"It is a pity that we know so much about Christ, and yet enjoy Him so little."

- Charles Spurgeon
Can A Pro-Lifer Take The Ice Bucket Challenge?

Yesterday one of our teenagers at church asked if she could use a bucket and ice that belonged to the church so she could take the "ice bucket challenge". I knew nothing of it up to that point. Seemed like a dumb idea, but hey, I'll help anyone do something dumb if it won't hurt them. So some of the youth and I went to the church kitchen got a bucket, and some ice and filled it with water. Another teenager got out his cell phone to film her and her intro speech said something about the "ALS icebucket challenge". Huh? What is this?

So come to find out this thing has become viral and has raised a phenomnelan amount of money for the ALS foundation. The idea is that you either donate $100 or dump ice water on your head and then challenge other friends to do the same...on video.

Kinda fun. Kinda cool. (both literally and metaphorically). At least I thought so.

...and that I also had been challenged. Dude I know challenged me to dump ice on my head. Hey, I'm not gonna back down from that... especially for a good cause, right?

Then I found out that the ALS foundation supports embryonic stem cell research.

Religious News Service reports that as of Tuesday, August 19, 2014, the ALS Association has received $22.9 million in donations since July 29, compared with $1.9 million during the same period last year. This is largely due to the viral popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a simple dare thought up by ALS patient Pete Frates in which participants nominate one another to either videotape themselves being drenched by a bucket of ice water or donating $100 to ALS research.

But anti-abortion advocates are raising the alarm that some of the ALS donations could be going to fund embryonic stem cell research. Rev. Michael Duffy, in a blog post on Patheos.com this week that went viral, warned challenge participants to make sure to fund a "morally acceptable alternative" to the ALS Association, the leading ALS research firm. LifeSite News also reported that ALSA runs its clinical trials with a consortium that uses stem cells originating from electively aborted fetuses.

The ALSA website does tout the benefits of "all kinds of stem cell research." However, ALSA spokesperson Carrie Munk explained to RNS in an email this week that the organization primarily funds adult stem cell research. "Currently, The Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells ... this research is funded by one specific donor, who is committed to this area of research,” she said. “The project is in its final phase and will come to an end very soon."

CharityNavigator.org gives the ALSA four stars, its highest rating. Forbes.com reported comments from Barbara Newhouse, ALSA's president and CEO, about what they were planning to do with the donations. "My answer is this: invest prudently in helping people with ALS and their families and caregivers in the battle against the disease, while resolutely pursuing all avenues to extend, improve and ultimately save lives."

So what should I do? I went to the ALS website and found this statement.

In her excellent post, Dr. Georgia Purdom gives a thoughtful Christian response. In her conclusion, she writes:
While it is great to raise awareness of this disease, the ALS Association and some of the researchers they support are willing to destroy lives in order to attempt to save lives. This is not an ethical position that a Christian can consistently hold. In light of these concerns, I want to urge you to be careful about whom you offer donations to, especially when it comes to medical research.

Here's another excellent post on the subject.

Lifenews closes their article this way:
ALSA, which is otherwise an excellent organization promoting a very good cause, funds “ethical” research that involves the destruction of human beings to supposedly benefit other human beings.

Wow. A good friend of mine answered the ice bucket challenge by posting his own video on facebook explaining that we should be supporting pro-life research and urged people to donate instead to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute - http://www.jp2mri.org/ ...and THEN he dumped an ice bucket on his head.

Something seemingly fun and good, turns out not to be. Another reason for Christians to be careful and discerning.

Evernote May Be Changing My Life

I downloaded Evernote to my Mac and iPhone a couple of months ago. After a quick perusal I didn’t think it was much more than just a place to jot quick notes or reminders. I’m realizing I was very wrong.

This app may be the Holy Grail of productivity. This app may be changing my life. Yes, I’m hyperbolizing a bit, but my point is as I continue to use it and see what’s under the hood, I’m realizing this may end up being the most important app in my digital world. And I’m still just scratching the surface.

Here’s what I’m using Evernote for so far:

* Reminders
* Prayer lists
* Saving important receipts
* Tracking business expenses
* Saving important, handwritten documents (via the documents camera)

Again, I’m just scratching the surface. And I know I’m late to the game — people have been using this app for years — but this thing is pretty awesome.

Anyone else know of any killer productivity apps?

I Used To Write For A Living

Back when I was a newspaper reporter, circa 1999, I used to get paid to write. It was actually a pretty sweet gig, if you could get past the paltry paycheck.

My day-to-day life consisted of going into the office, reading the previous day’s paper, following up on some leads, and then heading out to beat the bushes to get a news story. Usually by mid-to-late afternoon I was back in the newsroom hammering out copy. I thoroughly enjoyed that job, but could not raise a family on what amounted to a fast food manager’s paycheck.

I am a bit nostalgic today because I met with a friend last night who's in the process of trying to write a book. He asked me if I still write, and I had to say, well, no. Heck, I don’t even blog that much anymore.

In the past few years my writing has given way to my photography, and my managerial responsibilities at my chosen career (which actually does incorporate a certain amount of writing and photography). Professionally, I don’t doubt where I am right now. I’m satisfied, my bills are paid, and God has confirmed my present calling in distinct ways. I do not suffer from ennui — not at all.

While I have never considered myself to be a good writer, I have always felt a certain juice when writing. I have always felt, somehow, some sort of runner’s high when I discipline myself to sit down and forge a few words. I like that feeling.

My meeting last night got me thinking. Thinking about a lot of things: Work. Business. Photography. Calling. Jesus. Writing. Ideas. Yes … ideas!

Perhaps nothing is as inspiring a God-given idea.

Adios, Bill

That's Bill Gates, not our very own Bill Roberts. :gsmile:

After roughly 14 months with Apple Macintosh computers, I'm happy to say I'm officially a fanboy. I used to detest Macs -- but oh how the scales have fallen from my eyes.

Granted, for whatever reason, converting to OS X was a bit of a learning curve, but now that all that learning is getting behind me, I'm soaring with these machines. Love 'em.

In order to get my wife out of the Windoze world, we recently got her an older MacBook (the first iteration that looks like a MBP). I'm typing on it right now, actually. It came installed with Leopard, which was a bit sluggish ... but after an upgrade to Snow Leopard this thing is humming right along. I may go to Lion on this machine in 6 to 8 months. Who knows? It all really depends on how the computer starts reacting to browser updates.

So we're an Apple family now, for the most part (my kids still use our old Windoze machine). We've got 1 MacBook Pro, 1 MacBook, 1 iPad, and 1 iPhone. Assimilation feels good.

"Like A Girl..."

Watch this video first. Then join me for some thoughts below...

When this video started I thought, "Oh brother. Here come the PC police." I have used the phrase. My wife has used the phrase. (Especially when telling our boys, "don't scream like a girl". Nothing against girls or girls screaming. We are really referring to the high pitch at high volume for no good reason so that our hair doesn't stand on end.) Objectively, girls often throw or punch from the elbow rather than the shoulder. It's just true.

But by the time I got to the end...I thought, "Wow. Maybe they have a point." And I wondered, "Is the reason that girls punch or throw 'like girls' just because no one has shown them how? Maybe a boy would throw "like a girl" if someone didn't teach him the right way? Maybe there really is a problem here. Why not teach our daughters and sons not how to run/throw/fight "like a man", but just the best way to do it?

I only have boys. I am not a girl nor am I the parent of girls. I would really like to hear from those of you who are one or the other. What did you think of the video? Are they right?

Lifehacks from Thinklings Readers

I have noticed that sometimes the best way to do something is with something that was made for another purpose, and thereby I have discovered a few ways to make things work better or to save money. But these things aren't always obvious, so what tips might you have to make my life and that of our readers easier? There will be many more in comments, I'm sure, but I'll start with a few of my own to get the ball rolling:


Use an ice-tea spoon to get jelly out of the jelly jar. The long handle keeps your hands from getting all yucky especially when the jar is almost empty. And the skinny spoon is perfect for getting a yummy glob of jelly. A knife just doesn't cut it. The jelly just slides right off.

Use horse bedding for guinea pigs and rabbits. When you buy things in small packages for small animals it is much more expensive. But when you buy a huge package of pine chips designed for horse bedding, it is significantly cheaper and works great for guinea pigs and rabbits.

Use one pound handweights for catfishing. When you buy weights for catfish bouys at a sporting goods store they are very expensive. But a one pound handweight (used for exercising) is much cheaper.

A hoe works great for chopping the heads off snakes.

If you use tylenol pm to get help sleeping, (which I wouldn't recommend on a regular basis) just take a generic benadryl (diphenhydramine) instead. (which I still wouldn't recommend on a regular basis.) It's much cheaper than tylenol PM and you don't need the tylenol. (PS - benadryl is what they put in the tylenol to make it a sleep-aid.) In fact, the difference between drowsy and non-drowsy in cold and allergy medications is always the antihistamine. It's the antihistamine that makes you drowsy.

Use a sharpie to write family members names on plastic waterbottles then refill it several times before throwing it away.

If you have more than one small child (under 13) assign a cartoon character or superhero to each child. Then buy toothbrushes, underwear, towels, sheets etc... with each child's character on it. Then there will be no doubt about whose is whose. (Get sticker sheets with those characters as well, and then just put a sticker on each item so that there is no confusing whose flashlight is whose or whatever.)

Always keep plenty of Sharpie's (thin permanent markers) around. They are very useful.

Keep an emergency bag filled with a spare change of clothes in the car. No, not for you, for kids. Believe me, your kids or a friend's kid will need it at some point when you are out, and you are a hero when you can say, "Hey I got an extra t-shirt or pair of socks in the car." If you have more than one child just put the size of the largest child (as long as the difference isn't too much.) a shirt or shorts that's a little big will at least get them home.

Always keep a pair of scissors in the car. If you are a parent, just trust me. You will use them.

Put a small hole in the bottom of the trash can that has liners. Then when you pull on it bag to take it out the whole can won't hang on.

Don't scroll down on a browser window. Just use the space bar.

When in trying to have a conversation with a small child you don't know well, don't ask about school. Talk about animals. Ask what his/her favorite animal is. Play a game where you both pretend to be different animals and the other has to guess. Every kid is an animal expert and you will have a new best friend.

When trying to get to know a teenager's life situation, ask it this way: "So who all lives at your house?" It works way better than "so does your dad live at home? or "do you have brothers or sisters?" or "Is your grandma living with you?" or "is that guy your dad or just your mom's boyfriend" or whatever. "Who lives at your house?" is just one non-awkward question, and it saves you from asking 20 questions to get a sense of that person's family and home-life which is really what you are asking anyway.

What about you? What things have you found different uses for that makes your life far easier?

What life tips do you have? what "tricks" have you discovered or invented?

How To Raise Great Kids

My wife and I have six children: five outside the womb, and one coming in September.

I kid you not, we always get compliments from waitresses, strangers, and friends about how well behaved our children are. It never gets old, despite how often we hear it.

I take zero credit for that. Seriously. My wife, Brandi, gets all the kudos for our kids' behavior. She's with them all day, every day. She instills the fear of the Lord in them every day. She is in the trenches, doing mommy stuff that involves correction, discipline, and teaching. Sure, I help some, but she's the one who has made all the difference in their lives.

So occasionally we get the questions, "How are your kids so good?" I'll offer a few practicals here, so take them for what they're worth! (These are in no particular order.)

- So point number one here is that our kids aren't perfect. Not even close. They're flesh-filled sinners just like anyone else. They have to be disciplined. They have to be corrected. They have to be taught to die to their sinful desires. It's a daily thing, really.

- Point number two is that Brandi and I aren't simply about behavior modification. We don't want good kids who have no heart for God. We want kids who love God with everything, and whose good behavior comes from a heart attitude, not from external force or fear. We have a long way to go here, but we're on our way.

- We have kept them, by and large, from TV. We don't have cable. If we want to watch something on our TV I have to go outside, grab the cable that goes to the antenna on our house, open the window by our TV, and then plug it into the TV. We purposefully make it a cumbersome task. (Only did it, I think, about 3 or 4 times last year in order to watch some Baylor football.) Our house is filled with the sweet silence of zero TV noise. It's a great feeling. Very peaceful. We also have not allowed them access to violent games, handheld Internet devices, or questionable books.

- We have been very intentional about who our friends are and who their friends are. There is no going over to Billy Bob's house unless we know exactly who Billy Bob is and who is parents are -- even then, it is not guaranteed. Do not be deceived, evil company corrupts good habits. <-- Paul said that.

- For the most part we eat dinner together every night, around the table.

- We go to church every weekend, have home group every week too, and try to do ministry as a family whenever we can. All of those things build a strong family identity, based around Jesus.

- My wife and I are in the Word every morning. We pray, read scripture, and try to obey what He's saying. Our kids see that. We have also required them to spend time with God and to memorize scripture passages. I think Brandi has recently had them completely memorize the first two chapters of James.

- We recognize that we are in Babylon. That's a good first step in understanding what to do about the fact that we live in that kind of culture.

- We homeschool them. I realize this is not for everyone, but for us it's worth the sacrifice.

- We live in the country and have a number of chores that they are responsible for. At last count we had 90-something chickens on our farm, and they are by and large responsible for them. My two oldest boys get up at 6:30 a.m. every day to weed the garden.

- We have kept them well stocked with books, and they know how to request books from the library for us to pick up. Brandi and I both read like crazy, so they are always seeing us read.

I'm sure I'm missing some major points. There is no magic bullet, but if I could just do a couple of things I'd say: 1) Love Jesus (through his church), and 2) minimize media consumption. Those two things will at least give any kid a chance.

I'm sure some parents would see our methods as, perhaps, over the top? I'm not saying we are doing everything right. I know we're not. But in my mind our children are like plants in a garden: they're growing; they're vulnerable. It's up to us to pull the weeds, provide them access to sunshine & water, and to build a fence to keep out the animals.

Read the rest of this entry . . .

Sometimes Life Gives You A Pun

Today my son Jared and I are going on a school field trip to some local caverns.
Then later after school, I will be taking him and his brothers to get haircuts.

You know what that means? Today Jared is getting...

A CAVE and a HAIRCUT..bum, bum.

I love it! (I'll be singing it to myself all day.)

Yes, little things make me smile. :)

A Different Gospel ... Which Is Not Another

This is a good message, clocking in at less than three minutes. Posted here before, but worth another listen every year or so.

Dr. David Jeremiah

A friend of mine is asking what I know about Dr. David Jeremiah - I have no real knowledge of him and so was wondering if any of you do.

My friend doesn't have any reason to think he's not legit, but just is asking around because his wife has been listening to DJ recently.

Any insights? Please leave them in the comments thread. Thanks!

Becoming Fools

The great civil rights crisis of our time is the fate of unborn children being sacrificed to the idols of sensuality and convenience. But the world at large wants us to believe that the great civil rights crisis of our time revolves around homosexual rights and gay "marriage."

The truth of God has been exchanged for a lie, and the popular question of the day is now, "Did God really say?" We're told that thousands of years of biblical interpretation is wrong -- the church got it wrong. We're told that "one flesh" can and should constitute same gender relations; again, the argument goes, the church got it wrong. We're told that Paul had no framework for monogamous same-sex relationships -- and subsequently we have, supposedly, read Paul incorrectly.

The problem with the slide into acceptance of same-sex sexuality as "moral" is the fact that the church is by and large being asked to now heartily embrace sin rather than seeking holiness.

"Knowing that righteous judgement of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32).

That's where we're supposed to go. That's the world's idea of a safe, palatable church.

If the universal church has been wrong on such a fundamental issue (marriage), then what else has the church been wrong on for 2,000 years? If the church can not plainly read, interpret, exegete, and live out the scriptures, what can she do with any authority?

It's like the elect are being deceived, as some on the fringes of evangelicalism begin to capitulate to the constant media message we've been receiving for decades now: there really is no such thing as sexual sin.

Professing to be wise, many of us have become fools (Romans 1:22).

Set Free

I ran across a news piece about an Iranian mother and father who freed their son's murderer in dramatic fashion -- at a public hanging. The only retribution the mother took, apparently, was slapping the killer's face while he awaited the chair to be kicked from underneath him. After that slap the father removed the noose, setting the man free.

The photos from the would be execution speak louder than the text.


Powerful images. Powerful story.

"Lord, There Has To Be An Easier Way To Get To You"

"I thought 'Lord, there has to be an easier way to get to You."

This thought was a turning point in the life of someone at the end of her rope in a works-based, legalistic religion. She had been taught all her life that she had to jump through hoops to earn salvation, until finally gospel truth began to be spoken into her life several years ago.

She told her freedom story tonight in our home group.

Salvation, redemption and freedom are beautiful.

"Not Possible, Biblical or Healthy"

Is Church Membership Really Required?:

Leaving the church is not simply leaving a club. When you walk away, you dismember yourself from the body. Jesus and the rest of the body sorely miss you, and bleed after your departure. You cut yourself off from your only source of life and nourishment. Like an amputated hand, you will slowly bleed out, wither, and die.

I hear you complaining already. My, he's being a bit dramatic. I'm a member of Christ; I just can't find a local church I like. I'm a member of the universal church, just not of any one in particular.

I want you to understand that being a part of the universal church without submitting to a local church is not possible, biblical, or healthy.
Plus this.
Every letter in the New Testament assumes Christians are members of local churches. The letters themselves are addressed to local churches. They teach us how to get along with other members, how to encourage the weak within the church, how to conduct ourselves at church, and what to do with unrepentant sinners in the church. They command us to submit to our elders, and encourage us to go to our elders to pray. All these things are impossible if you aren't a member of a local church. (See 1 and 2 Corinthians, James, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and 1 Peter for references.)

Asking where the Bible commands you to be a church member is like asking where the USGA rulebook for golf insists you be a human. The whole book is addressed to the church.

[Hat Tip: Jared]

Can I Just Say Something . . . Crazy?

I love crazy!

[H/T My Better Half]

The Start of Military Action in Crimea?

I hope this isn't true: Ukrainian soldier 'killed' as troops storm Simferopol base

Ukraine's military says a base in Crimea has been stormed with one serviceman killed, following Russia's signing of a treaty to incorporate Crimea. The Ukrainian premier says the crisis has now become a military one.
I have a special place in my heart for the Crimean region of Ukraine.

Regarding the geopolitical implications, or what's to be done, if anything . . . I don't know. But I do know that a lot of native Ukrainians don't want to be Russian (regardless of the results of the sham vote this weekend) and by far most of the Crimean Tatar people, for whom the memory of Stalin's brutal, murderous deportation is still fresh, don't want to be Russians. My heart especially goes out to them. They are a beautiful people and they've been through more than most of us can imagine.

Lord have mercy.

Waco Tribune-Herald On Brittney Griner ...

... and her recent critical comments about Baylor University.

Now, as it pertains to the university’s official, much-publicized stance on homosexuality, it must be stressed that Baylor is a Christian school founded on biblical principles. So what Griner is really saying is that she doesn’t like what the Bible has to say on the topic. In my view, Baylor should be applauded, not condemned, for sticking to those principles, whether the mainstream culture considers them popular or not.

Yep. Read it all.

No More Barbers To Pay

I like this song. Has a very classic Stryper sound. Too bad there's a bit of a classic Stryper look in the video as well. Someone give these guys $20 to get some decent haircuts.

The Oscars Always Remind Me .. .

. . . just how far out of the loop of popular culture I am.

Here are a few examples:

"Alright, alright, alright". This is evidently a reference to something well-known related to Matthew McConaughey. My twitter feed erupted with people cracking jokes about "Alright, alright, alright" right after he won. Evidently the reference is a laugh riot, but it's shooting right over my head.

I first heard this Mconaugheyism demonstrated on Jim Gaffigan's awesome Mr. Universe album (he says it when imitating MM). But I didn't know it was a "thing".

Daft Punk. I saw several Daft Punk references tweeted out in that way people do when they know everyone who reads it will get it. I think Daft Punk might be a band of some sort, but I'm clueless.

The films themselves. Of the nine films nominated for best picture, I've seen exactly one (Gravity). And that's one more than I usually have seen when the Oscars roll around each year.

Bruno Mars and "Flea". Oh, wait, that's a reference to how out of the loop I was for the Super Bowl. I'm to understand these people are involved in the music industry in some way?

Me. I could have easily Googled the references above rather than whining about my out-of-it-ness on this blog. But, to show how out of it I actually am, I'm pretending like it's 1992.

[urgent whisper] Help . . . Me . . .

Is Mac The New PC?

I shot an event this past weekend for Baylor University's business school. This gathering brought in several business men from around the nation and I was stunned with how many Mac laptops I saw. I believe Macs were in the majority! I'm used to thinking of stuffy business suit guys toting around IBM Thinkpads or whatever. (See the photo I grabbed below.)

Are Macs the new business PC?


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