Operation Christmas Tree

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I wasn’t sure how I was going to pull it off, but I really wanted to get a Christmas tree for the boys since they will be with me for Christmas. I knew I had a tight budget to work with and was hoping that I could use my bonus from the country club to pay for the tree. I was truly grateful I got a bonus. My other two part-time jobs offer nothing in the way of bonuses. Having anything at all in such a situation is a plus.

Last night I told the boys getting a tree was our plan for today, so they were ready to go this morning when we headed out. I had a bunch of ideas running through my head: a real tree? Maybe. I fake tree? Preferable. Cut something down on my father’s ranch for no initial cost, but definitely a trip to the ER? Better not.

Andy wanted a plastic tree because he was worried about allergies. So we stopped at Lowe’s to see what kind of fake trees they had for sale. Nothing. Nothing was on sale even when it was on sale. It was way out of my budget. Come on, $159.00 for a four-foot tree? Nope. Not today.

So we sauntered over to the live trees since they had one for $24. I thought I could afford that. I asked one of the ladies in that area about the trees, she said, “all our trees are for $10 a piece.” That means I could have bought a large one for $10. I was grateful. We found one and they trimmed it, wrapped it up and we carried out it… for only TEN DOLLARS! Can you tell I was excited to get it on sale.IMG_0924

Then we had to load it up on the 2000 Saturn Station Wagon Chick Magnet. It was a small tree, but still too big to fit inside. I figured a few bungee cords would do the trick. Before we left the house, I loaded up my bags of bungee cords and rope. The boys were not satisfied with my bungee cords and pulled out the rope and started tying up the tree. It was quite a feat.

IMG_0926When my Dad saw the tree tied to the top of the Chick Magnet he laughed and asked if I thought I was really going to be able to untie it all. I have to admit, I’m quite proud of both boys. I think they used four ropes in all, and wrapped them back and forth at least twice for each rope. Yes, it did take a while to untie them. But that tree wasn’t going anywhere and for an ex-Coastie, that makes me proud.

Then, we got it inside the house, got it mounted and I started working on the lights. I had planned on using decorations from the storage unit, but when we went out there to get the Christmas-tree stand, I couldn’t find any. I must have thrown them out during the move. Something had to be sacrificed. Good thing Lowe’s was on the way home. We stopped there and bought lights and decorations. I let the boys pick them out and the boys wanted blue and gold ornaments. It looks great.IMG_0925

But the beauty of all this, besides spending all day with my boys having fun, buying a tree, climbing through our storage unit, eating at Whataburger for lunch, and picking out all the ornaments that they wanted, was the entire tree and decorations only cost my $42 total. The beauty: my bonus check was $46 dollars! Yup! I’m getting a latte from Starbucks with the left over. That is a great Christmas-tree experience.

Well, off to make Christmas chocolate chip cookies for the boys. You know what makes chocolate chip cookies Christmas chocolate chip cookies? You make them at Christmas time.

Postmodern Jukebox — Maps

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I have to admit that I’m really impressed with Postmodern Jukebox here of late. This is my second posting of one of their songs. The first song covers All About the Bass with a 1940s sound to it. The reason they are impressing me so is that the vocalists can actually sing and you can even hear what they are saying. So much of the music today is sung poorly, lacks clarity and sounds like everyone has a cold (they are singing through their nose). Not so with these musicians. They are worth listening to because they are talented and actually improving upon the songs that they decide to sing.

This video is the remake of Maps, the Maroon 5’s hit song, and it is much better than the original, since it is done with a Motown/Soul twist to it. Morgan James is the lead singer and she nails it.

By the way, I just bought my first album by Postmodern Jukebox and found out that they have quite a few. For that, I’m grateful.

Half Day of School/Christmas Post

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We only have a half day of school and the classes are only 20 minutes long, so there is not much getting done. In view of that, I had my first period class write down what they thought was important to know about Christmas.

Samantha wrote:

I love giving presents to kids who have nothing and can’t have Christmas.

From Bailee:

I want people to know that Christmas is about Jesus and not Santa.

Deisy added:

Christmas is when Jesus was born. That is more important than presents.

Joe wrote:

This Christmas holiday, remember it’s all about giving, not receiving. Be thankful for what you get.

And finally, Chloe wrote:

Christmas is not just about ‘opening presents’ or ‘eating a lot of food.’ It’s about celebrating the birth of Jesus, celebrating with your family. Don’t forget that.

Not a bad sampling at all. Seems that they have a pretty good understanding of the holiday.

A Review of Reviews for Exodus: Gods and Kings.

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As many of you know, the movie Exodus: Gods and Kings… was released this past weekend to a plethora of reviews and criticism. I have no plans on seeing the movie simply because I don’t think Hollywood can make a decent movie about something out of the Bible. Plus, from the reviews that I have read, there just isn’t any compelling reason to go and see it.

Al Mohler did say that if you were mature enough, it might be an ok movie. But I think he really captured it when he quoted another reviewer:

The best single line analysis of the movie and its failure to garner either critical acclaim or more viewers was offered by Eric D. Snider of GeekNation: “This big dud isn’t blasphemous enough to be outrageous, emotional enough to be inspiring, or interesting enough to be good.”

Given that, I would say that Mohler is actually giving the movie a thumbs down.

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Can God Prevent Evil?

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I found this little ditty in the comments section of a theological liberal:

Old Epicurean trilemma (although also attributed to Carneades the Skeptic):

If God is unable to prevent evil, then he is not all-powerful.
If God is not willing to prevent evil, then he is not all-good.
If God is both willing and able to prevent evil, then why does evil exist?

It sounds profound and deep, but the Bible has answered this question over and over again in its denunciation of our own goodness. When the man said to Jesus, “good teacher…” Jesus replied that only God was good. He was not speaking in hyperbole. He was making a statement about the goodness of man. We don’t have any inherent goodness in us. We are conceived in iniquity and without God’s grace in our lives, we continue on in iniquity until we receive our just rewards in the after life, a punishment that no man wants, but fully deserves.

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I Am Definitely Blue

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OK, I took a personality test on line and found out that I’m blue, as opposed to yellow, white or red. I’m not sure what those other colors mean, but here is what the testers said about blue:

Congratulations, Timothy, you are a BLUE personality. The Core Motivation that drives you through life is “Intimacy”. It is important to note that this does not mean sexual intimacy. BLUES need connection – the sharing of rich, deep emotions that bind people together. As a BLUE, you will often sacrifice a great deal of time, effort, and/or personal convenience to develop and maintain meaningful relationships throughout your life.

BLUES seek opportunities to genuinely connect with others, and need to be understood and appreciated, especially by their partner. Everything you do as a BLUE has to be quality-based, or you won’t do it at all. You are incredibly loyal to friends, employers, employees, and above all to your significant other. Whatever or whomever you commit to is your sole (and soul) focus. As a BLUE, you love to serve and will give freely of yourself in order to nurture the lives of others.

BLUES have distinct preferences and are the most controlling of the four personalities, although they may not acknowledge (or even realize) the fact. Your code of ethics is remarkably strong and you expect others (not only your partner and those closest to you, but everyone) to live honest, committed lives as well. You enjoy sharing meaningful moments in conversation with your partner as well as remembering special life events (e.g. birthdays and anniversaries).

I wonder, for those of you who know me, does that describe me? Or is that description so general and broad that it would apply to anyone who wants it to be true, sort of like a horoscope? You know how horoscopes are, they are so general that we can make anything we want out of them.

New York and the Movies

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I watch a lot of science fiction movies because I like the genre. By doing so, I have come to the conclusion that the one city you do not want to live in, in the science fiction/super hero world, is New York City. Just think about how many times we’ve seen New York City blown to bits because it was getting invaded by aliens from another world, or got hit by a giant tsunami or turned into a penal colony. New York is not a great place to live, just because it is faced with the burden of the backdrop for hundreds of sci-fi/action-hero based movies.

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The Pledge of Allegiance

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Please Note: I know what I write might be quite controversial. I’m not seeking to be. Feel free to respectfully disagree with me in the comments section, and even feel free to try and change my mind.

I heard on the radio this week, or maybe last week, that there is another challenge by atheists to have the phrase “under God” removed from the pledge of allegiance. This has been challenged many times by atheist. It is sort of a rite or passage for them, or a sacrament, you might say.

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My Son’s Salvation

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I know that I’m like many parents when I worry about the salvation of my sons. This is nothing new to any believer that has children. I think though that my worries stem more from the fact that I have so little time with them, now that their mother and I are now divorced. I fear what my absence from them, and the divorce will do to their faith.

However, I was encouraged by an article by Kevin DeYoung reviewing the book Families and Faith by Vern L. Bengtson on two points.

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In Ephesus

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Taken from a sermon that I preached at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Lufkin, TX on November 30, 2014.

When people find out that I’m a Presbyterian pastor, I get asked if I believe in predestination. On one such incident, I told the man that asked me the question that I did believe in predestination and election. He then asked me for my support of such a belief.

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