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Fact 1
There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
Fact 2
No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
Fact 3
“Dreamt” is the only English word that ends with the letters “mt”.
Almonds are a member of the peach family
Fact 5
There are only 4 words in the English language that end in “dous”: Tremendous, horrendous, stupendous and hazardous.
Fact 6
Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.
Fact 7
Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street fame were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life” movie.
Fact 8
It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
Fact 9
The average person falls asleep in 7 minutes
Fact 10
“Stewardesses” is the longest word that is typed with the left hand only.

This is not my usual newsletter. I usually take a point of view and try to express it in a way that people might think about a bit. This newsletter is just me complaining. I guess I get to do that every 246th newsletter or so. It’s just that so many of the things I see and hear these days have caused me to shake my head in a kind of unbelief. It’s been said that facts are stubborn things. And as believers, much of the time we think we only deal with things that are not able to be thought of as facts. We think that everything we believe depends on, not just something not seen most of the time, but much of the time something never seen. I’m amused by the secular world’s take on our Faith. I don’t mean that I find it funny; I find it bordering on the ‘silly’. It must be the foolishness talked about in the Gospels. Anyway, here we go. Here is my current ‘this bugs me list’.

Complaint # 1-The creature has the ability to so easily ignore and even despise the Creator. I’m sure you’ve noticed how the secular so wants to dismiss God and passionately ridicule Him? Oh, they will tolerate every other religious belief and even get out of the way for some, but anything associated with Christ is immediately dismissed as nasty stuff. I heard Rosie (you know the one) imply that Christians were somehow to be equated with the violence of the terrorist because of Christianity’s equally violent beliefs. Come on Rosie. I wonder if anyone ever stops to think about that kind of statement let alone check the facts to see if it is historically true. Fact is, how do all the deaths caused with the cry of religion stack up against Hitler’s Gestapo and the killing of 11 million Jews, Mao’s 65 million deaths in China, Stalin’s Gulag numbers of 30 million, Pol Pot’s 3 million slaughtered in Cambodia, 3 million in the Congo and the 3 million Christians killed in the genocide in the Sudan in the 1990’s. Wonder if Rosie just, maybe, forgot about those? None of those regimes had Christian leaders; rather they were for the most part atheist intellectuals, responsible for all those deaths in the name of their power. Truth is more people have been killed by any one of those secular regimes than by all the religious persecutions added together. Yet we get characterized in the same group as the Nazis by many today. Actually, their statements are so far from the ‘facts’ it falls into that silly thinking that’s so common, but the secular falls, and eagerly falls, for it just the same. I’m kind of tired of those kind of charges targeted at us today. Ted Turner has called Christianity ‘a religion for losers’. What mystifies me is that no one seems to defend our Faith against such charges. Oh, we’ll have someone yell and scream, but how ‘bout just being able to express a good ol’ dose of the truth…just the facts! The facts would go further than the yelling and screaming which are easily dismissed by most people. That’s the fact here.

Complaint #2-What we do to our kids: We desensitize them with our language; we stimulate them with our television, movies, the internet and magazines and then act surprised when we help create a world of trouble in their lives. Rather than giving them the most potential to succeed, we load them up with the most potential to fail and then look the other way when the light of day shines on the causes of so much trouble in children’s lives today. Perhaps no one is more aware of this than Dr. James Dobson, who had been targeted for all kinds of ridicule for exposing the effects of pornography on children. In our culture we glorify negative behavior and condemn good with much of our communication systems. We take men that do evil things, show them occasionally doing something good, and ‘trick’ our minds by making heroes out of them in the media. I get ‘bummed’ when I see parents grin about things that hurt the hearts and minds of our kids. Our children have gone from being precious and treasures for our caretaking, to simply being the next consumer group that will buy the next fad, the next eye-candy with no regard for the character of the child. We encourage them in many directions that lead to failure and then blame them for having failed. Have you even heard the word ‘character’ being used when talking about kids in the past 10 years? Fact is we create much of the mess we find our children in today and deny all responsibility for having done so in our intellect. This fact sometimes gets over looked for our convenience I think.

Complaint #3-What we do to our economy: I’m just beginning to get kind of sunburned about this one. As I write this newsletter the US Debt Clock spins at an amazing speed. Take a look at it at usdebtclock.org. It moves so fast that I can’t keep up with it but here comes a snapshot as I write this letter: US Debt $13,179,469,129,916, –Debt per citizen $42,554, –Debt per taxpayer $119,184. If that’s no big deal, you can go ahead and send your check to the U.S. Treasury and get paid up. And, don’t forget to ‘times two’ that taxpayer check if you’re married. Could we successfully run our household with those portions of debt? Do you think we will not see any results from those figures over the next few years? Ready the printing presses please! Burying our heads to these facts will not help us or our children. Here’s what bothers me about this issue: Biblical kingship was characterized by The King taking care of, loving and providing for those subject to The King. He provided for them and looked out for them. Leaders today do as they wish regardless of the consequences to those they have an opportunity to serve. Power wins out over love. We have too many buildings and bridges with politician’s names on them but can’t seem to find a way to mow the weeds along the highway or clean up in front of the post office. Facts are stubborn.

In its attempt at power and control, the world has worn away our resistance to trouble. In the book The Screwtape Letters, C S Lewis wrote: “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without sign posts”. We may have lost the ability to do as Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggested during WWII: “if we see that a madman is driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait and comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrest the steering wheel out of the hands of the madman.” Bonhoeffer later joined in a plot against Hitler that cost him his life. Instead the secular world has picked up the scripture “Thou shall not judge” and used it to hold hostage any distinction between good and evil. All of a sudden we live in a world where judging evil is far worse than doing evil.

Ok, I’m done complaining… well maybe. Knowing all those facts doesn’t discourage me. I’m big into just doing something, doing even small things, to make a difference. It’s kind of passive- aggressive where the aggressive part is not mean spirited, it’s only confident. The passive part is characterized with being firm and consistent. It’s not too late to choose Life. Can you imagine the world that faced the 12 disciples as they began the journey to spread this message, this Gospel? Twelve! How much was against them? For practical purposes the whole world. They had no internet to spread the Word, no newspapers, no printing presses, television, no email or facebook. They just started doing the little things. They started doing the right things. As a result, because the Gospel is such a powerful message that changes things that seem unchangeable, it has spread throughout the world in spite of the entire world’s opposition.

Steven Curtis Chapman has a line in his song, “Facts are Facts”: ‘These days some say there’s no one way to believe, just keep it loose, you’re free to choose, there’s no absolute, it’s all relative you see. So I’m calling all defenders of the Truth to live a life that spells out God’s worldview…I know there’s a God who knows my name. And, a Son who died to take the blame….cause, promises are promises and facts are facts.’ Facts are our friends! My hope is in the belief that Truth, while always resisted by the creature, will win out somehow! So far the facts since Christ Jesus prove it.

Francesca Battistelli & Andy Kirk

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Life’s Tough, It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid

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I’m sure, to your surprise, that bit of wisdom did not come from C. S. Lewis. No, not Dr. Dobson either. Actually, it’s a statement attributed to John Wayne. As I typed it, I wondered if I could get away with using it in the newsletter. It seems to be ‘knee deep’ in attitude. However, the more I looked at it the more it fit into the subject of the letter, at least better than anything I could think of from Mr. Lewis or JD. And, don’t get me wrong in this letter; I have not perfected this subject yet myself. It’s just that most of the time I know what to do, I just mess up sometimes and I don’t do what I know to do. We all have good company there; Paul seemed to suggest the same in his life.

Let’s start here. The Bible describes the Christian life as a journey. The Hebrew expression is ‘a going’. I’ve used the story of Abraham so often but he simply was told to go! Kind of ‘get thee out of here!’ Nowhere does it say God told Abraham where he was to go, just get! (“Now the Lord had said to Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee….’.) (Genesis Chapter 12) Try that some nice morning. You probably would not last the weekend on that kind of trip.

In the United States there are 4 million miles of highways in our transportation network. Those miles are only a very small percentage of the possible ways to get from point A to point B. This is a very small amount of paved area devoted to moving. We have 120,000 miles of railroad, 25,000 miles of waterway and 5,000 airports to make our lives easier. Taking those highways and transportation system routes make for a much faster, more comfortable and less challenging life experience. Imagine taking off across the country in your car without using any of the highways designed and given for your safety and ease. Tough, and like John Wayne says, life is even tougher if you don’t take the easiest way that’s been provided for you.

My father’s grandmother’s family came from Shuffle Branch, Virginia, about 1818 to Pope County, Illinois. Settled near what is now Eddyville. They came across the Wilderness Road into Kentucky, down the Ohio River and pulled ‘er in at Golconda. That was covered wagon and flatboat travel. It was hard, long and dangerous for the most part. It was the only way to travel back then, and while difficult it served them as well as could be expected. They made it after months of travel. Today we could do that trip in one day if we pushed it at all. What they would have given for a paved path all the way from Virginia to Southern Illinois. In many ways, like our highway system in this country, God’s Word has been given so that we can travel the best way, the way that is the easiest if we follow its instruction.

God has given us instructions on what direction to take, where we will end up if we take His advice and has made a multi-lane, paved highway for us to use: Scripture. Do you know what most of the world does with that ‘map’? They ignore it at best, or they try and tear it up and destroy it from being used by themselves or others at worst. We have been given the secrets of life and why we don’t follow those instructions amazes me. Now, like I said, I’m as guilty as the next guy for not doing what I know to do all the time. I know exactly how to get to St. Louis from here, although I do have my little shortcut I take to the airport occasionally. Problem is, while I know the easiest, best way to St. Louis, I could, if I chose to, cut across country and ignore those big highways 57/64/40/170N. Creeks and fences would make it more difficult and add to the time needed to get where I wanted to go, but with enough gas and time I could get there I suppose. That’s how we do God’s Word much of the time. We just refuse to go the way He says works. Anything other than those routes is a tougher way to go: harder, longer and as John Wayne would say, just stupid given the choices.

The Gospel is a little like deciding to go to Chicago from Marion. As you step it off in Marion, you might be only ½ a degree off on your direction. However, the longer you travel, the further you go off just that ½ degree causes you to end up in Indiana or in the boonies somewhere West, not Chicago! Just being off that small amount causes us to miss the mark by many miles. The Gospel is much the same. It’s important to start out in the right direction in order to end up at the final destination. The highways we take, the way we travel the Christian journey, makes a huge difference in the ease of the journey, in the goal we finally attain.

The Bible’s a map. It tells us how to get from where we are to where we want to go. Importantly, it gives us the easiest way to get there. Highways have potholes, they have repaired spots in them, but they are so much easier to travel than cross-country. There are major ways to live to be found in Scripture and doing life any other way, if not impossible, is at the least very tough -especially tough if you try and do life in any other way than the roadmap God has provided for us. We might be able to hack our way through rough country, but that’s no way to live the Christian life. The Bible should not be read as a biography, not as a history book, it’s a how-to manual.

The Gospel was nicknamed ‘the way’. Jesus was ‘the way’; we need to ‘get in the way’. I like to look at it as a great highway carrying life and we simply need to get out of the ditch and into the middle of the road. He’s moving, we should be hitch-hiking. There is always traffic and constant flow, but if we are out on our own, if we are going cross-country, we are going to find the going very tough. Loving and giving of yourself is in the middle of the highway. Trying the Gospel without getting in the middle of that loving and giving is the tough way to get to where you want to go. You may even be able to tough it out on that cross-country trip, but the trip itself will wear you out. There’s no joy on the way and you’re too weary to enjoy the destination.

Proverbs 2:7 tells us that God is the ‘buckler to them that walk uprightly’. That takes us to the old adage that the Gospel must be walk, not just talk. Literally, He is our protector, our defense, our shield, even more specifically in the original language; He is our hide, the thing that covers us. James chapter 1 tells us that we should be doers of the Word, not hearers only. If we learn of Him only, if we sing, if we study, if we memorize but have no practical application of what we have learned and sang about, according to James, we deceive ourselves. That’s part of ‘a going’. Abraham put his feet to work and combined that with his belief. There is a flow of God that makes the road, not effortless or without trouble, but much more manageable for us in this life. His is an artery of life and we will need to get into that flow in order for us to have the results we’ve hoped for. Do the Word and don’t be stupid, not taking the easier Way is a harder way to live…not sure if that’s exactly what John Wayne had in mind, but it is good advice.

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