren't important, but that they aren't as important as love. Love is the foremost. All the others, including faith, fall below love. Today, I want to talk about one of the lessers, knowledge.

Knowledge is not evil. It is lesser to love, but it appears to be equal as a lesser to faith. Because if we do not have knowledge, what are we to have faith in?

Romans 15:14 - "I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another."

Being filled with knowledge enables us to really be the priesthood of believers and instruct one another rather than having a guy who is in authority instructing us. Paul wrote the letter of Romans "to all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints." He was telling everyone there to instruct one another. Instruction is not just limited to the heirarchy of authority. It is something everyone in the church should be involved in, but it is combined with being "filled with all knowledge."

Paul gives thanks in 1 Corinthians 1:5 that the believers in Corinth had "been enriched in knowledge of every kind." Knowledge is something we need to continue to grow in. "Now as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you - so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking."

The priesthood has to have knowledge if they are to teach one another as the New Testament describes it as being. But our knowledge is different than the knowledge of the world. It is a knowledge that comes from being filled with the Spirit. However, it isn't a knowledge contrary to the disciplines of learning. It is something we have to work for, just like we have to work for a heart of love, a life of faith, and a life led by the Spirit. But it is important if we are to be as dynamic of a church as that described throughout the New Testament.

John wrote in 1 John 2:27, "As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him."

We are taught by God and his Spirit. The Scriptures our hear to help guide us to the truth. It is never unhealthy to know as much about the Scriptures as possible. It is to keep us in check from going this way and that way because of the "promptings of the Spirit." It is our doorway to the teachings and the life of Christ and his followers. It is a glimpse of who God is. We should see him in our lives, but we should also see him in his word.

The true edification of the priesthood of believers will only come about when the priesthood is trained and disciplined in studying the Scriptures.

But as with everything, there seems to be an area that can lead itself to controversy. Paul wrote Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:20, "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the profane chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge; by professing it some have missed the mark as regards the faith." Defining what is profane chatter and contradictions versus defining what is knowledge is where we can probably disagree.


If you're interested in learning about the Dead Sea Scrolls, here is a good website to visit. I was in a discussion with a teen at the store about Christianity and someone came up and started talking about how the Bible was fake and the Dead Sea Scrolls prove it. He then went on to explain how lack of access to the scrolls prevents people from knowing the truth. Those crazy gamers! I thought I would do a little research, so I can tell the teen the truth. This website is a good source for that discussion.

Watch out for the potholes.

A new Blogger

Here is a new blog by Shannon Caroland, a casual commentor on Pulling Weeds out of Potholes. It will soon be added to my list of links.

In his own words, here is what Acts 29 is about.

Okay, I'll begin by explaining the title. I believe we are called to keep a delicate balance between our biblical/historical foundation and the reality of our current cultural context. To be relevant, we must speak timeless truths (biblical) in timely ways (cultural). That is the idea behind this blog. We are Acts 29. We are that same Acts church, existing in the next (unwritten) chapter.

I hope to use this space to encourage us to live as the next phase of the Biblical church.

The Root of Many Christian Disagreements

I think that the majority of disagreements between Christians come not from doctrine and theology but on how to practically live out the beliefs that we have. We agree on principles but disagree on practicalities. Sometimes we even turn our differences of approach into arguments over doctrine and theology.

James P. Eckman wrote in Christian Ethics in a Postmodern World:

"The Bible warns against 'worldliness' and the devastating consequences of following the world and not Christ (James 4). From the Old Testament we see that the children of Israel got into big trouble when they imitated their pagan neighbors and brought their altars and images into the Temple. Yet, Christians are somehow to be in the world, but not of the world (John 17:14-18). Christians have been removed from the world's power at conversion (Gal. 6:14) and, because the cross established a judicial seperation between believers and the world, Christians are citizens of a new kingdom (Phil. 3:20). The Bible both discourages absolute physical separation from the people of the world (I Cor. 5:9-10), yet instructs believers to witness to this world (James 1:27; 1 Cor. 7:31; Rom. 12:2; 1 John 2:15). How does one resolve this tension?"

It is in resolving this tension that we come up with differing views on how to approach the world. There are four generally accepted approaches that Christians take when they interact with the world. I am going to allow people smarter than me to explain the four here. You might get my not-so-witty comments here and there. All quotes are from the previously mentioned Christian Ethics in a Postmodern World. Obviously the author, like myself, has his own views. We can choose to agree or disagree with them if we want, but coming to a unified view among the believers we associate with would be an extremely healthy thing for our spiritual lives.

1. The Seperational Model

This approach argues that a Christian "must withdraw from any involvement in the world."

This is exemplified in the Amish, Mennonites, and many Christian communes.

"There are dangers to this model. First, seperatism can quickly lead to asceticism, a lifestyle of self-denial that ends up denying the goodness of God's creation...Second, this model easily produces a dangerous sacred/secular dicotomy. For the believer, the Bible clearly rejects the compartmentalization of life into things that are sacred and thos that are secular. For the Christian everything is sacred...Finally, this model can lead to a complete withdrawal from culture, something clearly condemned in the Bible."

I came to the Lord as a result of the evangelistic efforts of people who were not afraid to be involved in the world. If not for them, I would not know the Lord. I do not see the Amish or the Mennonites actively involved in bringing Christ to the Lost or even shining for him in the world. They seem to be content to isolate themselves and be who Christ wants them to be. Although, that is important, it seems to be just a starting point. God doesn't feed us so that we can sit around and talk about how well fed we are. He feeds us so that we can feed others. He fills our vessels, so that we will pour ourselves out. Isolating ourselves from the world prohibits us from being used by God to change the world.

2. The Identification Model

Christians are "to live both in the kingdom of God and in the world." Christians have a "dual commitment to both the church and the state."

This view was exhibited by the church after Constantine made Christianity the state religion in 313, by the Catholic church from 500-1500, and by the teachings of many early Americans like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, and Lyman Beecher.

"However, its weaknesses are glaring. Its principal danger is that the identificational model can lull the Christian into complacency, into a blindness toward the influence of evil in the culture's institutions. Anyone involved in politics knows that it is the greatest test of one's faith to work in politics. Evil is alwasy present and the pressure to compromise one's convictions is ever present...This model can also lead to an uncritical acceptance of prevailing cultural practices and attitudes...The more Christians identify with the institutions, the more the institutions influence the Christian...Finally, this model can lead to a loss of the Church's prophetic stance. The Church can almost become 'married to the culture.'...This model has the danger of producing a complacent and soft Christianity."

I've only seen bad things happen throughout history when the church begins to identify itself with the state. We need to be careful to not do that now. Evangelical Christians overwhelmingly supported George W. Bush and were the votes responsible, according to the national media, for putting him into office - especially in Ohio. It might be easy to begin to the think the United States of America is a branch of the Kingdom of God, but it isn't. We can never confuse it as being such. Service to the United States is not direct service to the Kingdom of God. We should never confuse the two. We are called to submit to and pray for our leaders, but God's kingdom is not the American nation. His kingdom is among us, but it has not totally arrived yet. No nation on earth exhibits his kingdom completely. They can only be dim shadows of the reality that should exhibit itself among us.

3. The Transformational Model

"This model takes the transforming power of Christ and applies it to culture. Despite the fallen nature of humanity and the subsequent curse of creation, Jesus's death, burial, and resurrection reversed the curse for both humans and culture. There is now hope of human release from the bondage to sin and for creation as well...This hope is easily translated into an optimism about culture's transformation.

This is seen in history when Calvin established Geneva and in the Puritan's establishing the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

"There are, however, several seious shortcomings with this model. The transformationist can neglect the radical nature of sin's devastation. Humans remain enslaved to sin and even believers daily struggle with its power...In addition, the transformational model can promote an unbiblical optimism, a near utopianism. The Bible rejects such optimism apart from the return of Christ. Humans, even those regenerated by faith always sturggle with sin and it will only be when Jesus returns that the victory over evil will be complete."

I've seen many Christians get so involved in the world that you can longer tell they are Christians. We need to avoid that at all costs.

4. The Incarnational Model

Robert Webber in The Secular Saint: A Case for Evangelical Social Responsiblity proposes a synthesis of all three models as proper for the beliver.

Jesus seperated himself from "the evils of His culture, identified with its institutions and people, yet sought to transorm it from the inside out...Christ seperated himself from the evil distortions of the created order. He had nothing to do with the distorted use of wealth, social position, or political power. Finayy, through his death, burial, and resurrection, He broke the power of sin and Satan and guarantees the world's transformation when he returns in glory and power. Similarly, the Churs is to move culture's institutions toward genuine, biblical righteousness, all the while anticipating His final transforming work when he returns."

"First, the Christian always lives with the tension, the tension between that which is transformable and that from which he or she must separate...Secon, there is no simple formula for living with or resolving this tension. Looking for the biblical answer to each practical question is rarely possible. Applying the principles of Scripture to each person's situation may well produc considerably different judgments. The bleiever's responsibility is to know God's Word, to knoo wthe mid of Christ, and then choose a cours of action that each believes most faithfully represents God's revealed will."

"Christians must always reconcile the tension of identifying with culutural institutions, seeking to separate from culture's evil distortions, all the while seeking culture's transformation. How we live with that tension is a mark of spiritual maturity."

Watch out for the potholes.