If the blind lead the blind, both fall into a pothole.


Salt truck succumbs to a pot hole in nearby Youngstown, OH (source:wfmj.com)

It’s not like I haven’t been around potholes before. But, they’ve been extra bad this year. I’ve had conversations with co-workers who agree that it seems far worse than in the past.

As it turns out, we’re correct.  I read online that in 2015, the state of Ohio has been sued 256 times for automobile damage caused by these gaping craters – the most ever. Our local newspaper even has a “Pothole Patrol” so commuters can report the location of the most cavernous routes and whether or not they have been repaired. However, we have seen potholes before, and you’d figure that drivers would have some idea how to navigate them.

On my way to work last week, I took my normal route, which had birthed and expanded potholes overnight. At many points in a one mile stretch, cars slow to a crawl to safely maneuver a pothole minefield. I was at one of those points, and a driver behind me was in too much of a hurry to worry about the potential damage to his vehicle. 

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Zach, the fish whisperer

A fish photobomb

A fishy photobomb

My intent was to get a picture of the bigger fish.  Zach, my 11 year-old, will have had that fish for two years this April. Goldfish are supposed to live like what, a few months? I’ve always thought that pet stores sell goldfish as bait or as a starter fish for kids interested in getting an aquarium. So, when we bought Zach this fish for fifty cents almost two years ago, we didn’t invest in gravel, plants or other fishy stuff. We didn’t think he’d last that long.

A few months later we bought the smaller fish because Zach was worried the first fish was lonely. They’ve been bowl mates for about a year and a half.

My wife and I can’t believe they are still alive. Zach doesn’t clean the bowl as often as he should, though it looks darker in the picture that it actually is because the room was dark. However, he never forgets to feed them each night. In the early days I would ask Zach at bedtime if he’d fed the fish. But, I could never remember their names so I’d just refer to them as famous duos in history. Zach stopped correcting me about a year ago.

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A friendly reminder from Arnold

Put that Cookie Down (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

I was a little bored one evening last week and decided to play around with my phone notifications. The ringtone I set for my wife is Chris Farley singing “Fat guy in a little coat,” while he’s wearing David Spade’s jacket in the movie Tommy Boy.  One of our favorites.  It’s the text message notification I chose that got the better of me, though.

If you haven’t read the first chapter of my book that I posted on this site, let’s just say that cookies are a bad habit of mine (understatement!). I figured it would be cute to have the notification for receiving a text from Vanda on my phone as Arnold Schwarzenegger saying this. Continue reading

Invisible Car Crash Prank

Cruel.  Just cruel. But fun to watch!

There were basically two kinds of reactions in this clip: those who looked first and those who ran and then looked.  The woman with the white jacket at the beginning stood still and looked for the accident as four people around her dove for cover.  But some people jumped for cover even when they didn’t know where the danger was coming from.  My favorite is the older gentlemen towards the end who keeps right on going, gently hurdling minor obstacles as he made his way a safe distance from the perceived disaster.

It’s an interesting example of how people react to danger that isn’t real, and I think it has New Year’s implications.

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God the Jokester

Zechariah meets an angel, Fordham

Zechariah meets an angel, Fordham (Photo credit: TheRevSteve)

I love scaring my kids. Creeping ninja-like to avoid the sound of creaky floorboards . . . waiting in silence for several minutes at just the right spot, and then . . . “Raaaaaaa!”  Recently, my daughter Jess jumped and threw all of her laundry in the air, and she and her accouterments fell to the floor. I’ve taken to getting video records of their reactions (which are hilarious), but I won’t share them with the world so as to avoid expensive therapy.

Zechariah, who would become the father of John the Baptist, was performing his priestly duty when an angel crept up on him in Luke 1. It was his turn to offer incense before the Lord alongside the daily sacrifice.  It’s an honor that priests had only once a lifetime, if they had a chance at all.

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Phat fourth-grader Theology

Zach enjoying a smore in our back yard

Zach enjoying a smore in our back yard

 “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15, NIV)

My son, Zach, is in fourth grade.  During the first week of school he brought home an assignment he had completed during school.  It was one of those get-to-know you things.

There were several sentences the teacher started that the kids had to finish however they wanted to.  I’ll bet she laughed a lot when she read them! Here’s some of what Zach had to say. The underlined parts are what he filled in: Continue reading

God will never mislead his kids like I did (but it’s fun)

I believe that children of pastors are God’s gift to provide illustrations for sermons.  They aren’t bad for blogs either.  While at Universal Studios in Florida last week we took a break from the heat and went in a building in the Jurassic Park section. That’s where my opportunity for deceiving my eldest child took form.

Kids can look into a machine that allows them to see from the viewpoint of a giant dinosaur they are next to.  My wife and I decided to have some fun so we told Jessica that she could make the dino speak as well.  The way to make that happen, as per Jess’s evil parents, was to growl loudly enough for the mic to pick up the sound. Since it didn’t work, it must have been because she wasn’t doing it loudly enough.

The punch line is, of course, that the dino doesn’t actually make a sound. Jess looked pretty silly. I was thrilled. Very funny!

Jessica really liked a comment I offered in the last sermon I gave. It was based on Hebrews 12 where the author talks about the benefits of God’s discipline on us:

If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. (NIV)

I had the kids in the room plug their ears to elaborate in one way: Dad’s aren’t perfect. According to Hebrews, Dads discipline as we think best and we sometimes get things wrong. And, as the passage indicates, sometimes there can be mixed motives by fathers. We discipline when we’re mad, for instance. Jess didn’t plug her ears like she was told, so she heard the whole thing. I don’t think she’s ever agreed with me more.

But God never has mixed motives. He never makes mistakes. So, when God disciplines you, you can be sure that it is always in your best interest. Pretty cool.

Have fun with your kids this weekend, and feel free to mess with their minds a little bit. You are just living out what the Bible says, after all.

Meet the Robinsons: a great approach to new ministry ideas

What was your worst failure? It’s probably something you really stuck your neck out for.  My fellow writers know what I’m talking about. So much rejection. And how about people who are trying desperately to find a job or lose weight? In our performance driven society we are conditioned to find worth not only in success, but in the avoidance of defeat.

How you approach the concept of failure is critical to your spiritual journey.  Here’s a secret that may help you: not every attempt at ministry is a success. Even with the power of God behind us, he lets us fail at times.

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An Emoticons Bible Translation?

An emoticon with a smile. For more emoticons i...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to hate them but I’ve come to see their value. I’ve often told my kids that words are only a small percentage of how you communicate. For instance, saying “Sorry” can be either sincere or, with raised pitch in the middle of the word and elongated vowels, very sarcastic: “SoOOry.”

Greek and Hebrew don’t have emoticons, but they would have been helpful in interpreting the emotions or attitudes or reactions in the Bible. Here are a few examples I’ve thought of:

     In John 9, when the Pharisees were hounding the poor guy who had been born blind by continuing to ask him about Jesus, the man’s response was classic:  “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?"  😉
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