Category Archives: General Observations

Just things I see that make me think.

Happy Earth Day 2018

Embracing Diversity

Let’s face it, I have a wide variety of people who follow this blog. They range from the ultra-right-wing conservative branches of the political and religious spectrum to the left-wing, tree-hugging,  tofu-eating, god-hating leftist trolls who do nothing all day but listen for billy goats to cross their pitiful bridges. Obviously, I’m happy you’re here reading this, no matter who you are.

It may be strange to hear a conservative Christian say it, but I embrace this diversity! My arms are extended and waiting to offer hugs to anyone and everyone who would let me show love. I may not affirm how you choose to live, and I may disagree with what you believe, but at least I care about you.

That being said, I know someone is going to be offended by what I’m about to write. However, there’s always another day and another blog post that you can enjoy. As the climate fluctuates, so do the posts of this blog 😉

Another Earth Day

A lot of melted glacial water has floated to the ocean since the first days of Earth Day celebrations. Predictions have come and gone, and yet the world is still flowing right along. A little warmer, maybe, but still here.

Early predictions from the first Earth Day in 1970 guaranteed that we would not be around until the year 2000. Some predictions had the world ending by 1985. Yet, here we are in 2018 and nothing much has really changed.

Do I believe that the earth might be a little warmer than it was in 1970? I guess it could be. I mean, I haven’t really been checking the temperature every day since I was three years old. But what I do know, is that we still have four seasons every year. Just like it’s always been, seasons change, and so will the epochs of nature.

If global warming is truly a thing, do I believe that man is contributing to it? No, I don’t. It has been warmer, then it got colder (they called it the ice age). Then, for some reason, long before man used coal and gasoline-powered engines to industrialize the world, things got warmer! Man had nothing to do with it!

A Proper Perspective 

What I do believe is that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). He created both the earth and day, and night, and time, and matter, and us. This is His world, not ours; but we are to be good stewards of what He has given us to manage.

I do not believe it is the Christian thing to do to waste resources, t0 pollute the environment, to run crazy with all of our self-pleasing pursuits at the risk of damaging creation. God cares about his creation, which is why one day He will remove the curse that is upon it because of sin. However, because creation belongs to the Creator, it is not the creation that we should be worshiping; we should be celebrating the One who made it.

If kept in the proper perspective, World Earth Day could be a good thing. On the other hand, if all it is meant to be is an anti-capitalist, anti-God, celebration of a deified planet, one where humans are taught to be the scourge of the earth, rather than the epitome of creation, you can keep it!

In reality, I sort of feel like paraphrasing the apostle Paul when he was writing to the church at Corinth: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you” (1 Thessalonians 5:1).

Just take care of what God has given you, praise God for it, and leave the season changing to him (Daniel 2:21).

PS, here’s a great article for today by reporter John Stossel. 

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Filed under blogging, community, current events, General Observations, Global Warming, Weather, World View

Barriers to Church Growth #3

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a few of them.

“God withdraws Himself from the church because of sin. He hardens hearts and gives the people over to sin (Isa. 63: 15-19; Heb. 3:12-13).”

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” – Hebrews 3:12-13 KJV

Have you ever thought it possible for a church to be given over to sin? I am not talking about the “liberal” church down the street (every town has one, I suppose), but your church – my church. Is there no growth taking place? Maybe it is because of sin. Maybe it’s because of a hardened heart.

Do churches sin?

You know they do. Many times, however, the sin is not viewed as such. It is seen differently from something that smacks of unbelief. It is rarely seen as a departure from God. More often than not, the sin that churches commit is hidden or disguised with terms or labels meant to justify “an evil heart of unbelief.” Here are a few phrases you may have heard. If so, it might be time for a hard-heart check.

  • “We can’t do that.”
  • “We don’t have the funds for that.
  • “That area of town will never be receptive.”
  • “Maybe we should just pray about it, for now.”
  • “Why do we need to change? They need to change!”
  • “We’ve never done it that way before.”

Can churches have their hearts softened?

Absolutely! God is in the forgiving business, you know. All it would take is our churches turning away from the sins that so easily beset us, like legalism, traditionalism, racism, envy, and pride…not to mention the fear that God will not provide for us the ability and means to accomplish His work.

“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.” – Lamentations 3:40

“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” – Isaiah 55:6-7

It is time for us to repent.

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Filed under book review, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, General Observations, legalism, ministry, Uncategorized, worship

Barriers to Church Growth. #1

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a few of this barriers.

“Churches aren’t concerned about God’s glory, believing the church is just for them (Isa. 42:8; 48:11).”

I [am] the LORD: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. – Isa. 42:8

For mine own sake, [even] for mine own sake, will I do [it]: for how should [my name] be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another. – Isa. 48:11

When we read the above verses it should be very clear to us that God is not interested in sharing His glory. Yet, too many times we rob God of the glory that is due Him by seeking it for ourselves. We do this in many ways, including the reason many of us go to church.

Lest we forget, “it’s not about us.” However, if you polled the majority of church-goers, I believe you’d find that the reasons for attending congregational worship are more selfish than we’d like to admit. To many believers, church is about what one can get, as opposed to what one can give.

The Tale of the Hymns

Have you ever stopped to listen to the words of those old-time hymns many of us grew up with? You may have sung them all your life, but stop and think about the following: “This world is not MY home, I’m only passing through. / My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue…;” “I’ll Fly Away;” “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop;” “All I Need.” What is the common denominator of these lyrics and titles? “Me, me, me.”

If the Church Hymnal (© 1951,1979) was used as a tool to determine what we think of church, stop and think about this: there are 80 hymns with a title that starts with the words, I, I’m, I’d, I’ll, I’ve, or My. In contrast, less than 10 contain the word glory. Those that do include “Glory Hallelujah In My Soul” and “I’ll Live in Glory.

I think it is pretty obvious that many of us come to church to get from God, not to give to God. He deserves our worship and our praise. He deserves all the glory because His is God, and not man (Hosea 11:9). We deserve nothing, yet His grace and mercy bestow upon us all the treasures we enjoy. Why do we come expecting anything?

Surely our churches would grow if God was glorified. Imagine a congregation of people who came together to lift up praise and adoration to Jesus for His glorious love. Imagine a group of folks who set aside all their own desires and petty differences in order to lift up holy hands unto the King of Glory. What did Jesus say? “If I be lifted up…I will draw all men unto me.”

So, what do you think? How could we do better in giving the glory to the One who truly deserves it?

Related Post: Un-“Christian” Ministry?

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Filed under Christian Maturity, General Observations, God, Uncategorized, worship

Things I Learned Before, During, and After My Daughter’s Surgery

The Surgery

This post was Katie-approved.

On Friday my middle daughter, Katie, underwent surgery to have her gallbladder removed. We appreciated all your prayers and well-wishes.

This morning (Saturday), as I sit here typing, Katie is across the room utilizing the recliner that was supposed to bring me joy and comfort after my rotator cuff surgery – it didn’t. I’m glad it’s helping her.

Hopefully and prayerfully…and please continue to pray for her…Katie will be up and going much better by tomorrow. However, I have my concerns.

Things I Learned

Katie is as unique as they come; there’s no one like her. She is uber sweet, persistently positive, the sunshine in a dark room, and the one person for whom saying “It’s my pleasure” when serving customers at Chick-fil-A is not good enough…she says, “It’s my sincerest pleasure!”

But Katie is also the least pain-tolerant person I know, and she hates needles with a passing-out passion. Therefore, anyone who gives her pain, or allows pain to persist, is likely to be served something other than chicken.

So, in bullet-pointed fashion, here are some things I learned on the way to the hospital, before Katie’s surgery, during Katie’s surgery, and after Katie’s surgery, including the first day of recovery.

On the way to the hospital…

  • Maintaining a positive attitude is a good thing.
  • Maintaining unrealistic expectations is a bad thing.
  • Doctors and hospitals are always running behind, so it’s no use stressing; you’re gonna be late to check in – laugh about it.
  • Make sure you bring a gender-appropriate bag in which you will be responsible for lugging around 25 pounds of clothing, books, snacks, and phone chargers while moving from room to room. A grown, masculine man can grow weary of “nice purse” comments when the virtual suitcase in which the items are packed is pink.

At the hospital…

  • If you’re going to make use of the free valet parking, make sure all your important items are secure or on your person before giving your keys to a guy with questionable hygiene.
  • It is possible for a nurse to think you’re a different patient, take you to the wrong room, prep you for a different surgery, all before asking if your name is the same as on the chart she’s looking at. Instead of having her gallbladder removed, Katie almost got a colonoscopy!

Pre-Surgery

  • Pray a lot, then just trust God to handle everything.
  • Remember that sweet smile; it may be a while before it comes back.
  • Don’t say “goodbye” as they wheel you away to be cut on.
  • Boyfriends have a tendency to hog the visitation time.

During Surgery – the Waiting Time

  • Bring your own food to nibble on, or else take out a loan to eat.
  • One must take the initiative to make new pots of coffee in the waiting room – the staff doesn’t care to drink tar.
  • Taking a book to read is a great thing, but be prepared for distractions… like worthless morning shows blaring on the waiting-room television, or visitors who don’t understand that one of the reasons you went along with the whole surgery thing is that you knew it would give you a couple of hours to get some guilt-free reading done.
  • Hosptial Wi-Fi is crappy.

Post-Surgery Recovery

  • Those intolerant to pain are nearly impossible to comfort.
  • Uber-sweet, godly little girls who are intolerant to pain may surprise those in the room with their intimate knowledge of vulgarity.
  • Dad visitation privilages trump boyfriend visitation privileges.

First Day of Recovery

  • Calories don’t matter when making breakfast – at least for the ones NOT recovering.
  • Whiny, pain-intolerant people can get on your nerves, but you have to love them anyway – just keep giving them pain pills.
  • All it takes is one abdominal surgery to make an opinionated young woman reevaluate her beliefs on birth control and her desire to have children.
  • My first grandchild from Katie will probably be Chinese or Korean.

Again, thanks for your prayers and well-wishes. If nothing else, I learned a few things.

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Filed under current events, General Observations, Humor, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

If Children Ruled the World

Listen to the Children

Believe it or not, there are many who swear that true wisdom can be found in the words of young children. Especially in the aftermath of the last school shooting in Florida, political activists are jumping on the opportunity to drag them to state capitals and the White House.

Forget the need for a lifetime of experience…forget that the ones to whom some of these teens are mouthing off to have more security clearances than the Avengers…forget the idea of listing to one’s elders…listen to the wisdom of those who just learned to wear pull-ups and cut their own meat.

If we did what they wanted us to do – listen to the children – what would the world, or at least our country be like?

* No one would ever workexcept those who need to work so that others would not have to work.

* Every day would be Christmas, Halloween, and summer vacationas long as someone else buys the gifts, provides the candy, and drives them to the beach.

* There would be peace on earth and no more warsexcept when someone disrespects you or takes your candy.

* Everything should be available for the asking whenever it is wantedas long as we don’t have to be the ones providing it for someone else.

* There would be no need for multiple television channelsonly DisneyNickelodeonMTV, VH1, or Netflix (when not watching internet porn on smartphones, or sexting each other before hooking up). 

* Everyone would have everything they always wanted, whether they needed it, or notand still act like brats that never get anything they want and are always mistreated.

* No one would ever eat at home, only restaurantsthen complain about their weight.

* Education, if desired, would be determined by what the child thought was important … like “Queer Translation (UC Berkeley 250)” and “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender, and Media (Skidmore College).” Don’t believe me? Just Google it.

* Teachers, Doctors, Policemen, School Teachers, and Ministers would be disrespected and malignedwhile movie stars, rap and rock stars, and vulgar athletes would be deified.

* Animals would be considered equal with humansexcept when it came to leather clothing and Happy Meals.

* Hate would be outlawedunless you’re a policeman, a member of the NRA, a conservative Christian, or if you dare disagree with a crumb-crunching skull full of impressionable Silly Putty. 

 

Wait! Maybe the children are already in charge!

Source: Unknown

Source: Unknown

 

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, current events, General Observations

In Response to Another School Shooting

Our hearts break when we think of the students and parents and staff, but now that the dust is settling, and the political forces have already spoken out, I’d like to say something about the most recent school shooting.

It’s not a gun problem; it’s a heart problem.

I’ve heard all the gun control arguments, but regardless the Constitution or the right to defend oneself, the root of the problem is what should be addressed. The question should be “why?”, not “how?”

Why did this teenager want to kill his fellow students? Why did the other murderers, maniacs, and monsters want to kill people? We’ve had guns in this country long before Columbine. Heck, we used to have shooting clubs in the schools! But what changed in society? What changed in the heart of our culture?

You can take away all the guns, but you’ll still have a disease that’s going to find a way to steal, kill, and destroy. No law, no matter how strict, is going to turn a lawbreaker into a law-abiding citizen.

Until you address the heart and soul issues, your only solution will end up being totalitarian control.

When the law of God is written on the hearts of men, there’s no need for external restraints; the constraints are internal. But when the only law written on the heart is the law of Self, there’s no restraint sufficient to make a man love his neighbor.

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Filed under America, community, current events, General Observations, legalism, Life/Death, politics, Struggles and Trials

My Music Video for Valentine’s Day

A few years ago I wrote this song, Try Me, for my wife, Valerie. The day before yesterday (Feb. 12) was her birthday, and today is Valentine’s Day (the holiday she was named after), so I thought it would be appropriate to break out this older post (from 2012) featuring Mr. Monkey.

By the way, since I couldn’t afford actresses and actors, and since Wal-Mart wouldn’t let me do a video in their store, I decided to just draw my own music video.

If you’d like for me to perform this song at your next party, just give me a call 🙂

“Try Me”

Oh, by the way, my song IS protected under copyright laws, even though James Brown had a song by the same title back in the 1950’s.

 

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Filed under General Observations, Humor, Monday Monkey, music, Relationships and Family