Saturday, September 27, 2008

And for those of you who haven't seen it.

Here is a news report about last years attack and our unit.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Small town blues

Not to steal the song title from John Mellancamp (actually, I think he was still John "Couger" Mellancamp at the time), but I was born in a small town. Well, really, I was not. I was born in a small city. But, most of my formative years, from about 6 to 18, were in a small town.

Living in a small town is a whole different beast and, in many ways, better than living in a city. Yes, I know, in the city you have a much better selection of restaurants, groceries, entertainment and transportation. But, it seems a little colder and a little more impersonal.

For instance, when I was growing up, if there was an auto accident, everyone in town would go check it out. "What if someone I know is in it?" "What if they need my help somehow?"

In the city, if there is an car crash, everyone is just mad that the traffic is going so slow. "Hey, move those bodies off the road." "I have to get to work." "Next time, try wrecking that thing somewhere else, would ya?"

In some ways, a good Church is like a small town. In a good Church, if someone has a crash in life, people will run over and see if they can help out. Everyone knows that, like a small town, a good Church is good for the kids. Like a good Church, a small town knows that kids are not the future, because they are probably going to move on to some other place, but they value and care for them anyway. A small town and a good Church help people to find their place in the world.

A small town is also concerned with getting new people to move in. They do their level best to welcome new people that come and help them fit into the life of the community. Small towns even go out of their way to invite people to come to their town. They really want some new blood to spice the place up a bit.

Notice that I didn't compare the small town to a small Church. Most Churches, even the mega churches, are still smaller than a decent sized small town. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with small churches. Some small churches are great. Some of them.

On the other hand, I have seen small Churches that are a bit more like a big family at Thanksgiving. They are all pretty dang comfortable with the people that are already there and don't really want other people coming around to mess it up unless it was pre-approved by everyone that is gonna be there. And heaven forbid they get together with each other outside of that particular day.

*** Disclaimer: A small town is no replacement for a good Church. I think that even people in a small town should join a Church. But it is a good analogy, so there.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Abby History

When Abigail was about two years old, she was not yet walking, so the Doctors had her fitted with some braces that came up her legs to just below her knees. When they laced her up and turned her loose, she immediately sat down and began to cry.

For those that don't know, Abigail was born with myelomeningocele, commonly referred to as Spina Bifida. Spina Bifida is a defect in the neural tube, or spinal column, that is present at birth. Basically the defect cause the nerves to grow improperly and it leads to poor or improper functionality and a lack of feeling in anything below the defect. She was diagnosed about two days before she was born and the Doctors indicated that, along with other challenges she may face, she might never walk, or always be reliant on a walker or leg braces.

Soon after we took her home, she began to walk on her own...without the leg braces. It almost seemed that she was saying that she would do it if she had to, but she wasn't gonna wear those darn things.

Since she was born, she has endured four (3 of them in one 5 week period) brain surgeries, one back surgery and a kidney surgery. I know this is almost minor compared to the stories I hear of children with injuries or disabilities that endure dozens of surgeries, but everything like this that a child faces is difficult for a parent. And she still faces many challenges.

Abigail is a Hebrew name that means Father's joy. As her Father, I am definitely grateful that she has been in my life. I have also discovered with her trials that joy does not always mean I am happy with the circumstances, but have that I have in the midst of them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


"Head for the roundhouse Rosie, they can't corner you there."

Quote we found on the closet wall in the Greenbaum house in Safford, the first house we bought.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bailing them out

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so large and so interwoven in our financial system that a failure of either of them would cause great turmoil in our financial markets here at home and around the globe."

-- Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, justifying the federal bailout of the mortgage firms

I am not an economist, so I will not comment on the necessity of the mortgage bailout. But, is anyone really surprised that this was going to be a problem?

Did no-one else think it was not really a good idea to offer easy interest only loans with a balloon payment only a few years out to people who would never be able to afford that payment?

Didn't anyone else think that driving housing prices higher so quickly with easy to borrow money might cause trouble down the line?

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Fork In the Road

Lately I have been considering, praying about and talking with my wife and others about my next steps for life and ministry. When I took my current job, I told Diane I would do it for at least three years before I looked at moving on to something else. October 5th, which is in two weeks, will mark three years since I began this job, so i have been considering what steps to take next.

Here are some options I have considered:

Pursuing a Full-Time Ministry position.
Either as a Pastor of an established Church or in a Church Planting Capacity. I have already turned down a few positions, but my thoughts have been headed in that direction again. So, perhaps it is time to seriously look at diving back in.

Staying with the job I have.
It is a fun job, I get to do some things that not too many other people do, it pays decent. And, I could always work in a bi-vocational capacity. There are a couple of organizations I am looking at that would be glad to have someone with my background throw some volunteer work there way.

Getting some more education
If I am serious about returning to full-time ministry, why not go for some more schooling. A good School can be great for focusing, networking and getting in touch with God's plan. I am currently doing some classes, but I am talking about full-time residency stuff.

I guess it boils down to what God is leading me to do and how I decide to walk that out.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

No taxation Without Representation!

I saw that Colin Powell is considering endorsing a presidential candidate. In the spirit of that, I am considering endorsing a presidential candidate.

Who my choice is will come as no surprise to many of you and little surprise to the rest. I will explain my reasons when I release the endorsement and I am sure it will have no affect on your decision making process.

So, check back to see who I will endorse.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Making Fiends

Emily's favorite cartoon, "Making Fiends", is going to be on TV. It was going to be on Nikelodeon, but they decided just to put it on the NickToons channel instead.

Here is a message from the creator about it:

Hello Fiends-

Finally I have news! The Making Fiends tv show is going to premiere in the US on the Nicktoons channel at 11:30 AM (PT/ ET) on October 4th. It will also show at the same time on October 5th. Until last week, I thought my show would be playing on Nickelodeon as well, but apparently that was not meant to be.

For those of you who do not get Nicktoons or who aren't in the US, the new episodes should start playing online on October 10th. I'll let you know more about that when it's finalized. Hooray!

Making Fiends is about two little girls, one super sugary sweet (Charlotte) and one (Vendetta) that talks in a Slavic accent and that makes strange beasts that try to eat the other little girl. If you can't catch it on Nicktoons, make sure you at least go check out the episodes on the website:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Frustrating Save

A couple of years ago, during the flooding that did a bang up job of wiping out numerous Sabino Canyon trails, one of the guys I was working with was staying late after the midnight shift. He, like many of us, was assigned to park his car along a roadway in front of a wash to keep cars from going in it until the overworked highway department could come and put up barriers.

While he was parked on the road, with overhead lights flashing and his car making it inaccessible to vehicles, a woman went jogging by. He later told me that he thought she had wanted to just go look at the running water, as many others had done. Instead, she ran into the swiftly flowing stream, got swept off her feet and was being swept along. My co-worker had to go wading in and pluck her out before she drowned.

In Galveston area, which is a totally cool little town that you should check out sometime if you ever get a chance, there were thousands of people who were asked to evacuate that stayed where they were. During the storm, the 911 system was swamped with calls of distress from these people. Now, emergency workers are working hard to try to get to the places where people may be in danger from the storm.

I guess that is a good percentage of the reason that we have rescue workers. To help people undo their bad decisions. Not in every case, but enough that it can get a little frustrating.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Abigail was talking to my Mom and reminded us of some of the things Ethan used to say before he reached his current aged state of 6 and 1/2. I know that if you are not related or at least know Ethan, you don't care. But I am, I do and I do, so here are a few Ethanisms:

Cold Slop: the stuff that is made of shredded cabbage and you have it as a side for your sandwiches.

Fold: the way you feel after you have eaten way too much.

Stuporman: The guy in the tights and red cape that flies around and helps people out.

And, I almost forgot this one. It is kinda naughty and I think he really thought this is what we were saying...

Sour Crap: The fermented cabbage food that is used in traditional German dishes. This is, surprisingly enough, not one of his favorites.

I am sure they are more. But, alas, like his youth my memory is failing.

note: The pictures are from massacre canyon in Nebraska and my living room.

differences in definitions

I recently attended a small group based on The Truth Project curriculum, where the video presenter pointed out how the word philosophy has undergone changes in definition in modern times.

So, I grabbed out my copy (yes, I really do have one, reprinted, of course) of the 1828 Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language.

In addition to other items, the definition for philosophy includes:

- The literal definition, "the love of wisdom". those that have studied Greek or been to Philadelphia will recognize "phileo" as love and "sophi" as wisdom.

- The statement, "The objects of philosophy are to ...... enlarge our views of God and his works, and to render our knowledge of both practically useful and subservient to human happiness."

- The quote by S.S. Smith that, "True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle.".

I also have a copy of the 1983 Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, a considerably newer version of the old Webster's. In it, I found neither a literal translation/definition of what the word meant nor any reference to God being involved in any way in of philosophy.

We live in a considerably different world than our forefathers did in 1828. In many ways , it is so much better. For instance, we can now communicate easily with people all over the world. It was a much more difficult task one hundred and eighty years ago. However, I am concerned that we, as a society, might have much less to say that is actually relevant to life.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The need for speed?

No, I am not into Eastern Philosophies (well, except for my religion happened to begin as an eastern one with...., that is perhaps for another post), but here is some info from some zen site. Disregard that and look at some ways to simplify, focusing less on being busy and more on priorities. Why? Most people I know do not really focus on the things they say are important, i.e. Faith, Family, Friends, etc. Most people I know clutter up their lives with many other things that detract from the things they say are truly valuable. So, in order to live a life that reflects what we say are values are, we need to simplify.

  1. Make a list of your top 4-5 important things.
  2. Evaluate your commitments.
  3. Evaluate your time.
  4. Simplify work tasks.
  5. Simplify home tasks.
  6. Learn to say no.
  7. Limit your communications.
  8. Limit your media consumption.
  9. Get rid of the big items.
  10. Edit your rooms.
  11. Simplify your wardrobe.
  12. Limit your buying habits.
  13. Free up time.
  14. Do what you love.
  15. Spend time with people you love.
  16. Spend time alone.
  17. Eat slowly.
  18. Drive slowly.
  19. Be present.
  20. Create a simple mail & paperwork system.
  21. Create a simple system for house work.
  22. Learn to live frugally.
  23. Consider a smaller home.
  24. Consider a smaller car.
  25. Learn what “enough” is.
  26. Eat healthy.
  27. Exercise.
  28. Declutter before organizing.
  29. Have a place for everything.
  30. Learn to decompress from stress.ithout a car.
  31. Find a creative outlet for self-expression.
  32. Simplify your goals.
  33. Single-task.
  34. Simplify your filing system.
  35. Reduce your consumption of advertising.
  36. Live life more deliberately.
  37. Create morning and evening routines.
  38. Go for quality, not quantity. .
  39. Fill your day with simple pleasures.
  40. Create an easy-to-maintain yard.
  41. Carry less stuff.
  42. Simplify your online life.
  43. Simplify your budget.
  44. Simplify your financial life.
  45. Learn to pack light.
  46. Leave space around things in your day.
  47. Live closer to work.
  48. Always ask: Will this simplify my life?
Or, here is the two step version of that:

  1. Identify what’s most important to you.
  2. Eliminate everything else.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What My Dad Wanted People to Know

I helped officiate at the funeral service for my Dad last month. My Brother gave a great sermon about how God spoke through my Dad and what God's message is for us at a time like this. Here are some more of my brother's thoughts about my Dad. I, for lack of a better term at the moment, "emceed" the service.

I started off with the Shema, which is Duet. 6:4, in Hebrew. My Dad recently discovered that his Mother was Jewish and this is the prayer that a Jewish man will say at the beginning of each day.

I also shared three things that my Dad would want us all to know. The first thing was that God is very real and we can really know him. My Dad has been through some tough times and has discovered that God really does come through for you. Not always on our time or in a way we would want, but he always comes through and is always there for us.

The second thing was that the greatest treasures we have are the treasures that we already have around us. Our family and friends. As such, we should treasure these things above whatever else we strive for. My Dad believed this and would really want everyone else to understand this too.

The third thing, I saved for the end of the service, right before closing I chanted the Aaronic Benediction (Numbers 6:22-27) in Hebrew. It is the prayer that says, "May the lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace."

More Publicity

One of the local Churches I was talking about before got some national publicity. First it was three local Churches getting citywide publicity and now it is one of the three getting national publicity, as I discovered on AOL this morning.

You can read the article here. You will also see a photo gallery of ten "Hot Chicks Dressed as Wonder Woman". No relation to the Church. I guess they just thought it was in the same vein. "Sex Sells", as the advertisers say.

Another adage of the media is "If it bleeds it leads". What will Churches do to capitalize on this? Maybe remind people of someone who has already bled for them.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Trip To Bedlam

Bedlam is the slangization of the word Bethlehem. It was how the Bethlehem Royal Hospital of London was referred to, a well know sanitorium during it's time. It came to be a word that is synonymous with chaotic insanity.

In the 1700's, you could go and visit the freaks of bedlam. For a penny ( or free on the first Tuesday of each month) you could peer into their cells and walk the walkways, peering down on all manner of craziness.

You might see people performing strange rituals claiming that this was the way to see God. Perhaps you would see someone hoarding some ridiculous items...a handful of marbles, a few bent twigs...claiming this was what was worth working your whole life for. Maybe you'd see Caesar or Jesus or a half dozen others trying to convince themselves and everyone else that they were someone they are not. You could laugh at the inmates as they violently brawled over nothing or tried to find sexual gratification through wild and weird ways. You could even bring along a stick and poke people, just for the fun of it. Sort of like tapping the side of a fish tank, I guess.

Sometimes I think we live in a Bedlam where we can see people working all their lives for ridiculous things, engaging in strange rituals, trying to convince everyone they are someone they are not and so forth.

A Good Friend

Emily, Abigail and I went to see Walter tonight in Chandler. He is there training for a new job.

We know Walter from our time at Bible College. He and his wife and their new baby had an apartment in the family housing right next door to our brand new family.

At the time we were struggling and working through job issues, ministry issues, money issues, new marriage and family issues and school issues as were they and we shared these struggles together and became the best of friends.

Walter is an exhorter. Here is the dictionary definition:

ex·hort (g-zôrt)
v. ex·hort·ed, ex·hort·ing, ex·horts
To urge by strong, often stirring argument, admonition, advice, or appeal: exhorted the troops to hold the line.
To make urgent appeal.

In Biblical terms, an exhorter is someone that has a gift of encouraging and lifting someone up in the Lord.

It is always good to spend time with Walter and I always come away from spending time with him encouraged in my walk with the Lord and glad to have him as a friend.

We, as well as they, are still struggling and working through job issues, ministry issues, money issues, marriage and family issues and school issues. The only differences are that the school issues are mostly for our kids and now Walter and his family live nearly one thousand miles from us.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What a day that will be......

have you ever remembered the idea of a song, or phrase or some such thing, but couldn't quite recall what the words you wanted to remember happened to be? Just had that happen. As usual, I had to completely forget that I was thinking about it before I remembered what it was.

But, now I remember. That is a load off of my mind.

No, it doesn't matter what it was I remembered. You probably wouldn't know it anyway.

O, if you must know, it is called "What a day that will be..."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Anyone remember these Guys?

I don't watch much television these days. We don't have a box (which is an outdated term in these days of plasma and flat screen tvs) that does anything but act as a view screen for our DVD player. I do catch a couple of shows on Hulu , but not regularly.

When I was a kid, it was a different story. I used to love to watch the tube. All three channels. Four when we added HBO through the cable company.

Do you know how it is difficult to go back and watch shows that you just loved when you were a kid? You look at them and you think to yourself, "This would never make it as a show today.". The effects, dialogue, acting, story lines and pretty much everything about them just seem horrible. You wonder what it was that you liked so much about them

I recently viewed several episodes of Magnum P.I. season 1. Magnum P.I. used to be my all time favorite program. It was on the air from 1980 - 1988. And, it still, in spite of a bad mustache that Tom Selleck kept way to long and some silly scenes and stories, seemed like fun.

Now there are rumors of a Magnum P.I. movie being made starring Matthew McConaughey. Will he have to sport the 'stache?

Tom Selleck is, of course, still around and doing the Jessie Stone role, an adaptaption of the Robert Parker novels about an L.A. homicide detective that moves to Maine to rebuild his life as the Chief of Police in a small coastal town.