Pardon Me While I Brag a Little

Today, Emily was called into the principal’s office. Uh oh, right? Nope, instead whe brought home this letter from the Principal:

HILLIARD STATION SIXTH GRADE SCHOOL
Hilliard City School District • Bruce P. Stephanic, Principal
February 27, 2009
Dear Parents,
I am writing this letter to thank your wonderful daughter, Emily, for being such a positive student role model at Hilliard Station Sixth Grade School. Each year, one of my main goals for our students is that they treat each other with equality and respect. Emily has demonstrated that she understands this simple act.
This morning, I received a phone call from a district bus driver. The driver explained to me that Emily, and two other Station students, have been performing a wonderful act of kindness each and every day. Each morning, these wonderful students have volunteered to escort two of our special needs students from the bus at Memorial Middle School to Station. After dismissal, their generosity continues, and they escort these students back to their waiting bus.
Imagine the joy and pride of these two young ladies to have their peers escort them! Emily’s simple act of kindness, generosity, and respect has made me very proud of her! Emily’s empathy is praise worthy and reflects the giving spirit, empathy, and generosity of you. Your excellent example has now surpassed Emily and afforded two young, ladies a wonderful experience and example of human kindness.
Have a wonderful day!
Educationally yours,
Bruce P. Stephanic Principal
BPS/ksm

I couldn’t be more proud. Every parent hopes for good news from school, straight A’s, making the varsity team, the lead in the school play or making honor role. To me, this trumps them all for she’s acting like Jesus, caring for the least. Emily’s compassion and care have always been one of her strengths and it was so encouraging to see her using it in this way.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me … as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:35-36, 40

Emily, I’m so proud of you and so encouraged to see you acting like Jesus and meeting the needs of those around you. Keep it up.

Romans 1 – The Gospel, Man’s Wisdom

Romans 1:8 – Imagine the news of the faith of a single church being reported all over the world and being rejoiced about in every church. In our fractured Christianity today, one group has a success and those within it rejoice, but most of the rest don’t even hear. Of those that do, some dismiss it because they aren’t doing it right or whatever. Back in the heydays of the ICOC, when we still thought we were ‘The Church’, I can remember news of things like the multi-racial church in Johannesburg or the success of the Moscow church and having the feeling that he describes here. Of course, no one rejoiced with us and we wouldn’t have rejoiced with anyone else either.
Romans 1:15 – He’s eager to preach the gospel to them. I think we tend to think that ‘preaching the gospel’ means evangelism, preaching to those who don’t know. But Paul is writing to a church, people who not only knew Jesus but who had already been converted. And Paul was eager to share the Gospel with them.
The Gospel isn’t only for those who’ve never heard, it’s needed for all of us. We shouldn’t tire of hearing it nor should preachers tire of preaching it.
Romans 1:18-23 – Although I think Paul is speaking here of men who worship things other than God, I can’t help thinking of Darwin and his deliberate exclusion of God from creation. Now, I’m not a young earth proponent, nor do I claim that evolution is non existent. In fact, I suspect that there’s a lot more truth in Darwin’s theories than most evangelicals would like to allow. (And I find a God who can create a system like evolution, where species adapt to changing conditions yet the adaptations do not unravel the system, perhaps more compelling and awe inspiring than the creation of the Earth as we know it in one swoop. But I digress.) What stuck me in these past few weeks where the anniversary of Darwin’s birth was celebrated, and the story of his developing his theories was revealed, was how he seemed to set out, laser focused almost, to remove God from the story of creation. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

Twitch Update

funny pictures

An update on Popsicle, as they called Twitch at the Vet ER. After he had been home for a few days, it was clear that although he was back to his normal self, there was something not right about the tip of his tail. It was constantly seeping, which was obviously not normal and more than a little gross. A trip to the vet revealed that it was frost bitten and would likely have to be trimmed. They tried antibiotics and a twice daily soak in, uh, something, but that didn’t help and last Thursday he got about 3″ of his tail snipped off. There he is above, post surgery.
The image of him in that cone just screamed LOLCat, so there you go. Got a better LOL? Go give it a shot.
He has to wear the cone for two weeks, which is both funny and sad. He’s already gotten it off once and he keeps getting his feet caught in the ribbon/string that holds it on, so I’m not sure we’ll make it the full two weeks or not.
Oh, and I’ve also learned that Twitch is not alone in his refrigerated exploits:

funny pictures of cats with captions

If you like these, check out more LOLCatz at icanhascheezburger.com. Beware, however, as Pinakidion will tell you – they’re addicting.

Galatians 6 – Bear Each Other’s Burdens

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” In teh context of being caught in sin (Galatians 6:1), Paul calls us to bear each other’s burdens. Guilt is quite burdensome, it can drag you down and cripple you. But if someone stand with you, and helps to bear the burden with empathy and encouragement, we can get up again.
Galatians 6:9 – Don’t “grow weary in doing good.” I take this as an encouragement as a parent of a teen and pre-teens. It’s a real challenge as they are trying to find themselves and their way in the world. It can be exhausting as it seems that you address the same issues over and over, yet they continue to fall. I get weary of the continual training, yet I cannot give up, “in due season we will reap”.
Galatians 6:11-16 – Paul returns to the reason he wrote them, don’t be compelled to live by the law. The law means nothing, he says. I think that we tend to drift to rules adn regulations over freedom because it’s so much easier. But Paul wrote them a pleading letter, with his own hand with large letters, urging and pleading them not to return to that way. I think we tend to rail against violations of rules rather than against living by rules over the freedom of grace.

Need a Snow Thrower?

1968 Mercedes Benz Unimog Snow Blower
My Dad just replaced his old snow thrower at the beginning of the season. Too bad he didn’t wait, he could have had this awesome 40 year old, turbo-diesel, Mercedes Unimog snow thrower for the low Buy it Now price of $14,997. Check out the blades inside that thing. Clears 48″ of snow. That’s a whole lot of snow throwing awesomeness. The eBay listing says “I think this is the best one of these you will ever find.” That’s a safe bet, what are the odds of finding another one?
Too bad the auction ended earlier today, this is just what I needed to clear my 40′ driveway of the typical Columbus 3″ snowfall. Perfect.
Check out the seller’s web gallery for more photos, including one if it (or one like it) in action.
HT: Bring a Trailer.

The Little Car That Could

hurst_gremlin_1.JPG
What you see here is one of eight Hurst Rescue System 1 Gremlins built in the early 1970’s. I’ve always been a fan of Hurst cars, particularly the long string of Hurst Olds that were produced from 1968 to 1984. Of course, Hurst made a lot of aftermarket parts including custom wheels, the Hurst Hatch T-tops and of course their famous line of shifters. Dad’s 1965 Barracuda came with a Hurst shifter from the factory.
What many folks don’t know is that George Hurst is the inventor of the Hurst Rescue Tool, more commonly known as the jaws of life. It was created for help with racing crashes, but of course it’s use has spread far from the race track. The Hurst name continues to be associated with the jaws of life and with the shifters.
The Hurst Rescue System 1 Gremlin was the company’s fully equipped solution for tracks that wanted one of their Rescue Tools. It came fully equipped with all the rescue gear needed, including a stretcher. Good trick getting a stretcher in a Gremlin.
hurst_gremlin_2.JPG
This Gremlin was sold in 1973 for about $11,000 to a rural Georgia county and served as their primary rescue vehicle until 2002. At that time, it was replaced with a larger truck that could hold all the equipment mandated by the state. The Gremlin remains in service as the backup vehicle and still carries all the original rescue equipment.
When I read over the Hurst history back in High School, I thought these little Gremlins with their bright orange stripes and push bars was really cool. To see one that has spent 35 years in active rescue duty and still bears the marks of use is simply awesome.
Images and story from gremlinx.com.

Galatians 5 – Boundaries and Freedom

Galatians 5:1-6 – How should we look at this passage? Paul argues that Christ came to free us, and if we attempt to find our justification on the law then Jesus is of no value to us. So, what then of things like expectations of members (we were just talking about this at Pinikidion’s place)? Would Paul rail against them?
Well, if it was an attempt to define what a Christian is and force others into their mold, then I believe yes. If it’s simply a matter of proclaiming who they are, then perhaps no.
A Christian is justified through Christ alone, no careful following of any rules – and Paul was talking here about God’s rules, not man made Church rules – can make us right with God. A church that proclaims that unless people act as they believe, they are not Christians (as we most certainly used to do) would earn the rebuke of Paul, based on what I see here. But, the church that simply says that this is the kind of Christians we are, we stand for these practices and believe in them, teach them and follow them would not necessarily. If they can do so without passing judgment on the rest of believers, then good.
An argument can be made, convincingly I believe, that such statements serve more to exclude and to comfort those inside and that perhaps whatever is gained in defining themselves and knowing who they are, is lost in shutting out those who might come into fellowship and bring new understandings and wisdom.
It’s always good to ask why? Why do you want this rule or that? Paul claims here in Galatians that following the rules is of no value for those who follow Jesus. In fact, Jesus’ coming signaled the end of the era of rules. Having a set of rules makes us feel good about who we are as a group and help us draw a line of distinction between us and others. A boundary can protect us, but can also keep us from maturing to where we can find our own way. The Christian raised within the safety of a boundary, flounders and wanders when those boundaries are removed and is danger because they have no means of determining what is safe and what is not. Inside the boundary, everything was safe.
Certainly, God has things He approves of and doesn’t and a church should stand up for and against what God does. But we must be careful and not mistake the standing for principals for the work of Jesus. No amount of vehemently proclaiming what God hates or loves will ever save anyone, only Jesus can do that. And rest assured, there are some who don’t follow your or my rules that He will save as well.
Galatians 5:11 – Paul refers here to “the offense of the cross”, what does that mean? I think I’ve always just skipped over that, but what is it? Paul’s talking about salvation by grace here, calling the law useless here. He’s quite adamant about it. What’s the implication? That we are powerless, that none of the good we can claim, no deed we have done is of any value. The cross strips us of our pride, shows us for the failures that we are in following God. Jesus on the says that we are not good enough, in fact so far away that a man had to die to bring us back. To those who think they are something, what an offense indeed!
Galatians 5:16-24 – This is a passage I’m well familiar with, we went to it frequently to teach about what Christians should and shouldn’t do. But this is written in the context of freedom, not as rules to be followed as it is frequently taught and we never visited the first part of the chapter with the last. In urging them to not allow themselves to be fenced in, Paul also warned them of the dangers of unregulated freedom. Paul challenged them to regulate themselves rather than to let others do it for them. And he says that the works of the flesh and the fruits are the spirit are clear, seek the one and flee the other.

Doctor Looses License Over Successful Procedure

This story is not for the faint of heart.
The patient was instructed to arrive early, which she did. The staff got things underway in anticipation of the doctor’s arrival. But he was called to another patient for an emergency and arrived hours late. The procedure was already begun and the staff carried it to it’s completion:

The Department of Health said [Dr.] Renelique was scheduled to perform an abortion on a teenager who was 23 weeks pregnant in 2006. Sycloria Williams had been given drugs in advance to dilate her cervix.
According to the complaint, she gave birth at a Hialeah clinic after waiting hours for Renelique to arrive. The complaint said one of the clinic owners put the baby in a bag that was thrown away.

Because of the tardiness of the doctor, the baby was born alive, but quick thinking staff members finished the procedure by simply throwing the baby away.
But the doctor was disciplined, and now lost his license over it.
Why?
Had the doctor been on time, everything would have ended the same.
Wasn’t the desired result a non-pregnant girl and a dead baby? Isn’t that what was achieved? Why does it matter that this baby was actually alive for a few moments outside the mother? What changed about it?
Every day hundreds, probably thousands, of babies get thrown in the trash, only they are killed before we get to see that they are babies. Why is it barbaric to throw a baby in the trash only if it’s actually breathed air? *
The inconsistency in this issue is amazing to me. Cause a pregnant woman to miscarry in an accident and you’re a murderer. If she comes to you and asks you to do it in a nice clean office, then you’re a doctor. But mess it up, and let the baby be born alive, but correct your mistake, well, now you’re a murderer again.
I can only hope that this will show some how barbaric the pro-abortion position is. If even a few stop and think “What in the world are we doing?”, then maybe this little one won’t have died in vain.
HT: Daniel & Thinklings
* I’ll grant what one commenter at the Thinklings said. It’s a cold person who can look at a live baby, holding it in your arms, and then throw it away.

Galatians 4 – Why Aren’t You Still Amazed by Jesus?

Galatians 4:1-7 – The ESV continues the ‘guardian’ theme here, relating it to an heir as a child. Until the time set by the father, the heir is practically no different than a slave. Until then, he is under guardians and managers. His coming of age frees him from thier control and protection. Paul says that we were once slaves to ‘elementary principals’ (the law, I assume) until Christ came and we became sons and co-heirs with Christ. As cool as this concept sounds, I get the feeling that I’m somehow still missing the majesty and impact of it. It seems that it ought to feel more profound than it does, if that makes sense.
I’m a son of God, with all the rights that implies as a mature heir, not simply a servant or a child. What do you think that should mean in our lives? If I really understood this, I guess what I’m asking is, how would I live?
Galatians 4:9 – Not that we have found God, but He has found us.
Galatians 4:8-11 – Paul criticizes them here for returning to their old ways, specifically observing special days. Thinking about the general state of the church in the US, where Easter and Christmas are so important, it makes me wonder what Paul would say to us? Do we really get what Christ came for? Did he come that we should have nice buildings, egg hunts and Christmas plays? That we would light candles in wreaths and stop drinking for lent? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate these things too, but if this is what our religion is, and for too many that is what it is, then we have completely missed the point.
Galatians 4:12-20 – You can feel Paul’s anguish about the Galatians, that they have returned to the old ways when he has seen, and taught them, of the freedom to worship God as an heir. Looking around, when I see folks falling back into traditional patterns, missing the grace of Jesus and not living in it’s freedoms, am I in anguish? It seems that we can get worked up about major sin, but we tolerate folks missing out on the full freedom and joy in Jesus far too easily. I wonder if that’s because we are too far removed from it ourselves? That’s convicting right there, wow.
Galatians 4:21-27 – The implications of this passage hit me harder than it has in the past. Abraham had two son, one born through the rules (man and woman come together, sperm meets egg, baby is born), but for the other the rules, if you will, didn’t work. No matter how many times step one was performed, steps two and three didn’t follow. But God stepped in and, through a promise, fixed the process. It was only through the promise that Issac was born.
It’s the same for us. The theory holds that through following the law, we can see God. Follow the rules, be with God. But the rule don’t work. No matter how many times we try, the process fails as we cannot keep the law. But God steps in, and through the promise of Jesus, He fixes the process and in the promise we are reborn.
I ought to be ashamed at how often I fail to be amazed at what God has done for us – for me – in Jesus.

Galatians 3 – Faith and the Law

Galatians 3:3 – “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” ‘m frequently so foolish. Thanks Spirit, for getting me started, I’ll take it from here. Then I work my buns off to be good enough to be approved. I forget that Jesus said that it was finished. The work on the cross was enough, I don’t need to wrap it up myself.
Galatians 3:10 – Paul starts out in verse 1 by calling the Galatians fools for trying to work for justification. Here in verse 10 he tells them why – justification by the law is an all or nothing proposition. You either keep all of it, or none of your obedience is of any value. One violation, and they were (as we are) already well past one.
Galatians 3:19-26 – The ESV has some real interesting phrasing in these verses. Reading a new translation (I was an NIV guy for many years) helps bring new life to the text. Here’s what I mean:

  • Verse 19 – The law was added because of sins. Sin existed already, the law was added to illuminate it.
  • Verse 22 – “the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin” That’s a concept that’s hard to wrap my head around. Even as Christians, we like to think that the law helps us see how to life, but Paul says it imprisoned everything. Verse 23 says we were captive by it.
  • Verse 24 – “the law was our guardian until Christ came” Wait, held captive, but it was our guardian? If you think in terms of children, a guardian is there to watch over, to protect and to instruct, but not permanently. There’s a time, later, when the child no longer needs the guardian. And so it is with the law, verses 23-24 say that now that Jesus came and faith is here, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

Galatians 3:25-27 – Paul here links faith with baptism and with inclusion in Christ. He says faith has come, no guardian is needed for you are sons of God through faith in Jesus. Why? Because, those who have been baptized have put on Christ. The implication is that baptism and faith and membership in the church are inherently linked.

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