Thursday, January 29, 2009

Piper to Obama: Be Courageous!

You may or may not agree with John Piper. You may or may not like Barak Obama. But what John Piper says to Barak Obama here is "spot on".

Winter Storm Pics

I took this on the way to the office this morning.

Just after I took the picture of the church building above, I turned around and took this one of the pastorium.

Very long ice icicles on the house yesterday and today.

Emily displaying a L-O-N-G icicle.

Travel Mercies

We often pray for "travel mercies". We learned to pray that when we lived in West Africa. We DEFINITELY prayed for travel mercies as we drove from OKC to Wagoner on Tuesday/Wednesday.

As we were leaving OKC, we saw NUMEROUS vehicles that had been abandoned after going off the road, crashing into bridges, and in two or three cases, rolling over. The roads were as bad as any I had ever seen in my life. In fact, I called and activated our church's prayer chain to pray for us as we traveled. I have not been that scared in a very long time.

As we were coming from Checotah towards Muskogee, we saw this FedEx trailer that had flipped on its side and had been abandoned.

Dale and I praise the Lord for a safe trip for us and want to express our appreciation to all who prayed for us!

Weather Pics

We had to scrape about 1/4 inch of ice off the windshield when we left the canceled Evangelism Conference. The next morning, we had to scrape another 1/4 of ice off!

When we finally got stuck at Henryetta, OK, the Highway Patrol had closed the Westbound lanes of I-40!

Wednesday morning, we faced a nearly-empty I-40. Mostly semi-trucks and some 4x4's were out. Very few cars. No church vans! (except ours)

The trees were covered in ice, making this a winter wonderland; a beautiful picture I really would have rather seen on TV.

Click on this these pictures to make them larger. You can see the ice cycles on the sign in this one.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

150 miles in 25 hours or

my trip home from the State Evangelism Conference....

Oh My! What a week this has been!

I left immediately after church on Sunday evening to drive to Oklahoma City to attend the State Evangelism Conference. There was a forecast of a possible ice storm, but they wouldn't say how big or severe it was going to be. We decided to "press on".

By 10 am Monday morning, it was sleeting. By noon, the conference organizers said that it wouldn't effect the schedule. Just after lunch, they announced they were going to cancel the rest of the conference after Monday Afternoon's Schedule. They invited everyone to stay for a free banquet that had been prepared to honor some folks who weren't able to show up. (there's a sermon in there somewhere)

I was traveling with Dale Clayton, pastor of FBC, Porter. A third had dropped out on Sunday, because a church member died and he'd have to do the funeral. (he had no idea how fortunate that turned out to be for him[not that the guy died, but that the third pastor didn't go with us to OKC]). We stayed at Dale's parents' house in Del City, as they were in Texas for the winter. We barely made it home Monday night. We had decided to leave mid-morning on Tuesday, hoping that would give time for the street crews to "do their thing".

Well, turns out, it wasn't near enough time.

Normally, the 150 miles from Wagoner to OKC takes roughly 2.5 hours or so. After 5.5 hours, we had only made it to Henryetta. We had to pull off I-40 to "use the facilities". Big mistake.

A semi-truck had mis-gaged the entrance ramp back onto I-40 and had gone off the road, blocking the entire ramp. We needed to move out of the way to wait on the truck to be moved, so we entered an access road near the entrance ramp. Big mistake.

An SUV was also waiting there on the access road and had parked near the center of the road. We had to go around him and went off the main road onto the grass. I got out to push and was able to get us about 10 feet up the road, then got stuck again, when we tried to move for another pickup with trailer trying to do the same as us.

They got out and helped us push the van until it got going. At this point, the sleet, freezing rain, and fog were really bad and we decided we better not try to go on. We decided to spend the night in a Super 8 motel that was at the end of the service road. We got stuck 3 more times before we got there.

The motel had a room for us and we needed to pull around to the room. Meanwhile, another guest was stuck in the parking lot and we tried for 20-30 minutes to get him into a parking place. (It really was THAT slick). Then, when it came our turn to park, we got stuck AGAIN.

Fortunately, there was a restaurant next door that stayed open late enough for us to have supper and breakfast again this morning.

This morning, as we were getting ready to leave, we noted that the hotel manager was towing people out of the parking lot with his 4x4. One other 4x4 truck was so stuck in the parking lot that even the manager couldn't get him out. We prayed about it, pulled out of our spot with a little slippage, then put it in LOW 1 and drove right up onto the access road without missing a beat!

The ride home was terrifying, both yesterday and today. God watched over us; we saw many, many wrecks, but we had no road problems.

So, after 25 hours, I finally made it home! (and I am sure glad to be home!)

Thanks to all who prayed.

Friday, January 23, 2009

and so it begins

Obama reverses abortion-funds policy

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Friday quietly ended the Bush administration's ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option.
Liberal groups welcomed the decision, while abortion rights foes criticized the president.
Known as the "Mexico City policy," the ban has been reinstated and then reversed by Republican and Democratic presidents since Ronald Reagan established it in 1984. Democrat Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but Republican George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.
A White House spokesman, Bill Burton, said Obama signed an executive order on the ban, without coverage by the media, late Friday afternoon. That was in contrast to the midday signings with fanfare of executive orders on other subjects earlier in the week.
Obama's action came one day after the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.

Read the rest of the story here.

Me: What's with the Democrats? Why must Democratic Presidents think that they must uphold what is morally derelict? Why? Why? WHY????

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Help please!

Does anyone know of a FREE editor for .mov videos? I have found some on the net, but they display "Preview Only" through their "free" version.

I want to use my digital camera to make a video for the church, but it only records in .mov.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pray for our new President

As our country experiences another peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next, let us commit to pray for our new President. President Obama will need God’s direction and God’s wisdom as he leads our country. We must be diligent to pray for him and the decisions that he makes, that they would bring glory and honor to God. Pray for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to surround himself with wise counsel. The honor of leading our country is no easy task and our new President will need our prayers!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What would you hear...

if you listened to YOURSELF???

[HT:Monastic Mumblings]

John Piper: "Obama Is Making the Church the Minister of Damnation"

Toleration is one thing, but recognition and acceptance is quite another.

I agree with John Piper. Read his blog post here.

Obama's Inauguration Gala Costs Expected to Break Records

The price tag for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration gala is expected to break records, with some estimates reaching as high as $150 million. Despite the bleak economy, however, Democrats who called on President George W. Bush to be frugal four years ago are issuing no such demands now that an inaugural weekend of rock concerts and star-studded parties has begun.

Read the whole story here: AP Story

[HT: Eternity Matters]

Flt 1549 Crash Video

I found myself overcome with emotion when I first watched this video.

Another Flight 1549 Crash Video

A (New) Trip Down Memory Lane

Casa Bonita - Open Again after 6 years of being closed.

Saturday, we loaded up the Kia and went to Tulsa. We decided to have lunch at Casa Bonita, recently reopened after being closed for 6 years. When we were home on furlough in 2002-3, they had already closed down. I was disappointed because I wanted my kids to have Casa Bonita memories, too.

The restaurant is a miniature Mexican village. Each dining area has its own theme, from a fiesta plaza, a outdoor patio, a formal dining room in an elegant hacienda, a waterfall, etc. I remember going there as a kid and just having a blast. It was like going to a different country (almost) for dinner.

As we walked in the doors Saturday, my mind was flooded with great memories of Casa Bonita. Amazingly, it looked the same. It didn't look "run down" nor did it look neglected. It seemed to be preserved as I remembered it, but "fresh".

The first thing I noticed that was different was they now serve alcoholic beverages. The second thing I noticed was the prices. Yes, I realize that it is no longer 1974, but $11.95 for their Deluxe Beef or Chicken meal seemed a little high. OK, you gets chips, salsa and queso. That is good. You get guacamole. That is good. You get all the sopapilla's and honey you can eat. That is good. What isn't good is the overall taste. Quite frankly, Taco Hut or The Enchilada Barn has better Mexican food. Emily had the fajitas that were $14 and they looked good, but El Chico's it ain't!

OK, so I paid $60 with pop and tip. Was it worth it?

The "Treasure Room " is back in business!

In a word yes. To expand: the girls loved it! It brought back so many wonderful memories. We liked putting the flag up to signal our waitress we needed something. We loved the sopapillas. The wait staff was very friendly.

I fear that the quality of the food will drive it out of business again. I'm just glad my kids got to have a little bit of Casa Bonita while they were young!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Hero of Flight 1549

Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III

What do you do when your plane has a "double bird strike" and knocks out both engines? Hope that Captian Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III, is at control. Captain Sullenberger succesfully brought US AIR Flt 1549 to a "safe" crash landing in the Hudson River in New York City yesterday. He is being hailed as THE hero of the incident.

He was trying to bring the disabled airplane around and land at a small field closeby, but it became apparant that it wasn't going to happen. Realizing that an aircrash over a densley populated area was not an option, he decided to do a belly landing in the Hudson River.

The downed airplane was quickly surrounded by passenger ferries and the whole incided concluded without a single loss life! Praise God for His watchcare over these passengers!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Arctic Express Rolls into NE Oklahoma

That's right! It is 14º again this morning, but what makes this morning different is we have SNOW! The wind chill is -5 and we have SNOW! One peculiar thing about this snow, however is, that despite the cold temps and stiff breeze, it is big flakes. Normally, when it is this cold, we only get little flakes that almost resemble pellets. Many of these flakes are big and beautiful!

There isn't supposed to be much accumulation, if any. The big news is the wind chill. It was a very cold walk to the office this morning! Also, the high temperature is only supposed to be 19º today.

We're supposed to have a potluck lunch at church today. It will be interesting to see how many actually show up!

Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

14 Degrees this morning!

And the Arctic Express hasn't even reached us yet!

Wind chill is about 6 degrees. Unfortunately, the wind is supposed to pick up today. Fortunately, it is suppose to also warm up today.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nigerian Bikers Wear Shells to Avoid Law

Police in Nigeria have arrested scores of motorcycle taxi riders with dried fruit shells, paint pots or pieces of rubber tyre tied to their heads with string to avoid a new law requiring them to wear helmets. The regulations have caused chaos with motorcyclists complaining helmets are too expensive and some passengers refusing to wear them fearing they will catch skin disease or be put under a black magic spell. The law came into force on January 1. (Reuters)

Me: I've seen construction hard-hats, and even some plastic pots used as helmets overseas. Quite a thing to witness!

[HT: Globetrotter Sue]

Friday, January 09, 2009

Oklahoma 14 - Florida 24

WHAT A GAME!!!! Two powerhouses pitted against each other for National Bragging Rights. In the end, the stronger team won.

Florida played a magnificent game. Their defense was stronger and more efficient. Tebow was, indeed, Superman. (except for that one surprising unsportsmanlike penalty)

I had to laugh when Bradford was charged with that last interception; if the entire Gator team touches it, should it REALLY be an interception? ;-) That will certainly be a game highlight!

Congratulations Florida Gators!

Boomer Sooner!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Funny Story

I can play the piano a little by ear. I can read music to sing, but not to play multiple notes at the same time on an instrument. (That's not the funny part)

Well, I've been encouraging people at church to not hide their talents and rely on God's strength to do things. Unfortunately, this convicted me as well. (That's not the funny part, either).

Sunday night, I asked the pianist if she had worked up a special for the "Offertory". She said she was just going to play a hymn, but hadn't picked one out yet. I asked her if I could play the offertory. She said "sure". (ok, that's kind of funny, but isn't the punch line yet)

So, as the deacons were praying for the evening offering, I slipped around to the organ. I had been practicing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" for some time and had even worked out a rudimentary foot pedal accompaniment. Well, as soon as the deacon said 'amen', I came down hard on the keys. Well the regular organist wasn't feeling well, so there hadn't been anyone even AT the organ when the deacon began praying. I forgot to pre-set the volume on the organ and it was like a rocket ship blasting off in the sanctuary! When I got done, people commented that "you ought to let us know before you do something like that again! It nearly scared us out of our shoes!"

Ok, that was the funny part. You can go about your business now.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Porn industry seeks federal bailout

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Another major American industry is asking for assistance as the global financial crisis continues: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis said Wednesday they will request that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry.

“The take here is that everyone and their mother want to be bailed out from the banks to the big three,” said Owen Moogan, spokesman for Larry Flynt. “The porn industry has been hurt by the downturn like everyone else and they are going to ask for the $5 billion. Is it the most serious thing in the world? Is it going to make the lives of Americans better if it happens? It is not for them to determine.”

Francis said in a statement that “the US government should actively support the adult industry's survival and growth, just as it feels the need to support any other industry cherished by the American people."

“We should be delivering [the request] by the end of today to our congressmen and [Secretary of the Treasury Henry] Paulson asking for this $5 billion dollar bailout,” he told CNN Wednesday.

Flynt and Francis concede the industry itself is in no financial danger — DVD sales have slipped over the past year, but Web traffic has continued to grow.

But the industry leaders said the issue is a nation in need. "People are too depressed to be sexually active," Flynt said in the statement. "This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."

"With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind. It's time for congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America. The only way they can do this is by supporting the adult industry and doing it quickly."

So far, there has been no congressional reaction to the request.

–CNN’s Chloe Melas contributed to this report



This can't be real, can it? However, in these days, I imagine they might even get it.

Missionaries Sentenced in Gambia

U.K. Missionaries Sentenced to Hard Labor in Gambia

By Christopher Maiby
Epoch Times Staff

Two Christian missionaries in The Republic of Gambia in South Africa have been sentenced to one year's hard labor after pleading guilty to distributing a letter criticizing Gambia's government.

The U.K. couple, who have an adopted 2-year-old daughter, have 20 days to appeal against their sentence in one of Africa's smallest countries.

Mr. David Fulton from Troon in Ayrshire, Scotland, and his wife, Fiona, from Torquay in Devon, England, apologized and admitted the sedition in the hope of a favorable verdict from the magistrate.

"Any lawyer will tell you if you plead guilty to a charge, the court is more likely to treat you with leniency because ... you have not wasted the court’s time and ... you have not put the state to the trouble and expense of having a full-blown trial," their counsel told the BBC's Focus on Africa.

However, the magistrate, Idrissa Mbai, said: "I found the offenses of the accused party to be very shocking and they have shown no respect for the country, the government, and the president of the republic.

"In this country there is a law that one has to obey, whether Gambian or non-Gambian."

At the time of their arrest Mr. Fulton, a previous British army major, had been working as a chaplain to Gambia's military. His wife looked after terminally ill people and visited women in their homes and in hospitals.

The couple met 20 years ago when he was serving a sentence for armed robbery in Channings Wood jail in England. She was a prison visitor talking to inmates about Christianity. They have been in Gambia for 12 years.

After their arrest on Nov. 29, Mr. Fulton was put in solitary confinement at the high-security Mile Two prison outside Banjul. His wife was held with their 2-year-old adopted daughter Elizabeth at a police station in the capital. The couple's two other children, Iona, 20, and Luke, 17, are studying in Exeter, England.

After moving to the country with his wife and children, Mr. Fulton established a branch of the Christian organization Prison Fellowship International in The Gambia and worked in the Gambian prison system.

An article from Prison Fellowship International, in August 2004, states that a prisoner claimed Mr. Fulton was trying to convert prison inmates to Christianity. He was subsequently offered the post of chaplain to the Gambian military.

The country is a former British colony which became independent in 1965. It has been ruled by the same regime since 1994 when Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh claimed the presidency following a bloodless coup.

Despite recent elections being given clean bill of health foreign observers, an Amnesty report said, "Lawyers are reluctant to take on human rights cases for fear of reprisals and families of victims are afraid to speak out. The media, for the most part, censors itself in the face of arrests, fines, threats and physical attacks on those accused of criticizing the government. All public protests have ceased."

The Fulton’s 2-year-old daughter will be looked after by friends.

Internet Fun

Last year, I came upon a couple of sites that I want to share with you. The first one was recommended to me a couple of years ago by my friend Tim T, but I guess I forgot all about it and re-discovered it this past year. It is I specifically recommend this to anyone living overseas or have at anytime lived overseas. It is pictures of funny signs and products that are mis-using English. I subscribe to it via Bloglines so that the updates are automatic. They add to it several times a day.

I submitted this picture some time ago, but it is yet to be published:

I made the comment that "Shouldn't it be 'Mister' instead of 'Doctor'?"

The other is the FailBlog is a blog of user submitted photos (as is showing funny things. I submitted this picture this week, (but am still awaiting publication)

The concept is easy. Take a photo that looks as if there is a failure in some aspect of it. For example, in the photo above, there is a meat processing plant right next door to a cemetary. The sign for the company is even located on the cemetary grounds. The actual site has a filter to make sure you don't get any "inappropriate" pictures. (a very nice thing to have! )

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy looking at these two sites. They give me multiple laughs each day.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

For my ex-pat friends

This is for all of my friends and colleagues who still reside overseas. The rest of you are welcome to read along for a laugh....

This past week, I have been trying to do a bit of business in the US. Business that I haven't done for more than 12 years or so. I tried to buy a car.

I was delighted when we were at the finance guy's office and he ran a credit report on us and we found out that our credit is excellent. Our credit report numbers are WAY above the national average. That is good.

Then the floor dropped out from under us.

He said that despite having this great credit score, we don't have any credit HISTORY. He said that the only thing on our report was one credit card for each of us. (Sally and me) I told him that I had bought (financed) numerous cars and a house. He said that it was long enough ago that it had "rotated" off our report and as far as they were concerned, we were starting over, just with a really good credit score.

He said that GMAC was actually willing to loan us the money for the car, but we would need a 20% deposit and would be charged FIFTEEN PERCENT interest! He said that he wasn't even going to offer us that "deal" and suggested another route.

All of this to say, "If you currently live overseas and have done so for a while, when you go to buy something in the US, either expect to buy with cash, or be prepared to have an exorbitantly high interest rate because all of your credit history will be just that; HISTORY!

The New Car

For the last year and a half, we have been looking for a "new" car for Sally. One of the biggest criteria is a car that is "high" enough for Sally to get in and out of comfortably. (She has a bum knee.) We thought he had pretty well settled on a Nissan Versa, but she REALLY liked/wanted a PT Cruiser. We've looked at probably 15 different dealerships looking at all their economical cars. (I hate shopping for cars more than I hate shopping for shoes!)

One of the biggest barriers has been cost. We didn't have enough money to just buy one outright. We weren't in a hurry, because God had provided Sally a car through her parents. They gave her a 1998 Mercury Tracer. A very good car with good gas mileage. However, it is low. Very low. Hard to get in and out of. In fact, every time I get in, I bang the fire out of my head.

Well, to cut to the chase, last Friday we decided to go look at cars. The TV airwaves have been full of advertisements from dealers trying to get rid of last year's inventory in these tough economic times. We were headed to a dealer in Sand Springs that was offering $49 down and $150 a month (or something like that) for their used inventory. We thought it wouldn't hurt to take a look.

On the way to Sand Springs, we passed a billboard for a dealer in Broken Arrow (about 25-20 miles closer). We decided to pull off there and take a look at their Subarus and Kias. After test driving 4 or 5, we happened upon a nice 2006 Kia Sportage on their used lot. Sally drove it. They discovered a sunroof. I drove it. We talked with the salesman, and lo and behold, we bought ourselves a car!

It is a 2006 model with only 23,000 miles on it. It has a sunroof and luggage rack. I am especially pleased that I can get in and out without banging the fire out of my head. Sally can get in and out without any difficulty at all with her knee. The kids have loads of room in the back seat and everyone loves the sunroof! The kids gave it the ultimate compliment; they said they like it better than "God's Cadillac!"

We finalized the deal yesterday, but the best, most unexpected blessing out of all of it was that God provided for us completely AGAIN! I won't go into a lot of details without the permission of the donor but someone gave us the money to buy this vehicle OUTRIGHT! As I told the story to the salesman and the finance guy at the dealership yesterday, I was able to give glory to God for His THIRD provision of a vehicle, and was able to use the event to minister to and even pray for the salesman!

Sally and the girls named the car "Kiki the Kia" (as they ALWAYS name the cars!), but I think I'm just gonna call it "God's Kia!"

All praise to God for His provision to us! May God be praised and glorified!

Sally and her new car

Sally and the girls showing off her "new" Kia Sportage.

Sally's Kia

Emily demonstrating the sunroof feature.

Sally's New Kia

Audrey getting her "parade pose".

Sally's Kia in Vinita

Sally's Mom enjoying the sunroof!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Mom, Audrey, Rick Sally, Emily, Dad

Today is my dad's birthday. Seldom in life is one able to choose their father or to choose your son. By God's grace, we were able to choose one another. My kids know him as "Big Daddy". He is a great father and an even better grandfather!

Happy Birthday, Dad. We love you!


Today is the day that celebrates the arrival of the Magi to the Infant Jesus. The word means "to manifest, to show". This commemorates the manifestation of the Messiah to the gentiles.

What does it mean to us today? Jesus is not just the Promised Messiah to the Jews, but also to the gentiles. (Gentiles are simply anyone other than Jews) This means that Jesus is Savior for all who will accept Him. Everyone on earth. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life". (John 3:16)

If you don't know Jesus in a personal way, today is the day of your salvation! If you are interested, please go here for more information.

God bless you in 2009!

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Twelve Drummers Drumming

The twelve drummers represent the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed:

  1. I believe in God, the father almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth.
  2. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
  3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
  4. He suffered under Pontious Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into the grave.
  5. On the third day, He rose again. He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
  6. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  7. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
  8. the holy catholic (universal) Church,
  9. the communion of saints,
  10. the forgiveness of sins,
  11. the resurrection of the body,
  12. and eternal life.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

Eleven Pipers Piping

Eleven is the number of faithful Apostles: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas bar James. (Luke 6:14-16) This list does not include Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Tenth Day of Christmas

Ten Lords A-Leaping

This should remind us of the 10 commandments:
  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. Do not take the Lord's name in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day.
  5. Honor your mother and father.
  6. Do not murder.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not bear false witness.
  10. Do not covet.
(Exodus 20:1-7)

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Ninth Day of Christmas

Nine Ladies Dancing

The nine ladies call to mind the nine Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Eighth Day of Christmas

Eight Maids A-Milking

The eight maids remind us of the eight Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)