Friday, August 29, 2008

Humor in the Bible

There are some incidents in Scripture that are probably not meant to be humorous, but they seem humorous to me, or at least ironic or odd. Here are a few:

Saul sends men to David's house to kill him, but when David's wife tell them he's sick, they return to Saul. "He's sick," they tell him (1 Samuel 19). So are they waiting for him to get better before they kill him?

When Moses returns to God on the mountain after the golden calf incident, neither God nor Moses wants to claim the people. They both refer to them as "your people." (Exodus 33)

When the Philistines put the ark of the covenant in the temple of Dagon, Dagon's statue falls before the ark, as if bowing. The Philistines help their god back up, but the next day, Dagon is again found prostrate before the ark, and this time, his head and hands have broken off (1 Samuel 5). "The hand of the LORD" against the Philistines is emphasized throughout the chapter, but we see that the hands of Dagon ... he has no hands!

Of course, Elijah taunting the prophets of Baal is classic, especially with the charge that maybe their god isn't answering because "he is relieving himself" (1 Kings 18:27 ESV).

Then there's the story of Ahab and Jehoshaphat going to war. Ahab's prophets all predict success, but Jehoshaphat asks for a prophet of the LORD. What's funny, because it's so childish, is Ahab's whining: "There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Michaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil" (1 Kings 22:8 ESV).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

No Love for Dogs

People wonder why I don't buy a dog. Fellow Northsidians jestingly pressure me to buy a puppy for my kids.

So why don't we own a dog?

1) Finances are tight. Why spend more on a dog? A non-essential mouth to feed? Why spend more on medical bills? We have plenty of those already.

2) Dogs reduce people to a certain lunacy, it seems to me. There are people I talk with on a normal basis who seem intelligent, possessing a certain dignity and bearing that mark them as sensible, even wise, and socially with it. And then on some occasion I will see those same people, at the park perhaps, walking their dog. In one hand they hold a leash, and in the other hand, they hold a bag. These people are walking around and picking up their hounds' steamers! Does that seem congruous to you? No one's forcing them to do this, and yet they have these dogs, and they carry around their piles! I'm just not willing to do that.

3) I have enough difficulty keeping Callie out of places she doesn't belong and out of stuff that's not hers.

4) I enjoy the pile-free security of my back yard.

5) I don't want to deal with the noise, hair, or wet nose of a dog in my house.

Call me crazy. You won't be the first.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thought It Was Going to Be Boring

Well, I did it again. I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I know that I'm human (read: "limited") and that others often think this way, too.

I thought a chapter of Scripture was going to be boring.

On Wednesday nights (Adult Bible Study) we are working our way through the lives of Saul and David. We started in 1 Samuel 8. Yesterday I came to chapter 20 to do some prep work for next Wednesday. And I almost considered skipping it. I knew the story, and I (shamefully) thought to myself, "There's not much meat there." But I changed my mind and dived in.

Wow! Stuff there I hadn't seen before. Subtly highlighted--is that an oxymoron?--is the covenant friendship of Jonathan and David, and how both were anxious if the other would keep it, David anxious about Jonathan in the present and Jonathan anxious about David for the future.

How often it happens: I think I know a story. But then when I slow down, outlining verse by verse, what treasures are to be found.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What author have you read most?

For me, I thought of Agatha Christie--I've read quite a few of her mysteries.

I also think C. S. Lewis is in the running: at least 15 of his (Chronicles of Narnia, science fiction trilogy, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Mere Christianity, Miracles, The Screwtape Letters).

The definite overall winner in this category is the Holy Spirit, having read all 66 of his books multiple times, but I'm limiting my thinking to human authors.

I think the author I've read most has to be Franklin W. Dixon. I read a lot of Hardy Boys books as a kid, and I've read many more to Andrew over the last several years.

What about you?

Monday, August 25, 2008

On the Death of a Former Boss

I attended the funeral of Betty Henline yesterday at Westview Alliance Church.

I worked at the Gospel Temple Bookstore in high school, through college, and into the first year of our marriage. Betty was my boss.

It was a great job mainly because Betty was a great boss. She was very gracious and kind. I remember a few mistakes I made as I learned the job, some that cost the store money, but she never expressed anger or disgust. She was a Christian boss in every sense of the phrase. Her profession of faith was lived out in her conduct in the business world. Don't you wish all "Christian" bosses were that way?

The funeral was wonderful, a celebration of a life fully invested in working on behalf of the Lord.

Thank you, Father, for the gift of Betty Henline to me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Audacity of Hope

We wait in hope for Barack Obama? We wait in hope for John McCain?

No. Don't get me wrong: I have an opinion as to who will be better, and I plan to vote, but I am lining up with the psalmist:

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. (Psalm 33:20-21 NIV)

Hope in the Lord is not unreasonable. Why?
  • Because he is righteous and just (Psalm 33:4-5). He never does anything wrong. "There is no wickedness in him" (Psalm 92:15 NIV).
  • Because he is faithful (33:4). He never breaks a promise.
  • Because he is all-powerful: he controls nature (33:6-9) and nations (33:10-12).
  • Because he is all-discerning: he sees all (33:13-15) and disposes all according to his righteous will (33:16-19).
  • Because he is loving, his unfailing love bent toward those who fear him and trust him (33:5,18-19,22).
Hope in God is not audacious; it's entirely reasonable.

Now putting your hope in a candidate ... that seems audacious.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Refreshing Trend

I never thought I'd see the day when swimsuits would get less skimpy, but it has been refreshing to see that trend at the Olympics.

(Ginny, however, noted that the suits nonetheless look painted on. Reminds me of the joke about how they've found something tighter than blue jeans--blue jean paint.)

Will this translate into little girls and teens wearing 1-piece suits again? One can only hope.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Games We Play

When my parents come over (usually on a Sunday night), there are only a few games that we usually play.
  • Phase 10 is my mom's favorite, and with good reason--she often wins it. But it takes us a couple hours to play due to interruptions.
  • Bible Outburst is quicker, and it's usually a toss-up as to who will win, the older Scantlins or the younger ones.
  • Inklings is the best Bible trivia game I've ever played because it's relatively challenging. Also, the format is a bit more involved than the traditional ask-a-question.
Other games we play less often include Cranium, Trivial Pursuit, and Skip-Bo. The bottom line is, we could use some new games.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Visiting Blackhawk, Living Faith

When I'm on vacation we usually visit other churches.

Last Sunday we attended Blackhawk. We easily entered into the musical worship of the service. Sara says the message was very good. Senior Pastor Kelly Byrd preached on Mt 5:11-12. (I was keeping the ever-busy Callie occupied in the lobby. We didn't even try to put her in the nursery.) I will say that the sanctuary seemed rather dark, though the platform was well-lit.

This Sunday we visited Living Faith Missionary Church in Ossian. Our friends Dean, Deb, and Dustin S attend there. We were surprised to run into many more people we knew as well, including Ron P, Wallis H, Benton R, Jane F, and Don and Judy D. Also Kent Green, though that wasn't a surprise. It was very easy to enter into the worship, beginning with an instrumental "time of meditation." The congregational music employed the more traditional piano and organ (which doesn't bother me in the least) and was also very worshipful. Youth Pastor Kent Green preached on another Sermon on the Mount text, Mt 6:19-21. (This time Sara missed the sermon since even food would not keep Callie still. Next week Callie will be in the more familiar nursery at Northside.)

We were edified by our time with other brothers and sisters in Christ. We look forward to worshiping again with our church family.

Our 17th Anniversary Today

As we sat and talked over our lunch at Mi Pueblo, Sara noted that had she been asked at our wedding what our situation in life would be 17 years later, she would not have guessed
  • we would have 4 kids
  • we would have adopted 2 of them
  • we would have been at the same church for 13+ years.

It's been quite a ride. God has been good to me in giving Sara to me as a wife.

Of the two of us, Sara's the ambitious one. I always tell her that most of the major changes in our life come as a result of her initiative: the move to Archer in '96, the move to our current home in '03, the adoption of Anna in '02, and the adoption of Callie this year, to name some of the biggest changes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Suggestions for Obama

"We could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling, if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tune-ups." --Barack Obama

Cool. Here are some more suggestions that Obama could make that would help Americans save money.
  • Turn off the tap when you're not using it. You could save gallons of water that way.
  • To compensate for rising food prices, eat less. (Or, assign fasting to one of your kids each day.)
  • With health care costs spiraling out of control, we could save several HMO premiums a day if we just got sick less. (We recommend visiting Benny Hinn or Todd Bentley before you get sick.)
  • Pets cost a lot of money to maintain (food, vets, pedicures, manicures [monkeys], clothes, shrinks, funeral plots). Let's all say Goodbye to Fluffy and Duke and show them the (doggy) door.
  • Teen pregnancy is a problem and is a drain on the economy. Let's take responsibility for our kids and tell them not to have sex. (Actually, I don't think Obama will go for that one.)
Do you have any other ideas?

Check out the 3-minute "Obama on Your Shoulder" video.

Pressure Reveals Character

When I look round [sic], and see how few of the numbers who talked so largely of death and honor are around me, and that those who are here are those from whom it was least expected ... I am lost in wonder and surprise.... Your noisy sons of liberty are, I find, the quietest in the field.... An engagement, or even the expectation of one, gives a wonderful insight into character.

So wrote Joseph Reed to his wife Esther, Sept. 6, 1776, commenting on the frustration he and Gen. Washington felt with the number of men deserting the army after losing the battle at Long Island.

That last statement was true then of soldiers on the battlefield, and it's true today of people in general. Talk is cheap. What does a person do under pressure?

God is glorified when we are under pressure and we maintain our confidence in him.
God is glorified when we are tempted and we say No to temptation, thus preferring God over sin.
God is glorified when we suffer and we continue to joyfully affirm that God is in control and his purposes are best.
God is glorified when we are persecuted for our faith and we take him at his word to "rejoice and be glad" (Mt 5:11-12).

(Joseph Reed quote from David McCullough, 1776 204-205, emphasis added)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dad Turns 64!

Three things you may not know about my dad:
  1. He surrendered his life to Christ at a Billy Graham crusade in Indianapolis when he was a teenager.
  2. He played drums in his dad's band as a youngster.
  3. When I was growing up, I remember Dad going to bed fairly early and rising very early (4am?) to study the Bible and pray before he went to work.

"Obama's carefully crafted image" cracking

Thomas Sowell on Obama:

The elitist sneers at people who believe in religion and who own guns, the Americans who don't speak foreign languages and the views of the "typical white person," are all like rays of light that show through the cracks in Obama's carefully crafted image.

The overwhelming votes for Obama in some virtually all-white states show that many Americans are ready to move beyond race. But Obama himself wants to have it both ways, by attributing racist notions to the McCain camp that has never made race an issue.

See Sowell's whole article.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


"If our era could have its own coat of arms, it would be a yak against a background of mush. This must be the golden age of endless and pointless talk."

Thomas Sowell's insightful article on "the gratingest generation" continues with examples from the world of sports. It is worth the three minutes to read.

I found out that athletes didn't used to have big mouths.Perhaps during the Olympics the most impressive athletes will be those who both win and don't toot their own horn.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Am I having fun, or am I angry?

One of the difficulties of blogs is discerning emotion behind posts.

For example, in my last post, I was arguing in the spirit of fun. But I could see where some might think I was really upset with typical coverage of the Olympics.

I tend to be sarcastic.

If you have questions about my posts and the intent behind them, ask me.

A Guy's View of the Olympics

Less background story, more event coverage.

Or maybe this is more just my view of the Olympics.

So what that the swimmer in lane #4 grew up in a closet in the Ozarks eating nothing but wild berries and bark? I just missed 30 minutes coverage of the water polo game between the US and Australia in order to learn that non-vital bit of information.

Such information skews our emotions, for then we see it as divine right that the swimmer in lane #4 should win. But what we don't know is that the swimmer in lane #8 was abandoned at birth and raised by feral cats in South America and had to overcome tremendous odds, including an abnormal fear of the water, in order to rise to the level of Olympic competition.

But the swimmer in lane #8 finishes last. Is there no sadness for her? Nope. We don't know her story. (But please don't take this as a plea for more stories with stringed accompaniment. Let's go with less story, more competition.)

If my wife reads this post, she will roll her eyes.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Love Hyde Bros. Books

Hyde Bros. Books on Wells Street is a favorite of mine. It's a used bookstore, and its space is well-utilized. As little room as possible is left for customers so that the store can hold as many floor-to-ceiling shelves as possible. The aisles are narrow, at least 1/3 of the books are in the basement (watch your head around the duct work), the books are well-organized, the non-uniformed staff is helpful if you need them, and at least one cat roams the store.

I've taken many of my own books into the owner, and he has bought probably about 30% of them from me. He either gives cash, or twice the amount in store credit. (It may be of no surprise to you that I've never taken the cash.) They have a tremendous selection, even in the Christianity and theology section. I've found old books and out-of-print books there.

My favorite sections to browse are definitely the Christianity/theology section and the general fiction section, but I also find myself from time-to-time in history, in mystery, in action/adventure, in science fiction/fantasy, and in children's literature.

It's a bookstore with character, and the prices are reasonable. Check it out some time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

If I Covered the Olympics

The Olympics consists of 35 sports in nearly 400 separate events. The summer games has 28 of those sports; the winter only 7 (one of which is curling). As I survey the list of summer games, these are the five I want given priority coverage here in the US.

  • Table Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Handball
  • Shooting

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Personal Heroes of History

These are ones whom I have studied and for whom I have great affection, the first one in a class by himself for innumerable reasons, both personal and cosmic
  1. The Lord Jesus
  2. King David
  3. Charles Haddon Spurgeon
  4. Abraham Lincoln
  5. Ulysses S. Grant
  6. Ronald Reagan

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Vacation Goals

I'm on vacation for the next 2 weeks. I often approach vacation with a list in hand, a list of things I have to get done as well as things I would like to get done.

I have a list this time, but it's much smaller. This vacation I want to be guided by a few goals instead of by many tasks.

Goal #1: I want to draw near to God. Thus will he draw near to me (James 4:8). I want to excite my passion for the Lord through the time-honored and biblically-prescibed spiritual disciplines, particularly Bible study and prayer. I also plan to fan into flame my affections for Christ through reading at least part of John Owen's The Glory of Christ.

Goal #2: I want to refresh Sara. With my presence, with my help, with my companionship, with my attitude. I want her to so enjoy the next two weeks that she'll regret it when I have to go back to work.

Goal #3: I want to have some fun with Andrew, Caty, Anna, & Callie. Their expectations of my vacation usually run a little too high, but I do want to spend some fun time with them.

Goal #4: I want to be available to my friends as they need me.

Goal #5: Maybe a little bit of fun reading. Maybe.

Actually typing these up right now has clarified some things for me. My vacation priorities aren't as fuzzy as they were this afternoon. Well, we'll see how it goes.