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Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Farewell Top Ten 

I've decided to take a sabbatical from this blog to concentrate on some other things for a while, so this will be the last post until 2007. For at least the next two weeks, you'll be able to catch me periodically on the Congo Team blog.

I would greatly appreciate your prayers as Alex and I fly on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, followed by a few days each in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and finally London before flying home on September 17. Pray for my wife and kids during this time of separation. Pray that we would be an encouragement to the missionaries we support. Pray that God would make the path straight and clear for our anticipated ministry trip next summer. But most of all, pray that God would demonstrate His sovereignty, His grace, and His glory in, around, and through us as we travel, minister, and lead in the weeks and months to come.

I want to thank each of my faithful readers and distinguished guests who have made blogging a rewarding experience for the last year, particularly those who participated in the dialogue and encouraged me to keep posting. By way of appreciation, I thought I would post some of the most popular previous entries, which may be of particular interest to some that have joined the readership more recently. Here are the Top Ten (as ranked by a combination of inbound links, page views, and comments posted) Top Tens of 2006:

  1. Ways We Lack Free Will
  2. Runners Up for the Unpardonable Sin
  3. World's Thinnest Books
  4. Sports According to ????????*
  5. Things That I Never Thought I'd Hear Myself Say Before Having Kids
  6. CDs of God-honoring, Christ-exalting Music
    (and the follow up post of explanations)
  7. Ways to Reach First Base Safely*
  8. Palindromes I Find Amusing
  9. Greatest Poophemisms
  10. Celebrities Who ???? ???? ??*

*SPOILER WARNING - These posts contain the answers to challenges.

Also, please forgive me for re-listing the post on which it was declared that the blog had "officially jumped the shark" but to my credit, it has received more hits than any other non-challenge top ten. Apparently, shark-jumping can boost ratings.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Please send me to Africa 

For those who are acquainted with me, my involvement in short-term missions has become common knowledge by now. I have been priviledged to be used by God in support, ministry, leadership, and training roles with teams going to the Philippines (1980-82), Mexico (1988), Ocean City (1989), Alaska (1990), Japan (1992), Minnesota (1995), Kenya (2000), Peru (2001), Mexico (2002), and Russia (2003-05). By His grace, He has granted me another opportunity with the team planning to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007.

In preparation for that journey, Bethel’s student ministries pastor and I will be traveling to Africa next week on a scouting mission. We depart from Philadelphia on Saturday, September 2 and return on Sunday, September 17. An AIM missionary couple from our church will meet us in the airport in Entebbe, Uganda, to take us to Bunia, Congo, where we are planning an English Bible Camp for next summer. The purpose of our trip will be to gain first hand experience of the culture, meet the leaders we will be working with, and provide encouragement to the local believers and missionaries.

The people of Congo have been through such tragic times, and I am looking forward to hearing their testimonies of God’s sovereignty and grace in their lives. We hope that our ministry would be a blessing and will have eternal impact, not just on them, but on the team of students that goes next year, on the church that sends them, and on all those who join their support team. Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us to see what God will do through our ministry? Here’s how you can help:

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pluto demoted 

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Monday, August 28, 2006

The Most Evil Thing Ever 

changing history

It was announced at lunch yesterday that (at least in the eyes of an elementary school librarian) the mighty Wikipedia has earned the above title by allowing people to wantonly edit facts. I don't know, I might have reserved it for actions more akin to the deliberate annihilation of people group or the operation of a child porn slave syndicate, but I guess to each his own.

The concern that caused this rash indictment is probably warranted, as there is no doubt that the online encyclopedia has some powerful weaknesses. For one, there appears to be little control over who can make changes or what changes can be made, at least initially. To be sure, once spurious claims are made they can be quickly reverted, and abuse of the system seems to be handled effectively.

However, the "fact by non-dissent" approach does give a lot of leeway for error. Just because the overwhelming majority of editors agree on something doesn't make it true. There are plenty of cases where a more authoritative source should overrule the consensus. Additionally, instant access to lots of information is no substitute for good old-fashioned research. Even its founder, Jimmy Wales, discourages academic use of Wikipedia.

Here's what I would offer to automatic naysayers of the validity of information found in Wikipedia or in some other similar collaborative community: join the effort! If you don't like the facts represented... change them. If someone edits your changes, go get some source material and change it back with copious (or specious) citations. Contribute freely to the problem or the solution. Either way you're bound to learn something.

Personally? I like the approach taken by the guys over at Very Little Known Facts. Just try not to cite them in your doctoral thesis.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

What I've learned about women 

subtitle: if real life were a chick-flick

Yes, I've completely abandoned 8 weeks of bad poetry. We're back to top tens. I present to you today the top ten things I've learned about women from watching chick flicks:
  1. Most women have only two friends. Usually one is fat and the other is weird, and they almost always do everything in the same group of three. It is rare to find her favoring one over the other, and apparently the other two don't have any other significant relationships to speak of.

  2. Most mothers disapprove of their daughters' life choices. Either because she's moved away from her roots or failed to live up to her unrealistic expectations, the daughter has a strained relationship with her mom, feels a general sense of hostility from her, and must eventually have an explosive confrontation to resolve the issue. After that it will all be peaches.

  3. Women will typically fall for the quirky guy. When in doubt, more flaws is usually better. It is unrealistic to expect that the guy with a successful good-paying job, in a stable committed relationship, or who otherwise has it all together will end up with the girl in the end. Of course, every guy also has the one fatal flaw, which the woman must fix before they can actually be together.

  4. Women like to destroy guys' stuff. Apparently there is something uniquely satisfying about tossing out cherished articles of clothing / priceless sports memorabilia / classic record collections, or otherwise emasculating him in front of his friends or wreaking general havoc in a guy's apartment as part of a conniving revenge scheme.

  5. Somebody's gotta die (or at least knock on death's door). Whether it's cancer, diabetic-related kidney failure, viral cardio myopathy, or childbirth complications, every woman faces a tragic life-threatening disease at some point in life. She will invariably fail to disclose this to the man she eventually falls in love with, or wait until it is too late to get diagnosed. Men, on the other hand, typically die much more quickly and violently.

  6. Somebody's gotta get married (or at least have a wedding). For guys, weddings are (a) events to avoid completely or (b) a chance to get drunk and find easy women, but for a woman they represent the ultimate opportunity to reflect on her own life and discover her true deepest feelings about her own love. It matters not whether it is the wedding of a distant relative, her closest friend, or even her own.

  7. A room full of flowers. Apparently, nothing expresses undying love and devotion more than being impulsive enough or financially irresponsible enough to empty a florist's inventory into a woman's living room, office, bedroom or even rooftop. To a lesser degree candles, or even balloons, may also do the trick.

  8. Relationship crises are invariably based on misunderstanding. I'm not sure why they do it, but typically the couple will fall in love amidst a hopelessly tangled web of deceit. This often involves one or both parties completely misrepresenting themselves, feigning either interest or total disregard, and eventually discovering in reality their interests are true or reciprocated.

  9. There's always that one song. You know, the oldie-but-goodie that somehow has the ability to make her spontaneously (a) burst into an emotional fit of tears with sudden clarity about the most difficult of life's issues, (b) sing all the lyrics by heart into an inanimate object as if it is a microphone, and/or (c) break into a choreographed dance in her underwear. If guys would just discover that song early on, everything would be golden. Hint: it's usually a song that is totally atypical for her ethnicity, style, and era.

  10. Women are perfect. They don't have morning breath. They don't let out embarassing noises in public. They don't have zits. They never have to check their hair. They always have perfectly matched outfits and accessories. Yet somehow, they are either not in a committed relationship, or not committed to the relationship they are in. And whatever flaws they might have actually make them more endearing to men.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Amusing Ourselves to Death 

More than two decades ago, Neil Postman wrote a book in which he argued that television (among other sources of media) has tainted our ability to engage important issues seriously because of our demand for constant entertainment. The impact of the truths he uncovered is seen in today's churches and schools for sure. However, until recently, there were still some places where we could escape the barrage of sounds and images posing as entertainment. One of those sanctuaries is now under attack:

According to an MSNBC article, "Next month, a company called Atech Flash Technology will release the iCarta, designed to let users listen to music while in the bathroom and features a toilet-paper holder."

At first I thought this was one of those spoof things, but it appears to be a legitimate product.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

but where do you hang pictures? 

Probably best known by his album covers for 70s progressive rock band Yes (and its subsequent permutation Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe), Roger Dean is an artist who has now turned his focus to architecture. That's always a frightening proposition. However, he has completed a few works, and I have to admit they're intriguing.

According to his website, his visionary methods started with a college project to design a child's bed; a noble task indeed. I think he was quite accurate in his findings that children crave comfort and safety, love to be enclosed, and like a space that is suited to their own scale. That's why kids love tents and forts and bunkbeds and cubbies.

I would love to have the means (time, expertise, money, and space) to design my own kids' bedrooms for them. They would be the coolest. In the meanwhile, I guess I'll have to be content with building them forts out of chairs, blankets, and pillows before I leave for work.

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