Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hymn of the Week: "O God, Our Help in Ages Past"

As one year draws to a close and another one opens, it is good to remember that God is not only "our help in ages past" but also "our hope for years to come." To me, the distinguishing characteristic of this hymn is that it gives great comfort—to know that God is near, is help, is hope, is eternally and ever the same.

Written by Isaac Watts nearly three centuries ago, the original title (according to is "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past." There are nine stanzas, which is several more than most hymnals contain—and yet, all are worth reading.

O[ur] God, Our Help in Ages Past

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
“Return, ye sons of men:”
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

They Got WHAT On The Head of a Pin?

According to this story from, scientists in Israel have inscribed the entire text of the Jewish Bible (a.k.a. the Old Testament) onto a space roughly 0.01 inches square. And it only took about an hour to do.

The process involved using gallium ions to "bounce off" gold atoms from a silicon surface, in a process described as similar to using hammer and chisel.

This is just one more illustration of the truth of Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, and Luke 21:33, which teach us that "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my [Jesus Christ's] words shall not pass away."

A happy thought!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Political Predictions—Iowa

For what it's worth, I will add my two cents:

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee will complete his ascent by winning a modest plurality of the caucus vote. Mitt Romney will come in second, and John McCain will finish third. Giuliani and Thompson will lick their wounds and move on to New Hampshire. Ron Paul will be right behind them. This will worry Giuliani and it should.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards will finish very close at 1-2...too close to call at this point. Barack Obama will be 2008's version of Howard Dean: Lots of noise but little results. Hopefully he won't scream when he comes in a distant third. This will be followed by all other Democratic contenders (other than the eternally stubborn Kucinich) dropping out of the race.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Hymn of the Week: Does Jesus Care?

I was reminded today that not everyone finds Christmas to be a time of joy in the pleasant company of loved ones. Some, quite frankly, dread the holiday—perhaps because they have no living relatives, or they are estranged from them, or because of dreadful memories that it brings of sad Christmases past.

This hymn is not a Christmas hymn. But it does remind us all that no matter what the time of year, God does care about each of us. The author, Frank Graeff, wrote the hymn in a time of difficulty in his own life; but the chorus echoes in his life and so many others: Oh, Yes, He cares!

If you are struggling right now, let these words uplift you.

Does Jesus Care?

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress
And the way grows weary and long?


Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?


Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?


Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks,
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Substitute Teaching: Christmas Break Update

Mattawan HS has been the place to be recently; four of the last seven assignments have been there. In the last two weeks, all of them have been in Lawton (2), Lawrence (2), or Mattawan (5) school districts.

Through 12/21/07 (beginning of Christmas break), here is where I have been so far [Note: Frequency of substitute teaching will drop a lot after beginning work with H&R Block in January]:

  • Mattawan (20; 11 in HS, 8 in MS, 1 in Elem.)
  • Decatur (5; 1 in HS, 2 in MS, 2 in Elem.)
  • Paw Paw (5; 4 in HS, 1 in Elem.)
  • Gobles (5; 4 in HS, 1 in MS)
  • Lawrence (4; 2 in HS, 1 in MS, 1 in Elem.)
  • Bloomingdale (3; 2 in HS, 1 in Elem.)
  • Lawton (2; 1 in Alternative Ed., 1 in MS)
  • Howardsville Christian (2, HS)
I have so many interesting stories to tell....

Book Review: "George Washington" by James Burns and Susan Dunn

This installment of the American Presidents Series features our first president, and is also the only one in the series (so far) to be co-authored. (Click here for a review of the biography of John Adams, and click here for the review of Andrew Jackson's biography.) The thesis of the book is that Washington's greatest achievement is the way he shaped the presidency and consolidated executive power.

Although the book is biographical, the book focuses, not surprisingly, on George Washington's shaping of the presidency itself. As the first president, and as the hero of a nation, Washington had the power and influence to shape the presidency in many ways—and he did. Where the Constitution did not "seem" to grant the president a lot of power (prevailing thought back then vested much of the power in legislative bodies), Washington used it to the full extent he could, while still being very respectful of his constitutional limits. The book is generally complementary on his presidential service, and why not? He was a fine president, and did a commendable job. It also speaks highly of his overlooked brilliance at selecting a first-rate cabinet.

The authors apparently felt obliged to take an almost-gratuitous politically-correct jab at Washington for being a slaveowner, and also minimize the influence of religion on Washington's life. The epilogue also seems to give a lower regard (than most people have, or than I think he should) for his moral legacy. Despite these weaknesses, the book does an overall good job of portraying President Washington as president, and can be recommended as a useful perspective on his life and presidency.

Book Review: "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson

From historical books to hysterical books: This humorous tale centers around the Herdmans, "the worst kids in the history of the world." These six siblings are nightmares to everyone in their path, and after they start coming to church, they become the characters in the church Christmas pageant.

Told from the perspective of one of the other children (whose mother was thrust into the role of director of the pageant), this short story is a hysterical look at what happened as the Herdman kids went from being everybody's worst nightmare to doing a reasonably good job at acting out the Christmas story.

Although it is an amusing story, two words of caution: First, there are a couple of times where God's name is used in vain by one of those Herdman kids. Second, this is not intended to be a serious Christmas story; nor is it intended to conclude with the Herdman kids getting saved or even repenting of all of their evil ways (which would naturally kill off much chance of similar sequels, which do exist). It is merely a humorous story—nothing more.

If you read at a moderate pace, ninety minutes will be all you will need.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Book Reviews: "Through Sunshine & Shadows", "The History of PBBC"

Obscure books? Admittedly so. Neither one ever had a massive publication total, but both of them contain topics familiar to me.

Through Sunshine and Shadows is the autobiography of Dr. Monroe Parker. Dr. Parker was born in 1909 (he was 77 years old when the book was published) in Alabama. His childhood is interesting, and his conversion to Christ at age 19 is the key to the book. After his freshman year, he transferred to Bob Jones College, then a new school in Florida, and was called into preaching and evangelism.

He entered evangelism near the start of the Great Depression. Most of his early ministry was in the Deep South, and it is almost shocking (to modern sensibilities) to consider today some of the things he did: Hitchhike long distances; travel with little or no money, relying on faith; and the conversion of large numbers of souls in multi-week evangelistic services. In fact, the large numbers of souls saved in his meetings are, sad to say, a phenomenon not seen much in the United States anymore.

His later ministries included a number of years at Bob Jones College (later University), serving as pastor of an Alabama church, president of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, and president of Baptist World Mission. God used this man in many ways—ways that each of us should pray to be used in.

The book itself has an "anecdotal" style to it, sounding more conversational than literary. It will win no stylistic contests. But it tells of a man who allowed himself to be mightily used of God during times that would discourage most of us today, if we faced them.

Interesting tidbit: Dr. Parker was preceded in death by two wives, and married a third time at age 73.

I would recommend that Christians everywhere read this book...if they can get their hands on it (Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1987; ISBN 0-87398-844-2).

The History of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, written by Larry Dean Pettigrew and printed by the school's Pillsbury Press, is perhaps even more obscure. I worked at PBBC for three years and was given a copy, but never completed it until after reading the Dr. Parker book. The school known today as Pillsbury Baptist Bible College has a very long history. The school was originally chartered in 1854 (before Minnesota was granted statehood) and existed in various forms until it became a Baptist Bible College in 1957. This book was written on the occasion of the college's 25th anniversary.

This is not the most readable book. Its strengths lie elsewhere, particularly in detailing how the school fluctuated between theological liberalism and conservatism over the years. It also tells a story nearly unheard of in the annals of American religious history: How a school that at one time was controlled by theological liberals was "reclaimed" and restored by Bible-believing conservatives.

If you are unacquainted with the school (and don't want to be) or have no interest in Baptist history, particularly in Minnesota, you will find this book highly boring. But if the opposite is true, this slice of history will probably appeal to you.

Interesting tidbit: The name comes from George Pillsbury, who was very generous financially to the school in the late 19th century...and, yes, he had a tie-in with a still-existing company with the same name.

If you want a copy of the book, your best bet is to contact the college directly at (507) 451-2710.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Christmas Verse: 1 John 4:9

"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."
Contemplate that...God sent his only begotten Son into the world. We celebrate this every year. But there are two more thoughts here:
1. What precipitated this event? God loved us.
2. What is His desired result today? That we might live through Him.

Christmas is not just a time to give gifts, eat well, and take time off work. It is, more importantly, a time to remember that God loves us, and that we, in gratitude, should live in the power of his grace and strength. This should cause others to want to do the same.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shocking Statistics To Think About

I mentioned in a blog post some time ago that the annual worldwide abortion total stands at about 46,000,000. This is a holocaust unparalleled in human history: The premeditated murder of so many innocent babies.

But the number 46,000,000, quite frankly, is one of those generic, "big" numbers that most of us deem impressive but don't think about much. Until....

Today I received an e-mail pointing me to a "world clock." This is fascinating to me for many reasons, not all of them statistical, but the one that caught my attention was the one on abortion. That "46,000,000 per year" translates to about 87.5 abortions per minute...and there goes the clock ticking each one of them off at what now seems a horrifically fast pace.

Some statistics about what 87.5 deaths per minute would be like:

  • A small Midwestern town of 1000 would be gone within 11.5 minutes.
  • The village of Paw Paw, Michigan (pop. 3363 in 2000) would be gone in 38.4 minutes.
  • My county of Van Buren, Michigan (pop. 79,018 in 2000) would be gone in just over 15 hours.
  • Kalamazoo County, Michigan, would be gone in a bit less than 2 days.
  • Finland would be wiped out in about 6 weeks.
  • Michigan would be wiped out in about 11.5 weeks.
  • California, the most populous state at about 36,500,000, would be completely exterminated in about 290 days—or about 41.4 weeks.
There's also a ticker that marks off births and deaths (and the corresponding population growth). It is amazing just how frequently humans are being born, and dying, on this planet. And then I realize: Every one of those births is a soul that will live somewhere forever; every one of those deaths is a soul going to either heaven or hell.

If that doesn't impress your soul with the importance of spreading the Gospel message now, you need to examine yourself.

Click here to view the population clock.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good Advice from a Rabbi to an Errant Catholic

Recently my dad sent me an article written by Rabbi Marc Gellman, author of "The God Squad" column that appears in many newspapers. The lengthy question, written by a Catholic, could be paraphrased like this:

"I was alienated from the Catholic church, so I joined a tradition that taught some universal truths, but then became disillusioned with that, so I came back to the Catholic church, in hopes to promote some new ideas. I encouraged them not to blindly and completely accept all church doctrines, and that the religious education of the children—being too stuffy with religious study—should be improved. Are my suggestions 'really so ill-conceived'?" (The last few words are a direct quote.)
The questioner was disappointed that his thoughts received "a cold reception."

The rabbi graciously but firmly and convincingly wrote why "Cafeteria Catholicism" is a bad idea by any religious standard (and certainly by Catholic standards). With a few edits to replace Catholic doctrines with Baptist ones, it would be required reading for some of us!

At one point, the questioner stated that the study of the Bible was "boring." And this is where the rabbi shows exceptional wisdom, when he replied:
"If your experience with Bible study has been unfulfilling, find a new teacher, not a new book."
Brilliant advice! So many people complain about the Bible being "difficult" or "boring" or "dry," and yet they make no serious effort to locate someone who can help them to understand it!
In our day, with a multitude of Bible study "helps" out there, it might be tougher to merely sort through to find a good help, than to find one in the first place!

There is really no excuse for being unable to meditate, learn, and gain wisdom from the study of the Word. Every Christian, with the Holy Spirit indwelling him and aiding him, can do it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Observations from 1 Kings, #3

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah appears to Obadiah and tells him to summon Ahab for the challenge on Mount Carmel. Obadiah's response is interesting for several reasons.

The challenge takes place: Elijah calls down fire from heaven after the prophets of Baal cannot; Elijah then slays the prophets of Baal. Jezebel, wife of Ahab, is enraged; she sends a message to Elijah telling him his life will end before the same time tomorrow. Elijah flees into the wilderness.

Notice, however, that Elijah has a certain type of attitude, epitomized in these three verses from 1 Kings:

(18:22, during the challenge) Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
(19:10, in the wilderness) And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
(19:14, also in the wilderness and apparently oblivious to the fact that God heard him a few moments earlier) And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
Many have preached on Elijah's erroneous attitude here, and justifiably so. I found it interesting that Elijah said it—when he knew it was not true! We note Obadiah's reference in 18:13 that he was personally responsible for hiding one hundred of the Lord's prophets from Jezebel and Ahab. Then in 19:18, God reminds Elijah that there are still thousands who have not bowed to Baal.

The moral may be obvious, but it merits being said: Even when we feel alone, as if we were God's last living servant on this earth and nobody even's not true. God still has a remnant, and although they may represent a small percentage of humankind, we do not labor for God alone. This is a comforting thought! Encourage others who serve God, and let them be an encouragement to you.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hymn of the Week: Blessed Be The Name

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog entry on the name of Jesus. I was thinking about that again today, in church, when this hymn started running through my head. The "Christmas connection" came from the words "Who gave His Son"—it was through that virgin birth that Jesus Christ came to earth to "die" and "redeem" mankind: Us.

Contemplate that, please: The most sinless Being in the entire universe came to earth, as a baby, to be born to die for you! Blessed be His Name, indeed!!

Blessed Be The Name

All praise to Him Who reigns above
In majesty supreme,
Who gave His Son for man to die,
That He might man redeem!


Blessed be the Name! Blessed be the Name!
Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Blessed be the Name! Blessed be the Name!
Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

His Name above all names shall stand,
Exalted more and more,
At God the Father’s own right hand,
Where angel hosts adore.


Redeemer, Savior, Friend of man
Once ruined by the fall,
Thou hast devised salvation’s plan,
For Thou hast died for all.


His Name shall be the Counselor,
The mighty Prince of Peace,
Of all earth’s kingdoms Conqueror,
Whose reign shall never cease.


Words by William Clark, with Refrain by Ralph Hudson

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hysterical Homeschool Video

A friend of ours who homeschools her children sent me a link to this hysterical video about the stereotypes of homeschool families (please note the source before thinking I am making fun of homeschool families). Remember as you view it that is clearly a farce on stereotypes associated with homeschoolers, and then laugh your guts out.

You can enjoy this video by clicking here.

"Holiday Greetings to you All"

From my brother came these touching greetings for the holiday season. I was so moved, that I thought I should send them to you, too....just as I received them.

To all my Democrat friends:
Please accept (with no obligation, implied or implicit) my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To all my Republican & Independent friends:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Review: "Rediscovering American Values" by Dick DeVos

This book, written over a decade ago by the man who lost last year's gubernatorial election here in Michigan, is a series of essays on twenty-four "values" which DeVos believes are important to a better America. He is right. Many of us could probably think of a few more to add to the list (he makes no claim that his twenty-four are a complete, all-inclusive set).

Each essay includes good reasoning about why he believes the "value" is important in our American society, and includes at least one real-life example of a person or people who lived out that value and bettered their community. There is a certain "feel-good" element to the writing, also. Each essay could almost be a stand-alone speech on the virtues of that value.

It is interesting that DeVos references his religion frequently. Although he is not Baptist, as I am, there is much in common with what he believes is healthy for society and what we Baptists believe is healthy for society. Although we may have doctrinal differences (and although I would have been a little bit more forward with inserting Biblical teaching/doctrine/references than he was), there is a lot of wisdom in this book. And that's no surprise, when you consider that he did get a lot of that wisdom from The Book.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Have a New Job!

For now, I have a new job.

Beginning January 3, I will be a professional tax preparer with H&R Block, and will be employed with them through the tax season to April 15. I will be working at the Paw Paw office.

Need help with your taxes this spring? Give me a call!

The Granholm Tax Hike

The counter at the bottom of the column demonstrates how much the Democrat-led, tax-hike-down-the-throat increases have cost Michigan taxpayers....just since October 1! It amounts to approximately $39 per second. More information about what this is really costing Michigan taxpayers can be found here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It Was An Interesting Day in Lawton

For the first time this season, one of the seven districts (and only one of them) in which I substitute took a snow day today, due to ice. As Murphy's Law would dictate, it was the nice middle school math job. I am informed of this by phone shortly after 5:30 a.m.

I turn on the computer to see what else is available....nothing, at first. But a half hour later my wife checks it and informs me that "Alternative Education" at Lawton Elementary has come up. I think about it, decide to take no risks of missing another one, and accept this assignment.

Oddly enough, it doesn't start until 9:00, so I go back to bed for a time.

Although "Adult and Alternative Education" meets at the elementary school in Lawton, these are not little kids: They are teens and adults who for various reasons are working on high school credits outside of the "mainstream" schedule. They had a 60-year-old complete the program to get a GED not too long ago. One young man today told me that he could either be here...or in jail. He was a pleasant person, by the way.

The program goes until 8:00 p.m. on M-Th, and until 4:00 on Fridays. Kids come and go on various schedules during the day; adults frequently come in after work but can come in anytime during those hours. One 21-year-old girl was working hard for several hours today; she is almost finished and will get her GED soon. She hopes to go to community college in January. I never had more than seven people at any single time...and I got to leave at 4:00.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hymn of the Week: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

This is perhaps the most beloved Christmas hymn in America. The words were written by Charles Wesley, who is said to have written over 6000 hymns. lists 265 of them in its database which are set to music, including such well-known texts as Arise, My Soul, Arise; Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus; Love Divine, All Loves Excelling; and this one.

Felix Mendelssohn wrote the music. The original tune was written as part of a secular cantata in 1840, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the invention of the printing press. Mendelssohn's other universally-recognized musical work? His "Wedding March," which has accompanied many brides down church aisles. Interestingly, Mendelssohn was Jewish and wrote a great deal of religious music...and this was not one of those many pieces!

Wesley's words and Mendelssohn's music were "wed" by William H. Cummings and first appeared in an 1857 hymnal. Both the words and the music were a little bit altered from the respective original works. The most famous four verses of the hymn are given below. You may be familiar with one or more variations.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:13-14)
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”


Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.


Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.


Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

NBC Reverses Course!

Apparently even network television can be swayed by the moral outrage of the better part of our citizenry. Fox News reports (here) that NBC has reversed course and in a statement said, "We have reviewed and changed our ad standards guidelines and made the decision that our policy will apply to content only and not to a referenced Web site. Based on these amended standards the Freedom's Watch ad will begin to run as early as Sunday."


How Badly Does NBC Dislike U.S. Troops??

In an ungrateful and thoughtless decision, NBC has "nixed" advertisements, paid for by Freedom's Watch, which thank our American troops overseas for their service. The "stated reasons" NBC gives are that the commercials give the group's website at the end, and according to Alan Wurtzel, president of research at NBC, "the link to the website violates their policy on controversial issue advertising because it encourages political action and other activities. He said the policy is applied consistently across the board and this group was not targeted in any way." (from the news article linked below)

The story from which I learned of this can be found here.
The two 30-second commercials, which I recommend viewing, are found here and here.
The Freedom's Watch website is There is also a link to a petition with which you can share this viewpoint with NBC!
The response of Bradley Blakeman, president and CEO of Freedom's Watch, to NBC can be found here. He does a fabulous and tasteful job of pointing out that this is, in essence, censorship of a viewpoint which NBC apparently disagrees with. How can any American disagree with a message that merely thanks our American troops who hazard their lives overseas for our safety?!?

And how can NBC, which shows a lot of garbage which ought to be censored, say with straight face that thanking troops at Christmastime is against its policies?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Substitute Teaching: 12/7/07 Update

Elementary school time is on the rise. I had my first "day off" when I didn't actually want one on Tuesday; but otherwise assignments have been easy enough to find. I also had my first two-day assignment in an English classroom in (where else?) Mattawan HS.

Through 12/7/07, here is where I have been [future scheduled assignments in brackets] so far:

  • Mattawan (15; 7 in HS, 7 in MS, 1 in Elem.) [2]
  • Decatur (5; 1 in HS, 2 in MS, 2 in Elem.) [2]
  • Paw Paw (5; 4 in HS, 1 in Elem.)
  • Gobles (5; 4 in HS, 1 in MS)
  • Bloomingdale (3; 2 in HS, 1 in Elem.)
  • Lawrence (2, 1 in HS, 1 in Elem.) [1]
  • Howardsville Christian (2, HS)
I have not yet been to Lawton, the other school district in which I am qualified and enrolled to substitute. (At this rate, I'm starting to wonder if I ever will!)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mitt Romney's "Big Speech" on His Religion

Today, as you may have heard, Gov. Mitt Romney gave a speech on his religion and faith. As a Mormon running for president as a Republican, he undoubtedly thought it important that Americans had an understanding of where he stood on these matters, and how they would (potentially) impact his decisions as president.

The text of the speech can be accessed here.

This speech is brimming with blog-worthy observations. More will be coming in the days ahead.

Observations from 1 Kings, #2

And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment. (1 Kings 3:28)
This verse is the conclusion of the story about the two women who both had babies and one had died; when Solomon proposed using a sword to divide the remaining living child between them, the true mother was easy to identify.

It is the people's reaction that is interesting: The people "feared the king" because he had "the wisdom of him, to do judgment." This is, in this way, similar to the concept of the "fear of the Lord," which in part exists because God, as the Holy Judge of the universe, will judge His created beings. Therefore, we fear Him. Likewise, it is proper for children to have a small but healthy degree of "fear" of their parents, as they should recognize that (1) the parents are wise and (2) the parents are God's instruments of judgment, should the children sin.

This idea of fear (of God, or of parents) is not based in the ability of the superior/stronger to inflict pain and suffering—it must be based in the idea that the superior/stronger can administer righteous judgment: Judgment based on the true and righteous Word of God. It is an unpopular idea today that sin (which we all commit) merits judgment, and just as unpopular that God may even allow human beings, such as parents, teachers, or law enforcement, to be the "bearers of judgment."

And as all good Christian parenting books teach, judgment must be based in love. God loves us—obviously, a more popular sermon topic today than His judgment—and likewise, parents must love their children. (For that matter, teachers should love students, police should love the residents of their community, etc.)

At least in the early years of his reign, I think that Solomon did love the people of Israel; and we know that he had wisdom, as God gave him much. Therefore, the people's reaction, as described in this verse, is appropriate.

Observations from 1 Kings, #1

1 Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying,
2 I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;
3 And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: (1 Kings 2:1-3)
It is my hope, that if I die before my children, and especially before my son; and if I have an opportunity to express my last wishes to them regarding their lives before God, that I will use that opportunity to exhort them as David did.

David certainly gives "practical" advice to his son, King Solomon (continuing reading 1 Kings 2—some of it may seem a bit morbid by today's standards!). All fathers should give wise advice to their children. But the main focus, I think, is that Solomon do what God wants him to do. That is what really matters. Whether or not my children spend their lives doing what I want them to do is insignificant, compared to whether or not my children spend their lives doing what God wants them to do.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Grandmother at age 29?

In this article from the Quad City Times, we are introduced to Celia, age 15, and her 1-day-old little boy, Russell. Celia's mother, Leticia, gave birth at the even-younger age of 13, while in the 7th grade.

The happier side of this story is that there exists an entity in Davenport, IA, called the Brighter Futures Maternity Home. Celia spent the last six months of her pregnancy there (in part because of her mother's anger) and developed beneficial relationships with the staff. Thankfully, she did not choose to abort her son.

The harsh reality is that she is a 15-year-old single mother, and Leticia is a grandmother at 29—with three younger children below the age of ten. Neither is married to the father of her child, and statistically, it is highly unlikely that this will ever occur. Leticia stays home with the younger children. Celia has returned to high school and wants to play basketball.

There are so many family issues here that I will not even try to list or analyze them, but one fact stood out to me in this article....Leticia "always urged Celia to tell her if she was having sex so she could arrange birth control for her." [Celia didn't tell her until she became pregnant.] This is the wrong approach. Leticia's responsibility can be summed up in two things:

  1. Model sexual purity to her daughter.
  2. Teach the inestimable value of sexual purity to her daughter.
She clearly did neither. Her husband (if there ever was a husband) is not mentioned in the article, and yet her youngest child is a year older than her grandson.

The alert Christian recognizes that a mother's teaching responsibility extends further than those two points, and includes prayer for her children.

ALPHA THETA wins Turkey Bowl!!......An Update

As reported earlier on this blog....Alpha Theta Pi defeated Alpha Omega Delta in the annual 2007 Bob Jones University Turkey Bowl, by a score of 1-0.

Here is a link to the article in the official BJU campus newspaper about the game.

This is Alpha Theta's second Turkey Bowl championship; the first was three years ago. I misspoke in an earlier entry about this.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hymn of the Week: Glory Be to the Father

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Glory Be To The Father

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, Amen.

Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Chad Groover!!

On Friday, November 30, our friend Chad and his lovely bride Gwen were married! We were able to travel to SC for the wedding. It went very well, as did the reception; few weddings I have been to have gone so well and been done so tastefully.

We wish them many years of blessings and bliss...especially since they waited so long to get started!

Sonny's BBQ: A Real Treat!

Last Sunday at lunchtime, on my trip back from Chad's wedding (see post above this one, once it's written), we stopped for lunch at the one and only Sonny's BBQ we saw along the route, in Corbin, KY. For those of us who live outside the deep south, it is a rare treat to enjoy food like this.

Not only was the food very good, so too was the service. Our waitress was a young, sweet, innocent-looking girl named Melissa...and she was the very essence of everything called "southern hospitality." She was friendly, generous, and kind to the kids. If she were getting a grade, it would be an A+. Her manager should promote her to some sort of mentor status.

Good service is not always easy to find for a family of six on a budget eating out. Congratulations to one young lady who epitomized it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Be a Republican--It's Better for your Mental Health!

This article from says it so well, I'll just quote it below:

Don't worry, be happy: If you're a Republican, those words should be easy to follow.
A roundup of Gallup health polls over the past four years finds that Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to report having excellent mental health.
The survey found that 58 percent of Republicans polled reported having excellent mental health. Only 38 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of Independents reported the same.
The study concluded it was unclear why there was such a strong correlation, but the relationship between party affiliation and mental health was virtually constant even within categories of income, age, gender and other factors.
"The reason the relationship exists between being a Republican and more positive mental health is unknown, and one cannot say whether something about being a Republican causes a person to be more mentally healthy or whether something about being mentally healthy causes a person to choose to become a Republican," the study said.
The study speculated that the fact that Republicans have on average higher incomes than members of others parties could play a factor. But in the study, even Republicans making less than $50,000 a year reported having excellent health far more than Democrats earning the same.
The study was based on interviews with 4,014 American adults who were at least 18 years old, conducted from November 2004 through 2007. The margin of error was 2 percent.