Sunday, August 31, 2008

Vacation: Day Five (& the Church Hunt Continues)

Church HuntVacation day five was a very relaxing day. We started the morning by continuing our church hunt, trying to find something closer to home where we feel welcome, comfortable, and moved to worship the Lord.

Prior to moving to Indianapolis, we attended Maryland Community Church in Terre Haute, where we still return on occasion for the eXchange Community Worship led by Pastor Scot Longyear. It's a ninety minute drive to go there, so we have been hoping to find something closer to home. We have visited several Indianapolis churches in the past few months, and have had a difficult time finding a place that we can call "home." In most cases, my wife and I both know right away whether the church we're in feels like home or not. More accurately, we both have known right away that the church doesn't feel like home. We haven't yet found a church that we have felt we could call home. Until, possibly, today.

Common Ground Christian ChurchOur church hunt took us this morning to Common Ground Christian Church on Illinois Street in Indianapolis. We were running a bit behind this morning, as my wife wasn't feeling well, so things were already under way when we arrived for the 11am service.

As we arrived, we were shocked to see the sanctuary so full that we were concerned there might not be two seats together for us to sit. My wife thinking she might have seen some place for us to sit, we decided to drop off the kids and join the worship service.

We had to find our own way to the children's worship area. That wasn't difficult, as there was one main hallway directly outside the sanctuary, and there were signs clearly marking what each room was. We first took our daughter to the toddler class. We were greeted there by a nice gentleman who made us feel welcome and told us how to get to the Kindergarten class to drop off my son. We were greeted there as well, and for the first time in quite some time, my son wasn't resistant to being left in the class.

When we returned to the sanctuary, we found that there indeed were not two seats together for us. Instead, we went up to the balcony and took two seats in the back row. Not normally where we would want to sit, but we were latecomers to the service.

The service today opened with five or six people on the stage reading the entire book of Jonah. We arrived to our seats just as they finished reading and the worship leader took over.

The worship was led by one man, playing an acoustic guitar, with no backup band. There were drums, keyboards, and other band equipment on the stage, but for some reason today the worship band consisted of one person on acoustic guitar. Interestingly enough, that was all that was needed, as you could actually hear all the way up into the balcony the entire congregation joining in the singing. It was quite inspirational. In fact, before the Pastor even took the stage, my wife jotted a note to me that read:
I think I like this church. We'll see after the message.
Communion took place before the Pastor took the stage, and once again we were exposed to the unusual form of Communion that I have referred to as a modified form of intinction. Though it isn't the form of Communion we've grown accustomed to, it appears to be quite commonly practiced in Indianapolis, and we are starting to get used to it.

The Pastor delivered a message from the 4th chapter of Jonah (see link above), about choices. Most notably, we were not created to live outside of Eden. Are we choosing to move toward Eden, or away from it? I won't share all of my notes here, as I'll likely post some commentary on it this week at Soapy Joe. I'll add an updated link here when it's available. We both enjoyed the sermon.

After the sermon, the worship leader returned to the stage during a time for people to make a decision for Christ. As I stated in last week's article, my wife and I prefer a longer time of corporate worship after the message to give people more time to make a decision. No church as of yet has done it this way.

One of the most notable things about the service was what appeared to be the total absence of a time to take an offering. Unless this happened at the very opening of the service before the reading from the book of Jonah, then there was no offering taken during the service.

Most importantly, I think, was the fact that both of my children said they enjoyed the children's worship, that they wanted to return again, and my son actually remembered what his teaching had been about (Esther).

I think we'll be returning again soon to Common Ground, though we will certainly plan to arrive early enough to be seated closer to the front of the sanctuary and to ensure we don't miss the beginning of the service. I'm not completely decided yet, but we may very well have found a local church that we can call home.

GrilleAfter church, we did a little grocery shopping and returned home, where I grilled one of the juiciest, most tender steaks I have ever eaten, as well as veggies for my wife, garlic & onion corn, and hot dogs for the kids. It was our Labor Day cookout, since we'll be spending my son's fifth birthday tomorrow at King's Island.

Today was a nice relaxing day, getting the kids to bed early so they can get plenty of rest for tomorrow. I have just three days left before returning to work, and tomorrow will likely be the busiest of them all.

Your comments?


Governor Palin's Wikipedia Page HACKED!

Sarah Palin Wikipedia Page HackedBrowsing through Twitter this morning, I saw a link to an article that Governor Sarah Palin's Wikipedia page had been edited just prior to Senator McCain's announcement that she would be his Vice Presidential running mate, and that the editing had been an inside job.

As I was looking at her Wikipedia page on Friday upon the first mention of her name on Fox News, I thought I would take a look today and see if I could spot any changes. What I found, instead, is represented in the screen capture above.

Governor Palin's Wikipedia page had been hacked! I reloaded several times and received the same result. Then, in about the amount of time it took me to upload my screen capture to Twitpic and post it to Twitter, the hack was gone. I refreshed the Wikipedia page again after posting it to Twitter, and everything was back to normal.

Certainly, if Governor Palin's page was edited at her own request (or even that of her campaign, really), then someone has surely defied commonly accepted Wikipedia etiquette. Wikipedia frowns on people editing their own content, or orchestrating the editing of it.

However, what of the individual(s) that perpetrated / orchestrated the above hack? Is that not more of a violation of common decency than editing your own Wikipedia page? It is both fortunate and unfortunate that the page was returned to normal so quickly. Fortunate, because those looking for information on Governor Palin will once again be able to access it at Wikipedia. Unfortunate, because the legitimacy of the screen capture above will surely be called into question unless someone independent of me happened to stumble on it as well.

Naturally, liberals around the country will get a chuckle out of this. But can you imagine their outrage if this had come upon the page of Barack Obama?

Your comments?


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Vacation: Day Four

Pirate Ship Birthday CakeThis fourth day of vacation has been all about my son. He turns five on Monday, and today we had some family and friends over for his birthday party. With nine adults and seven kids here, we had a pretty full house.

The party consisted, of course, of cake, and lunch, and gift opening, and the busting open of a pirate ship pinata filled with candy. The kids were all great -- which is saying something, considering that they ranged in age from eighteen months to thirteen years. My wife did a wonderful job of putting the whole thing together, to include making the cake from scratch.

New Basketball GoalThe hit of the day, I think, was the new basketball goal that we got for our son. He first started playing basketball when he was three years old, learning the basics in a program at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute before we moved. He went back for the program again at the age of four, and will be playing again as soon as we find a program in Indy to enroll him in. Until then, he now has his own "court" at home to practice on.

We unveiled the goal to him this morning, right after breakfast, before all of the party guests arrived. My daughter was so thrilled to see something new -- even though at the age of two she didn't know what it was -- that she ran out of the garage, stumbled, and fell, skinning the back of her hand. Ever the tough little girl that she is, she was up and running around again in no time.

After the friends left and all that was left was family, my son got to shoot some hoops with his uncle and aunt, his cousin, and his grandfather. I think the goal was a hit.

RNC08 StageAnd on a note that is only related to my vacation by the fact that I'm on vacation at the same time that this was unveiled, I want to share with you the stage being set up for the Republican National Convention. I don't know yet if this is actually where Senator McCain plans to officially accept his parties nomination for President, but compare this stage with the stage set up for Obama and I think the message is clear on who seems more Presidential, more patriotic, more American.

Tomorrow, more church hunting, as we attend a church recommended to us by both our current Pastor and an Average Joe reader.

Your comments?



I'm watching, for the second time, the Saddleback Civil Forum on Fox News. I have just come to a realization that I guess I knew all along, but never knew it in so many words. I realized that Barack Obama, like most politicians of any party, says what he needs to say to be politically popular in the moment. He has never actually clearly told us what he believes or where he stands on any issue without his own built in contradictions.

In contrast, Senator John McCain has always said what he believes and where he stands, whether his stance is the popular one or not. He is for stem cell research while his party is not. He is opposed to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but has clearly stated under what conditions he would decide to support one.

Calling John McCain a maverick is not just a label -- it's a fact. John McCain is a principled man who stands upon his principles, clearly defines his principles, and is man enough to change his mind when changes in the world make it prudent.

Open your eyes, America, and see the real picture. There is no other choice for the White House than John McCain!

Posted by email from Average Joe American (posterous)

Hurricane Gustav a Gift From God to the Dems? They Think So.

The following video was captured on a flight leaving the Democratic National Convention, and posted at by the person who filmed. His comments from that post, then the video below.

Posted by: absentee

Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 01:17PM


On a plane from Denver to Charlotte following the Democrats' convention, I found myself seated behind former National Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Don Fowler and Congressman John Spratt of South Carolina. Their conversation was interesting to say the least.

For example, they made fun of Sarah Palin for several minutes, Fowler calling her "Dan Quayle" on steroids and Spratt creatively describing her as "just terrible." They both agreed that, "Other than the simple fact that she's a female," she has nothing to offer.

Then there was this gem of a moment from Fowler:

Who does not find this as appalling as I do? To first chuckle at the fact that Hurricane Gustav is headed in the same path that Katrina took, and second to make the comment that "it just goes to show that God's on our side." As if God chooses sides to begin with (if He did, He certainly wouldn't choose the Democrats), and then to even assert that God deals a hurricane on New Orleans to aid the Dems liberal political agenda.

I hope you'll respond to this with your vote in November!

Your comments?


Church Hunting Update

Church HuntingLast Sunday, my family and I visited another Indianapolis area church in our seemingly endless quest to find a new church closer to home. Prior to moving to Indianapolis, we attended Maryland Community Church in Terre Haute, where we still return on occasion for the eXchange Community Worship led by Pastor Scot Longyear. It's a ninety minute drive to go there, so we have been hoping to find something closer to home.

I have shared most of our experiences here. I never mention the name of a church that we feel we couldn't return to, as I wouldn't want to have any negative impact at all on a church that is truly trying to do the work of God. This week, unfortunately, I won't be sharing the name of the church we visited on Sunday. My wife and I have both determined that we won't be returning there.

When we entered the church and told someone that we were new and looking for where to take our children for the children's worship service, the person who greeted us was very friendly. She found someone to take us back to the children's worship. That person was very friendly and had polite conversation with us the entire way around and behind the sanctuary to the children's worship area on the other side.

We first dropped off our daughter into a room with only two other toddlers in it. There was a sign mandating "No Shoes Beyond This Point" for the children to remove their shoes before entering. We weren't crazy about our daughter having to run around in her stocking feet, but we complied. My wife asked the woman watching over the class at the time if she could show my daughter (whom we've been trying to potty train) where the restroom was and help her go before we left her. The woman directed my wife out of the room and down the hall into the next room, and then explained that they just take them through the back and avoid the hall completely. We both were a bit disappointed that she didn't (1st) offer to take our daughter herself and (2nd) offer to show us the route she would be taking if my daughter needed to go during the service. We were later disappointed when we found the room packed with toddlers and only two adults when we picked our daughter up after the service. My daughter still hadn't been taken to the restroom.

We then took my son to his age group. He has been quite odd lately when we take him to new churches. He has always loved going to church at Maryland, but has been very hesitant about leaving us to attend to worship with other kids his age at the past few churches we've visited. After a few brief moments of coaxing, my son went off to his class.

My wife and I then walked through a door directly into the sanctuary, which of course made us wonder why we had been taken on such a circuitous route earlier when we could have just walked across the sanctuary and through the door.

The sanctuary was a little odd, as it appears that the church has rented a rather large portion of an office building and modified it to suit their needs. There were no pews, which for us is a plus, and no folding chairs, which we encountered recently at another church we visited. The chairs were arranged in typical sanctuary fashion, and we selected our seats near the center in the second row.

Shortly after we were seated, they began setting up three tables in the front of the sanctuary for Communion. They set out two wine glasses on each of two tables, two grape juice glasses on a third, and two baskets of bread on each. We were both immediately concerned that we would once again be partaking of Communion in some modified form of intinction, where you take the bread, dip it in the drink, and take them both together. We have both grown quite accustomed to taking the bread and the juice separately, and feel very uneasy about the modified intinction method. In fact, when the time came for Communion, we both passed on it.

The service started as many of them have at the churches we have visited: with about thirty minutes of worship music preceding the sermon. My wife and I both prefer that the period of worship music follow the sermon rather than precede it. We feel that after the sermon, it's nice to have a time of worship and praise where people can reflect on the message, let God speak to them, and have plenty of time to make a decision. It also allows for Communion to be taken in a more personal manner. It seems that every church we have visited lately has their worship music before the sermon, and based on the constant influx of the congregation, I wonder if the positioning of the worship music isn't to allow everyone ample time to trickle in before the sermon.

The worship band consisted of four women: two singing background vocals, one playing acoustic guitar, and the worship leader on keyboards. They were complemented by a man on electric guitar, a man on drums, and apparently one other man I couldn't see that my wife told me about later. They didn't really move us much into worship. My wife and I agreed in later discussion that we felt that they weren't leading worship, but were rather attempting to perform for the congregation. In fact, the only one of them that I felt actually looked genuine on stage was the young teenager playing acoustic guitar. The others all appeared to me to be trying too hard, and failing.

Before the sermon, two women from the church were brought up onto the stage to tell their story of how they went into some local "gentleman's clubs" to give away free oil changes to the homeless mothers who worked their. It was quite an inspirational story, actually, and I can't possibly do it justice by repeating it here.

We both enjoyed the sermon, with one exception. At one point, the Senior Pastor made the comment that "we worship a God we cannot see." I immediately thought (and took note in my Life Journal) that we do not actually worship a God we can't see. Quite the opposite, in fact, if we just open our eyes. I see God in everything around me: plants, animals, trees -- all the beauty of Creation. I see God in my wonderful kids and beautiful wife. I see God every day in some of the least expected places. And I think we are only unable to see the God we worship if we allow ourselves to be blinded to Him.

It's hard sometimes to relate these experiences here without becoming judgmental of what we've experienced. We look for certain parts of the service to meet certain needs that we have in order to consider going back again. In this case, my son said he had a good time and wanted to go back, but he just didn't seem very enthusiastic about it. I know that my wife and I both were unenthusiastic. In fact, we agreed that we will not be returning to this church.

This weekend, we will be visiting a church that has been recommended to us by an Average Joe reader as well as by our Pastor, Scot Longyear. Hopefully I'll have good things and be able to share the name of the church next week. If you have any suggestions, please let my know via the comment or email links below.

Your comments?


Friday, August 29, 2008

Vacation: Day Three

McCain / PalinDay three of my vacation was no less eventful than the first two, but most of it was spent at home.

The first few hours of the morning were spent watching what started out as several media outlets trying to guess who Senator John McCain was going to announce as his Vice Presidential running mate at noon today. I watched most of the coverage on Fox News, because the liberal slant of literally every other news network was sickening! Senator McCain announced what turned out to be a surprise pick for many in the name of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (more on the announcement here). As I blogged it immediately upon the announcement, I won't revisit my opinions here (other than to say, McCain/Palin!).

Thomas Wooden RailwayAt some point before Senator McCain made his announcement, my son and I headed up to the play room to finish our new design on his Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway (can't quite see it all in this picture). We completely rebuilt the entire layout of the track, and I then proceeded to spend a couple of hours anchoring it down with screws so that the kids can play with it without the track sliding out of place or the upper levels of the track falling over. We must have done a pretty good job of it, as my son played with the thing for hours after we finished it. He used to spend a great deal of time playing with his wooden trains, and now that my daughter is starting to show an interest in it, too, I hope to see his interest resparked.

Pirate Ship Birthday CakeIn the middle of our wooden railway project, I took the kids out for lunch and ice cream while my wife put the finishing touches on my son's birthday cake. He'll turn five on Labor Day, and we're having some friends and family over tomorrow to celebrate (we'll be going to King's Island on Monday). My son wanted a pirate birthday, and my wife did an awesome job of making him a pirate ship birthday cake. Best of all, the cake is completely homemade! No prepackaged ingredients at all.

As my wife put the kids to bed (usually my task) I headed to work to pick up the basketball goal I stashed there for my son about a month or so ago. I brought it home and set it up and we'll surprise my son with it before his party tomorrow.

While at work, I had to process the termination transaction for the Associate that admitted to theft yesterday, and modify the schedule for next week to accommodate.

Day four of vacation promises to be filled with activity, as my son's birthday party kicks off at one o'clock, and we still aren't sure of the exact number of people who will be here.

Your comments?


McCain / Palin for President - UPDATED


It's official, Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain has announced that his pick for Vice Presidential candidate will be Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

In a move that may surprise many, John McCain passed up the expected picks of Mitt Romney and Jim Pawlenty for someone that can actually contribute something of value to the Republican ticket. I was concerned that a Romney pick would just be more of what Obama did, picking someone who was his political rival just six months ago. A move like that seems more politically expedient to me than anything else.

Sarah Palin has elected executive experience as both Mayor and Governor. In fact, she brings the only elected executive experience to the Presidential contest. She has a history of not standing in favor of the big oil companies. She is staunchly pro-life and opposed to same-sex marriage (though she does favor protecting gays from discrimination). She is in favor of offshore drilling in ANWR, and has taken many steps in her tenure as Governor of Alaska to lower energy costs for the citizens of her state.

With very high approval ratings as Governor of Alaska, a strong Conservative track record, and sound fiscal policies, Palin is the most inline with the stance of John McCain on the issues. As a woman, Palin might possibly bring to the Republican fold those Hillary supporters who supported her because she was a woman.

Most interestingly, how exactly does the Democratic VP pick Joseph Biden plan to debate someone like Palin in the agreed upon upcoming VP debate? I don't see it happening. I think what we'll likely see is Sarah Palin having Joseph Biden for lunch.

Consider this Average Joe a supporter of the McCain / Palin ticket for President. After the Obamafest this past week, it's nice to see some real news for a change. This is a whole new ballgame.

Your comments?


Soapy Joe 11

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vacation: Day Two

Rock Paper ScissorsVacation can be such a wonderful thing. Even though we don't have any major travel plans, I think I'm actually having my best vacation yet.

This morning, after everyone had breakfast and prepared themselves for the day, we headed to Rock Paper Scissors in Greenfield. It's a coffee shop and arts center. I may have mentioned it previously, either in an article or on The Joe Show. My wife took our two children there so they could each create a piece of pottery for me for my birthday last month. After the children each selected a pre-made piece of pottery and painted them, the Rock Paper Scissors staff was to prepare them for glazing and firing in the kiln. My wife was told she could pick them up a week later. Both pieces took longer than a week, and it was nearly four weeks before my daughter's piece was ready. We were given a gift certificate for four pieces of art and four drinks free (approximately a $50 value) for our inconvenience, and decided to use that certificate today.

My wife had some crazy coffee concoction to drink that isn't really coffee at all, I had a cup of coffee, and my children both had juice boxes while we sat down and started working on our masterpieces. I never claimed to have any artistic ability, and the mug in the picture (I'm sure you can pick mine out quite easily) proves it. I thought it would be cool to have a mug with a hand painted logo of the site, which I will certainly use whenever I partake of my coffee. We had fun, and we were treated very nicely -- they even remembered our name, but that's just a result of the squeaky wheel getting the grease -- and were told that our items would be ready in a couple of weeks (sounds like they may have learned something about under-promising and over-delivering, as well). My wife and I are both anxious to get back our coffee mugs. My son, of course, got a little carried away and painted one of the meanest looking snakes I have ever seen.

Riley ParkAfter leaving Rock Paper Scissors, my wife decided to drive a little further into Greenfield to see what we have missed (we usually turn left at that intersection and have never driven straight through). We came across Riley Park, with a rather large children's playground, and decided to stop and let the kids play for a while. Our children are about 2-1/2 and 5 (come Monday), and absolutely love going to the playground. My daughter could swing all day long. In fact, to get her off the swing, I had to bribe her with an Icee at Speedway on the way home.

Once home, my wife began working on the birthday cake for our son's birthday party on Saturday. She's making a pirate ship (sorry, no pictures of it until it's unveiled at the party) because my son is big into pirates right now. While she was making the cake, I got word that an anticipated Loss Prevention investigation was going on at my store. I won't go into details, other than to say that an Associate had been caught falsifying some company documents to cover up some discounts she gave on items that she purchased herself. Loss Prevention was asked to come into the store and investigate, and didn't make it in until after the start of my vacation. After admitting to her dishonesty in a written statement, she was terminated.

And as further proof that vacation isn't completely without work, I was then asked to be on a conference call where a new Senior Vice President was announced. Thankfully, it was a short call.

Thomas and FriendsI then took my son upstairs to the play room while my daughter was napping, and we began the process of reassembling his Thomas and Friends play table. We had to run to Toys R Us to pick up one missing piece. When we returned, my son was so excited about the new pieces we purchased that he totally dismantled all of the work we had done, wanting to start over. Of course, my son was watching TV and when he saw Good Eats With Alton Brown come on, he quickly lost his interest in the train table. I suggested we go downstairs and watch the show and rebuild his track tomorrow. After watching Alton Brown and Food Detectives, the kids were both shipped off to bed, and I began recording this week's episode of Soapy Joe, with special guest host Microsoft Anna.

While making music selections and working on the show, my wife and I watched Senator Barack Obama make his formal acceptance speech on the last night of Obamafest. To say that I found myself inspired, moved, or in any other way affected by the rhetoric would be an overstatement. I just pray that voters across the country will open their eyes before November and cast a smart vote, not an emotional vote.

I did find Senator McCain's words, posted at after the Democrat spectacle, to be more like the kind of talk I would want to hear from my next President.

The entire family is now asleep, and having completed my review of the second day of my vacation, I find myself with a little reading time on my hands. More updates over the next six days of my family time vacation.

Your comments?


End Times Prophecy

Today's Daily Soap {Scripture | Observation | Application | Prayer}
  • S: When I was thirty years of age, I was living with the exiles on the Kebar River. On the fifth day of the fourth month, the sky opened up and I saw visions of God. (It was the fifth day of the month in the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin that God's Word came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, on the banks of the Kebar River in the country of Babylon. God's hand came upon him that day.) I looked: I saw an immense dust storm come from the north, an immense cloud with lightning flashing from it, a huge ball of fire glowing like bronze. Within the fire were what looked like four creatures vibrant with life. Each had the form of a human being, but each also had four faces and four wings. Their legs were as sturdy and straight as columns, but their feet were hoofed like those of a calf and sparkled from the fire like burnished bronze. On all four sides under their wings they had human hands. All four had both faces and wings, with the wings touching one another. They turned neither one way nor the other; they went straight forward. Their faces looked like this: In front a human face, on the right side the face of a lion, on the left the face of an ox, and in back the face of an eagle. So much for the faces. The wings were spread out with the tips of one pair touching the creature on either side; the other pair of wings covered its body. Each creature went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit went, they went. They didn't turn as they went. The four creatures looked like a blazing fire, or like fiery torches. Tongues of fire shot back and forth between the creatures, and out of the fire, bolts of lightning. The creatures flashed back and forth like strikes of lightning. As I watched the four creatures, I saw something that looked like a wheel on the ground beside each of the four-faced creatures. This is what the wheels looked like: They were identical wheels, sparkling like diamonds in the sun. It looked like they were wheels within wheels, like a gyroscope. They went in any one of the four directions they faced, but straight, not veering off. The rims were immense, circled with eyes. When the living creatures went, the wheels went; when the living creatures lifted off, the wheels lifted off. Wherever the spirit went, they went, the wheels sticking right with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When the creatures went, the wheels went; when the creatures stopped, the wheels stopped; when the creatures lifted off, the wheels lifted off, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. Over the heads of the living creatures was something like a dome, shimmering like a sky full of cut glass, vaulted over their heads. Under the dome one set of wings was extended toward the others, with another set of wings covering their bodies. When they moved I heard their wings—it was like the roar of a great waterfall, like the voice of The Strong God, like the noise of a battlefield. When they stopped, they folded their wings. And then, as they stood with folded wings, there was a voice from above the dome over their heads. Above the dome there was something that looked like a throne, sky-blue like a sapphire, with a humanlike figure towering above the throne. From what I could see, from the waist up he looked like burnished bronze and from the waist down like a blazing fire. Brightness everywhere! The way a rainbow springs out of the sky on a rainy day—that's what it was like. It turned out to be the Glory of God! When I saw all this, I fell to my knees, my face to the ground. Then I heard a voice. Ezekiel 1 [MSG]
  • O: End Time prophecy in the Bible is often of a very symbolic nature. Why?
  • A: These current readings through the book of Revelation, and now Ezekiel, are some of the richest, most colorfully descriptive passages in the Bible. End Times prophecy, full of symbolism. It has been argued by many opponents of Biblical End Times prophecy that the symbolism is so difficult to interpret that it's impossible to learn what to expect from such prophecy. While much of the Bible speaks in very literal terms of what did happen or what will happen, the books of Revelation, Ezekiel, even Daniel -- all with prophecy of the End Times -- are filled with rich symbolism. While much of that symbolism is difficult for the unstudied to interpret, God has blessed us with learned scholars of the Bible whom He has granted the wisdom to see the meaning behind the symbolism and share with us His message. Just as you would turn to a physician for clarification on matters of medicine, or a scientist on matters of science, or even a mathematician on the more difficult principles of algebra or calculus, you should also turn to the experts on some of the more confusing points of theology. When we don't understand E=mc2, we ask a scientist for help. When we don't understand the significance of Pi (3.1415926.....), we as a mathematician for help. When we don't understand the impact of high cholesterol or high blood pressure, we ask a doctor. It stands to reason then, when we don't understand the symbolism of End Times prophecy, we should ask a trusted theologian for help. Don't just write it off as so much fantasy. The fate of your soul for eternity could be at stake.
  • P: Father, open my eyes over these next several days as I dig into the symbolism of Your revelation of what's to come. Help me to find understanding and communicate that clearly in my dealings with others.
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Your comments?


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vacation: Day One

Indy Central LibraryToday is my first of eight vacation days. We don't have any major travel plans, just plans for some day trips and some things to do around Indy. Today, we took the kids downtown to the Indianapolis Central Library. We had some almost overdue books to return, and had never been to the main branch, so we thought it would be nice to check it out (no pun intended).

I have to say that the Indianapolis Central Library is a beautiful library. Several stories high, with a huge atrium, a large children's area, even a garden. The children got to browse through the books and videos in the children's library and selected several items to take home.

Indy Central LibraryThere's even a "theater" area, with a large seating area that faces a stage with a green screen background. There are monitors in the room with cameras aimed at the stage. While background images are played on the monitors, the image from the cameras aimed at the stage are projected over the green screen onto the monitors and, much like the map your local weather personality uses to forecast the weather, the "actors" on stage are magically transported into the scene. My son's favorite was a scene with a skateboard. He stood on the stage where he would appear to be on the skateboard, and as the skateboard rolled across the screen and jumped over several ramps, my son would jump into the air, as if he was riding the skateboard over the ramps. It was quite a scene.

Albeit a beautifully designed and decorated building, the Indianapolis Central Library was a major disappointment for me. After more than an hour of walking through several rooms in the library, I was unable to find the book I was looking for: a new release that should by now be out in the libraries. I have found this to be the issue at other branches of the Indianapolis Library, and have been quite disappointed with the Indy Library system since we moved here. I guess I got spoiled at the library where we used to live.

Indy Canal WalkAfter leaving the library quite disappointed, we decided to go for a walk along the Indianapolis Canal Walk. Having actually lived in Indianapolis several years ago, I never knew that this Canal Walk even existed. Before moving to the city, my wife and I visited here on several occasions and never knew to visit the Canal Walk.

With our two young children, we walked from one end of the canal to the other, then went to street level on Indiana Avenue in search of refreshments. Our exhaustive search was fruitless and added about three miles to our total walking distance by the time we headed back down to the Canal level.

Heading back down the other side of the Canal, we stopped at the Sky City Cafe at Eiteljorg Museum, hoping to eat dinner and give our feet a rest. Unfortunately, the cafe closes at 5pm, which left us just ten minutes. We grabbed a soft drink to go for each of us and headed back down to the Canal level.

Five Guys BurgersAfter more than three hours of walking, we decided to stop for some dinner before heading home. My wife had heard of a place called Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries that sounded pretty promising. Voted the #1 Burger several years in a row, I was eagerly looking forward to having a taste of my own.

We were not disappointed. The burgers were delicious, my wife said that the hot dogs we bought for the kids were some of the best hot dogs she had tasted in a long time, and the french fries -- fried in 100% pure peanut oil -- were unbeatable. My wife asked me if it was the best burger I had ever eaten. Giving it a little thought, I can only say: maybe. I would have to have a three-way taste test to decide for sure. One of the best burgers I have ever eaten was at Culvers. It's hard to beat a butter burger.

Royal Red Robin BurgerBut not impossible, as Red Robin has proved with their Royal Red Robin Burger. It is quite simply the most delicious burger I have ever eaten. Topped with three strips of hickory-smoked bacon, American cheese, crisp lettuce, tomatoes and mayo, and crowned with a fresh fried egg, the Royal Red Robin Burger simply has no equal. Of course, I would love to get my hands on all three at the same time to conduct a taste test.

As for the peanut oil fried french fries at Five Guys, the only other fry that can even compare is that of Penn Station, and I honestly believe that Five Guys might have the Station beat.

After our long day of running around Indianapolis, we returned home just in time to put our daughter to sleep, and my son and I started watching movies we picked up at the library. That is, if the stinking things will play. It seems that free DVD rental, such as those that are loaned at the library, are frequently damaged by prior patrons and unusable .

One day down, seven more to go, with many other planned activities. It's great to have some work-free time to spend with the family. Stay tuned for more updates.

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Obama: Dangerously Unprepared

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The Lord Will Return

Today's Daily Soap {Scripture | Observation | Application | Prayer}
  • S: I turned and saw the voice. I saw a gold menorah with seven branches, And in the center, the Son of Man, in a robe and gold breastplate, hair a blizzard of white, Eyes pouring fire-blaze, both feet furnace-fired bronze, His voice a cataract, right hand holding the Seven Stars, His mouth a sharp-biting sword, His face a perigee sun. I saw this and fainted dead at His feet. His right hand pulled me upright, His voice reassured me: "Don't fear: I am First, I am Last, I'm Alive. I died, but I came to life, and My life is now forever. Revelation 1: 12-18 [MSG] O LORD, what is man that You care for him, the son of man that You think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow. Part Your heavens, O LORD, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Send forth lightning and scatter {the enemies}; shoot Your arrows and rout them. Reach down Your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful. Psalm 144:3-8 [NIV]
  • O: Jesus Christ is returning, and the time is drawing near.
  • A: The time is drawing near. That's what Bible scholars tell us. That's what the Bible teaches us. Jesus Christ is returning soon, in all of His majestic glory, and God's wrath will be unleashed on the Enemy. But what does "drawing near" mean? To God, a day is like a thousand years, a thousand years are like a day. Our finite minds cannot measure time from God's perspective. We created the 24 hour day, the 30 day month, the 365 day year. As God measures time, the Lord could return any day. And when He returns, He will collect His followers and take them to Paradise with Him. Those who have rejected Him will remain for a time of Great Tribulation. Life will not be easy then. Where will you be? Are you prepared for the Lord's return? Or for a time of Great Tribulation? The choice is Yours.
  • P: Father, while those of us who choose You are ready for Your Son to return, there are so many who aren't ready. Use us, Lord, to reach them for You.
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In Her Own Words

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Addiction or Habit?

DISGRACED pastor Michael Guglielmucci has finally told of fabricating a terminal cancer battle to hide his 16-year obsession with pornography.

Such a story as this is unbelievable. Two things. First, that anyone can pull such a scam on such a large group of people. Even more surprisingly, that the man pulling the scam was an ordained minister, and that he pulled the scam on his church, and on the public. Second, just sadly disappointing that the scam was pulled supposedly to cover up such a shameful thing as "addiction" to pornography.

With all of the hoopla currently surrounding the Democratic National Convention in Denver (something I affectionately refer to as Obamafest), it would be understandable if you had missed this story. This, the biggest church scandal since the revelation of so many pedophile priests in the Catholic church.

Pastor Michael Guglielmucci of Edge Church International, over the past two years, has claimed to be battling cancer. With an outpouring of love and support from friends, family, loved ones, and his church, he has been in the fight of his life. He even wrote quite an inspirational worship song that he claims was inspired by his disease and his God.

Read more below the video.

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It has only recently come out that Michael Guglielmucci's cancer has been a ruse all along. The story was broken by Australia's AdelaideNow, and Michael Guglielmucci has told AdelaideNow that he faked the cancer to cover up his real disease, "addiction" to pornography. He claims that his "addiction" has been so controlling as to make him physically ill, to include (among other symptoms) vomiting and loss of hair.

I won't rehash the whole story here. You can learn more by following the links above. I am merely writing to voice my own opinions on the situation, and on pornography "addiction."

First, I think it is shameful that someone respected and looked up to by his church could create such deception. It is not my place to judge Michael Guglielmucci, but as the father of a little girl, it's difficult not to do so. I say that because I find myself increasingly concerned that some day my own daughter could be victimized by someone who preys on young innocents because they are "addicted" to some form of sexual deviance or another. Whether they be pedophiles, porn addicts, or otherwise, the world seems to be more and more crowded with this type of undesirable.

As a Christian, I want to be able to obey the Lord, avoid judging, and encourage forgiveness. Those things are difficult to do when someone victimizes so many people for something that I feel he should have been able to control.

Yes, I mean to say that I believe Michael Guglielmucci could have controlled his so-called "addiction" to pornography. I'm no psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other type of expert on the topic. I have no special training or certifications on the subject. I am, simply, a man. As a man with access to the Internet, where pornography is easier to find than it is to avoid, it is no one's responsibility but my own to avoid such inappropriate content.

I'm no superhero, and no better than the next guy. I simply love my God, my wife, and my children. I would never want to do anything to hurt any of them. I know that if I was engaged in viewing pornography on the Internet (or anywhere else, for that matter), and my wife discovered it, she would be devastated. She would feel victimized and violated by the man who professes to love her with all that he is. While my daughter is not yet of an age to understand what pornography is, any impact that such behavior might have on my marriage would affect her. And the last thing I want to teach my son is that it's okay to exploit women in such a way as pornography does. I want my son to learn respect, not exploitation.

Worse, actually, than all of what I mention in the paragraph above, I have seen how my wife has been affected by her own father's lack of self-control. Not that I can say he's ever looked at pornography (meaning nudity), but he's one of those men who hangs girlie calendars from car magazines in his garage, stops flipping through television channels whenever he spots something that looks like it might be an attractive woman (seemingly without regard to her age), and can't go out in public without whiplashing himself at every woman that walks by. In fact, one Christmas he gave me a copy of a "gentleman's" magazine as a joke. I don't know what ever came of that magazine (or was it a calendar?), because I left it in his living room without even a second look, and made my disappointment quite clear. I know, that sounds terribly judgmental, but it is more a statement of fact than judgment. And all of these habits of his have had an impact on how my wife views herself and the opinion she has of men in general.

My very beautiful, wonderful wife, I might add, who is also a great mother and a devoted Christian woman.

I do not believe that the habit of viewing pornography can be appropriately labeled as "addiction." Even though my own Pastor has taught several times on the topic and has described people he has worked with who have been addicted to pornography, I am inclined to disagree with him. I do not believe that pornography is an addictive thing. Allow me to explain.

Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and even food all have chemicals in them that we can find ourselves addicted to if we partake of them in excess. These can all be harmful addictions. Physical addictions (in the case of tobacco, even psychological addictions -- I know, I was there myself ten years ago). Pornography, on the other hand, is different. I will admit the fact that viewing pornography might possibly cause the body to release chemicals into the brain that can cause a very similar reaction to that of alcohol, nicotine, or drugs. I will admit that those chemicals might even be addictive. However, I do not believe that it is pornography that Michael Guglielmucci was addicted to (again, trying not to be judgmental is difficult). I believe he may very well have been addicted to the chemicals that his body produced when he viewed pornography, but (and again, not being medically trained beyond basic CPR twenty years ago) I do not believe that those chemicals are created only by viewing pornography.

For example, adrenaline is created in our body by numerous forms of stimulus. Possibly, it is a chemical very similar to adrenaline that is created by the body and released into the blood stream when a person views pornography. Just like riding a roller coaster, the thrill-seeker keeps going back for more of this natural stimulant (adrenaline, or whatever it actually is). He might very well be addicted to the stimulant, but I personally don't believe he's addicted to pornography. Can't that stimulant be obtained or produced through other means? Say, roller coaster riding, or mountain climbing, or going to a stock car race. Maybe, maybe not. I think more likely than not.

If a person finds himself (or, for that matter, herself) stimulated by viewing pornography, and really wishes to stop, why can't he or she seek other avenues of coming about thrills in a more acceptable manner? Why? Maybe because it's just too easy to sit alone on the Internet and search for free pornography. Easy, that is, until someone finds out. And someone always does.

I don't consider it acceptable for we as a society to label every undesirable habit that comes along as addiction just because we don't have the conviction or determination to break these bad habits. I once was both physically and psychologically addicted to smoking. Physically addicted to nicotine, and psychologically addicted to the need to smoke a cigarette. The very act of lighting up, holding the cigarette between my fingers, and blowing the smoke out of my lungs was sometimes heavenly. Seriously. If you're a smoker, you probably understand.

For eight years in the Army I tried many methods to kick the cigarette habit, failing miserably every time. I started smoking when cigarettes were 85 cents a pack. I quit when they neared the three dollar mark. I quit because I knew it was an expensive habit that was killing me. I quit because there were people that I felt might consider the habit dirty, and I would be ashamed of my habit if they found out. When I discovered that I had reasons inside me to quit, and knowing that so many methods had failed me in the past, I devised a method to quit. I'll be happy to share that with anyone who who asks.

I devised a plan that would slowly taper off the amount of nicotine in my system while I struggled with kicking the psychological need to light up. As the nicotine level in my body declined, so did my body's need for the drug. My own determination to put an end to the nasty habit was all it took to kick the psychological addiction. I realized that I had never wanted freedom from smoking so much until then. My smoking plan required that I smoke just one cigarette on the last day of the plan, and I had to force myself to light up. I haven't had even the faintest desire -- physically or psychologically -- to return to the nasty habit since then.

In my mind, "addiction" to pornography is very much like addiction to nicotine. Granted, the physical addiction is to a different chemical, and the delivery method is different. But those are the two major differences between the two habits. I firmly believe that someone who identifies the harmful nature of the habit and has a true desire to overcome it can do so. Whether we're talking about smoking or pornography, the "addiction" is merely the habit of choice. We can train our bodies to not need the chemical if we understand in our minds that we don't need to light up -- or click, in the case of pornography.

I am interested in hearing your input. Have you suffered from "addiction" to pornography? Have you kicked the habit, or are you struggling now to do so? Tell me your story. You can leave the name field blank, or enter an alias if you wish. If you review past articles, you'll see that I always post comments submitted through this form as Anonymous. Your secret is safe with me, and I promise to pray for you and try not to judge you. In fact, if you just need to vent and prefer your comments not be shared, just let me know, and I'll withhold them from publication.

Of, if you just think I'm full of it and don't know what I'm talking about, tell me that, too. Just click the link below.

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The Guv's Newest Ad

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God Almighty

Today's Daily Soap {Scripture | Observation | Application | Prayer}
  • S: By His power He made earth. His wisdom gave shape to the world. He crafted the cosmos. He thunders and rain pours down. He sends the clouds soaring. He embellishes the storm with lightnings, launches the wind from His warehouse. Stick-god worshipers look mighty foolish! god-makers embarrassed by their handmade gods! Their gods are frauds, dead sticks— deadwood gods, tasteless jokes. They're nothing but stale smoke. When the smoke clears, they're gone. But the Portion-of-Jacob is the real thing; He put the whole universe together, With special attention to Israel. His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies! Jeremiah 51:15-19 [MSG]
  • O: Wow! What a powerful description of an Almighty God!
  • A: We grow pretty comfortable pretty quickly with God. All cake and cookies, we think, expecting Him to meet our every need, grant our every wish, fulfill our every desire. We think that He is here to serve us, and while Jesus showed His disciples the concept of servant leadership, by no means should we believe that the Almighty God is here to serve us. The vain and selfish nature of the human race so easily convinces us that all of nature is at our disposal, to do with what we wish, regardless of the outcome. Yes it was only after God -- the Almighty, all knowing -- created everything else that He made man in His own image. He didn't make earth and nature and all that it consists of to suit our needs. God made man last because He wanted someone to care for His vast creation. He wanted a steward of the earth. God didn't make man Because He wanted to serve someone. God made man to worship Him -- to love Him and spend eternity with Him. We are His. His creation, His people. He is our God -- to worship -- not our servant. Lest we ever forget.
  • P: Almighty God, we see You in everything around us, in nature wherever we go, in love, in the songs of birds and the blowing breeze. You are our God, and we worship You.
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Comic Relief

To show that I can enjoy a good laugh, even at the expense of a President that I happen to support....

I'll miss this kind of humor next year.

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It's nice to laugh at something because it's genuinely funny!

God Bless the President, George W. Bush.

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In The Words of A Delegate

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