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Voices of Worship

There were two voices of worship that uniquely challenged and shaped my views of life and God during my impressionable years. Truthfully there were more than two voices, but I highlight these two men because of their international recognition and the similarities in their lives. The first similarity is that both men lived lives of honesty, devotion and abandonment in their worship of God. The second similarity is that they each impacted generations of believers around the world, the first man impacting my father's generation and beyond, the second man impacting my generation and beyond. The third similarity is that they were both taken from this world through tragic accidents in the peak of their ministries. The first man was Keith Green who sang the following words at a club in LA shortly before his death in a plane crash (written from the perspective of God speaking to us):

My precious bride, the day is nearing When I'll take you in My arms and hold you I know there are so many things that you've been hearing But you just hold on to what I have told you

For when I hear the praises start My bride, I want to rain upon you Blessings that will fill your heart I see no stain upon you Because you are My child, and you know Me To me you're only holy Nothing that you've done will remain Only what you do for me

The other was Rich Mullins who, like Green, had a psalmists connection with the Lord and who, also like Green, died tragically in an accident (this time in a car). Beautifully, Rich penned and sung these words before his death:

But the Jordan is waiting Though I ain't never seen the other side They say you can't take in The things you have here So on the road to salvation I stick out my thumb and He gives me a ride And His music is already falling on my ears...

When I leave I want to go out like Elijah With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire And when I look back on the stars Well, It'll be like a candlelight in Central Park And it won't break my heart to say goodbye

Each of these men had an eternal perspective that I, in my stumbling attempts, have not yet attained. I've often wondered if these two men had each grown so intimately connected with the Lord that He just had to sweep them home, that their spirits simply couldn't be contained any longer by this world.

I want to clarify here that I do not believe that Keith Green and Rich Mullins had reached some new-age, zen-level oneness and were resorbed into a cosmic Nirvana.

I am talking about a real connection with the Living God. I'm talking about Enoch, about Moses, about Elijah and how we have the same access to God as these men did because of Christ. Neither Green nor Mullins were perfect, but intimacy with God is not based on our perfection, after all it was an adulterer and murderer who was called a man after God's own heart.

I'm grateful that these men were willing to serve God and His church, but I am amazed that years after these two men left us we can see that we the church have lost nothing. In this day the worshipers, the men and women who are truly seeking after God's own heart and are leading the church into an intimate connection with the Lord, cannot be counted on one hand (or blogged in one post). Today there is a mantle of worship, a vibrant connection, a movement of abandonment towards God that again challenges me daily in my view of life and God.

Today there is worship in every form:  song and dance; art and expression; text and voice; silence and speech; action and stillness. I cannot list the names of every voice of worship because they are in every nation and every language. I cannot even list all the individuals who are impacting me, and honestly I don't desire to, because it is not their names that I desire to see praised.

I do desire to lift up the name of the Lord, to be exhorted by the chorus of saints around me, and to worship in spirit and in truth... and I hope you will join me.

Inspiration for this post from the Keith Green video and the following quote shared by Pastor Earon James:

"This guy [Green] was ahead of his time.  The mantle that was upon his life is falling upon a generation that want nothing or no one but Jesus."

Above Jewels

Proverbs 31:10 (NASB)

Description of a Worthy Woman 10An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.

Maybe it's the weddings I've been going to. Maybe spring comes early in Thailand. But I have found today, that even after 9.5 years of marriage, I am head-over-heels *in love* with Lori.

She's seen her life get more and more difficult as pregnancy turned into an infant and now a two-year-old, and yet she continues to shine in ministry, as a mother and as a wife.

Right now she's in the bathtub with our energetic daughter, after working most of the afternoon on her computer with Abigail nestled in-between her body and her mouse-operating right hand. We're working on getting Abi to go to sleep with me and she's becoming more and more independent as she grows up, but there's no substitute for mom when things are hectic - which is more often than not in our world.

Sometimes as a father, I feel pretty helpless - I just can't comfort Abi like Lori can - and, therefore, more often than ever I am being called off in one direction to work and to serve while Lori continues our services of ministry locally, while continuing her role as a mom.

Through it all, she's been incredible, and is a priceless addition to my life.

Last month, when the Ruggles' were with us, they captured some of the many roles that Lori plays in our life - and I wanted to share them with you.  (make sure you hover over the pictures for the insider descriptions of each role)

Wife and MotherCounselorSurrogate MotherFriendHostessSeamstressCamp CoordinatorMinister

...and all of this doesn't even cover the professor / nurse / teacher roles that fall in her actual job description.

I love you, Lori. You are simply incredible.

Five Days, the Boys, and a Wedding

band-shot-san-diegoSome of you have seen my fb updates over the last month and have therefore heard most of this story, but if you hadn't heard:  I was in Southern California for the last week of 2009. A good friend of mine and his new bride flew me in and out of America to celebrate their wedding with them. It was a whirlwind of a trip filled with airplanes, car rides and jetlag. I spent as much time traveling to, from and around Southern California as I was actually at the wedding - but it was a wonderful time.

It was really special for me because I got to spend a lot of time with some of my closest friends. Including the groom, eight of the guys from our college days came. Unfortunately, none of the wives or kids were able to make it - but that actually made for a great time. And probably the last time that all of us guys would be together just as all of us guys.

weddingAfter the wedding we headed out into San Diego to see the aircraft carrier, mess around with photography, pay for parking without actually doing anything where we parked, and close down a microbrewery that had completely run out of it's house-brewed root beer.

It was a great time with great friends, and although I probably would never choose to make another quick round-trip like that again, I wouldn't trade the memories of those few days for anything in the world.

Thanks guys, it was a blast.



The Kid Among Men

There is another George Junior in one of the most exclusive clubs in sports.

George Kenneth Griffey Junior joined George Herman (Babe) Ruth Junior as well as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa in the 600 Home Run club.

Throughout his career he has been known as "The Kid" or "The Natural" or just "Junior", but if it had not been for a number of severe injuries (many of which were caused by his amazing catches at center field walls), he would likely be remembered as the greatest of all time.

Still, having seen some great players in my days, Griffey has been by far the most exciting and entertaining player I have ever seen... and has never been involved in any whisper of steroid use.

Thanks for all the memories, kid. You've been great!

Throw My Hat in the Ring

There are many things that would be better to write about.

The great time in America with family and friends.
Fellowshipping in churches - in English.
The contacts we've made and the vision for our future.

However, it is t-minus-3 hours to kickoff on Super Bowl Sunday. So, instead of writing about something serious I'm going to make my prediction for the Patriots - Giants game.

Admittedly, this prediction will be a reflection of my intense dislike for all Boston sports (nothing personal, Beantown, but when you grow up a New York Yankees fan, you have no choice but to dislike Red Sox nation and anything remotely connected to it - and now that they slaughtered my hometown Colorado rockies in the World Series they are even darker on my blacklist).

I have to admit that this Patriots team is the best team I have ever seen, but the Giants are a legitimate squad who are playing very well. And, since I can't root for the Patriots, I can't pick them to win either, so here it is:


Giants 31
Patriots 27


Enjoy the game everyone.


Unbelievable. Six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning in game 4 have all but guaranteed that the Colorado Rockies have swept the Arizona Diamondbacks for the National League Pennant, and will play in the 2007 World Series for the right to be called World Champions.

October belongs to the Colorado Rockies.

I have to say, I am really sad not to be in Colorado. To have a chance to watch our home team play in the World Series from a seat at Coors field - that's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity.

Coors FieldCoors Field : I would love to be back there this October.

Then I remember: every day I spend in Thailand, among my Akha friends, in my bamboo hut. These are rare opportunities as well, and I am incredibly blessed to live a life full of these moments.

Akha VillageDoi Mae Salong : Actually, I guess I would rather be here.

So I guess I'll just enjoy the World Series whenever I can catch bits of it in the city. Go Rockies!


Sweet Sounds of September

It's been a long time since Lori or I have updated our personal blogs as we have been happily engrossed in life with Abi. However, I have found myself in a strange moment of calm as Abi is sleeping with mom and I have received an unexpected day off from working with Aje. In the spirit of enjoyment I have to write about one of my favorite subjects : Baseball.

Just before opening day I placed my annual predictions for the 2007 MLB season
. I generally try to update those forecasts during the AllStar break, but as we were apparently doing something else at the time, that date slipped by. So lets take a look at the end - day before the 163rd game of the year - at how I did:

First, the easy predictions:

The Rockies will still be a bad baseball team. I could not be happier to have been so wrong. Josh Fogg and the Rockies bullpen found enough gas in the tank to carry the team until the offense exploded late in the year - winning 13 out of 14 games to force the first Game 163 in nearly a decade.

I'll be on the road to Chiang Mai during the game, taking Manoon's family out to get another of their children into a home that can care for his polio, so I'll miss it - but I'm sure glad for the Rockies, and would like to predict that they will lose big to the Padres (after all, I predicted that the they would be a bad baseball team and they were a good team, so if I predict that they will lose big... )

"I'm not superstitious... I'm just a little stitious." .: listen :.
-Michael Scott, The Office

Albert Pujols will still be the best player in baseball. No MVP season for Pujols, but another incredible year, batting over .320 with 30+ hr and 100+ RBI. The only thing is, after a "disappointing" season last year, Alex Rodriguez has again established himself as the best regular-season player in baseball. If he wants to overtake Pujols as the "best player in baseball" he will have to show that flash in October.

The Yankees and the Red Sox are the greatest rivalry in sports. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Now, for the hard calls, my 2007 MLB predictions:

NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks ... Looks like I knew what I was talking about.
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals ... Oops, maybe I didn't. It really hurts to lose your Ace in the first month. Make that the Chicago Cubs.
NL East: New York Mets ... Fell apart late. Opened the Door for the Phillies.
NL WildCard: Philadelphia Phillies ... Actually won the NL East, leaving San Diego and Colorado to battle it out for the NL Wild Card role.

AL West: Oakland A's ... Oops. 10 games under .500 Make that the Angels
AL Central: Minnesota Twins ... 17 games behind Cleveland
AL East: Boston Red Sox ... Just barely - pitching is looking older.
AL WildCard: New York Yankees* ... Overcame a horrendous start to almost catch Boston, but will settle for the WildCard - Young pitching looks good.

*it is very possible that the WildCard will go to a very good Cleveland Indians team who will not have to endure the difficult schedule of the AL East teams who will all beat up on each other. See? I did know that Cleveland was good.

NLCS: St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets ... hmmm. Let's change that to Chicago against NOT Phillidelphia (Seriously, I love the Rockies chances against Philly, if they can beat Peavy tomorrow.)
ALCS: Oakland A's vs. Minnesota Twins ... Once again - Nope. Make it: New York vs. Boston. I have to say this is what I wanted to write in April, but I couldn't believe it might happen again

World Series: Oakland A's over New York Mets in 6 ... Lets make the world right again. After beating the Red Sox, the Yankees keep the Cubs winless in the last 99 years, back to 1908. However, next year will be interesting again as ARod might be off to friendlier fields in 2008, but we'll save that discussion for my predictions next spring.

2007 Awards

AL MVP - Alex Rodriguez, NYY
AL ROY - Dustin Pedroia, BOS
AL CY - C.C. Sabathia, CLE

NL MVP - Matt Holliday, COL (actually, it might be Rollins, PHI - but it SHOULD be Holliday)
NL ROY - Troy Tulowitzky, COL (that's right, the playoffs, MVP and ROY all in one year for COL)
NL CY - Jake Peavy, SD. Jake Peavy, SD. Jake Peavy, SD. And guess who's pitching game 163 tomorrow?



Still waiting the arrival of our baby girl - have you made your prediction yet? - I have been spending the morning hours (before Lori is up and able to face another day of lugging around a basketball-belly) by reading my news feeds and checking my new favorite social network - facebook.
HELLO KITTY armbands will be required attire for Thai policemen who break the rules
This morning, while reading through my 120+ subscriptions, I came across a great article that I felt was worth sharing. It seems that the Thai police, in an effort to curb more serious offenses such as abuse of power, illegal bribes and mistreatment of the public have decided to crack down on the policemen who commit minor offenses such as littering, parking in illegal zones and tardiness.

The punishment? The offending officer will be required to wear an armband depicting the schoolgirl icon "HELLO KITTY" for an entire day.

"Simple warnings no longer work. This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor," said Pongpat, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok.

"(Hello) Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It's not something macho police officers want covering their biceps," Pongpat said.
Full Story (Yahoo)

The punishment is "in-house" only, as officers will not be required to wear the armbands in public, but as we all learned as children peer pressure can be a powerful motivator... I think the measure will be effective.

HT: Boing Boing

The Gamer and the Guerrillas

I grew up in the generation that saw parents flying into fisticuffs at little league baseball, peewee football, and junior hockey games. And, although I never witnessed anything so brutal, I do clearly remember the mob mentality of high school sporting events as hundreds of fans berated referees, umpires and officials - insulting and threatening them from the stands.

This trend followed the natural escalations within American culture, and soon parents of these young athletes began to sue the coaches and the referees for costing their children opportunities of a lifetime. The absurdity of these events aside, I cannot help but recall very clearly the words of wisdom given to me by my parents while I was very young:

"Remember, it's just a game"

Time has passed, and my generation is now having children of our own, but our kids are growing up in a truly digital age. Online communities, online income, online communication, and online competitions.

In their moderation I don't have any problem with the methods of this age, and in fact I utilize them to connect and continue our relationships around the world. The online gaming and competition also has its place, and it is undeniable that it also has both entertainment and economic value. In fact, I hope our dear friend and podcaster over at Women of Warcraft can combine those economic and entertainment aspects by getting picked up by some gaming sponsor so she can make a pile of money and come out here to visit us (with Andy of course)!

But, now it seems that the violence that was once reserved for little league ballparks on Saturday mornings has overflowed into the world of online gaming: and with a digital-age-guerrilla-warfare twist:

An armed gang of four kidnapped one of the world's top RPG gamers after one criminal's girlfriend lured him into a fake date using Orkut, Google's social network. After sequestering him in Sao Paulo, they held a gun against the victim's head for five hours to get his password, which they wanted to sell for $8,000.
hattip: Gizmodo

What gets even more disturbing, is that the guy decided that it would be better to DIE than to lose his precious online persona. Or perhaps all that strategy gaming had taught him to read that the gunmen were bluffing, because after five hours they let him go.

I think all of these young men, the gamer and the guerrillas alike, would surely have benefited from my parents sage advice: IT REALLY IS JUST A GAME!

What the World Eats

I have come across this article a number of times as I have been browsing through various Missionary Blogs on my Google Reader, and wanted to pass it along to any of you who might be interested.

Time has put together a photo journal from a book by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio entitled Hungry Planet. The book itself is a photographic journal and cookbook looking into the family table around the world. Time has taken a glimpse into this book with a photo slideshow entitled "What the World Eats", and I encourage you to take a look at it.

One word of caution: the most relevant information given is that of "Favorite Foods". Although the "Food expenditure per week" is interesting and can show what economic slice the pictures are taken from, without a basic cost-of-living from the region it's difficult to tell whether you are looking at poverty-level or luxery-level spending. For example, a single adult who makes $500/month in Thailand is very wealthy in Northern Thailand, where a meal at a Thai "restaurant" costs less than $1 and a nice home can be rented for $100 a month.

It was also interesting to me how much more money families with teenage boys have to spend on food. Yikes!

So go take a look and see where you think you might be able to live (those meat and cheese countries look really good to me)...

How to Read the Web

I love Google Reader. It is the best way to get the newest news and information from all the sites you like without having to travel from site to site. The great thing about Google Reader is that it allows access from any computer in the world. Google really is keeping the world's attention, but it's hard to complain when their products are so good.

Here's the simple version of how to use Google Reader:

1. Set up a Google mail account by going here.
2. Go to your favorite website and look for a (usually orange) box that says RSS or rss or search the site for "RSS feed"
3. Once you click on a feed you will stumble upon a variety of pages which will either look like code or a website depending on your browser and the feed provider. Nothing here matters except for the Web Address in the Address Bar (http://somthinghere...). Highlight the address and copy it. Or you can just copy this link : : to subscribe to all the news from The Vernon Journal.
4. Now go to your Google Reader page here.
5. In the left-hand side of the page there is a light-green box that says Add Subscription - Click it!
6. Paste the link you copied into the Add Subscription box and then click Add!
7. You did it! You have now subscribed to a website and whenever new articles, news, or even comics are available you can read them all on one page!

This allows you access to an incredible amount of information to be read at your leisure, allowing you to read only the articles that are interesting to you in a way that is much faster than wading through the web. Here's my recent reading activity:

From your 88 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 3,393 items, starred 23 items, and shared 43 items.

There are, of course, even more neat tips and tricks for you to enjoy within Google Reader, especially as your collection of websites (feeds) grows, but I will save those for another time. For now, enjoy reading the web!


What is Easter?

My wife got me thinking this morning. She does that a lot. This morning it was about Easter.

There are a lot of things that came to mind as we thought about Easter in the past week - some precious and some mundane. White hats, chocolate, quality time with family, honey-baked hams, colored eggs, liturgy, Passion plays, the Resurrection sermon and the choir lifting up the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah.

For us, Easter has consisted of a hotel breakfast buffet, a little fellowship with some fellow servants in Thailand, the viewing of the children's version of "The Jesus Film" in Akha, and the exortion of the online community of missionaries and bloggers as we remember the resurrection of Christ from around the world.

As I had the question "What is Easter?" in the back of my mind, I came across a blog I often read but rarely comprehend. Here, Brian Russell makes a profound observation of what Resurrection Sunday is:

Resurrection creates the Church as a missional movement. The women in this story shift from mourners taking spices to the tomb to proclaimers of the Resurrection Story. This group of women (only the two Mary’s and Joanna are named) become the initial witnesses and servants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Easter is the remembrance of the fulfillment of the promise which brought forth the fullness of the Gospel - but the response the Easter is missional. The response is the proclamation. Christ is Alive, and He has sent those who have tasted and seen to proclaim His life.

As the liturgy proclaims in beautiful simplicity:
"He is risen"
"He is risen indeed"

Play Ball

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

-From Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer.

I have been pondering sitting down to expound upon a number of posts inspired by conversations I have recently had and articles I have recently read covering topics from human trafficking to disenfranchised peoples, from Lent and the Easter season to the Emergent church. However, April 2nd, the sweetest of all spring days has arrived again. So today I talk about baseball.

The hot stove league has cooled as Spring Training has come to an end. Tremendous stories abound as Baseball becomes a more international pastime. As I mentioned last year, this is a time of excitement and new beginnings for ball clubs around the league. In that spirit of optimism, I am going to forget the fact that my predictions last year were awful and forge ahead, trusting that one day I will get something right.

First, the easy predictions:

The Rockies will still be a bad baseball team. That pitching staff is awful. Terrible. If they do not find a diamond in the rough, or, preferably, acquire a pitcher who can actually keep baseballs inside the diamond, they might finish as the worst team in the National League.

Albert Pujols will still be the best player in baseball. I was born 7 months before Reggie Jackson led the Yankees to his final World Series victory. Growing up watching baseball in the 80's and 90's there was no one else who consistently raised their team to a level of greatness like those old baseball greats. Barry Bonds comes the closest to instilling the fear that the greats instilled, but he has never been able to translate that into team success and a World Series victory. With his herculean statistics and last years World Series victory, Albert Pujols emerged as perhaps the best player that baseball has seen since the all-time greats of Aaron, Mays, Musial, Mantle and Williams.

The Yankees and the Red Sox are the greatest rivalry in sports. Although Toronto and Baltimore have both made strides in the standings in the AL East, the fire that New York and Boston play with is unmatched in baseball. In fact, a Yankees-Red Sox game is probably the premiere entertainment event in professional sports today; from a competition standpoint it is even better than the Super Bowl.

Now, for the hard calls, my 2007 MLB predictions:

NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
NL East: New York Mets
NL WildCard: Philadelphia Phillies

AL West: Oakland A's
AL Central: Minnesota Twins
AL East: Boston Red Sox
AL WildCard: New York Yankees*

*it is very possible that the WildCard will go to a very good Cleveland Indians team who will not have to endure the difficult schedule of the AL East teams who will all beat up on each other.

NLCS: St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets
ALCS: Oakland A's vs. Minnesota Twins

World Series: Oakland A's over New York Mets in 6

That's what I have got for this year, as usual I reserve the right to apologize and do this again at the All-Star break. Remember that you can listen to some of your favorite team's broadcasts live - look here for your teams radio stations.


Need a Printer?

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but it seems there is such thing as a free printer, and a pretty good one at that. I don't usually put these kind of things on our site, but as I was reading through my SlickDeals feed today I came across a pretty good offer. Unfortunately, you have to redeem the offer in-store, so it is no good to us - hopefully it will be good for some of you!

Lexmark All In One PrinterAs of now (1:00 AM Eastern Time) you can get an All-In-One (Printer / Scanner / Copier) Lexmark X2480 printer for free after $90 mail-in rebate. If you are interested you need to hurry, because $50 of that rebate expires on my birthday! You can find the deal at many Circuit City stores, but you should check Circuit City Online for availability!

Hope this helps someone.


Here comes Hollywood

I'm guilty. I am the root of the problem.

I love movies, and I love good television. I really enjoy watching someone's imagination come to life on the screen, and am intrigued by the glimpses and portrayals of culture and values that movies provide.

However, when a society begins to idolize and respect men and women who, by the very nature of their job descriptions, are paid to make the fictional seem factual it is setting itself up for tremendous failures.

One example of a catastrophic misplacement of faith will be seen on Monday from New York City. Although I can happily say that I have never seen either of James Cameron's theatrical blockbusters Titanic nor Terminator 2; and, because I live in Thailand, I will not see his DaVinci code-like "press conference" on Monday, I will, however, probably have to deal with the after-effects of his actions in my conversations and relationships for years to come.

Jesus: Tales from the Crypt will open new challenges for Christians, pushing us to be the believers Peter challenged us to be when he wrote:

...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

I Peter 3:15

This new "evidence" presented by Mr. Cameron will give fuel to the fire of skeptics who desire to disrespect the name of Jesus Christ. But, to the man who is seeking spiritual truth in his journey, this press conference will bring questions, and these questions will lead to conversations about Christ.

The challenge to the Church is this: Will we be ready for these conversations?

If we are ready to have open, honest conversations, than these seekers will find life. And if we are discouraged about the weight of media and press conferences coming as witnesses against us, we must take comfort in the great Witnesses around us, for which "there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard."

Currently Reading...

Most of my recent reading attention has been focused on the dissertation: Leadership Development Within the Akha Cultural Context with Application to Akha Bible Institute as I have been helping our director finalize the editing for his doctorate program. At six hours a day for the past (and next) month, there has been little room or interest to add more reading into my daily schedule. However, when I get the chance there are dozens of missionary, news and special interest blogs and podcasts that I enjoy following. Some of these missionaries are listed in the links columns at the bottom left of this page and I want to encourage you to browse through those links when you have the opportunity. But, I have added a new way for Lori and I to share articles that we feel might be of interest to our readers.
Take a look at the Shared Articles Widget on the Left
Rather than introduce you to every blog we read at once, overwhelming all of you with the amount of information we are overwhelmed with, we are now able to share specific articles that interest, entertain or inspire us. You can find a new box (or widget) on the left column of this page, just below the Archived Notes box, entitled Shared Articles.

Currently, this Shared Articles widget is only on my blog (humblethorn), but it will soon be on Lori's blog as well. As of today, I am sharing two sports articles (of course) which discuss the firing of Marty Schottenheimer from the San Diego Chargers and the contract talks between Mariano Rivera and the New York Yankees. I am also sharing a link from the Daveys in France, a blog we read often, which discusses countries where Christianity is most persecuted, as well as two articles from bloggers who are new to us with great cross-cultural confessions and insights from America and Japan.

We hope you enjoy this new feature to the Vernon Journal. Please let me know (with a comment or by contacting me) if you have any suggestions on how this system might be improved.

No more time for blogs today... I'm off to read a dissertation.

a Super Bowl on a Hot Stove

If you are looking for a serious post, you'll have to come back another day...

I've always enjoyed Jim Armstrong's notes columns in the Denver Post and have felt that his approach to newspaper articles would be a better fit as a notes blog - that way the author can assume people know what he is talking about while providing a link to give more information to people who are confused. In honor of all newspapers in English, here's my notes blog for the day...

I like Indianapolis over Chicago for Super Bowl XLI. But I'm almost always wrong...

That said, I have to listen to the home team broadcast of one of the two teams (I don't get the national broadcast on NFL Fieldpass) so I will be listening to the crew from Chicago because they broadcast more like a national crew (and then I will probably be re-listening to the winning call from Indy).

Can I be the first person to say that although Super Bowl XL was the coolest Super Bowl year ever, something has to be done before we get to Super Bowl L. Please, please NFL, go away from the traditional Roman numerals for that one - even Super Bowl 50 would be better than Super Bowl L.

From super bowls to hot stoves...

Once the final gun sounds on XLI we begin the driest season of the year: 58 sport-less days until Opening Day. I guess there's always hockey, golf and the NBA.

The biggest news out of the hot stove league is not whether Andy Pettitte will effectively replace the Big Unit, or what team the Rocket will be pitching for come October. No, the biggest news in baseball is who is on the iSquad.

iPods are certainly everywhere these days. Talk about a monopoly... when will Steve Jobs start getting the bad press Bill Gates gets?

My question for Major League Baseball is this: When Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens (finally) do retire, will they be the last of the great nicknames in baseball?

Another interesting conversation in the hot stove league has to do with the possibility of a Major League Baseball team in Portland. I'd love to see it happen, but in the meantime the Salem-Keiser Volcanoes put a pretty good product on the field.

To finish this notes blog, I might as well plagiarize the conclusion of one of Armstrong's recent articles (is it plagerism if you cite the source? I think I've been working with the AOF director on his dissertation too long)...

...finally, today's golden-oldie quote, courtesy of Hank Aaron: 'It took me 17 years to get 3,000 hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.'

Who Dat?

I can vividly remember the only Saints game I have ever been to. I was 12 years old and went to a Denver-New Orleans game in the Superdome in New Orleans. It was the first dome stadium I had ever been inside, and I remember being shocked that a football game could be air conditioned in the winter. Come on, I was used to the old Mile High stadium and barefooted kickers in the snow. On the Sunday I spent in the Superdome Denver got killed, and I remember the fans yelling out the New Orleans fight song as we slipped out of the stadium in our Broncos orange and blue.

Who dat? Who dat? Who dat sayin gonna beat dem Saints?

Back then it was an embarrassment to lose to the Nawlins Aints, as they were often called.
What a difference today makes.

With one game to go to Super Bowl XLI, the New Orleans Saints - the dogs of the league for every "last year" they've been around - are favored by every ESPN expert to beat Chicago at Soldier Field to advance to the Super Bowl.

Saints fans, passionate as they might be, always have a backup plan to the hopes for their football team, often involving a night on bourbon street to wash the memories away, and to hear people picking the Saints to go to the Super Bowl is beyond most of their expectations - but there does seem to be something special about this team.

Denver fans used to love and fear the Super Bowl. Four Super Bowls. Four losses. Until that fateful year when Terrell Davis and John Elway went to San Diego and beat the Packers.

This feels like that kind of year for the Saints, at least for this game.

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