Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How to find the Northern 'burbs

You know, I often see posts on other blogs that talk about the odd searches that bring readers to the blog in question.

I'm not sure how I should feel about it that I rarely get, um...discovered via odd searches. On the one hand, it probably means I don't write things that would attract people with...exuberant creativity. On the other hand, I don't get to fill posts with witty rejoinders in response to searches I don't quite grasp.

Resigned to that, I searched my referrals, hoping for a nugget.

Aside from a couple of searches along the lines of "what about those who haven't heard of God?" (a bunch of those), and one or two about euthenasia (I wrote that post looooong ago) I found the following:

"to dream about my daughters being pregnant"

Oooookay. Not sure what to say about that. To me this would be a nightmare, and one I haven't discussed on my blog. What concerns me more is that NBB doesn't show up until page 5 of the search results. Is this a common dream?????

Then there was this one:

"Are mean spirited acts immoral"

I don't recall talking about this, but on the off chance this person returns, I would answer in a mocking manner, which is mean spirited, ergo immoral. So I will resist.

"Northern Political Minnesota blog"

I touch on politics from time to time, so this makes sense. What doesn't is that the results put me at #3, behind Power Line and Hugh Hewitt - who, btw, is an Ohioan living in Cali.

"jay leno biblical knowledge"

Yep, in the pantheon of theologians, Mr. Leno is a biggie.

But still, this list doesn't quite scare me the way some of Ed's do.

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 2/28/06 Edition

Who says Christians can't be rough 'n tumble athletes? Christianity is Jewish talks about the original trash talker in a little OT competition. Just be sure to choose the winning side.
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In a nutshell, are our priorities right? Key quote: "I’m not complaining; we prioritize within the means we have, and we are always trying to look for ways to make our material lives fit our spiritual ideals. All I ask conservatives — all conservatives — to do is to rethink in a serious way whether the various ways we live today are consistent with what we say we value as conservatives, especially with regard to the integrity of our families.." (HT: Fraters Libertas.)
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Caveat emptor applies, but the Theology wiki could be interesting. (HT: Tim Challies.)
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There are few things about which I am more passionate than Right to Life causes. I know there are others who disagree. What I would wish, though, is that we can all agree that the parents should be making any decisions about removing life support from ill children, not doctors. Apparently, that wish is not to be fulfilled everywhere. Doctors and judges have NO right to tell parents their child must die when the parents want to continue the fight for life. Unfortunately, down the proverbial slippery slope of right to die cases we find "duty to kill" cases, where doctors or government bureaucrats get to play God and decide whether some lives are worth living, or whether society's interests are best served by killing the weak among us.

And I am completely baffled how we got to the point where we see children as ruining one's life.
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So, thought all the rules were in the Old Testament? Think again. (HT: Adrian Warnock.)
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God or Not is up for the week (topic is "Truth") at Kingdom of Heathen. Go. Read. Participate. And tomorrow (um, Wednesday), look for Christian Carnival at Demosthenes.
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Conservatives are happier than liberals? Sounds about right. Perhaps it's because conservatives are more likely to recognize that reality means a disconnect between two of liberalism's favored icons. Or, perhaps this disconnect. Come to think of it, modern liberalism is a study in contradictory beliefs (there's a blog post in there, I'm sure, about how liberals hate the Iraq war, and tend to side with Islamists, although Islamists seem to stand for everything that's anathema to liberals: oppression of women, brutality towards homosexuals, religious preeminence, etc.)

I'm not sure I'd equate conservativism with being a Republican, though, as I'm the former but not the latter.
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So, I'm doing the dishes this evening, cleaning the house (you know, all that oppression of women thing us patriarchal conservatives are into) and I kept thinking about how Ben Witherington was, once again, bringing clarity into a controversial topic: women keeping silent in church. Read into the comments. Very good stuff.
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I don't know whether this is good or bad. Another childhood favorite being redone by the Sci Fi channel. We'll have to wait and see.
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Hmmm...long trip tonight. I blame it all on the last few days. Seems a bunch o' good stuff was posted. Keep it up!

God bless!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Trust Him In the No Times

I remember a story from way back that went a little something like this. A man was in his house when a storm brought floodwaters to his doorstep. The National Guard was wrapping up evacuation tasks in his neighborhood, and their last stop was his house. "Come with us!" they shouted. "No, God will provide for my safety," the man responded.

The waters continued to rise, and shortly the man climbed out his 2nd story window to sit on the roof of his porch - where the water was now lapping. A stranger with a boat came along and said, "come with me! I can take you to safety." "No, God will provide for my safety," was the reply.

The waters continued to rise more, and the man found himself on his rooftop, water lapping at his feet. A National Guard helicopter hovered over him, and over the loudspeaker he heard, "we can lower a line and pull you up. You don't have any time left!" He waved them off, shouting, "no, God will provide for my safety."

Suddenly the floodwaters knocked loose his house, and it collapsed underneath him. He was pulled under the flood waters and drowned. When he stood before God, he asked, "Lord, I trusted in you and you didn't save me. Where were you?"

To which God replied, "but I sent the National Guardsman, the boat and the helicopter!"

Too often I find myself looking for the miraculous answers to prayer instead of the mundane ones. Even more often I find myself looking only for the "yes" answers instead of, well, the answers God gives. Instead of accepting the boat ride, I want God to transport me to higher ground with an Angelic color guard. And sometimes God doesn't send even a neighbor with a boat, but instead asks me to "drown" (metaphorically speaking, to be sure.)

Complaints about unanswered prayer abound. We wonder why illness isn't healed instantaneously, never mind that God gives us doctors and medicine. We wonder why God doesn't remove our job situation, never mind that God sometimes has us in places we wouldn't choose for a greater purpose. We wonder why we are persecuted (well, not so much in this country) when God is building us into greater witnesses for His glory.

We ask and do not receive the miracle, and so believe God doesn't answer prayer. We pray and things, from our perspective, get worse. We start to think we are speaking to an invisible, unhearing, uncaring God.

What we need to remember is that "no" is an answer to prayer. What we need to remember too is that "later" is an answer too. God sends boats and helicopters instead of angels. Or He lets us "drown" for a greater purpose.

We need to trust Him in the "no" times. We don't know better than He does. What seems like unanswered prayer to us is a better-answered prayer from God's perspective. No is sometimes better than yes. The mundane is oftentimes more useful, for His purposes, than the miraculous.

God loves us. Whatever the answer He gives to our prayer, trust He is right and knows best. Don't be disappointed (he says, knowing this is a struggle in his own life) when we don't get the answer we want; we're getting the answer we need.

God bless!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 2/23/06 Edition

Yippee!
You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!

(HT: Rebecca Writes.)
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People often wonder why I don't come right out and jump on the latest "rip someone a new one" bandwagon. The reason is things like this, which points out the folly of taking talking points and running with them before all the evidence is on the table. It's reasonable to assume, for instance, that a maniac who'd used WMD before may be somewhat sneaky with what he's doing now - and that the long buildup to war would have given him ample opportunity to ditch the bad stuff for a while. Seeing as it's reasonable, and since we still hear occassional bits and pieces hinting that Syria may have been a good hiding place for things Mr. Hussein didn't want us to find, and I have a hard time jumping on the "Bush lied!" bandwagon. Maybe true, maybe false, but I'm witholding judgment until more facts are known. See also, UAE port scandal. When cooler heads prevail, and we wait for more evidence, we can discuss things more effectively, no?

*Note: this political aside doesn't mean I'm against decisive action or judgment when necessary. But some things do take time to get to the bottom of. Jumping to a conclusion too early leaves one open to ridicule and embarrasement if the conclusion turns out to be wrong. Just a friendly warning.
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This is cool. Now if only I could get a home tornado kit I'd be set. (HT: Blogotional.)
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I am going out on a limb, albeit a rather short one, thinking my wife wouldn't agree with all the analysis in this article. Question for the readers of this humble blog: does Ms. Hirshman have a good grasp of priorities and values? Or does she place far too much value on economic value and the amount of housework at the expense of things more important? (And yes, I realize I'm biasing the question - but I'm not pretending this is a formal poll either.)
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For some fun, a while back I posted an avatar to give people an idea of what I look like. Well, thanks to some fellow MOB-sters I have a couple more for you. Keep mixing/mashing all these together and you may (or may not) come closer to understanding why yours truly doesn't publish photos of himself.


(HT: Freedom Dogs.)


(HT: Fraters Libertas.)

*Please note that any such amusing avatar generators lack precision. However, the South Park one captures the essence of my 'do better.

God bless!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 2/17/06 Edition

More good stuff from the ol' blogosphere this week. Or is it last week? I'm sooo far behind in my reading...my apologies. I've been enjoying this refreshing winter (-29 windchill! Whoo-hoo!) and the Olympics. Plus work. Oh, and family. And church. Hmmm...I'd better stop before you think you're way down on my priority list.
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Christian Carnival is up at Pursuing Holiness. The theme this week was love, befitting the Hallmark Holiday of this past Tuesday.

And I think it's a good thing my entry defined easy categorization in the theme:)

Favorite posts in the carnival include:

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Would that Northern 'Burbs Blog would be so effective.
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Twenty-nine degrees below zero windchill (um, for the Fahrenheit challenged, that'd be -33.89 degrees Celcius) and there's talk of baseball? Fellow MOB-ster Always Right, Usually Correct has the right idea.
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And last, I hope you all have a better weekend than the U.S. women's hockey team. I apologize for any part I played in jinxing the squad.

God bless!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bloggin' the Olympics - 'Sota Style Part II

Well, after another dominating win, the U.S. women hockey players finally had to come from behind to remain undefeated. Hopefully the experience is beneficial leading through the semi's into the probable final with Canada. Who we now know are mortal and can be scored upon, even though still dominant. I hope I don't jinx either of the North American teams since I reaaaallllly want to see a U.S./Canada final. We took our girls skating the other night, and they loved it. It makes the women's hockey games more interesting when I think that someday one/both of my daughters may be lacing up skates for the ol' red, white and blue.

Tony Benshoof didn't make history, but fourth isn't so bad. Better than I could do, especially since I think I'd lose control of the luge around turn 2 and end up in a relatively painful crash. Isn't it interesting, though, that the difference between the podium and the spectator's gallery was a mere .16 seconds? About the time it takes to blink, give or take a hundredth or two, separates those who get the glory from those who don't. Of course, the difference between an Olympian and your humble blogging host is too large to contemplate. Even dead last in the Olympics is better than I could do. So, Tony, great job - and I hope you break through in 2010.

The men's curling team improved to 2-1 and looked good against the Kiwis (sorry Catez), and the women's team is falling on rather difficult times through the tough first part of the schedule. Curling just fascinates me, though, since it looks deceptively easy. I'm sure I couldn't possibly go out there and earn an Olympic team spot my first time out - but it's the one sport that appears like something anyone can learn to do.

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 2/13/06 Edition

More good reads from the 'sphere...

SpunkyHomeSchool reminds us that there is a societal problem in the way boys are raised - and the lack of fathers in too many homes is a big part of that. While I recognize there are exceptions, the general rule applies. Boys raised sans father (or male role model) are more likely to have all sorts of woes in life.
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Carnivals, carnivals everywhere! There's a Biblical Studies carnival that looks interesting. God or Not will soon be up at Cadmusings, with the topic of "faith." (Please pray, too as Cadmus has suffered a death in the family.)

I've also stumbled onto a story blogging carnival which may warrant a further look. And, of course, this week's Christian Carnival will be at Pursuing Holiness.
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I really did mean it when I said it was refreshing to see a sound moral point being made on television. Alas, not every show is as enlightened. Too bad Mr. Eko was taken from the priests before He could be taught that Jesus was sinless. This is why, though, we should not take theology lessons from television - even if there is the occassional nut/blind squirrel situation.
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Amen!. (Okay, if you follow the link you'll get to a post by John at Blogotional discussing the coarsening standards in the Godblogosphere.)
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God bless!

Fixin' the Church

Am I the only one noticing a bad trend or three in the American local church writ large? I doubt it. There's been much in the press and blogosphere about it of late. For instance, I'm not sure if registration is required, but it may be for this NYT article talking about the latest example of churches straying from their primary mission. Somewhere in the discussion about how many churches decided that honoring Darwinism was more important than preaching the Gospel, the story notes the decline in attendance of mainline churches and growth in conservative churches. The reason? I'll be getting to that in a second.

John at Blogotional touches on another place the church is, IMO, getting outside its core competency. Teaching stewardship is a wonderful thing, and an appropriate one. Entering the political debate on global warming, though, is not. In fact, I think John nails it with this quote: "This just is not stuff the church is supposed to be about - Christians yes, the church no."

This is the difference, I think, most at the root of why some churches are losing members while others are gaining. Too many churches are straying from the actual, God given responsibilities of the church and trying to make PC political hay instead of preaching the Gospel. This is on top of the problem of the impact of unorthodox teaching, which is also having an impact. When the church starts playing politics, or promoting science above revelation, or teaching things that are antithetical to what the Bible actually says, people leave. The converse seems to be true. When churches preach the Gospel and practice loving service, people are drawn in. Certainty has more appeal than doubt, and truth has more appeal than niceties. The church needs to get out of the business of trying to placate political constituencies. And don't get me started on the problems inherent in using the pulpit to advocate for political candidates - a problem that happens across the theological spectrum.

A parallel issue is being talked about by Ed and others* regarding the dropping of church altogether. It appears that many people are leaving the church to focus on their own personal relationship, because the church isn't quite meeting their needs. Instead of trying to fix the problems, people are leaving. Um, bad idea. Quitting church isn't the answer. When the Bible addresses bad theology, the direction is to correct the heresy, or kick out those teaching it. It never advocates leaving the church because you don't think it's theologically correct enough for you.

The church is driving people away when it starts trying to be all things to each person instead of trying to be the church. It attracts people when it focuses on its calling. It abjectly fails when reaching outside its expertise to discuss things irrelevant to the Gospel. And it fails too when people with God-given gifts remove themselves from the church instead of trying to fix the problems they see.

Let's stop the folly of Darwin Sunday and get back to teaching the Gospel and living like Christ to the extent we sinners can (which is quite a bit if we allow Him to change us! Amazing!) In that way we attract more people - no, in that way God attracts more people to Himself through us.

God bless!

*(Jollyblogger also talks about the book by Barna referenced by Ed. Christianity Today touches on the subject too.)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Bloggin' the Olympics - 'Sota Style

So I'm watching the U.S. women's hockey team beat Switzerland's team this afternoon. I think the Swiss should be grateful there is no checking allowed in the women's game as the U.S. team's better conditioning, speed and strength would have led to an even more dominant game than the 6-0 game with which we ended up. Didn't hurt that a couple of Gophers (Of course! They don't call this the state of hockey for no reason) played well. The Swiss goalie, Patricia Elsmore-Sautter, had to play very well just to keep it close. I felt bad for her, since her team didn't give her much of a chance (a breakaway on a five-on-three disadvantage for the U.S.??? Yikes!) Now we wait a couple more rounds until we go for the gold against the impressive Canadian squad.
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Minnesota has a sizeable number of athletes on the Olympic squad. Which makes sense, considering our proficiency in hockey. There is also a very good percentage of 'Sotans on the curling team - mostly from Bemidji. We also, though, have a couple of skiers on the team, which makes less sense than our highest hills would die of shame in Colorado. But then, we are a folk used to dealing well with what we're provided. And we have a pretty good luger in Tony Benshoof. Benshoof had a good day today in his first two runs. Keep an eye out tomorrow, and hope he can pull in that medal and make U.S. bobsled history.

So, what's new with me?

Guess it's been a week or so - but a good week since I finished my MBA!

Now I just need the diploma, and to decide if I'm going to the graduation ceremony in April. That's the downside of a mid-winter completion of coursework - you've moved on by the time the graduation ceremony comes along.

But anyway, more breathing room all around, and spending the extra time not worrying about homework has been a nice change of pace. Oddly, work has picked up a bit in terms of busy-ness, so I haven't been bored the first week out. The Northern 'Burbs Babe and I also rearranged our home office, and I have a few other home chores to catch up on now that my evenings are a bit freer.

Plus...I get to job hunt, although not necessarily outside my current company. I'm just ready for a change in jobs. We'll see where this goes.

My wife also linked to this blog from her personal Web page (and apparently did the pig drawing too, although I haven't seen it.) Guess I have to watch myself now, since it's actually possible friends and family will discover I have this hobby. If you notice any changes in tone, blame it on that.

And yes, this post was entirely boring for most people, and I only posted because I (a) wanted to thank those who've prayed for me in my MBA pursuits, and (b) let you know I hope to be back a bit more this week.

So, thanks!

And God bless!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Question of Respecting Authority

There was some interesting discussion around the last question I asked (followed up here, here and here.) Let's see where this one takes us.
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Recently, I asked a couple of bloggers I respect very much about how they balance their scriptural mandate to respect and submit to authority with their political views, which aren't favorable to our current President. Years back I asked the same question of some friends who didn't view President Clinton as all dat plus the proverbial bag o'chips.

There are many politicians who personally either grate one me, or offer up ideas I don't care for. Some politicians are brilliant, others are...not so much. We all have favorites and preferences, but regardless I think we are to dignify at least the office with our respect. Insulting politicians with whom we disagree is incredibly tempting and easy. I can think of few things as satisfying, politically, than making someone out to be stupid, incompetent or corrupt. For one thing, it makes us feel better, and for another it allows us to avoid honest debate via the method of "I don't have to dignify the facts offered up by that idiot with an actual argument."*

But were do we draw the line? Jesus called people fools, so I'm not convinced that an accurate statement of someone's wisdom (or lack thereof) is verboten. On the other hand, how are we showing love and compassion by engaging in name calling?

And how do we show respect for an office when the officeholder, in our opinion, is a fool?

I'd like your $.02 worth. And thanks in advance!
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*In my own life, I found this a struggle during the last presidential race when I would all but ignore Howard Dean instead of taking his ideas seriously enough to critique them. Instead it was easier to critique him. And now he's the DNC chair. Likewise, many mock our president, and meanwhile he's enacting his agenda because opponents are spending time mocking him instead of coming up with alternative, substantive ideas.

God bless!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 2/1/06 Edition

I am intrigued by politics. Wanna know why? Only 5,680 people (give or take) stand between myself and the presidency:

Get your position here
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Really, the only thing this proves is that I am not much better drawing using a mouse than with a pencil. And I wasn't sure how to answer the facing left/right thing when my pig faced left but looked right...(HT: Walking Circumspectly.)
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Something more serious from Kristen is this post on Margaret Sanger. Ms. Sanger was, IMO, scary. Unfortunately, her views live on in some quarters.
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In honor of my post of yesterday, I thought I should see what kind of a writer I actually am:
Narrative
You're a Narrative writer!


What kind of writer are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Oddly enough, this confirms what I wrote yesterday. Maybe these quizzes are onto something (except the pig one.) (HT: Rebecca Writes - showing I'm again in good company, as she's a narrative writer too.)
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The Internet makes it increasingly difficult to get away with ignorance or deceit, eh?
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Ed thinks I'm a figure skater, or at least that's where he filed my entry in this week's Christian Carnival. Actually, my wife is the figure skater in the family; I stick to hockey and falling down. (My skating ability is sub-par for a lifelong 'Sotan, but would make me a star in Cali.) Anyhoo...great job on this week's carnival, with an Olympic theme.

God bless!