Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reynolds Building Roof

I got this video from looking at Mark Elrod's blog. Wind storms went through Searcy. It took part of the roof off of the Reynolds Center. Some student happened to get it all on video.

Sriracha HOT Chili Sauce

Ok, so this post is a bit of a commercial. I like spicy food. In fact, I almost always want my food hot enough to make my nose run.

I discovered this sauce at the Greek Deli, where he (the owner) makes it available on every table. It is different than any other sauce I've tried. It has a texture about like Ketchup. Rather than adding its own distinct taste like Tobasco, it blends really well with most foods.

So far, I have found very few things that I don't like it on. I have all but replaced using ketchup with using this sauce instead. (Usually I mix the two).

Here are some ways it is good: on hamburgers, grill cheeses, in spaghetti, in soup, mixed with mashed potatoes, with fries, on greek food, in macaroni & cheese, on meat loaf, on hot pockets, on pizza, and on hot dogs. Anything involving meat or cheese is basically good with it.

I know you can get it at Kroger or Wal-Mart. So if you like spicy stuff, it is worth giving it a try.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Some Professor Said...

Is it just me, or does anyone else seriously question the historical accuracy of a lot of these forwarded e-mails about students and professors?

NOTE: If you have personally forwarded me an e-mail about one of these things, I LIKE the e-mails. You aren't annoying me. I read them, and I think they often make good and meaningful points. I'm just wondering if they're based on conversations that have actually happened.

It's always either a professor who teaches a life lesson that is good and meaningful, or one who is psychotically anti-God who is revealed to be stupid by some young kid.

Here are some of the ones that come to mind:
  • The one about how the professor argues there is no God because you can't see him, and the student argues that the professor has no brain because no one has ever seen it.
  • The one about the professor who defies any Christians in his class to admit they are Christians, by challenging God to prevent the chalk he holds from shattering when he drops it. One day a student is bold enough to stand up for God, and the professor mocks them, then by some weird means of the chalk getting caught on his sleeve, then rolling down softly, it doesn't shatter. So God apparently stopped the chalk from breaking.
  • The one where Johnny has to do pushups so that everyone in the class can eat donuts. (Johnny...will you do 10 pushups so that Suzie can have a donut?) The point of the story is that Jesus died for your sins whether or not you want to accept his free gift of love and forgiveness.
  • The one with the jar where all the students think the jar is full of golf balls, then the professor adds pebbles which fit between the balls, then he adds sand, then two cups of coffee. The point is that no matter how full and busy you think your life is, you should always be willing to make time to share a cup of coffee with a friend.

Some of these are better than others. Most of them are somewhat heart-warming, but I've always been one of those types who likes to see sources cited. I like these stories, but I feel guilty forwarding them on, especially if they are intended to be of some sort of apologetic value. I want to be able to say whether these are true stories or pedagogical parables.

What do you think? Are these just sermon illustrations that some guys made up, or are any of these real stories about things that have happened? What's your favorite e-mail forward about what some professor said?

It's Nacho Cat: Door

The other day, Nacho decided she wanted to go outside. Often, she will start pestering us so we will get the idea and come open the door. This time, she sat there in this position, staring at the door for a good 5-10 minutes (plenty of time for me to get the camera and snap this shot). I don't know why, I just thought it was funny.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Skiing at Paoli Peaks

Last weekend, Carolina and I went up to Paoli Peaks, Indiana with our friends the Miller family from church. The Millers have been skiing several times before, but it was an entirely new experience for Carolina and me. Both of us did fairly well. Carolina fell more often than I did, but didn't fall very hard. I was pretty quickly able to handle the bunny slope (See the video date is wrong by the way, it was January, not December. Duh!).

I went with Nathan to try some beginner slopes. I did pretty well using the basic wedge approach, but when the slopes got too steep for the wedge to slow me effectively, I usually ended up falling/rolling/skidding...sometimes for quite a few feet depending on my current speed prior to the tumble. So I fell less often, but much harder. It was a lot of fun, and we'll definitely be trying it again!

Pictures from the road in Arkansas

We were in Arkansas a few weeks ago, and on the way we snapped some pictures. It is indeed a pretty state.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Visualizing the Bible (Updated)

I have a link you've got to check out! Because he explicitly forbids people sharing the images on his site without written consent, I'm respecting his wishes. (though I'm going to use one as a desktop background!)

Chris Harrison is some sort of computer programmer type, and as a project he's done some visualizing of the data within the Bible, and it's astounding. My favorite image is where he lays out the entire Bible, and uses arcs to show connections between books and passages. It's simply incredible! He's also prepared some charts showing the frequency and association of names used in the Bible.

Here is Harrison's website and here is the link directly to the Biblical visualisations.
I learned about his website at the ESV Bible Blog.

Chris e-mailed me and was generous enough to let me post some pictures here. I'm just going to put this one, which is my favorite.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Suntrust and Gold Robes

I heard an advertisement on the radio last night that really bothered me. Suntrust bank is advertising that if you start a new checking account with them, and use your check card, they will donate $100 to the charity of your choice. Or, if you don't want to give it to charity, they will give you a $50 gift card to keep for yourself. Let me be clear: I like this program, and I'm glad they are looking for ways to help worthy charities. I did not like the way they advertised it.

Two ladies are talking about how their choir robes are not in good shape. One lady says that she started a checking account with Suntrust and now she could get a new choir with gold lining! Then, she got all of her choir buddies to start checking accounts with Suntrust so that all of them could get a lot more choir robes "with a lot more gold lining".

I thought, "Of all the things they could use to attract Christians to give to charity, do they really think the reason we give to charity is so that we can get nicer things for ourselves? They must not understand how Christians think."

Then it bothered me more, because the more I thought about it, the more I'm afraid they might be right. I hope not.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's Nacho Cat: Light Box

We worked a lot on the upstairs bathroom today. As I was installing a new ceiling light, Nacho discovered the empty box, and quickly made it her cave/toy.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm trying to get rhythm

One of my elders is a guitar enthusiast. He got Carolina and I to go with him to see Pete Huttlinger (a national finger-style guitar champion). I was mesmerized by him. Steve (my elder) was kind enough to share a DVD and some guitar tabs with me from Pete. After church last night I spent 2 hours learning just this small first part of the song. It's given me something to work toward, because I've wanted for a long time to learn better finger-style guitar, but didn't who to learn it from. Some of Pete's other songs I hope to learn as well--partially because they're easier, but his arrangement of "I Got Rhythm" was by far my favorite. It is an absolute beast of a song; extremely complicated and extremely fast.

Along with this, as I've been reconnecting with old friends on Facebook, many of them are curious why I haven't been broadcasting more of my guitar stuff on Youtube. (Eventually I may get the old videos back out and import them) I thought it would be fun to record myself playing this with only 1 day of practice (and no warm up...just recorded it at the office during my lunch break). I hope to make later posts where I play more of it, and play it better. I'm currently only playing it at about 60% of the speed at which Pete plays it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

You Might Be A Preacher's Wife...

Earlier, we were putting some finishing touches on the upstairs 1/2 bath. It's been an ongoing project for a couple of months, and we're really happy with how it's turning out. (I may stick some pictures up sometime soon) All that is left is for me to replace the faucet with a fancy new one we got, and to replace the light fixture with one that matches all the other hardware.

Carolina was very excited about how it's all turning out, and started begging me to hurry up and finish it all this evening. I said that with people coming over tomorrow, I'd rather not risk messing anything up, and just wait until next week to do it. She continued to plead with me, and then suddenly broke out into the chorus of "O Why Not Tonight?"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Change the name on the mailbox already!

This last weekend we were in Arkansas, so we drove by our old house to see how it's doing. We really miss it still...we loved that house. We've been gone since May, but--lo and behold!--the owner still has our name on the mailbox! Also, the really cool numbers on the mailbox we bought on our honeymoon, but we decided to leave them. We were expecting the numbers, but not the name.

A Hopeful Hankey

If you don't read Matt Dabb's blog, I recommend it; it's a blessing. He shared a personal story that I thought was worth passing on. Here is the post.

Lelan Statom

Right now, Lelan Statom, the local weather man is at Old Hickory in our church building, making a presentation to our pre-school. Pretty cool! I've watched him on TV for years. He's a very nice person. I think it makes me much less star-struck to know I'm at least 5 inches taller than him.

Apparently, News Channel 2 and 4 all pay to use Channel 5's weather equipment, which is superior.

My good friend Dale Jenkins alerted me to a very cool website called If you're looking to improve your productivity while on the go, it's got some great potential. The best way to figure it out is to try it. You connect to it with your cellphone. (It's best to put it on speed dial) Then after importing your contacts' e-mails and/or cellphones, you use it to communicate with them or to give yourself reminders. For instance, you dial it. it will recognize your cell# and ask "Who do you want to Jott?" I say a person's name, it says, "OK" then it beeps. You record a 30 second message which it uses voice recognition software to transcribe, then it sends them an e-mail and/or text message with the words you spoke.

You can also use it to post directly to numerous different websites. I may use it for some blogging on the go. You can also directly post things to google calendar and to xpenser (which I'm going to start using to track my youth group spending).

Pretty cool! Give it a try!

I'm trying an experimental...

I'm trying an experimental post using the website called All I'm doing is speaking in my cellphone and it should post directly to my blog and see if it work. listen

Powered by Jott

It's Nacho Cat

This is my all-time favorite Nacho picture. I think it looks like a postcard. I have to give Carolina credit as the photographer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I love grad school

Every time I start thinking that I'm getting smarter, I find myself humbled again. I'm only in the first week of my 2 classes for this semester (Powell for Christian Ethics and J.M. Hicks for Providence and Suffering), and I'm already feeling way in over my head. Hicks is such a prolific writer and powerful thinker. Hopefully he wouldn't mind me sharing a portion of the lecture for this class. We're talking about understandings of how God operates within the world. After a numerous-page whopper of an explanation, he summarizes the major epistemic theologies in this way:

So, what is your perspective on divine providence? Are you…?
1. A modern semi-Deist who thinks God is a cosmic spectator rooting for shalom in the world?
2. A postmodern process thinker who sees humanity and God interdependently becoming” as they both move toward shalom, but God is only involved in the directing and persuasive aspects of the human being as a Coach rather than a player. 3. A postmodern Open Theist whose relational understanding of God means that he does not intervene in the world except to persuade human agents toward his goals and ends.
4. A premodern Open Theist whose relational God is not only persuasive, but active in response to the prayers of his people and occasionally intervening in the world for his purposes. God, then, is a Player-Coach who occasionally joins the team on the field.
5. A premodern occasionalist (Dominionist) whose God depends on the prayers of his people and is only active as those prayers call upon him. His intervention can be rare or common, depending on the prayers of his people; but it is occasional and relative to the prayers of his people.
6. A premodern occasionalist (Redemptivist) whose God only acts in the major work of redemption in Israel and the foundation of the church; his acts are basically miracles and acts of special providence in the history of Israel and the foundational history of the church.
7. A premodern concurrentist who believes in libertarian freedom and divine middle knowledge (Molinist) so that God is able to orchestrate history to achieve his purposes through human acts. As a player, God is always on the field, acting in every play and achieving his goal through the free acts of human agents.
8. A premodern concurrentist who believes in libertarian freedom but not in divine risk (Thomist) because God is always act work to achieve his purposes in every moment of human history according to his plan which does not change.
9. A premodern concurrentist who believes that volitional freedom and divine determination of every event is compatible, both with philosophical and biblical theology; thus, Calvinist (whether Bartian, Molinist or Classical).
10. A premodern determinist (Fatalism) who believes that everything is determined in such a way that human freedom has no significant role in the outworking of history.

Perhaps another question is….are these the only options?

It's going to take me a while to comprehend all of this. God is indeed much bigger than my brain. Do you know where you stand? Are you prepared to argue one while being able to discredit the other views? I'm a bit dizzy, myself.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Useful Web Resources for Ministers

Useful Web Resources for ministers

Compiled by Mark Adams with help from Matthew Dabbs & James Wood

NOTE: I do not concur with all that is on these web pages or their links, but I have found some of what they offer to be of value, and hope you will also.

  • Bible Gateway
    • A website with dozens of translations of the Bible in several languages available for searching and reading. It’s especially helpful because the search can be limited to individual translations and sections of the Bible. This website can quickly eliminate your need for an additional concordance.
  • Sermon Illustrations
    • While there are numerous websites available that have free sermon illustrations and quotes, this one is nicely indexed alphabetically by subject.
  • Open Office
    • There are many congregations who do not have the financial resources to purchase the latest versions of Microsoft Office for their computers, but who also realize that it is unethical to use pirated copies of Microsoft products for church applications. Open Office is a suite of software including a word processor, presentation program, spreadsheet program, graphics program, and database program. The best part is that because it is open source software, it is completely FREE. This is a great way for a church to be able to use high-powered software comparable to—and compatible with—Microsoft Office without having to spend a dime, or to do anything unethical. If you are used to MS Office, there may be a bit of a learning curve, but there is basically nothing that Office can do which Open Office cannot.
  • Peacemaker
    • This is a helpful array of resources for conflict resolution. Though it is not a website one might use all the time, when it’s needed, it can be extremely helpful.
  • David Allen Company (Time Management and Productivity)
    • This is not specifically geared toward ministers, but it has information helpful to ministers striving to keep their lives organized and productive.
  • The Barna Group
    • This is the main website for George Barna, who has done extensive surveys and research on the beliefs and practices of people on dozens of issues ranging from doctrinal beliefs to small groups to volunteerism. His research is objective and can provide helpful insights to understanding our congregations and our culture.
  • Presentation Help Websites
    • There are numerous websites, both Christian and secular, that contain information and products which can aid in giving sharp, impacting presentations. The following websites are primarily useful to people using Powerpoint, or who have some way of displaying computer images and videos.
    • Videos and Image Loops
      • - There are hundreds of video clips that can be purchased and incorporated into classes or sermons. Also, there are animated background images that can be used to bring your slides to life.
    • Pictures for Powerpoint and/or Publications
      • - Google image search is one of the quickest way to find pictures, but the caveat is that the majority of these may be under copyright protection, and should be used with caution and integrity.
      • - $1 for low-rez images and $2-3 for higher-rez images. These are professional quality for a reasonable price, and this also alleviates the concerns for using images illegally.
      • - Similar to istockphoto; a solid database of high quality images.
      • - This one is free!
      • - This website has archives of hundreds of original humorous cartoons, based on either biblical passages or church situations. There is a helpful search function to find cartoons fitting to what you are teaching.
  • For a good compilation of similar websites, see the post on called “Where can you find good images?”
  • Google Apps
    • Google has dozens of free resources for searching, communication, and organization, and several free computer programs. (If you don’t have a good program for organizing digital photos, I haven’t found one that’s better than Picasa by Google) If you go to this website, you will see a list of some of the resources Google provides with helpful descriptions.
  • Christian Blogs
    • There are at least two excellent compilations of Christian blogs that I know of with many of them coming from churches of Christ.
    • If you desire to start your own blog, there are several sites you could use. It might be best to go to the above lists of blogs, and look at some links that are “” blogs and some that are “” blogs. It will help you get a feel for the differences between the two. The two best sites to use for starting and hosting your own blog are:
      • - This is a reasonably simple format that is still sophisticated enough to allow some flexibility in blog design, organization, and function.
      • - This is the option that most serious bloggers go with. It is more complex, but has a lot more capabilities.
    • If you become interested in regularly reading other people’s blogs, the best way to do this is by using a feed reader. Any website with regularly updating information such as blogs or news sites will have an RSS feed. When you use a feed reader, it will keep up with as many feeds as you tell it to. All you have to do is log on to your feed reader, and it will let you check new posts in a style similar to an e-mail inbox. It’s very simple, and if you tell the reader the website address you desire to add, it will usually be able to find the feed on its own. This saves you hours of hunting through your friends blogs, just hoping to find a new post. Two of the best feed readers are:
  • Restoration Movement Pages
    • This is an extensive list of biographies, pictures, and works by hundreds of restoration movement leaders. This is a work in progress by Hans Rollman, and is an astoundingly good resource for members of churches of Christ who enjoy studying their own history in the last 200 years.
  • Bible Study Resources
    • Matthew Dabbs has compiled a list of 31 online resources for Bible study including Biblical language tools, OT resources, NT resources, online commentaries, early Christian writings, full texts of religious books, and several other items at his blog. For the sake of conserving paper and ink, I encourage you to go to his blog and explore/bookmark some of the links he has compiled:
  • Social Networking Websites
    • There are numerous websites people use to connect with one another, and the majority of users are probably younger people. Even so, you might be surprised at who all you find that you haven’t seen in years! The two you are most likely to find other people using are:
  • Sermon Central
    • This website contains thousands of sermons (full text and outlines) from hundreds of contributors. It has a lot of different ways that sermons and illustrations can be searched and categorized. While it is not ethical to preach another person’s sermon—at least without giving them credit—it can be extremely helpful to get ideas for how to divide up and teach a passage by considering how others have preached the same passage. You can also become a contributor and upload your sermons.
  • 21st Century Christian (Devotional and application ideas)
    • At the 21st Century Christian website, there is a lot of information about various publications from the company. In conjunction with their quarterly curriculum, 21st Century also has free weekly downloads that are designed to help students apply what they are studying that particular week to real life. Incidentally, the free downloads for teens called “The Beat” and “The Scene” are especially helpful for coming up with ideas on short notice. If you have to offer the Wednesday night invitation, but aren’t sure what to talk about, it’s worth taking a look at these, because they will draw from a current news headline and give a Biblical perspective on how Christians should respond to it. It makes a great way to find some fresh, relevant ideas in a hurry.
  • Daily Bible Reading Online
    • The English Standard Version’s website has a variety of plans here you can follow if you want to read the Bible through every year online. You might consider doing your daily Bible reading every morning before checking your e-mail.
  • Randy Willingham’s Courageous Conversations
    • Randy Willingham is one of the leading experts in our brotherhood on handling church conflicts. He is very passionate about helping churches through problems, and also about encouraging ministers who have been fired or are feeling burned out. It is definitely worth going to his page and clicking on a few of the links to see what is available.
  • Cyber Hymnal
    • This is a website with numerous hymns from various denominations. It can be a good resource if you’re looking for new songs, or want to know more about older ones. It has a great scripture index to find songs by scriptural text.

Here is a handout that I gave at a local ministers' luncheon yesterday as part of a presentation I did on "Technology in Ministry". I'm posting it here for your benefit. Thanks to Dale Jenkins for inviting me to speak. Thanks especially to Matt Dabbs and James Wood for excellent suggestions about some content that should be included. I've had a hard time to get it to display nicely while posting it in blogger, so please forgive the sloppiness of it...the one I presented looked nicer.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ever known anyone like this?

I get a new Dilbert every day in my Google Reader. This one struck me as particularly funny. I seem to be a magnet for people like this guy, because I'm never mean enough to tell anyone to stop talking. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Patience is a virtue that I want to have.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

33 Down

I'm slowly but surely working toward my MDiv at the Harding Grad School of Religion in Memphis. It is an 84-hour masters degree. It appears I may end up doing mine with an emphasis in systematic theology. As of right now, I have completed 33 hours. (I just saw the fall semester's grades posted online) I started off slow, because I was just beginning my first ministry job and Carolina was finishing her MBA. I'm now able to take about 12 hrs per year, doing school part time and work full time. It's going to be a while before I finish, but it always feels good to make progress. I've really enjoyed most of my classes, and I'm definitely growing through the experience.

The only depressing part is that I have friends who will be called "Dr." who will have had to take less hours for their doctorate than I'm taking for this masters. Then again, I'm doing this because I need the education more than because I need a fancy title for my name. I will be so proud when I finally finish this thing.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Use Your Allusion: Jezebel

Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab. I Kings 16 says that he married her, and while he was already committing plenty of sins, she turned him to Baal worship also. She was a major villain from I Kings 16 through II Kings 9.

She tried to have the prophet Elijah killed. Even with the showdown on Mt. Carmel where God overwhelmingly demonstrated his own existence and the falsehood of Baal worship, rather than convert, she tried to go after Elijah.

One of her most treacherous acts was in setting up Naboth to be falsely accused and murdered so that King Ahab could take over Naboth's family vineyard which he hadn't wanted to sell.

She died--according to prophecy--by being thrown out of a window, where dogs consumed her body so that she did not receive a proper burial.

If you call someone a "Jezebel", you are calling them a brilliantly wicked, cold, calculating shrew. Even the Bible itself uses Jezebel as an allusion in Revelation 2:20.

We watched the first episode of The Apprentice last night. I was not entirely surprised to see that Omarosa is back. I was thinking about how firmly she has established her reputation as an absolute venomous snake of a person. Last night she was in her usual form, utterly attacking her competition. (In Hebrew, I would be using the Piel form here, an intensification of the verb for "attack")

These days it is uncommon to meet girls named "Jezebel" because of the horrendous Biblical Queen Jezebel who opposed Elijah. I've noticed some people use Omarosa's name in a similar way these days.

In Bible translations, there are certain names that get translated in ways that don't sound like the original that much. "Iacaboy" is translated "James" in English, and as "Santiago" in Spanish. If someone were translating the Bible for the first time into English in the American dialect and there had not been an easy way to transliterate Jezebel's name, I wonder if using "Omarosa" would have been an appropriate substitute.

Does that woman give anyone else chills besides me?

Note: To any of you Omarosa fans, I'm sure that she isn't really pure evil, and I know she is involved in some positive charitable organizations. Even so, she's made quite a name for herself by her actions on the Apprentice. If my connecting her to Jezebel offends you, my apologies.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It's Nacho Cat: Up On The House Top

Nacho loves getting up on top of our house. She did this in Searcy, and she does it here too. She gets to the point where our wood fence is closest to the house, and jumps on to the roof. The most impressive part is when she jumps back down onto the fence, landing on a very small, narrow area. I've never seen her fall.