Saturday, September 13, 2008

Separated at Birth?

Forget Hulk Hogan. "Macho Man" Randy Savage has developed into the real "Santa with Muscles". (Sorry to remind people of the horrid Hogan film.)

Savage has been out of the public eye for some time. Despite substantial offers, Savage has no interest in appeaing at autograph signings or reunion shows. He seems content taking care of his parents in Florida.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bible Trivia - 9/12/2008

Question: What possession of Absalom weighed approximately two hundred shekels or six and two-thirds pounds?

Answer: His hair. (II Samuel 14:26)

Comments: Absalom was the third son of King David (with Maacah). He was considered the best looking man in all of Israel. To support this claim, II Samuel notes the massive quantity of his hair (II Samuel 14:25-26).

When he cut the hair of his head (and it was at the end of every year that he cut it, for it was heavy on him so he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head at 200 shekels by the king's weight. (II Samuel 14:26, NASB)

Absalom's beautiful head of hair would ultimately lead to his undoing. (II Samuel 18:9)

Today, there is a product, made in New Zealnad, called "Absalom Hair Growth Enhancer Treatment" (pictured). This item was originally marketed as "Herbal Bliss".

Word of the Day - 9/12/2008


A ganef is a thief, swindler, crook, or rascal.

During his discourse regarding the Good Shepherd, Jesus claims that the person who does not enter via the sheep door is a ganef. (John 10:1)

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber." (John 10:1, NASB)

In the analogy, Jesus Himself is both the door (John 10:7) and the good shepherd. (John 10:11)

Note: This famous rendering of "Jesus the good shepherd" by Bernhard Plockhorst (1825-1907) is commonly found on posters, air fresheners, etc.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 9/12/2008

I had a great Thursday night at MoFoS performing scientific research with JTH and TK (his initials not former manager whose name was T.K.). You may think of all of the activities participated in on this night as a psychological regression. We prefer to think of them as therapy.

Before proceeding I feel it appropriate to say: Children, do not try this at home.

We conducted many tests involving VHS tapes. When I arrived, the duo was performing some studies as to the effects of super glue on said VHS merchandise. TK glued several together to form a homogenous large VHS item while JTH glued various VHS tapes around the store in inconspicuous spaces (see photo, the tape is on the inside of a seldom used cabinet door). They are pretty much there forever. If you are worried about losing money on the product, the store pays only 10¢ per unit on VHS tapes. Sorry if you have a collection. VHS tapes are essentially worthless.

Since these two were hard at work, I ended up manning the register. No, I don’t work at the store. One of my favorite moments of the night came when TK's girlfriend called and he insisted the job was keeping him too busy to talk! Well, he was busy...

I learned that the business now accepts Tradebank. I had to go online, type in the customer’s card number, and still run the sale through our own system to complete the transaction. This is ridiculous. Why would anyone want this?

We hit a lull around 9 pm. There was a large window where we had no customers which gave the duo time to develop more experiments, Inspired by AD’s creation of the “Bone Yard” at the Halls branch, we took the VHS tapes out the store's back door. There we proved conclusively that if a baseball bat encounters the VHS tape, the VHS tape will lose. We may invent a new version of rock, paper, scissors. In our version, baseball bat soundly trumps VHS tape. Any suggestions on the third leg of the new game?

For the record, if someone ever finds a VHS copy of “Bear in Big Blue House” on the roof, a beautiful shot from JTH is the answer as to why.

JTH and TK then inserted a CD and a VHS tape in the microwave to test the effects of heat on these items. The VHS tape did not spark while the CD did. It also had a malodorous effect. If nothing else, I learned that the store owns a microwave.

I suggested that the store print disclaimers into all VHS boxes just so potential buyers can benefit from this research. At the very least, a large sign on the wall with the findings listed might be helpful. Actually, it might give customers ideas of how to use VHS tapes and better sell the outdated medium better.

After these tests were concluded, JTH conducted a seminar on fire safety. Yes, this probably should have been done earlier. Evidently, it was not the first time fire extinguishers had been shot for no apparent reason at the store. AD and JTH once hosed down a room with one of the stores many extinguishers. This produced a filmy residue on some boxes. JBT inspected and concluded, “I think it’s rock dust.” While they ridicule this analysis (what is rock dust?), I think it would have been more ridiculous had he inspected and said, “Well, looks like somebody cleaned the room with a fire extinguisher again.”

To me the most troubling thing that happened on this night was that Mark the Movie Ticket Taker (aka "De Le Rosa") did not visit. After some discussion, JTH remembered that it was his bowling night. I was scared that he knew that.

After “work”, JTH, TK and I went to Applebees where we were joined by JDM. Yes, again. Amy was our waitress. It seemed appropriate to see JDM on this night since he is the father of MoFoS mayhem. From the invention of the much beloved “Receipt Tape Derby” to driving his motorcycle in the store, JDM is the standard by which all MoFoS pranksters are measured.

JDM mentioned that one of coworkers at Kroger quit as he made the local Knoxville Thunderbolts basketball team. The team is a first year franchise in the American Basketball Association. JDM’s shooting guard friend hit 25 of 33 three-point shots in his tryout. No word on why JDM did not ask him to play with us in the church league. Hopefully, we could score more than 28 points with a pro on the squad.

It seems appropriate one more time to add that children should not try any of the experiments detailed in this post at home.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 9/11/2008

Associated Baptist Press
September 11, 2008 · (08-86)

Greg Warner, Executive Editor
Robert Marus, News Editor/Washington Bureau Chief

In this issue
Poll: On torture, evangelicals not looking to Bible, doctrine
Experts: National security not ensured by torture
Legislators call faith leaders to focus on poverty issues
Opinion: The Trinity and other concrete things

Poll: On torture, evangelicals not looking to Bible, doctrine
By Robert Marus

ATLANTA (ABP)-A new survey suggests the very Americans who claim to follow the Bible most assiduously don't consult it when forming their views about torture and government policy.

The poll of 600 Southern white evangelicals was released Sept. 11 in Atlanta in connection with a national religious summit on torture. It shows not only are white evangelical Southerners more likely than the general populace to believe torture is sometimes or often justified, but also that they are far more likely-to tweak a phrase from Proverbs-to "lean on their own understanding" regarding the subject.

However, their views seemed to change when asked to consider torture policy in light of the Golden Rule. When respondents were asked if the United States should "never use methods against our enemies that we would not want used on American soldiers," more than half agreed.

While a recent Pew survey showed 48 percent of the general public believes torture sometimes or often is justified in order to obtain information from suspected terrorists, the new poll shows 57 percent of white Southern evangelicals hold that belief.

Among that demographic and despite their high levels of religious belief and practice, the survey found, "white evangelicals in the South are significantly more likely to rely on life experiences and common sense (44 percent) than Christian teachings or beliefs (28 percent) when thinking about the acceptability of torture."

Meanwhile, among the minority who pointed to the Bible and Christian doctrine as the primary influences on their view of torture, more than half-52 percent-oppose government use of such tactics.

"This is a spiritual crisis, I suggest, that should alarm all Christian leaders regardless of what we think about torture," said Tyler Wigg Stevenson, a Baptist minister and human-rights activist from Nashville, Tenn., at a press conference announcing the survey's results. "This bad news for the church is a plus for any special interest who wants to take advantage of us."

However, he added, "The good news this poll reminds us of is that, as with any issue when Christians remember that our calling is to follow Jesus, he changes everything."

The study was commissioned by Mercer University and Faith in Public Life. Its results were announced during the "Religious Faith, Torture and our National Soul" conference held on Mercer's Atlanta campus. The meeting was sponsored by the two organizations that commissioned the poll and a host of other religious groups, including the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Evangelicals for Human Rights, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and the Islamic Society of North America.

David Gushee, a Mercer professor and president of Evangelicals for Human Rights (and also a columnist for Associated Baptist Press) said the poll results should tell both of the major-party presidential candidates how to lead when it comes to addressing the subject of torture.

Both GOP nominee John McCain and his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, have expressed opposition to the United States' use of torture on terrorism suspects.

"My message to [Illinois] Sen. Barack Obama ... is that you have an opportunity to make torture a moral and, in fact a religious issue-a values issue," said Gushee, who teaches Christian ethics. "This is in your interest, because you are trying to communicate to religious Americans-and especially to evangelicals."

But he warned Obama not to soft-pedal the torture issue in his campaign speeches for fear of alienating middle-of-the-road voters. "I say: Say more about the issue of torture and not less," Gushee said. "Don't run away from the issue."

For McCain, the veteran Arizona senator who endured years of torture while he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, Gushee had different advice. "I say to Sen. McCain: Make the tie between your personal narrative and your policy stance on human rights perfectly clear," he said.

Gushee, noting that two-thirds of those in the poll who said they were supporting McCain also support torture, added, "Tell your own voters why they are wrong on this issue, and why you are committed to the positions that you have articulated since 2002-2003 on the issue of torture."

During a question-and-answer session, Gushee said he was disappointed with McCain's actions on specific legislation earlier this year that seemed to indicate he was backtracking on his previous anti-torture stance. Gushee said one vote in particular was "grievously disappointing to all who follow ... this battle for our national soul."

Nonetheless, the professor said, McCain's original position on torture is more in line with the candidate's overall message.

"It fits entirely with [McCain's] vision of national honor, it fits entirely with his vision of the discipline and grandeur of the U.S. military," Gushee said. "I think his whole appeal-his whole stated appeal-for his candidacy is a maverick who stands up for what is right. And I want him to be who he says he is."


Experts: National security not ensured by torture
By Ken Camp

ATLANTA (ABP) -- Retired high-ranking military officers and national security experts at a national summit on torture Sept. 11 agreed: A policy that permits torture does not make the United States or its troops safer.

Speaking on the seventh anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks in the United States' history, Steve Xenakis, retired brigadier general in the U.S. Army, disputed the assertion that "9/11 changed everything" -- including acceptable rules for the treatment of suspected terrorists in custody.

Xenakis, a medical doctor, participated in the two-day summit on "Religious Faith, Torture and our National Soul" held on Mercer University's Atlanta campus. Torture, he said, violates at least four key principles, he insisted, labeling it as:

-- Un-American. George Washington set the standard during the American Revolution by insisting on the humane treatment of prisoners during wartime.

-- Ineffective. Information obtained through extreme coercive physical and mental abuse is notoriously unreliable.

-- Unnecessary. Skilled interrogators know more effective ways to obtain reliable actionable intelligence.

-- Damaging. "The person who is tortured is damaged. But so is the torturer, the nation and the military," Xenakis concluded. Torture creates "increasing risk of retaliatory measures" that endangers military personnel on the front lines.

Fear, anger and politics all contributed to the climate that allowed the torture of detainees to become national policy, said Don Guter, retired rear admiral and a former Navy Judge Advocate General.

Coercive physical and mental abuse of prisoners occurred not just because of "a few bad apples," but because "those higher up in the chain of command" authorized it, said Guter, dean of the Duquesne University School of Law.

"There is a marked difference between something that happens in spite of administrative policy and something that happens because of it," he said.

Guter characterized that policy shift as a "shameful downfall" for a country that set the standard for the humane treatment of prisoners in World War II.

Karen Greenberg, executive director of the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law, recounted the events that led to "groundbreaking" shifts in national policy, making torture an acceptable form of interrogation.

By the time the American public saw the first photos detailing the degradation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, at least a dozen reports had been commissioned -- mostly by military personnel -- following persistent allegations of detainee abuse, she noted.

The senior U.S. military official in Iraq ordered a report prepared by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba specifically regarding alleged abuse of prisoners by members of the 800th Military Police Brigade at Abu Ghraib.

"Reading the Taguba report was like being transplanted to Mars," Greenberg said.

The document detailed the ways in which prisoners were stripped, hooded and subjected to sexual humiliation. But, beyond that, she noted, more than 1,000 pages of documentation appended to the report revealed another shocking fact. It showed that the detention and, in essence, unrestrained interrogation of suspected terrorists had become official U.S. policy.

The Military Order of Nov. 13, 2001 -- an executive order issued by President Bush -- granted all authority regarding the detention, treatment and trial of non-citizens in the "war on terror" to the secretary of defense.

"America could do what it wanted with detainees," Greenberg said.

Five lawyers from the White House, Pentagon and Justice Department -- a "war council" convened by Bush and Cheney -- developed the legal rationale for circumventing the Uniform Code of Military Justice, federal courts and international treaties.

High-ranking military and national-security officials initially were excluded from those discussions, she noted. And once they learned about the change in policy, they could not believe people they knew and trusted would implement it.

"I do not think that torture makes us safer as a country," Greenburg said.

Information gained through interrogation is less reliable than data obtained by the established intelligence community, she said, pointing to the experience of Arizona Sen. John McCain as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. For the first 3 1/2 years of his captivity, McCain was regularly subjected to torture -- and regularly gave false information to his captors.

Greenburg also noted McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, has said his love for country, family and faith grew much deeper as a result of his brutal treatment by those who interrogated him.

She asked if the United States wants to support a policy that makes suspected terrorists more committed to their nations, tribes and religions.

The conference is being co-sponsored by Mercer and several religious groups and institutions, including Morehouse College, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Evangelicals for Human Rights, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and the Islamic Society of North America.


Legislators call faith leaders to focus on poverty issues
By Vicki Brown

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- "Poverty has been forgotten, and it has been ignored for too long," declared Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) Sept. 9.

DeLauro and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) were featured speakers in a teleconference with reporters to kick off a nationwide interfaith week of activities to draw attention to poverty and hunger in the United States this election cycle.

More than 21 Jewish, Christian and Muslim advocacy groups, including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Catholic Charities USA, organized the effort. It was designed to encourage people of faith to mobilize their communities to ask local, state and national candidates what they will do during their first 100 days in office to address poverty.

Churches and religious groups have responded to the plight of the millions of Americans living in poverty, DeLauro said. Government has a "moral responsibility," she added, to do the same.

From discussions she has with constituents, DeLauro said, she's noticed an increase in financial stress. A growing number of people, she noted, "are working two jobs just to eke out a living. Larger numbers are going to food kitchens and rising every day.... People are losing that confidence ... of being able to take care of their families," she said.

DeLauro called on government to be the "safety net" for struggling families. "Families today don't really believe their children's lives will be better," she said.

The congresswoman called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, for expansion of the federal child-tax credit for the working poor and a federal stimulus package for energy assistance and food stamps.

Churches and religious groups have the moral authority in their communities to press political leaders for these causes, she said.

Lewis -- a Baptist and a veteran of the civil-rights struggles of the 1950s and '60s -- emphasized that, as government faces fiscal woes -- particularly at the local level -- people in poverty get overlooked.

"In the Civil Rights Movement, we used to say that we must pray, but we must also move our feet.... Who will offer aid to the poor, the hungry and the sick in this crisis? We must not be silent. We must pray, but we must also move our feet," he said.

People of faith have the responsibility to put the faith they proclaim into action on poverty issues, Lewis said. "We have to step in and place the problems of the poor at the feet of government, private industry and charitable organizations. The poor have no lobbyists. They have no PACs [political-action committees] or high-priced lawyers to do their work. It is up to us. We must demand solutions to these problems," he said.

"A great nation is judged by how it treats the least of its citizens. And people of faith are measured by their ability to show compassion."

The Bush administration has failed to paint an accurate picture of the plight of the lower and middle classes, alleged Jared Bernstein, director of the living-standards program at the Economic Policy Institute. He has also been the author of the annual "The State of Working America" report since 1992.

Although federal leaders continue to assert that the country's "economic fundamentals are sound," Bernstein claimed, they have failed to say that the middle and lower classes already face recession.

He pointed out that the country has lost more than 600,000 jobs this year and that the unemployment rate stood at 6.1 percent in August.

The under-employment rate stands at 10.7 percent, which represents 6 million part-time workers who would rather have full-time jobs, he added. "People need ample hours at living wages," Bernstein said.

Wealth and opportunities have become concentrated in the hands of the upper classes, he noted. While government leaders like to believe that periods of economic expansion benefit all individuals, that hasn't been the case in every period of economic growth since the late 1970s.

In the late 1990s, poverty rates diminished largely because the job market began offering more positions for low-wage workers and at higher wages, Bernstein explained. But in 2000, "inequality soared," he said.

The federal poverty rate stood at 11.3 percent in 2000, and rose to 12.5 percent by 2007, during a period of economic expansion. "If the economy is expanding and poverty is rising, where is the economy going?" he asked.

The top 1 percent of wage earners holds a 23 percent share of income, Bernstein noted. That percentage hasn't been that high since 1928 -- the year before the stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression.

Safeguards are in place to prevent another Great Depression, Bernstein added. "But the extent of economic inequality ... is as great now as then."


Opinion: The Trinity and other concrete things
By Beth Newman

(ABP) -- Being a teacher of theology has given me a rather distorted sense of priorities. I suppose that whatever one's line of work is, though, it will cause some such skewing. My husband once worked in a shop that made industrial valves, and he will occasionally trespass on the property of others to see whether his handiwork is part of their gas or water line. So I realize that there are some questions that are major for me that are minor for you. But you ought to care.

Take, for example, the doctrine of the Trinity. I've been asking around lately among family and friends about what they've been paying the most attention to lately. The answers are personal (children, health, finances, etc.) or relate to that part of the public life dominating the headlines at any given moment: the political conventions, the most recent hurricane, the biggest ballgame (Go Deacs!).

No one says, "the Trinity."

It's easy to understand why. The concept of a "Three-in-One" God outrages common sense. Any analogy seems strained at best. The one I remember from Sunday school involved trisecting and reassembling an orange.

Some scholars have argued that the doctrine is more the result of the invasive influence of Greek philosophy than scriptural evidence. Others see it as the outworking of patriarchal assumptions corrupting Jesus' simple message of love and justice.

For the ordinary believer (whoever he or she is) the biggest obstacle is that simple observation that the doctrine of the Trinity seems disconnected from the daily living of our lives in a way that "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so" does not.

The fact is, however, that without the Trinity there is no way for any of us to know that Jesus loves us. Furthermore, generations of Christians have understood the Trinity as naming the most concrete reality of our existence.

Scripture describes key moments in Jesus' life in Trinitarian terms. Jesus comes up from the baptismal waters and the Spirit descends upon him. God says, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased." Jesus ascends a mountain with Peter, James and John. He is transfigured before them, his clothes becoming "dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them" (Mark 9:3). Elijah and Moses (the prophet and the law) appear and from a cloud God says, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him!"

We could read these as events simply happening a long time ago, or as invented elaborations by the Gospel writers. If we did, the Trinity would indeed remain irrelevant to our time and place. But if we read Scripture as a word spoken to us, then we can see that God's Triune engagement with the world is still going on.

What difference, then, does the Trinity make in our daily lives of work, school, children and so forth?

We can begin by saying that in and through Christ, we are God's adopted children. As the early church emphasized: "what Christ is by nature (the Son of God), we are by adoption." That is, we share communion through the Spirit with the Father and the Son. God is not a distant God, disconnected from our daily lives, but one who has fully adopted us through Christ. Our biological families may have deeply wounded us or even abandoned us; our adoption by the Triune God heals these wounds.

Another early church theologian (Gregory of Nazianzus) states, "What has not been assumed, cannot be healed." This means that Jesus became fully human in order to heal humanity from the inside. As we're battered about in our daily lives -- by worries, feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, egoism and other sins -- we can trust that God gives us (through confession, forgiveness, prayers, worship and so forth) the healing grace we need to live faithfully.

Finally, in contrast to all that divides and ruptures human relationships today, communion with the Triune God in the Spirit is a uniting force. Pentecost is God's gift to the church today, an ongoing reality in which the Spirit can create paths toward reconciliation in surprising ways.

In the final analysis, the Trinity is a description of God apart from which life as a Christian makes no sense.


-- Beth Newman is professor of theology and ethics at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.

Bible Trivia - 9/11/2008

Question: With how many fish did Jesus fill the disciples’ net after his resurrection?

Answer: 153. (John 21:11)

Comments: After his resurrection, Jesus instructs the disciples to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. This action results in a catch of 153 fish. (John 21:11)

Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. (John 21:11, NASB)

The precise number of fish has long fascinated commentators. Here are but a few of their explanations:

  • Jerome (347-420) claimed that the Greeks had identified that there were exactly 153 species of fish in the sea. (Science has obviously since dispelled this theory.)
  • Lt. Col. R. Roberts calculated at the four canonical Gospels record precisely 153 individuals who were specifically blessed by Jesus Christ. (E. W. Bullinger. (1837-1913), Number in Scripture.)
  • The mathematician Archimedes (c 287-212 B.C.E.), in his treatise On the Measurement of the Cycle, used the whole number ratio 153:265 to accurately approximate the irrational ratio square root of 3, "the measure of the fish". 153 was known from the time of Archimedes as "the measure of the fish" or the vesica.

    Some have found meaning in the number itself.

  • Augustine of Hippo (354-430) and Gregory the Great (540-604) both begin with the number 17. Gregory simply multiplies 17 by 3 and again by 3 (17x32), and thus arrives at 153.
  • Augustine adds that 153 is the triangular of 17. This means that it is the sum of the integer numbers from 1 to 17 inclusive. This number can be expressed as a triangle.
  • 153 also has the rare property that it is the sum of the cubes of its own digits (i.e. 153 = 1x1x1 + 5x5x5 + 3x3x3).
  • Others have analyzed using theomatics, a numerological study of the Greek and Hebrew text Bible. Theomatically, fish related items have a numeric value based on the number 153. For example, "Fishes" (153 x 8), "the net" (153 x 8), "multitude of fishes" (153 x 8 x 2), and "fishers of men" (153 x 14) are have numeric values divisible by 153. (Jerry Lucas, Theomatics II)

While some theories are certainly fishier than others, one thing is for certain: The disciples caught a miraculous number of fish.

Note: This oil on panel of "The miraculous draught of fishes" was painted by Joachim Beuckelaer (1533–1574) in 1563. It hangs in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Word of the Day - 9/11/2008


Incommensurate means not commensurate; disproportionate; inadequate.

Paul assures his readers that the suffering endured in this world is incommensurate to the glory that will be revealed.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18, NASB)

Note: This oil on canvas by contemporary Christian artist Cornelis Monsma is called "Persecution".

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 9/11/2008

On Wednesday night, my class resumed at the University of Tennessee. As you can see from this photo, the campus is preparing for the season’s first home football game. I am glad someone is eagerly anticipating that game.

My class was very good, though three people could not attended on this night. In a class of nine, this is noticeable. We had a great discussion regarding the philosophy of education.

One student, Nai, informed RGB that a link from his personal web site was dated. It seems a link that once went to Chautauqua Institue is actually now to an adult web site as opposed to an adult learning web site. RGB was more than a little embarrassed. Naturally, I brought this up more than once. (Note: He left to correct this last night, so don’t try to find it!)

Part of the class was spent watching the first half of a taped conversation between Bill Moyers and Myles Horton (1905-1990) that originally aired on PBS in 1981. The piece was called “Adventures of a Radical Hillbilly”. Horton founded the revolutionary Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. It still exists today in New Market, Tennessee.

Horton was very interesting. He studied under the highly influential theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) at Union Theological Seminary in New York. When stating his influences, Horton noted that the Bible was the earliest. He claimed that he took love from the New Testament. He characterized the Old Testament as being about creation and that we should be creative. It was an interesting take.

There was actually an article on the difficulty of adult learners on campus in the Daily Beacon, the campus newspaper. A university official (who shall remain nameless) said the university policy was that they it does not treat adult learners differently from other students. The usually reserved RGB (rocking the bow tie on this night) said, “I’m sorry. That’s pathetic.” Yes, the university has an entire department devoted to the adult education.

After class, I met JTH and JBT at Applebees. It was dead so our server (who has become our friend), AFH, sat with us most of the night. JTH had been there every night since Saturday. And I thought I was addicted...

JTH’s head was the topic of conversation. Not only had he shaved off his mohawk, but he was wearing a University of Florida hat. He went to a place selling $5 hats and all of the Tennessee ones were gone so he chose Florida as the substitute because he liked the way it looked. That is dangerous around Knoxville.

In other Wednesday news, my counseling sessions at the Hope Resource Center were postponed for the umpteenth time. Ironically, the nurse called in sick. I have requested to be scheduled many days next to week to prepare for all contingencies.

I used the extra time to visit the Bent Corner book store. The proprietors, Mark and Allie, were as friendly as ever. Their inventory had increased since my last visit.They were pleased that the News-Sentinel had run a feature on them on September 3rd. You can read the article here. Please support this business if at all possible.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bible Trivia - 9/10/2008

Question: What common ancestor do Ammonites and Moabites have?

Answer: Lot. (Genesis 19:37-38)

Comments: The Ammonites and Moabites were national enemies to Israel. Genesis 19 records their origins as being from a drunken, incestuous union between Lot and his two daughters. Moab, patriarch of the Moabites, was the son of Lot's firstborn daughter while Ben-ammi, the ancestor of the Ammonites, was the offspring of the younger daughter.

The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. As for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day. (Genesis 19:37-38, NASB)

Both Moab and Ben-ammi are both allusions to the accounts of their parentage. Ben-ammi means "son of my kinsman". Moab's meaning is less obvious, but the intent is the same. Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki (1040-1105) explains the word Mo'ab to mean "from the father", since ab in Hebrew and Arabic and the rest of the semitic languages means father.

Note: This oil on canvas is Orazio Gentileschi (1563-1639)'s "Lot and his Daughters" (Lot e le figlie)").

Word of the Day - 9/10/2008


To cosset is to treat as a pet; pamper; coddle.

Proverbs 29:21 speaks of cosseting slaves.

He who pampers his slave from childhood
Will in the end find him to be a son. (Proverbs 29:21, NASB)

The Hebrew in this text is very difficult and translators vary greatly in interpreting the result of such cossteing of slaves/servants. Some claim that it will result in an heir (ESV, RSV) or a son (ASV, KJV, NASB, NKJV). Others have a more negative view, claiming the product is arrogance (HCSB), a bad end (NRSV), grief (NCV, NIV), rebellion (NLT), or sorrow (CEV). The Amplified Version incorporates both with a negative slant reading that the slave/servant will be "expecting the rights of a son afterward."

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 9/10/2008

On Tuesday afternoon, I experienced a glad reunion with many people at church. I went to lunch there as the church provides meals on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in addition to Wednesday nights in its Fellowship Hall. I went to see my friend MBR but got to see many other friends as well.

MBR was joined by his wife JGR. Their class had a unique Sunday School lesson on Sunday. Curriculum had not arrived so in light of it being an election year, SS had the group vote on which Biblical characters Jesus would have in his cabinet were he elected president. It sounded like a fun exercise. Any thoughts?

I briefly got to see RWW, whom arrived very late. He had a good time in Los Angeles despite the Vols’ loss, and even acquired the digits of a “talent.” I really have missed RWW.

I also got to catch up with some of my favorite ministers. WLB, the retired but always beloved JFC (aka Jo C.) TWC and GWS all attended. GWS noted how bad he felt for Tom Brady’s injury. Now I feel even more guilt for my initial (ever so short) pleasure at the announcement that he would miss the season.

I also got to catch up with SSC, JMM, JMT, RWW and RRP who was inexplicably at the church. (He is not a member).

One of the chefs was my good friend CEH. He left his job at Witt to become a culinary student at UT. He is assisting with the kitchen staff at church to gain experience. I am thrilled with this move as he seems happy. He will even assist in a meal for the university president before an upcoming football game.

It was a lot of fun. I hope to attend again soon.

On Tuesday night, I watched The Fall with SMA. It had been released earlier in the day on DVD. It stars Lee Pace from the television series Pushing Daisies. It is a visiually stunning fantasy film that kept our attention throughout. Not to give too much away, but SMA summed up the movie best when he said, “I think the thing we need to take from this is that clinically depressed stuntmen do not need to tell children stories.” That, my friends, is sound advice.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 9/9/2008

Associated Baptist Press
September 9, 2008 · (08-85)

Greg Warner, Executive Editor
Robert Marus, News Editor/Washington Bureau Chief

In this issue
Dellanna O'Brien, former WMU head, dies at 75
David Wilkinson to become ABP's executive director
Attacks on Obama, picking Palin rally conservative base at RNC
Chaplain's 'general store' eases ministry to soldiers

Dellanna O'Brien, former WMU head, dies at 75
By Vicki Brown

FRISCO, Texas (ABP)-Dellanna West O'Brien, who led the Southern Baptist Woman's Missionary Union through some of its most trying times, died Sept. 7 at age 75.

She suffered what WMU officials described as "a massive cerebral bleed" Sept. 4 after falling and hitting her head at her home in Frisco, north of Dallas. She died three days later with her husband, Bill, and their three children at her side.

O'Brien served as executive director of the Southern Baptist Convention women's auxiliary for a decade before retiring in 1999. WMU-which is governed independently and receives no funding from the denomination-had been challenged by many of the fundamentalists who took control of the SBC during that period.

"Dellanna led Woman's Missionary Union through difficult times, and she faced opposition and personal difficulties head-on and successfully," said Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler, who preceded O'Brien as WMU head.

Crumpler noted that O'Brien continued to lead the organization after suffering a stroke in 1998. She described O'Brien as a "true friend, wife, mother, missionary, educator, mentor, leader and over-comer."

"Dellanna O'Brien is one of the most amazing women I have ever known," said Wanda Lee, O'Brien's successor at WMU, according to a press release from the agency. "She possessed a deep love for the Lord and her family, and made countless sacrifices as she led WMU through 10 challenging years in our denomination. I will remember her as a great friend, leader, educator, innovator, and loving wife and mother-but, most of all, as a humble and diligent servant of Christ and his mission."

During O'Brien's tenure, WMU developed several new programs, including Christian Women's Job Corps, to assist women with economic and other challenges. The WMU Foundation also was formed, and WMU opened its first development office, under O'Brien. The agency combined its Baptist Women and Baptist Young Women organizations to form Women on Mission.

O'Brien also led WMU to assume responsibility for Pure Water, Pure Love-a ministry that provides water filters and purification systems to missionaries.

"She had the ability to anticipate the future and its consequences and was willing to take risks for what she believed to be right," said June Whitlow, who served as WMU's associate executive under O'Brien. "Dellanna made a positive difference in the lives of people around the world."

O'Brien was the author or co-author of several books, including Timeless Virtues: Lessons in Character for Women and Choosing a Future for U.S. Missions.

Born July 20, 1933, in Wichita Falls, O'Brien earned her bachelor's degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene in 1953 and worked as an elementary school teacher until 1963. She and her family served as SBC Foreign (now International) Mission Board missionaries in Indonesia for the next nine years.

Upon returning to the United States, O'Brien pursued graduate studies and received a master's degree in education from Texas Christian University in 1972 and a doctorate in education from Virginia Tech in 1983. She also holds honorary degrees from Hardin-Simmons University, University of Richmond in Virginia, and Judson College in Alabama.

Prior to her post at WMU, she served as president of the International Family and Children's Educational Services, a non-profit organization she founded to provide educational-testing services for missionary kids.

She is survived by her husband, Bill, three children and six grandchildren. Bill O'Brien served as an executive with the Foreign Mission Board and, later, as a missions professor.

A memorial service is tentatively set for 10 a.m. Sept. 10 at Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco, where she was a member.


-- Johnny Pierce and Robert Marus contributed to this story.

David Wilkinson to become ABP's executive director
By Vicki Brown

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (ABP) -- Veteran Baptist communicator David Wilkinson has been named executive director for Associated Baptist Press.

Wilkinson, who currently serves as development director for the Baylor University School of Social Work, will replace current ABP Executive Editor Greg Warner, who is in the process of going on permanent disability due to a chronic back condition.

The independent news service's directors unanimously approved Wilkinson for the position Sept. 8. On Oct. 1 he will assume the post, created as ABP's board revamped the agency's structure. It has operated with five full-time staffers, including Warner. However, one of the editorial positions was already vacant when Warner announced plans to step down.

In addition to editorial duties, Warner also was ABP's chief administrative officer. The new structure divides news responsibilities from administration and development.

"Our personnel committee spent early summer thinking about our stewardship of ABP's human resources in a time of transition," noted Marv Knox, who chaired the board's committee for the position, in a prepared statement. "We asked: Can we change our structure so we can do a better job of reporting Baptist news?

"We decided we need our leader to focus on setting the tone of our work and strengthening our overall operations. And then the rest of the organization can focus on doing journalism, which is our calling," Knox, editor of the Texas Baptist Standard, added.

"For 17 years, we asked Greg Warner to be our lead journalist and also to manage the business. That was tremendously difficult, because journalism's urgent deadlines worked against ongoing operations, like building organizational structure and raising money. He did a fine job, but we felt we could help his successor by focusing the job and building an even stronger supporting staff.

"So, now we're freeing the new executive director from day-to-day journalism deadlines. And we're asking him to focus on strengthening ABP's vision, function and financial stability," Knox said.

Warner said he believes Wilkinson is perfectly suited for the new position. "What a great move for ABP! I have long admired David's exceptional talent as a writer and creativity as an organizational leader," he wrote in an e-mail.

"He's also a beloved colleague and one of the smartest people I've ever known. It's flattering to think someone of David's caliber and reputation will succeed me. I've long wished for a chance to work with him. While that won't be possible, this is the next-best thing. He's a perfect fit in the new structure of ABP," Warner continued.

"We are certainly delighted to have someone with David's experience and expertise to lead ABP into the future," said Dan Lattimore, ABP's board chair.

"He is well-thought-of throughout Baptist life, and we feel he has the leadership ability to take ABP to the next level and to enhance the role of ABP in partnership with New Voice Media," he said. Lattimore is an administrator and journalism professor at the University of Memphis.

New Voice Media Group is a strategic collaboration for creating a new, multimedia platform for historic and progressive Baptists and other Christians. The 2-year-old partnership includes ABP; the Baptist Standard; the Religious Herald, which serves the Baptist General Association of Virginia; and Word & Way, the historic Baptist newspaper in Missouri.

Wilkinson wants to focus on the future. "I believe ABP's mission has never been more important for the global Baptist movement," he said by phone Sept. 9. "I think the convergence and frequent clash of national and global trends present an unprecedented opportunity to re-envision the nature and role of an independent religious news service."

Despite his excitement about the new position, Wilkinson acknowledged that it comes at a cost to a close friend. "No one would have wished for this painful situation for Greg that has created this opportunity," Wilkinson said. "Greg Warner personifies the best in journalistic excellence and integrity, and it is a deeply humbling honor to follow his lead."

Wilkinson's 30-year career includes a broad base of denominational service and communications experience, encompassing journalism, marketing, media relations and development. He served the Southern Baptist Convention as a communications specialist for the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) and two stints in communications for the SBC Christian Life Commission (now the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission).

The Oklahoma native earned a bachelor of arts degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He worked for the seminary as director of communications and later as vice president for seminary relations.

From 1997 to 2003, Wilkinson was the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's coordinator of communications and marketing. He then became minister of education and discipleship for Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He assumed the Baylor post in May 2007.

"I respected him as a journalist and as someone with broad experience," noted Keith Parks, who was CBF's missions coordinator during Wilkinson's tenure with the organization. "More importantly, as [someone] of integrity who would report accurately.... I have great respect for David and for his work."

Wilkinson has been honored with several journalism and public-relations awards, including the Frank Burkhalter Award, the Baptist Communicators Association's highest award for outstanding achievement in journalism.


Attacks on Obama, picking Palin rally conservative base at RNC
By Robert Marus

ST. PAUL, Minn. (ABP) -- John McCain completed a long journey to the GOP presidential nomination Sept. 4, capping an abbreviated Republican convention that offered attacks on his Democratic rival, but little talk of divisive social issues.

Nonetheless, the Arizona senator's choice of a previously obscure Christian conservative as his running mate and his party's adoption of a socially conservative platform helped energize a party base -- including some evangelicals -- that had previously been ambivalent toward McCain.

"Let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first-country-second, Washington crowd: Change is coming," McCain said, to wild applause, during his speech to accept the party's nomination.

McCain -- as had other speakers at the convention -- touted his reputation as a reformer and an independent-minded politician who has sometimes taken on the majority view in his own party.

"You well know I've been called a maverick, someone who ... marches to the beat of his own drum," he said. "Sometimes it's meant as a compliment and sometimes it's not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you."

McCain has disagreed with GOP powers-that-be in the past on issues such as campaign-finance reform, embryonic stem-cell research and a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He once angrily accused prominent Religious Right leaders of being "agents of intolerance," and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson reportedly vowed never to vote for him.

Several prominent politicians supportive of abortion rights also were given prominent speaking slots at the convention, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge and self-styled "independent Democrat" Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.).

Several news agencies reported that McCain had hoped to continue his maverick streak by picking Lieberman or Ridge as his running mate. But, in a nod to the realities of a party controlled by social conservatives who might engage in an open revolt should a pro-choice politician be given the vice-presidential nod, McCain instead chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Palin opposes legalized abortion, even in cases of rape and incest; has supported constitutional bans on same-sex marriage and opposed other gay-rights measures; and has voiced support for the teaching of religious alternatives to evolution in public schools. She supported establishment of a statewide "Christian Heritage Week." As mayor of the Alaska hamlet of Wasilla, she reportedly threatened to fire the town librarian for balking after Palin raised the prospect of removing some books from the shelves for their ostensibly objectionable content. She also has opposed comprehensive sex education, supporting abstinence-only models instead.

The Christian Coalition issued a press release saying the Palin choice "seals the deal" of conservative Christians' support for the McCain campaign. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told Christianity Today that the selection has created a "giddy" response among the women in his office.

"I recommended her, but I had no reason to believe that they would do it," he said. "But I'm happy they did. I think it's going to tap into all kinds of things. I must say I've been pleasantly surprised at the depth of the response among women.... Clearly, her nomination's tapped into something, which I can observe as a white male but can't experience."

Palin, who was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church as an infant but had a conversion experience in an Assembly of God church as a youngster, now is a member of the independent Wasilla Bible Church in her hometown.

She has already garnered some controversy for her presence during a guest sermon preached at Wasilla Bible Church Aug. 17 by Jews For Jesus head David Brickner. His organization advocates for Jews to "complete" themselves by accepting Christ.

In the sermon -- according to a transcript available on the church's website before the story became major news -- Brickner noted that God has promised judgment for those who reject Christ -- and suggested that the terrorism that plagues the modern-day state of Israel is one example of such judgment.

A link on the church's website to sermon transcripts was disabled as of Sept. 9.

In June, Palin spoke to graduates of a discipleship-training program at Wasilla Assembly of God, the church she was a member of until 2002. According to a video of the speech posted on YouTube, Palin asked the graduates to pray for the success of a natural-gas pipeline she was trying to push through the Alaska Legislature.

"I think that God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built," she said.

She also said that, despite all the work she can do as a secular leader to improve and protect Alaska, "really, all of that stuff doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with God.... We can work together to make sure God's will be done here."


Chaplain's 'general store' eases ministry to soldiers
By John Hall

SHARANA, Afghanistan (ABP) -- Chaplain Everett Zachary is happy to help provide at least some of the comforts of home to soldiers in unfamiliar Afghanistan through his "general store."

Following 16-hour shifts, soldiers take solace in the tokens of domestic life that many Americans take for granted -- a greeting card to send to the family, a book. Particularly popular are movies, which provide easy ways to escape the daily grind of service in his outpost in Sharana, Afghanistan.

The troops of the 62nd Engineer Combat Battalion can find many of these items through Zachary, a Baptist General Convention of Texas-endorsed chaplain assigned to them. In his workspace, military personnel can pick up all of the items -- and get ministered to in other ways, as well.

"By providing some of these items, I see soldiers I would not normally see in my office," he said. "It makes my office a central hub in our unit, which works to create a comfortable feeling towards the Religious Support Team. I believe it also breaks down the barrier of [the soldier] looking weak [to his or her peers] should they need to see me for serious counseling. As there are a number of reasons one might come into my office, there is less likelihood of speculation as to the well-being of the soldier."

By having a regular flow of people through his office who are looking for movies and books, Zachary is able to get to know more soldiers than if it were simply a typical chaplain's office. Often, the more he sees them, the deeper the relationship becomes. If a situation arises where they need spiritual or emotional help, the chaplain is there for them.

"Every encounter is not a great evangelistic moment, but it's all about a ministry of presence," he said. "My soldiers know that their chaplain is concerned about more than just whether or not they are 'saved.' I want to know if they are having some down time with a good movie or book. I want to provide them with an unexpected snack in their busy, monotonous day. And I want to be the one who says, 'Hey, why don't you send your wife, your mom or your child a card just to tell her you love her? Hey, here's a free card.'"

However, as one might expect, Zachary's library is limited. He doesn't have enough movies to meet demand.

The BGCT is encouraging congregations to support the chaplain's ministry with the soldiers by sending him additional films. Any digital video disc will be appreciated, Zachary said, but cartoons, comedies, action and Western flicks are the most popular. He tries to keep the selection positive and upbeat to help the troops.

"I love my job," Zachary said. "I walk shoulder-to-shoulder with American sons and daughters who have given up their lives to help a foreign country find some stabilization. Most of the time, it's not very fun. Sometimes it's downright discouraging.

"So, if I can provide a couple hours of sanity or temporary relief through a movie or a good book, I think I've done something to contribute to the health of my soldiers. It's kind of like preventive medicine. I'm helping them get a little down time up front to keep from seeing them later with some serious anger-management or depression issues."


Church Sign - 9/9/2008

Church: West Knoxville Church of Christ (9048 Middlebrook Pike; Knoxville, TN 37923)

Sign: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Commentary: This quotation was posted on the west bound side of the West Knoxville Church of Christ, the flip side of yesterday's Church Sign post. The sign quotes scripture. James 4:7 is a church sign favorite.

Submit therefore to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7, NASB)

Note: I am really proud of this picture as it was taken on the move and on the first take. It shows great improvement.

Bible Trivia - 9/9/2008

Question: Which of the following Jewish holy days is mentioned by name in the Old Testament–Rosh Hashanah, Purim, Yom Kippur or Hanukkah?

Answer: Purim. (Esther 9:26)

Comments: Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from the Persian Empire as depicted in the Book of Esther. The name Purim (פורים) means "lots" and was given in ironic deference to Haman, who had plotted to exterminate them by casting the lot. (Esther 9:24)

Therefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. And because of the instructions in this letter, both what they had seen in this regard and what had happened to them, (Esther 9:26, NASB)

Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, the day following the victory of the Jews over their enemies.

Note: This image ("Feast of Purim commanded") was created by H. Melville.

Word of the Day - 9/9/2008


To attenuate is to weaken or reduce in force, intensity, effect, quantity, or value.

In the midst of his turmoil, Job laments that talking about his condition does not attenuate it.

"If I speak, my pain is not lessened,
And if I hold back, what has left me? (Job 16:6, NASB)

Note: This image of Job is by Annie Vallotton.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 9/9/2008

On Monday night, another church league basketball season began at the Central Baptist Church of Bearden. I am captaining a team in the slow break league. The rules for slow league basketball are the same as regulation basketball except that the ball must be dribbled across half court and back court pressure is limited only to the end of halves. Yes, we are getting old.

Despite my status as the team captain, I am not playing. I am only the designated devoter. My team consists of eight players: JTH, SH, JAH, JTL, JDM, SRM, PCR, and MPW. I am calling the team the Mohawks in deference to JTH and PCR’s hairstyles. Actually, no one is quite sure what to call PCR’s current hairstyle.

We arrived early to view the night’s opening game. It was the first game played on the new gym floor. There was also a new scoreboard with a highly annoying new buzzer. The game went into overtime when Darrell Dance (DED, aka “The Highlander” - he does not age) hit a three-point basket at the buzzer to send the game into overtime tied at 50. DED also sunk the game winning free throws to preserve a 58-56 victory for GLO's team. Former UT basketball player Kirk Naler (DKN) returned to the league in this game. Despite his presence, Brandon was the game's leading scorer, hitting for 29 points in a losing effort for MDR’s squad. Unfortunately, that would be more points than our team scored on opening night.

We lost 32-28 to a team captained by KLD. We played JTH’s team from last season and they heckled the “traitor” throughout the game. We scored only eleven points in the first half, but were trailing by just four. Our opponents missed six consecutive free throws to give us countless opportunities but the basket was closed for us on this night.

JTH took the loss especially hard, bloodying his knuckles on a chair after a crucial turnover. A loss of this magnitude cannot be blamed on any one player, referee, or in my case coach. I will note that at one point in the second half, we had ten fouls against us while our opponents only had one.

There are four teams in the league. The championship game is on October 27th, the date of PCR’s wedding. We have a 50% chance of being in that game and we may need it rescheduled as PCR has already refused to reschedule his out-of-state wedding. I love the guy, but where are his priorities? Actually, after this game, if we finish in the Final Four, I will consider the season a success.

Despite being younger and more athletic than most of our opponents, our team figures to struggle as unlike other teams in the league, we have not played together for years. But enough excuses...

We did have great fan support. Five women merits a great crowd in this league. I finally got to meet Amanda #3. If you would like to come out and see us, here is our schedule:

September 8: 7:30 pm vs. Deitch (KLD)
September 15: 6:30 pm vs. Ownby (GLO)
September 22: 6:30 pm vs. Roberts (MDR)
September 29: 7:30 pm vs. KLO
October 6: 6:30 vs. GLO
October 13: 6:30 pm vs. MDR
Tournament Games: October 20, 23, 27

After the game JTH, JDM and I met at Applebees. KL and MPW later joined us. They were quite late. KL was test driving a car. JTL bought a new car and KL is contemplating buying his old 1994 model. KL spent most of the night on the phone trying to change her schedule at Best Buy so that she could play in a softball game the following night. While this might ordinarily be perceived as rude, taking recreation sports far too seriously seemed appropriate on this night.

Besides, she was wearing a W.C. Vinson Ministries t-shirt so I could not get too upset.

On Monday night, I did receive a phone call from my mother. She naturally called during the game. She has a gift. She seemed to be having a great time at the Elderhostel in Rhode Island. No word on my dad...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Church Sign - 9/8/2008

Church: West Knoxville Church of Christ (9048 Middlebrook Pike; Knoxville, TN 37923)

Sign: "Regardless of election results: God rules"

Commentary: On Sunday morning, Sunday School was held at MPW's condo whcih is located next to the West Knoxville Church of Christ. This timely sign accentuates God's sovreignty and echoes Paul's sentiments in Romans 13.

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. (Romans 13:1, NASB)

Tomorrow I will post what was written on the other side of this sign.

Bible Trivia - 9/8/2008

Question: Where did Jesus say he would be with the repentant thief crucified with Him that same day?

Answer: Paradise. (Luke 23:42-43)

Comments: The gospel of Luke records that Jesus was crucified amidst two criminals. One chastised Jesus while the other defended him. Jesus assured his advocate that he would join him in paradise. It is the first of only three times the word (παράδεισος, paradeisos) is used in the New Testament. (Luke 23:43, II Corinthians 12:4, Revelation 2:7).

And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43, NASB)

It is worth nothing that early church fathers Irenaeus (d. 202) and Origen (d. 254) distinguished paradise from heaven.

Note: This image of the repentant thief with Jesus (from "Les 7 dernières paroles du Christ") was painted by Macha Chmakoff.

Word of the Day - 9/8/2008


A sibilant is a consonant characterized by a hissing sound (like s or sh) .

While prophesying the fall of Egypt, Jeremiah claims that the Egyptians will retreat making the sibilant sound of the serpent at the prospect of Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian army encroaching upon them. (Job 46:22)

"Its sound moves along like a serpent;
For they move on like an army
And come to her as woodcutters with axes. (Job 46:22, NASB)

The NIV reads this as "Egypt will hiss like a fleeing serpent". (Jeremiah 46:22a)

Note: This is contemporary German artist C. Werthheimer's interpretation of "The Fate of Egypt".

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 9/8/2008

My weekend was spent preparing for upcoming sermons and classes and watching sporting events with my friends.

I took a brief break from studying on Friday night to eat with my parents. We had a meal at the house which to the uniniated means we ordered Steak-Out. They were to set off on a trip the following night. The first night’s stay was actually at the Airport Hilton in Knoxville as one night’s stay entitles the guest to indefinite free parking at the hotel. Why I did not drop them off the following morning, I do not know. I do know I am grateful for not having to.

Their trip is to an Elderhostel in Newport, Rhode Island. Elderhostel is the world's largest not-for-profit educational travel organization for adults and not a hostel for old people as I previously imagined. Their trip runs from September 7th to the 15th, meaning my parents will miss two sermons and I will not see my father on his birthday. Keep their travels in your prayers.

On Friday night, I also briefly visited with JTH at MoFoS. Eventually, we were joined by JB and JBT. The topic of conversation on this night was an article slandering JB appearing on MySpace. I consoled him. By that I mean I teased him profusely.

Saturday was spent largely in study as well but I did get to watch the second half of Florida’s 26-3 win over Miami at RAW’s home. RAW and I arrived at about the same time as he tends to work late on Saturdays. It was good night of bonding. The game was a night game and since it was already the second half, KJW was already pooped out when I got there.

On Sunday morning, Sunday School convened at MPW’s apartment. I taught on Exodus 14:19-31, the parting of the Red Sea. I will preach the passage on September 14th. This passage is far more difficult than the children’s version I learned in Sunday School as a child. For a typical WAM insight, check out the WAM Quote of the Day. (Note: KLTW had this expression on her face throughout the entire lesson. It was one of those days.)

I spent Sunday night watching the WWE pay-per-view presentation Unforgiven with SMA and WRK Well, SMA and I watched the show anyway. WRK read magazines. I was distracted too. I had purchased a Tennessee Volunteers Trivia Challenge Book. Sadly, I answered only 118 of 200 questions correctly. (59%)

Some notes from the evening’s profound conversation with SMA (I apologize as the later references are only significant to wrestling fans):

  • We spent a good deal of time discussing what the television show Two And A Half Men will be called when Angus T. Jones matures. I suggested Three Men and No Baby. SMA said he could have a baby and it would be Three and a Half Men. Amazingly, neither of us watch the show.
  • CEH added Kenny G as a friend on MySpace earlier in the day. Insert your own joke.
  • MJB was in town earlier in the day and informed SMA of the plans for a PWF reunion show. PWF was the local wrestling outfit for which MJB refereed under the handle “Squeaky Herman”. MJB questioned the decision. No one came to the shows originally so why would they attend a reunion program? SMA and I will be there anyway.
  • A new wrestler debuted at the pay-per-view named Manu. You know you watch too much wrestling when you look at someone and say he “looks Samoan”. We were correct.
  • We are pretty sure The Undertaker was a big fan of The Dark Knight film as he seems to have adopted Christian Bale’s superhero voice. This is not a good thing.
  • The Undertaker and Big Show were on camera during the same time dispelling theories that they are the same individual. Sorry. That was completely ridiculous and you had to be there.
  • Shawn Michaels should have capes coming out of his boot when he kicks the “superkick.” Just an idea.
  • We discussed the possibility of Sapphire coming back from the dead and somehow making her ashes dance.
  • We discussed wrestling cliches. We developed a gimmick for a heel to burn a farmer wrestler’s barn down to incorporate the expression “barn burner”. Also, we established that for someone to be referred to as a “house of fire” punching must be involved.

As you can tell, we accomplished a great deal on this night. We had felt guilty about not watching Peyton Manning’s season debut but since Chris Jericho won the world championship on the wrestling show and Peyton’s Colts were defeated soundly by the Chicago Bears, 29-13, we determined that we chose wisely.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Prayer Blog - 9/7/2008, #3

I received two letters from Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Knoxville this weekend. The letters were from Bill Riggins, head of the steering committee and dated September 2nd and 4th respectively. The letters give me until Septemeber 15th and 19th to officially apply for their position as pastor. Yes, they gave me two different deadlines. I last preached at the church on December 2nd.

They will be paying for a bi-vocational pastor and with my meticulous sermon preparation time alone, I would exceed part-time hours. I am also working on a PhD which is time consuming to say the least.

Pray for my decision and especially the church during this process.

Prayer Blog - 9/7/2008, #2

Today my parents embarked upon a trip to an Elderhostel in Newport, Rhode Island. (Can you guess which one of my parents selected the destination?) They are going with friends from church (the Johnsons and Witts). They are slated to return home on Septmeber 15th. Please keep their travel plans in your prayers.

Prayer Blog - 9/7/2008

JBT has an appointment tomorrow morning at 9:30 in which he will schedule an elbow replacement surgery. The surgery will be performed by the Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic (KOC). The surgery will be both painful and costly. Please keep him in your prayers during this process.

WAM Quote of the Day - 9/7/2008

On Sunday morning, I taught on Exodus 14:19-31, the parting of the Red Sea. After reading the text, I asked if anyone had not heard the story previously. Without hesitation, WAM replied:

"Hugh Hefner."

Scarily, I knew that he meant Charlton Heston, in reference to the classic 1956 film The Ten Commandments. After correcting him, WAM replied, "They're kind of similar though..."

Note: Despite the gesture in this photo, WAM is not running for office this year. I probably would vote for him though.

Church Sign - 9/7/2008

Church: Bethesda Christian Fellowship (1015 Cedar Lane; Knoxville, TN 37912)

Sign: "Prayer changes things."

Commentary: This popular simple maxim expresses profound belief in the effects of prayer. It is found on bumper stickers, posters, shirts, etc. It is also the title of a song by Deitrick Haddon from his 2004 album Crossroads

More often than not, one of the biggest things prayer changes is the pray-er.