Spicy Snack Mix


Ever just want something for Thanksgiving just for you? When I get to wanting something like that I make spicy snack mix. My sister-in-law has the recipe, but this is a sweet and spicy caramel topped treat that I love for the holidays. If you want to make it a tad more masculine I would suggest putting some beef jerky bits into it (seriously).

Fair and Square


As I’ve watched news coverage post-election of President Elect Donald Trump it has been interesting to see their take on their own coverage of the Clinton and Trump campaigns. They still seem stunned that this is happening and many believe it’s because of the two reasons.

First, the celebrity status of Trump is said to “transcend media”. He has over 39 million followers on different social mediums. In one tweet he can spread more news than CNN and NBC combined.  There are articles on how much was written about Trump in comparison to any of the other Republican candidates or Hillary Clinton. Trump used even negative media attention to his benefit. Now it seems as if the media is sorry they used Trump’s status to boost ratings because in actuality they were promoting him.

Secondly, the collective media seems to center their hate on CNN and the New York Times who both boldly proclaimed that Donald Trump had a tupe’s chance in a hurricane of being in the White House come January. The NYT proclaimed with charts and projections that would make a bookie drool. Their front page looked more like a sports book board in Las Vegas than a newspaper website. At one time Trump had less than a 5% chance of winning according to their graph. He was also the least likely of all the Republican candidates (according to their multi-colored graph) to have a chance to beat Clinton. CBS, MSNBC, ABC, and CNN all stood behind the NYT and their projections which is why they all looked so flabbergasted on election night.

I have argued for quite some time that the media was quickly becoming the 4th branch of U.S. government. Their power was becoming too emboldened. Perhaps this recent demonstration of the news actually losing its investigative edge and becoming more editorialized will reboot the news media. However I don’t think it will happen because people tune in to hear bad news and television reporting has become sensationalized celebrities spouting bipartisan talking points which is just as culpable for tearing this country apart as our two party system. Tune in and see.

She’s An Adult


Grace Maczei Barker is 18 years of age today. She, as she likes to tell me recently, is an adult. I could not be more happy for her. It has been an absolute privilege and honor to watch her grow into a young, strong woman of faith. Here are a couple of pictures taken by Lori Mortenson.


I call this one “Pouty Grace”. So serious, even then!




This is called “Fragile”. Grace is drinking from a Humpty Dumpty tea set.



So, Donald Trump won the presidential election this week. It is something that has rocked the politial and media world. The ripple effect is still taking place in this country and beyond. People are in shock, in pain, and in utter hopeless despair—IF they didn’t vote for him. They rest are proud that they kept Hilary Clinton out of the oval office. It is a complete rip down the middle of America. We are being told that young voters were for Clinton and old voters were for Trump, white voters were for Trump, and black and hispanic voters were for Clinton. The middle class voted for Trump, while the upper and lower classes voted for Clinton. I am sure there are more polarizing categories that separated the voters as well. There are always ways to divide people.

So, it’s clear that each side does not understand the other. Yet, even in this monumental upset people aren’t using it to try to get to know the other side’s plight. I have a theory as to why—it doesn’t sell.

While the country is in complete upheaval, people look to the mainstream media to console their particular views. The cable news networks, primetime affiliates, and even talk shows that dabble in politics all scratch at the American scab of division. Why? Because it brings conflict. And people love conflict. And advertisers love to sell their products. Most people don’t think of this, I know, but the reason NBC Nightly News exists is to sell advertising. Their job is to get people to watch their show AND the ad spots between them. The conpanies behind the ads are the ones who are actually paying the bills. The more people watch, the more NBC can charge. That’s how they make money. That’s how the companies spending the advertizing dollars make money. If you think I am being flippant about this take Sean Hannity’s show on the Fox News network. During the last week of the election he hadmore viewers tuned in than ever in the history of the show. Hannity is an avid Trump support (or Clinton hater). His Nielson ratings now allow for their show to charge more for advertising since more people will be watching. If Sean were to go on TV saying that we need to vote with our hearts, or that there are good attributes of both candidates, he would lose viewership, lose ratings, lose money.

So, what am I saying? If you are going to the media to try to recieve comfort. You will only harm yourself more. If you voted for Hilary (which I don’t mind if you did) you will find that CNN is already producing anti-Trump news cycles questioning his motives, character, and future decision making. In essence they are creating the conflict that brings viewership ratings up.

If you voted for Trump (which I don’t mind if you did) you will find that Fox News is setting Trump up to be the great hope for middle class Americans while creating mythical battles with an exiting president, anti-Trump protesters and celebrities. In essence they are creating the conflict that brings viewership ratings up.

The public has been trumped, but not by Donald. They have been significantly manipulated by Anderson Cooper, Sean Hannity, George Stephanopolis, Rachel Maddow, Lou Dobbs and the like. We are being lured in by a juicy piece of conflict and when we bite down we are hooked! We thrash around, but it’s too late. In the end the country suffers.

The 5-Day Humility Challenge


Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Growing up in a house of faith, I was warned, “Never pray for humility. When you do God humbles you.” That never sounded like fun, so I didn’t. Literally. However, recently I am been thinking about humility and how I can sharpen that character quality in my life. I have come up with a 5-Day Challenge on humility that has already proved itself to be a great test of will…I mean “unwill”.

My 5-Day Humility Challenge uses three aspects of my normal life which I normally desire to be “first” or to get my own way. Instead, the 5-Day Humility Challenge is an intentional way of submitting myself to others, thus giving me an opportunity in normal life to practice humility. Feel to try these with me.

  • Driving the Speed Limit: The area I live in has all kinds of speed demons, of which I am the worst of sinners. So, to practice humility, the 5-Day Humility Challenge involves me driving the speed of the road (to the letter of the law). I don’t go with the flow of traffic, and I don’t justify my speed for any reason.
  • Parking Furthest Away: We have a saying when we find a great parking spot at the mall or grocery store, “Why shouldn’t I have the best?”  It suggests that I am deserving of a great parking spot. So, with the 5-Day Humility Challenge I park in the furthest parking spot and walk the distance in. You will get looks and you will get cold (especially on windy days). However, you recognize all the people that you are submitting to as you walk past their cars.
  • Take the Longest Line: In suburban culture you will notoriously spend park of your week in a line (we love to stand in lines, it seems). The 5-Day Humility Challenge asks that instead of finding the shortest line in the grocery store, DOT, Menards, Costco or Target, you find the l-o-n-g-e-s-t and wait in it until your turn. One of the reasons we seek out short lines is because we believe our time is more valuable than the others around us. We have things to do! But standing in line, with others in front of us gives us a humble heart and helps us to recognize our place.

This is a 5-Day Challenge, it doesn’t have to be a lifestyle. Although I would suggest that you incorporate as much of it as you can. I would aslo have you come up with you own (please put what you did in the comments section below). The point of it is for you to consciously put others before yourself in a practical, and sometimes unpleasant, way. I hope you experience the humility of Christ is just a small way through this discipline.

Losing the Battle for Women’s Dignity


But Pope John Paul II’s words ring true: “Christ … assigns the dignity of every woman as a task to every man.” If that’s right, the men in my party, in my church, in my life have failed; they ask me to participate in overlooking the offense.

He didn’t do anything wrong. You caused this. You enjoyed it. You deserved it.

Instead of those words bouncing around my head, they are bouncing around my Facebook feed, off the lips of my friends, from the screens of my phone and laptop. They are directed toward Bill Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s accusers.

Republicans who have lamented the Clintonian proclivity to malign women are now defending the same activities because … well, they idolize power or their own strategic cleverness. Trump, like the preacher, is too important to abandon. We have become what we said we despised.
– via Washington Post

This is a section of an article written by Nancy French, a four-time New York Times best-selling author, in The Washington Post. I highly encourage any evangelical Christian to read it and consider the issue.

2 Ways to Destruction


The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy:

“The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.” (1 Timothy 5:24).

This is message is given to him in a list of things that Paul is instructing him on. It’s a power statement for Timothy, his protege, to understand.

There are a couple of ways we look at this. First, Paul lets Timothy know there are two different types of people out there. There are those who blatantly sin, and those whose sins are hidden. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, so Paul is telling Timothy know that sometimes it isn’t obvious, the sins of others. There are people who can’t help but sin blatantly. They lack self control and understanding of how their sin is detrimental to their heart condition. There are others that keep their sins hidden. However, Paul lets us know that even they will be found out.

Secondly, this speaks to how we should look at others. It is east to judge those who sin openly and be quick and harsh with our condemnation.  But we need to be careful that we don’t show bias toward the one and lighten the weight of the sin of the other. For example, I know of a particular Christian college that at one time found out that one of their students was pregnant due to pre-marital sex. They had a morality contract that they had the students sign, and this young woman was in breech of it. She was expelled from school. Later another young woman came forward in confession that she had recently received an abortion due to an unwanted pregnancy. The school showed compassion on he and let her remain enrolled.  There was a great uproar by a few people (me included) that this was unfair and promoted the wrong message to the student body. The college administration was focusing on the public, open sin and disregarding the “trailing sin” of the other young woman. They realized quickly that they were in error and corrected their mistake.

I am not quick to judge the school because I do this on a daily basis. I overlook the sin of one person and accentuate the sin of another. This is not Christlike. All sins will be found out. Some people can’t help but sin openly, while others try to hide their sin. The solution is open confession of sin. People need to admit their issues, confess it to God and others and ask for accountability. When we try to short change this process we tend to keep our sins hidden. When we keep our sins hidden we tend to judge those who don’t. But all sin will be found out. It’s only a matter of how we want to confront it.

Emotion in Worship


We white American Baptists/baptists tend to eschew displays of emotion in worship. Why? Why would we not at least occasionally demonstrate some physical response to profound gratitude, joy, conviction, etc., while hearing or singing the gospel? And yet, it is so rare among us….

I think we need to work toward a change in our typical white baptist ethos about worship, inviting people to cry, to raise their hands, to kneel, to say an “amen” or a “hallelujah” if they feel so led. But I don’t think just inviting it will do much; I think the worship leaders will need to find ways to incorporate some emotional displays, done decently and in order, into the worship—using the choir and/or worship team.

Too much white baptist worship is inclined toward the mind and the will avoiding any attempt to touch the emotions. I suspect much of that has to do with not wanting to be thought of as fanatics, but to me that’s a shame—to be controlled by what others might think.

– via Roger E. Olson