Friday, December 29, 2006

Goals for 2007

I usually make goals for the year. A friend once pointed out that most people make New Years resolutions and that I was slightly off base. I prefer to make goals and yes I'm slightly off base. In general, would it not be better to think in terms of steps to reach an outcome rather than pretending to have more intestinal fortitude than normal?

Most of the time I make a goal for the various areas of my life; walk with God, family life, career, education, ministry, music and fitness. I don't usually make goals about things that will take care of themselves. What I usually want to do is think of how to take the area to the next level. A couple of years ago I decided to include more people in my fitness activities. It was a total flop. It turns out I learned something. I like to exercise by myself for the most part. That is where I'm in my comfort zone. I would like to become a better gardener, but I'm not willing to dedicate the time to it. So I will probably continue plant some tomatoes in the Spring and hope to get some good ones off of the plants. I would love to some day learn guitar, but not now. I'm too busy with other things. I would rather learn Greek and Hebrew better. So I sort of have prioritized through the years the areas that are most important for me.

But here are my 2007 goals:

  • Pray every day.
  • Do more hiking and cycling with my family.
  • Make good use of my iPod.
  • Get licensed to preach.

If you blog about your 2007 goals, resolutions, or whatever you do, please leave a comment so I can link to you.

The Jollyblogger has a resolution for 2007:

I resolve to be an ordinary faithful guy and to not attempt anything spectacular for God in 2007.

You have to read the whole post to get it all

Saturday, December 23, 2006

2006 Web Discoveries- OK I mean new to me.

The big change in my web viewing this year is that I have quit listening to and started watching

Why drop real? I'm not willing to pay a subscription for premium service to really get what I want. If I pay for music, I will just buy it right out. Radio is how I sample music, traditional (RF) or Internet, but if I want to pay I tend to purchase it rather than subscribe.

Why frequent YouTube? As my daughters say, you can find anything on YouTube. I enjoy seeing the creative videos made by youth, clips from movies and shows and especially those videos made by Improv Everywhere. When someone puts together a mash-up you know they are a real fan. One of my favorite mashups right now is one with the song Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting with loads of fight scenes from Lost. I think since the recent change of ownership YouTube has cut out copy written material, which is a good thing. But the little guy can get his video out there.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dark Roasted Blend: The Most Dangerous Roads in the World

Dark Roasted Blend: The Most Dangerous Roads in the World: "The Most Dangerous Roads in the World"

While it might be intriging, I'm going to not put this on my list of places to go on vacation. I have been stuck in the mud and it is not fun.

Friday, December 15, 2006


I got this from e-ministry notes. Well done.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

History of Who Rules the Middle East

This is a link to a map of the Middle East which shows who has ruled in the area through history. The insightful part of this dynamic map is the how those who rule come from the edge and sweep through the area. Also, when we think through the historical ruler, this map shows that current situation is relatively new.

Hat Tip:Jungle Pop.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Sunday School Lesson - Zechariah 2

Zechariah 2
By Terry L. Pruitt

Main Idea: The Lord will protect his people.

I. Man with the Measuring Line Zechariah 2:1,2
II. Jerusalem is so Large That It Has No Walls Zechariah 2:3-5
III. Return to Jerusalem You Who Are Scattered Zechariah 2:6,7
IV. Those Who Harm God's People Will Suffer His Wrath Zechariah 2:8-9
V. Many Nations Will Follow The Lord Zechariah 2:10-13

1. Josephus was looking for one literal fulfillment of this passage. Clark's commentary says...

The vision with which this chapter opens, portended great increase and prosperity to Jerusalem. Accordingly Josephus tells us, (Wars v. iv. 2,) that "the city, overflowing with inhabitants, extended beyond its walls," as predicted in the fourth verse, and acquired much glory during the time of the Maccabees; although these promises, and particularly the sublime image in the fifth verse, has certainly a still more pointed reference to the glory and prosperity of the Christian Church in the latter days, 1-5.

2. The Lord protects his people. In the last chapter we saw that the Lord not only let the four horns scatter the Jews, but we also saw God crush these oppressors for their harm to God's people. While the Lord may use a bully or an oppressor in a Christian's life, it does not turn out well for the bully. Have you been a bully or oppressor? Have you been the victim of a bully or oppressor?

3. It has always been God's purpose to bring the all the nations to himself through his people the Jews. He promised Abraham that all nations of the earth would be blessed through him. He blessed Israel by bringing the foreign Rahab the the prostitute to himself. He blessed Israel through Ruth the Moabitess. God was continually bringing people to himself through the children of Israel. When God poured out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost the apostles supernaturally spoke other languages. This showed that God had reversed the division that happened at the tower of Babel. Now he was uniting people around His Son. Who do you know that is from another nation, tribe or tongue that may not know Jesus?

4. Some people are blessed by God's people; others are cursed. What is the cause of each?

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Sunday School Lesson - Zechariah 1

In the tradition of free and open source software, courseware and others who are generous and yet somehow effective, I'm publishing my Sunday School lessons here on the web. Some other projects that I respect that are free and open are the MIT Open Courseware, Third Millennium Ministries and Crosswire Bible Society. I'm not going to mention all the software that is open source. I'm really wondering if Third Millennium and Crosswire should get together on some projects.

Zechariah 1
by Terry L. Pruitt

Main Idea: The Lord will defend His own reputation and His own people. Will you merely be a tool in His hand or will you follow Him?

Outline to Zechariah Chapter One

I. Introduction "The 'Lord Who Rules Over All" Says Turn To Me (Zechariah 1:1-6)
II. Introduction to The Visions (Zechariah 1:7)
III. Content of the First Vision – Four Horsemen (Zechariah 1:8)
IV. Interpretation of the First Vision (Zechariah 1:9-15)
V. Oracle Response To The Four Horsemen (Zechariah 1:16,17)
VI. Content of the Second Vision – Four Blacksmiths (Zechariah 1:18-22)

Literary Feature - Repetition:
A repeated idea in the first six verses is that the Lord is "the Lord who rules over all". This gives an international flavor to the book. This prophesy explains the international situation of the time when the Jews were returning from their captivity. They could have thought that God no longer cared for them, or that He did not exist and that is why they were sent into captivity. God sends these prophets to interpret what God was doing through the captivity.

Would the nations around them have thought of God as the God who rules over all? Who today would give us the same response?

Why Go To Captivity?
The captivity came because the Jews had neglected to follow the covenant. Even though they had failed, God was now being merciful. They were now to learn from the mistakes from the mistakes of forfatherS. The message now was that this new generation was not supposed to sin in the same way as their forefathers.

What are some of the sins of our forefathers we do not want to repeat?

How Do We Interpret International Situations Today?
The interpretation of the four horsemen is that God knows that the international situation is peaceful. God then declares through His messenger that He wants to restore Jerusalem.
Today we do not have a prophet to tell us exactly how to interpret our own international situations for the church. How do we keep from wild speculation while at the same time not thinking that our own times God does not act in a way that is meaningful?

Quote from Adam Clark on Verse 18:
Verse 18. And behold four horns. Denoting four powers by which the Jews had been oppressed; the Assyrians, Persians, Chaldeans,and Egyptians. Or these enemies may be termed four, in reference to the four cardinal points of the heavens, whence they came:-

1. NORTH. The Assyrians and Babylonians.
2. EAST. The Moabites and Ammonites
3. SOUTH. The Egyptians
4. WEST. The Philistines.

Interpreting the Four Iron Horns and Four Blacksmiths
Given the fact that the four horsemen in verse 8 seem to go to the four cardinal directions, then it is logical that the four cardinal directions are meant here also. What ever the interpretation of the four horns, God still metaphorically sent the four blacksmiths to destroy them. The horns represent strength, like the weapon of a bull, presumably of iron since it takes blacksmiths to pulverize them. God often uses oppressive people in our lives to shape us. On a personal level, a bully or harsh authority figure can be that person. As a nation we also have other nations that put pressure on us. The church through out the world has adversaries. Though God uses these, he also judges them for their oppressive acts.

Have you ever been the oppressor? Have you ever been the oppressed? What does God do for each?

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bossaball, Another Off-beat Sport

This was another sport that seemed a bit out there. It is a mix of trampolining, volleyball, and soccer. From what I've read there is often a band or DJ playing up beat music when this is played.
What is Zorbing?

I was looking through the off beat sports that were listed on Wikepedia. Zorbing was listed so I went to YouTube to find out what Zorbing is all about.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Parableman: The Logical Problem of Evil

Parableman: The Logical Problem of Evil: "The Logical Problem of Evil"

Jeremy has an excellent discussion of the problem of evil. He will soon discuss some theistic solutions. I'm intrigued.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

How Do You Pronounce Missouri?

I got this from Parableman. I was surprised how easy the test was to take and how accurate it was.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sermon Plagiarism is Different Than Borrowing Ideas and Illustrations

That Sermon You Heard on Sunday May Be From the Web - "The plagiarism debate grew louder in recent months after a sermon site posted an essay by the Rev. Steve Sjogren titled, 'Don't be original, be effective!' Mr. Sjogren urged pastors to quit spending time striving for originality and instead, to recite the words of better sermonizers."

Yesterday I bought a Wall Street Journal. I have not bought one in years but I saw a leading story on preaching and plagiarism so I spent my dollar to read the one article. Then I see that Tim Challies wrote a post on this same article.

My pastor goes out of his way to source his sermon material. I think his practice of mentioning who he read to get an illustration or an idea is great. However, some people misunderstand his sourcing content that he uses from books. One fellow was intimidated by the often mentioning of book. He was of average or better intelligence but he was not an avid reader so he felt a little chided every time a Christian book was mentioned. Since the practice is not wide spread to source one's sermon material, people can misunderstand it. This guy did.

I have mentioned many times I grew up in a rural church setting. It seemed pretty obvious to me even as a youth that country preachers used each other's material. The way to learn how to preach and get material for sermons was to go to revival services, go to camp meetings, go listen to good preaching. I believe it was understood that everyone would borrow from one another by borrowing illustrations, syllogism, ways of interpreting a passage, word play, speaking techniques, and ways of explaining a well know problem.

While I am NOT encouraging plagiarism, I think it is generally accepted that anecdote and other public speaking material are accepted as borrowed and brought alive in retelling. That is just in public speeches in general. In regard to preaching specifically, I don't think the average parishioner is expecting total originality. I do think they are expecting an original sermon, just not all the material contained there in. I find it amusing that someone would try to be original in trying to explain their own proofs for God when this topic has a well defined body of knowledge surrounding it and most of us would be hard pressed to do some original work in explaining the existence of God. Perhaps Ravi Zacharias has come up with some original thinking on this topic or Jeremy Pierce might come up with something original.

Preaching is a oral communications art. Our preaching institutions, seminaries, however focus on written communication. It is sort of a shame that we can't make the curriculum focus more on oral communication skills. While we have standards for sourcing in writing, the rules are different for sourcing material for public speaking and I think also for preaching. Since our seminaries teach writing through out the curriculum, seminary trained pastors might feel compelled to use the same types of sourcing that one would use in a term paper. I just don't think that works. The brief mention of the writer in passing is what is really required, or even sometimes simply say "I have heard the following illustration on this point". That makes it clear that you are using someone else's material, and most people don't care who came up with it originally.

Where retelling someone elses sermon illustration gets us into trouble is that the story might not be right. Some illustrations and stories may not have the facts correct. A friend of mine heard a pastor tell a story of King David hiding in a cave from his enemy. Not long before the enemy approached the cave, a spider quickly spun a web across the entrance of the cave. When the advesary saw the web, he did not bother searching the cave since there was a web across it. He left assuming no man had entered the cave due to the web. The only thing is, this story is not in the Bible, it is from the Koran. The main character is not David but the founder of Islam. My friend and I were taking Arabic class when he found out the source of the story. He was shocked. Preachers need to source their sermon material not only for the sake of guarding against plagiarism, but also to verify the material. The folks in the pew might just find out you told the story wrong.

In summary, I think sermons do not have to be sourced the same way that a term paper is sourced. Oral ideas and stories are meant to be retold. Reciting someone's sermon as your own is simply wrong. Sourcing sermon material needs to feel natural to the audience and keep the preacher on the straight and narrow with his facts.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Failing The License Exam: What I Learned From My Failure

This last week I took my license examination to preach. In the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) if someone is regularly preaching, they should be licensed. That basically means that the presbytery gives the one applying for the license a test in theology, Bible, Christian experience, and church government. The one applying for license also needs to preach sermon for the committee doing the testing. I did well in the theology examination. I had studied theology all summer for the exam. I basically read G.I. Williamson's to books on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, I read for a second time G.I. Williamson's book on the Westminster Confession of Faith. I read harmony of the Westminster Standards; the Shorter Catechism, the Larger Catechism, and the Confession of Faith each side by side coordinated by topic and content. I also read the Westminster Standards. So I did a lot of preparation and that paid off. I did well on the theology section. I passed on the church government examination. To prepare for the church government section I simply read the Book of Church Order. I wondered if that was enough, but I passed. For the Bible section did nothing to prepare. I read the Bible daily. I feel by and large, I know my Bible. Wrong. I failed this part of the test. There was a lot of questions regarding where you find something in the Bible. I can quickly find all these places, I just could not tell you book and chapter in the Bible I would find something. To prepare for the sermon I simply preached a sermon. I got kudos for my time management, for my tone and for my illustrations. I fell short on a coherent Christ focused message. I was supposed to give my sermon in 15 minutes and so I dispensed with reading the entire passage up front, something I would never do in a worship service. I assumed my audience was a bunch of preachers so I did not want to be too brash in my tone to them nor did I assume my audience was in need of salvation. They said that I did not have a Fallen Condition Focus (FCF) in my sermon. This, as I understand it, explains all problems in terms of our fallen nature, which of course I believe but I did not integrate into my sermon. My sermon also failed.

So basically I failed my examination because I don't know my Bible and can't preach. This is sort of like a mechanic who can't turn a wrench, a carpenter who can't hit a nail or a soldier who can't fire a gun. So, I am feeling pretty bummed about it all. I'm not giving up but I feel bummed. To top this bummer of a week off, I had a relative tell me I need to meet an acquaintance of theirs who went into the ministry and failed. He said I might learn from the experiences of these guy who had to give up on ministry. Message: "Terry, don't go into the ministry because you are going to fail". I do worry about failure quite a bit since I have failed on multiple occasions in my life.

What am I going to do about this? Well, I'm not sure if I should attempt to retake the portions of the examination I failed at sooner or later. I might be able to retake those portions in January. But will I have time for remedial study on these areas? The committee suggested that I outline all the books of the Bible. I can do that, but I'm not sure that is enough. I have focused my competency in the Scriptures on interpretation and linguistic interpretation. Neither, of course, were on the test. The committee told me I should read Bryan Chapell's book Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon. They also gave me a worksheet to work through during the preparation phase of a sermon. I think these can work. I'm more optimistic about getting this sermon form down than I am about mastering the Bible in a way that will cause me to pass the test. One of the things said more than once was that an expository sermon is not a running commentary on a passage. I'm not sure I'm convinced that a running commentary is a bad thing, but I don't think I will pass if I use that style.

I learned that I'm not as strong on Bible knowledge that I thought I was. In my 20's I focused a lot on outlines and Scripture memorization but I found something lacking. I found that passages that I had memorized, I still did not know the interpretation. In my 30's I focused on interpretation of the Bible. But now in my 40's I still need to go back and learn the book outlines and memorize Scripture.

I learned that I'm not as strong as I sometimes like to think that I am. I need more of God's grace than I thought I did.

I learned that people often don't hear you. Communication is difficult work and has to be done with wisdom.

I learned that some people will not understand the sacrifice needed for ministry.

About a week before I took the license examination orals I met an old friend at the grocery store. He and his wife attend a Pentecostal church. She is an ordained Pentecostal minister. I shared that I was about to take the license examination and the rigor involved. She said that when she was ordained that all she had to do was explain her sense of call and her testimony. I sensed that she felt I was bringing discredit upon her ordination. She wanted to engage me in a debate about women in ministry which I tried hard to not get sucked into but had to defend my self just a little. It was a strange experience. My friend just wanted to say hello. I just wanted to share what was going on with me. Instead this debate became the focus on the conversation. I think my friend's wife just wanted to be respected. She chose a route to ordination that was easy and achievable. I have chosen a route that is more difficult. I do not mean her any disrespect but I need to know that I have done more than punched my ticket with regard to ordination. I need to know that I have the right people skills, I have strong Bible knowledge, I the requisite communication skills and I have the right spiritual maturity. This test has shown me that I do have some gaps. I have been weighed and found lacking.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pastor, what does your schedule look like?

When I was in high school I went to a Christian vocation conference at Bethel College in McKenzie, TN. It was a conference to get young people to come to the college, talk about their desires to go into the ministry and ultimately go to Bethel College. I had a good time and I ended up going to Bethel too. I had a question that I asked one of the leaders, "What does a pastor do all day?" Ultimately nobody answered the question. Perhaps other people don't have this problem, but I think they might. We had a lot of bi-vocational pastors in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the denomination that I grew up. Since some of the men could work at a shoe store part time and still do a great job pastoring the church, the question was in everyone's mind, "What does that pastor down the street do who is only a pastor?" Though I read a lot on the ministry, have pastored a couple of churches as a student pastor, and am now going to seminary, I have had no one answer the question until now. What I saw from my pastor growing up is that he did two things, visited the sick and prepared his sermon. Pastor's at other church I have thought they spent some time counseling. I'm reading the book Planting Missional Churches: Planting a Church That's Biblically Sound and Reaching People in Culture by Ed Stetzer. He addresses this issue in a way that I think is helpful. He distinguishes between the bi-vocational pastor and those who do full time work in their ministry. He also says that a pastor should be thinking of working at least 50 hours per week since that is what his volunteer leaders do when they work a 40 hour week and then add ministry duties that equals 50-60 hours per week.

Schedule CategoryFull-TimeBi-vocational
Evangelistic Outreach153
Sermon and Study Preparation103
Ministry(Visitation of Sick, Counseling)15 3

I found this helpful. Just thought I would share.

Monday, October 23, 2006

This Ain't Your Father's Apologetics

Richard Dawkins on Colbert Report

I got this from Gary Shavey's blog on Resurgence. I'm not sure if Colbert wins the debate but it is an entertaining exchange.

Friday, October 20, 2006

GOP Straw Poll

I have to be honest, I really don't have a strong opinion who I would vote for during the 2008 election. This little poll is good because it lets you know who people are thinking about as GOP candidates. Many of the names were unfamilar to me.

Hat Tip: Parableman.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

How Many Terry Pruitts Are There? - Census Search

According to the Internet site How Many Of Me there are 111 Terry Pruitts in the U.S. of A.
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Andy Abramson, a Jewish VOIP Mavin, Discusses Chirstian Music

KenRadio, in their Tuesday October 10, 2006 show, discuss the illegal downloads of Christian music in peer to peer networks. Andy Abramson also discusses what his favorite Christian artists are. By the way Ken, I agree with Andy, downloading illegally is sin.

Windows Media / RealPlayer / Download MP3 version

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Nietzsche Family Circus

I caught this on Wired. It is very funny. The quote from Neitzsche is randomly paired with the picture from Family Circus. I think this randomly generated pair is particularly funny since Dolly is holding her dolly. The art is along side the reality, which of course is art too. Sort of recursive humor. Follow the link and see funny sayings.

The Nietzsche Family Circus:

"Art is not merely an imitation of the reality of nature, but in truth a metaphysical supplement to the reality of nature, placed alongside thereof for its conquest."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Jericho, the TV show

What I'm thinking could be big is Jericho on CBS. I've always loved the whole Alas Babylon and On the Beach scenario where you just have to use those survival skills and bone up on your Boy Scout handbook. Jericho scratches that itch and then has a bunch of interesting characters as well. The small town has a mayor, his wife, his son who is a adulterer, his son who has been out of the picture for five years and has no explanation, the blond school teacher, the bar maid, the St. Louis cop who is new in town, the mayors political opponent, a deaf girl, her farmer brother, an accountant who just audited the farmer, a brunet who broke her leg in a school bus accident, John Lock, Tom Sawyer, Kate, Evangeline Lilly, Henry Gale , and others. So it does have some of the same elements of Lost. There is a lot of characters who need to be developed. They are surviving a diaster together. There is an outside threat.

By the way, the Wikipedia article on Jericho, Kansas is pretty interesting. There is no Jericho, KS presently but there was a town there until about 1923. But check out the Wikipedia article.

By the way, go over the Jollyblogger's poll and vote Henry Gale off the show for stealing someone else's name. It is the name anothe character who was a balloonist on the Island and the name of Dorthy's Uncle Henry in the Wizard of Oz.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006


If you have not voted for Henry Gale to get the big pink slip, go on over to the Jollyblogger and let him have it. But then again, it is pretty clear that real Henry Gale is dead since Said dug him up to prove that the man calling himself Henry Gale was a liar. Now if that is not toppsy -turvy.

JOLLYBLOGGER: The Pollester: "Which Lost Character is most likely to die this season?"
Philosophy for Smarty Pant Soccer Players

I got this from Rebecca Stark's son, A Stark Place,

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What Countries Should We Pray For?

Forbes has a story on the most competitive countries, meaning economic competition, not soccer enthusiasm. You can follow the link.

The World's Most Competitive Countries - "At the bottom of the ranking of 125 industrialized and emerging countries, in worst to only slightly less bad order, are Angola, Burundi, Chad, Timor-Leste, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe--a gazetteer of economic blight."

There you will find photos related to the least competitive countries. You might use that as a guide to pray for the poor.

Also in terms of prayer, check out this map of countries where persecution of Christians is prevelant.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

BibleTime: Software

This is one of the Bible programs I use. If you have not tried BibleTime, now might be a good time to try it. Oh, yeah, this Bible software is especially for Linux users who are running KDE.

BibleTime: Software: "2006-09-22: BibleTime 1.6.

A new version of BibleTime has been made available today. It includes many fixes and several new features like the instant search in the installed works."

If you are on another platform check out

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Why Do I Have To Be the Liberal? I Am Tormented By This Thought

You can blame Joe Carter for this post. Not that I can even begin to imitate him, but he said what he thought on torture and so will I.

Hat Tip: Parableman

I'm amused by the fact that when I was in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, I was a ultra-conservative in their ranks. Now that I have made my church home in the Presbyterian Church in America, I find myself often leading the more liberal side of a debate. It sort of makes me wonder at times, "Am I really just contrary"? I don't think so, but I might be wrong on that.

I work with two guys who are from different ends of the political spectrum, one active in the Democratic party and the other gets most of his best political discussion material from Rush Limbaugh. They both have a love for the entrepreneurial spirit of America and both are hawks. We often get into political discussions. It seems that both are basically in favor of torture of Al Qaida war prisoners in U.S. custody. I think one of them a least sees the torture of Al Qaida war prisoners as justifiable because it is what they would do to our soldiers if captured. On the topic of torture, I just have to say it is always wrong. Many people base their moral theories on such ideas as I would not want it done to me, therefore, I don't want to do it. When the enemy feels no inclination to reciprocate, they give up on the idea. The golden rule does not have to be simplistic; certainly should not be ultimately self-centered. Because morality is more than the pragmatism of how to achieve the most comfort for the most people (namely me).

As a moral issue, torture is not addressed directly in the 10 Commandments. I see these 10 Commandments as the bases of morality, rules for those with a developing (or immature) a moral compass and virtues for those who are progressing in their moral development. Jesus points out the virtues implied in the 10 Commandments when he said that if a man divorces his wife, he causes her to commit adultery. Even more so when Jesus says that the fulfillment of the Law is loving God and loving your fellow man.

(By the way, I will not attempt to define torture here. That is an important debate. Things like sleep deprivation I would not count as torture in my thinking. Putting someone in solitary confinement is not torture in my humble opinion. There are a range of other things that definitely would be. Defining torture takes the debate out of the sense of virtue and puts it in the realm of rules. Remember, rules are for the developing or immature in moral development.)

By the way, most people say they think that the 10 Commandments are a good moral set of Laws, they usually mean the last six. The first four are just not something most Americans are willing to deal with. So we will start with the last six of the 10 Commandments.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."

This commandment has an implication for those in authority. The implication is directly to fathers and mothers not to exasperate their children but indirectly the implication is for all leaders to not exasperate those under their control. Torture is done in secret often but it does not stay that way. It is humiliating and brutal. The word often gets out. Authorities are not to be brutal, but be worthy of honor.

"You shall not murder."

Beatings and other forms of brutality are tantamount to murder threats. These of course can not be condoned.

"You shall not commit adultery."

Rape and sexual assault has long been used as a means of humiliation and torture. For those who do such thing they clearly are breaking this commandment to keep sex inside the bounds of marriage. Making sex a means of torture degrades the gift of marriage that God has given the human race.

"You shall not steal."

Personal property is a basic human right. While it applies to objects such as a car or a laptop computer; it also applies to intangibles such as intellectual property, privacy, use of a person's name and dignity as a person. Torture does take a person's dignity without a juries verdict that the person is guilty of a crime.

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."

When a person gives information under duress, there is always a lingering doubt about its veracity. Did the person say what he thought would stop the torture or did he tell the truth? In a sense the person torturing the subject puts an undue pressure on the person where they are being forced to say things not in accordance with the truth but in accordance with what will end the pain.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

Even a terrorist has some things that we should not want to take, namely the power of coercion. Coveting the same power that they have will not make us a great nation.

And now the first four commandments....

"You shall have no other gods before me."

There is a great danger that the person exercising this brutal authority will set himself as God. Power does not always corrupt but often this type of power does.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments."

Of course when we treat man as less than man, we degrade the image of God which is intangible. If we do not respect our enemy as made in the image of God, how can we respect the true God who is invisible.

"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

A part of this commandment is being faithful to our oaths and promises. If one promises to obey the laws of the land and then breaks this promise, he is not letting his yes be yes. This applies to all service members who swore to uphold the laws of the U.S.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

There is some sense in this commandment that those in authority are under a greater authority. When a master is not to impose work on a servant or an animal, this points to the fact that God is indeed the true master. Any authority we have is derived from him. When a person or a nation does not recognize that there are indeed limitations to their authority, they break this commandment. More explicitly, when someone does not recognize that God is the only one that has true authority over every soul, that person is breaking this commandment.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Management and Leadership

At presbytery this past Saturday I was impressed by the speaker, Bob Burns. He is a part of Covenant Seminary's Center for Ministry Leadership. He gave a lot of high quality information and made some great points along the way. One of the things that caught my attention was his definitions of management and leadership. Management is developing systems and infrastructure for stability. Leadership is giving direction for appropriate change for an organization. I realized as a part of self-examination, I have not developed my gifts in management. I tend to enjoy and often help guide organizations in change. I find that when they need stability, even when I agree that they need stability, I don't know how to organize and develop appropriate systems for that. It is a weakness I intend to work on. My friend Keith is much more talented at developing stable systems and getting things done. He is another leader in our church and I appreciate that talent that he has.

A few years back I read an article in the Harvard Business Review which talked about how some industries are really dependent upon innovation, such as software development, while other industries are better off seeking to do the basics better and better. For instance, the Morton salt might consider from time to time how better to make salt, but by and large, they know what to do; mine, purify, package and distribute salt. If they stray from that, they are probably not doing the right thing in the salt business. So in a church, when do you innovate and when do you seek stability? I think it is important to build good systems and to be innovative. I need to tighten up on the first one and keep the second under control.

I noticed from my time in the Army that a lot of leaders are rewarded for changing things. If they merely manage stability, they are passed over for promotion. However, somethings are just better if a good system is developed and maintained.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jack Yoest at

Jack Yoest's post should be read by every pastor, church sound man, and person who ever make an announcement at church. He is addressing the use of microphones and public speaking. I don't know how many people I see making adjustments to microphones and it really does nothing at all. If it is a little high, well your probably struggling anyway to be seen in the first place. Enough from me, follow the link.

Jack Yoest at "If you deign to be interviewed by a reporter, or instead will speak at a planned, orchestrated press conference, here are 7 tips to remember for the handheld or externally fixed microphone.


Rebecca Writes

Check out Rebecca Writes post on"My Dad Was A Cowboy ". It is a wonderful testimony and it has a cool picture of her Dad to boot. (Well, actually you can't see his boots, but you get enough of the picture to imagine them.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Three Kinds of Leadership -

I have included Mark Discoll's part of an article from Leadership Journal. I find what he has to say about his office at the church that is more like a living room than an office. Why do Pastor's have to stay in the office anyway? I have never gotten that one. Who are you working with there? If you are in a church with a staff I can sort of see it, but even then, why send everyone to a cubby hole just to make the job seem normal when it is anything but normal. Why not be a few feet from your wife or children rather than a few miles from them if what you are doing is working on a sermon or spending time in prayer? Why not invite a counseling session in your living room? Why not visit the family who needs the counsel? Space is a funny thing. We communicate a lot by our use of living space. We take on roles that we would not dream of without the assistance of archetecture to lead us down that path.

Three Kinds of Leadership - "Mark Driscoll: Leading Yourself First
Ten years have passed since I founded Mars Hill. The church has grown and we've launched the Acts 29 Church Planting Network.

I'm not just the leader of a church anymore, but a leader of leaders. My advice, my policies, and my example seem even more important when I know others will follow my lead in their own leadership roles.

So I find myself in a place where I give advice, such as, 'Accept that your life is abnormal. Nothing about life as a ministry leader—from its emotional toll to relational demands and constant interruptions—is normal. Accepting that you are a freak with a freakish life will help you not to freak out.'

But I've also been challenged to examine how I model leadership, especially in the area of my family life.

I've learned, for example, that I can't study effectively at the church and that there are many benefits of maintaining a study at home. I've removed the desk and bookshelves from my church office, setting it up more like a living room—with couches and a fridge, conducive to meetings.

Meanwhile, I've moved the books to my home, where I can study in peace and where my family can see me studying and have access to my library. I've also learned to include, rather than hide, my children in ministry. I try to take them with me whenever possible, such as on hospital visits or missions trips.

I hope to train them for ministry by making them my disciples, living at my hip like Jesus' disciples did with him. My children, after all, may be another group of leaders that I've become a leader to.

Mark Driscoll
Mars Hill Church, Seattle, Washington"

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Emerging vs. Emergent

DJ Chuang of has posted some interesting videos on You Tube. You might check them out.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Re-learning How To Read

The past few years reading has become a problem for me. I am 43 years old and I have come to the time in life when my vision for reading has weakened. This happens to most people I'm told by my other friends in their 40s. I suppose so. For me, I went down hard though. I work with my eyes at a computer all day. And yes, enjoy coming home and using the computer to blog and surf the web despite the fact that I use a computer all day at work. My right eye has always been a little weaker than my left. I actually see things a little darker out of that eye. In a class room in grade school, while day dreaming I would look at the ceiling and notice that if I closed one eye and then the other, back and forth, the ceiling was two slightly different colors. Over a year ago my brain started turning off my right eye. I could see out of it okay, but normally I would just ignore the input from the eye. This slowed down my reading. I went to the eye doctor. He gave me bifocals and I tried hard to use them. It did not work. I got nauseated. I would fight the glasses by switching back and forth. I started taking my own steps to deal with the problem.

  1. I went and bought just reading glasses from a pharmacy. I have been reading with them for about a year now.
  2. I had to slow down my reading a lot. If I skim something, I focus on reading the table of contents and chapter headings. I used to be able to reading across the past rather quickly, taking in every few words and letting my mind fill in the missed parts. No MORE. Slowing down was very important.
  3. I bought better lighting. My wife got me a lamp that sits beside the couch. I find the easiest place to read is by natural sunlight and a fluorescent light.
But the past few weeks, I have actually started enjoying reading again. I think of it as how someone who has been in an accident sometimes needs to learn how to walk again, I needed to learn to read again. My right eye is now being used by my brain again. (It is still a little fuzzy though.) There is an article about a pastor who is a voracious reader, Mark Minnic, at SharperIron. He reminds me of what my wife said about her reading. Someone asked how she found time to read. I don't think she is the originator of this but it fits. She finds time to read the same way an alcoholic finds time to drink. I hope I'm back on the track to being addicted to reading.

Monday, August 28, 2006

23 Years With My Lovely Wife

Barb and I have been doing a minivaction together to celibrate our wedding anniversary in recent years. We went to Gettysburg, Rehobath, DE, Philadelphia, and New York City. This year we decided to go west to Hancock, MD. We stayed in a bed and breakfast called the 1828 Trail Inn. The keepers of the inn are a wonderful couple. They enjoyed talking but at the same time respected our privacy. The breakfast was great. There was Belgiun waffles the first day and French toast the second. Bill was the cook. He made a orange syrup that was simply Having checked out all the places in Hancock, it is easy to say, the 1828 Trail Inn is the best place to stay.

We stayed in the Railroad Room. It was decorated with trains related things. It had a porch where I went out on to read each morning and jaccuzi that soaked in each night. What a routine! If you look at the picture, you see the little second story porch on the right hand side of the house. That was my morning hang out before Barbara awoke. Maybe she was just playing 'possum, I don't know.

The highlight of our trip was renting recumbant bicycles from the C & O Bicycle shop, general store, and believe or not, bunk house. We took a nice two hour ride. (Working off some of Bill Belgiun waffles.)

We had a nice relaxing time. Last year we went to New York City and did it right. This year we went to small town Americana.

Technorati: B&B, Hancock, Maryland, MD, lodging, Bed and Breakfast, C & O Canal, Bicycling, Western Maryland Rail Trail

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 Blogs »Blog Archive » Polite Demotion Planned for Planet Pluto

My wife said this on the telephone today, so I thought someone would blog it. Here is it is... Blogs »Blog Archive » Polite Demotion Planned for Planet Pluto: "Pluto will always be a planet regardless of its true astronomical nomenclature. There will always be The Nine Planets. This cannot be erased from history by a simple re-classification of everything. History can not be erased. In the US, Rhode Island is just as much a state of the Union as California is a state. Puerto Rico is not a state, but it could be. Is Maine more of state than Texas? Maine was part of Massachussetts at time and Texas was a independent country, yet as it stands right now both are still states. Just as the US has the Thirteen Original Colonies, our home system will always have the Nine Planets, regardless of further additions to the group which inevitably will happen.

Pluto is a planet."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

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I finished reading this book by Ralph Moore on Starting a New Church. I really enjoyed reading the book. A lot of works of this type spend 80-90% of the book on theory and very little on actually how to get it done. I think I already know the theory but I wanted to know more about the mechanics of getting it done. Pastor Moore is a student of organizational management and leadership. So he mixes in a lot of Tom Peters style of organizational management with his biblical insights. That makes me a little wary, but all in all this is the lessons of an experinced church planter. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ok Go - Here It Goes Again

Ok Go--Here It Goes Again

These are the same guys who danced in their back yard and 1 million videos were made by home video artists. I don't think we could get 1 million of this one. The tread mill companies would love it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Church Planting Poll - What Did I Learn

The poll on this blog Essentials For a Church Plant has not had any new votes in a while so I am ready to give an analysis of the results. So what did I learn?

1. Sunday School is much more important than I thought. While it was listed as number three results, I did not expect it to rank as high as it did. I have always thought of Sunday School as a specialized small group that meets at a convenient time and place, just before church. Sunday Schools are often run much more like a small group than a class that is evaluates your learning.

2. I would place small groups as high as did the whole group. It is the top item voted for as essential for a church plant. However a vocal minority said in the comments and e-mails that this was not important when the congregation was small. The idea repeated several times was that small group fellowship would be the whole congregation when the whole congregation is the size of a small group or two. I think what this really means is that the theory and/or practice of having small groups have been successful and should be adopted when a group is large enough to merit it.

3. The idea that visitation is essential surprised me. I for one really believe in visitation ministry, however, I did not believe other Christians would agree with me. Visitation is a way to connect with the congregation as individuals. It is my belief that everyone in the congregation needs a little private time with the pastor(s). It is a part of shepherding. I also think that visiting the sick, troubled, and grieving gives opportunity to meet more of the family and friends of the congregation. These are relatively natural times for the unchurched to come in contact with a pastor. So pastors should make best use of it. It gives those in the congregation a chance to show off the love and care of their church. They want to show how they are supported by the covenant community. I'm guessing that most voters voted for visitation not as a means of outreach, but only comfort in times of trouble. Personally I don't see that those two things are able to be pulled apart. Pastoral care (i.e. praying for the sick, offering words of comfort, encouragement or appropriate Bible application) can not be seperated from outreach.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I am ready for my Corrie to come home. Come home Cor-O-badoro. - the Internet site of J. Mark Bertrand - the Internet site of J. Mark Bertrand: "If you want to learn more about the ESV Journaling Bible and you don't want to wait for my re-cap, head over to Gareth Russell's blog and check out his excellent, well-illustrated review. (Thanks, Gary, for pointing it out in the comments on the last post.) Also, check out the mention of Gareth's post on Moleskinerie, the all-things-Moleskine blog. "

Check out this nifty blog.

TheIrvins: Home from the Hospital

TheIrvins: Home from the Hospital: "Home from the Hospital"

Rebecca Writes mentioned that Tim Irving needs prayer. You might venture over to Tim's blog and read his story and say a prayer for him.

Saturday, July 29, 2006 " / pruittcommunications /

I have been using for a couple of months now. It is a way of making a set of bookmarks public. So here is my page.


To fight insomnia I played around with WikiMapia. I added a couple of my childhood places to the list of places, and a couple of churches I attended. It is fun way to share your knowledge.

Tags: wiki

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Markets without Marketing | Linux Journal

I thought this article by Doc Searls was excellent.

Markets without Marketing | Linux Journal: "As I prepare for that, I thought I'd share some of the curriculum I've come up with. I'm looking for constructive feedback, suggestions and Stories From the Real World that might be useful to the tutorial. Here we go...

I. The Matrix is a metaphor for marketing
II. As Markets become truly free, we don't have much, if any, need for marketing.
III. Advertising is going to die. PR is already dead.
IV. The operative word is Relate.
V. There's no substitute for a good product. Or the only people who can improve it.
VI. Work the Because Effect. You'll make more money that way.

Pearls of Wisdom from the Gadfly's Muse

I met with the Gadfly's Muse and the Jollyblogger for breakfast on Thursday. We talked about church planting in the Ann Arundel County area. Bits of wisdom I gleaned from the breakfast time talk.

The essential element for a pastor is a love for the people. Preaching is important, but people will endure imperfect preaching if they discern a heart of love.

The essential element for a church planter is vision to see something come to fruition.

Formal qualifications are less important than actually doing the ministry.

Doing the work of the ministry is analogous to scientist forming a hypothesis and then testing it, then adjusting the hypothesis, and continuing the cycle. A scientist starts with an initial hypothesis and it is not so important that he have the exact right hypothesis, just that he has a starting point and make adjustments afterwards. As long as he has a process by which he continually adjusts his knowledge, he is on the path toward truth. It is not so important that I have the perfect plan for ministry, only that I do ministry.
Technorati Tags: Church Planting, Ministry, Christianity, Science, Education

Saturday, July 15, 2006

No Missions Without Evangelism

What is the difference between evangelism and missions? Often when we speak of missions, we mean reaching across cultural barriers to speak the good news of God's forgiveness. Some people would define missions in terms of mercy ministry, but I would have to quibble with this definition. My own definition for missions is evangelism that takes the message of the grace of God to every nation tribe and tongue. Every tribe and tongue means those both near and far. Missions means taking seriously the cultural dynamics of the hearers of the message of God's grace. It means respecting the hearers of the message and taking their needs seriously.

For most people, evangelism is an unobtainable duty, something that they just don't know how to do. To explain the good news of God's grace in a winsome way is just not within their natural skill set. This is why the work of evangelism must be done in community. So evangelism must take place in a multi-layered fashion. The individual Christian must know the basics of what the good news is and be able to tell their story. Then the congregation must make it a priority to make it welcoming to those who are not believers. This means in part, planning special times when the individual can invite their friends and neighbors trusting they will hear the good news but not be embarrassed. Finally, denominations, parachurch organizations and mission societies must help churches band together for this task. The individual must have a infrastructure that they can depend upon if they are going reach out to others. It is sort of like a soldier going into battle, they can take risk of well-being and life, knowing their buddy will help them out, there is a communications channel call for help, there is a medivac unit and hospital if they get hurt, there is a supply company bring to the front lines food, ammo and other necessities. (I'm not saying those we would tell about the grace of God are our enemies.) The individual risks rejection and failure when they explain the good news. The message is precious and so is the relationship. If the message is rejected by this person that they care about, there is a risk the relationship may sour. It is necessary that a person who is willing to take the risks involved with evangelism be given training, motivation, purpose, and aid.

Evangelism means tellings the story of Jesus. The most common issue in evangelism that I encounter in discussing who Jesus is and what his grace means is the issue of power. To most of the people who I know who do not trust in the work of Christ as a means of forgiveness of sin, they do not do so because of power issues. If they acknowledge that something is a sin, then they are concerned this issue can be held over them. Those who define the problems are those who hold sway in a debate. These power issues are complex and are not easy to overcome. An essential element evangelism takes humility.

Without healthy evangelism, there is no missions.

Statistically, the activity that most successful in evangelizing is church planting. Please take my survey on church planting.

Technoratic Tags: church planting, evangelism, Christianity, humility, missions

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Church Planter as Guest Blogger

My wife and I went to Bethel College in McKenzie, TN. This is the Cumberland Presbyterian denominational college. We met many good friends there. Cindy Maddux is one of our friends from college days. She is our guest blogger today. She responded to the poll and sent me some of her comments which I am including here.

By the way, if you have not taken my poll on church planting, please do so. It is the post prior to this one.

Thoughts of church planter Cindy Maddux who is a part of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church

As to voting whether SUNDAY worship is essential to a church plant then I will say no. WORHSIP is essential but with today's society it's more like Saturday night or Friday night and then if you have those that are tradition bound you could say AND a Sunday service. The needs of the initial group drive when and where you meet.

I am in a church plant now. It's been two years and we are just now getting to where we need to be for spiritual growth in numbers.

Ultimately what you do as a church plant will depend on who you are trying to reach?

Are you trying to reach people who have lost touch with the church and bring them back to the fold, are you trying to reach people who have never heard the Gospel before (literally)?

Are you trying to get through to those who are disillusioned with the Church as they have seen it at work in the world today? (We all know that the organized church has many issues.)

Are you trying to be homogenous or are your really willing to accept people from all different backgrounds?

Are you only willing to allow those who believe EXACTLY like you do or will you allow there to be differences of opinion on varying theological issues?

Are you going to wait for people to come to you or are you ready to make the effort to go where the people are and interact with them as you find them?

Over the years I come down to one statement over and over again; (paraphrasing) "to love the Lord God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself".

Also having a few extroverts in your church plant early on will help, introverts have a difficult time reaching out, but ultimately you work with what you have.

Whatever game plan you start with you have to be vigilant in prayer & intentional fellowship with one another to get some real bonding, if meeting in homes to start out recognizing the gift of hospitality and not taking it for granted. It is very important. The role of children and their truly being welcome is another issue. If child care is NOT a priority then families will not feel safe and will not stay. Not everyone understands a child's needs, nor are many people really ok with children in worship settings. This is unfortunate. I much prefer the children present if at all possible, they are part of the community now not later.

Ok, these are just initial things to throw out. Whatever you know, know that this is hard work. Being in relationship and connected to people takes time and isn't convenient to everyone's schedule. Tithing has to be tackled early on. We have been using Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University as a ministry to our community. It is open to everyone regardless of religious affiliation.

Technorati Tages: ChurchPlanting, Christianity

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Essentials For Church Planting

Some of you may have been a part of a church plant. Some of you might be qualified because you have actually been a part of a church at some point in your life. I would like to hear what you think. Please take my poll.

Technoratic Tags:poll, church planting, Christianity, ministry, new, church.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Take Young Leaders Seriously

I have been thinking about leadership and how we in the church choose leaders. I have seen a couple of models demonstrated and in reality, I think a combination of the two models is best. The two models are seminary trained leadership and raising up leadership from within. Seminary training with no practical experince opens someone to a lot of risk. What if you go through seven years (or more) of education to find out that you really are not cut out for it? Then there are those who are gifted but have not taken set aside the time to study. They need to pursue study. Hands on training combined with seminary is prefered.

Something on my heart lately is that a congregation needs to be trained how to raise up leadership. Here is what I would think is 10 ideas that I think might be helpful:

1. Identify who future leaders are and encourage them
2. Validate young leaders by listening to them
3. Take young leaders seriously
4. Give appropriate responsibility
5. Allow young leaders room to make a few mistakes while learning
6. State to them what you see as to how they are gifted
7. Let them know how they have blessed you
8. Don't make them wait till later to start ministering, you will never get there
9. Share a meal with them
10. Play a sport or game with them

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Are You a Yankee or a Rebel? - alphaDictionary * Free English Online Dictionary

Are You a Yankee or a Rebel? - alphaDictionary * Free English Online Dictionary

I heard this story on NPR. You might want to check out this test. The author does not recognize a seperate dialect for the Ozarks. I guess he has just never heard of roastin' ears.

To get a short Ozark dictionary click here.

Wired News: Disc Golf: It's Not Actually Golf

Wired has a story, err, sort of a story on Disc Golf. I always call it Frisbee Golf, but we don't want any trade mark infringements. So I have played in TX, MD, VA, DE, and NM. My next state to play in is WV. Or maybe PA this summer with my nephews. It is a good game to get out and get some fresh air.

Wired News: Disc Golf: It's Not Actually Golf: "So I guess that's why I recently decided to try the sport of hippies, the hippie of sports, disc golf. Because it's not actually golf.

I would not have expected disc golf to be a geekish sort of activity -- it involves fresh air and sunshine, it was never featured on Star Trek -- but a surprising number of my geek friends have discs. Not as in 'I have a promotional A&W Frisbee in my closet' but actual, official, PDGA-approved disc golf golfing discs."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I'm glad this Internet test showed that I'm on track. That was a close one. Shew!

Your Scholastic Strength Is Deep Thinking

You aren't afraid to delve head first into a difficult subject, with mastery as your goal.
You are talented at adapting, motivating others, managing resources, and analyzing risk.

You should major in:

Foreign language

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Gold Medal - President's Challenge

I walked the B&A Trail today with my wife and my two youngest daughters. I had a good time. We stopped at Adams Rib in Severna Park for lunch. I had the beef brisket sandwich. Everyone one else at our table had hamburgers. On the trail we saw butterflies, squirrels, horses, dogs, rabbits, a groundhog, a cardinal, three turtles, two red-winged black birds, a goat, a Vietnamese miniature pig, and bumble bees. The B&A Trail has a lot of bamboo on it. I think it makes a good barrier plant for people who do not want to be bothered by folks on the trail. It seems the number tandem bicycles is growing. We saw at least four, and one was a recumbent tandem.

So it took 36,150 steps to get from the start point at the parking area for the trail to the front door of my house. This earned me the last 750 some points to earn my gold medal on the President's Challenge. I have been working on this since August 10, 2004. I knew I was close to the end this week. I saw if I did one heavy work out I could finish it this weekend. My wife was gracious enough to let us do this hike today.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

An Observation on "A Briefer History of Time"

I listened to A Briefer History of Time by Steven Hawking during my morning exercise time. This audio book was very accessible though it dealt with some very technical issues in physics. There is two phases of understanding something. The first phase is where the student or researcher does the analysis which compiles, assembles, organizes, and arranges details of information. You need to be an information pack rat and ultimately needs someone who can store and arrange all the data when you are in the first phase. The second phase is when you simplify the whole matter for the common person. This is when you make it understandable and accessible. The Briefer History of Time is a work which is the fruit of this second phase.

The book is about science, but many fundamental questions of science are ultimately philosophical and religious issues. Dealing with the beginning and end of the cosmos is at the same time an issue for prophets and physicists. The nature of the universe, in one sense, is what a physicist records in his theories and scientific models. In another sense it is what the preacher describes in his sermon. The preacher or physicist who avoid talking about the nature of the universe is relegated to being a man giving a nice talk or respectively a lab technician. The issues are similar. The questions often overlap. The methodology for solving the issues are very different. I would think that for no other reason than many of his parishioners are seeking cosmological answers from physicists, every preacher of the gospel should listen to the message of Hawking.

One of the basic premises often repeated by Hawking is the idea that there are scientific laws. The idea of scientific law says that the universe acts consistently and that law can be understood. Hawking toys with the idea that God must have made all his choices regarding those scientific laws at the beginning of the universe before the big bang. He asks the question of how many choices did God actually choose from? If certain properties of matter were altered slightly, matter would all collapse on itself. Hawking's idea that either God made his decisions for the universe and is now letting it run its course or he had no choices but for the universe to exist he had to make it a certain way. In one sense he sees God far from his creation in terms of either involvement or even further from His creation in terms of creative design. In my Christian understanding of God, he is present and active in His creation.

'For in him we live and move and have our being.' Acts 17:28a (NIV)

'He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17 (NIV)

Science has its place, but the idea that scientific laws implies that God lacks involvement in His creation is not necessary.

While I see this as a shortcoming in his thinking, I found most of what Hawking had to say was informative, educational and enlightening. I heartily recommend his book, but keep your self alert and think for yourself.