Thursday, December 14, 2006

What Did He Write on the Ground?

This will likely be the last sentence diagramming post for a while. A few days ago, I wrote a piece in which I mentioned trying to convince my grammar students that Jesus loved diagramming sentences.

One of my students made reference to the pericope adulterae, the Woman Caught in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11). As everyon
e knows, that section is not found in the oldest manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. Most evangelical scholars agree that, though it seems to be consistent with the rest of Jesus' teaching, was not a part of John's original Gospel. But assuming that this narrative did take place, commentators have long wondered just what He wrote on the ground.

Some suggest that he may have written wor
ds from the Mosaic Law, or even a list of the hidden sins of the woman's accusers. My esteemed colleague, Mark Moore, has written (Chronological Life of Christ, Volume I):

There have been many speculations as to what he wrote. One attractive suggestion is that he wrote accusations against the various Sanhedrin members. Another says he wrote a list of their names. Still another supposes that he just doodled to show his disinterest. We’re curious about what he wrote. But apparently it doesn’t matter. The emphasis is on the act of writing, not what was written. While Jesus scribbles in the sand they keep pressing him for an answer. They get more of an answer than they bargain for.
Now, a student in my 7:00 AM Analytical Grammar class has given the answer: what Jesus wrote in the dust was a sentence diagram. Though Jesus likely spoke Aramaic, the oldest text I have of this event is fro
m the Greek New Testament, so I have tried to replicate what He wrote, for your (actually, for my) enjoyment:

Peace to all those of good will!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Small Giant Graduates to Heaven

My office is located in the Seth Wilson Library building on the campus of Ozark Christian College. Seth Wilson, 92 years young, beloved professor and founder of the college, went home to be with Jesus on Monday, December 11, 2006. His imprint is evident in my life and in the very cultural fabric of the institution. Though he has not taught classes for many years, he has maintained an office in the building that bears his name. He was normally present on Tuesdays and Thursday in our chapel services. The last time I saw him was last Thursday morning after our chapel service. My good friend, James McCracken (from Muskogee, Oklahoma), had preached the final chapel service for our year. Bro. Wilson (as those who knew him well addressed him) stepped forward to offer gracious words about James' sermon. Bro. Wilson was small in stature, but was a spiritual giant. His life exemplified the core values of our institution:
  • The Word of Christ Taught in the Spirit of Christ (Colossians 1:18)
  • Not to Be Served but to Serve (Mark 10:45)
  • Speaking the Truth in Love (Ephesians 4:15)
  • Trusting in the Power of God and Seeking the Glory of God (1 Corinthians 4:20; Isaiah 42:8)
  • Atmosphere of Grace, Trust, and Freedom (Romans 15:7; 1 Peter 4:10)
  • Restoring Biblical Christianity (John 17:21)
  • Worship in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23-24)
Colleagues who also had the privilege of studying under him frequently quote him. My favorite quote, to which I aspire as a teacher is this: "What we teach you to know is not as important as who we teach you to love." Thank you, Lord, for the life and legacy of Seth Wilson.

On a side note, as I read his obituary in the Joplin Globe, I realized (I think for the first time), that we were born in the same city, Maryville, Missouri. I am proud to have followed his footsteps.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Do You Think I'm an Obsessive Compulsive Book Worm?

Ricoblog put me on to this, so I took it. I'll include it here at the bottom, so that you can take the online quiz. I took the quiz, and it called me that name in the title above. What do you think? It said:

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Try the What Kind of a Reader Are You? quiz for yourself:

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader

Book Snob

Literate Good Citizen

Fad Reader


What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Peace to all!


Oh, Why Not?

Since diagramming sentences is so much fun (!), I thought I might as well put the diagram from the NIV out there:

Click on image to enlarge it if you are so inclined.


John 3:16 Diagrammed in Greek

This morning in my 7:00 AM Analytical Grammar class, we diagrammed John 3:16 from the NIV. I switch classrooms at 8:00, to teach Greek. When I was finished with Greek class this morning, I had Greek written all over the white boards. At 9:00 AM, another Analytical Grammar class comes into that classroom. They were to have diagrammed John 3:16. Someone from that class asked me to diagram John 3:16 and have it on the board tomorrow. Not being one to shrink away from a challenge, I diagrammed it. Here is goes:
Click on image to enlarge. Diagramming software part of Libronix Bible software (Original Language Package or greater).

There you have it. It is every bit as beautiful in Greek as it is in English. I have trouble this morning in my Grammar class convincing my students that Jesus loves diagramming sentences. I guess the best argument is that since He is God, by definition He knows how to diagram sentences, and that in our quest to become as He is, we should learn to diagram sentences as well. I'm not sure that connected with them either.

We had an excellent chapel sermon this morning by my good friend, James McCracken, about the Prince of Peace. As many of my students say, peace out!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

(Grand)Children are a Blessing from the Lord

127 If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?
3–5 Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you;
you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.

Peterson, E. H. (2002). The Message : The Bible in contemporary language (Ps 127). Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress.

Samuel Malachi Fish -- arrived December 5, 2006 at 1:48 PM
7 lbs. 5.9 oz. 20" long.
Nathan, Greg, Eli, Samuel, Emily

Monday, December 04, 2006

Snow and Ice in the 4 States

It seems like it took 4 days to dig out. We're still not back to normal. Last Wednesday morning when I left home (about 5:30 AM) it was 67 degrees. That was the high for the day, as we had about a 50 degree drop during the day with precipitation. By the middle of the afternoon, we had freezing rain/sleet. The next morning (Thursday) we had a couple inches of ice over most everything. It took me about 15 minutes to break in to my car, since the doors were frozen shut. Thursday afternoon/evening it started snowing. I suppose we got 6-8 inches, which made getting up our hill difficult. All the schools in the 4 States area were closed on Thursday and Friday. Most of them are closed today (Monday). We should get up into the mid 30s today, and a lot of the stuff on our street should melt off. I thought the refrozen stuff on the roads was more dangerous this morning than the other days. Our street, Oak Ridge Drive, is pure ice on top of snow pack, on top of ice!

The snow and ice came at a most inappropriate time. I rented a storage unit for Kristy's (our surrogate daughter, Kim's best friend, and future apartment mate) furniture. She needed to get her furniture out of the house where she and her former fiancé were planning on living (the engagement was broken a few weeks back) by the end of November. The girls will move into an apartment on Jan. 1, 2007 (with one more roommate), but can probably move stuff in a few days ahead of that date. I wanted to keep the rental of the storage facility to just one month. The weather made it difficult to get done.

Special thanks go out to Deniss Montenegro, Justin Carney, Josh Willis, Andy Rodriguez, and Shawn Lindsay who went waaaaaayyyyy beyond their responsibility to help. Thanks, guys!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Photos from NMC/Indpls Trip

I've already posted that seeing family/friends was a highlight of the trip. Here are some photos we took.

Mike (Rose's brother) and Jackie McGill, with Rose

Patty Adams (Rose's sister) and Rose (people say they look like each other)

Richard McGill (nephew), Linda McGill (sister-in-law), and Richard's daughters, Morgan and Taylor, and Rose

Patty Adams and Ron Stackhouse

Steve DeFor (David's former youth minister) and David

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Reed-Kellogg Grammatical Entry from the NMC

This occurred to me during a worship service at the NMC in Indianapolis. I was contemplating what to do with the phrase here below. Let me know if you have any corrections. The last time I diagrammed a sentence (before this year) was in the 1960s.

What's Up with the Cubs?

Can the Cubs Win in '07? Just wait 'til next year! The Tribsters are doing something they have never done before, at least to this extent. Generally, there are two things the Cubs don't do:
1) sign a top flight free agent to a monster contract
2) compete to re-sign their own star free agent players.

What they have done this off season is new and different. Could it mean that they want to win
in '07? The glaring hole is still pitching, but the batting order seems to be coming around.

w are five players who have signed to extend their status on the Cubs or have accepted terms as free agents to play for the Cubs:

Ramírez signed before re
ally testing the market, for what is considered a hometown discount. Wood signed a small one-year deal with incentives that could make him a lot of money. I hope he makes a lot of money, which would mean that he actually produces up to his potential. Hank White is a solid backup catcher, and helped the Cubs when Michael Barrett went down. Mark DeRosa is an able major leaguer, and has been given the starting slot at 2B, even though he played more games in RF last year. Alfonso Soriano is the big signing, at 136 million for 8 years. He is a 40-40 man, and given the size of the Friendly Confines, could put up huge numbers. My concern about the players pictured above? Ramírez gave the Cubs a hometown discount, and the Cubs opened up the purse strings and rewarded Soriano with the fifth largest MLB contract of all times (behind Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, and Todd Helton). To compete, Aramis Ramirez needs to put up numbers all season long. If he pouts, and refuses to hustle, the team chemistry will be affected. Lou Piniella may have to motivate him. I'll be watching for what Lou will do if Aramis jogs down to 1st base!

Below is a photo of Soriano batting in a Cubs uniform, taken from the Bleed Cubbie Blue site. It was PhotoShopped by David Salgado.

How good can Soriano be? A couple graphics from may put it into perspective:

As a 40-40 man, he has joined a pretty exclusive club. Though he is too old (in my opinion) to receive an 8-year contract, he's quite a bit younger than the Bonds guys ahead of him on the 30-30 list. At the end of his playing days, he will probably be the player with the most 30-30 seasons of all times! And notice that he's already quite a bit ahead of the the other former Cub on the list.

But what's up with the Cubs? Carol Slezak may have an idea. The Cubs may be for sale. I'll use Slezak's words:

Why now? Was the embarrassing 2006 season the catalyst? Did those 96 losses shame Tribune Co. into caring? But what makes last season any different than the many other miserable seasons that preceded it? The 95-loss 1999 season, for instance. Or the 97-loss 2000 season?

Andy MacPhail, the guy everyone liked to beat up on, is gone. MacPhail served one good purpose, as a go-to guy for fan frustration. The only problem with the MacPhail-bashing -- and I took my share of swings -- is that it ignored the fact that MacPhail served at his bosses' discretion. So does John McDonough, MacPhail's replacement. And as you look up, up, up the Tower, you see that the top boss, CEO Dennis FitzSimons, still is running the show. Is it possible that FitzSimons has had a change of perspective, developed a competitive fire and a conscience? I don't see how. Tribune Co. never has cared about winning, and it never has cared about Cubs fans. Why would it start now?

Nope, if the Cubs actually are spending in an effort to be competitive, it must mean that Tribune Co. intends to sell the team, and probably before the bills become due. And for Cubs fans everywhere, that day can't possibly come too soon.

She might just have it right. I've been waiting most of my life for the Cubs to win (or play in) a World Series. If they do it in '07, that would be heaven! Not really, but it would be sweet (heaven will be much better)! I would like them to do it, to avoid the 100-year with no championship jokes in 2008. We'll just have to wait, though. Just wait 'til next year!


Monday, November 20, 2006

National Missionary Convention

We got back from Indianapolis last night. The convention was great. I like the NACC, but I think I like the NMC more. I'll just write some highlights.

People I Saw. Dennis Bratton, Ron Ritchey, Vinton and Rachel Ritchey, Tom & Marilyn Chamberlin, Steve DeFor, Dick and Virginia Mangel, Gerald Holmquist, Wayne Shaw, Bill Crandall, Dale Meade, Bill Morgan, Susan Calderón, Ajai Lall, Marsha Relyea, Jack and Janine Swanson, and others that I hadn't seen in a long time, but have forgotten to list.

Workshops. I'll write about two workshops I attended. Dick Alexander related changes occurring in churches in the U.S. to the mission enterprise. Perhaps the most challenging thing is for current missionaries to find a venue within the local church. Gone are the days when the missionary was given the Sunday evening church service. I attended another one by a PBT missionary recruit who just finished a Master's degree at Lincoln Christian Seminary. His topic was a much condensed version of his master's thesis, on finding a way to communicate the Gospel to people in West Africa steeped in animism, focused on and operating out of a context where power is a deeply felt need. Kim and Kristy attended that workshop as well, and also liked it. He relied heavily on Rick Love's book Muslims, Magic and the Kingdom of God, and Ed Murphy's Handbook for Spiritual Warfare. He also cited the idea first expounded by Paul Hiebert on The Flaw of the Excluded Middle.

Preaching. My boss, Mark Scott, preached the first night. His text was John 4, and the message was phenomenal. I have never heard him preach poorly. I've heard myself preach poorly on numerous occasions. Over fifteen years ago, he preached a delightful message on John 4. This message demonstrated how rubbing up against missionaries and mission fields has impacted his life. Thanks, Mark! The final message, by Ben Cacharias was a challenge to the church to follow the example of Jesus in his kenosis and in his splaghna. It was a powerful message. All messages and workshop recordings may be purchased from Christian Audio Tapes.

Family. We stayed with Rose's sister, Patty, and shared some time with other family members, Richard McGill (nephew) and his daughters, Morgan and Taylor, and Linda McGill (sister-in-law). Bob and Melody (my sister) Voss and their two daughters were present on Saturday. We have a habit of eating at Steak n Shake with them during their 1-day visits to National Missionary Conventions.

One last note. When I got home (three days of no internet), I had an e-mail from Neil Cox in Indianapolis, wondering whether or not I would blog about the NMC. Neil has a pervasive presence on the internet, and I commend his pages to you, that already have other comments from the NMC in Indianapolis this weekend.

I'm back in the office, and will work this week, at least a few days. We'll enjoy Thanksgiving in Lamar, MO with Mike and Jacque (my sister) Gage, part of their family, Mom, Bob and Melody Voss, and part of our family. Greg and Emily will be in South Texas. We'll miss you!

Blessings on you all.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Go, Roger, Go!

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about following the Utah Jazz. It's really the first time I've followed an NBA team since the days of MJ at Chicago. Generally, the college game interests me more than the NBA game. Last spring, I wrote a post about that.

This year, however, I have my eye on a non-drafted rookie, Roger Powell, who is on the roster of the Utah Jazz. I think the Jazz currently has 14 players on their roster, 12 of which "suit up" for each game. Rules governing what
was formerly called the injured reserve list have changed in the NBA this year. Prior to each game, the team can choose which 12 players will be in uniform. Roger Powell has only been in uniform for two or three of the 8 regular season games so far. He did not actually get into a game until last night. He played in garbage time at the end of the game last night, when the Jazz defeated the LA Clippers by a score of 112-90. He played a grand total of 1:21, and did not shoot, get a rebound, or do anything significant. I hope he gets more playing time in the coming weeks. I've got my eyes on a date when the Utah Jazz play the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets--March 4. If he is still with the club, I just might drive down I-44 to check out the Jazz.

I have one more class to teach, and then will be getting ready to head to the National Missionary Convention in Indianapolis.

Blessings on you all! If you are in Indpls, I'll look forward to seeing you there!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Messages from the Mission

The mission of Ozark Christian College is "to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and edifying Christians worldwide." On Thursday, November 9, my direct boss, Mark Scott preached in our chapel service and the evangelizing component. Today, our new president, Matt Proctor, preached on the 2nd component, that of building up the church.

Both messages were great. Our chapel services are available on the web. If you use iTunes or a similar service for receiving podcasts, you can get all of our chapel services. If not, you can get them here, in MP3 format or as a Windows Media Audio file. Mark Scott's message from November 9 is there, but Matt Proctor's is not yet posted.

Thursday morning we'll leave for the National Missionary Convention in Indianapolis. Mark Scott will preach the first main session on Thursday night. I'll look forward to seeing some of you there.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

I Haven't Sung Praise Songs at my Home Church for Months!

It's true. I haven't sung during the worship time at my home church, College Hts. Christian Church, for a long time. For the past several months, I have located myself in the upper area of the bleachers, donning a headset with microphone and all, and have translated the service into Spanish. On a given Sunday, there may be a single person with a headset, or as many as 5 or 6, listening to my translation of the service into Spanish. One woman in particular has been the most constant. Her name is Jacqueline, and I translated for her weeks before I met her personally. She comes from a lower-class neighborhood in Joplin, that our church has adopted, and has refurbished a house in the neighborhood as a community center. A couple weeks ago, that community center, known as "God's Resort" was dedicated. They had a huge block party, with carnival type games, food, and fun. I met Jacqueline there, and looked at her and said, "Yo soy la voz." (I am the voice.) Of course, she recognized it, since she has heard it on Sunday mornings for months.

But let me tell you about my non-singing worship. Though I haven't sung, I have worshiped. And I worshiped this morning.
The service I usually attend has the label contemporary. It's just a label, because it is not contemporary. If it were truly contemporary, I probably wouldn't like it, since I'm rapidly becoming an old fogy, and am clearly from the Baby Boomer generation. Though I love old hymns, and cited one in my Bible School class this morning, I also enjoy worship songs and choruses--those commonly sung in the service labeled contemporary. Our service uses PowerPoint or EasyWorship, which is so common in churches today. I must confess, however, that it is easy for me to go through the motions, and sing the words projected on the screen without much rational thought (something that seems to me to be an essential component of true worship). I'm sorry to have to make that confession. I wish that it were not true, but, alas, it is.

Translating the lyrics for worship songs for others, however, aids me in concentrating on the words, and the result, not just today but frequently, is true worship. God is an amazing God, and His grace is incredible, and how in the world can we contemplate what He has done for us without being overwhelmed by the vastness of His power, love, greatness, wisdom, holiness, etc.? Today, the one that got to me was a song penned by Michael W. Smith:

Jesus, I've forgotten the words that you have spoken
Promises that burned within my heart have now grown dim
With a doubting heart I follow the paths of earthly wisdom
Forgive me for my unbelief
Renew the fire again.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy on us.

I have built an altar where I worship things of men.
I have taken journeys that have drawn me far from you.
Now I am returning to your mercies every flowing.
Pardon my transgressions. Help me love you again.

Lord, Have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy on us.

I have longed to know you & your tender mercies,
Like a river of forgiveness ever flowing without end.
I bow my heart before you, in the goodness of your presence.
Your grace forever shining like a beacon in the night.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy on us.

The words of the chorus, "Lord, have mercy" have been a constant in church fellowships that have a higher liturgy than ours. The phrase is found in two texts in the gospel of Matthew where people are asking the Lord to have mercy on themselves (Matthew 15:22; Matthew 20:30-31), and in one other instance, a man asked Jesus to have mercy on his son (Matthew 17:15). In each one of those texts, the phrase "Lord, have mercy" is the translation two Greek words:
κύριε, ἐλέησον.
The transliteration of those Greek words is Kyrie Eleison, and though in the gospel accounts where the two words appear together, eleison always appears in the text before (and with other words intervening) the word Kyrie, the phrase Kyrie Eleison has been oft used in liturgies. Several years ago, when I was singing with the College Hts. Adult Choir, we sang a song with those words. Some time back, I remember hearing a colleague of mine (and I am thankful that my memory does not allow me to remember which of my colleagues) criticizing the use of such a phrase in a Christian worship service, because Christ has had mercy on us, and he/she reasoned that to ask continually for Christ to have mercy on us is evidence that we do not have proper faith in what the Scripture tells us that Christ has already done!

I understand that reasoning, and it is true that this construct appears only in the gospels (before Christ's merciful work on the cross). In the epistles we see a focus that looks back at the mercy event that has already taken place. Indeed, God has bestowed His mercy upon His people! And yet, not all uses of the word "mercy" in the New Testament epistles focuses toward the past. There is the use of "grace, mercy and peace" as a petition/greeting used several times (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2 John 3). Such uses may presuppose the prior existence of grace, mercy, and peace, but they are still offered as a wish/prayer of the writer, for his reader(s). A text that is written to Christians, but encourages them to approach the throne of grace, so that they might receive mercy, is found in Hebrews 4:16:
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
English standard version.
2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Clearly, that verse is written to people who have already received mercy and have found grace, and yet, the commandment (a hortatory subjunctive) is for them to approach the throne of grace, so that they might receive that which, based on the finished work of Christ, they had already received.

So, is it wrong for Christians who have already received mercy, to ask the Lord for mercy? I suppose that the answer to the question could be maybe. If a Christian who approaches the throne is begging for mercy and is totally unaware of what Christ has already done for him or for her on the cross, then maybe the prescription is to emphasize Christ's finished work. I am aware, however, of that finished work already. And yet, when I compare myself, not with others, but with the Holy Son of God, I realize how much in need of a savior I myself am, and find myself throwing myself at His feet, reiterating the words Lord, have mercy. I find that, rather than being an admission of my lack of faith in the finished work of Christ, a means of drawing near to a throne before which I must never deem to deserve to approach, lest I be given the reward that I deserve. When it comes to Christ's judgment, I don't want to get what I (in and of myself) deserve. I'll gladly receive mercy and find grace!

I am convinced, however, that the above-mentioned colleague (whose name I cannot remember), was not Dr. Tom Lawson. Tom is also a blogger. He is given to studying (and teaching!) worship, and could tell you so much about this phrase than I. In some of his blog entries (and also entries of his son Stephen), the phrase Kyrie eleison is used at the end of the message.

I was immensely moved, as I translated the lyrics from Michael W. Smith's song into Spanish for Jacqueline:
Señor, ten misericordia.
Cristo, ten misericordia.
Señor, ten misericordia de nosotros.
I thought that my random thoughts about our need for His mercy and grace might bless you too.



A "Welcome Home!" to a Veteran, and Thank You!!

Yesterday was Veteran's Day, and appropriately, two separate companies of veterans arrived back "home", to Joplin, MO just in time for Veteran's Day. In fact, the story in the local newspaper, written by Mike Dwyer, was sub-titled (at least in the print edition) "Just in time for Veteran's Day." I was interested in the story, because one of the veterans to return home was a friend of mine, Sgt. Robert Tomko. I first met Rob in August of 2004 on my class roster in Old Testament History class. In January, he was joined in the class by his girlfriend from back home in Illinois/Wisconsin, Melissa. I still have Melissa's cell phone number in my cell phone, listed as Melissa K. I just put the first initial of her last name there, because her last name was far too long, and had a disproportionate ratio of consonants to vowels. When I was a kid, I was taught that every syllable needs to have at least one vowel, but that rule was broken by Melissa K's last name.

Actually, in August of 2005, she exchanged her last name that started with a for one that is much easier to spell, Tomko. For some strange reason, Rob and Melissa aske
d me to perform their wedding ceremony. The dates for the wedding changed several times, I think from January of 2006, to November 2005 (wedding dates frequently get moved up), and finally to August 2005. Why? Because Rob was in the Reserves, and he would be deployed to Iraq. So, I made my way to Rockford, IL and performed a wedding ceremony. Just a few days later, Rob left for Iraq.

Mike Dwyer interviewed Melissa for the story, and she made it into the story:
At the armory, Melissa Tomko, who married Sgt Robert Tomko three days before he deployed 15 months ago, waited.
She calculated that she had only seen her husband for three weeks as long as they had been married.
"I'm excited to just have him home," she said. "It makes me really proud to be an American and a soldier's wife."

The print edition even had a photo, which evidently didn't make the cut for the online e
dition. I took the newspaper, and scanned the photo, which I will include here. I talked to Rob and Melissa this morning at church, and gave him a big hug. Rob plans (at least last time I talked to him) to be back in school at OCC in January. Thank you Lord, for keeping him safe in Iraq, and for bringing him back safely! And thanks for his service, to keep freedom fires burning here and around the world!

I was in Illinois last Sunday, and knew that he was about ready to return. Actually, a friend of Rob's, Caleb Phillips, who is in my first year Greek class has kept me informed about his imminent return from Iraq. I knew that he would need to spend several days at Ft. Leonard Wood, in central Missouri, before returning back to Joplin. Since I was driving right past Ft. Leonard Wood last Sunday evening, I thought about Rob as I passed through there. I grabbed my phone, looked for the number of Melissa K. and dialed it. It must have been about 7:00 PM. When she answered, I asked her where she was, and if she was with Rob. She answered that she was at Ft. Leonard Wood, and that she thought she would get to see him within about a half hour. Caleb informed me in Greek class on Friday (at 8:00 AM) that his group was to arrive at the Armory on 32nd street about 10:45 AM. I probably would have gone, had I not been in class. That day, I had agreed to speak to Jeff Robertson's Christ and the Bible class.

Thanks, Rob! Thanks, Melissa! I pray God's richest blessings on both of you!


Saturday, November 11, 2006

I "Went Off" Wednesday in Old Testament History

My syllabus originally called for a test over the book of Numbers. I canceled that test, and in its place will have a take home open book/open Bible test over both Numbers and Deuteronomy due by the end of next week. I could have introduced the book of Deuteronomy, but that was on my syllabus for Thursday, so I did an integration lecture over Numbers.

To be honest, though I tied it to the book of Numbers, my motivation was from outside influences. I was really disappointed in the results of the Amendment 2 initiative on the Missouri ballot. To say that I do not care about the the win/loss of individual politicians may not be totally true. I do, however, care much more about some of the issues. The Missouri Stem-cell Initiative passed with a 51% majority. The language on the ballot, when compared to the text of the amendment, was misleading. If I were to go solely based on the text that was printed on the ballot, I would have voted in favor of the amendment. I have read the entire text of the amendment (which was not only misleading, but downright deceptive!).

I tell you that, so that you will understand that I was already in a saddened mood. Add to that the effects of the demise of Ted Haggard, high-profile pastor of a large church in Colorado, whose accusations may have been motivated from political motivations. Haggard was also the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and circulated among the elite and the powerful. Ironically, on his last Sunday in the pulpit, he preached a sermon laden with political ramifications, where he prayed a prayer that was probably answered differently than he might have thought:

“Heavenly Father give us grace and mercy, help us this next week and a half as we go into national elections and Lord we pray for our country. Father we pray lies would be exposed and deception exposed. Father we pray that wisdom would come upon our electorate…” (Text taken from David Kuo's blog, but the emphasis on the words of the prayer are mine)

Though I cannot know what was in his mind as he prayed those words, I doubt that he was asking God to reveal his own lies and deception. Haggard has been removed from his pastorate at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and has stepped down as the head of the NAE. I shared his story with my OT History class, and even read Haggard's letter of confession to New Life Church (it is worth reading). I wanted them to understand how easy it is to become so puffed up with pride, spiritual or otherwise, and to believe that they are not subject to the same rules as the rest of us.

You might ask me how that has anything to do with the book of Numbers. In the desert, the Israelites were blessed tremendously by God, even though they grumbled and murmured against Him and and against Moses, their God-appointed leader. Toward the end of their wanderings, they fell into sexual immorality (chapter 25). This episode was engineered by a prophet, Balaam, who has a pretty bad rap in the New Testament, for among other things, loving the wages of wickedness (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 11; Revelation 2:14).

Though sexual immorality is not the gravest of all sins, it is, nonetheless, sin. When a Christian leader is guilty of sexual sin, the world mocks Christians as hypocrites, and the name of Christ is dragged through the mud. And I am angered, because the enemy of Christ wins a battle which he should have lost!

I read from 1 Corinthians chapter 10, words that remember the Israelite's desert experience from the book of Numbers:

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13, NIV)

It's time for real Christians to behave like real Christians. Soli Deo Gloria!


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Oh, Bother!

Sentence Diagramming Weirdness. In my earlier post, I wrote a sentence that was poorly crafted. I contemplated its diagram. Is this correct?

Randomnity on an Election Day

I Went to Vote Early. I was at my polling place this morning before 6 AM. Normally I'm on my way to work at that time, so instead of heading north to the campus, I went south (through the dense fog), to vote. Polls in Missouri open at 6 AM. A neighbor was there. We both stood outside the polling place, wondering if it would be all right to enter before the starting hour. We peeked in, and the election officials told us to come on in. We had to wait about 5 minutes for the official starting time. The other gentleman voted ahead of me. My ballot was the 2nd one cast. No hanging chads for me. My votes will count.

A Movie to Relax. Last night after I completed to preparation for class this morning, I decided to relax and watch an exhibition basketball game of the University of Missouri Tigers. It was not much of a game, as MU was dominating a team from Lithuania, so I turned it over to watch some news. On the eve of an important mid-term election, the talking heads were going at it--the polls may indicate a swing. It was tiresome. About that time, Rose came home for a women's meeting, and asked if I wanted to watch a movie. We have had some DVDs sitting in our entertainment center for some time, looking for time to watch one. I chose a delightful movie, Akeelah and the Bee. I would recommend it. Laurence Fishburne (no relation, :)) plays an African American English professor who coaches Akeelah, a girl from South LA who has a gift for spelling, to the National Spelling Bee. I thoroughly enjoyed the drama, and the emotions, as a girl from the underside made it all the way to the finals in Washington, D.C. It also brought back memories of the nasty word that knocked me out of the running to be national spelling champion--nasturtium. For those who don't know what a nasturtium is, I put a photo of some of them above and to the right.

I Have to Bring Election Day to the Classroom. Today we began our consideration of participles in my Analytical Grammar class. I reviewed basic sentence diagrams of components of grammar we have previously seen. Among the sentence diagrams we reviewed were ones with an infinitive clause functioning as a noun. Here is one of the diagrams I had the class do today:

May God bless you all on this fine day.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Political Rally/Trip to Illinois/Translation for DWI Offenders

Political Rally. On Friday, I went to my very first ever political rally. President George W. Bush was in Joplin, stumping for the incumbent Republican Senator, Jim Talent. The Missouri Senate race is considered one of the bellwether races, in the GOP's attempt to retain a majority in Washington.

While OCC does not end
orse any political party, Chancellor Ken Idleman was on the Pre-program, leading in prayer. I thought his prayer was judiciously worded. I met the first two of my classes, and dismissed my class just before lunch. Many OCC students were present at the event, that was held in the Leggett & Platt Gymnasium at Missouri Southern State University. Because the event was being held on campus (and was attended by more than 6,000), MSSU dismissed their classes on Friday.

We found out earlier in the week that a block of tickets had been made available for OCC staff and students and their families. I called my mother to ask if she wanted a ticket, and she declined, citing a desire not to fight the crowds, etc. The event was televised on local TV stations. As we left the gym, I called Mom and asked her if she watched the event. She responded affirmatively, so then I asked her if she saw me jumping up and down. "No," she responded, to which I said, "Nobody else saw me jumping up and down either." (I didn't get any air under my shoes by jumping.)

Actually, I was disappointed at the President's failure to mention what I consider to be an essential component of Jim Talent's platform. This was a ma
jor portion of the face-to-face debate several weeks ago on Tim Russert's Meet the Press on NBC TV. The President did not mention the stem-cell initiative that will be on our ballot on Tuesday. Though the text of the constitutional amendment says that human cloning is banned, in reality the amendment (if it passes) would open the door to widespread practice of Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, commonly understood as cloning. Senator Jim Talent is opposed to the the amendment, as the harvesting of embryonic stem cells would require that the embryos perish. Our Governor, Matt Blunt, supports the amendment in a low-keyed manner. The St. Louis press published this piece about Blunt's position on November 2. Based on President Bush's past statements, I think that he would be against that which the amendment would allow. He was stumping for Jim Talent, but Gov. Blunt was on the same platform. I believe the difference of opinion between Talent and Blunt was the reason the President was silent about stem cell research.

The photo to the right was taken with my little Kodak digital camera. President Bush is seen speaking. Behind him and to the President's right is Gover
nor Matt Blunt. Behind and to the President's left is Senator Jim Talent.

Trip to Illinois. I am in a motel room in West Frankfort, Illinois ri
ght now. I was asked to represent OCC at a Mission Rally at West Frankfort on Sunday. C. Y. Kim is to be the main speaker. I thought that I would be staying with a family from the church, but found out that the church had reserved a motel room for me. I left Joplin about 11:00 AM. I will return Sunday evening. It should be about a six hour drive, but any more, I find that when I travel by myself, I stop more often than I used to. Also, I stopped and had a real meal, instead of fast food, which made the trip be a little longer. I will try to get home more quickly than what it took.

Translation. I will do a 2-hour intake for a Central American man who has had repeated alcohol driving offenses on Monday. I will translate for another hispanic man on Monday and Tuesday night, at a 10-hour class in Neosho, MO. Wednesday evening I will do the second 4-hour group for still another man. It will be a busy week.

Tuesday morning early, I will perform my civic duty by visiting the polling place. I hope you will as well.

Peace and God's best to you all!


Monday, October 30, 2006

Maybe I'll be a Fan of the Utah Jazz

Over the last several years, I've lost interest in NBA basketball. College players (most of whom are not paid large sums of money for playing) play with intensity, like the game means something. Pro players have been coddled, and make millions whether they give their all or not. That tires me out to no end.

This year, however, I will pay attention to the Utah Jazz. Roger Powell Jr., son of one of my former teammates at Washington Jr. High and Joliet (IL) Central, appears to have ma
de the opening season roster of the Utah Jazz. I began watching University of Illinois basketball in earnest when Roger Jr. went there, and followed him through his 4 years there. He was a key member of Illinois' NCAA runner-up champion in 2005, but went undrafted by the NBA. He nearly made the Seattle Supersonics team last year, as an undrafted walk-on, but was cut from the roster just before the start of the season. He was then drafted by the CBA Rockford (IL) Lightning, where he played the entire 2005-2006 season, being named the CBA Rookie of the Year. He went to the Utah Jazz training camp as an undrafted invitee, after playing for one of their summer teams. He joins fellow Illinois teammates, Deron Williams (the Jazz starting point guard last season), and Dee Brown.

Roger Jr. is a licensed minister. He graduated from Illinois in 3 and a half years, and was doing some theological study during his last semester there. I try to check his official ministry website occasionally. Today's Deseret News had a pretty nice article about what make the Rev different than the rest.

Go, Roger!


Friday, October 27, 2006

Mud-slinging Ads & Missouri Amendment 2

Mid-term elections are just around the corner, and the mud-slinging has been evident. Living in the SW corner of Missouri, the campaigns in the race for U.S. Senator have stooped to pretty low levels. He slings mud at her, and she slings mud at him. It bothers me that they don't just run on the merits of their position, rather than slinging mud at the opponent (even if he/she is guilty). The races in Kansas are gearing up the ad hominem attacks as well.

I was pleased to see the following celebrities take a stand against Missouri Amendment 2: Kurt Warner, Jim Caviezel, Patricia Heaton, Jeff Suppan, and Mike Sweeney. The campaign, largely funded by a Bio-medical research institute in Kansas City that stands to reap millions of dollars if the amendment passes, claims to ban human cloning, when in reality it makes cloning a constitutional right! Kurt Warner proclaims Christ, and had a wonderful Cinderella-like ascent from stocking groceries at a Hy-Vee store in Iowa, to MVP on a Super Bowl winning team. Since then, his stock as a quarterback has fallen. On this spot against Missouri Amendment 2, however, Warner got it right:

"Why does it cost 28 million dollars to convince Missourians that an amendment to the constitution is good for them? Maybe because it's not! Don't be bought!"

Kurt, you just threw a touchdown pass. I'm voting no on Amendment 2!

If you vote in Missouri, I hope you will as well! See my earlier post concerning this matter!

Peace to all! (even to unborn embryos).


Monday, October 16, 2006

Sweet Lou is the new Manager of the Cubs!

I've been busy, installing software, grading papers, translating for DWI offenders. I think that some teams are still playing baseball (though for Cub fans the season ended months ago).

Johnny B. (Dusty) Baker was not renewed as the manager of the Cubs (PTL!). Today the news that Cubs have signed for Lou Piniella to be their next manager. Lou is about the opposite of Dusty, in that if a player loafs or makes a mistake caused by lack of hustle, Lou will make certain that player will hear about it. Under Dusty, his favorites could make whatever mental mist
ake they wanted, and Dusty would seemingly cover for them. Though I was hopeful the Cubbies might hire Joe Girardi, I think this is a step in the right direction. When Ryno went into the Hall of Fame, he talked about players respecting the game and playing it "the right way." Largely, today's coddled super-stars have forgotten how to do that. Lou will help the Cubbies re-discover "the right way."

Gotta run!

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Goat Roasts, Johnny B., and Bart Ehrman

Goats Roasted at DeWelt's. I worked all day long on Saturday remapping network folders on machines in my computer lab, preparing for a software upgrade during the coming days. While I was mapping directories, Rose was at the DeWelt's property observing the killing (not ceremonial, I'll have you) of three goats. Our church is very intentional about showing kindness to international students. African students, especially, enjoy goat roasts. The committee from our church (with which Rose works very closely) dealing with international students, planned the goat roast with the help of some African students at OCC. Last year, they had done their own event, and had about 45 people show up. This year, the idea was to invite more internationals, and have more people. The goats were killed and the meat was dressed on Saturday. On Sunday, the principal roasters showed up in the early afternoon to prepare the festivities. We thought there would be about 70 people there. There were about 180 in attendance, and probably about 90 vehicles! A fun time was had by all!

Johnny B. (Dusty) Baker. In the off season between 2002 and 2003, the Chicago Cubs hired Dusty Baker (a proven winner) to be the manager. I was thrilled. Baker had seemed to put a winner on the field consistently. As Cub fans know, a consistent winner is a rare thing on the North side of Chicago. Dusty came pretty close in 2003, as the Cubs were 5 outs from the World Series. The Cubs collapse was no more Baker's fault than it was Bartman's (neither one of them were responsible for giving up 8 runs). 2004 was a disappointment, but the last two years, the Cubs have been such a disappointment, that I was wanting the axe to fall, and for Dusty to be relieved of his managerial duties. He was not fired, but yesterday that announcement was made that his contract, which was completed, would not be renewed. The day before that Andy McPhail resigned as chief executive office of the Cubs. Joe Girardi, former Cub, was fired today after one year as manager of the Florida Marlins. He is supposedly on the short list of potential Baker replacements. I would like to see what Girardi could do as the Cubs manager.

Bart Ehrman. I just picked up a copy of Bart D. Ehrman's book, Misquoting Jesus (2005). I read the introduction over lunch. Ehrman relates his journey from an Episcopalian background in Lawrence, KS, to his conversion at the age of 15 by a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. He went to MBI in Chicago, getting a 3-year diploma, finished his Bachelor's degree at Wheaton College, then went off to Princeton to study textual criticism under Bruce Metzger. All students of textual criticism know that there are textual variants in the manuscripts of the New Testament. When I was a freshman in college, we used J. Harold Greenlee's book Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism (Eerdmans, 1964). Greenlee addresses the issue of variants, listing kinds of changes, both unintentional and intentional (pp. 63-68). That is nothing earth-shattering. Ehrman's book, however, promises something that it cannot give. The sub-title of the book is The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. I don't think this book will alter my position. Perhaps I will write a bit more about it, after giving it a read. Daniel Wallace has an abbreviated review of the book here.

I'm out of random thoughts right now. I guess I'll turn my attention to English grammar.

Peace to you all,


Monday, September 25, 2006

A Resounding "NO!" on Amendment 2 on November 7!

I haven't always been like the men of Issachar, who understood the times, and knew what Israel should do (1 Chronicles 12:32). In 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court was deliberating over case 410 U.S. 113, Docket 70-18 (Roe vs. Wade), I was a sophomore in college. I should have known about it, but I was sadly in la-la land. The U.S. Supreme Court, the judiciary, effectively legislated the law of the land. Since that time, millions of unborn babies have been killed. We went to war against Adolf Hitler for similar crimes against humanity.

Sadly, it wasn't until a few years later that I discovered the result of that Supreme Court decision. I believe that the first time I spoke out publicly against abortion was in 1979.

I have been a registered voter in Missouri since 1994. 2006 Ballot Measure Constitutional Amendment 2, backed by a strong coalition of Bio-researchers from high-powered corporations, got the initiative on the ballot. Its passage requires only a simple majority. Since Missouri is a red state that has largely been pro-life, the framers of this amendment have resorted to subterfuge, in hopes of having the amendment pass. I am convinced that many Missouri voters will vote without being duly informed, impressed by the media blitz in favor of the amendment. The amendment purports to ban human cloning; however, its adoption opens the door to widespread human cloning. Concerned and informed citizens should vote no!

The initiative itself says, in Section 38(d)2(1): "No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being." That sounds great! A pious person might vote yes, thinking that the amendment bans cloning. However, instead of banning cloning, it allows it! How is that possible? The framers of the document use a special meaning of the word clone. Section 38(d)6(2) defines cloning in this way:

"Clone or attempt to clone a human being" means to implant in a uterus or attempt to implant in a uterus anything other than the product of fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could result in the creation of a human fetus, or the birth of a human being.

That's helpful! Most of the scientific world understands that cloning takes place through what is called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. SCNT, which by the way, is the process that was used to clone Dolly the Sheep, is allowed by the amendment. What is banned is the implantation of the cloned embryo in the uterus. What is banned is the practice of the only thing that could save that embryo from destruction. Researchers at the prestigious Kansas City Institute will make billions of dollars if the amendment is adopted. They purport to do this from a humanitarian point of view, promising cures for diseases. The much repeated mantra that many IVF (In-Vitro Fertilized) embryos would be discarded anyway has been disputed. James L. Sherley, Associate Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, discounts the proximity of cures using embryonic stem cells. He says:
The second excuse pits "a greater good" against "the destruction of embryos for the gain of others," and this is a moral dilemma for sure. However, if the public were fully informed that "a greater good" was extremely unlikely and perhaps impossible, the racers to clone human embryos would be disqualified overnight.

Concerning whether the embryos that must be destroyed to create the embryonic stem cells are human, Sherley says:

My answer is, "What else could they be--aliens?" Scientists who want to conduct experiments are quick to say what human embryos are not. I challenge them to tell the public what human embryos are. There is only one answer to this question, "living human beings."

As a non-scientist, it is easy for me to ascribe greed (for both money and prestige) to the motivations of proponents of this amendment. Sherley, who is a scientist, doubts that they are motivated by science:

When scientists arrange their own press conferences to announce promises for the future that involve significant self-gain, let the public beware. The stumbling-block is non-scientific motivations.

I couldn't have said it any better myself!

I will be voting against this amendment, and I encourage you to do the same. Lots of resources are available for those who want to emulate the men of Issachar. I'm even in agreement with some feminists on this one. I would recommend some sites:
Missouri Roundtable for Life
Missouri Right to Life
Missourians Against Human Cloning
Focus on the Family's Citizen Link on this Initiative

As I contemplate our Brave New World, words from Romans 1 come to mind:
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:25)

May God have mercy!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tests, and the Role of a Teacher

I have given tests in each one of the courses I teach this week. Each class has a distinct personality. The levels of difficulty vary as well, though each course is a 4 semester-credit hour course.

My OT History course is a freshman core course. Every degree student takes OT History. I teach just one of six sections. The course material is laid out in such a way that a diligent student knows what is expected of him. The first test (which we just had) is fairly easy, and most students did very well.

My Analytical Grammar course used to be a freshman level course, but is now taught at the sophomore level. English Comp was a sophomore level course, but now is taught at the freshman level, in hopes that students become better writers. The grammar course is somewhat difficult, as some students seem to be wired differently. The grammar makes perfect sense to me (I must be wired correctly.) The grammar course had their first test yesterday, and the scores bordered on atrocious. I realized that perhaps I am not doing as well in teaching the course as I thought. Words spoken to me from a sage long ago reverberate in my mind, "A teacher has not taught until the students have learned." Yet some students have learned. Is it possible that they could have learned the same material without any intervention from me?

My Greek class (first-year Greek) had a test this morning. I gave them the what-for yesterday. I told them that I cannot learn Greek for them. I can help them along the way, but if they do not put in a serious effort, they will fail. I think that they caught my message. Though the test was not easy, everyone in the course did fairly well (average grade was a B.)

I gave my grammar class the same sermon this morning. I hope that they will pick up the pace and that their increased effort will show.

12 years ago, in my first semester of college teaching, I assigned an F as a final semester grade for a student. His failure was unnecessary, caused only by failing to turn in a research paper. Had he taken an F+ on the research paper instead of a zero, he would have passed the course. I cried as I marked the F on the semester grade report, because it was so unnecessary. A sage person (maybe the same sage referred to above) told me that I (the teacher) had not failed the student. Rather, the student had failed himself. I appreciated that word. Since then, I have assigned more Fs, and no longer cry. There does seem to be a certain disconnect, though, in the sage words. How can I reconcile them? I guess my job is to teach in such a way that the student, should he put in the requisite effort, finds success. That is what I try to do every day. Dios me ayude.

Have a nice day!


Saturday, September 09, 2006

This morning, I Withdrew!

My colleague, Dr. Terry Bowland, is the self-proclaimed commisioner of a college football prognostication pool, in which I have participated over the past several years. A few weeks ago, I told him I would do it again, but I have lost interest, and have withdrawn. You can read my letter of resignation from said pool, if you so desire, with a click of your mouse.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

An Open Letter to Jim Hendry

Dear Mr. Hendry,

It was 1959 when my family moved to the Chicago area, and I began watching the Cubs on WGN, Channel 9. I consider being a Cub fan to be a chronic malady. I have been infected for years. For nearly 20 years of my adult life, I moved to the southern part of South America. There was no satellite TV, nor connection to the Internet in those days. I would occasionally pick up a USA Today newspaper, and follow the Cubbies. When my family would return to the U.S. (every 3-4 years, usually in the summer), in no time flat I could identify all those who playe
d in the Friendly Confines. The Cubs have taunted me for years now, teasing me every once in a while with a winning season, or post-season appearance. 2003 was the capstone. Oh, we were so close!

Since then, however, we have slid downhill rapidly. Last night, we overtook the Pittsburgh Pirates (Pittsburgh!) for possession of the cellar. We have the worst record in the NL, and the rest of the season doesn't look all that promising. The injury bug may have hit us much more than the average team, but give me a break! Our fundamentals stink! A contributing factor to last night's loss was that Ryan Dempster threw two (2!) wild pitches in the ninth inning, with Pirate runners in scoring position! Such things should not h
appen, Mr. Hendry.

I am writing you to implore you to do something to turn the ship around. You received your contract extension, and I don't begrudge you that. After all, the team you put on the field in 2003 was just a few outs from the World Series. But please, Mr. Hendry, do not bring back Mr. Johnny B. Baker for next year. I thought you would can him before now, but don't bring him back, please.

Please use the money the Tribsters give you wisely. Jacque Jones has a three year contract, but has made too many throws from right field that made it all of 12 feet before hitting the ground. Is Cedeño a shortstop, or a second baseman? I like him, but he's made far too many errors. D Lee's injury was huge, but come on! An MLB team that ignores fundamentals cannot win close games.

Please do something about the pitching staff. I'm ready to give up on our tandem of fireballers, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. They have pitched a grand total of 63 1/3 innings this year, combined! And where has your insurance for the rotation, Wade Miller, been all year?

Please, oh, please, put a better club on the field for next year. That will require a manager and coaching staff that believes in discipline and hard work. Joe Girardi has done a good job with a team that was dismantled. We want something similar on the North Side of Chicago.

I am not suicidal. My hope is found in something much more secure than a mediocre baseball team. But once, just once, before I die, I would like to see the Cubs win.

Thanks in advance for putting together a winner for 2007. Just wait 'til next year!

Sincerely yours,

A frustrated Cub fan