Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Jesus Shall Reign

With the political conventions and the "machinations of power" in full gear now, it is prudent to remember that whoever gets elected this November is only a temporary leader. It is Jesus Christ Who will reign forever and ever!

This Isaac Watts hymn, like several others, had far more stanzas (14) than I realized. But they are all worthy of being read, so I include them here.

Jesus Shall Reign

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

Behold the islands with their kings,
And Europe her best tribute brings;
From north to south the princes meet,
To pay their homage at His feet.

There Persia, glorious to behold,
There India shines in eastern gold;
And barb’rous nations at His word
Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.

To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His Name.

Blessings abound wherever He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.

Where He displays His healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more:
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen!

Great God, whose universal sway
The known and unknown worlds obey,
Now give the kingdom to Thy Son,
Extend His power, exalt His throne.

The scepter well becomes His hands;
All Heav’n submits to His commands;
His justice shall avenge the poor,
And pride and rage prevail no more.

With power He vindicates the just,
And treads th’oppressor in the dust:
His worship and His fear shall last
Till hours, and years, and time be past.

As rain on meadows newly mown,
So shall He send his influence down:
His grace on fainting souls distills,
Like heav’nly dew on thirsty hills.

The heathen lands, that lie beneath
The shades of overspreading death,
Revive at His first dawning light;
And deserts blossom at the sight.

The saints shall flourish in His days,
Dressed in the robes of joy and praise;
Peace, like a river, from His throne
Shall flow to nations yet unknown.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Nuggets From the Greek: Run the Fight!

Hebrews 12:1: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Timothy 4:7: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
1 Timothy 6:12: Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
I noted with interest the other day, when the first two verses were both presented on the same Sunday (and having my Greek N.T. with me), that the boldprint words are in fact identical in the Greek!

Upon checking a couple lexicons, the noun (pronounced ag-one [long "o" sound]) is used only six times in the N.T.; the other three are translated conflict (Phil. 1:30; Col. 2:1) or contention (1 Thess. 2:2). The meaning of the word is rendered struggle, fight, opposition; it has a general meaning of a struggle or contest for a prize at the Greek games.

The verbs in 1 Tim. 6:12 and 2 Tim. 4:7 are each the "verb form" of this noun, and mean "to strive" or "to fight." The "run" in Heb. 12:2 also carries a connotation of competition.

What these words do not imply is that the Christian walk is, well, just a "walk." It is a struggle, with earthly and heavenly rewards and consequences. It is active, not passive; it requires initiative, and not mere reaction. Let us "run" this "race" and "fight" this "fight" in a way that would please the Lord!

Classic DNC Quotes: Bill Clinton, 1996

I watched it. I saw him say it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. Bill Clinton, upon accepting his party's nomination for president at the 1996 Democratic Convention in Chicago, said this:

"But we must demand excellence at every level of education. We must insist that our students learn the old basics we learned and the new basics they have to know for the next century. Tonight let us set a clear national goal: All children should be able to read on their own by the third grade. When 40 percent of our 8-year-olds cannot read as well as they should, we have to do something. I want to send 30,000 reading specialists and national service corps members to mobilize a voluntary army of one million reading tutors for third graders all across America. They will teach our young children to read.

"Let me say to our parents: You have to lead the way. Every tired night you spend reading a book to your child will be worth it many times over. I know that Hillary and I still talk about the books we read to Chelsea when we were so tired we could hardly stay awake. We still remember them, and more important, so does she. But we're going to help the parents of this country make every child able to read for himself or herself by the age of 8, by the third grade." [Emphases mine]
This is the Democrats' idea of education? Third grade?? I have a child entering Kindergarten next week who can already sound out some short words! If this is true, why do they also want to take our kids and put them in government-funded preschools when they are 3 and 4 years old...what are they going to do for all that time, before they learn to read? If a child isn't reading by the start of 1st grade, then that child is already behind schedule!

Furthermore, who does the former president intend to do this teaching? While the parents "have to lead the way" (and this is, of course, true), it is the government and its minions which do the rest. If our nation slips to the point where we need government just to help our children read...our nation is in trouble.

The entire transcript of the speech is here. And does anyone want to wager how many times Bill and Hillary read to their daughter when they "were so tired [they] could hardly stay awake?"

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain-Palin: Wow!

I didn't think McCain would choose Romney, Huckabee, Ridge, or Lieberman—mainly because each of them would bring (real or perceived) negatives to the ticket—but politically speaking, he made a daring yet shrewd choice by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Her resume looks good; she seems to favor all the conservative causes. And although I despise mindless voting, many will vote for her simply because she has two X chromosomes. But here's my observation: This lady gives a great speech! I have never been a fan of Obama's speechmaking ability, which although above average, isn't on a caliber with great orators; but she could out-speechify Obama with ease!

This already makes the campaign much more interesting! (And now I can relax, knowing it's not going to be Romney, Ridge, or Lieberman!)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Michigan Merit Curriculum: A Math Teacher's View

About a year ago, the Michigan legislature passed and the governor signed into law a bill creating statewide graduation requirements (previously, each district set its own requirements; only civics was a statewide graduation mandate). Among other things, this "Michigan Merit Curriculum" (MMC) requires the incoming Class of 2011 to have seventeen required credits to graduate (plus electives), and of these, four are in math: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and a fourth class of the student's choice.

Like the equally well-intentioned yet equally unwise federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2001), the legislation represents an attempt by legislators to dictate to local school districts what is best for those districts. Herein lies the first problem: Legislators know less about what schools and students need than the superintendents, school boards, principals, and especially the teachers in those schools. I have a hard enough time believing that my own state representative could keep track of what all the school districts in her own elected area need—much less what a big-city district like Detroit, or a far-off rural district in the U.P. needs. And I certainly know that members of the U.S. Congress can't keep track of individual district needs!

The corollary to the first problem is this: Not every district in the state should have the same graduation requirements. There is nothing wrong with this. Currently, not every district offers the same array of courses/electives. That's fine, too. If anything, people moving to an area would be encouraged to learn more about each district's course offerings and graduation requirements (and test scores) before buying a home and settling in to a school district. Some districts could justify a four-math-credit requirement; others most certainly cannot. Competition among districts and efforts to distinguish a district from its neighbors would likely thrive. These are good things.

But the Biggest Problems lie here: The inevitable outcome of the MMC policy will be a combination of the following things:

  • The dropout rates will soar. Already, it has been reported that 20-30% of freshmen students failed Algebra I last year—statewide. These students, plus many more who came close to failing, are already discouraged from taking Algebra II (not to mention the other newly-required courses) and will be more likely to choose dropping out than frustration. Dropout rates that were released this week are already dismal enough.
  • The course known as Algebra II will be watered down...a lot. In order for many to pass, teachers and administrators will feel the pressure to make the class easier so that more kids will pass. This pressure will come from nearly every corner...and it will be effective in most places. Note: The "curriculum standards" will not change, just their application in the classroom. The test scores, on the other hand, will change.
  • Social promotion will return with a vengeance. Yes, students will be passed along by teachers who, quite frankly, don't want them (and perhaps their ill-mannered, complaining parents) in their classrooms next year. It's already going on in public schools without the newly added pressure. Some teachers will face administrators administering that pressure.
  • The disgraceful irony of this will be that the teachers/education system will be blamed. Teachers and schools who hold the line on not watering down the math courses and who do not practice social promotion will take heat for no other reason than a larger number of failing students—when they ought to be commended for encouraging quality work. Admittedly, there are teachers who aren't doing the job as well as they should (but is this not true in every vocation?). Yet I think that ignorant legislators, ambivalent parents, and apathetic students will all be getting less of the blame that will inevitably come when this MMC is shown to be unsuccessful.
In sum, I think the MMC is a bad idea. As a math teacher, I want every student to take as many math courses as they can. I want students to enjoy them and be successful—this is my passion. But not every student is capable of being equally successful, and it may be that other coursework is more appropriate for some students or more conducive to their long-term success. The MMC does not allow much liberty in this regard.

This will eventually become another example of a well-intentioned, poorly-thought-out, dictated-from-the-capital government policy that has the unintended consequence of failure. Significant decisions like these belong in the hands of local school leadership.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thoughts on The Olympic Games: Suggested Changes

The Olympics, I thought, went pretty well—particularly since they were held in a communistic country. The Americans won a lot of medals, and NBC had the good sense to broadcast the national anthem a little more frequently this time, and gymnastics a little less.

I have said for some time now that the number of "sports" in the Summer Olympics is too high. Certain ones should be trimmed out. Here are some rules I would suggest the IOC follow:

  • All competitions that require the use of judges to determine scores and winners should be eliminated as official events. All competitions should be subject to objective measurement of time and/or length and/or scoring (or in the case of weightlifting, mass). It is understood that referees and other officials must make pronouncements on the legality of certain elements of competition, but judges who "award" medals are far too subject to subjective and even (gasp!) biased determinations. Eliminates: Gymnastics (unless, for example, they can change dismounts to a distance sport), diving, trampoline
  • All competitions that are "sports" practiced in only a small percentage of the world's countries or by only a trivial number of people should be eliminated. Eliminates: Rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, trampoline; Sailing, badminton, team handball, field hockey, and beach volleyball are brought into question
  • Barbaric competitions, competitions that are little more than "sports-related pornography," and competitions that are performed on motorbikes should be eliminated. Eliminates, respectively: Boxing, beach volleyball (think about it: Why was this on TV so much??), BMX (perhaps the most ridiculous Olympic event ever)
  • All track and field events should be kept. All events which have a historic significance or were part of the original Greek games should be kept. Keeps: All track and field events, archery, fencing, pentathlon, decathlon, etc.
  • Events involving personal protection/self-defense should be kept. Keeps: Shooting, judo, taekwondo, wrestling. Boxing does not qualify here.
  • Team sports with world-wide appeal should be kept. Keeps: Baseball, softball, basketball, tennis, regular volleyball (the kind with teams of six). Not sure if water polo, table tennis, and field hockey belong here....
Similar considerations should be given for the Winter Olympics, too.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord

This hymn seems like an appropriate choice, given the imminent start of school (past, for some). Taken from Psalm 27:11 and 86:11, the title expresses well the attitude we must have toward the things of God: Teachableness.

It is a well-established fact of education that the student who has no desire to learn generally...doesn't. And nearly all of us know someone who, though lacking the "above-average" endowment of school-related ability, through hard work and desire, was successful in the end. I've seen both types of examples in bunches through my years of teaching.

Each of us must have the attitude toward God of "Teach Me." No matter our circumstances, our maturity in Christ, our position, or anything else—we can all be taught, and we all must learn!

Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord (words by Benjamin Ramsey)

Teach me Thy way, O Lord, teach me Thy way!
Thy guiding grace afford, teach me Thy way!
Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heav’nly light, teach me Thy way!

When I am sad at heart, teach me Thy way!
When earthly joys depart, teach me Thy way!
In hours of loneliness, in times of dire distress,
In failure or success, teach me Thy way!

When doubts and fears arise, teach me Thy way!
When storms o’erspread the skies, teach me Thy way!
Shine through the cloud and rain, through sorrow, toil and pain;
Make Thou my pathway plain, teach me Thy way!

Long as my life shall last, teach me Thy way!
Where’er my lot be cast, teach me Thy way!
Until the race is run, until the journey’s done,
Until the crown is won, teach me Thy way!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Michigan GOP State Convention: Part 2

A couple of great photos from a great day...

Here we have Jack Hoogendyk, who has already won the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat now held by the liberal Carl Levin. As always, he did a great job today.

And here we have four very happy children with some of their plunder, including the free hats (promoting a candidate for Wayne State University Board of Governors):

The Michigan GOP State Convention: Part 1

Today was the day of the Michigan state GOP Convention, held in Novi, near Detroit. My wife and I were both delegates, so we took along the four kids—and had a great time!

The primary business of the day (besides choosing electors to the electoral college, should McCain win our state; this was pretty much pro forma) was nominating people to the following positions to appear on the November ballot:

  • Justice of the Supreme Court. Clifford Taylor, the current chief justice, is up for election this year and will be viciously attacked by the other party; conservative justices hold a 4-3 majority on this bench and he is the majority's leader. Michigan Republicans adore him. Every state should have supreme court justices like this man.
  • Two positions on the state board of education. Three folks were running.
  • Two positions on the MSU Board of Trustees. Scott Romney, elder brother of Mitt, is an incumbent; he and one other woman were the only ones in the running.
  • Two positions on the Wayne State University Board of Governors. Only two folks were actively seeking this position.
  • Two positions on the University of Michigan Board of Regents. There were three people actively running hard for these two spots.
The observant will notice that only two of these five listed positions were truly contested. But in every case (not to mention candidates for other offices that have already been chosen in primaries two weeks ago, such as soon-to-be-senator Jack Hoogendyk), stickers, signs, leaflets, and other goodies—including free doughnuts courtesy of Lisa Bouchard, who was the other candidate for MSU Trustee—were being handed out in a manner that even "generously" cannot properly describe. If you like the game-day-face-to-face-meet-and-greet nobody-knows-the-outcome-until-it's-over version of politics, you'd have loved to observe this! My children haven't gotten so much free stuff since Christmas.

As delegates, my wife and I were among those voting for the contested nominations. It is also a great time to meet folks, especially from your own district, who share your political views. I was especially proud of our county's largest delegation to a state convention in some time.

It was also a great opportunity to pick up materials to promote John McCain and others who are running for various offices; to purchase buttons, neckties, and other "stuff" that promotes the GOP; and to get a lot of talking points to share with your friends about "why you should vote for so-and-so for a board of governors on the other side of the state."

But I still left with one question on my mind: Why do we have three colleges with boards of trustees, governors, and regents? Why are they all differently named, yet chosen in the same manner?

Friday, August 22, 2008

What Is a County Republican Convention?

Here in Michigan, every voting precinct elects one or more (depending on population) precinct delegates for each party, to two-year terms. For the second time in a row, I have been elected a precinct delegate [Truth in publishing note: Number of delegate candidates in my precinct did not exceed number of available positions].

As I am already the secretary of the county Republican Party, I am active in Republican politics. So why bother to become a precinct delegate? What do they do?

The first order of business, at our first post-election meeting of this two-year cycle, was to elect nominees to the state convention (to be held in Novi, near Detroit, tomorrow). Because we are on the opposite side of the state from Novi, there was no difficulty getting myself and my wife elected among the fifteen eligible delegates from our county.

Precinct delegates are often among the first tapped for volunteering responsibilities, but are also among the first to get invites to political events, too!

So what does a State Republican Convention do? More on that this weekend, after I get back...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Does Jesus Care?

Today at our church we heard a message from Matthew 6 on why we should not fret and worry. The message was excellent and biblical; I may include its points in a future blog entry.

This hymn is closely related to the theme of that message: We need to remember that not only does Jesus know what is going on in our lives, He knows how it will end up and He wants to use each day's events as vehicles for us to get into the habit of having faith in Him.

Frank Graeff, the author of this hymn, went through a period of great trials and discouragement before finding strength in God's Word (see 1 Peter 5:7) and writing this hymn. Here are the words he wrote:

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?


Friday, August 15, 2008

Obama: Strongly Pro-Abortion!

According to this article by Patrick J. Buchanan, here are some observations about Obama's voting record on abortion-related legislation:

"For not only is Barack the most pro-abortion member of the Senate, with his straight A+ report card from the National Abortion Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood. He supports the late-term procedure known as partial-birth abortion, where the baby's skull is stabbed with scissors in the birth canal and the brains are sucked out to end its life swiftly and ease passage of the corpse into the pan."

"Yet, when Congress was voting to ban this terrible form of death for a mature fetus, Michelle Obama was signing fundraising letters pledging that, if elected, Barack would be "tireless" in keeping legal this "legitimate medical procedure."

"...Barack did not let the militants down. When the Supreme Court upheld the congressional ban on this barbaric procedure, Barack denounced the court for denying "equal rights for women." "

"Thrice in the Illinois legislature, Obama helped block a bill that was designed solely to protect the life of infants already born, and outside the womb, who had miraculously survived the attempt to kill them during an abortion. Thrice, Obama voted to let doctors and nurses allow these tiny human beings die of neglect and be tossed out with the medical waste."

"Obama is an abortion absolutist. "I could find no instance in his entire career," writes Freddoso [author of the new book Case Against Barack], "in which he voted for any regulation or restriction on the practice of abortion." "

"In 2007, Barack pledged that, in his first act as president, he will sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would cancel every federal, state or local regulation or restriction on abortion. The National Organization for Women says it would abolish all restrictions on government funding of abortion."
This alone should cause any decent person to cast their vote for another candidate. But as Buchanan himself stated in his article,
"How can a man who purports to be a Christian justify this?"

Teachers Packing Heat—Attackers Take Note!

According to, a small Texas school district has passed a policy that will allow teachers to carry concealed firearms, provided they meet certain requirements. Several good reasons were given for this, many of which would apply to other school districts across our nation:

  • "To deter and protect against school shootings." Politically correct, of course; but entirely within the bounds of common sense
  • Safety concerns, particularly assaults
  • According to the school superintendent, "When you make schools gun-free zones, it's like inviting people to come in and take advantage." He's right.
  • The sheriff's office is 30 minutes away and the school is next to a heavily traveled highway
I hope other school districts see wisdom here and adopt similar policies.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Americans For Prosperity—And A Great Time!

This morning, I was at a free event held by Americans for Prosperity, a group I had little familiarity with before today. Two gentlemen, one of whom is Jack Hoogendyk, who will God-willing be our next senator from the state of Michigan, invited us to come. The big draw of the event was free hot air balloon rides...not to mention free T-shirts for the first fifty to register online and free donuts and juice (fresh Krispy Kreme, by the way).

Despite not immediately registering, we were among the first fifty to register, so all six of us in the family got free shirts. Then we all got a free donut. After listening to four brief speakers, including Hoogendyk (whose current state House district includes the site of this event), we got our chance, however brief, to go up and down in the tethered hot air balloon.

A great time was had by all.

There was even a protester. Just one. She held up a sign promoting efficiency as the answer to our energy problems. All of us agree that efficiency is a necessary part of wise energy stewardship—but it will not solve the major problems of energy acquisition or government over-regulation of the energy industry and markets. She was made to feel welcome, behaved civilly, and seemed to have a decent time (although I didn't ever see her in the balloon). Several people talked with her...all very civilly. This is a nice way to treat protesters; we Republicans are like that. [Note: Protesters who are disruptive and violent should be promptly handed over to law enforcement. We Republicans are like that, too. Prepare to take notice how each party treats the other's protesters at their respective upcoming conventions.]

I encourage you to take a look at this organization's website and documents. They make some great points.

Thoughts on California, Part 6

Click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Whose dumb idea was this, anyway?

This was the thought I had when we lived in Minnesota, and we would go to the Twin Cities area for something....and on the entry merge ramps, going onto a highway, would be...a traffic light! Did I not learn in driver's education—and from my parents—that the whole purpose of the ramp was to get up to highway speed so that one could safely and easily merge into the freeway traffic? Does having to stop partway along the ramp somehow make this safer or easier?

Someone (clearly not a Republican) apparently thought it would be a good idea to regulate the flow of traffic onto a highway by letting one car at a time go down the ramp. Never mind the fact that a yield sign or two could generally be enough.

In Los Angeles, the same dumb idea was seen again. The main difference between here and the Twin Cities is that in L.A., the ramps are generally shorter! Nothing like a little challenge for the out-of-town driver....

In short, it speaks poorly of the government when ideas lacking in common sense are promoted as policy. I think this is another example. Note also which political party dominates in these regions....Hmmm....

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thoughts on Obama: A Look Back

Like any good Republican blogger, I find it my duty to inform Americans about Barack Hussein Obama, democratic nominee-in-waiting for the presidency. And like any good history minor, I find it important to take a look back at what history has shown us. So I offer the following links to Obama-related postings of the last several months:

And this picture from January, which I thinks sums up so much of the Obama campaign (note what's upside-down in the background):

Book Review: "Gerald R. Ford" by Douglas Brinkley

This is yet another book in the American Presidents Series by Times Books (and completes my reading of the volumes I got for Christmas!). As with the other books, it is a biography which focuses on the presidency of the man and important issues relating to this presidency.

Of course, in Ford's case, he came to the presidency without the benefit of a vote of the people of all the states. Ford's background in Congress is covered, and his rise to minority leader detailed, giving insights as to why he was selected in 1973 upon Agnew's resignation as vice president. The Watergate matter is also covered in some detail.

The single biggest issue covered in the book is the decision to pardon Nixon a month after he became president. At the time, the decision was widely (and bipartisan-ly) condemned as anything from a mistake to a sinister deal. Brinkley takes the position—taken in 1974 by Ford—that the pardon was a necessary step of healing for the country, and anyway implied guilt by virtue of its acceptance by Nixon. He also spends some time detailing how the public perception of the pardon changed by the time of Ford's death last year. Other significant issues of his presidency are detailed, generally in a positive light, as are the challenge Reagan mounted for the Republican nomination in 1976 and his eventual loss in the 1976 election to Carter.

One thing to note is that Ford was not a conservative in the sense described today. He was pro-choice on the abortion issue (as was his wife). There is some debate as to whether he took a sufficiently hard stance against communism during his 29-month presidency. Due to the large democratic majorities in Congress at that time, he would have had difficulty getting any significant conservative legislation through, which, of course, gives some to believe that he was too cozy with the democrats in Congress.

The book is readable, informative, and generally evenhanded (Brinkley, like most of the biographers in this series, usually describes his subject as positively as objectivity will allow). If you want a basic overview of the Ford presidency, you will get a good one here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

The music was written, and the words translated, in the 19th century; but the original Latin lyrics date back to Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th century. It is one of the oldest known hymns sung today.

And like many hymns, only some of its verses are found in hymnals today. This particular hymn has 15 stanzas (they're all down there), of which only four or five are commonly published.

This morning I was thinking on the first and most familiar stanza, and I noted a progression:

  • The thought of Jesus is sweet.
  • The sight of His face is sweeter.
  • To rest in His presence is sweeter yet.
Right now, on this earth, we only get to enjoy the first of those—but the day is coming when those of us who are saved will be able to enjoy all of them. A happy day that will be!

I encourage everyone to read all the stanzas. Each presents truth about Jesus that should encourage the heart...and each speaks for itself.

Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest Name,
O Savior of mankind!

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize will be;
Jesus be Thou our glory now,
And through eternity.

O Jesus, King most wonderful
Thou Conqueror renowned,
Thou sweetness most ineffable
In Whom all joys are found!

When once Thou visitest the heart,
Then truth begins to shine,
Then earthly vanities depart,
Then kindles love divine.

O Jesus, light of all below,
Thou fount of living fire,
Surpassing all the joys we know,
And all we can desire.

Jesus, may all confess Thy Name,
Thy wondrous love adore,
And, seeking Thee, themselves inflame
To seek Thee more and more.

Thee, Jesus, may our voices bless,
Thee may we love alone,
And ever in our lives express
The image of Thine own.

O Jesus, Thou the beauty art
Of angel worlds above;
Thy Name is music to the heart,
Inflaming it with love.

Celestial Sweetness unalloyed,
Who eat Thee hunger still;
Who drink of Thee still feel a void
Which only Thou canst fill.

O most sweet Jesus, hear the sighs
Which unto Thee we send;
To Thee our inmost spirit cries;
To Thee our prayers ascend.

Abide with us, and let Thy light
Shine, Lord, on every heart;
Dispel the darkness of our night;
And joy to all impart.

Jesus, our love and joy to Thee,
The virgin’s holy Son,
All might and praise and glory be,
While endless ages run.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thoughts on 2 Samuel 12:13-14

"13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
14 Howbeit,
because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die."

David had sinned with Bathsheba, had her husband killed, and married her in a weak attempt to cover up his adultery. Nathan confronts him of his sin, and he repents.

Sin is a serious matter, no matter what it involves. In David's case, it meant the death of his son. But I have found it fearful to think that my sin could very well become public knowledge and cause the unbelieving to blaspheme my God. It has certainly happened before, and just yesterday I heard mention of a famous pastor's wife in court, accused of assaulting an airline stewardess. Many of us are old enough to remember names like Bakker and Sweigart—and the shame they brought to the cause of Christ.

Even if my sin never becomes known to an audience of unbelievers, it is still serious and worthy of judgment. But as a father, teacher, and adult, my sin could impact my testimony—and that will impact what others think of my God.

This puts sin in a much more serious light.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Election Has Concluded—Now What?

Yesterday's Michigan primary is in the books. Not all of my choices for office were victorious yesterday, but that is now beside the point...we need to consider what happens next.

Every voter (not just in Michigan) has an obligation to learn who will be on the November ballot, and to educate him/herself about their positions and voting history. We have three months to do this. It's not just about whether McCain or Obama becomes president; it is about your state representative, your township trustees, and your sheriff. You have an obligation to educate yourself.

And you also need to educate others. Sad fact is, most voters are relatively ignorant of the candidates and issues....yet they vote anyway. Share what you learn with others. Share how candidates like Obama and Carl Levin have a history of voting against the principles that made this country great. Remind others if your state representative voted for that huge increase in Michigan taxes last year—or if they voted against it. The facts are out there. Time to learn!

Monday, August 4, 2008

THIS is How a Dress Code Should Be Enforced

I am so sick-and-tired of schools that don't enforce their dress code—even if it was a weak one in the first place. So I read with pleasure this article sent from a friend. I think it's an idea whose time has come. Here is the beginning of that article:

"GONZALES, Texas — Violating Gonzales High School's dress code is not a crime, but some of the offenders are about to start looking a lot like convicts.

Soon after classes begin Aug. 25, violators of the district's beefed-up dress code must don navy blue coveralls unless they get another set of clothes from home — or serve in-school suspension. The outfits aren't just styled like prison jumpsuits — they're actually made by Texas inmates.

"We're a conservative community, and we're just trying to make our students more reflective of that," said Larry Wehde, Gonzales Independent School District deputy superintendent."

Feel free to read the whole article, including the obligatory comments from people who don't like the policy.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hey, Michigan! Get Out And Vote!

Tuesday, August 5, is Primary Day in Michigan. If historical trends are to continue, only about 20% of republican and democratic voters will trouble themselves to go to the polls and cast a ballot.

And this is a shame! Those of us who believe in biblical values, family and pro-life values, and pro-Bill-of-Rights values should be the first to beat down the doors of the polling place on any election day. God has granted us the privilege of electing our leadership, and we are irresponsible if we do not take advantage of it.

Not familiar with the candidates? Here are some suggestions:

  • Get your local newspaper. Nearly all of them have a pre-election section with candidate profiles, etc. Check the paper's website, too.
  • Contact the county clerk's office (here in Michigan; it may be a different office in other states) and ask for a sample ballot.
  • Take a look at conservative, Bible-values-oriented organizations which produce voter guides and the like. Citizens for Traditional Values is one such example. There are many more.
  • Any candidate worth his/her salt has a website now. Look it over; see where they claim to stand on issues. Be wary of candidates whose stands are vague, fuzzy, nondescript, inconsistent with voting history, or obfuscatory (e.g., Barack Obama).
  • If you live in Van Buren County, Michigan, ask me.
If you need one, get an absentee ballot (Michigan voters: Click here). And by all means, if you are not registered to vote, get registered to vote! (Michigan residents: Contact your local Secretary of State office)

Finally, be sure to vote for candidates whom you can be confident will have values based on the Word of God and the Constitution of this great country. We have too many leaders who ignore these documents and their principles...and they do so to our peril. More on these candidates later....

Hymn of the Week: The Fight Is On

Some would joke that this is the teacher's classroom anthem....but not so. I heard a good sermon today on the Christian's armor (see Ephesians 6) and this song sprang to mind.

Every day we are in a war against the Devil and his forces. There is no relenting in this fight [a quote which reminds me of President Bush and the War on Terror—there are no days off in that war, either]. Satan seeks to devour each and every one of us who name the name of Christ—not merely to obstruct, injure, confuse, or impede—he wants to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). Therefore, the "fight" truly is "on" every single day!

And the devil is powerful. Without God's direct help, we have no hope of victory. Without His armor, we have no protection, no defense; without His sword of His Word, we have no weapon. Without prayer, we have no communication to Him, or any means to implore His aid.

The hymn reminds us, however, that the Lord is to lead us! If we follow Him, trust in Him, and obey His commands, our spiritual victory is secure.

The words and music are by Lelia N. Morris (1905).

The Fight Is On

The fight is on, the trumpet sound is ringing out,
The cry “To arms!” is heard afar and near;
The Lord of hosts is marching on to victory,
The triumph of the Christ will soon appear.


The fight is on, O Christian soldier,
And face to face in stern array,
With armor gleaming, and colors streaming,
The right and wrong engage today!
The fight is on, but be not weary;
Be strong, and in His might hold fast;
If God be for us, His banner o’er us,
We’ll sing the victor’s song at last!

The fight is on, arouse, ye soldiers brave and true!
Jehovah leads, and victory will assure;
Go buckle on the armor God has given you,
And in His strength unto the end endure.


The Lord is leading on to certain victory;
The bow of promise spans the eastern sky;
His glorious Name in every land shall honored be;
The morn will break, the dawn of peace is nigh.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

You might be from Michigan if... (The Encore!)

About a year ago, I posted this entry entitled You might be from Michigan if...and today I ran across this list. There is some overlap, but it's still funny.

And I'm not even a native.

You know your from Michigan if:

You've never met any celebrities

Vacation means going to Cedar Point

Half the change in your pocket is!

Your idea of a 7 course meal consists of a 6 pack and a bucket of smelt

You drive 86 mph on the highway and pass on the right

Your idea of a traffic jam is 20 cars waiting to pass one orange barrel

You know how to pronounce and play euchre

You know the Big Mac is something you drive over

You had to switch on the heat and the A/C in the same day

You end your sentences with prepositions: EXAMPLE: "Where is my coat at?"

You bake with soda and drink a pop

All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit, a vegetable, grain, or animal

You think the 4 major food groups are pork, beef, BBQ sauce, and beer

You carry jumper cables in your car

You design your kids Halloween costume to fit over a snow suit

Driving in the winter is better because the pot holes are filled with snow

Your favorite holidays are Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the opening of deer season (which you consider a national holiday)

You have 10 favorite recipes for venison

You know what cow tipping and snipe hunting are

Your little league game was snowed out

You learned to drive a boat before you could ride a bike

You owe more money on your snow mobile than your car

Your snow blower has more miles on it than your car

Shoveling the driveway constitutes as a great upper body workout

You attend a formal event in your best clothing, finest jewelry, and snow mobile boots

The municipality buys a Zamboni before a bus

The word thumb has geographical, rather than anatomical significance

You show people where you grew up by pointing to a spot on your left hand

Travel coast-to-coast means driving from Port Huron to Muskegon

You know that Ypsilanti not only exists, but isn't far from Hell

You have experienced frost bite and sunburn in the same day

Your year has two seasons: winter and construction

Owning a Japanese car was a hangin' offense in your hometown

You believe that "down south" means Toledo

You think that everyone from a bigger city has an accent

Quote Of The Day

My lovely wife Jennifer pointed out this tidbit from Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel DeFoe (first page of the chapter, I Am Captured By Pirates). I think that although I am taking it out of its context, it is a highly accurate description of most people, including many Christians, today.

"...from whence I have since often observed how incongruous and irrational the common temper of mankind is, especially of youth, to that reason which ought to guide them in such cases, viz., that they are not ashamed to sin, and yet are ashamed to repent; nor ashamed of the action for which they ought justly to be esteemed fools, but are ashamed of the returning, which only can make them be esteemed wise men."

Thoughts on California, Part 5

I have a better idea now as to why people want to move to California—specifically, the Los Angeles area.

I'm not certain it is the "city living." The people are packed in, yards are the size of postage stamps, there are enough illegal immigrants to populate another nation, traffic is heavy, and the state government is on the verge of socialism.

It is probably the weather. While we were there, and much of the country was suffering in its typical summer heat, the L.A. coast was quite comfortable. The evenings were quite cool (my wife even used the word "cold," but I can't go that far). The humidity is almost non-existent. In the winter, snow and freezing temperatures are rare near the coast. The summer contains little rain to interrupt life's activities. Plant life, when properly watered, abounds.

This still doesn't explain much of the rest of the state, where low rain equals high fire danger [the mountains are a dull shade of brown right now]; nor does it explain the nearly-ever-present haze that abides over the region. But in that part of the state, the weather sure was nice.