Monday, December 19, 2005

Ten Things I Think I Think

1a) I think you'll enjoy our web page Christmas card my wife put together. See it here at . Merry Christmas to you all from our entire family!

1b) The Bucher family broke Baby Jesus this Saturday. Actually, it was Aimee, who upon taking out our nativity scene, accidentally dropped the Baby Jesus, resulting in him (and his manger) being halved. Aimee said that when she was young, she believed her sister when she told her that you'd suffer 7 years bad luck upon breaking a mirror.

So what's the penalty for breaking Baby Jesus?

Well, as a pastor, you can't help but think about these things theologically. Initially I told Aimee that breaking the Baby Jesus had to be 10 times worse than a mirror, so she should have good luck again when she's 104. But after much more contemplation, I believe that since Jesus said that we needed to forgive other not just 7 times, but 70x7 times, that Aimee's probably going to be OK. She'd need to break Baby Jesus 489 more times before we'd need to worry about some sort of cosmic hammer coming down on her head. We could always just make unpacking the nativity my job after break 480 or so, just to be safe.

2) Saw that the Bengals were running the "no-huddle" offense yesterday, just like back in the day when Sam Wyche was the coach and Boomer Esaison QB'ed. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now if only Rudy Johnson would bring back the "Ickey Shuffle"....

3) We finally bought a Christmas tree Saturday. Dad called me in a hurried frenzy that afternoon to let me know that The Andersons had marked all of their trees down to $10. The boys and I ended up picking an eight-foot Douglas Fir (the King of all Trees!) that was originally marked at $89. It was such a remarkable deal that the girl at the checkout called the manager, probably convinced that this large, strange-looking man and his two wild boys were trying to put on over the Anderson family. Who tries to con someone out of a Christmas tree?

Anyhow, this tree is the biggest one we've ever owned. It took us an hour to get it inside, and balanced in the tree stand in such a way as it wouldn't fall over. If our neighborhood was a schoolyard, and all the Christmas trees in it were the kids, our tree would be bully that beats up your tree and takes it's lunch money. It's a brute, and we love it!

4) Hey blog nation, want to go to Israel? We've got about 7 slots left for our big Israel excursion happening in late May. Twelve days walking where Jesus walked, and you get to do it next to me... how could that be anything but great!?! Go down underneath Temple Mount and see what's been excavated. Walk in the Garden in Gesthemene, sail on the Sea of Galilee, and stand on the steps of Caiphus' excavated house, the very place Jesus stood the night he was betrayed. It's open to anyone (all my loyal Goshen readers are welcome to come with us), but space is going fast. Please email if you'd like more info at .

5) Max woke up with the stomach flu this morning. He made multiple trips to go "talk on the porcelain phone". Not a pretty site. We're hoping he's feeling better tomorrow, and that the rest of us get it, and get over it, before Christmas.

6) Speaking of Christmas, you can catch me preaching on Christmas Eve this year at Shawnee's 8:30pm and 11pm services. Lots of good music, Bob singing the Ave Maria, Eric and Jenny doing "O Holy Night", and candlelight during Silent Night. The weather is projected to be pretty good, so come early to get a good seat (they'll go quickly!). I'll be telling one of the two good Christmas stories that I've collected over the years (my "whistling outside of Walgreens" story for all you Goshenites), so don't miss it.

And, if you have little kids, our 6:30pm service should be a hoot! The "Hands for Him" Puppets will make an appearance (the equivalent of Elvis making an appearance at Graceland, if he were alive). We'll have dancers dancing (but no lords will be leaping... sorry), the youth band doing "Feliz Navidad", and birthday cake for Jesus. Fun for the whole family, so don't miss it.

7) In case you haven't heard, many of the mega-churches across the country have decided to take Christmas day, which is a Sunday, off from worship. I understand the reasoning. The last time this happened, I preached the Christmas day service, and to say that there were plenty of good seats available was a bit of an understatement. Most people will do the Eve service, and take off the next day. To offering nothing on Christmas, though, while it might make sense from a manpower standpoint, seems kind of, well, wimpy. I mean, you couldn't find one pastor and another guy with a guitar to do a service for the die-hards who love being on church on Sunday? I mean, the Bucher family won't be here Christmas morning (we'll be at Aimee's parent's house), but Charlotte will be ready and raring to go (I'll be doing all of the New Year's Day services, while Charlotte is sleeping off her annual chocolate hangover). I just find it hard to believe there isn't someone who's normally on the bench that couldn't fill in for one day. Must be some serious wimps at those big megachurches.

8) Rest in Peace, John Spencer. You helped make "The West Wing" worth watching, and you will be greatly missed.

9) I'm not a political type of guy. I'm not a registered member in any political party, and while I do vote in each and every election, let's just say I take more time doing research on the NBA looking for a passable second forward for my Fantasy NBA team than I do reading about what's going on in Washington. However, the story about President Bush authorizing wiretaps and the reading of emails without a court order did catch my eye.

While I'm all for avoiding another 9/11, I can't say that I'm too hip on the idea of the executive branch, or any branch, of the government having that kind of power. There's a reason that there's a growing movement asking the FBI to take J. Edgar Hoover's name off of their headquarters: Americans don't like it when members of the government abuse the power they have to gather information on us. While I am not accusing the Bush administration of abusing citizens with the information they've collected in this fashion, the fact that no judge, anywhere, issued a court order, even secretly, to authorize the collecting of this information in the first place is very disturbing. Ben Franklin was right when he said that those who are willing to compromise liberty for security, deserve neither. That's the whole point of "due process"... it protects both liberty and security. That's why I hope there is more discussion about all of this before we grant the Federal Government broad, sweeping powers to investigate our personal lives, even in times like these.

And if any of your conservatives out there argue with me on this, realize that you are violating one of the basic tenants of your doctrine (small, limited government) to rally around this administration. Better think twice before you do that, friends.

10) Was very sorry to hear that Valero will not be entering into a 3 billion dollar partnership with EnCana to build a pipeline from northern Canada to Lima, ensuring a steady supply of sour crude oil for many, many years. This would have been great for this community, and while Valero has promised more than $400 million in upgrades in the next five years, the long-term viability of our refinery will continue to be in question. Since relying on Canadian oil is far better than relying on oil from the Middle East or Venezuela, it's just a big loss all-around. Here's hoping that the deal isn't totally dead, and something like it, only better, takes its place.

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