Friday, December 30, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 48

Category: Republican Primary

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photos of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote closed. Winners: Ron Paul & Herman Cain
If the poll is not visible, click here to see it on Vizu.

Ron Paul

Mitt Romney

Rick Perry

Newt Gingrich

Michelle Bachmann

Jon Huntsman
Rick Santorum

Herman Cain

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why is the Path Narrow?

An online friend of mine gave me an analogy of the narrow path that I want to share with you.  In Matthew 7:13-14 we find a word picture of our walk with Christ.  In it we see two choices.  One is a wide path, easy to travel, perhaps even fun but it leads to destruction.  The other is a narrow path.  Hard to find, hard to travel, but ultimately worth the effort since it leads to life.

I used to picture this in my mind as a fork in the road where a traveller made a choice, took the path they most liked and followed it till the very end.  But I knew something was wrong with that idea.  Christians do backslide and get off the path (hopefully not for long).  And the lost that are on the wide road often get onto the narrow as they come to Christ.  It seems apparent then that both roads are accessible at any given time in our lives.

So enters the analogy.  Imagine yourself on a tight rope (narrow path) across a vast canyon.  To your right and left are gaping gulfs (wide path) leading down to a deep valley (destruction).  A fall would certainly hurt you badly if not destroy you upon impact.  Our enemy has only to get you off the tightrope toward the left or the right and his job is done.  It is only by the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit living is us that we have any chance of keeping our eyes focused straight ahead and taking the baby-steps toward the other side.

But let me speak more about the right and left side of this rope.  Both lead to getting off the narrow path.  Both lead to the destructive impact of the valley below.  But I believe the analogy does more for us as it implies God's way to be a practice in "balance".  Excessiveness and extremes in either direction on almost any given matter is wide path living.  Case in point, lets say a person has a food addiction and eats to excess.  Over time their inability to find balance has led them to be obese, have blood pressure issues, high cholesterol, and type two diabetes.  Sounds like a path to destruction to me.  But that is only the right side of the "food tightrope".  On the other side are those that concern themselves too much with diet, exercise, physical appearance, and some that are so obsessive that they either don't eat enough or purge what they do eat.  This extreme leads one to be a skeletal shell of their former selves and causes just as many health problems.  Again...a path to destruction.  Both people have a problem with food.  The difference is which way they were tipped off the tightrope.

I'd like to challenge you to examine your path.  Does it reveal balanced, Christlike living...or extremes aimed at satisfying obsessions?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


The photo came to my attention on one of many sites I normally peruse for Photo Friday material.  I admit there is a touch of humor to it as it wreaks with irony.  But mostly I find it sad for the following reasons:

  • It apparently depends on your motives as to whether or not camping in public areas is legal or illegal.
  • Your desire to watch vampires meets with approval while your desire to protest does not.
  • The population density of these two campsites seems to indicate that more people are concerned with Bella and Edward than they are with the economic conditions.
  • If polled most people would be able to tell you more about Twilight than they would about the Occupy movement.
  • One camp is protesting the blood suckers while the other celebrates them.
What are your thoughts?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Where's Waldo & Baby Jesus

In the flurry of shopping, lights, parties, family gatherings, and two full days of celebration focusing on Jesus as "The Reason for the Season" can be a challenge.  Like a game of Where's Waldo we stare at the competing storylines, the consumer attitudes, the secular trappings and traditions wondering where the Manger Scene fits in.  Interestingly, this year I took a dogmatic step backwards and didn't let such things bother me as much because we did some very intentional focusing on Christ with the kids.  But my wife took a step my direction and surprised me with a desire that this be the last Christmas where Santa is on stage at all.  She thinks the twins are ready to celebrate next year without him and really wants Joshua to experience a much less emphasized version as well.

I cannot speak to how or why my wife came to her new-found position but I can tell you why I loosened up a bit.  Perhaps the two of us will ultimately find that healthy balance as we each continue moving toward the middle.  Here's is what I think we did right:

Journey to Bethlehem:  A local church in Grapevine Texas puts on an amazing experience with live actors and animals taking tours of 50 at a time through a mile of trails, stopping at designated areas to act out a different part of the Christmas story.  We, the tour group, were part of a Jewish caravan travelling to Bethlehem to register for Caesars census.  Along the way we meet the Wise Men, Roman Soldiers, Beggars, Markets Workers, Shepherds, and an Angel announcing the Messiah's birth.  We arrive in Bethlehem to find all the Inns are full and are told that some folks are staying in the stables out back.  As we turn the corner to see if there is also room for us, we find Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus.  It was an experience that my family really enjoyed and plans on making a regular tradition.

Chronicles of Narnia:  In the week leading up to Christmas my family watched all three movies.  Despite the Hollywood touches and the "alternative" plot lines, the message of Jesus was there.  Never has there been a production in which I've had so many GOOD theological questions from my children. We got to talk about Aslan and how he was like Jesus.  We got to talk about how Jesus laid down his life as a payment for our salvation just like the Lion did for Edmond.  We got to talk about the resurrection.  They got to see a three dimensional representation of Christ's amazing tenderness coupled with immense roaring power.  Something clicked with both of them and it was fun to witness.

Church Services: This tradition can frustrate children as they patiently wait for candles to extinguish and songs to cease so that we can return home and open some presents.  I am no exception as I remember feeling the same way in my youth.  But the point is made and the attitudes about it will change.  They know...that above and beyond their desires to open gifts...we will stop everything and go worship.  We will give thanks in song.  We will read Scripture.  We will make this about Jesus!  They don't have to love this part just yet.  The important thing is that they see two parents united in desire to make Christ number one.

I'd like to challenge each of you to make this game of Where's Waldo a bit easier for your family.  Perhaps drop some of the secular traditions and start new ones that better reflect a birthday for a Messiah & King.  If we all do enough of this, the picture won't be so muddled, the characters will be more distinct, and finding the Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes will be much easier to spot.

Please share your thoughts and some of what your family does to emphasize & celebrate Jesus...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 47

Category: Christmas

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photos of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote closed. Winner: Two Turtle Doves

Two Turtle Doves...

Sleigh Technology

Santa didn't look both ways.

Creative lights display.

The new "Bah Humbug."

Gingerbread At-At

Starfish Nightmares

Water Tasting

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Laughing At Yourself

Atheists that take the time to get to know me a bit online, quickly find out about my sense of humor.  And its not just that I can laugh and poke fun of their world view...actually that makes several of them rather mad.  Its when I wholeheartedly embrace making fun of myself and my own world view.  I don't take myself so seriously as to not be relatable.  I think we do ourselves and our ministerial effectiveness a disservice when we're no longer "in touch" with cultural sensibilities.

That is not to say that we let ourselves become immersed in culture, memes, and inappropriate or sacrilegious displays (certain SNL skits of late come to mind).  No, we still need to use our discernment when sharing various facets of our identity in Christ.  Unfortunately though many take this to the extreme and become the caricature that the atheists expect.  Which in turn is exactly why Christan's such as myself come off as a surprise to them.

Take the picture accompanying this post.  My assumption is that someone decided to shorten the word Methodist in a most tragic way.  Who knows? Meth Amphetamines might not have been a common drug when this sign was first put up.  But that doesn't take away the humor.  I can appreciate the irony and have a good laugh.  And if a Meth Bible Camp does exist, I can assure you that it IS indeed a Dead End.  So the sign works either way...

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today's Mailbag 12.0

A Touching Story

A married couple had been out shopping at the mall for most of the afternoon, suddenly, the wife realized that her husband had 'disappeared'.

The somewhat irate spouse called her mate's cell phone and demanded: "Where are YOU!!"

Husband: "Darling you remember the Jewelry shop where you saw the Diamond Necklace and totally fell in love with it and I didn't have the money at the time and I said Baby it will be yours one day?"

Wife, with a smile blushing:  "Yes, I remember that my Love."

Husband: "Well, I'm in the Bar next to that shop."

If you have a submission worthy of a Today's Mailbag post, send it to

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Your Story

Last night I curled up on the game room floor with the twins and rented the second installment of the Chronicles of Narnia.  As a child I read the first book but never continued the series.  So it was a surprise to me to learn that though it had only been a year since the kids exited the Wardrobe it had been 1300 years of time that passed in Narnia.  Upon their return they were only "known of" because of the history books since no one from their last visit was still alive.

This got me to thinking about our own histories, our own stories.  It is my opinion that we are creatures of free will.  And its that very power that allows us in some ways to actually write our life story.  So as I entered into deep thought and began analyzing my story so far, I began to develop and impression of it.  Some parts I like and wouldn't ever want to change.  Other parts need revision. 

I will share three particular aspects of my life right now that especially came to light during this exercise.  My personal debt accrued this year, my rather out of shape and aging body, and the day to day operation of my staffing business.  In each category changes NEED to take place.  In each category when I ask myself if this is how I want the story to be going, the answer is NO.  Many times as Christians we only tend to worry about whether or not we are engaging in acts of obedience or sin.  The gray areas get ignored and forgotten. 

But in the recordings of eternal history if I were to take the book or your life off the shelves and have  read....what will I find?  Will I find a man/woman who really lived as though it mattered?  Look at your life right now and start editing it a bit.  Ask yourself if you want this to be your story...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 46

Category: Twins

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photos of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote closed. Winner: Sonogram Realities

A difference in musical tastes

How twins are made

Dr. Seuss with an accurate description

Sonogram Realities

He wins!

Always arguing!

Not genetically identical...

Filling located in diaper

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Git Off Yer Duff!

We are a strange bunch!  We try to reinvent the wheel over and over and over again only to realize it never needed the help.  We look for other options. Something easier. Less painful or time consuming.  What's the latest fad?  It worked for Rick and Sue Smith and they look great!

If you haven't already figured it out I am talking about staying fit and trim.  We look for books, diets, gizmo's, videos, trends, and machines that will help us drop the extra weight quickly & hopefully painlessly.  Dieting can and does work but it really depends on strict discipline not to cheat and rarely do we make them into a long-term lifestyle.  The result?  Quit the diet, gain back the unwanted weight.

Enter the following video.  It is almost ten minutes long (WARNING to the A.D.D. folks out there) but it held my interest rather well.  In it doctor Mike Evans shares a very simple concept.  And though he's not reinventing the wheel, he is in some ways re-introducing us to it.  Perhaps most amazingly is the far reaching benefits above and beyond improving our collective waistlines.  Give it a view!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Get A Pair of Stones

I am a big fan of Mark Driscoll.  I watch his YouTube videos, I read his books.  His theology is pretty sound and I take very little issue save for some of what Paul calls "disputable matters."  But never in a million years would I have expected what I am about to share with you.  Here is a pastor that is serious about Men's Ministry, serious about your individual walk with Christ, and serious about teaching young men how to actually BE men.

If you are a Christian man...I think you will find this challenging and refreshing...perhaps convicting.  If you are not a Christian or not in a church congregation, let this help you rethink what the Christian faith can be like...

When is the last time a pastor challenged you like this?  Perhaps they should!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Your Island

Does the photo here speak truth about your life or an aspect of it?  Have you found yourself adrift in torrential waters only to be left on an island of despair, powerless to improve your situation? 

These days words like Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar, Addiction, Hoarding, Debt, Consumerism, Road Rage, School Shootings, Terrorism, Economic Crisis, Pandemic, and Sex Offender dominate our headlines.  Is it any wonder in such a fallen world as this, that we might find ourselves beaten down and bruised by life?

Yet the final frames of this photo is where the actual truth lies, especially for the Christian.  God through Christ, made a way to save us from this muck and mire.  He gives us wings like an Eagle so that we may experience the Abundant life...not just in eternity but in the here and now.  Trouble will still come.  Trials will still be a reality.  But how much more confident and resilient we can be knowing we have a means of escape?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Love of Justice

One of the many reasons for belief in God for me is our overwhelming sense of and need for Justice.  If everything were indeed relative and random including our own human morality we shouldn't care much about people getting their just deserve or getting away with the most selfish and heinous of acts.

My wife and I just watched a 48 hours episode where two men snuck into a winter cabin, opened up all the family gifts whilst video taping themselves.  Upon the family arriving they brutally shot the mom, dad, and grandmother, taking the two young girls as hostages.

The story's conclusion was relatively happy as the two men met with capture and criminal trials.  That doesn't bring back those that were tragically lost of course, but AGAIN...justice being served goes a long way in our human psyche for the healing to begin.

Perhaps that is why the following video recording of a car accident where four old ladies serve justice to a brute of a road raging man is so awesome for me.  It's either that or the hilarious visual of the events being described.  You be the judge!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 45

Category: Payback

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photos of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote closed. Winner: Rudolf

No more stripes!

How do YOU like it?!

Banana's Revenge

Sinister plans...

They used to laugh and call him names!

Run Doggies! Run!

Hammer Karma

So much easier now that they wear those ORANGE clothes!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

When the Supernatural becomes possible...

A common objection from the Atheist about our Scriptures is in the documentation of the supernatural...otherwise known as "Miracles".  If you ask them why their answer is simple. Supernatural events are impossible. If that is true then there might be a basis for discounting them and possibly any other claims that a document containing miracles might make.

But I wonder if what we view as possible or impossible is only based in our personal perceptions?  I believe that is exactly the case and I stand on the record of human history and technological advances as my proof.  Things that we used to believe impossible are now not only possible but part of everyday life.

Talking to one another across massive distances on devices that send invisible signals through the air that are received and interpreted within seconds would be in the realm of the miraculous just fifty years ago.  Airplane travel, microwaveable foods, medical advances, space exploration, artificial intelligence, and computer technology are just a FEW areas that would astound the minds of ancestors just a century ago.  If time travel were possible, they might believe us to be a supernatural race of humans.

But there is nothing special about us apart from being born at the right time to experience all these things.  So when the Bible documents Miracles and the Atheist says "impossible" I question their sincerity and presuppositions.  If we, the fallen and finite creatures can in just a few millenia begin to recreate some of the very kinds of events recorded in hard is it really to believe God Himself is capable of those events and so much more?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Universal Issue

Even in the days of Jesus the Tax-Man was reviled. Scripture calls us to give unto Caesar what is Caesar's but that doesn't make it a fun process. Being a small business owner has certainly opened my eyes to taxation issues.  Right now if I were to make a profit, the majority of it is being used to pay Unemployment taxes that have risen from 0.48% to 4.5% in just a two year period.

So as I found the video below I couldn't help but chuckle.  It seems an Indian Snake Charmer has applied for some type of license that he needs to run his business. The higher level officials have approved him but the lower level guys in the tax office are asking him for a bribe in order to push his approval through to finalization.  Fed up with the red tape, our Snake Charmer offloads his business inventory and lets the extortionists deal with it.

Here are some more "tax" references found in Matthew:
  1. Matthew 5:46
    For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
    Matthew 5:45-47 (in Context) Matthew 5 (Whole Chapter)
  2. Matthew 9:9
    [ Jesus Calls Matthew ] As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.
    Matthew 9:8-10 (in Context) Matthew 9 (Whole Chapter)
  3. Matthew 9:10
    And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.
    Matthew 9:9-11 (in Context) Matthew 9 (Whole Chapter)
  4. Matthew 9:11
    And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
    Matthew 9:10-12 (in Context) Matthew 9 (Whole Chapter)
  5. Matthew 11:19
    The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."
    Matthew 11:18-20 (in Context) Matthew 11 (Whole Chapter)
  6. Matthew 17:24
    [ The Temple Tax ] When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the tax?"
    Matthew 17:23-25 (in Context) Matthew 17 (Whole Chapter)
  7. Matthew 17:25
    He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?"
    Matthew 17:24-26 (in Context) Matthew 17 (Whole Chapter)
  8. Matthew 18:17
    If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
    Matthew 18:16-18 (in Context) Matthew 18 (Whole Chapter)
  9. Matthew 21:31
    Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.
    Matthew 21:30-32 (in Context) Matthew 21 (Whole Chapter)
  10. Matthew 21:32
    For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
    Matthew 21:31-33 (in Context) Matthew 21 (Whole Chapter)
  11. Matthew 22:17
    Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"
    Matthew 22:16-18 (in Context) Matthew 22 (Whole Chapter)
  12. Matthew 22:19
    Show me the coin for the tax." And they brought him a denarius.
    Matthew 22:18-20 (in Context) Matthew 22 (Whole Chapter)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Today's Mailbag 11.0

The Cow VS The Ice Cream
-- From a teacher in Nashville --

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching 3rd grade this year.  The Presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest.  I decided we would have an election for a class president.

We would choose our nominees.  They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote.  To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members.  We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have.

We got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot.  The class had done a great job in their selections.  Both candidates were good kids.  I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support. 

The day arrived when they were to make their speeches.  Jamie went first.  he had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place.  He ended by promising to do his very best.  Everyone applauded and he sat down.

Now it was Olivia's turn to speak.  Her speech was concise.  She said, "If you vote for me, I will give you ice cream."  She sat down.  The class went wild.  "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream."

Surely she would say more.  She did not have to. I initiated the discussion that followed.  "How do you plan to pay for the ice cream?"  She wasn't sure.  But no one pursued that question.  They took her at her word.  Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it...she didn't know.

The class really didn't care.  All they were thinking about was ice cream.  Jamie was forgotten.  Olivia won by a landslide.  A percentage of the voting public (usually a majority) listens to our Presidential candidates offering ice cream and react like nine year olds.  They want ice cream.

The other percentage knows that they're going to have to feed the cow and shovel up the mess!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Good To Be Penniless

I must admit and its probably been rather evident with recent posts that I am on a "LESS is MORE" kick. Small homes, sustainable living, alternative energy,  and lower expenses are all topics of interest.  But am I suggesting here that it might be good to have no money?

No. But I am suggesting that we take pennies out of circulation all together.  Here is a rule of thumb that I gladly embrace and wish our government would as well:

Once the cost of producing a particular monetary denomination is MORE than each denomination being made, then take it out of circulation. 

According to the video below for each penny we mint, it costs almost TWO pennies to produce.  How long would it take you to stop manufacturing a product that only sells for half as much as it costs you to make? There I go expecting our leaders to have common sense, again! Silly me!!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 44

Category: Superheroes

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photos of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote closed. Winner: Brilliant Disguise!

The Retirement Years

Brilliant Disguise!

Tough Times

Ready for Action

Outta-shape Mario

When a Superhero has to go...

Wolverine's Culinary Cousin

Sunny-side Up?