Monday, December 28, 2009

And you thought I was crazy...

Hello my friends,


Well, it's happened. I've finally run across someone more nuts than moi. I've done a few stupid things in my time but I make a concerted effort not to risk my life for cheap thrills. (With the exception of that skydiving thing a while back.) I came across this video of a car stunt that caught my attention. I hope you enjoy it.




That's it. No spiritual lessons. No moral to the story. It is what it is. Tchau for today. I have to go take down a Christmas tree.


Loopy, but at least not doing loop-da-loops,
Mike

Friday, December 18, 2009

Anthropogenic Global Warming? Oh really?

Bom dia my twisted friends,

My taste in funny people is very eclectic. I like a lot of the old-time comedians like Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, and George Gobel. And people like Flip Wilson, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Carol Burnett never fail to make me laugh. The Bible says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Comedy, if well used, is both a powerful communication tool and a source of much joy and laughter.

Most of you are familiar with Dennis Miller. He had his own show on HBO for quite a while, and now he appears regularly on Bill O'Reilly's show on FOX. For me he falls into the same category as two other modern comedians that I like a lot; namely, Tim Allen and Robin Williams. All three are comedic geniuses. However, all three of them cheapen their craft by using filthy language and sexual humor in their standup shows. I refuse to watch them in those settings. However, if you put them into a show or a venue where they have to keep it clean all three have the ability to split your sides.

Anyway, I digress... what I started out to say is that I found a clip of Dennis Miller that you just have to see. He is discussing Global Warming and man's part in it. In light of the recent Copenhagen Conference I thought it appropriate to stick my oar in the water on this subject. Al Gore and his ilk believe religiously in anthropogenic global warming. Put simply that means that the world is heating up and it is all man's fault. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia and caretaker of all truth that is truly true defines anthropogenic in this way: "Anthropogenic effects, processes or materials are those that are derived from human activities, as opposed to those occurring in biophysical environments without human influence."

In this clip from FOX's "Half-Hour News Show" Dennis Miller takes on this premise and shows it for what it really is--utter stupidity.  Enjoy!



I know that some of you more politically correct yet painfully naive people might be disillusioned now that you know where I stand on so-called Global Warming. Sorry about that, but I calls 'em like I sees 'em, and I believe that 99.9% of the politically motivated global warming hysteria is total nonsense with little to no legitimate science to back it up. Earth's climatological changes can be tied directly to the sun's activities. Man's puny input is statistically insignificant.

Give yourself a thrill and do a Google search of "global cooling predictions" and just see what pops up. Poke around for a while and you'll be surprised how much reputable science there is on the other side of the debate. Meanwhile, our elected leaders run around trying to fix something that ain't broken and are willing to bankrupt the country to do it. That's what I call insanity!

Laughing all the way, (to keep from crying)
Mike

Saturday, December 5, 2009

So Where Do You Draw the Line?

Hello my equally demented amigos.

Recently one of my friends celebrated a birthday. On that occasion he remarked, "Yep. I've now crossed over from being just an old codger to officially being an old coot."

His remark started me thinking. Just where are the lines that determine what we should call people? Specifically, how do you know if a guy is a codger, a coot, a geezer, or just an ol' fart? Where are the lines of demarcation? At what age do you move from one to the other? These kind of questions keep me up at night.

At the front end of human existence it is somewhat easier to sort out. We are born and for the first little while we are referred to as "the baby" or "the infant," as in "Shut up and quit playing those bongo drums or you're going to wake up THE BABY!" That's the first stage. Babies just lay there doing nothing, looking like ugly little pink prunes for the first few weeks. Eventually they become "cuddlers." That's when they start to have some personality of their own and like to cuddle on your lap and play with your nose or rip off your glasses. The other name for them at this stage is "rug rats," as in, "Hey lady, your RUG RAT is chewing on my pants cuff again."

The next stage is "toddler." That comes when the little booger figures out how to pull himself up by holding on to something then lets go and "toddles" across the floor, much to the joy and amazement of his parents, grandparents, family friends, etc. The "toddler" stage lasts until the little guy really gets it up and moving. At that point he becomes just a "little kid." This stage lasts for quite a while, several years. In fact, it goes up until the "kid" hits 13. At that point he crosses the line into what will define him for the next 7 years--he's a "teenager." But there's no problem there. You at least know what to call him, and you have a good explanation for the insanity that he starts to exhibit. You say to your wife, "Well, what do you expect, Mildred? He's just a gol-darn TEENAGER and he acts just like your brother, Rudy, used to."

After 19 comes 20. You're no longer a "teenager" but you're also not yet an "adult." It's a weird age. You can be drafted into a war and sent off to die in a country whose name you can't pronounce but you can't go to the tavern to drown your sorrows. It's like the Twilight Zone for a year there. But then you turn 21 and are officially a full-blown, no-holds-barred "adult," and you stay that way for many years. Now I must stop for just a minute to take up term that has never been closely defined. One will occasionally hear the title "young buck" used to refer to guys anywhere between 19 and about 28 but the lines are fuzzy on both ends of the thing. I personally think that more research needs to be done to nail this thing down so that we don't use the term incorrectly.

"Adulthood" goes on interminably--through your 20s, your 30s, your 40s, and your 50s. Everything is the same, year after endless year. Oh sure, in your late 50s you start to lose hair on your head and gain it in your ears, eyebrows, and nostrils but other than that things stay pretty much the same. But then you hit 60. POW! That's when it hits you--"I'm getting really old."

I recently came across a website that I found somewhat helpful and I pass it on to you. Check out http://geezerguff.com for a good read and lots of helpful information and big laughs. One helpful contribution is their subdivision of adulthood into three categories: "Whippers" (as in "whippersnappers") - ages 13-30, "Greenies" - ages 31-49, and "Edgers" - ages 50-59. They also offer a carefully reasoned argument about where the lines should be drawn between the aforementioned divisions of advanced old age; namely, coot, geezer, and codger. However, I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that the authors of that blogsite completely overlook the other obvious categories of fogy, fossil, old fart, old goat, senile old fool, and vegetable. Obviously, more research needs to be done.

Oh, I almost forgot. The old guys that wrote that article define "geezer" as 60-75 years, "codger" as 76-99, and "coot" as 100 on up. I don't know how they arrived at these conclusions but you can decide for yourself.

Me? I'm tired and am going to go lay down and take my morning nap and dream about the good ol' days back when I was a YOUNG BUCK.

Committed to the science of elderly studies,
Mike

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Season's Greetings, Happy Holidays, or Merry Christmas

Hello faithful readers, few though you may be,

Once again it is that season of the year when people fight over how we should greet one another. There are those traditionalists who staunchly believe that the only appropriate December greeting is "Merry Christmas." Others, of a more politically correct persuasion prefer to go with "Happy Holidays," a safer option in case the person being greeted turns out to be a Jew, a liberal African American, a Buddhist, a Muslim, or some other breed of cats.

While I personally like to hear "Merry Christmas" I don't think it is worth arguing over. If someone in a store wishes me "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" I am going to accept their kind sentiments and respond, "...and to you as well. Thank you," rather than hurl back a harsh "...and a very Merry Christmas to you too!" as some Christians feel obligated to do in order to set people straight. I think that is downright rude.

I've observed that there is a tremendous amount of ignorance on the part of Christians about the celebration of Christ's birth. For one thing, most of the world celebrates the birth of Jesus on December 25th, not because that is when the actual event occurred but because it is the date that was mandated by the Roman Catholic Church centuries ago. The date that is commemorated by the Orthodox Churches is January 7th, which is equally off base. In reality, the date the western world uses for the Advent Celebration was chosen to overwrite and sanitize a pagan Roman holiday called Saturnalia, which commemorated the winter solstice and the birth of the sun god.

Many Bible scholars believe that Jesus was born toward the end of September before the weather turned cold. They base this on the time of John the Baptist's birth, six months before Jesus was born.  Others believe that Jesus' birth actually occurred in the Spring of the year, probably in late March or early April, during the lambing season when the shepherds were staying out all night with their flocks in order to help the ewes in their lambing. The climate of Israel is similar to the climates of say, Los Angeles, CA or Dallas, TX. December and January are the coldest months in Israel and in the mountainous region of Bethlehem the winter temperatures range from 30–50° degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, it gets cold there in the winter. One thing is for sure, no shepherd in his right mind would sleep on the ground out in a field in the month of December. All that to say... I don't know exactly when Jesus was born but let's be honest with ourselves and admit that our celebration of the Lord's birth in December is off schedule to say the least. But that is only half of the problem.

The word "Christmas" is a compound word derived from "Christ-Mass." Again, that harks back to Roman Catholic roots. The word Christmas comes from “Cristes Maesse”, an Old English phrase that means “Mass of Christ.” Now that is starting to creep me out! As a dyed-in-the-wool Protestant/Baptist anything with the word "mass" attached to it is suspect from the get-go. "Mass" is strictly a Catholic word and is not part of my theology. On page 537 of The Catholic Encyclopedia we read, “In the Christian law, the supreme sacrifice is that of the Mass… The supreme act of worship consists essentially in an offering of a worthy victim to God, the offering made by a proper person, as a priest, the destruction of the victim.” Notice the word, “victim” used twice in this passage. The Latin word for victim is “hostia” from which the word “host” is derived. The Mass, by definition, is a sacrifice involving a victim. That makes “Christ-Mass” a death sacrifice. That's messed up! December 25th is supposed to be a celebration of His birth, not a commemoration of His death.

Then when you stick the word "Merry" to "Christ-Mass" it gets even weirder. My Webster's New World Dictionary--Second College Edition defines "merry" as: "(1) full of fun and laughter; lively and cheerful; gay; mirthful. (2) conducive to fun and laughter; festive." It seems inappropriate to tie the word "merry" to a commemoration of Christ's death, which is what "Christ-Mass" is. Does that make sense?

So what are our other options? "Happy Holidays" might be a better bet. The modern word "holiday" is a compound word derived from the Middle English word "holidei" meaning "holy day." Now I can get on board with that! The celebration of the Advent of Messiah is a Holy Day in my opinion, not because it falls on December 25th or because it is tied to some Catholic Mass, but because it is the recognition that about 2,000 years ago God broke into our time and space world and clothed Himself with human flesh and lived among us for 30+ years to show us how much He really loves us. In theology we call that event "The Incarnation." The word "advent" simply means coming, or arrival.

God showed up dressed in a baby suit. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a little backwater town in a backwater country, born to a peasant couple with no place to even spend the night. Yet a few years later He went to the cross and became my Savior, and that is worthy of a big celebration!  You can call it "Christmas," "Holy Day," "Advent," or "Happy Birthday, Jesus, Day" and I'll still celebrate it because it is Good News, no matter how you look at it. That's what I think.

Happy to be greeted at all, no matter what words you use :)
Mike

Friday, November 27, 2009

Something New Has Been Added

Hello crazy friends and twisted relatives,


I recently started a new blog that you might want to check out. Several people have asked me recently if there is any way to post my Sunday messages on this blog. I tried to figure out a way, but came to the conclusion that it would be simpler to start a new blog specifically for posting my sermons. So.... that is what I did. It is called "Mike's Messages." Catchy title, don't you think?


Anyway, feel free to check it out at... http://sellwoodmessages.blogspot.com My plan is to update it every Monday morning with my sermon from Sunday. That way, if you have to miss a service and want to know what the sermon was about it will be there for you. I am an expository preacher. That means I preach through whole books of the Bible and go verse by verse through the text. I'm not a topical preacher. Because of that if you miss a Sunday you miss part of the story. Up until Thanksgiving I have been teaching through the Gospel of Mark. We will resume that series after the first of the new year.


I will plan to use this blog for the same kind of random insanity that you have come to expect from me. Anyway, I love you all.


Your crazypants friend,
Mike

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Adoration of the Living God Most High

Hello all you crazy music lovers,

I sift through a lot of songs looking for keepers. Christian songwriters are a dime-a-dozen these days and a lot of the stuff they put out doesn't impress me much, especially for use in a church service. Many of the songs are ME-oriented rather than GOD-oriented. Some of the songs sound like silly camp ditties. Others are too darned complicated for congregational singing. Still other songs are pitched so high or so low or have a range so vast that they can only be sung by trained professionals in tight pants with Italian last names.

However, once in a while I come across a song that gets past my defenses and under my skin. I found this song not long ago and it is my current favorite. Our worship team is learning it so that we can teach it to the congregation. You may already know it but the video makes it especially meaningful. I hope you like it, too. The lyrics were written by Rick Founds, who also wrote "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High." The music was a combined effort by Rhesa Siregar, Paul Gentry, and Elton Smith. This recording was done by the group, Azimuth (www.azimuthmusic.com).

Enjoy!



Worshiping along with you,
Mike

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Politically incorrect and loving it...

Hello to all you God-loving, pistol-packin' crazy people,

My wacky sister-in-law from Wyoming, Deirdre, sent me this picture and I just have to share it with you. I don't know where it came from so I can't give credit where credit is due but it is priceless, and funny. Moreover, it expresses my own radical sentiments beautifully.





Unfortunately, I can't make the picture big enough for you to read the sign clearly, but what it says is...

My Next Door Neighbor wants to BAN all GUNS!
Their house is NOT ARMED!
Out of RESPECT for their opinions I promise NOT to use MY GUNS to PROTECT THEM.

Still preachin', prayin', laughin', and packin',

Mike

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A humble witness worthy of honor

Hello my equally twisted friends,

I came across this story and decided to pass it on. Pakistan is one of the most difficult places in the world to be openly Christian. Many of our brothers and sisters have died there in recent years for no other reason than that they loved and served the Lord Jesus Christ in a country that is predominately Muslim and hostile to the Gospel. This CNN video is about one humble Christian janitor who gave up his life to protect people who do not love our Christ and who do not understand our faith. Watch the video and then I'll have a comment or two on the other side.



Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). The man in this story gave up his life to protect the lives of many young women who would have surely gone out into a Christless, hopeless eternity if it were not for him. He was a Christian hero--pure and simple.

Mike

Monday, November 9, 2009

Extreme Sheepherding

Hello my demented pals,

In my 60 years I've seen a lot of weird stuff but every once in a while I come across something that leaves me scratching my head. This video is one of those things. It begs the question, "WHY?" There have to be easier ways to make art but maybe on those long, cold nights in the hills of Wales the shepherds can't find much to keep themselves occupied and entertained. Sooooo.... they came up with this. Enjoy.



And I thought I was crazy,
Mike

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Masks We Wear

Hello all you little crazy people,

It’s that time of year again, the pagan festival that gives most of us Christians “the willies.” Tonight is Halloween night, when all the little ghosts, ghouls, and goblins come out of their caves once again to shake us down for candy and treats, having no idea of the evil, demonic roots of this festival, nor the significance of much that goes on in the name of “just good, clean fun.”

But we already know that the devil has long had our communities staked out for his kingdom and will do everything he can to keep them in hellish darkness. That is why it is so important that we pray against him and his schemes. But I want to bring up something that the devil counts on to give him traction and to weaken the people of God and to hinder the effects of our prayer life.

I can still remember back when I was a kid, my friends and I would dress up for Halloween and wear masks to go out Trick-or-Treating. But very often, before the night was over we would find ourselves doing malicious, destructive things that we normally would not have done, because the masks gave us a false sense of courage and a feeling of anonymity. The masks veiled our identities and emboldened us to do those wicked things.

Many of the children who come to our door tonight will be wearing masks. However, many of us grownups wear masks everyday, and that is far more disturbing.

Sometimes, adults wear masks because we want to appear more perfect than we really are. But the reality of it is, all of us are so very imperfect. Yet we persist in wearing masks to hide who we really are from others because we fear their disapproval, believing that we have to present ourselves in a certain way in order to fit in and be accepted. We are afraid of letting people see the real “us,” so depending on the occasion or circumstance we slip on a mask to fit the need of the moment. At work we may throw on a mask of authority and power in order to seem like we’re in control of our environment. At home we may put on a mask of “everything is okay,” out of fear that our spouse might stop loving us if they find out we have real problems. Some people wear their super-religious masks to conceal the guilt and shame of their secret sins. Sometimes we wear our happy-face mask to conceal our fear, anger, hurt, worry, and even depression.

Even at church many people put on a mask of self-righteousness and pride to try and convince others that they really have their stuff together, when they don’t at all. This is especially sad because church is the place where all our masks should come off and we should be genuine before God and before God’s people. God’s house is the place where we should be able to bring the ugly sinful things in our life and lay them before our Heavenly Father. We should not be concerned about what others think but only about what God knows. Yet on and on we go, shuffling our masks on and off from situation to situation. So why do we wear these stupid masks anyway? In a nutshell, we wear masks to conceal things about us that we don’t want others to know, because we are afraid of what they will think, say, or do when they find out about us.

But there are some observations I would make about masks:
1. Masks are always uncomfortable because they rub and chafe, and they force us to stay on our toes and constantly be on our guard of what we say and do.
2. It is extremely lonely behind a mask. Masks force us to keep our distance from others. They prevent us from opening up and having meaningful relationships with one another.
3. Other people are not really fooled by our masks anyway. The only person fooled is the one wearing the mask, but most people can spot a phony pretty quickly.
4. God’s doesn’t even look at our dumb mask. His eyes pierce straight into our heart.

So how do we remove our masks and become the people God wants us to be? The apostle Paul gives us some clues in Colossians 3:12-17. Read these verses with masks in mind and I think you'll be able to connect up the dots for yourself.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

One other text comes to my mind. Genesis chapter 3 tells about The Fall, which has had tremendous repercussions on all of God’s creation, including us.
“Then the eyes of both of them [Adam and Eve] were opened, and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings” (Genesis 3:7). When they disobeyed God and sinned Adam and Eve fell from their state of innocence. They experienced for the first time guilt and separation from God. They realized that they were naked and so they tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves. But God can see through fig leaves! It is always a waste of time and energy to try and hide from Him.

Do you see the spiritual lesson here? Lots of people put on “fig leaves” to hide themselves from God’s scrutiny. Maybe the fig leaves of good works, religious devotion, piety, or sincerity. But God can see through our fig leaves! He sees our sin. He sees our spiritual nakedness. You can’t fool Him!

In the same way, many of us Christians wear masks. We pretend to be something that we are not. We have our “Sunday mask.” We have our “model-parent mask.” We have our “happy Christian mask,” etc. etc. We try to hide our true character from each other, and even more amazing, we think we can hide our true character from God!

But masks are like fig leaves, and God can see through fig leaves! And He can see through our masks just as easily. We need to quit trying to hide from God and let Him change our character so we don’t have to wear masks and fig leaves anymore.

The word “integrity” means being the same on the outside as you are on the inside. It is about being the same person when you are at home all alone in the dark, as you are when people are watching you. We need to become men and women of integrity. All of us come to God broken. That’s a fact! Maybe it’s alcoholism, pornography, adultery, drug addiction, selfishness, gossip, a nasty temper, greed, or envy. What is it that hides behind your mask? It doesn’t matter. In Christ there is genuine and complete cleansing and forgiveness. Moreover, God forgets what we were and only sees us as we are now in Christ Jesus. The masks can come down now. We don’t have to pretend with Him. He knows everything, and He loves us anyway. How cool is that?

Let take off our stupid masks since they don't work anyway, and let’s make sure that we don’t slip them back on. And remember, God loves parties, but His are always “come-as-you-are parties,” not “masquerade balls.”

Just thinking out loud again,
Mike

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gettin' Old Ain't For Sissies!

Hello all my crazy young friends and relatives,

"Gettin' old ain't for sissies!" I saw that on a bumper sticker on the back of a Cadillac flying down the road at about 75 mph and thought to myself, how true it is. When I was a kid 60-years-old seemed as far away as Mars. I can remember back when I was in the fourth grade, my sister, Janis, seemed very old and grownup to me. She was 16 and a junior in high school at the time. She seemed so worldly-wise and mature. Isn't it funny how our perspective changes.

I recently went around the bend, turning 60 on October 14. My much older friends, like John Wold and Ken Flurry, tell me not to sweat it. They say that 60 is the new 40. However, my body never received that memo. My body thinks that 60 sucks big time. Let me give you an example.

On my birthday, Ramel kicked me out of bed at the unnatural hour of 7 AM, kidnapped me and forced me to drive her out to Sherwood where we ate a hearty breakfast at Rose's. She had an omelet, I had chicken-fried steak. Then, she forced me to drive her to McMinnville to spend 5 hours at the Aeronautics and Space Museum where Howard Hughs' "Spruce Goose" is hangered. Seriously, that place is awesome! I could live there. I especially loved all the WWII aircraft on display. They have a B-17 "Flying Fortress" in cherry, airworthy condition. Ramel paid the extra $4 and insisted that I take the guided tour through the B-17. I fought her on it but lost. Anyway, as I was standing there awaiting my turn I was chewing a piece of Big Red gum. All of a sudden, one of my back teeth fell out, or at least the crown and half the tooth came out and I chomped it up with the gum. Yuck! My point is, my body knew that it was my 60th birthday and so some internal mechanism sent out a message saying, "He's old now, let his teeth start falling out."

That may not be exactly what happened but that is how it felt at the time. I don't like getting old. I'm not doing it gracefully. I plan to kick and scream and pitch a fit about it.

P.S. I wrote this entry in this big bold script because some of you are getting a little long in the tooth too. I thought it might be easier to read for some of my really old friends.

Your crazy ol' pal,

Mike

Monday, October 12, 2009

MMA Theology

Hello you friendly fruitcake fight fans,

I need to start by explaining my long absence from writing on this blog. I've been busy. That's it. That's all the explanation you are going to get. Take it or leave it.

Anyway, Chris had his last fight way back on Sept. 16th and he came out on the short end of the deal. He lost in the third round when he got caught by a guillotine choke. He fought well and bravely, yet he was bested by his opponent, Mike Pyle. It won't be Chris' last fight. He will win some more battles in the future, but will probably lose a few, too. It goes with the territory, as they say.

It is always disappointing to lose a battle, whether it is in martial arts, on the field of war in Afghanistan, or in our daily lives. Losing never feels good. It is always a challenge to our character. Anyone can win. Winning comes easy to most people. We like to win because it makes us feel like "winners." But we hate to lose because it makes us feel like "losers."

Yet life is about more than winning and losing. Sometimes we need to lose to win. For example, insistence on putting our point across, getting our way, and proving that we are right may injure a relationship beyond repair. Sometimes the right and prudent thing to do is shut up and stop insisting that we are right and just back down, lower our battle flag, and become a peacemaker. That takes more guts, grit, and character than just forging ahead, determined to win at all costs.

If we would learn and apply this lesson there would be less wars, less marital breakups, and more peace among men in general. At least that's what I think.

Back at the keyboard,
Mike

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chris Wilson's Big Upcoming Battle


Hello all you wild-eyed crazy fight fans,

Many of you know that my second son, Chris, is a professional UFC fighter. He and his sweet Brazilian wife, Luciana, along with their two kids, Lucas and Gabriela, live in Rio de Janeiro. Chris is a welterweight (170 lb.) mixed martial artist. His specialty is Muay Thai, otherwise known as Thai Kick-boxing, but he is a good all-around fighter. Some of you have asked me about when his next fight will be so I thought I'd give you a heads up. He will be fighting on Wednesday, September 16th in Oklahoma City in UFC Fight Night 19. It will be televised on Spike TV. You can check your local cable/satellite listings for exact show-times.

I can't guarantee that Chris' fight will be televised, however. His welterweight matchup against Mike Pyle is listed as the sixth fight on the 11 bout fight card so it may not end up on TV, depending on what happens in the fights that come before his. When he used to fight for Sportfight and then later on Portland's IFL team, the Wolf Pack, we always tried to attend his events. But then when he was contracted by Bodog and now with the UFC most of his fights are in far away places. Sometimes we have to watch him on pay-per-view TV, which is a really weird sensation, seeing your kid on worldwide TV.

If you would like keep up with Chris' career you should check out his website at... www.chriswilsonmma.com. You can see the fight card for his upcoming Sept. 16th bout at... http://www.ufc.com/index.cfm?fa=EventDetail.fightCard&eid=2272. Another good source of information about his career can be found on his page at Sherdog's site at... http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Chris-Wilson-9281. They will give you all of his stats since the beginning of his career. It also has a link to the photos section that has a bunch of good photographs of many of his fights.

Some people have asked me what I think about Chris' choice of a career. I used to worry about him a lot, out of fear that he would get hurt in training or in one of his fights. I don't worry about that very much anymore. I'm proud of his drive and his dedication to his craft. He is a sportsman and a fine athlete. He fights clean and always shows honor and friendship toward his opponents. He does not talk a lot of smack about his opponents like some of the guys in mma. He is not a violent person outside the ring. He is not a sadist and does not enjoy hurting people per se. While working for Team Quest, among other things, he coached the children's classes. They loved him and admired him. More importantly, Chris is a good husband and a great dad to his kids. Fighters like Chris are no different than other serious athletes. He enjoys pushing himself to his limits and measuring his strength and abilities against other people.

The New Testament has many references to athletics and even to sports like boxing. The apostle Paul was very familiar with the athletic games of his day, and in his writing he often likens the Christian life to running a race or to competing in a fight. I believe that Paul would have jumped at the chance to see one of Chris' fights. I'm proud of him like I am of all three of my kids.

Looking forward to Chris' victory on 9/16,
Mike

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Jumped... Finally!

Hello my twisted friends,

I promised that I would report back after my big skydive adventure. After two aborted attempts because of bad weather my friend, Dave Hopkins, and I finally made the jump last Wednesday, Aug. 26th at approximately 3:00 PM. IT WAS AMAZING!

I've got to tell you, that was the best $189.00 I've ever spent in my life. What a rush! Call me crazy if you want. I've already owned up to that anyway. But don't knock it until you've tried it.

All suited up and waiting our turn.


Dave and I waiting for the plane.

Heading out to the field to get on the jump plane.


Our ride awaits us. No turning back now!


That's me!


Survivors from 13,000 feet!

I would recommend skydiving to anyone. The scenery was beautiful both on the way up and the way down. This was something I've wanted to do for many years. Now I can't wait to do it again. I can see how it could become addictive. The sensation is more of soaring than of falling. I'm now jealous of the birds.

The leaping lunatic,
Mike

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oh, the Government Can...

Hello crazy people wherever you are,

If you are wasting your time reading this then you obviously don't have a life. You should get out more, read a book, take a walk, or do some work for a change. Anyway, like many of you, I get bummed out and angry every time I stop to think about what our government in Washington D.C. has been up to lately. They are spending money that does not belong to them--my money, to be exact. They are giving that money to people who should not receive it. They are taking authority that was never given to them. They are using power that is not theirs to wield. That ticks me off!

It's not that I'm just against Democrats. The fact is, I don't have any use for the Republicans either. Both parties have compromised truth and morals for so long that they are out of touch with the Christian values that made this country great. I'm a loud Independent who would love to have a Door #3 to choose from. I'm sick of only having two options, both of which are lousy. Wouldn't it be nice to have somebody with brains, courage, common sense, and godly character to vote for? Where is Abraham Lincoln when you really need him? I've concluded that those guys in Washington on both sides of the aisle have all been bit by the same stinkin' bug. I'm sick and tired of them taking my money at gunpoint on April 15th and then telling me about all the wonderful things they are going to do for other people with my generous "contribution."

I found a video about this very subject that made me laugh. Sometimes laughing is all that we can do. I hope you enjoy it.



If it weren't for my faith in God and my absolute confidence in His wisdom and sovereignty, I would have despaired long before now. I fully believe that the recent presidential election went according to His plan. But that doesn't mean that I have to like it, or the high level decisions that have transpired subsequently that have brought our country to the brink of disaster. And it doesn't mean that I have to go quietly into the sunset like a dumb sheep.

With my limited understanding of all things political, it seems to me that our federal government has hijacked our personal freedoms in many areas over the past few years. I don't like the current administration and I find very little that they are doing that I can agree with. However, this is not the first time that God has allowed bad leaders to take over the reins of power; nor will it be the last time. I also believe in the truth of the old adage that says, "A nation gets the leaders that it deserves." We, the people, elected these bums. We, the people, put them where they are. We, the people, have put up with them and made excuses for them. Now we, the people, have to smarten-up and cowboy-up and throw the bums out and replace them with people who don't see politics as a career path, and who will actually abide by the Constitution for a change. What a concept!

Smiling all the way to the poorhouse,
Mike

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Does Doctine Really Matter that Much?

Boa tarde (means "Good afternoon" in Portuguese),

I have had a number of people tell me that the thing that turns them off about conservative evangelical Christians like me is that we seem so darned sure of ourselves. They say that when it comes to religion or moral/ethical issues we insist that our way is the only way. They point out that we claim to have a corner on truth and believe that Jesus and the Bible are the only way to Heaven. They don't like the fact that we are so stuck on the Scriptures and that we emphasize doctrine. For many people today, "doctrine" is the new 4-letter word. They say that they would be much more comfortable with a softer, more inclusive brand of Christianity that leaves room for people to believe whatever they choose as long as they consider themselves Christ-followers and seek the fellowship of the church. After all, who are we to judge others? We are all on a spiritual journey and we shouldn't be so rigid, thinking that we have cornered the market on truth.

This sort of thinking accounts for the fact that there are touchy-feely churches popping up everywhere and many Bible preaching churches are experiencing decreased numbers of attendees. Frankly, it's frustrating, though I understand the dynamics.

The following is a video from CrossTV Ministries (www.crosstv.com) produced by Mark Kielar that does a good job of putting this issue in perspective. Watch it and then I will make a couple of comments on the other side.



While I recognize that some Christians are downright nasty in the way they express their faith, that still does not justify us jettisoning the Scriptures as our rule of faith and practice. Doctrine is important.  It always has been. The Christian faith rests not upon men's collective religious experiences or ideas about what is or is not true.  Our faith rests squarely on the revealed Word of God, the Scriptures, that have been passed down to us.

The apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:4-6 speaks of the things that go together to make up the glue that binds Christians together: we are of one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father.  Did you notice that it said "one faith"?  Paul was not talking about the Baptist faith or the Presbyterian faith.  He was not talking about petty differences between denominations or different styles of music used in the worship service.  He was referring to the fact that the Christian faith is grounded on God's revealed truth.  In the Word He has told us what to believe, and it is our choice to believe it or not, but our belief or lack of it does not change or diminish the truth and relevancy of what God has revealed.

Jude urges all Christians to "contend earnestly for the faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).  Doctrine is important.  What we believe is crucial.  One's religious sincerity and good intentions are meaningless if what he believes in turns out to be a lie.

There is a familiar old hymn entitled "My Faith Has Found A Resting Place" that says it best. The lyrics were penned by Eliza E. Hewitt in 1891.

Verses:
My faith has found a resting place, not in device or creed;
I trust the Everliving One, His wounds for me shall plead.

Enough for me that Jesus saves, this ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him, He'll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word, the living Word of God;
Salvation by my Savior's Name, salvation through His blood.

My Great Physician heals the sick, the lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed, for me His life He gave.

Refrain:
I need no other argument, I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me.

Standing for the faith whether it's popular or not,
Mike

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Plug Got Pulled

Hello again so soon,

Yes, the jump was canceled because of clouds and iffy weather over the jump zone in Molalla. Rats!! We have rescheduled for Thursday of next week, August 13th at 1:00 PM.  Like they say, "If at first you don't succeed..."

Disappointed but looking forward to Thursday,
Mike

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tomorrow Is the Big Day

Yes, my crazy friends, Friday is almost here. Only one more day before the Big Leap into fresh air. Tomorrow at 1:00 PM my equally deranged friend, Dave, and I are going to pay money to jump out of a perfectly good airplane at 13,000 feet and hopefully to glide gently to earth suspended by a beautiful, colorful nylon canopy. I haven't been nervous about the jump up until today but people keep asking me, "Aren't you nervous?" So now they are starting to creep me out. No matter, we are plunging ahead. After it's over I'll write and tell you what it was like. Wish me luck

Skydiver Mike

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

10 Days Left

Hello friends,

Yes, the days are clicking by very quickly. Since my last entry 5 days have already passed. There are only 10 left to go before my "big leap" into space. Thank you, by the way, for all the phone calls, emails, cards, and letters of support begging me not to jump. Of course I'm being sarcastic... Actually, not a one of you hairy cretins has written, called, or sent up so much as a smoke signal to say anything about it--not even my family members. From that I assume that either you don't care that I am risking life and limb for a cheap thrill, or that you are actually hoping that my chute won't open. I'm not sure which it is.

Anyway, I'm just keeping you informed. If anything happens to me, don't forget to feed my dog once in a while.

Counting the days,
Mike

Friday, July 24, 2009

Countdown to August 7th

Bom dia meus amigos doidos,

In Portuguese that means, "Good morning my wacky friends." I'm going to let you all in on a little secret. Many of you have suspected it for a long time but now it's official--I have indeed lost my marbles. Actually, it's not my fault. It's the crazy people I hang around with. They are to blame.

I have a friend, Dr. David Hopkins, a Presbyterian guy who is a missionary with a "first peoples" focused ministry called C.H.I.E.F. That stands for "Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship" (http://www.chief.org). I only mention that he is a Presbyterian to let you know that had I been spending time with Baptists this whole thing probably wouldn't have happened. Many years ago my mother warned me about Presbyterians.

But I digress. We meet together every Wednesday noon in a pastors prayer group. We've been doing this for about 13 years so we've logged a lot of time together. One day Dave happened to mention that he had jumped out of an airplane a few years ago. When he turned 60 he and his fruitcake brother-in-law went out to an airstrip, paid money to get into an airplane, and then bailed out at 13,000 feet.

When I showed some interest in his story he got a funny look in his eye and asked me, "Would you ever be interested in doing that?" Being all macho and proud I said, "I'd love to!" never dreaming that this Presbyterian lunatic was actually serious. Anyway, this past Wednesday Dave asked me, "How about August 7th?" Surrounded by my other moonbat pastor friends what could I say but, "Bring it on!"

Long story short... On August 7th David "The Flying Presbyterian" Hopkins and I are going to pay money to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, risking life and limb for a cheap thrill. There you have it, my confession. By my calculations that gives me 15 days to get my house in order, though some of you have seen my house and know that it is going to take longer than that. Anyway, I thought you should know.

It's nice to have friends at a time like this. Our ground-hugging cowardly pastor friends say they plan to be at the Molalla airport that day with shovels and a large black plastic tarp to gather the pieces. Apparently their only concern is how they will by able to sort out the remains to get the right victim in the right box for burial. How encouraging!

When I broke the news to Ramel, my wife, I expected there would be more wailing and gnashing of teeth. She's got me a little concerned. She spent all day yesterday on the phone talking with insurance companies. What's that all about?

15 days and counting,
Mike

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You're getting a tattoo on your what?

Hello again, my wing nut friends,

I've been traveling to and fro, not stopping long enough to write. But I've repented and come in for a landing, at least for now.

Those of you who occasionally read this blog (both of you) know that I am an impulsive writer, a reactionary, if you will. I see things, I think about them for a while, and then I bust out with comments, usually that no one wants to hear. Really smart writers, on the other hand, are more pro-active. They start with an idea or a thought that has finally bubbled and burbled and worked itself up to the surface of their psyche. Then they write about it.

Like I said, I write about stuff that I see around me. And one of those things that I see is women of all ages getting tattoos, apparently on every part of their anatomy. What is this all about? Who came up with the idea that women need giant sailor tattoos to make them look better?

Now I'm not against women trying to look their best. I'm not against jewelry or makeup. I don't care if women want to color their hair or get their nails and toes painted. In fact, almost any barn looks better with a coat of paint on it! You see, I'm not completely closed minded. However, I don't understand why tattoos are on the rise among women.

Moreover, I have come up with a theory that I am calling "Mike's Law." Here it is: The likelihood that a woman will have a tattoo is in direct proportion to the degree of her ugliness and to her net weight. I have seen more fat, homely women with tattoos than I can count. Does she really think that a big honking tattoo on her meaty calf is going to make her more attractive?

My wife and I drove up to the North Fork Reservoir the other day and sat for a while and watched the boats. A family of four pulled their boat in and started to prepare to leave after a few pleasant hours on the water. The wife and mother of the family was wearing a bra-type top revealing her very ample middle. Her entire waist area was tattooed. What we could see was a band of tattooing about six inches high all around her middle, giving the impression that there was even more under the waist band of her tight-fitting shorts. Seeing her reminded me of Herman Melville's savage cannibal character, Queequeg, in his book, Moby Dick. Ramel diplomatically said, "Maybe she got the tattoo before she put on all that weight." Perhaps. But what the woman has now is an ugly tattooed spare tire around her middle. It ain't pretty!

I even see high school aged girls with tattoos. It makes me want to slap their mothers and fathers for being felony-stupid and apparently unable to pronounce the simple English phrase, "Over my dead body." When I see tattoos on guys I just figure they are idiots. Bubba and his buddies probably got wasted one night and dared each other to get a tattoo. That's just the kind of stupidity I expect from guys. Sorry, fellows but I know whereof I speak. But when girls and women come out sporting tattoos I think they look cheap, as well as stupid--a double whammy.

Now it's disclaimer time. This is my blog and I'm telling you my opinion. You don't have to like it. You don't have to agree with me. But I can't help but think that 99.9% of women who get tattoos when they are young will regret it when they get old. When she gets to be 75-year-old great-grandmother and her little grand-kids ask, "Grandma, what is that weird gray blob on your ankle?" she will rue the day that she got that infernal tattoo. A friend of Ramel's summed it up beautifully. A number of years ago she had a little dog tattooed on her breast. But time marches on and gravity is relentless. She told Ramel that now her little dog looks more like a giraffe!

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the behavior of people in the world, because pagans do what pagans do, but I am very saddened when I see professing Christians following the same self-destructive fads. A few months ago a youngish woman I know asked me if I could get her a copy of The Lord's Prayer in Greek. She also asked for a copy of the 23rd Psalm in Hebrew. I went down to my office and got my Hebrew OT and my Greek NT and made copies for her of the appropriate pages. I just thought maybe she wanted to frame them or something. She got very excited when I handed her the copies, but then she broke the news to me that she was planning to have one or the other of them tattooed on her back, because she thought it would be "a great testimony." I about passed out! I certainly did not want to be complicit in that train wreck! After I was able to start breathing again I asked her why she thought that would be a good idea. She said that people would probably be curious and would ask her about it, and then she would be able to witness to them. While I praised her for her enthusiasm and desire to share her faith, I tried to point out some obvious loopholes in her misguided plan.

For one thing, I asked her if she had looked into the Scriptures for guidance about this. She said that she had not and didn't even know that the Bible mentions tattoos. I took her to Leviticus 19:28 which plainly says, "Never cut your bodies in mourning for the dead or mark your skin with tattoos, for I am the LORD." Her face went pale when she read this because she already has several other tattoos. She said, "I didn't know that was in there." But indeed, it is.

The heathen used both scarification and tattooing. However, the Lord told His people, Israel, that they were not to participate in those heathen practices. They were to be different and were to treat their bodies as holy unto the Lord. Some of you will undoubtedly jump at the chance to point out that this is an Old Testament passage directed by God to the Jews. It is not specifically about Gentiles and is not written to Christians.

First of all, if you start down that hermeneutical road you'll end up cherry picking the things you like in the OT and rejecting out of hand the things that you find objectionable. The apostle Paul tells us in II Timothy 3:16 that "All Scripture [including the OT] is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." The fact is that this principle in question is laid down in the Old Testament and then developed much more fully in the New Testament. The NT teaches us that our bodies are the temple of God, the dwelling place of the Spirit of God. Therefore, we are not to defile our bodies with sinful practices because our bodies belong to Him. Paul explains in I Corinthians 6:19-20, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." Seems pretty clear to me.

In my opinion, for any Christian, male or female, to get a tattoo it is like painting graffiti all over the walls of a great cathedral. It is a sacrilege. Our bodies don't belong to us anymore. We don't have a right to do permanent damage to them, no matter how cute we might think it looks. It's the same as vandals tagging another person's house. It's just wrong. That's what I think.

Crazy, but not stupid enough to get a tattoo,
Mike

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How did they do that?

Hello all you loonies,

I have been fascinated by the Prius car ads on TV. Do you know the ones I'm talking about, the ones that use about a gazillion people in colorful costumes to form roads, trees, flowers, and mountains? Every time it comes on TV Ramel and I puzzle over how they do that. Curious minds want to know. So, like my hero, Sherlock Holmes, I went looking for answers.

And what better place to start than the Internet, the source of all that is true and authentic. I found a YouTube video that explains it all. Take a minute to watch it and then I'll have a couple of observations on the other side.



What fascinates me about this is the way it tricks your eyes. Watching the ad you would conclude that it took a cast of thousands, which is not true. They actually only used a crew of 200 extras, then multiplied them electronically using computers so that the finished product looks like 1 million people. To me that is truly amazing.

Are there any spiritual lessons here? I think so. The effect of Christians in the world is greater than their actual numbers. In the same way that Jesus borrowed a little boy's lunch of 5 barley cakes and 2 dried fishes and multiplied them to feed a multitude of 5,000 men plus all their women and children (see John 6:1-14), in the same way God multiplies us, and whatever we put in His hands and He makes it more, bigger, and better.

The Bible says that Christ's followers are light and salt in this world. Salt never stays where it is put. It always spreads out and permeates whatever medium in which it finds itself. And light does the same thing. A little bit of light can go a very long way. Soldiers on the battlefield learn this very quickly. Lighting a cigarette can give your position away to an enemy who is still miles away because that little bit of light spreads out and goes far.

I pastor a very small church, and one that unfortunately has been getting smaller due to a number of factors, some of which I understand and some that I am still trying to figure out. But I digress... My point is that with God's help and empowerment the effectiveness of a group of Christians in a local community can go way beyond their actual numbers. That is important to know and remember at those times when we begin to become discouraged, thinking that we are not having much effect and are failing miserably. Salt is seldom aware of how far its influence spreads, and light never knows how far it can be seen. Our job is just to keep on being faithful to what the Master has called us to do. We'll leave the multiplication to Him.

There is an old hymn that hardly anybody sings anymore. It was composed by Kittie L. Suffield back in 1924 and it's entitled, "Little Is Much When God Is In It." The Gaither Vocal Band has a good rendition of it and I want you to listen to it and pay attention to the words. It is a good reminder that our "little" can become "much" in His hands. A "few" can look like "many" when He is running the production.



One small crazy piece of God's big project,
Miguelito

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In the Doghouse?

Hello my wacky friends,

Most of us husbands find it intimidating and perplexing to try and buy good gifts for our wives. In my opinion, any man who says he finds it easy is either lying, or is some kind of weird mutant metro-sexual weenie who should not be taken seriously anyway. At no time will the Mars/Venus thing rear its ugly head more frighteningly than at Christmas, Valentine's Day, her birthday, and your anniversary. These four are the yearly mine fields that every man must pass through, hopefully without getting his legs blown off and bleeding to death.

Let's take a look at a brief case study. What man has not considered getting his little lady a new dishwasher for their anniversary? His reasoning goes this way... "Our old one is broken, we need a new one, and this one is on sale. It will save her a lot of work, for which she will be very grateful. It is in her favorite color. It is expensive, so I know she'll appreciate it. On top of everything, the store guy says they will deliver it on our big day with a big red bow on it. What could possibly go wrong?"

My naive friend, RUN, do not walk, to the nearest exit! Get out of the appliance section. You are about to make the worst mistake of your life. For the Big Four special occasions mentioned above, appliances are never, I repeat, NEVER, the right gift for the little woman. If you go forward with this plan it will put you in the DOGHOUSE, eating quiche and drinking chai tea for every meal! And you will be there for a very long time. Women have long memories, like elephants and the IRS.

The following husband training video will explain what I am trying to tell you. You young fellows especially, pay close attention.



As an old salty-dog husband who has made his share of near-fatal mistakes in the gift-buying area, I feel more than qualified to tell you young bucks a thing or two. Jewelry is the thing. It is always a sure winner. Chocolates and flowers should accompany the jewelry. Do not buy appliances. Do not buy power tools. Stay away from kitchen utensils or gardening implements of any kind. Besides being a greased slide straight to the doghouse, these things can easily be turned into weapons in the hands of an angry wife. Do not run the risk!

I hope this little instructional session has been helpful. Now go out and sin no more.

Crazy, but still running free,
Mike

Friday, May 29, 2009

Country Kids

Hello wingnuts,

I was just sitting here reflecting on the good ol' days back when I was a kid growing up in the country. I had a wonderful childhood, with freedom to run and play, and with no fears about perverts or molesters. My friends and I spent hours swinging on ropes from the rafters in old barns. We used to hang around the old grain elevator and play hide and seek among the old box cars. I had a horse, a gentle Morgan mare named Trixie, and we rode together all over the hills overlooking Imbler and Summerville. I also had a paper route, starting when I was 7 years old. I delivered the LaGrande Evening Observer to people all over the Imbler area, riding my little red 20" bicycle. When I got hired for that job I was the youngest paper boy in Oregon and have an old yellowed newspaper clipping to prove it.

Later we moved to Dallas, OR where we had a big ranch style house out on the Dallas/Rickreall Hwy. I went to Orchard View School when I was in the 5th Grade. It was a two-room country school house. The first and second graders were in one room and the 3rd-5th graders were in the other. We played baseball or dodge-ball during recess. Again, I had a horse and a dog and freedom to wander and it was wonderful. My friends and I used to swim in Rickreall Creek and go out shooting our .22's and doing a bunch of other crazy stuff that my children have been prevented from doing because of growing up in cities.

Looking back I know that I was very fortunate. I got to do all the things that people today are paranoid about. I got my first gun from my Uncle Ray when I was seven. It was a single-shot .22 rifle that he had cut down for my Aunt Lois to shoot but she never got interested in it so he gave it to me. I always carried a knife, and a big sharp one. In fact, every kid I knew carried a knife, even some of the girls. It was normal, and no one ever thought of using it to hurt another person. Most homes back then had gun cabinets and they were always unlocked. Farmers also usually had a rifle in a rack in their pickup. They would park on the street in LaGrande and not even roll up the window. No one would think of stealing it.

Lots of people never locked their houses back then, unless they left for vacation and were planning to be gone for a week. Our house was never locked during the day. I didn't have a house key until I was a junior in high school and we were living in Salem. Up until then I had never needed one. Looking back I see that I was growing up in a different world than the ones my children and grandchildren know. It makes me melancholy to realize that they will never have those experiences.

A friend sent me the following and I thought it was funny. It kind of goes along with what I have just been saying. Enjoy...

The Tennessee Farm Kid
(Writing a letter home from San Diego MARINE CORPS Recruit Training)

Dear Ma and Pa,

I am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before all of the places are filled.


I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6 AM. But I am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot, and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, or fire to lay. Practically nothing.


Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there’s warm water. Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food, but tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the two city boys that live on coffee. Their food, plus yours, holds you until noon when you get fed again. It’s no wonder these city boys can’t walk much.


We go on “route marches,” which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it’s not my place to tell him different. A “route march” is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks.


The sergeant is like a school teacher. He nags a lot. The Captain is like the school board. Majors and Colonels just ride around and frown. They don’t bother you none.


This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don’t know why. The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and don’t move, and it ain’t shooting at you like the Higgett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don’t even load your own cartridges. They come in boxes.


Then we have what they call “hand-to-hand combat training.” You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful though, they break real easy. It ain’t like fighting with that old bull at home. I’m about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan from over in Silver Lake... I only beat him once. He joined up the same time as me, but I’m only 5’6” and 130 pounds and he’s 6’8” and near 300 pounds dry.


Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.


Your loving daughter,

Alice

Oh, yea... did I happen to mention that the girls were pretty tough back then too? You just gotta love those farm girls.

Old and crazy, and remembering those good days,
Mike

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rube Goldberg lives on

Hi Ho, crazy people,

The name, Rube Goldberg, may or may not mean anything to you. Reuben Goldberg (1883-1970) was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor who received a 1948 Pulitzer Prize for his political cartooning. However, he is probably best known for his series of very popular cartoons depicting "Rube Goldberg contraptions," complex devices that perform simple tasks in indirect and complicated ways. I grew up hearing my Dad use the expression that such-n-such "looked like a Rube Goldberg deal." Anything that was sort of patched together and makeshift but could get the job done was classified as a Rube Goldberg contraption.

The real Rube Goldberg is dead and his cartoons are long forgotten but his name and his creative genius live on. In fact, there is an annual Rube Goldberg contest and convention where people from all over the world compete to make the most outrageous machines to do the simplest things. The following video was produced by Honda. I love it! I think Rube Goldberg would have loved it too.



I find that I am sometimes like Rube Goldberg. I am guilty of making things difficult that should be simple. Notice that I didn't say, "easy." Some things are simple and uncomplicated, yet difficult. For example, being a Christian is simple, but not easy. But all too often we make it harder by making it complicated. Does that make any sense?

Let me give you an example of what I'm trying to say. Christians often turn Christianity into a list of rules, of do's and don'ts, much like the ancient Pharisees did with God's Law. We build fences and we create our own religious rules to live by. But what does God require of us? Micah 6:8 says, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." That is not easy, but it is pretty simple. Or how about Deuteronomy 10:12-13? "And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?" Jehovah God through the prophet Isaiah sums it up this way in Isaiah 1:16-17, "Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of My sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." One more passage to make my point. James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

There are a lot of Rube Goldberg Christians running around. They make complicated what God intended to be simple. Again, notice that I didn't say, "easy." Being a follower of Jesus has never been easy but let's not complicate it any more than it needs to be.

Still crazy and not improving,
Miguelito

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Offline and out of circulation...

Hello crazy friends,

I can't believe it's been so long since my last blog entry. I have no good excuse except that I've been busy and also running on my reserve tank. I've discovered that blogging is not easy. To continually come up with new insights or to find interesting tidbits is hard and time consuming. I apologize to those of you who occasionally check in at this blog to see what I've been up to. Aunt Fern, I'll try to do better.

I did find something that I think is amazing and I want to share it with you. This is a video by a group called The VOCA People. They are an amazing acappella singing group. I think you will agree.



Our son, Christopher, is staying with us for a few days. He flew up from Rio for a UFC fight that was supposed to happen on Saturday, May 23rd. However, his fight got canceled due to a snarl-up with his medical record. It wasn't Chris' fault and the UFC went ahead and paid his fight fee and will reschedule him for the next possible UFC event, perhaps as early as the end of June. At any rate, it was disappointing for all of us. He was cocked, loaded, and ready to go. Oh well.

Please remember to pray for him and his family. They were recent victims of a home invasion robbery in Rio that was very traumatic. We just thank God that He spared them and that all four of them came out of it alive. You can read Chris' account of the robbery on his website at http://www.chriswilsonmma.com. It's one of the first blog entries, entitled "It was scary."

Until next time,
Mike

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A.W.O.L.

Dear crazy friends (and insane relatives),

I'm back, like a bad rash. I'm embarrassed to see how long it's been since I posted anything on here. My Aunt Fern told me the other day to get crackin' and write something because she's tired of checking my blog and finding no updates. So-oooooo, here I go.


But breaking back into the blogging routine is not something to be taken lightly, something you do all at once. You have to kind of ease into it, slowly. So I'm just going to post something to make you smile. At least, something to make you men smile. You ladies might not think this is funny at all. I've observed that women have a weird sense of humor. So at the risk of being considered politically incorrect I give you...


From: Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System
Subject: WOMAN—A Chemical Analysis

Element: Woman
Symbol: WO2
Discoverer: Adam (last name unknown)
Atomic Mass: Accepted as 118 lbs. but known to vary from 100 to 550 lbs.
Occurrence: Copious quantities in all urban areas but also found in rural regions

Physical Properties:
1. Surface sometimes plain but usually covered with a painted film
2. Boils at nothing, freezes without reason
3. Melts if given special treatment
4. Bitter if incorrectly used
5. Found in various states ranging from virgin metal to common ore
6. Yields to pressure applied to correct points

Chemical Properties:
1. Has a great affinity for gold, silver, platinum, and precious stones
2. Absorbs great quantities of expensive substances
3. May explode spontaneously without prior warning for no known reason
4. Insoluble in liquids, but activity greatly increased by saturation in alcohol
5. Most powerful money-reducing agent known to man

Common Uses:
1. Highly ornamental, especially in sports cars and sailboats
2. Can be a great aid to relaxation

Tests:
1. Pure specimen turns rosy pink when discovered in the natural state
2. Turns green when placed beside a better specimen

Hazards:
1. Highly dangerous except in experienced hands
2. Illegal to possess more than one

Planning to write again soon,

Mike

Saturday, January 10, 2009

An Uneasy Peace

Hello friends,

Something I read recently started the wheels spinning in my head and I need to talk it out, so bear with me. The article was pointing out that the local church should be "big enough," meaning open enough, to accept and embrace "Christians" of all different lifestyles and beliefs as long as they are saved. It put forth that the only really important thing is to believe in Jesus as your personal Savior. It said that we should "not allow doctrine to divide us." I've been pondering that thesis.


On the one hand I believe that there is only one requirement for salvation and that is our trust in, and absolute submission to, the person of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. To enter into God's family is uncomplicated--"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). However, after that things can start to get a little bit sticky in the local church.


If a Christian holds his doctrinal beliefs very loosely then he can feel at home in any congregation. For example, if we determine that whether or not we baptize infants is merely a matter of taste and preference then it's all good. No problems, mate. And if we conclude that it's of no great theological importance whether or not a Christian can lose his/her salvation, then we will feel equally at home in a Nazarene church or a Presbyterian church. Some would say, "Let's just major on the majors and choose to disagree agreeably." Sounds good, right?


It sounds good until somebody like me comes along and thinks that it is important whether or not the Church has supplanted and replaced Israel as God's chosen people. It sounds good until somebody like me points out that there is not one single case of infant baptism in scripture or in the first few centuries of the church. Or how about a boatload of other issues? Here are a few more that come to mind:
  • Did revelation cease with the completion of the canon or is it continuing?
  • Is the Bible to be interpreted literally or merely figuratively?
  • Does the mode of baptism have any importance or is it a multiple choice issue, one way being as good as the others?
  • Does the Bible allow for both genders to serve in the church equally and in the same ways or is there such a thing as biblical polity and practice?
  • Do we get all of the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation or is there a second dose to be received later on?
  • Does God really give Christians a personal prayer language?
  • Is speaking in an unknown tongue a sign of the Spirit's presence in a believer's life?
  • Is the Lord's Table a memorial or a sacrament?
One of the things I've observed since returning from Brazil in 1991 is the number of American churches that are changing their names to be more generic, more politically correct, more user-friendly, less denominational, etc. Check it out for yourself in the DEX church pages. What used to be called "Such-'n-such Baptist Church" is now "LifePointe Happy Fellowship." What does that name mean, for crying out loud? Or "Here-'n-there Assembly of God" is now "Friendship Community Founded on the Rock." "ThisTown Methodist" is now "Red Sea LifeGate" or something equally nebulous. I see these weird names all over the city and wonder, "Who in the heck are they, and what do they teach?"

In my humble opinion there is something to be said for a church being honest and courageous enough to fly its flag and let people know who they are and what they stand for. I may not agree with them on every point but I can respect them for taking a stand based on their honest interpretation of scripture. If I'm new in town and looking for a church to attend or join I don't want to have to waste my time going to a local church meeting only to find out that they hold to and support women preachers, baptizing infants, the National Gay Christian Alliance [made up name], or Arminian theology. They may have a gifted orator for a preacher, a beautiful building, a killer worship team, a missions ministry going in every direction, and the best nursery in town but those things don't matter much to me. I'm a doctrine guy.

I have worked across denominational lines for years in evangelistic efforts and I actually enjoy it. I can fellowship with people who hold very different theological views from mine, at least in certain settings. However, in the local church where we work to educate believers in what the Bible teaches it eventually gets to the point where lines have to be drawn and issues clarified according to our understanding of the scriptures. As a preacher and teacher of God's Word I cannot say that the issues I have brought up here as examples are of little importance.

For example, when the question arises in the congregation concerning the ordination of women to the pastorate I am not going to remain silent and just go with the flow, no matter how many other churches think it is OK. When an adult Sunday School teacher suddenly decides to teach that baptism is necessary for salvation I'm not going to merely smile at him and say, "Well, that's your opinion." For me, doctrine is very important, even though some of you might think that I'm obsessing over things that aren't all that crucial.

There are local congregations of good Christian folks who love Jesus and are going to Heaven who wouldn't be comfortable for very long with me in their church, because I wouldn't be able to go along with a bunch of the stuff they believe and teach, and wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut about it. I would be miserable and would make other people miserable, sooner or later.

Until we all get to Heaven and can sort all this stuff out in Remedial Theology 101 Class taught by King Jesus I think that we are stuck with having different flavors of Christianity reflected in the various different denominational groups. Denominations are not of the devil, per se. They are the natural outcome of humans grouping themselves around their particular understanding of important truths. Even though we attend different churches we can still love one another, respect one another, work with one another, and fellowship with one another.

That works for me. How about you? Feel free to comment.

Still pondering,
Mike

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Sliding Sideways...

Hello friends,

I haven't written for a while because our lives have been in a bit of a turmoil for the past couple of weeks. Some of you know that my wife's mother has been ill for quite a while and has been living in an elder care facility in Pinedale, Wyoming. We took a whirlwind trip back there in October when we got word that she might not make it through the next 24 hours. But the Lord was not ready yet at that time for her to move into her heavenly mansion. However, early on Christmas Eve morning we got a phone call from Ramel's sister, Deirdre, saying that their mom had gone home to be with Jesus.

As you can imagine that was a tough thing to hear, even though we were somewhat prepared for it. Does anyone ever get fully prepared to lose his mother or father? I don't think so. I know that I was not ready to lose my folks. However, God's ways are higher than our ways and we know that He does not make mistakes. We grieve, but not as those who have no hope. We know that Beulah is with the Lord and that makes all the difference in the world.

We had Mom's memorial service this past Saturday afternoon, Jan. 3rd, and we celebrated her life and remembered together all that she meant to us. But we also honored the One she loved above all others, the Lord Jesus Christ. And we committed her to His gentle care and keeping. On Sunday morning, out in a little pioneer cemetery on the flats above Maupin, Oregon we committed her tired, worn out body to its final resting place until the Lord's return. But we are confident that she is not in that grave. She is with the Lord, and we will see her again, along with all our other loved ones who have gone on to Heaven ahead of us. That is a great comfort.

Resting in God's promises,
Mike






Beulah Mildred (Richmond) Springstead


Finally Home


Born on November 20th, 1922.

Went to be with Jesus on December 24th, 2008.