Advent Devotional — Thursday, December 20

12/20/2007, 9:00 am -- by | No Comments

Thursday, December 20, 2007
Enlighten, Lord, and set on fire
Our spirits with Your love,
That dead to earth they may aspire
And live to joys above.
” (Adapted from The Short Breviary, from the Vespers Office in The Divine Hours)

Dying to earth is heavy language. The hymn (and the Scripture that inspired it) does not encourage us to co-exist with the world, or to critique the world; it says to die to it. What does it mean to die to the world?

We often forget that sin is not just a personal choice, but a deeply ingrained reality of human life. Suppose you live in a town where the only grocery store is operated by a man who is known to abuse his wife and family. Should you shop there and support this man or not? This man’s sinful behavior puts the rest of the town in a bind, where no action is really “right” — you hate to put money in the man’s pockets, but you hate to put his family at further risk by not supporting him. Further, you have the dilemma of how exactly you’re going to get your food if you don’t support him. One man’s sin means that the whole town has to reckon with his sin and choose the lesser of several evils.

If you look at the world in this way, you will soon sense something of the enormity of sin and the impossibility of “solving” it, humanly speaking. We cannot root sin out of the world simply because, like the grocer above, its present reality ensures its future reality. As long as one person is sinning, we all will be pushed into sinning. “As sin entered into the world through one man…” said Paul, and we can see how that is the case.

Part of what we must do as Christians is to die to this reality. To the extent possible, we should “opt out” of such a death-dealing culture. This is not to say we become total separatists, and live our lives in total denial of the earthly world in which we live. But it is to say that we are self-conscious about our way of life as being separate and incompatible with a sinful world.

We do this when we create and strengthen our churches to be little outposts of the Kingdom of God, little places where the Way of Christ is followed and there are different rules. We do not deny there is sin in our midst, but rather than blindly following a culture where sin is an established fact, we seek to be different. We seek to lay aside one way of living completely for another.

Joke of the Day, 12/20/07

12/20/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

A man went to the doctor with a lettuce leaf sticking out of his ear.

“Hmm,” said the doctor. “That’s strange.”

The man replied, “I know! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!”

Bweinh!’s Week Before Christmas

12/19/2007, 4:00 pm -- by | 3 Comments

With apologies to Clement Moore or Henry Livingston or whoever else might have written the original…

‘Twas the week before Christmas and over at Bweinh!
not a comment was postin’, not even an “ehhhh.”
The stockings were hung in the boardroom with care
in hopes that Steve Maxon would fill them up there.

The presses were quiet, all articles stilled,
Clash-debating suspended — the quotas were filled.
Council rulings abandoned, no polls to submit,
Chick Tracts on vacation, all cartoons even quit.

The football results, however, were new;
you can’t stop them now, since the games left are few!
But the Bible Discussion was set on “delay,”
in hopes our attention on Christ would then stay.

But down by the washrooms, Dave Sweet worked away.
Making copies of keys to pass out Christmas Day.
All sanctions forgotten, or now put on hold,
and these keys were not silver — oh no! — they were gold!

One for Chloe and Erin and Michael C-B,
even Job just back from his ap-pen-dec-to-my.
One for Connie, and Tom, and for crusty old Djere,
for Josh and Mike Jordan were Dave’s final pair.

Finally done, he called out for ol’ Steve to help lift
the huge box of gold keys (we would all just re-gift).
For what do we need with a key to that room?
It still costs a dollar to enter and groom!

We’ll pass them out quickly, for not all have yet learned,
what’s a gift and a dud — only we have been burned.
So as we pass out all our useless john-keys,
just remember the thought counts here, not just the deeds.

So to James, and to Ethan, for we like what you share,
so reward you we shall — the first re-gifted pair!
Then to Marcus, to Emily, and good old M. Chase,
’cause the comments you leave really spark up the place.

To share, we’ll give one to our Bweinh! newlyweds,
so dear Missy and Beaty — thanks for all your great threads.
To Rose, Brian, David, sometimes clueless old Hoss,
And to everyone else, signed A-non-y-mous.

We love that you visit and lend your support,
to our little production of newsworthy retort —
we’re really just saying, to one and to all,
“Thanks for coming! We love you! You make it a ball!”

Advent Devotional — Wednesday, December 19

12/19/2007, 9:00 am -- by | No Comments

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.” (Psalm 29:5, from the Midday Psalm in The Divine Hours)

My daughter Grace is now at the age (20 months) where she loves to hear stories of when she was a newborn. “Do you want Daddy to tell you a story?,” I say as we settle into the rocker before her afternoon nap. “Yeah,” she nods.

And so I do; I tell her the story of her first night in the world, where her grandparents and parents took turns holding her and eating pizza in the Birth Center. I tell her that her grandparents came to stay with us for a week after she was born, and all we did was watch her and eat chocolate. Now, she’s started to provide sound effects for the stories; and so when I say how relieved we were to hear her cry for the first time, she mimics the sharp staccato of a newborn cry: “Weh! Weh! Weh!”

It is this voice that we are accustomed to associating with the Lord at this time of year: the precious little yelps from a newborn to be nursed or held. And yet we dare never forget that the voice that cried like this is powerful beyond measure. This Psalm envisions tall cedars being broken, not by the strong arm or might of the Lord, but merely by His voice. What love the Father has for us, to choose to limit Himself to humanity for our salvation!

The Author of the universe, like my daughter, begged His earthly parents to tell him stories; the voice that broke the cedars has become a baby’s cry.

Quote of the Day, 12/19/07

12/19/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected.” — S. Johnson

Rules of the Road: Winter Edition

12/18/2007, 11:00 pm -- by | 1 Comment

If you’re an honest, God-fearing American, you live someplace where winter means snow. Some place like New York, Missouri, or Canada. Here’s what you’ll need to know.

â”” Contrary to popular belief, snow is neither divine dandruff, nor the byproduct of an angelic pillow fight. Snow is actually a Venezuelan conspiracy to drive up oil prices.

â”” If on the road during a snowstorm, be patient. It’ll all melt eventually.

â”” Practice makes perfect! Practice handling your vehicle in snowy conditions in the nearest empty parking lot, or handling blizzard conditions at your nearest Dairy Queen. Better yet, kill two birds with one stone at your nearest empty Dairy Queen parking lot.

â”” Every other vehicle you’ll meet on the road will be piloted by morons. They’ll either try to drive 5 or 65. Don’t worry, you’ll pass their vehicles, immobile and abandoned in the snowbanks just a few miles up the road. Pointing and laughing comes at no extra cost.

â”” Always travel in a vehicle with all- or four-wheel drive unless a vehicle with six-wheel drive or tank treads is available.

â”” If you’re cursed with unsafe travel (read: motorcycle, car, minivan, or airplane), be sure to keep bags of sand in the trunk. It will help you gain traction, and, in a pinch, you can throw it in your enemies’ eyes and yell “NINJA VANISH!”

â”” If the unthinkable happens, and your vehicle goes off the road, above all else, REMAIN CALM! Think to yourself, ‘At least I’m not watching that godforsaken A Christmas Story . . . again.’

â”” If you want a snow day, turn your pajamas inside out and wear them backwards. It’s empirical data, verified by men in scientific-looking lab coats, that this will help. Light from the sun, in the form of photons, bounces off the moon and is transformed by… I don’t know. It’s science, and it works.

Advent Devotional — Tuesday, December 18

12/18/2007, 9:00 am -- by | No Comments

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Because you have kept my commandment to persevere, I will keep you safe in the time of trial which is coming for the whole world, to put the people of the world to the test. I am coming soon: hold firmly to what you already have, and let no one take your victor’s crown away from you. Anyone who proves victorious I will make into a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, and it will stay there for ever; I will inscribe on it the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which is coming down from my God in heaven, and my own new name as well.” (Revelation 3:10-14, from the Morning Reading in The Divine Hours)

Sometimes, we think of Advent as just a precursor to Christmas. If we use Advent for spiritual preparation, we think of it as preparing the way for Jesus to come into our hearts in a new, spiritual way.

But Advent is more than that, because the Bible talks repeatedly about Christ’s return, a time when Christ will come back to the earth in a tangible, physical way. By paying deeper attention to matters of the spirit at this time of year, we also are preparing ourselves for that return of Christ, making room for Him in our hearts and minds.

The New Testament was written in a time when people expected that return to come imminently. Much of the New Testament, including this passage, is taken up with urging Christians to persevere until that day comes. Though we do not expect Christ’s return soon (but who can say?), the word of perseverance is a good one. Like the early Christians, we find ourselves in a society that is increasingly hostile to our beliefs. The ignorant vitriol of the new crop of atheist writers like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins has swayed the hearts of many people against God.

There is also a more subtle sort of secularism at work in the suburbs, which treats Christianity with a velvet barbarism, so if our children will play sports or go to birthday parties, they must do so on Sunday mornings. In such a world, we as Christians should always be striving to represent Christ well. Our lives should be characterized by gentleness, honor, nobility, and discipline. In the midst of a culture that glorifies self-destruction in so many ways, Christians must persevere in living an abundant life, even when that life is peculiar or out of place in the world. Could our life seem anything but strange to people who have not known the joy of knowing God?

Ancient Christians sensed this tension between the Christian and pagan ways of life. The Desert Fathers withdrew to solitary living in order to preserve the Christian way. Eventually, monasteries developed with the same goal: to establish and preserve some community on earth that would live out the ideals of Christ.

Maybe a good call for us modern Christians is to reclaim a streak of those early monks and nuns. Even as we go about our daily lives, we must preserve a way of living and not capitulate to a death-dealing culture. In doing this, we prepare ourselves to receive Christ with joy rather than fear when He comes again.

Joke of the Day, 12/18/07

12/18/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.” — P. Diller

My Year in Review (Part Two)

12/17/2007, 2:00 pm -- by | 2 Comments

Read Part One here!

In April, the 2007 MLB season starts, finding Barry Bonds just 21 home runs shy of Hank Aaron’s all-time record — and less than a week from matching Al Capone’s record of 187 days thwarting a grand jury investigation by refusing to cooperate with federal agents.

In Philadelphia, following a series of minor of run-ins with local police, including charges of drunk driving, drug use, carjacking and abusing elderly residents of a nursing home, Britt and Garrett Reid, sons of NFL coach Andy Reid, were caught invading a small Central American nation, deposing the president, seizing control of the three major drug cartels, and murdering dozens of innocent citizens. In a hastily called press conference, Coach Reid asked for “privacy” while dealing with unspecified “family issues.” “This stuff happens in every family,” he told reporters. “We’ll get it fixed.”

In my personal life, somehow, against all odds, our accountant got us a $2100 tax refund. Even more amazing, my wife turned down taking a trip to Scotland for our 25th wedding anniversary, electing instead to invest the money in a 42″ Plasma HDTV for the living room. Pope and Palpatine Not only that, but since the TV was technically for her, there was still enough money left over to buy me a new Martin guitar for my anniversary present. I confess, I need a new guitar like my dog needs a new pen and stationery, but I didn’t argue.

Steve extended an invitation to me to join Bweinh! and I began writing and commenting on articles. This quickly caused a controversy when I bumped into the Pope (a frequent guest contributor) in the break room, winding up in a fistfight after I called him the “Anti-Christ” and pointed out a website where Tom pointed out his suspicious resemblance to Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. Eventually, after a review by my peers, I was placed on 90 days’ probation and instructed to keep away from the Pope and stop referring to him as “the abomination that causes desolation” during staff meetings.

May came and ESPN broke a shocking story about Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, where an unnamed informant fingered him as a major player in the Internet campaign to return Buffy The Vampire Slayer to the airwaves. This was later found to be erroneous, but he was eventually accused of running a dogfighting operation in which he identified himself online as His new coach Bobby Petrino amends his earlier statement of “I’m looking forward to spending time with Vick” to exclude any possible prison time that may be forthcoming. Vick

In our personal life we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary with our daughter and son-in-law who are celebrating their 1st. We dine at Olive Garden with this memorable exchange between the waitress and my son-in-law:

“Soup or salad with that?”
“Yeah, that sounds great.”
“The Super Salad! That sounds good! I’ll have that.”

We spend the next day at Surfside Water Park floating along the lazy river on inner tubes for several hours; then we go home and grill steaks out on the front porch. It was by far the best wedding anniversary in recent memory.

June arrived and with it the high winds and balmy weather so perfect for setting the West Coast of our great nation ablaze. As California burned out of control Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pledged to personally descend from a helicopter in true action hero fashion to battle the blaze if 100,000 people requested that option within one week’s time. His effort fails, however, when 70% of the ballots turn out to be write-in requests to dangle Michael Vick instead.

In entertainment, the Discovery Channel follows up its wildly popular show Dog Whisperer with a companion program called Cat Shouter. Books In this show, starring Sean Penn, feline discipline problems are solved by grabbing the offending creature, shaking it violently, and screaming at it until it runs away and hides. Problem solved. The show lasts only three weeks before complaints by PETA cause it to be replaced by Hamster Healer , where rodentia are treated for psychological issues using aromatherapy and deep muscle massage.

On a personal note, I find a complete 48-volume set of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels (Thistle Edition) in quarter-bound leather, published in 1903, for $60 at an estate sale. They are possibly the most beautiful set of books I have ever owned and I spend an entire day rearranging my library to accommodate them along with Plutarch’s Lives of Illustrious Men in thee volumes, a Latin edition of Julius Caesar’s account of the Gallic War (which I cannot yet read), and a book on Latin grammar to help me with Julius Caesar’s book.

The Council’s Ruling — American Food

12/17/2007, 12:00 pm -- by | No Comments

This and every Monday, the Bweinh!tributors, having convened in secret for hours of reasoned debate and consideration, will issue a brief and binding ruling on an issue of great societal import.

This week’s question — What is the most quintessentially American food?

Mike delivers the ruling of the Council, joined by Steve, Tom, MC-B, and Connie:

Hot dogs — fatty AND artificial!


Job dissents, joined by David and Djere:

Buffalo wings… Chicken isn’t new but the very flavor of Buffalo wings is so distinctly American, just the very thought can make my nose tingle.


Erin dissents, joined by Chloe:

Girl Scout cookies — you wait all year for them, buy enough to last the whole year, then eat them all in one sitting while watching American Idol.


Josh played no part in the determination of this issue.

Next time: If we had to sell a state to pay off the national debt, which should it be?

Ask Bweinh! Poll — Christmas Characters

12/17/2007, 10:15 am -- by | 1 Comment

Today’s Ask Bweinh! poll is again sponsored by Air Transat — the worst airline in the world!

As one representative customer wrote: “Unless you have no funds to travel with a half-decent airline, don’t choose this company. . . if you have to fly with them, eat decently prior to embarkation as their food is terrible, and ensure you have sufficient materials to keep yourself amused as there is precious little in the way of inflight entertainment.”

Air Transat! The masochist’s choice!

The Christmas narrative presents several memorable characters — here are our favorites, other than baby Jesus!

Rank Character Points
1. Joseph 27
2. The shepherds 24
3. Mary 17
4. The Magi 14
5. The innkeeper 11
6. Elizabeth 8
7-8 (tie) The heavenly host; Frank N. Scents 5
9. Joe the Sheep 4
10-11 (tie) Simeon; Elsie the Cow 3
Other Zacharias; Ricky “White Shoes” Garibaldi (the innkeeper); Animals; Donkey; Harold Angel; Sheep; The Narrator; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Shepherd 1-2

Advent Devotional — Monday, December 17

12/17/2007, 9:00 am -- by | No Comments

Monday, December 17, 2007
Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45, from the Morning Reading in The Divine Hours)

With these words, Elizabeth commends Mary for her faith. When Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel and notified of God’s plan for her life, she does not rebel but says, “May it be with me according to your word.” She accepted God’s plan meekly because her faith was great: she believed without reservation that God would do with her child and herself what the angel promised.

As they always do for unwed mothers, Mary’s prospects seemed bleak. Her fiance considered leaving her. The townsfolk whispered. I’m sure her family wasn’t universally happy at this turn of events. And most of all, the questions of how she could ever support and adequately raise a child ate at young Mary.

And yet, despite all this, Mary clung to the promise God made to her through Gabriel: that God would raise up her child to be a mighty one, called the Son of the Most High; and that he would be the ruler in an eternal Kingdom. She stubbornly clung to this belief before this baby was born, and as he grew into a man. Even when he suffered the indignities and pain of crucifixion, there stood Mary at the foot of the cross, weeping and believing.

We Protestants ignore Mary at our peril. May we be so quick and tenacious in our faith that God will deliver on all he has promised in our lives and in this world.

Quote of the Day, 12/17/07

12/17/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“And I do come home at Christmas. We all do, or we all should. We all come home, or ought to come home, for a short holiday — the longer, the better — from the great boarding school, where we are forever working at our arithmetical slates, to take, and give a rest.” — C. Dickens

Football Results (Week Fifteen)

12/16/2007, 11:00 pm -- by | No Comments

This year, the Bweinh!tributors shall compete each week by proxy on the mighty gridiron!

The fifteenth week’s results
Philadelphia def. Dallas; Cleveland def. Buffalo; Jacksonville def. Pittsburgh
New England def. NY Jets; Green Bay def. St. Louis

Bweinh!tributor This Week Overall GB
Djere 3-2 54-21
Mike 3-2 49-16
Steve 4-1 53-22 1
Tom 3-2 53-22 1
Josh 0-0 41-15 3.5
MC-B 3-2 50-25 4
Connie 2-3 46-29 8
David 3-2 45-30 9
Erin 3-2 30-20 11.5


By category
Avid fans: 159-62 (.719)
Slight fans: 99-51 (.660)
Uninterested: 211-134 (.612)

Romans Playoffs: Round 2

12/16/2007, 10:00 am -- by | No Comments

It’s time once again to add to the Pantheon of Biblical band names! In the preliminary round, four favorites were knocked off — will the trend continue in round 2??

Past winners? Kindred (Genesis) and Stripe for Stripe (Exodus).









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