Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 3/31/2011

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

The fans in Gloucestershire are not happy at all. It seems that, after councilors tried to institute attendance fees, to limit the ever-growing crowds of spectators (In 2009, the last time the event was held, over 15,000 people attended. Officials say the site's capacity is only 5,000 people.), were met with angry protests & even some threats, the Cooper's Hill cheese rolling has been canceled for the second year in a row. Could this be the end of a tradition is at least 200 years old? I sure hope not, the videos are just too much fun to watch!

Throughout the modern era, scientists have speculated about life on Mars. Many classic science fiction stories explore questions about life on Mars. Since the first Viking probe landed on Mars, in 1976, probe after probe has searched for life on Mars, but to no avail. Perhaps now we know why! Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez says that they were Capitalists, and that's why they died off... Okay, sure, Hugo... (And this guy runs a country?!?!!!)

I love a good practical joke! I define a practical joke as something that's funny, but causes no real damage. Somebody in South Carolina likes a good practical joke, too. It seems that, sometime late last Saturday night or early Sunday morning, a couple of road construction signs were reprogrammed to read "Caution: Zombies ahead!" (Now, of course, the signs could have been real, and the news story calling them a prank is really part of a cover-up to hide the truth of the Zombie Apocalypse from an unsuspecting public... Guard your BRAINZZZZZ)

Reprogramming a sign to warn of zombies is funny, but stealing statues is expensive vandalism... but it's also weird enough for mention in the Nut Cache. Someone in San Diego is stealing statuary. Lots of statuary. 18 statues with a total worth of $40,000+ have been reported stolen, including a 600-pound bronze moose(or "møøse"?)! Many of the statues have been metal, so scrap metal scavengers may be to blame. Or it could just be Garden Gnome Liberationists gone wild. Like I said, not funny, but weird. Very weird.

Over the last few years, many of us have reconnected with old friends from high school and college days on social media sites like Facebook and the like. But many people, it seems, try to use the internet as an escape from reality... As something... unreal? And, if there's a dollar to be made, someone is bound to figure out how. Like these people, who will create a digital girlfriend for you to interact with online. Sad and scary all at the same time, as the virtual line between fantasy and reality becomes more and more blurry for some...

From Reading, Pennsylvania, comes the story of a truck driver who's truck crash saved his life...

We can't, it seems, have a Nut Cache without a dumb criminal® story. And this one's a doosey! Free Advice to Bank Robbers: #1) Don't try to convince the bank teller that your bag of burgers is a bomb. #2) Don't present your identification to the bank teller when she asks for it. Some folks just deserve to go to jail... (HT- TucsonMom)

A Raleigh, North Carolina man wanted a stoplight put up in his neighborhood. He put together a proposal that contained a detailed analysis of why a stoplight was needed at that location. He must have done a really really good job on that proposal, because a Department of Transportation official, a state traffic engineer, has filed charges against him for, get this, "practicing engineering without a license"!!! Every once in a while, I wish I was a judge. I'd love to have this case walk into my courtroom!

And the Nuttiness goes on and on...

post signature

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Shepherds’ Conference – or – What I Did During My Spring Vacation

It was a great joy and blessing to get to travel to the Shepherds’ Conference at Grace Community Church two weeks ago. – I am so very grateful for God's providence through the generosity of His people – Especially you and you (& you know who you are!) There is no way I could have made this trip without your help!

I had intended on doing a bit of blogging each day I was there, but, wow! Did they keep us busy! From early Wednesday morning until late Friday night, the schedule was pretty well packed full.

I had been told that they really took good care of the pastors who attended the conference, and boy, were my sources right! They really gave us 5-star treatment the whole time. It was a hot week for early March, and there was cold water available at stations all around the Grace Community Church campus. They had breakfast available for us every morning and snacks between each session. And, everywhere, there were smiling faces. It was plain that they were very glad to have us all there. My thanks to the conference staff and volunteers who worked so hard and treated us so well!

There were a lot of seminar sessions available to attend. Here are the ones I went to:
Day One – Wednesday
General Session 1 - Phil Johnson
The Forgotten Field - Alex Montoya
General Session 2 - Tom Pennington
General Session 3 - John MacArthur
Day Two – Thursday
General Session 4 - Rick Holland
General Session 5 - John MacArthur
Exegesis and the Powerful Pulpit – Bill Barrick
Exposition and the Powerful Pulpit – Rick Holland
General Session 6 - Al Mohler
Day Three – Friday
General Session 7 - Nathan Busenitz
Delivery and the Powerful Pulpit – Alex Montoya
General Session 8 - Steve Lawson
General Session 9 - John MacArthur
Saturday, I had the pleasure of spending most of the day with Fred Butler. I was treated to breakfast at his home, and enjoyed spending time with his lovely wife and their children (to whom I am now known as "Mr. Squirrel".) After breakfast, Fred and I drove out to Semi Valley and toured the newly-renovated Reagan Library. Considering how much I admire Reagan, it was a very moving experience. Then, after lunch at Chick-fil-A, Fred gave me a short tour of the Grace to You offices.

Afterwards, we drove south to Bellflower, stopping in Van Nuys to pick up Tony Bartolucci (my roommate for the week), to attend James White's lecture on Conducting Debate to the Glory of God.

After a late-night nosh at Olive Garden, Tony and I drove Fred home and got back to our hotel after midnight -- and that was the night that the time changed! After a good, solid 4 hours of sleep, it was time to get up and go to church. Tony and I met up with Fred and his wife again, and attended GraceLife Fellowship, where Don Green preached on The Pastor, His Pulpit, and His People. In the main service that morning, John MacArthur preached on Paul's Philosophy of Ministry.

After church, Tony and I made the drive to Phoenix, where we met up with his family for dinner at Famous Dave's BBQ. After dinner, it was straight to bed - without setting an alarm clock!

Monday morning, after breakfast (at Chick-fil-A!), I was on the road home! I got home Tuesday night around 11pm. (And, no, I didn't sleep in my car. I got a motel room in Beaver, Utah.)

All I can say is that it was a fantastic trip! I heard some great preaching and teaching, made a lot of new friends, and got to eat at IN-N-OUT Burger twice and Chick-fil-A four times!

That's the big picture, anyway. I'll post a few stories from the trip soon.

(There are more pictures here.)

post signature

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 3/24/2011

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

The desire to be more self-sufficient comes to all of us, from time to time. We think of things like putting up solar panels and windmills to generate our own electricity. We contemplate planting a vegetable garden. For many of us, such things never gets beyond the idea phase. But there are some who carry through with their ideas. People like Steven Steel of Toledo, Ohio, who raises chickens for meat and eggs, keeps bees for honey, and makes his own maple syrup from sap he harvests from the tree in front of his house. Problem was that the maple tree belonged to the city... Oops... (Oh, yeah, and Mr. Steel is a City Councilman.)

Utah -- State Animal: Rocky Mountain Elk, State Bird: California Seagull, State Cooking Pot: Dutch Oven, State Emblem: Beehive, State Fish: Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, State Flower: Sego Lily, State Folk Dance: Square Dance, State Tree: Blue Spruce, State Insect: Honey Bee, State Fossil: Allosaurus, State Firearm: The Colt M1911 pistol. Gotta love a state that has an official state firearm...

Economic times are tough right now, and, like everything else, donations to churches have been impacted. However, I don't think the fundraising method adopted by Pastor John Goodman of Houston Unity Baptist Church was a good idea. It seems he demanded that every church member give their tax refunds to the church, and, when they refused, the pastor withheld Communion. There's no word yet on the formation of a pulpit committee at this time...

On Sunday, March 13th, while worshiping at Grace Community Church, I heard John MacArthur say, "Drawing a crowd is easy; just give away money..." I don't know how to say this, but somebody needs to tell Pastor Moore of Lindenwald Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ohio, that John wasn't recommending giving away money... Oh, wait... this is the second year that Lindenwald Baptist has done the cash giveaway... Um, hey, Pastor Moore... As long as you're giving away money... Pastor Goodman down in Houston is having a fundraiser...

Here's a nutty little something from the Rodent Uprising! (HT: Fred Butler)

It seems that standards for county officials are quite low in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Why, it turns out that there's even one guy at the county courthouse, earning $64,000-per-year, who doesn't even know what a photocopier is! Even more troubling, it seems that his lawyer wasn't quite sure what a photocopier was, either. I wonder if they were educated by good union teachers? I'm betting every homeschooled kid would be able to identify a photocopier!

I am not a lawyer, but here's some free legal advice that I doubt any lawyer I know would argue with: Don't show up to your DUI hearing drunk. And don't show up carrying a bag with 4 cans of beer in it. Just sayin'...

I got my first First Aid/CPR card when I was eight years old, and I've been a First Aid/CPR instructor for about 10 years now. I just read this article, and now I'm wondering if I need to add another unit to my next class...

It seems sometimes as if truer words were never penned...
Yes, thou shalt know, spite of thy past Distress,
And all those Ills which thou so long hast mourn'd;
Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd.
(from The Mourning Bride, William Congreve, 1697)

And the Nuttiness goes on and on...

post signature

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Some Musings on the Passing of Elizabeth Taylor

"It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart." Ecclesiastes 7:2

I turned on my computer this morning only to learn that Elizabeth Taylor had died at the age of 79.

I’m not a huge Elizabeth Taylor fan. (Indeed, I'm not a huge fan of any movie star.) I only own two of her movies, Ivanhoe & Cleopatra. And I only own them because they’re good movies, not because she was in them. (In fact, Cleopatra really belongs to Mrs Squirrel, and my copy of Ivanhoe is on VHS, and I've not had a working VCR in years...)

So, why am I writing about Elizabeth Taylor’s death? While I was reading her obituary this morning, it reminded me of something I’ve thought of often – what people say they want out of life.

It seems that we, humans in general & Americans in particular, admire & desire several things: beauty, wealth, & fame. These are the things that we think will make us happy in life. The entire advertising industry’s goal is to play off of these desires to make us buy things (and they’re quite good at it.) Health clubs, gymnasiums, and spas provide us with places where we can work hard to try to prolong our youthful physiques as long as possible. (I am not knocking good health. I know that I need to exercise more myself, and could probably improve my food choices.)

The sad thing is that it is clear that beauty, wealth, & fame are not able to make anyone happy or fulfilled. Indeed, a cursory examination of the headlines displayed on the magazines by the checkout stand at your local grocery store would indicate that the people who possess the beauty, wealth, and fame that everyone else desires are among the most miserable and messed up people around. (Exhibit A: Charlie Sheen. Exhibit B: Lindsay Lohan.)

There’s no doubt that Elizabeth Taylor possessed wealth & fame and, in her youth, beauty. There is also no doubt that Elizabeth Taylor lived a fairly messed up life. She had several affairs with married men, some while she was married herself. She was married and divorced multiple times. She spent time in rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. In later life, she struggled with obesity. In short, Elizabeth Taylor exhibited all the hallmarks of a sinful human being.

Sadly, there’s absolutely no indication that she had repented of her sin and trusted in Christ alone for salvation. Her obituary in the New York Times makes absolutely no mention of any religious faith whatsoever.

In her life, Elizabeth Taylor possessed all the things that people think will make them happy and fulfilled, yet an examination of her life does not paint the picture of a happy and fulfilled woman. Instead, it is a portrait of an unhappy woman, struggling to find fulfillment in romance, sex, and a lifestyle of lavish self-indulgence.

Elizabeth Taylor’s passing from this life into the next is a good time to remind ourselves that true happiness and fulfillment can only be found in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

post signature

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shepherd's Conference - The Trip Down

Well, I made it! I'm typing this in my hotel room in Los Angeles, and the Shepherd's Conference begins tomorrow.

The trip down was fairly uneventful, with two exceptions. One good and one not so good.

The good part was getting to enjoy my first Chick-fil-A sandwich in over 25 years!

I've always loved Chick-fil-A. Unfortunately, we moved from Atlanta, GA, to Missoula, MT, when I was eleven years old. Back then, there were no Chick-fil-A restaurants outside of the south-eastern states. But, every time I'd travel to Atlanta, I'd always make sure I got to eat at Chick-fil-A at least once. But, the last time I was in Atlanta was 1985. 26 years is a long time to go without Chick-fil-A, let me tell you!

Well, yesterday that dry spell ended, as I enjoyed 2 original Chick-fil-A sandwiches, with Waffle Fries and a sweet tea. It was Wonderful!

The second event was less enjoyable. After leaving the Chick-fil-A in Ogden, it started raining. The rain soon turned to snow as I made my way through Salt Lake City during the 5 o'clock rush hour. South of the city, things seemed to clear up, and I made good time until just south of the I-15/I-70 junction, when it began to snow again. Hard. So hard, in fact, that I-15 was closed for two hours (approximately 10 pm to midnight). There I sat, part of a long line of cars and trucks, motionless on the freeway. By the time they got us moving again, all I wanted to do was find a place to nap. I spent the night in a rest area north of Cedar City.

But, morning dawned sunny and clear! I drove to Los Vegas, fueled up, grabbed some breakfast, and headed on into LA.

And now it's bedtime again. Conference starts in the morning! Looking forward to it!

post signature

Monday, March 7, 2011

Shepherd's Conference - On My Way!

The bags are packed, the car is loaded, the coffee thermos is full. I'm sure I've forgotten something, but, that's just the way traveling is! By the time you read this, I should be on the road, heading for the Shepherd's Conference. The route I'm taking is 1,279 miles and will take approximatively 20 hours to drive (not counting naps and stops at Chick-fil-A, of which there are eight along the way!)

I'm really looking forward to this trip. Not only am I going to get to hear some great preaching from men I respect and admire, but I'm going to get to finally meet in person some friends I've made these last few years over the internet.

Then again, I get to stop a multiple Chick-fil-A's on route...

Here's a map of my route, if you want to come out and wave as I go by!

View Larger Map

Thank you again to all who have made this trip possible! It wouldn't have happened without your generosity. I am humbled and so very very grateful.

post signature

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 3/4/2011

A Note to SquirrelFans: I know my blogging has been a bit... sporadic (or erratic or even spastic) lately. No apologies. That's life. You get what you pay for.

Anyway, I'm on the road this week (I'm typing this at 6am in a hotel room in Great Falls, MT, where I'm attending the Montana Southern Baptist Convention's annual Evangelism Conference) and next. I plan on blogging from the Shepherds' Conference next week, and I may have something tomorrow about today's activities in Great Falls. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, here's the
Nut Cache, a day late, and a few nuts short...

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

In November of 1978, 918 people died in the largest mass murder/suicide of modern times. Sometime in the fall of 2010, somebody at Hacienda Mexican Restaurants in South Bend, Indiana, decided that the Jonestown massacre would be a great thing to base the restaurant's new advertising campaign on. Billboards bearing the slogans "We're like a cult with better Kool-Aid" and "To die for" went up around South Bend in early February, 2011. After a public outcry, the billboards were removed after being up less than two weeks. There is no word yet about how this will effect the restaurant's "Nazi Holocaust" ad campaign, scheduled for early summer...

Are you planning a wedding this spring? Are you having a hard time finding a church that isn't already booked? Running out of options? Well, turns out that your community has another whole tier of chapels that you've probably never thought of: Funeral Homes! Yup, that's right, funeral homes. Well, why not? They've got nice chapels and they already have a close working relationship with most local florests... & many may see a fitting symbolism in getting married in a funeral home... (Note: I do NOT share that sentiment!)

Hey, Villa Rica, Georgia, Police Department! Really? Aw, come on, man...

And the Nuttiness goes on and on...

post signature