Saturday, November 25, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
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
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.
Below 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 really 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 MLB.com 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?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!
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.
Monday, November 20, 2006
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
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
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
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:
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.
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 asked 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 edition. 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
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
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
While OCC does not endorse 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 major 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 Governor 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 right 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!