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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trunk Monkeys

These are a little dumb, but they make me laugh. Without further ado, here are the Trunk Monkeys:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Toy: Made In China

As a father I often worry about my kids. I want to make sure that they are well taken care of and they are not exposed to anything dangerous that would definitely harm them. Sometimes it is easy, for instance this slide is an easy no-no!

However there are times where it is not as easy to determine what is safe and what is dangerous. Coleman has this toy he likes to chew on, it is colorful, looks funny, makes noise, but I am not sure if it is toxic or nontoxic. It was made in China, and if you follow the news, you know that they used a bunch of lead based paint on children’s toys… here is a picture:

What I would like is your opinion. Do you think this is a safe or should I not chance it? Thank you for your input.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cole's Poll, October 18

Happy Sweetest Day to those of you who follow Hallmark's made-up holidays. One of the sweetest things I enjoy is college football, and today was a much better day for me than last Saturday (Boomer Sooner). There were few surprises or close games for that matter this week, but college football is still great! Here is my weekly installment of my top 15:

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

• Mizzou proved they just don’t belong, thus the reason Oklahoma State dropped in my rankings.
• BYU proved to be a bunch of losers and Boise State is now going to be way overrated.
• I do not feel good about my 13, 14, & 15, but cannot justify putting Tulsa, TCU, Ball State or Pittsburgh in my top 15 so it Kansas, Mizzou, & Boise State.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thoughts and Questions to Keep Your Passion Thriving

I hate to be a hack and steal other people’s thoughts or claim them as my own, so please note that this is a post by Todd Rhoads and I am only posting it because I do not want to forget these questions. They are great for keeping your passion! Here is what he wrote, and here is a link to his post:

Last week at Catalyst, Perry Noble shared the four questions that he constantly asks himself to make sure he's keeping his passion. Perry is the pastor at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC. These are great questions all of us need to ask ourselves regularly to make sure that we doesn’t lose out passion for Jesus, the church, and ministry. Here they are:

1. How much time do I spend listening to God? Perry said that leadership is as simple as listening to God. But in order to listen to God, it takes time… consistent, uninterrupted time.

2. Am I more concerned with being discovered or being developed? This is a constant temptation for Perry and most other great leaders that I know. You must stop thinking constantly about what other people think of you or your ministry (and stop trying to impress them!) and instead, allow God to develop your relationships with others and Him. Also allow God to develop your character and your ministry skills.

3. Am I believing any lies? Perry mentioned that every leader believes certain lies throughout their ministries that hold them back, and in fact, admitted to running from some really stupid things in his ministry. Don’t allow your critics to doubt what God is calling you to do. And when you get depressed or discouraged, simply go back to where God found you. There you will find the strength and answers and fortitude to move forward and not give up.

4. Am I risking or am I playing it safe. According to Perry, great leaders must constantly risk. Many pastors, in fact, are one risk away from a breakthrough. Perry is not afraid to fail. Here’s how he looks at leadership: “Take a risk… fail… take another risk.” If God tells you to do something, do it… even if others think you’re crazy.

My Thoughts: Number 4 is my favorite question. It is so easy in ministry to play it safe and go along with status quo, but what good is that. The famous words, “but we have always done it that way” are only a mere statement of history not and indicator of the future. At First Jenks, we have constantly made risks for the purpose of fulfilling the calling God has placed on our church, “to know Christ and make Him known” or more specifically, “to transform Jenks and the surrounding community for His glory.”

It would have been easier to stay in one worship service. It would have been safe to keep Bible Fellowship based on age instead of adding life-stages. It would have been safe to save our money instead of purchase 27 acres. It would have been safe to stay in our current location instead of selling our property to the school and planning a relocation… but God is good, not safe.

It is my hope that anyone who reads this will be challenged as I have been by Todd’s post about Perry Noble’s 4 questions to keep your passion thriving.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

College Football Top 15, October 11

On Saturday, October 11, 2008, 3 of the top 5 rated teams in the country lost. To be more clear, OU lost by 10 in a rivalry neutral site game, LSU got murdered in the Swamp, and Mizzou got beat at home by Ok State. Tomorrow, the AP and Coaches will put out their top 25 polls, but I decided to put mine out tonight.

My Top 15:
1. Texas
2. Alabama
3. Penn State
4. Texas Tech
5. Oklahoma State
6. USC
7. Oklahoma
8. Florida
9. Georgia
10. Missouri
11. Ohio State
12. Kansas
13. LSU
14. BYU
15. Utah

• I do not believe that Oklahoma State is better than USC, OU, or Florida, but they are undefeated and beat Mizzou in Columbia, so until they get beat they deserve the ranking.
• How anyone would put BYU in the top 10 is beyond me too!
• Although I am disappointed in the OU loss, I must say I still love me some college football!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Google Reader

A couple friends told me about Google Reader about a year ago and I want to share it with the three people who read my blog. Google reader is a phenomenal tool that chops surfing town down exponentially. For instance, if you spend an hour or two just surfing websites, you can cut that time down to 10-15 minutes, while avoiding ads and pop-ups common with many websites. Google Reader works like an email account; you login to it and it sends you updates from all of the websites you subscribe to. Anytime there is an update, it is automatically sent to your account. So, if you already have gmail, all you have to do is go to the My Account, click on Reader, and start subscribing to whichever websites or blogs you enjoy (if you don’t have a gmail account, it is free and definitely worth your time). For me it is great, because I can get all the updates I want on the things that interest me.

Here is Google Reader in Plain English:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

OBU Breaking News

Friday, October 10, the OBU trustees will vote to finalize the decision of the presidential search team's selection of Dr. David Whitlock to become OBU's next president. He has no direct ties to OBU, but is noted for being an educator, pastor of small churches, and leader (he authored books on the subject). Below is some information on the man they have selected...

David W. Whitlock, BS, MBA, PhD
Assistant to the President for Strategic Planning
Dean of the College of Business and Computer Science

Disciplines: Management and Marketing
Courses Taught: Undergraduate: Introduction to Business; Graduate—Organizational Behavior, Critical Thinking and Decision Making, and Strategic Thinking and Planning.
Why do you enjoy teaching at SBU? “I enjoy teaching at SBU because of the team effort within the College of Business and Computer Science to provide students with excellent academics and a faith-based approach to our disciplines.”
Educational Background: Dr. Whitlock has a Bachelor of Science from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, a Master of Business Administration from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma.
Faith Dedications: Dr. Whitlock is a bivocational minister and preaches every other week at Wellspring Baptist Fellowship in Bolivar.
Interests and Hobbies: Reading, traveling, pottery, writing, and spending time with his wife and four sons.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Perfect Sunday

Yesterday was one of the best days I have had in a longtime, only bested by the day I was able to play golf and then take my family to the OU vs. Cincinnati game! As a short recap of yesterday, we had an incredible church service where God moved and the Spirit presence created a warm excitement in the body for our vision, I then flew with my buddy to watch the Dallas Cowboys beat down Cincy. It was a great day and it goes without saying that I am truly blessed with my family (being cool with me going to the game and my in-laws hooking us up with the tickets), my church (Lighting a Legacy has been tremendous and the family is responding so favorably), and my friends! On the other end of the spectrum were the Houston Texans and their fans. Look at what happened to them, this is unbelievable:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Top 10 Bible Stories for Children

Since I did my list for adults, I figured why not do a list for children too. Here it is:

1. Creation
2. Adam & Eve
3. Noah and the Ark
4. David and Goliath
5. Moses and the Red Sea
6. Daniel in the Lion’s Den
7. Joshua and the Walls of Jericho
8. Jonah and the Whale
9. The Birth of Jesus
10. The Passion of Christ (Most important story of all)

Honorable Mention: Father Abraham; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; Zaccheus and the Tree; Feeding of the 5,000

Again, please share your thoughts on this list.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Top 10 Bible Stories for Adults

Recently, I met with a guy from church who wanted to learn more about the Bible and grow in His walk with God. Having not grown up in church, he does not know many of the stories in the Bible that most of us who grew up in the church have tucked away in the back of our mind. He asked me to point him towards some stories in the Bible and it made me wonder which stories would make up the top 10.

What I would like is to share my top 10 and ask you for your comments on which ones I left out and/or honorable mentions. Please respond as this list will be a great reference for new Christ-followers in the future. Here is my list:

1. The birth of Jesus
2. Jesus’ betrayal, death, burial, & resurrection
3. Creation
4. Adam & Eve
5. Exodus (10 Commandments included)
6. Noah’s Ark and the Flood
7. David & Goliath
8. Feeding of the 5,000
9. Joseph’s Story
10. Daniel and the Lion’s Den

Honorable Mentions: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; Saul’s Conversion; Zaccheus and the Tree; Abraham & Isaac; Jonah & the Whale; Lazarus Raised from the Dead

Please let me know your top 10 too!