Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Tomorrow I drive 300 miles straight north to Sault Ste. Marie, MI to pick up Son #2 from Lake Superior State University. His finals end tomorrow and he’s anxious to get home.

Just before finals week they have a traditional celebration on campus up there. It’s the Best Man on Campus contest and it’s sponsored by the Greek sororities. Each fraternity enters a guy in the contest and the sorority girls vote on the Best Man.

Son #2 isn’t in a Greek. However, he is very active in Anchor House, the Christian house owned and operated by the Navigators just off campus. So one day he asked who they were entering in the BMOC contest and was told that Anchor House had never participated in it. That didn’t seem like a good answer so Son #2 asked if they would enter him in it. This they did.

The contest required the guys to walk a runway in a tuxedo, demonstrate a talent (ad lib harmonica), answer an interview question, (the answer is ALWAYS “World peace.”) and then walk the runway again in boxer shorts.

I wish I could have seen the faces of the Greek guys when they announced that the girls chose as the winner the representative of the Christian organization on campus, Anchor House! I’m just so dang proud, I had to tell you!

He clearly takes after his mom!

Monday, April 24, 2006


Did you guys read about the guy in Malaysia who got nicked for a $218 trillion phone bill? Yes, TRILLION. How does that measure up to the national debt? Anyway, it seems the phone belonged to his father. His father died and the man dutifully took care of disconnecting the phone and settling the outstanding bill of $23. These are the kinds of things we all will have to do someday for our parents. You may want to start making a list so you don’t forget something and get hit with a massive bill. (My dad has very thoughtfully put together a list of things I have to do just in case something happens to both him and my mom as they jetset around the world.) Anyway, back to Kuala Lumpur. A few months go by after his dad has passed and this incredible phone bill arrives. No one seems to know whether there was a mistake in the billing process or if someone was using the number illegally.

I have a confession to make. I once rang up a phone bill that would probably make your jaw drop.

Mia and I were engaged just before I had to leave for Romania. This ministry trip had been scheduled for a number of months. It was an eight week trip. When it was planned I had no idea I would be newly engaged when it arrived. Let me just say, I had no interest in leaving my new fiancé behind for eight weeks!

I did everything I could think of to ensure that we would be able to stay in regular communication while I was away. I had just bought a brand new laptop. I took my older version over to her house and made sure she was all set up with a chat program so we could at least sit and type at one another. The eight hour time difference would prove a little difficult but at least we could write loving little notes to each other and work on our plans together.

When I arrived in Romania I immediately went and secured my own personal internet account. At that time, in Romania you had to pay for internet time by the minute so I couldn’t use anyone else’s service. It would just be too expensive for them and that would be rude. So I was all set to sit and chat with Mia and help pass the lonely hours. (I was living all by myself in an apartment.)

It turned out to be a disaster! It was almost impossible to maintain the connection for any period of time. The phone lines kept cutting out and I was always being dropped from the internet service. This was more than inconvenient. My beloved fiancé was also under a great deal of stress and she thought I kept signing off on her. She was becoming more than frustrated. She was getting angry! And it’s also very difficult to communicate one’s emotions over the internet. Joking and teasing are often misunderstood, especially when you get cut off right after the joke and you don’t get the chance to explain it.

Finally I had had enough. I could see that if something wasn’t done I wouldn’t be engaged anymore by the time I got home! I had to TALK to her and make sure everything was ok. I picked up the phone and got the international operator to connect me right to the phone in my dearest’s bedroom. We had a wonderful talk! Everything was all better. We made a phone date for the next morning and she called me back.

Well, this plan worked like magic. We fell even more deeply in love, if that were possible. We talked about everything and made all the plans we needed to make. We both felt better about things even though the distance between us made our hearts ache.

When I finally got home we just talked and talked and finished making all our plans. At some point she mentioned that the phone company had called to ask her if she was actually making all the phone calls to Romania. Mia told them yes, her fiancé was in Romania and she was indeed making the calls. Why did they want to know? They simply informed her that her bill was over the limit and she needed to send them $1,000 right away or they would have to cut off her long distance. I was shocked! A thousand dollars! I didn’t know it could be that expensive! Mia told me to sit down for a minute. Then she showed me the total bill. It was over $10,000!

We have often talked about that bill over the last few years. Sometimes I have wished I had the $10,000. But at the end of the day, we both believe it was money well-spent! The moral of the story is, don’t ever travel that far away from your girl for that long again!

You guys are great! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Quite awhile ago I told you that I had a couple of good stories that had to do with Dr. Clarence Wyngarten, our campus health center doctor at the Harvard of Evangelical Christianity. I posted the first story; now it’s time for the other. The reason for this is the link on The Occasional Glass of Wine Non-Denominationalist’s blog to the article about Big Lar in the New York Times. Larry Ross played a key role in this story.

For some unknown reason Big Lar and I played Masters of Ceremonies at the annual talent show at Alma Mater. I think Larry actually was asked to do it and since we were good buddies and he didn’t want to do it alone he brought me into it. Basically, we did comedy routines in between acts and then introduced the acts.

We rehearsed and rehearsed our routines. We got other people involved in the skits. We really worked hard on this because it had become a rather big event on campus. You might recall that it was at the talent show each year that we had the Billy Graham Impersonation Contest. I had a pretty decent impression of Dr. Graham myself but I never could have won that one! Some of these guys were really good!

Anyway, I began to feel ill just a day or two before the talent show. I was running a fever and it got worse and worse. On the day of the talent show I decided to go into the health center and see Doc Wyngarten and get a prescription for some antibiotics. That was a huge mistake! He took a look at me and slapped me into one of the beds in one of the little hospital rooms there. He told me I was too sick to go back to the dorm because I would just infect my roommates. I tried to tell him that I never saw my roommates but it didn’t do any good.

There I was, lying in a hospital bed on the afternoon of the talent show. What in the world was I going to do? Big Lar came in to visit me. He asked me if I thought I could still do the show and I told him I could but they wouldn’t let me out! He just laughed and told me to leave everything to him.

Just after dinner time Big Lar came back to visit me again with another guy. I don’t remember who the guy was but I do remember thinking, “Who in the heck is this guy and why is he wearing a long overcoat, fedora, and sunglasses at night?” Then it dawned on me. The little guy was just my size! Big Lar closed the door while I jumped up and put my clothes on. The other guy climbed into the bed and rolled over and faced the wall. I donned the overcoat, fedora, and sunglasses and walked right out the door to Pierce Chapel and my engagement at the talent show!

Everything went off just fine. I don’t know how. I felt worse and worse as the night went on but we made it through. I put the disguise back on and Big Lar and I headed back to the health center. To my horror, we found it was closed and locked for the night. We pounded on the door until a nurse came to tell us they were closed. We insisted that we had to see Moorhead and find out how he was. She told me that “I” was fine because “I” had been sleeping since dinner. Big Lar told her that he had promised to come back and tell “me” how the talent show went without “me.” Somehow he convinced her that he would only stay a minute and she actually let us in where we managed the switch one more time.

I miss Big Lar! He’s so big now I wonder if he would even remember me!

You guys are great! Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006



Has anyone read “The DaVinci Code” yet? There is a lot of conversation out here in the Mecca of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church of America. With the movie, starring Tom Hanks, nearing its release date, the discussions are starting to get rather hot and heavy. Evangelical world seems to be panicking. If you listen to what is being said you might come to the conclusion that Christianity is about to be overwhelmed by a tsunami of heretical worshippers of the Mother goddess. Holy Grail, Batman! It’s Armageddon!

I am an avid reader. I love novels. Especially historical fiction. “The DaVinci Code” would seem to be right down my alley. But I have an issue. I never read the really “hot” titles. I don’t like to read what everyone is raving about. I don’t know what that says about me. I should probably see a therapist about it. For example, I have yet to meet anyone from my era who did not read at least one C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien book, or at least something by the Inklings, while they were at Wheaton. I was so sick of hearing about Modern Mythology that I refused to read any of it. (Let me admit how stupid that was and how much I regret it. If Dr. Kilby was still alive and teaching I would go back now just to take his classes!) The point is, I have refused to read “The DaVinci Code.”

But there’s something that bothers me more than the faddish libre du jour. It’s when the evangelicals go into a rage about something and start getting all up in arms. You know what I mean. Remember “The Last Temptation of Christ?” And there are all those frantic emails that fly around every couple of years about Madeline Murray O’Hare pushing a bill through Congress to outlaw religious broadcasting. (I just got one of those a month ago and the woman is dead!) And of course there was that outrage over Disney’s promotion of the New Age Movement in Pocahontas. Those are the kinds of things that made me decide I had to be something other than an evangelical. (Those things and Pat Robertson!) So I decided to read “The DaVinci Code” and see what the threat is all about.

I read it yesterday. Remember, Monday is my day off so I don’t have to do religious stuff on Mondays. (No, I’m not a super fast reader. The print is big and there are over 100 chapters with a lot of blank pages. By the way, that’s a good way to bulk up your manuscript and make your book look like an academic tome!) Here’s my review:

I LOVED IT! Dan Brown has written a real page-turner! He has obviously done his research into the history (mythology?) of the Grail. He picks up on the idea of Jesus marrying Magdalene and carries it to its logical conclusion. There is a lot of action and the book moves along very quickly. There is tension and mystery. He puts out all kinds of strands of information that he weaves together brilliantly to a not-so-surprising ending. His character development is excellent; you really begin to relate to the characters and I always think that is important to one’s enjoyment of a book.

But what about the heretical message the book is putting forward? First of all, I don’t know if Dan Brown even believes what he’s written about the divine feminine, the Mother Goddess, Jesus and Magdalene, or the descendants of Jesus. Bluntly, I don’t see how he could. One doesn’t need an advanced degree in textual criticism or even a Bible degree from Wheaton (which I don’t have) to see the huge holes in theory. It is so blatantly fictional that I find it hard to take seriously. Brown just seems too bright to ignore the non sequiturs. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I have heard the complaint that this book has been instrumental in shaking peoples’ faith. Well, I’m not really sure that having one’s faith shaken occasionally is a bad thing. I would also suggest that if a book like this can cause someone to doubt their faith then he should think through his faith very carefully and see what it was built upon in the first place!

Here’s what I think. Followers of Jesus should probably read “The DaVinci Code” because it will give them a great opportunity to do some thinking before the movie comes out. Once the movie hits the theaters I can almost guarantee you that it will be the topic of conversation at your favorite pub or coffee joint. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to discuss it intelligently? People will be asking questions, I want to be able to sit there and talk about them while we watch the evangelicals picket the theater across the street.

Thanks again! It’s so kind of you to stop by!

Sunday, April 16, 2006


So did all you guys out there on the Left Coast read about Arthur Winston last week? (With a name like that we ought to issue him honorary membership in the Church of the Smoking Christian!) He passed away less than a month after retiring from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on his 100th birthday!

His co-workers had a big retirement celebration for him on his milestone birthday. He had missed only one day of work in over 70 years with the MTA and that was for his wife’s funeral back in 1988! At his retirement he said, “I’ll be on the move. I’m not going to sit and mope in the house.”

I think there is a lesson for us here. Retirement is a dangerous thing! Now retirement is not something I have to worry about. I’ll never get to retire no matter what. It takes money to retire. Or at least a retirement plan. At age 52 that is something I still don’t have. My plan is to keep working as long as I can speak and hopefully drop dead in the middle of preaching an inspiring sermon!

We’ve all known or heard of guys retiring after a long working life who drop dead within a few short months. It’s always very sad. I’ve heard their widows say things like, “We have tickets for a cruise next month.” Or, “We never got to do all the things we’ve been planning to do all our lives.”

There’s a lesson here too. Don’t wait until retirement to do those things! My parents have been the exception here. Since my dad retired they have traveled to so many countries that I think they have even lost count! My younger sisters and I have spent the last ten years watching our inheritance frittered away in Europe, Australia, Asia, and everywhere in between! My mom loves to say that we shouldn’t count on any inheritance because they are planning on spending it all. Have you heard this too?

There’s another lesson I think. Try to convince your parents that it’s really dangerous out there and they’d be much better off staying at home where it’s safe. (Unless they live in Fullerton.) If that doesn’t work, take your parents on very strenuous hiking trips and see if you can’t cut short the time they have to spend your inheritance. (That’s not even funny.)

Kudos to Arthur Winston. He’s my new hero! I’m just having trouble imagining a 95-year-old cutting edge, emergent pastor. I need to make sure that wherever I live when I’m forced into retirement that I have a nice garage.

You guys are all great! Thanks for stopping by!



This devotional is taken from the book “Searching for God Knows What” by Donald Miller. (Nelson Books, 2004)

I remember watching that television show I Dream of Jeannie when I was young, and I wondered at how great it would be to have a Jeannie of my own, complete with the sexy outfit, who could blink a grilled-cheese sandwich out of think air, all the while cleaning my room and doing my homework. I realize, of course, that is very silly and there is no such thing as a genie that lives in a lamp, but it makes me wonder if secretly we don’t wish God were a genie who could deliver a few wishes here and there. And that makes me wonder if what we really want from the formulas are the wishes, not God. It makes me wonder if what we really want is control, not a relationship.

Some would say formulas are how we interact with God, that going through motions and jumping through hoops are how a person acts out his spirituality. This method of interaction, however, seems odd to me, because if I want to hang out with my friend Tuck, I don’t stomp my foot three times, turn around, and say his name over and over like a mantra, lighting candles and getting myself in a certain mood. I just call him. In this way, formulas presuppose God is more a computer or a circus monkey than an intelligent Being. I realize that sounds harsh, but it is true.

So if the difference between Christian faith and all other forms of spirituality is that Christian faith offers a relational dynamic with God, why are we cloaking this relational dynamic in formulas? Are we jealous of the Mormons? And are the formulas getting us anywhere? Are modern forms of Christian spirituality producing better Christians than days long ago, when people didn’t use formulas and understood, intrinsically, that God is a Being with a personality and a will of His own? Martin Luther didn’t believe in formulas, and neither did John Calvin. Were they missing something, or are we?

The truth is there are a million steps, and we don’t even know what the steps are, and worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or even able to take them; and still worse, they are different for you and me and they are always changing. I have come to believe the sooner we find this truth beautiful, the sooner we will fall in love with the God who keeps shaking things up, keeps changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us to not rely on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps, but rather in His guidance, His existence, His mercy, and His love.

Friday, April 14, 2006


He had been arrested for participating in a revolt against Rome. Roman soldiers had been killed and he and his companions had been convicted of treason and murder. Now he and his friends waited in prison for their execution. They knew the kind of death they were condemned to die. It is said that men condemned to hang, constantly touch their throats in subconscious anticipation. Barabbas and his friends fingered their wrists absentmindedly and wondered what it was going to be like. They had seen crucifixions before. They were ugly scenes. Crucifixion was a long, painful death. Sometimes men had hung on Roman crosses for days before they died. The noises outside filtered into their cell. People sounded angry. Even a hardened fighter like himself began to feel a little uncomfortable.

The shouting outside grew louder and Barabbas heard his own name being shouted. Fear struck at his heart. His time must be growing near. He stood up and angrily cursed Rome. His head snapped up when there was the sound of a key in the lock. The jailer entered. “Barabbas. You have been released. You may go.” The other two looked up at the jailer with hope in their eyes. “No. Not you two. Just Barabbas.” They argued with the Roman, “Why just Barabbas? Why does he get to go free? He’s just as bad as we are!” Their arguments availed nothing. Barabbas, stunned and confused, walked out of the jail cell wondering what happened. “Why me?”

As he moved out into the huge crowd Barabbas felt strangely conspicuous. He wondered what would happen when all the people saw him. But the screaming mob was paying no attention to him. They didn’t care at all about him! Barabbas looked around in the crowd for some of his compatriots. “Hey! What’s going on here? Do you know why they let me go?” “They’re going to kill this guy Jesus instead of you!” Barabbas moved closer to see who was going to be crucified with the two friends he left behind in the cell. He was shocked when he caught sight of him. This man had been beaten beyond imagination! Barabbas wondered what he must have done wrong to deserve this!

The crowd began to move toward the gates of the city. The man, Jesus, was carrying a cross. Barabbas thought to himself, “I was the one who was supposed to be carrying that cross.” He moved along with the throng of people as if in a dream. Suddenly he found himself at the place of execution, a place they called Golgotha. Barabbas shuddered as heavy hammers crashed against iron spikes. He glanced down at his hands and knew that those spikes were meant for him. But instead of lying on a cross on the ground he stood among the crowd breathing in the fresh spring air. He looked up and noticed that a storm seemed to be gathering in very dark clouds on the horizon.

Barabbas’ cross was raised and dropped into the hole. All his friends were screaming things at the man on the cross. Then Jesus spoke, “Father, forgive them, they don’t realize what they are doing.” Barabbas looked carefully at Jesus, his substitute criminal. The storm clouds covered the sky with utter blackness. It didn’t take long. Jesus spoke again, “It is finished.” There was a powerful earthquake that shook the entire city. Jesus seemed to die on purpose, surrendering his spirit to God. Barabbas moved closer. The centurion was standing at the foot of the cross, looking up at Jesus when he said, “This man really was the Son of God!”

As Barabbas wandered home he was filled with mixed feelings. What a strange day it had been! He had watched an innocent man die at the will of the Jewish religious leaders and at the hands of the Romans. But everything seemed new and fresh to him. He had never expected to see these sights again. He realized the truth, “Jesus died in my place! I was released when I deserved to die and they killed him instead! He died instead of me!”

Thursday, April 13, 2006


As I mentioned in an earlier posting, I lived on the seventh floor of Traber Hall during my junior year. We had this one guy on our floor who was really annoying. I think his name was Bill. He was from Philadelphia or something and he wanted to be a cop. He already had a nightstick, handcuffs, and various other cop paraphernalia in his dorm room. Why he was at Alma Mater to become a cop I’ll never know. But you know the type. He had a nose for care packages from home. I remember getting a box of brownies from some girl and I found him in my room wolfing them down. This happened repeatedly to the guys on the floor and we determined to get him.

Late one night one of the guys called the emergency room at Central DuPage Hospital and said his roommate had taken some over-the-counter sleeping pills and he was worried. After reporting his height and weight he was told that the guy could probably take six of them without hurting himself.

Another guy ran down to the A & W Root Beer stand and got two of those quart cartons of root beer. We ground up six or seven of the sleeping pills and put them into one of the quarts. I then walked off the elevator and meandered by his room, making sure he saw me with both quarts. I engaged him in conversation and sure enough, he asked me why I had two. I told him they were on sale for two for one so I just got two. He asked if he could have one. I told him he could have one if he would bet me. I bet him $5 that I could drink mine faster than he could drink his. Like taking candy from a baby!

Bill chugged that root beer like a champ. I gave him $5 and wished him nighty night as I turned to leave his room. Within 20 minutes he was snoring like a pastor with sleep apnea! I mean, this guy was dead to the world! We carried him into the elevator and sneaked him out to the car while a couple of guys carried the mattress from his bed.

We grabbed his own handcuffs and quietly transported him over to the dining hall clad in only his whitey tighties. Before you could say Hudson Taylor Armerding, Bill was cuffed to the railing at the bottom of the stairs in the lobby of the dining hall (which is now your bookstore, young bloggers). All I know is that he was still sleeping there when I went to breakfast at 7:15 the next morning. There was quite a crowd of people standing around wondering what the heck he was doing there and how he got there.

The moral of the story is…I guess there isn’t one.

Next time, boys and girls, I’ll tell you the story of the streaker from College of DuPage who we caught in the Fischer Dorm lobby late one night!

(These pranks are not copyrighted but the author denies any knowledge of such urban myths should they be repeated by any current students of Alma Mater)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


The article came from Associated Press and the byline was Grain Valley, MO.

Sarah (45) and Kris (33) Everson, told their local paper, The Examiner in Independence, that they had recently become the proud parents of sextuplets. Sarah said she could not tell the story of the births of her four sons and two daughters because a court order had been issued which forced her to be silent. Apparently, someone in Kris’ family was looking to kill Sarah and Kris and the six new babies.

The couple had turned one of their bedrooms into a nursery. Their house had a number of books and publications on multiple births. There was a photograph of Sarah and Kris holding up six little infant outfits. The newspaper reported that the Eversons were having serious financial difficulties and the Good Samaritans went to work right away. A website was started to help them. They were asking for a van, a washer and dryer, cash, and gift certificates.

The story started to come apart when someone bothered to check the hospitals to see where the babies were born. None of the hospitals reported being involved in the births. The police investigated and the Eversons admitted to fabricating the entire story. Sarah’s one quote was, “I’m not talking to anybody right now because nobody gets it.” (?)

This gave me another fundraising idea for the Church of the Smoking Christian.

We should all apply for federal monies due to the fact that our homes were severely damaged in Hurricane Katrina. Just call The Examiner and tell them that no one in the federal government will pay any attention to us. We’ve been living in our garages and we need money to repair our homes. The fact that we all live in the north or far west should have nothing to do with it.

We should all file suit against Duke University. It seems our wives and daughters are black exotic dancers and they were attacked at a frat party. We would be happy to settle this one out of court because one of the women and three of the daughters are part of a pastor’s family and he wants to avoid the negative publicity.

We should all demand property in Great Britain. I believe all of us have some form of British heritage and we were forced out of our lands by money-grubbing noblemen sometime back in the 14th Century. We should have remuneration and the right to establish a casino which would of course be tax exempt. (The more I think about it, the happier I am that we have not only a pastor whose word is above reproach but an attorney who can probably be a huge help in this process.)

Finally, all of us suffered irrevocable emotional and psychological damage as a result of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. This would be easy to prove if we just sent the right representatives to the hearing.

You guys are all great! Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006



So by now you’ve all heard about the case of the Duke University lacrosse team and the alleged rape of an exotic dancer who entertained at one of their parties. (Notice my use of the word “alleged” just in case any of our readers might be an attorney. I wouldn’t want to offend.) Now, what should we think about this case?

The defense attorneys for the lads complains, “The lacrosse team has been portrayed as a swaggering, elitist clique, prone to loutish, frat boy behavior.” Does that surprise any of you? Kind of reminds me of the women’s field hockey team at alma mater, doesn’t it? Or the men’s swim team? Isn’t lacrosse generally a rich boys’ sport? Aren’t they usually an elitist clique? And isn’t loutish, frat boy behavior characteristic of a high percentage of college boys anyway? Quit complaining, Mr. Defense Attorney. I expect that criticism is both accurate and irrelevant.

And what about the trace evidence that was gathered from the rape kits? It didn’t match any of the guys. Don’t worry, says the prosecutor, I don’t need DNA evidence to make a case. Of course you don’t. But you will have to explain where the DNA “deposits” came from if they didn’t come from the loutish, frat boys. I doubt the defense team will miss that point.

Then there is the exotic dancer. The feminists are saying that just because a woman is a stripper, she isn’t asking to be raped. That’s a good point. We should ask her pastor about her character. Or wasn’t that her pastor at the protest outside the house? If he isn’t her pastor, could someone tell me what Bishop John Bennett was doing there? Since he is a man of God I imagine he was trying to calm the racial tension in the community. Just like Rev. Al Sharpton used to do all the time.

Here’s one of my favorites. I’m hearing people say that if the tables were turned and this was a white lap dancer at a black athletes’ party the whole team would be in jail by now. It’s a sign of racism that rich white boys can get off scot free with this kind of thing. Are you sure you want to play that card? Does anyone remember O.J. Simpson?

I love this. There was a rally on the campus of North Carolina Central University. That is the school where the exotic dancer is a student. It was a show of support for their fellow coed. I saw this picture of all these students standing around with lighted candles. Can you tell me what the candles are all about? It seems like every time something happens there are all these people with candles. If someone was looking for a source of income I would suggest that he fill his trunk with hundreds, no thousands, of those ten cent candles and quickly head off to the next tragedy. I think you could make a fortune!

It’s never a good sign when I get cynical like this. It shows a lack of caring and concern for the hurting and I’m ashamed of myself. I hate it when I get like this.

Can’t we all just get along?

Monday, April 10, 2006


Ministers fly coach. That’s just the way it seems to be. For years, all the flying I did was in the back of the plane. It’s not a big deal. I’m short and I have very short legs so I’m rarely inconvenienced by the absence of leg room. The great thing about flying coach is there are very few decisions to be made. You get no choice of meals on the flight. No choice of movie. And your choice of Scotch is usually Johnnie Walker or J & B. I want to tell you about my education.

I was flying to Romania and the first leg of my journey took me to Heathrow on British Air. Upon arriving at the ticket counter I discovered they had overbooked the flight. I fully expected to be bumped to a later flight and was about to make a complaint that I would miss my connection in London when the lady smiled at me and said in what was the most beautiful British accent I had ever heard, “Sir, would you be willing to be bumped up into First Class?” It couldn’t have sounded better if she sang it!

I couldn’t believe I was the recipient of such a kind providence! I had so much room! There was a personal video screen and the choice of about a dozen movies. My seat lay back almost horizontally. I was given a menu from which to choose any number of great entrees. As I giddily familiarized myself with my new surroundings I was startled by the arrival of an older gentleman dressed in formal wear.

He spoke in the most cultured of Scots accents, “Good evening, sir. Welcome to British Air. May I get you something to drink?”

“Who are you?”

“I, sir, am your bar steward this evening. I’ll be taking care of your beverage needs.”

Taking care of my beverage needs? You mean I wouldn’t have to flag down a flight attendant? I wouldn’t have to climb over people to get to the back of the plane and carry my little bottles back up to my seat? I could get used to this.

In my most cultured voice I said, “Yes, thank you. I’ll have Scotch.”

The steward acted like he didn’t hear me and he almost imperceptibly shook his head and said, “Would you like whisky, Sir?”

“No. I’ll have Scotch.”

“Yes sir. Which brand of whisky do you prefer?”

Which brand do I prefer? Heck if I know. I don’t usually get a choice and if I ask for Johnnie Walker, all they have is J & B! I was starting to perspire.

“Johnnie Walker?”

Again, the smooth steward quietly shook his head just once.
“J & B?”

Another shake of the head.

I asked him, “What kind of whisky do I want?”

“Yes, sir,” he said. “I’ll be happy to get you a Glenfiddich.”

“Yes, a Glenfiddich, please. And could you make that a double?”

Head shake. “It will be my pleasure to bring you three fingers of Glenfiddich.”

“Yes. Three fingers of Glenfiddich. Thank you.”

“And how would you like your whisky, sir?”

Now I was really sweating. I was sure everyone was looking at me. I glanced around and could see that my steward was really very good at not embarrassing his customers. No one was watching.

“On the rocks,” I said confidently.

A slight shake of the head.

“Neat?” I wasn’t as confident this time.

Another negative head shake.

“How would I like my whisky tonight?”

“Yes sir. One Glenfiddich with a drop of water. Good choice sir.”

I don’t sleep on planes. I’m not sure why. I suspect I am subconsciously afraid that my mouth will drop open and I will drool all over my shirt. I’ve never been able to sleep. About half way across the Atlantic I got up and walked over to the steward where I received a first class education in Scotch whisky. It was a most enjoyable flight.

You guys are great! Thanks for stopping by!



In his book, The Easy Yoke, Doug Webster tells a story about an idealistic college student who ended up on a mission trip to one of the more dangerous housing projects in Philadelphia. A brand-new Christian, this wide-eyed urban missionary didn’t have a clue how to evangelize the inner city. Frightened and anxious to share his new faith, the young man approached a very large tenement house. Cautiously making his way through the dark, cluttered hallways, he gingerly climbed up one flight of stairs to an apartment. He knocked on the door, and a woman holding a naked, howling baby opened it. She was smoking and not in any mood to hear some white, idealistic college boy tell her about Jesus. She started cursing him and slammed the door in his face. The young man was devastated.

He walked out to the street, sat down on the curb, and wept. Look at me. How in the world could someone like me think I could tell anyone about Jesus? Then he remembered that the baby was naked and the woman was smoking. The plan forming in his head didn’t seem terribly spiritual, but…

He ran down the street to the local market and bought a box of diapers and a pack of cigarettes. When he knocked on the door again, he showed the woman his purchases. She hesitated and then invited him in. For the rest of the day, he played with the baby and changed its diapers (even though he had never changed diapers before). When the woman offered him a cigarette, even though he didn’t smoke, he smoked. He spent the entire day smoking and changing diapers. Never said a word about Jesus. Late in the afternoon, the woman asked him why he was doing all this, and finally he got to tell her everything he knew about Jesus. Took about five minutes. When he stopped talking, the woman looked at him and said softly, “Pray for me and my baby that we can make it out of here alive,” so he did.

Can you imagine this young man standing in front of his congregation talking about his new program of smoking evangelism? It certainly would be an interesting evening. Doesn’t sound much different than the day Jesus let a woman waste a bottle of expensive perfume on him.

Good night my friends! Sleep well. See you tomorrow!

Entire quote from, Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002

Doug Webster, The Easy Yoke, Colorado Springs, NavPress, 1995

Saturday, April 08, 2006


A Middle-Aged Man’s Choice of New Age Music

(Without asking for it, you asked for it!)

Constance Demby. Album: Aeterna.
This is a New Age symphony in six movements. Demby is an accomplished composer who is able to create atmospheric sound that reaches out and grabs the accomplished listener by the heart and soul. Aeterna has a rich bouquet and a naughty little aftertaste. Her previous work, Novus Magnificat is equally brilliant.

Eric Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel. Album: Acoustic Elegance
It is amazing how Tingstad is able to get such realistic guitar sounds out of his synthesizer! It sounds incredibly like finger-picking to me. And Rumbel’s oboe sounds! She must be the Milli Vanilli of the oboe. It looks like she’s actually playing! A phenomenal collection of acoustic music to soothe the manic pastor.

Secret Garden. Album: Dreamcatcher
Rolf Lovland on piano and keyboards. Fionnuala Sherry on violin. Lovland composed all the music on this album which has a distinctive Celtic flavor. His use of the Irish Whistle and Uilleann pipes is supported by Irish percussion and Sherry’s vocals are magnificent (unless they too are electronic). Annbjorg Lien’s work on the Hardanger Fiddle is unmatched.

Mediaeval Baebes. Album: Mirabilis
These eight women from Cornwall blend their vocals in a haunting reproduction of the sound of medieval music. For the uninitiated, the lyrics are translated in the album folder. Their pronounciation of Latin is spot on and they don’t stumble on the even more difficult Middle English. But what really catches the listener’s ear is their revival of the almost extinct Gaelic tunes, especially their rendition of Lhiannan Shee.

Libera. Album: Free
Can anyone really get enough of English Boys’ Choirs? This boys’ choir is from London and their juxtapositioning of perfectly pitched vocals and celestial orchestrations brings a tear to a middle-aged parson’s eye. The purity of voice! The angelic tonal qualities! One feels caught up into the heavenlies when listening to Adoramus and Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep.

Friends, if someone comes to your door with any one of these albums and insists on putting into your stereo immediately, let him do it! You won’t be sorry!

Pax eternum.

Friday, April 07, 2006


My family flew out to Southern California for Christmas last year. It’s always an adventure flying with my wife and six kids. There is so much luggage to check, so many kids to keep an eye on, just, so many details. And Homeland Security hasn’t made it any easier! You have to stand in this line and then in that line. You have to take your shoes off. If the metal detector buzzes you have to go back through again. If it keeps buzzing you get wanded and frisked. God forbid you’re running late for your flight. You may as well give it up. We were just a little behind schedule for our flight home. We arrived only an hour and a half before our flight was scheduled to depart. I remember when I could make a flight as long as I was there about half and hour before take off! Thanks be to God, they held the flight for us.

But you know what? I keep telling myself, “I’d rather go through all this hassle at the airport and feel safe. If they catch anybody with an exploding shoe then it’s worth it all!” I’m not terribly patriotic, but I would rather not become a hero trying to take down a terrorist. (After all, alma mater is running out of buildings to name!) I’m willing to do my part and smile through all of the indignities in the name of safe air travel.

Not Cynthia McKinney! She can’t be bothered by security outside the congressional office buildings. She’s so important that every Capitol police officer ought to be able to recognize her as she rushes by him on her way to an important meeting! She is so busy that she can’t be expected to wear her Congressional ID lapel pin. She takes it as an insult if she is stopped by an officer. It doesn’t matter to her that the man had a job to do.

I’m trying to imagine what would happen to one of us if we walked around a metal detector outside a DC office building and then refused to stop when the Capitol police officer called us. I would expect the officer to chase me down, knock me to the ground, and put me in hand cuffs. I would expect that I would be taken to some station where I would be considered guilty until proven stupid. I would expect to hear little clicks on my home phone for many months to come.

Not Cynthia McKinney! When the officer touched her arm she hit him with her cell phone! She started screaming racism! “White cop! Black woman! They never recognize me! They harass me because I am a black woman!” Nope! Cynthia McKinney is special and the laws put in place to protect the other members of Congress shouldn’t apply to her.

Cynthia McKinney. Just one more embarrassment to my party!

You guys are great! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Did you guys see this headline from the New York Times?


(I had to condense this article. Please trust me that I didn’t select excerpts that would twist the meaning around.)

“Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375-million-year-old fish, a large scaly creature not seen before, that they say is a long-sought missing link in the evolution of some fishes from water to a life walking on four limbs on land.

“The skeletons have the fins, scales and other attributes of a giant fish, four to nine feet long. But on closer examination, the scientists found telling anatomical traits of a transitional creature, a fish that is still a fish but has changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals and is thus a predecessor of amphibians, reptiles, and dinosaurs, mammals, and eventually humans.

“In the fishes’ forward fins, the scientists found evidence of limbs in the making. There are the beginnings of digits, proto-wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

“Other scientists said that in addition to confirming elements of a major transition in evolution, the fossils were a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who have long argued that the absence of such transitional creatures are a serious weakness in Darwin’s theory.

“The discovery team called the fossils the most compelling examples yet of an animal that was at the cusp of the fish-tetrapod transition.

“The origin of limbs probably involved the elaboration and proliferation of features already present in the fins of fish such as Tiktaalik (the newly discovered fish).

“In all likelihood, the scientists said, Tiktaalik flexed its proto-limbs mainly on the floor of streams and might have pulled itself up on the shore for brief stretches.”

Previous discussions in our Blogworld triggered my interest in this article. I have stated my concerns about the extremist views of both parties when it comes to teaching evolution as fact and teaching creation in public schools. This article raises questions in my mind about the kind of “science” that is being done and the kind of “science” that is being taught in our schools and universities.

1) “telling anatomical traits of a transitional creature, a fish that is still a fish but has changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals.” How do they use the word “telling” here? “Evidential?” How can they say something so old “anticipates” anything? What if it was just what it was? A giant fish that was different from the fish we know in the world today? You know the old saying, “You can make statistics say whatever you want?” If you base “what you know” on a theory then all you can come up with is a theory. You can make the “evidence” say whatever you want!
2) “found evidence of limbs in the making.” If something is in process, then you don’t know what it will turn out to be. You can guess, but you can’t know. So to say it is evidence of limbs in the making is a non sequitur.
3) “most compelling examples yet of an animal that was at the cusp of the fish-tetrapod transition.” See point 2. There is no evidence that this animal was at the cusp of anything!
4) “The origin of limbs probably involved the elaboration…” This is science? Talking about what “probably” happened? Isn’t this the definition of guessing?
5) “In all likelihood Tiktaalik flexed its proto-limbs mainly on the floor of streams and might have pulled itself up on the shore…” Proto-limbs? In logic we call this begging the question. This animal may well have walked on the floor of streams. It may even have pulled itself up on shore. And this proves what?

I don’t want to argue Carbon 14 dating. I don’t want to make one’s view of origins the watershed for faith or orthodoxy or anything else. I don’t want to get into an argument trying to prove what I think is right. What I do want is for people to differentiate between good science and lousy science. It’s happening on both sides of the debate and the people who do lousy science ought to be embarrassed that a non-scientist like me can see through their transparent efforts.

I do welcome your comments. Thanks for stopping by.


A number of years ago I learned that my denomination’s church in Hawaii was looking for a pastor. I was considering making a move about that time and I suddenly felt a great burden for the people of Hawaii. I was sure this was a calling from God so I quickly updated my resume and sent it off to their pastoral search committee. Having grown up in Southern California, I was certain that I could relate well to the Japanese-American community as well as the surf crowd in Hawaii. I knew it would be tough but I was willing to suffer for Jesus.

Our major Grand Rapids newspaper, creatively named The Grand Rapids Press, ran a lengthy article from the Associated Press last Sunday on The Redeemed Church of God (RCG). The RCG is a denomination in Nigeria. Well, it started in Nigeria. It is one of the fastest growing Christian denominations in the world. It is a Pentecostal group that embraces all the same typical charismatic beliefs that Pentecostals here in the good old US of A hold. True, their international leader claims to receive annual prophecies from God concerning international issues and spiritual life. That’s not really so strange. I mean, look at the things Pat Robertson has been telling us this year.

But here’s the thing that really caught my attention. The RCG is sending missionary church planters to the United States. Now there’s an interesting turn of events! After over 150 years of sending Americans as missionaries to Africa, they are returning the favor! Now it is our turn to see how it feels to have people who are so culturally different from us coming to save our souls! I wonder if they will encounter the same kinds of issues our missionaries met with. They probably won’t have serious language issues. Doesn’t the whole world speak English? And Wycliffe Bible Translators won’t have to send people to give us a written language and translate the Bible for us. The missionaries won’t have to deal with jungles and wild animals. The natives here won’t be likely to kill them and have them for dinner. (Or will they?)

Actually, the RCG is doing a great job of fitting in here in the USA. They are building a multimillion-dollar national headquarters and conference complex about fifty miles north of Dallas. They have launched a satellite TV network named Dove Media which will broadcast reruns of the Dick Van Dyke Show and Bonanza along with sermons from their world leader. (I think they will learn soon enough about the mistake of letting people go on TV!)

Their message is that the USA is a post-Christian nation. The article quotes an RCG official as saying that Christianity in America “has become a lifestyle, not a transforming way of life.” Actually, I can’t disagree with that statement. I think they’re right. In fact, those are reasons Shiloh exists today.

This is the thought that made me smile: I’m picturing the missions conferences in their churches back in Nigeria. They must have been the same as the missions conferences I went to growing up. Can you imagine missionaries coming back from the United States and showing their slides and media presentations of their work? They wear American style clothes to the services to show how the people they are trying to reach dress. Then imagine the impassioned pleas for young people to dedicate their lives to missions. The calls for young people to come forward to the altar and for their parents to stand behind them and support them in their calling. I see them giving their testimonies and saying they are willing to go and suffer for Jesus in America. Their colleges are naming dorms and athletic fields after them already as they give their lives to missions.

I’m sorry. I guess I’m just a little hurt I never got a call from that church in Hawaii.

Monday, April 03, 2006


I have some questions about the advertising industry. If you guys know anybody who is familiar with advertising, would you please ask him/her to please answer my questions? It seems to me (but what do I know from advertising?) that the advertising industry and those who criticize the people in advertising have gone over the top. Examples follow.

Do you remember the Budweiser ad that showed during the Olympics, the rooftop beer drinkers? These neighbors were telling their wives that they had to fix things on their roofs and in reality they were just going up to have some Budweisers. One of the guys sorrowfully informs his buddies that he really does have to fix his leaky roof and then proceeds to crash through the roof into his own living room. I thought the ad was funny.

But here come the critics! The critics complained that the commercial was dangerous because it showed guys drinking beer on rooftops and it’s dangerous to drink on a rooftop. (Somebody better tell all those guys on the rooftops outside Wrigley Field that they are in danger!) It seems that the beer industry has set standards for themselves and this ad allegedly fails to live up to the standard that says ads “should not portray beer drinking before or during activities, which for safety reasons, require a high degree of alertness or coordination.”

Oh, come on! Give me a break! They’ve been showing guys drinking beer when they are out with women forever and if that isn’t an activity that requires a “high degree of alertness or coordination,” I don’t know what is! And what about all the ads that show guys drinking beer at ballgames? How many guys have we seen drink a lot of beer at a game and then trip on the stairs and almost fall over the railing? Or the ads showing guys drinking beer and dancing? Dancing is dangerous enough when you’re not drinking beer!

How stupid do they think we are? The critics go on to complain that the Bud Light ad that shows football referees stealing beer and running from the police portrays illegal activity and sets a bad example. I don’t know about you, but I never knew it was so easy to run into a liquor store and swipe a six pack out of the cooler! Gee, maybe I should go try it! What a swell idea! If only I could find a referee’s jersey!

I’m really hoping someone will help me out here. The whole thing seems nuts to me. What do you think?

Please drink responsibly. And remember, blogging can be dangerous and should not be attempted while drinking Bud or Bud Light.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, April 02, 2006



Religious people love to hide behind religion. They love the rules of religion more than they love Jesus. With practice, Condemners let rules become more important than the spiritual life.

John Mackie was the president of the Church of Scotland after World War II. With two other ministers from a rather severe and pietistic denomination, he traveled to remote parts of the Balkan Peninsula to check on missionaries they supported.

The three clergymen called on an Orthodox priest in a small Greek village. Excited to see the visitors, the priest offered the clergymen a glass of rare and expensive wine. Horrified, the two pietistic ministers refused. Dr. Mackie, on the other hand, took a glassful, sniffed it like a wine connoisseur, sipped it, and praised its quality. He even asked for another glass. His companions were noticeably upset by Dr. Mackie's behavior.

Later, when the three men were in the jeep again, making their way up the rough road out of the village, the two pious clergymen turned on Dr. Mackie.

"Dr. Mackie," they said, "do you mean to tell us that you are the president of the Church of Scotland and an officer of the World Council of Churches and you drink?"

Dr. Mackie had had all he could take, and his Scottish temper got the better of him. "No, I don't," he said, "but somebody had to be a Christian!"

(Don McCullough, "The Trivialization of God," Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995)

Good night, my friends! Sleep well! See you tomorrow!

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I guess I need to weigh in on the immigration issue too. I wish I didn’t have to. Our family’s history of immigration isn’t much to brag about. You may remember the first of the Moorhead immigrations. It was from Scotland into Ireland. I’m not sure we were legal immigrants. It wasn’t our fault anyway. King James I tricked us into emigrating out of Scotland by offering free land in Ireland. How did we know it wasn’t his to give? Then we immigrated again. This time we entered the American colonies of Great Britain. I’m pretty sure that was legal. The interesting thing is that the Moorheads never immigrated into the United States. We were citizens of Great Britain who rebelled against our rightful sovereign, King George III. At least it wasn’t the same king who gave us the free land in Ireland! That would have showed a certain lack of appreciation.

So, here we are. A country made up primarily of immigrants. We behaved very much like good old Queen James I. (Did you know he was a homosexual who loved to dress in women’s clothes? Check it out!) We stole land from people who were unable to beat us in a war. First we stole land from the Indians (oops, Native Americans). (The Irish should have warned them what was going to happen.) Then we stole land from the Mexicans. Remember the Alamo! Do you remember the Alamo? It was a mission on land which we had stolen from the Mexicans. We lost a short battle there when the Mexicans decided to keep their own land. Then we made a Mexican mission into a battle cry which motivated us to steal more land from Mexico. (The Native Americans should have warned them what was going to happen.)

What really is the question about immigration? I’m all for immigration. It is immigration that made this country great! Are we talking about removing the legal process for immigration? I hope not! Are we going to just open our borders and let anyone come through who wants to? I hope not!

We need immigrants! I’ve been attending parent/teacher conferences for over 20 years now and I still have a few more years to go. I can tell you from first hand experience that they are not teaching math in school anymore. What would we do without the Asian immigrants who can do the most difficult calculus in their sleep? Nor are they teaching reading or spelling. Did you see the picture of the Mexican high school students marching? The one where the girl was holding a sign that said, “Immigrants are Amercas Workers.” (You know what’s criminal? Telling these poor Mexican kids that we’re giving them an education!) How will we ever keep up with the rest of the world unless we bring them here?

Should we try to find a way to give California back? Should we try to find a way to give land back to the Native Americans? Should we find a way to give the Church of the Smoking Christian a big casino?

Personally, I would prefer to find a way to keep terrorists out of this country. Can we still try to do that? I just don’t know! What do you think?

You guys are great! Thanks for stopping by.


Hi again, boys and girls! It’s time for more from “Growing Up Born Again” by Patricia Klein. Tonight, excerpts from The Growing Up Born Again Self Inventory. The following inventory has been compiled to help you discover your own personal GUBA quotient. Take you time, reflect carefully, and no fair praying!

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
a. It depends. What kind of dancing?
b. Which order of angels?
c. Isn’t this a Catholic problem?

A sword drill is:
a. an instrument of torture used during the Inquisition
b. a cadet exercise at West Point
c. a contest to see who can look up Bible verses fastest
d. what a dentist uses before he says “Rinse and spit.”

You have “arrived as an evangelical when…
a. you’ve visited the Holy Land
b. you’ve been baptized in the Jordan River
c. you’ve seen the grotto where Jesus was born and decried the commercialism
d. you’ve visited the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College
e. you’ve visited anything in Wheaton, IL

When you hear the expression “the Fall,” you immediately think of:
a. autumn
b. Rome’s decline
c. man’s depravity
d. Lady Godiva’s hairpiece

Who would you most expect to see at the Sunday evening service?
a. The Mamas and the Papas
b. Sister Sledge
c. Moody Men’s Glee Club
d. The Moody Blues

Which TV shows might a Christian watch on Sundays?
a. The Ed Sullivan Show
b. What’s My Line?
c. Candid Camera
d. None of the Above

Which group would you be least surprised to see in Heaven?
a. The Brothers Four
b. The Twelve Disciples
c. The Dave Clark Five
d. The Chicago Seven

Identify the born again saint from the following list:
a. Saint Nick
b. Saint Bernard
c. Saint Louis
d. Nate Saint

Score yourself. We’re not into judging here. Hope you had a good time. Thanks for stopping by.