Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Family College Bowl Pick’em Development

In my family college bowl pick’em challenge, we have an unbelievable development taking place... Chloe is winning through the half-way mark. When I finished making my picks, Chloe ran by and I told her (not yet 3) that I had some questions for her. I would ask something like, "Chloe who do you like, the Broncos of the Frogs," and she would give me her answer. Though unlikely for this string of random picks to continue, a little girl is dominating through 14 of 30 games!

(If you are curious about the other rankings, I am 1 pick behind and Christy is 2 picks behind, and my Dad is in last place 6 picks behind.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Global Warming and Chicken Little

I have my doubts about global warming. The lack of real scientific data and the sensation of computer depictions for the future seem out of touch too. If anything, there earth seems to go in cycles where there are times where the earth is warmer or cooler (google the global cooling fad of the 70’s pushed by the same type of people pushing global warming).

Anyway, NASA recently came out with a report stating that the earth is cooling again. 2008 will go down as the coolest year since 2000. The article goes on to state this is the eighth warmest year on record, implying that this cooling is not good news on any front… but what do you expect these people pushing their agenda to say?

Oh by the way have you heard, Chicken Little just ran by and they sky is falling too!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Fun Facts

• A full 77 percent of Americans say they say "Merry Christmas," according to a FOX News poll released last Tuesday, December 16. For some people it's a dilemma: 21 percent say they feel obligated to say "Happy Holidays" -- incorporating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and, perhaps, the Winter Solstice or the Seinfeldian Festivus into their seasonal hello, but they are still a considerable minority.

• The word Christmas is Old English, a contraction of Christ's Mass.

• The first president to decorate the white house Christmas tree in the United States was Franklin Pierce.

• Electric lights for trees were first used in 1895.

• The first Christmas cards were vintage and invented in 1843, the Victorian Era.

• "It's a Wonderful Life" appears on TV more often than any other holiday movie.

• "Rudolph" was actually created by Montgomery Ward in the late 1930's for a holiday promotion. The rest is history.

• "Jingle Bells" was first written for Thanksgiving and then became one of the most popular Christmas songs.

• If you received all of the gifts in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas", you would receive 364 presents.

• The poinsettia plant was brought into the United States from Mexico by Joel Poinsett in the early 1800's.

• The first state to recognize the Christmas holiday officially was Alabama

• Christmas became a national holiday in America on June, 26, 1870.

• Coca Cola was the first beverage company to use Santa for a winter promotion.

• An angel told Mary she was going to have a baby.

• Clearing up a common misconception, in Greek, X means Christ. That is where the word "X-Mas" comes from. Not because someone took the "Christ" out of Christmas.

• The origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, an area in present day Turkey. By all accounts St. Nicholas was a generous man, particularly devoted to children. After his death around 340 A.D. he was buried in Myra, but in 1087 Italian sailors purportedly stole his remains and removed them to Bari, Italy, greatly increasing St. Nicholas' popularity throughout Europe. His kindness and reputation for generosity gave rise to claims he that he could perform miracles and devotion to him increased. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of Russia, where he was known by his red cape, flowing white beard, and bishop's mitre. Dutch colonists brought brought this tradition with them to America in the 17th century and here the Anglican name of Santa Claus emerged.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

President Bush = Cat-like Reflexes!

Yesterday some Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President Bush. He is being hailed as a terrorist by some, hero by others. To me this idiot needs to simply look back at his past and remember what life was like under his former president, Saddam Hussein. If that lunatic was still in office, this journalist would probably have been publicly executed in the most gruesome of fashions. It is one thing to be displeased with where you currently are, but don’t forget who gave you the freedom you now enjoy.

Many people have differing opinions on Bush and the Iraq War. According to the media, few if any agree with it, but you have to look at the facts. After 9/11, America was scared, insecure, and filled with nothing but questions. Since that time there have been zero domestic attacks… zero! President Bush may not be popular, but on this issue only he will go down as one of the great presidents.

Just think of that fact. If you would have asked any American if we could go over 7 years without another terror attack, my guess is that few, if any would have guessed that to be possible. Going into Iraq was on the premised that there were weapons of mass destruction, which evidence has proven to be false. My thought: who cares? A horrid dictator who executed a mass genocide of his own people has been removed from office (a fact no one seems to care about). A people has been liberated from oppression. A dictatorship has been replaced by a democracy. And as far as our selfish American society is concerned, the fight has been taken half-way across the world instead of on our turf.

In an odd way, President Bush should see this as a complement to his work. Because of his bold convictions, Iraqis now enjoy many of the freedoms we take for granted here in the States. Sure there was great sacrifice too, sacrifices I cannot begin to grasp, as many of our best gave their lives for the cause of freedom and security, but as Woodrow Wilson said, “To work for the common good is the greatest creed.”

Barak Obama is about to be president. I expect him to pull the troops out of Iraq quickly, as was a huge platform for his candidacy. It will be interesting to see how terrorist feel about our absence in Iraq. Will they leave us alone because we leave? Will they no longer care about the infidels they seek to destroy? Will Obama’s presence in the Oval office deter them at all? If you think the situation is going to get better, I would like to remind you that before 9/11 terrorism was not real, it was just something that we saw on news on the other side of the planet.

God bless President Bush and his cat-like reflexes. Seriously, it should hack off Americans that some vigilantly would attack our President. Shame on every American who thinks this was justified and is not outraged by it. George W. is our president, our representative, the current face of freedom for the world. This is a terrible action. In the same vain, considering the circumstances, it is awesome to have a president that can avoid shoes being hurled at him. And if you did not notice the sorry secret servicemen, it is also impressive to see that he did not need those slow reacting men to coddle him after the incident. He took it in stride and made light of it. Due to all of these facts, I am prouder of President Bush that I have been in a while. Hail the chief!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Daydreaming About Cars

I have recently made a huge change in my daydreaming world. One of the things I tend to do now and again is daydream about the kind of car I want. For years and years my daydreaming would lead me to the Nissan 350Z, but a shift has been made. After driving a Sentra, Altima, and Maxima (all Nissans), I have decided I simply do not care for Nissans.

My daydreaming (which equals a car I will most likely never buy for myself) over cars now leads me down two roads. The two cars I find myself thinking about are the Lexus IS 350 or an Acura TL.

Here is the good new for Nissan, it does not matter that I no longer prefer the 350Z over all other cars, because I was never going to purchase one in the first place. The Acura has the highest possibility of getting purchased by me, but my practicality will most likely lead me to another Honda Accord the next time I purchase a car!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

National Championship Dr. Pepper

Back in August I got this Dr. Pepper and decided to save it for one of two games, the OU National Championship game or the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl… needless to say I am planning on enjoying this wonderful beverage on January 8, 2009, sometime around 8:00 PM. Boomer Sooner!

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Doing The Most Good" - Salvation Army

Yesterday I actually read this sign, probably because there was no annoying bell ringer outside of the store I was heading into. It caught my eye and caused me think that it was funny that the Salvation Army is, “Doing The Most Good.” What an odd advertising slogan.

Are they trying to be competitive? Do they really think they are better than other charities? Why put that on there? To me, they are as I previously stated, annoying because solicit giving to your group through being obnoxious and shaming people.

Don’t get me wrong, they have good intentions and (from what I know about them) are rooted in Christian principles, but the sign is odd and their practices for raising funds are a turnoff to me. They would be doing more good if they would put the bells and shame-seekers away and let people give as they feel led… and get a new slogan too!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bogus Senate Selection Process

Obama is appalled by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Illinois is disgraced by their governor, and I am confused at the process. It seems absolutely ridiculous for a governor to appoint a senator in the first place. Each state votes on their representatives and if the elected official resigns, the people not politicians (corrupt or clean) should replace them.

USATODAY.com posted an article on this subject matter that I hope comes to pass. Here is part of the article: There's an effort underway to take the appointment power away from Blagojevich by scheduling a special election in Illinois to fill the remaining two years of Obama's term.

Blagojevich is obviously a corrupt man, but the senator replacement process is bogus too. Regardless of the time left in office, each state should have the right to vote on who they want to represent them, as opposed to one person getting to make the decision. Here's to the Senate seat being chosen by the people.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cole's Poll, December 7

There will be one more poll, but not until after the championship game. Florida is the early favorite (+3), and people are basically giving them the edge due to their defense. Another reason for the favoritism is due to “Big Game” Bob’s recent bowl struggles, which is somewhat fair. In thinking back to both games, it is hard to get motivated for Boise State or West Virginia. However, that is no excuse for losing to a loser school, or getting schooled by very motivated West Virginia Team. My prediction is that this year’s OU team will come out swinging and the game could very well come down to who has the ball last. I see OU beating Florida just like LSU did last year in what should surely be an instant classic that OU will be happy to watch again! Here is my final regular season poll:

1. OU
2. Florida
3. Texas
4. Texas Tech
5. USC
6. Penn State
7. Alabama
8. Utah
9. Cincinnati
10. Ohio State
11. TCU
12. Oklahoma State
13. Boise State
14. Georgia Tech
15. Oregon

• Oklahoma vs. Florida is going to be a great game. Hopefully, OU’s explosiveness will keep the Gators on their heels. It will be fun to root against Tebow too, who is one of the greatest people who has ever played football.
• Pittsburgh is all excited about getting to play in the Sun Bowl, the Sun Bowl. That is always a huge disappointment to everyone I know of, but in Pittsburgh they shouted with excitement about the game.
• Notre Dame kept Charlie Weis for another year and play Hawaii in the Hawaiian bowl, they might actually break their bowl losing streak.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jenks vs. Union

Being from Texas I have a natural bias towards Texas high school football. It was always my opinion that nobody did football like Texas, with the Mojo from Odessa Permian to the national prominence of South Lake Carroll. However, living in South Tulsa, Jenks and Union has changed my thinking. Overall, Oklahoma football cannot hold a stick to Texas high school football, but Jenks and Union is a different story.

For the thirteenth straight season, either Union or Jenks will win the Class 6A title. And, for the sixth time in the past 11 years, those two teams will meet each other in the championship game, which will be played Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.

This high school football rivalry has been called the biggest high school football in the nation. It’s so big that ESPN and Sports Illustrated have both spotlighted the “Backyard Bowl.” There is also a documentary called the King of the Mountain which highlighted the competition. To view more about this go to http://www.kingofthemountainthemovie.com.

This Friday Ben R. from my church suits up for Jenks to participate in his first state championship game, starting as a sophomore. It is my hope he dominates the OL and takes home his first of three state championships! If everything holds to form, it should be another classic that goes down to the wire.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

OU, Tech, & Texas

The recent Big XII controversy seems like smoke and mirrors to me. Why ESPN and Kirk Herbstreit especially would lobby so hard for Texas, makes no sense either. It is funny that those claiming that Texas was cheated by the system are failing to look at the whole story.

OU lost to Texas by 10. Texas lost to Tech by 6. Tech lost to OU by 44. Those are the 3 scores that are most important in this whole scenario. All 3 of them lost to each other. Just because Tech got blown out by OU does not eliminate them from consideration for the South title. Tech is the team that is getting hosed in the controversy. They beat Texas without controversy and should be considered for the BCS bowl based upon what Texas has been claiming is the most important factor in deciding such matters, head-to-head.

Neutral field has also been a hot topic, but why has no one mentioned that OU was dominating the game before their star defensive player left the game? If Ryan Reynolds would not have torn a knee ligament, the score would have been different. Texas’ loss to Tech can be blamed on a failure to execute by the true goat(s) of their season, Curtis Brown and/or Blake Gideon.

Concerning letting BCS rankings determine the division champion. It makes total sense and is the smartest way to handle a 3-way tie. Why? It puts the team with the best chance of winning a national championship in a position to win a national championship, which is the ultimate desire of every major conference. The only other fair way to determine a champion in a 3 team tie scenario is to look at the point differential between common opponents. In this scenario, OU would easily have won the South as well.

Now a special note to Texas fans and the rest of the whiners out there: Heed Mack Brown’s words (after they blew their season by choking at Tech,) “We need to be classy in defeat and give them credit for what they did.”

Kansas City

Sunday, November 30, 2008

College Bowl Pick'em

The Bowl Games will not be announced until Sunday, December 7, but I wanted to go ahead and invite you to join my Yahoo! Sports College Bowl Pick'em group.

To join my group, just follow this link. For reference, here's the group information:

Group ID#: 11467
Password: christy

-- College Bowl Pick'em

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cole's Poll, November 29

Going into today, I knew I could be really happy with the results or really, really disappointed. Joy came at watching Mizzou get knocked off by KU. Nerves set in watching Baylor almost upend Tech. Reality set in watching Bama roll over Auburn and Florida bite FSU. Then OU started playing and order was restored. Here is my updated poll:

1. Alabama
2. OU
3. Florida
4. Texas
5. Texas Tech
6. Penn State
7. USC
8. Utah
9. Cincinnati
10. Ohio State
11. TCU
12. Oklahoma State
13. Boise State
14. Ball State
15. Georgia Tech

 It is hard to believe how bad Notre Dame is, but they have a shot to end their drought by winning a sorry bowl.
 It is funny how Mack Brown thinks that Tech should be eliminated from consideration... but what do you expect a coach to say about a team that beat him!
 If OU were in most any other conference, they would have secured the tie-breaker by point differential with the 3-way tie atop the standings.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wish List Update

Chistmas shopping has begun, so it is time to update my wish list.

The point of this is for those of you who read this blog is to alleviate my annoying tendency of never knowing what I want for Christmas or birthday.

For ground rules, there are 3 things that will not make the official list, they will be givens if you will. Those 3 things are: 3 million dollars, my mortgage paid off, and an Acura TL 3.2 (although I would be more than happy with a Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or Prius - Black with Tan Leather Interior).

Without any further delay, my list:

1. Restaurant Gift Cards: This is a safe gift and always appreciated.

2. I know I am going to need a new lanmower, but unsure if I still want this one: Black & Decker Electric Lawnmower MM875 ($230)

3. Not sure that we need one of these now, but if we got a new grill, this is what I would like to have: Brinkman 810-8410S Gas Grill ($200 Home Depot)

4. 32" Plasma TV (Best Buy has a Samsung for $499 right now, but it is hard for me to justify spending that much on TV, although it would be great to have during football season).

5. Cable TV: We are one of the 4 families in America without some form of cable TV... I would like to have it, but wonder if it is worth $40-50 a month.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

3 Words from Satan: Shut Your Mouth

During our trip to Athens our team only had three bad things happen… and they all happened to me. My luggage was lost by the worst airline ever, Alitalia. On our first full day in our neighborhood we are working with, I rolled my ankle to the point where I did not think I would be able to walk (God healed that ankle too!). Then on our best day, the day where the municipality officials invited us back for future trips to work with them, Satan spoke to us.

My initial response was not this strong, but Cody J’s words on Sunday night confirmed those thoughts. That Thursday, we were invited or allowed to go into the schools and observe the kids in their activities. To our surprise, the instructor allowed our team to lead the basketball sessions, which was awesome. Following the basketball, we went to watch Athens take on their rivals, Istanbul.

During the game, the athletic director invited our contact to sit with him and introduced him to the mayor. The assistant athletic director spoke to me at half-time and gave us multiple dates when they would like us to come again. It was an awesome scene and incredible night for all of us… then we got on the bus to head back to the hotel.

Some were seated and a few of us were standing on the bus. This elder gentleman about 60 came on the bus and the following happened:
Cole: Hey, how are you doing?
Satan: You talking to me?
Cole: Yes, how are you doing?
Satan: Do you know me?
Cole: No.
Satan: Shut your mouth!
Cole: Excuse me?
Satan: Shut your mouth (as he takes his seat)!
Cole to Jamie: Did that just happen?
Jamie: Yeah, I think it just did.
- about 20 seconds pass although it feels like days –
Cole to the group: Well, every time God does something great Satan rears his head.
Justin: Yeah, but you don’t expect him to wear a suit.

It was a really odd situation. The only time on either of my Greece trips where anyone has been blatantly rude. Sunday night, Cody spoke of the event in closing. He said something along the lines that he knew we were supposed to be there because of the what happened while we were there and how God used him in different ways than he expected (he and his brother Justin did great sharing their testimonies). For him, the final confirmation came when Satan spoke to us through that grumpy old man those three words he has been telling people for centuries, “Shut your mouth.”

All of me wants to be like Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.) and the apostles, (Acts 4:20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard). Satan wants us to shut our mouth, Jesus in us makes that impossible! May we keep our mouths open sharing the Good News.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cole's Poll, November 22

1. Alabama
2. OU
3. Florida
4. Texas
5. Texas Tech
6. Penn State
7. USC
8. Oklahoma State
9. Mizzou
10. Ohio State
11. Georgia
12. Utah
13. TCU
14. Cincinnati
15. Boise State

• Notre Dame lost to Syracuse, SYRACUSE!!! I wonder what Charlie will be doing next year.
• Lloyd Carr must be laughing at the Michigan fans right about now.
• I thought OU would beat Tech by double digits, but that beating was way unexpected.

Lighting a Legacy Review

This fall we had a capital stewardship campaign called Lighting a Legacy. Our campaign verse was 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, ‘Let the light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Our hope was for our people get connected to God in a life-altering way.

We initially decided to use a capital stewardship company and here is a breakdown of what they said they could raise with fees ranging from $25,000 - $60,000 + printed materials and food:

BGCO – 1-2 times annual budget
CSSI – 3-3.5 times annual budget
Generis – 1.5-3 times annual budget
RSI – 2.5-3.2 times annual budget

In the end though, we decided to run our campaign ourselves. For over a year we prayed, researched, planned, prepared, and worked on this great task, and God abundantly blessed the work of our hands. Incredibly, we took more in than the experts had told us was possible (and raised $3,658,643.94); proof that God was in it and that only He can get the credit it for it!

There were many incredible facets of Lighting a Legacy. It was awesome to watch people step up and get involved in the campaign. Justin J. amazed me with the quality of his branding/design work and willingness to serve. Mary D. was extremely organized with a fun spirit setting up meals. Ron M.’s testimony was simply incredible.

First Baptist Jenks’ participation was fantastic too. From preschool to senior adults, everyone participated in the effort. Our youth had pink flamingo flockings to raise funds for the relocation; our preschoolers culminated their gifts walking into the sanctuary singing “This Little Light of Mine;” and our testimony-commitment Sunday service left everyone in tears as we saw how God moved in Jerry & Demie’s heart.

Lighting a Legacy was simply incredible, but it is not over, it is just beginning. God has started a new work here. This work is simply leading the way for us to SHINE in the coming year. I am grateful to be a part of this and pray that God will continue to do that which only He can get the credit for!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lighting a Legacy Video

We are in the relocation process here are First Baptist Jenks. This is what our new building will look like with the exception of some colors. We are really excited about the direction God has given us as a church.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Romo, Romo, Romo...

Tony Romo is one heck of a guy. Today on there is an article talking about how he served and befriended a homeless man named Doc. There is also mention of him helping a couple back in September, on his way home from a football game, change their tire on the side of the road. Not only is Romo fun to watch, this makes him easy to root for… at least for anyone who has common sense and a hint of kindness!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Swatch

I think this is somewhat funny and amusing... to me anyway. I own a new watch, and it is a Swatch! While on our Athens trip my luggage was lost (for 3 days), had no watch and was late twice on the same day, thus decided to just purchase a watch. Here is what I got:

Why a Swatch? Why not! It is the sort of thing I would never buy myself, so when my insurance luggage came into to play, a Swatch it was… I also bought a black pair of Pumas, another thing I typically would not have purchased. Thank goodness for American Express travel insurance!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cole's Poll, November 15

Here is my poll for this week. My rankings are based upon what teams deserve, not where I think they will end up at the end of the year. For my prediction on their final ranking entering the bowl season, look in parenthesis.

1. Texas Tech (4)
2. Alabama (6)
3. Florida (1)
4. Texas (3)
5. Oklahoma (2)
6. USC (5)
7. Oklahoma State (9)
8. Penn State (7)
9. Mizzou (13)
10. Utah (8)
11. Georgia (12)
12. Boise State (11)
13. Ohio State (10)
14. Michigan State (15)
15. Ball State (14)

• LSU is ridiculous… Getting pounced by Troy, somehow they score 30 in the 4th to win the game!
• Michigan and Notre Dame are embarrassing to their own tradition…
• The next few weeks of college football are going to be awesome!

Sick, Sick World

We live in a sick, sick world! Today I was looking at a few things, giving a friend a hard time then came across this article, “POLICE RAIDS REVEAL ALLEGED NETWORK OF 'BABY FARMS'”

You have got to be kidding me. The depravity of people around the world is disgustingly mind-boggling! Here is the article I am referring to in which police discovered a baby farm where pregnant girls were tricked into giving birth, and their babies were sold for cash… I hope this doctor and the rest of these people find themselves in a prison for the rest of their lives. Part of me wants to wish bigger on these sick people, but it would probably be best for me stop short.

As if this story was not troubling enough, a little research showed that this is one of many so-called “Baby Farm” across Nigeria and Africa. One articles started off by saying, “Police Raid Another Baby Factory”… ANOTHER one! Good grief our world is sick!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Biblical Predictions

Last night we did a study on Islam. One of the things I found interesting is that there are zero predictions in the Qu’ran, zero! To contrast, here is a breakdown of predictions in the Bible:

The Bible has a total of 31,103 verses, 8,352 of which are prophetic; they speak of things yet to come. All biblical predictions about the future can be grouped into 737 different predictions. Of the 8,352 verses, 6,312 (or 522 different predictions) have already happened exactly as God’s Word said they would.

- Taken from J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Studies

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Scripture Comes Alive in Corinth

On our trip we went to Corinth and it was really cool. Although I have never been geeked about archeology my time in Corinth made me really appreciate it. We got to see many things mentioned in 1 & 2 Corinthians and Acts, which was awesome in that is makes Scripture come alive.

We also witnessed the filth and degradation of the people of the time. They had all different kinds of immorality going on back in the day, to the point where an insult to one acting poorly was to call them a Corinthian… maybe like saying they have a sailors mouth. Anyway, we saw the market where Paul probably sold tents during his year and half there,

the bema seat,

the alter where burnt offerings were made to idols and more,

but my favorite part was where the racers would practice.

There were starting blocks, really more like indentions made in the stone for the racers. It made the passage all the passages about running the race come alive in my mind. It was also neat to see how Paul was able to use real examples from his day to help explain the Word of God. The starting blocks were in a part of town where Paul could very easily overlook them as he was working.

Our guide was great to show us these things and explain the significance of the area. God’s Word is awesome, and being able to experience the ruins of where the New Testament speaks of will impact me forever. God is great!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cole's Poll, November 9

I'm doing my best to stay awake before my flight, so two posts closer together than usual. Having limited information from yesterday's games, he is my latest edition of my college football poll:

1. Texas Tech
2. Alabama
3. Texas
4. Oklahoma
5. Florida
6. USC
7. Utah
8. Oklahoma State
9. Mizzou
10. Georgia
11. Penn State
12. Ohio State
13. UNC
14. Ball State
15. Boise State

• OU will beat Tech and hope to climb ahead of Texas.
• Florida will beat Bama in the SEC Championship.
• I will never like Boise or Ohio State!

Alitalia: Worst Airline Ever

So Alitalia Air lost my luggage... for the second time this trip!

The flight home was actually not bad as the seat next to me was empty, which allowed me to stretch out. The stewardesses were actually nice this trip, as opposed to the way over there, which was a pleasant change. Having movies on my ipod was also a big plus... but I would never fly with them again.

Over 20 people had their luggage lost in Athens and Chicago. Their seats are cheap, the food is worse than typical bad airline food, and they have old school single movie viewing (as opposed to your own mini screen).

Anyway, stay away from Alitalia Airlines if at all possible!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Headed Home

Although in Tulsa it is Saturday, November 8 at 10:55 PM, it is 6:55 AM Athens time. Right now I should be headed to Rome, where I will spend 2 hours and 5 minutes. Then I will fly 11 hours to Chicago, where I will spend 8 hours before jumping on my final plane landing in Tulsa at 10:10 PM, Sunday November 9.

I am so excited about seeing Christy, Chloe and Coleman!!! Please pray for safe travels. Christy, give the kiddos hugs and kisses for me and tell them I will see them soon!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Incredible Partnership Started!

Thursday we had the opportunity we prayed for over the past several months. We were able to go into the schools and come alongside their sports programs… the best case scenario, unbelievable.

Once we arrived in the schools for the basketball program the director looked at us and so something like, “okay, you lead them now.” Unbelievable! We proceeded to lead in basic basketball drills, which we had not prepared, but it worked out great. Later, we went to a professional ladies basketball game where a Athens played a team from Istanbul; Istanbul was supposed to crush them, but Athens played tough and only lost by 3.

The most incredible part of the day (trip) was that evening. Kostas, the sports director, invited the main man we are working with to sit by him… incredible. During the game, Niki, the assistant sports director, told me she had heard wonderful things from her people and wanted to know when we were coming back. She was so excited about our work that she listed dates in March, June, and other summer possibilities… incredible!

Anyway, today was a good day, great even! We were able to get into the schools again and had a great day leading basketball again. All of the kids (and parents) were elated to see us. The city officials invited us back again, asking us if and when we can come back... totally incredible. We have been blessed as a group and are really excited about the partnership that will last for years to come. This has been an incredible week!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Huge Day in Holagros

Today at 11:00 AM we are having our meeting with the community/school leaders in Holagros. Our main hope for this trip is to lay a solid foundation for a partnership that will last for years. As of now, we are supposed to go into the schools, coming alongside of the work they already do (specifically with basketball), for the purpose of leading future events (such as basketball tournaments) in the future. Here is a picture of city hall:

If everything were to work out perfectly, we could eventually bring our own basketball team in to compete and have exhibition games against their teams. This should open the door for our group to do other things, like teach English within their schools. Here is a picture of their school:

Pray for an equal excitement and desire to work with one another… the possibilities are truly grand.

p.s. Thanks to my AMEX lost luggage policy, I get to replace most of my clothing that has yet to arrive!

Mars Hill Message

Right about now, I am delivering a really cool message. A group of people from First Jenks are in Athens shining and sharing this week. On the eve of our first day, we are going to be on Mars Hill sharing God’s Word, singing and praying. If you are missing the impact of the setting, read this from Acts 17:

16Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, "What does this babbler wish to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities"—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean." 21Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. 22So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28for "'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.' 29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." 32Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, "We will hear you again about this." 33So Paul went out from their midst. 34But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Twelve others and myself will be returning November 9th, your prayers would be considered (feel free to pray that I/we stay out of jail this go around too)!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cole's Poll, November 1

The eyes of Texas are filled with tears; Penn State is filled with jeers; more losses for top 5 school is near. My Top 15 with comments/prediction:

1. Texas Tech (will lose at least once)
2. Penn State (will finish undefeated)
3. Alabama (will lose in the SEC championship)
4. Texas (is crushed)
5. Oklahoma (will finish the regular season with one loss)
6. Florida (see OU)
7. Oklahoma State (will lose two more times)
8. Mizzou (got lucky against Baylor)
9. USC (Pac-1 champ has no heart)
10. TCU (lone loss to OU is respectable, even if they got beat down)
12. Utah (should be afraid of TCU)
11. Georgia (tuck tail and run)
13. Ohio State (pretenders should be glad they play in such a sorry conference)
14. Boise State (Overrated…)
15. Ball State (No, I am not serious about this one)

• The BCS championship game will be Penn State vs. Florida or OU.
- OU will have to pound OSU and Tech to the title game.
- Florida just has to win out and beat Bama by more than a touchdown.
• Tulsa and Ohio State are the same: they fold against real competition.

Decision 08: Abortion

I have been flabbergasted by the lack of prominence abortion has taken in this election. The future of Roe v. Wade is at stake, and it seems as though no one is talking about it... why? To be clear, McCain is Pro-Life and Obama is Pro-Choice.

McCain has been clear to say that life begins at conception, while Obama states that, "Whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade." Above the President of the United States pay grade?!?!? Anyway, here are some articles on the issue:
TIME: McCain and Obama on Abortion
WASHINGTONPOST: Obama's Abortion Extremism
WORLDNEYDAILY: Why Jesus Would Note Vote For Barak Obama
POLITICO: Obama Ad Slams McCain on Abortion Rights

For me this has been a clear question on what is most important to the voter, because the positions on social issues are crystal clear. So what is the most important to you? Economics, Iraq, Global Warming, Family Values, or Human Life? Vote your conscience on Tuesday.

Friday, October 31, 2008

$1.92 a Gallon!

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation about the falling gas prices (they were about $2.29 at that time). The question was if I thought the gas prices would fall below $2.00 a gallon, my response was no way. My thought was that big oil would never let us see that day again, and I was wrong... and being wrong never felt better. Here's to gas prices continuing to fall. Maybe by the time I get back from Greece they will be below $1.50.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Simple (One-Verse) Way to Share

I am preparing for a trip to Athens and wanted to refresh my evangelism knowledge. This is a way to share Christ that I had learned years ago, and was pleased to stumble upon. It is simple and effective.

Here's a brief look at how it works. Let's say God's leading you to share the Gospel with your neighbor, Julius. Write out Romans 6:23 on a piece of paper or a napkin: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (NIV). Then put your Bible away. Ask Julius if he would like to see a simple picture based on this verse that will explain God's relationship with people.

Circle this word and ask, "How would you feel if your boss refused to pay you the wages that were due to you?" Deep down, we all know that it is only right that we get what we deserve. Similarly, we earn wages from God for how we have lived our lives.

Draw a circle around "sin," asking your friend what he thinks when he hears this word. You might explain that sin is more an attitude than an action. It can be either actively fighting God or merely excluding Him from our lives. You can ask, "Has God ever seemed far away?" If he says "Yes," add that that's one of the things sin does-it makes God seem far away. Now draw two opposing cliffs with a gap in between.

Circle this word and ask what thoughts come to mind. Explain that death in the Bible always means some kind of separation.

While circling this word, mention that it is important because it means that a sharp contrast in thought is coming. What we have just looked at is bad news; what follows is good news.

Draw a circle around this word. Ask, "If wages are what a person earns, then what is a gift?" Remind your friend that someone must purchase every gift.

Circle this and explain that the gift you are talking about is free. It is from God Himself. It's so special that no one else can give it. Ask, "How do you feel when someone gives you a special gift?"

Circle these two words next, and then ask, "How would you define these words?" Contrast one side of the cliff, death, with the other side, eternal life. Ask, "What is the opposite of separation from God?"

Draw these words so they create a bridge between the two cliffs. Help your friend to consider that every gift has a giver, and only Jesus Christ can give the gift of eternal life.

Write this word over the bridge you just drew. Explain that friends trust each other, and tell your friend that Jesus wants a trusting friendship with him. All he has to do is admit that he is responsible for the "sin" of either fighting or excluding God from his life. That is what trust means-trusting that Jesus wants to forgive us for rejecting Him from our lives. At this point, you can ask him if he wants to start a relationship with God that will last forever. If he says "Yes," invite him to pray a short prayer in his own words, asking Jesus to forgive him.

Close by reminding him that this simple illustration shows what God is like: Someone who really cares about people, especially him. Invite him to read all about it in the Bible, perhaps beginning in the gospel of John.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Redistribution of Wealth (part 2)

This is a hot topic in Decision 08, so I wanted to post it if you have yet to hear Obama's explanation of redistribution of wealth from his own mouth. Here you go,

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cole's Poll, October 25

Today I spent the majority of my time working on the siding of our house instead of watching football, but… I knew I was not going to be able to watch OU play, I knew either Texas or Ok State would win, and I knew that the Penn State game would not be on until late, so no big loss. With that in mind here is my latest weekly college football top 15 installment:

My Top 15:
1. Texas
2. Penn State
3. Alabama
4. Oklahoma
5. Florida
6. Texas Tech
7. Georgia
8. Oklahoma State
9. USC
10. Mizzou
11. Utah
12. TCU
13. Ohio State
14. Tulsa
15. Boise State

• Navy played SMU today and had 77 offense plays for 404 yards… they never passed that ball, not even once! This is old-school-retro football. What do you think June Jones is thinking now that he is getting humiliated in Dallas (SMU is 1-8) after bolting the high life in Hawaii… he is not smart.
• Ok state played Texas better than I thought they would and USC is playing just like I thought they would, uninspired and without heart... I hope Zona wins.
• It looks like Penn State could get left out of the Championship game. Bama has no one left on their schedule until the SEC Championship game, and even if Jo Pa is 100 years old, a school from the Big 1 does not deserve to play in the title game if schools from real conferences go undefeated.

Wealth Redistribution

Here are a couple takes on the wealth redistribution tax plan I found amusing:

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed. Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference -- just imagine the coincidence. When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight. I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful. At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment, I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money that he had earned even though the actual recipient deserved money more. I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application. – A friend of mine forwarded this to me.

I am not one of the people who would be adversely affected by it, as I cannot ever see myself making over $250,000 annually as a minister. With that in mind, I still do not think it is fair at all to tax the wealthy more because they happen to have more monetary success. Not only is it not fair, the concept makes no sense in government or any other walk of life. The though of penalizing those who work hard at their skill trade and are most successful is ridiculous!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Top 10 Bizarre Bible Stories

The Bible is full of many fascinating stories, and some that are just bizarre - here are my Top 10 Bizarre Bible Stories:

10. Jacob and the case of the magical genetics (Genesis 30:37-39)
And the most bizarre tale in the Bible goes too…this head-scratcher from Genesis, with its utterly bemusing explanation of the genetic code. Basically, Laban is taking all of Jacob’s beloved striped and spotted cattle. Jacob is left with boring old, plain-colored cattle, which he doesn’t seem to like at all. So Jacob concocts a cunning plan: he gets some sticks and begins painting stripes on them. He then plants them next to his cattle. What Jacob thinks is that if he gets his cattle to look at the striped sticks while copulating, then they will give birth to striped young. Now, we’d all expect this idiotic plan to fail and Jacob to learn a lesson about something or other, but no it actually works. The cattle give birth to striped young, and Jacob is happy. What on earth is going on here? Anyone with the most basic understanding of genetics knows that this is bunk. The odd thing is that this story seems to have no purpose and moral – it’s just there. And I can’t help wondering how many scientists with painted sticks had attempted to repeat this process before Mendel came along and said, “I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s supposed to happen fellas, why don’t we try this instead?”
The moral of this story? Your guess is as good as mine.

9. Jesus and the fig tree (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:13-14)
So, Jesus is walking from Bethany and he encounters a fig tree, but unfortunately it is barren as it’s the off season for figs. Jesus curses the fig tree to death. This story is bizarre for many reasons, but mainly for how little it means to the Jesus story. Okay, so he’s hungry, and the fig tree pays the price for not bearing fruit.
The moral of this story? Bear fruit in and out of season…?

8. A very disturbing tale (Judges 19:22-30)
This story is utterly bizarre, as well as disgusting. A man and his concubine are wandering the streets when they decide to seek shelter for the night, and find a man kind enough to let them stay. That night however, a group of men turn up at the door and demand to see the guest so that they may have sex with him. The owner is unwilling to let his male lodger be raped and so offers up his virgin daughter instead. However, this is still not good enough for the men, so the owner offers them his guest’s concubine and the men accept. The men brutally rape the woman and leave her on the doorstep where she bleeds to death. If that is not enough, when she is found by her husband, he chops her up into twelve pieces which he sends to each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The moral of this story? I am not sure.

7. Eglon’s ignoble death (Judges 3:21-25)
Ehud is the Bible’s sneakiest assassin (and also the only left-handed person mentioned in the Holy Book). He is on a mission to deliver a “message from God” to smarmy King Eglon. Ehud waltzes in to meet the gluttonous king, pulls out a sword and stabs Eglon in the stomach. At first he can’t get it in, but he pushes harder and eventually reaches his intestine. Eglon is so overweight that his fat actually covers the hilt of the sword, pushing it further into his stomach until it’s not even visible. It’s at this point that Eglon loses control of his bowels and begins to defecate mercilessly all over his chamber. The King’s attendants eventually come back, but do not enter Eglon’s bed chamber, assuming he is relieving himself. After waiting “to the point of embarrassment”, his attendants burst in to find their king dead on the floor, covered in his own fecal matter. Meanwhile, Ehud had escaped to the town of Seriah.
The moral of this story? Who knows!

6. Onan – cautious, yet foolish (Genesis 38:8-10)
God kills Er, we don’t really find out why. However, in a stroke of good luck, Er’s father Judah, gives Onan the duty to have sex with his dead brother’s wife. Onan is a bit apprehensive at first, but agrees to go through with this bizarre scheme to create a ‘true heir’ to Er. He begins to have sex with the girl, but “waste his seed upon the ground.” God is so irked he decides to kill Onan too, and thus nobody gets an heir.
The moral of this story? “Be fruitful and multiply”

5. Slicing Psycho (Exodus 4:24-26)
Continuing the Bible’s fascination with all things foreskin, we get the bizarre story of God trying to kill Moses because his son isn’t circumcised. God is about to obliterate Moses when his wife Zipporah takes out a flint and quickly cuts the foreskin of his son (ouch), throwing the bloody skin fragment at Moses’ feet. “You are a bloody husband to me!” squeals Zipporah, flint in one hand, child in other. God, clearly freaked out by this woman, backs off and Moses is saved.
The moral of this story? Never turn down a woman for being a psycho. Someday she may save your life.

4. Don’t mock male pattern baldness (4 Kings 2:23-24)
One of the more inspirational passages in the Bible tells the story of Elijah, a wise man, yet one cursed with male pattern baldness. One day he was minding his own business, making the long walk to Bethel, when he is attacked by a roving band of children who tease him with names like “bald head.” But Elijah was having none of this, he turns round and curses them in the name of the Lord, and instantly two female bears emerge from a nearby wood and maul all 42 children to death.
The moral of this story? Don’t make fun of bald people. I think it would serve as an excellent lesson for children who think baldness is something to be made fun of.

3. A novel way to show your love (1 Kings 18:25-27)
Before Byron, before Casanova, there was David. Young and in love, David desperately wants to marry Saul’s daughter Michal and offers Saul anything he wants to let him marry her. What could Saul possibly want? Money? A vow of love? No. Saul wants foreskins. 100 to be exact. Why? Who cares. If you want my daughter, you’re going to have to find 100 foreskins by tomorrow. David finds this odd, but then again this girl is hot, so he goes out and kills 200 men, and collects their foreskins. It’s only then he remembers that he only needs 100 foreskins. Oops. Oh well, maybe if he hands over twice as many foreskins, Saul will be doubly as impressed. Indeed he is and duly hands over his daughter to David.
The moral of this story? Never be ashamed to do crazy things for love.

2. Balaam and his talking donkey (Numbers 22:28-30)
Balaam is just minding his own business, spanking his donkey when suddenly he hears a voice. It’s his donkey who is asking him why he is spanking him. Balaam doesn’t seem the least bit miffed that his donkey has starting talking in the same language as him and says, “Because thou hast mocked me.” The donkey then gets philosophical and explains the nature of their relationship and how his feelings have been hurt. Eventually they make peace. Oh yeah did I mention it was TALKING DONKEY?
The moral of this story? Don’t beat animals. If they could talk then they would probably tell you how upset they were.

1. Paul’s preaching kills… literally (Acts 20:7-12)
Paul is preaching and in the midst of his sermon Eutychus was sitting on a window ledge, falls asleep, out the widow and dies. Paul stops his sermon, revives the boy and then continues on with his message. For those of us who think Paul must have been a dynamic speaker, apparently even he had days where he was off!
The moral of this story? Sermon time is not nap time!

Honorable Mention: Ezekiel 23 is just odd.

This is the last of my Top 10 Bible stories. (Some content was taken from www.listverse.com)