Friday, December 5, 2008

Strange Musings

Have you ever wondered who was the first to try certain foods? For example, who was the first person brave enough (or dumb enough) to eat an ordinary egg? "Oh, let's try this white thing the chicken dropped and see if it is any good to eat!"

Knowing what goes in hot dogs - you know ... the chicken/pig/cow hybrid mix? Who was the dunce who got rooked into tasting it first? I'm sure it goes back to Germany, but imagine the following conversation when the very first hot dog was made:

Wilhelm: Well, there it is. The very first wienersnitzel.
Johann: Since you made it, you try it.
Wilhelm: Nein! You are the guest. You go first.
Johann: I saw all the chicken and pig parts you put in there. I'm not real hungry.
(Well ... I think you get the picture.)

And how would you like to have been the doofus who discovered which mushrooms NOT to eat?

So next time you order those eggs "over easy' or bite down into that dog at the 'ole ball game, think of those trailblazers who cleared the path ahead of you.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Business Meeting

Once again, our annual business meeting at church turned out very good. Folks seemed happy and upbeat. Future outreach projects were highlighted and everyone seemed "on board."

It is such a blessing to leave a church business meeting where EVERYONE is laughing and cutting up with one another. That, to me, is a mark of spiritual maturity.

Microsoft Office 2007

I just recently loaded Microsoft Office 2007 on my laptop. Until now, I have used Office 97 and Office 2000. But more and more I am receiving documents in the new Word 2007 and Excel 2007 formats, and PowerPoint 2007 seems to be light years ahead of PowerPoint 2000, so I needed to upgrade.

My first impressions are that I like it. The new menus take a little bit getting used to, but customization is pretty easy. It may only be my imagination, but Office 2007 seems a little faster than either Office 97 or 2000. I have not really used Outlook since the days of Outlook 98, but the new version seems a bit better.

A couple of interesting looking programs included in the Office 2007 Enterprise package are Publisher and OneNote. They have both been around for awhile, but I know very little about either and am looking forward to playing with them a little.

I'll keep you posted on how this goes.

By the way, if you don't feel like coughing up the price tag for Microsoft Office, try OpenOffice 3.0. It is absolutely free. It will open earlier version Microsoft Office formats (I don't know about Office 2007 formats). It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Office 2007, but for the price-free-you can't beat it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rambling Thoughts

Tomorrow is our "Annual Church Business Meeting" at the church. I must admit I have never liked business meetings. I know they are a necessary evil, but I still don't like them. I have heard horror stories about church business meetings, and even have been in a few business meetings in years past at other churches, that bordered on "horror story."

I must admit that EVERY business meeting at our current church that I have been a part of (this makes my Number 13) has been extremely mild - no yelling, no red faces, no angry accusations, or cheap shots. In fact, we usually leave business meetings feeling better, and feeling more hopeful about the future, than when we arrived. How many churches can say that?

However, I still don't like the meetings. I guess I have a hard time picturing Jesus and his disciples sitting through Judas Iscariot's financial reports (Remember, he was their treasurer).

I also noticed the results of the run-off election down in Georgia, where the Republicans actually were able to hang on to the Senate seat. Senator Saxby Chambliss is on his way back to Washington. The main thing this does is keep the Democrats from the 60-vote supermajority they need to railroad legislation through both houses of Congress.

And finally, from the files of "Things That Make You Go, 'Mmmm.'" Have you heard the old excuse, "The Devil made me do it!" Well, now we have someone who claims that "God made him do it!" That's right ... according to this guy, God had a case of road rage, and ordered this dude to take care of the problem ... at 100 mph. I'm a preacher, and you know there is a forthcoming sermon illustration in this story.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Well, yesterday was Thanksgiving, and our Community Thanksgiving Dinner at church is over for 2008. We sent out about 125-130 meals to shut-ins and local law enforcement personnel who were working the holiday. We also served a number of others who came to the church to eat. One lady came all the way from Los Angeles, CA to spend Thanksgiving home with her mom, and they came to eat dinner at church.

I don't think we'll ever fully know how the dinner touches the lives of those who receive them. Many of them are alone and have no one else to share the holiday with. Others can't leave their homes due to illness or disabilities.

And we certainly appreciate those police officers and other government folks who are forced to miss family meals as they work to keep the rest of us safe. My daughter and I delivered meals to the dispatching unit for the county sheriff's office. It was neat to been taken right in to their communications center and see all the computers and phones and electronic gizmos that most of us think nothing of until we need them.

I appreciate the volunteers who make this dinner happen. Our church family rises to the occasion every year and this year was no different. Folks come early and work more all day - on a holiday. But it isn't just church folks. We had a family come in who was not affiliated with our church. The grandmom lives here locally. Her son and his family were visiting from the Boston area up in Massachusetts. They came to help us deliver a few meals and to clean up following the meal. It was so great meeting them and having their help.

If you live in Southwest Ohio, come join for Thanksgiving 2009!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday Sermon Wrap-Up

Yesterday we looked at how spiritual mountain top experiences are designed to prepare us for those spiritual valleys.

We looked the story of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. The disciples who were with Him, experienced an extreme spiritual high. But when they left the mountain and came back down to "real life," they realized that all their problems and struggles were still a part of them. God never intends for us to stay on top the mountain. he intends for us to grow in the valleys.

A few years ago, Cathy, my wife, and I went out to Colorado, and took the railroad up to the top of Pike's Peak. The view from up there was awesome. You could see mountains that were 50, 60, 70 miles away. The air was clear and clean, and the experience was exhilarating. But, one striking detail: the top of Pike's Peak was barren. There were no trees, no bushes, not a single blade of grass. It was barren and rocky. Nothing grows up there.

That is a marvelous picture of a person trying to live their life always on the mountain top. It's a wonderful experience, but nothing grows. Only in the valley, does growth take place.

Busy Week

This has been a crazy week.

We've been trying to get things ready for our Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the church. Plus, I've been trying to get a bunch of church-related Christmas preparations done. AND, we're working on trying to get the brand new church web site up and running. Add to that, hospital visitations, an upcoming church business meeting, Christmas shopping, plus all the other miscellaneous stuff going on ... sometimes I feel so far behind, I'm following myself.

My goal is to get everything done early so I can lean back and actually enjoy Christmas. My wife talks about the dangers of trying to make a perfect Christmas. By slowing down and taking time to reflect on what Christmas is all about, it gains greater meaning.

May we remember that Jesus truly is "the reason for the season."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday Sermon Wrap-Up

Yesterday we looked at the topic of "Extreme Devotion." Our text was:

Luke 9:23 "Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'" (NKJV)

There's been a whole lotta talk about following Jesus. But when push comes to shove, many of us tend to slide in our devotion to Christ.

God doesn't want just part of us. He wants all of us. May we be sold-out and not hold-outs.

GPS Follow-Up

A few days ago, I mentioned we were looking at GPS devices. We decided to go with the Garmin Nuvi 255.

One thing we decided was that if we were going to invest in one, we needed to get one that could do double duty: for walking and driving. Since we have gotten it, we have played with it and really like it. It seems to be extremely accurate.

I really like have turn-by-turn directions. So far, we've only used it to go places we already knew directions to, as we are getting used to it. If it sends us a route we don't normally take, we just do our own thing, and the device will say, "Recalculating!" I'm looking forward to punching in an address to a place I have never been and allow the device to get us there. The Nuvi 255 also has a feature where you press "Send Me Home." No matter where you are or how lost you are, the device will plot your way back home. That will come it handy, I'm sure.

We even have found a couple of geocaches with it (See The weather has turned cold, with wind and some snow flurries, so we haven't been able to look for many geocaches. But if we can catch a mild day when we're off from work, I have a feeling I know what we'll be doing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First Photographs From Mars?

Came across this photo and thought it was hilarious. It is rumored that this was one of the first pictures sent back to earth from the Mars rovers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday Night Bible Study

We have been studying through the Book of Hebrews and last night we looked at this passage:

Hebrews 3:12-13 "Beware, 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 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

Notice the correlation between unbelief and sin.

Way back in the Garden of Eden when Satan tempted Adam and Eve, his ploy was to try to get them to doubt God. Basically, Satan told them, "Did God really mean what He said? All that stuff about eating fruit and dying ... did He really mean that?" That element of doubt is what sealed it for Adam and Eve.

The same tactic is used on Christian believers today. We know what God expects and demands, but Satan asks us, "Does God really mean that? Surely He'll let you slide on this."

We need to encourage one another to keep believing. Things may get tough, circumstances may get difficult, and we may find ourselves in a whirlwind of discouraging events. But God is still God, and He is still in control. He has not forgotten or forsaken us. Keep on believing!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tour Noah's Ark

OK, not THE Noah's Ark that is still somewhere on the mountains of Ararat. But this guy in the Netherlands has built a replica of Noah's Ark based on the measurement given in the Book of Genesis.

Check this out: Man Build's Noah's Ark

I'm not sure how to even comment on this. I've always pictured Noah's Ark to look more rectangular - possibly low to the water like an oil tanker. But who's to say this guy has it wrong? I do think the fire extinguisher is a nice touch.

Mr. Hubers is a Christian and hopes his ark will help rekindle interest in Christianity in Holland. The comments at the bottom of the page remind me of some of the comments the original Noah must have endured as he was building his ark.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Early Christmas

Anyone already in the "Christmas Spirit" yet?

I sort of thought I was, until last week we were in Wal-Mart and they were playing Christmas songs thru the "Musak" or whatever. I definitely realized it was too early. Of course, it was 75 degrees and sunshine outside, and I can't get in to the Christmas mood when I'm in short sleeves and wiping sweat (eeewwww!)

Speaking of Christmas music, there is a web site I discovered a couple years ago. The site is Steve's 25 Days of Christmas Music. Every year, this guy posts a list of some of his favorite Christmas songs, and also puts inks to mp3 files which can be downloaded and transferred to your favorite media device. Each year has a specific theme. For example, 2007 featured Christmas music by big band/swing band artists. 2005 had a theme of Christmas oldies. 2003 featured songs from televisions shows and specials. As November draws to a close, keep watch out on his site and he'll start the list for 2008. I haven't seen a theme yet, but you can be sure I'll check it out. I'll post the exact link when he's up and running.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Today's Sermon Wrap-Up

Today we tackled the subject of "Extreme Love" and our text was Romans 5:6-8:

Romans 5:6-8 "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

I'm not sure we can fully comprehend what it means to live a Christian life until we first undertsand how much God loved us. God didn't ask us to clean up our act first. He loved us even when we were in deep sin.

This is what set Christianity apart from all other world religions. All other religions are the struggle of man to reach God. Christianity is the story of God reaching to man. And that is what extreme love is all about.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Quiet Weekend

My wife and I have had a nice quiet weekend. Both girls are gone to Ohio State Youth Convention, and won't be getting back until Sunday afternoon. We had all kinds of plans of stuff we wanted to do, but found ourselves actually hanging out at home relaxing. Sometimes when you run, run, run, all the time, it's nice to have some down time.

At first, I though we were turning into a couple of old fuddy duddys, but now I honestly feel as if I have gotten some charge back in my batteries. And we haven't had to listen to sibling fussing between teen-aged sisters, loud music, or the phone ringing off the hook. It has been kinda nice.

Come to think of it, the girls have a weekend ski trip with the youth group coming up in February.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Parents

So I'm sitting at work, trying to get last minute chores finished up before the weekend, and then my cell phone rings ... My Dad says, "I guess you've been wondering where we're at." He continued, "We're in Myrtle Beach."

Now, you have to know a little back ground to appreciate this. Ten days ago, my Dad was in the hospital hooked up to an IV machine. He had some kind of infection and they had him on an antibiotic. When they finally released him, he still wasn't feeling so terrific. Mom said that he pretty much slept all week. We saw him Sunday after church, but he was still dragging pretty good. I had been calling the last couple days to check on him, but never got an answer. I assumed he was feeling better, but had no clue he was feeling well enough to go to Myrtle Beach.

Now I need to figure out an excuse for Cathy and I to go to Myrtle Beach ...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Interesting Looking Hobby

Have you ever heard of "Geocaching"? Well I hadn't either until earlier this week. But "geocaching" involves using a GPS device to find hidden "treasures" that have been planted by people.

There are over 680,000 treasures or "caches" that have been hidden all over the United States, and the number is growing daily. These caches can be hidden in trees, under rocks, in fenceposts - just about anywhere the hider can place them. The cache is usually some small air-tight/watter proof container that usually has some kind of note that says, "You found it!" or some such message.

Once the cache is hidden, the hider posts the GPS coordinates on the internet at a website such as Folks who want to geocache will then take those coordinates, and using their own GPS device, attempt to find the hidden cache. Evidently this hobby is growing in popularity. Occasionally a group of folks will sponsor an event where dozens of folks will compete to find hidden caches. My wife has gone with a couple friends to find two or three caches near our house, and she really enjoys it. Now that our kids are older and the wife and I are finding more "couple's" time, this is something we can do together.

We do not own a GPS device, but we have started researching them. One of the most popular GPS devices among avid geocachers is THIS ONE. But the cheapest price I have been able to find it for is about $302. We may have to settle for one LIKE THIS.

I'll keep you posted on this ...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Afterthoughts

Now that the election is over and we now know that President-Elect Obama is the next guy in the White House, I wish to reiterate what I wrote on Monday, leading up to the election.

God is still on the throne. Not for one minute do I believe God is sitting up in Heaven, scratching His head, and saying, "Uhh ... I didn't expect that." Nor has God's plan changed or been thwarted. And no, I do not believe that Barack Obama's election is some fulfillment of end time prophecy. God knows what He is doing and if He can't work through Mr. Obama, He will work in spite of him.

The Church's mandate has not changed. Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to impact our world with the love of Jesus.

We are commanded to pray for those in authority over us. Even if we did not vote for President-Elect Obama, we can pray for him. Being President is a tiresome, thankless job. I have no doubt he will spend many sleepless nights dealing with the problems of the nation. Our first response ought to be prayer - not ridicule. Let's pray that God would guide all the decision making that will be done over the next few months.

I close with this thought: Once again we have seen good ole American democracy at work. Whether we like the outcome or not, I'm thankful to be allowed to have a choice. In the United States, we change our leaders with ticker tape parades - not with lines of tanks and armed soldiers. My guy didn't win, but I am no less an American today than I was yesterday.

Perhaps that is truly what America is all about.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fun Morning on the Phone

Well, we FINALLY have the high speed internet up and running at church.

Last summer, we got high speed at home and canceled our dial-up service. I had been using a piggy-back version of my home dial-up service to access internet at while working at church. When I canceled our home service, that left me with no access at church. So I found a dial-up service where I could pre-pay for a year and get service.

Last night, I'm looking at how to cancel it and I discover dozens of people who have had trouble canceling. The company I was using seems to have a reputation for making it difficult to cancel. The one piece of advice was to make sure I got a cancellation confirmation number.

So I called at 9:00 AM this morning, because that was when their customer service department opened. At 9:01 AM, after I had navigated through several series of menus, I got a message that "due to the high volume of calls, all agents were busy with other callers. Please call gain later." This is one minute after they opened. Rather than calling 'later' I stayed on hold.

At 9:37 AM - thirty-seven minutes later, I finally reached a live person ... who wasn't particularly fluent in English. I told her what I wanted, and she started asking me all kinds of security questions to make sure it was actually me and not some other lunatic wanting to cancel my dial-up service.

The lady then asked me in broken English, "Why do you want to cancel your service?" I told her that I now had access to high speed internet everywhere I needed internet access, and that I had no further need of dial-up service. She then informed me that I may need to keep a back-up service in case of a power outage. It probably never occurred to her that if a storm is bad enough to knock out power to the internet, it probably will knock out power to the computers as well. I was then informed that I would be given two months service free. I politely declined and told her all I needed was to cancel my service and get my cancellation number. She then offered me three months free to an upgraded service. Again, I politely, but firmly told her I wanted to cancel and I needed a cancellation number. "OK," she finally agreed, with a great deal of reluctance. "I will make the necessary changes and be right back with a cancellation number." I was then put on hold. I glanced at the clock. It was now 9:42 AM.

At 9:51 AM, she finally comes back on and gives me the cancellation number. I made her repeat it to me three times and I repeated it back to her three times. And so, as of about 9:55 AM this morning, my dial up service is canceled ... I think.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Day Thoughts

Well, tomorrow is Election Day and a new President will be chosen. Regardless of whoever is elected, there are a couple things I do know:

1) Wednesday morning, God will still be on His throne. He will still be in charge.

2) The mission of the Church will not change. We still have the mandate to "make disciples."

I will vote, but I won't be watching all the TV networks "goings-on" on Election Day night. It probably would just make me mad listening to all the pundits and their opinions. We'll see how long that lasts ...