Friday, November 09, 2007

We Have A Winner!!!

We had 11 great entries in The Gate's Logo Contest, but Lindsey Freeman won when she submitted the logo below. Great job Lindsey and thanks to all who contributed their entries. We have some very creative people among our Gate family.

Matthew Marshall submitted a wonderful entry, posted below. It is a little elaborate to be used as a logo, but it is perfect to be included as a picture on our webpage, so you might see it pop up now and agaiin

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Game Night at The Gate: Nov 16

We started a new ministry two months ago where we invite the local Jr High and High School students to our collegiate ministry (The Gate) to play video games one Friday night per month. It has turned out to be a great success. We had more than 50 students show up for our September and October Game Nights. Our next Game Night is November 16, from 7-11 at The Gate. The cost is $5 plus a can of food for our food pantry so that we can hand out holiday gift baskets to the needy in Lebanon.

Last Game night we even had a 16 player multi-player Halo 3 contest going. It is amazing how much attention 16 guys can pay to a television screen when Halo is on.

Anyhow, we will continue the Game Nights as long as we have students who will come. Parents also seem to like it because they know they can leave their kids and not worry that inappropriate things will happen. They can have a much needed break away from their kids on a Friday night, enjoy a dinner out, and know their kids are having the time of their lives. We look forward to the gamers coming every month.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I Am Still a Nebraska Fan

Here's a link to Jordon Cooper's "At Least I'm Not A Nebraska Fan" post that I commented on earlier today. Link. I thought the tone was very uninformed. My comment back to the blog was:

I am a Nebraska fan, and although I am not happy with what happened last weekend I'll have to say that at least they have beaten Kansas 36 of the last 38 times they have played. Most college football fans seem shocked about what is going on at Nebraska this year, which speaks volumes to the quality and consistency of the program over the last 20 years. I would imagine that Callihan is gone at the end of the year, and as much as I hate what has happened to the defense, at least he brought a balanced offense. As far as the Cornhuskers nickname, I agree it sucks, but it was an upgrade. They swapped "Bugeaters" for "Cornhuskers". At least when you are talking about the Cornhuskers everyone knows who you are referring to. If you refer to the Tigers are you referring to Missouri, Auburn, LSU, or the Detroit Tigers? The name sets them apart and defines both the team and their fans.

I hate what has happened this year at Nebraska, but it happens occasionally to every team. It has happened to Oklahoma and Penn State. I actually took a pounding from one of my former co-workers about the Kansas game last weekend. My co-worker happens to be a Colorado Buffaloes fan, so I sent hiim back a quick E-mail reminding him that Colorado lost 55-10 to Missouri this weekend, and that he has no room to talk. What I enjoyed about his pounding me though is that Colorado fans have come to expect getting spanked on the field and a 55-10 loss is no big deal, while us Nebraska fans aren't accustomed to losing, so this year is a shock to us.

Steve Peterson's firing is the first step in the right direction. I thought Peterson missed his opportunity when he let Bo Pelini go and hired Bill Callahan as the coach. I defended the choice of Callahan, but he didn't do it as the Oakland Raiders coach and he has panned out to be a dud as the Nebraska coach. Lets get rid of Callihan at the end of the year and go back to a program that is not flash in the pan, but a solid, quality, tough program. I hear the top candidates for the job are Pelini again and Turner Gill. I'm for either one. Pelini is the mastermind behind the nations top college football defense and Gill is a favorite of Tom Osborne and Nebraska fans in general. I'll bet Gill gets the nod. Either way we need to turn this program around. As Steve Peterson said and I still believe, "I refuse to let the program gravitate into mediocrity," and "We won't surrender the Big 12 to Oklahoma and Texas."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A New Mission For The Gate

We've had a lot of changes going on at The Gate over the last couple of months. The Gate is a collegiate ministry we run in Lebanon, Illinois where we minister to McKendree University students. We have been running The Gate for 5 years. We shared our building with a church plant that moved, so we again have sole control of our schedule and our facility. When the church plant left we began talks with our parent church FBC O'Fallon, Illinois. After a lot of prayer and searching we have decided that God is calling us to open The Gate up as a multi-site campus for FBC O'Fallon. We are planning on hosting our first service on January 13. It will be a videotaped sermon with live music and a campus Pastor. I am pretty excited, as I have felt the Lord calling me to plant a church for a while now, but my spritual gifting lies more in administrative, teaching, helps, and encouragement, not so much preaching. I can preach, don't get me wrong, but it isn't my strongest gift. Anyhow, it will let me leverage the gifted preaching of our Pastor at FBC O'Fallon and concentrate on my stronger gifts. It will be a challenge, so please keep myself, my family, and The Gate in your prayers.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Welcome Back Service at The Gate: Sept 6

We had 20 people at our "Welcome Back" service last night. I am always inspired when we hear all the great things the Lord has done in people's lives over the summer. We met some incredible students and it was wonderful to have Amy helping us out. I believe the Lord will do some unbelievable things this year.

I spoke shortly about the vision we have for The Gate this year. The test I used is one I read this summer from the story of Esther after God allowed her to beome queen and affect the lives of all the Jews. It came from Esther 4:13-14 where the Bible says:

13 Mordecai told [the messenger] to reply to Esther, "Don't think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king's palace. 14 If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father's house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this."

I believe we are poised for the Lord to use us to reach out to McKendree University and Lebanon, Illinois in an exciting way. We have been silent for too long. I believe God has brought us to a place in our lives where we, "have come to the kingdom for such a time as this." This is our time to step out and boldly proclaim the gospel to those we can affect. It is going to be a challenging, but great year at The Gate this year.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First Day of the 2007-2008 School Year at McKendree

We set up a table at McKendree today and Marilyn, Amy, and George handed out "Welcome Back" goodie bags. In about 3 hours we had handed out 450 of the bags. McKendree only has about 2400 students, so we figure we hit a good percentage of the students today and had a chance to have a conversation with quite a few of them.

We have had a lot of things going on over the summer that will help make The Gate even better. We painted two rooms upstairs that will serve as The Gate's library. We have received donations of several boxes of books, two couches, a ping pong table, a foosball table, an air hockey table and some end tables. We are planning to start a video game ministry to the local youth, and we have a desire to start a food pantry. Things are busy, but we feel the Lord's hand in everything we do.

God bless each of you as we start off with a new year.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Busy Couple of Months

I want to apologize to all of you in the blogosphere for not being a part of your community for the last couple of months. I have been using this summer to get caught up in a few things that I had let go by the wayside lately. Here's a quick overview of what I've been up to:

1. Vacation: My family and I had a wonderful vacation to Washington, DC and Delaware in June. Our kids were born in Delaware and hadn't been back since we moved to St Louis 12 years ago. It was a great time and helped us all reconnect with one of the great places we have lived.

2. Dissertation: I was out of work for 2 months while my contract was being renegotiated. It is back in place now and I am back at work, but I used the 2 months to made huge leaps forward on my doctoral dissertation for Saint Louis University. My dissertation centers around analyzing John Steinbeck's use of landscape as the setting for The Grapes of Wrath. I am trying to marry my love of geography and American literature. I was stalled out on my research and writing when my work stoppage happened, now I believe I can have a first draft done by September 1. I am at 216 typed pages and counting. I had just about given up any hope of completing my dissertation when the work stoppage happened and I got re-energized on the project.

3. Nevis: I am leading our church's mission trip to help out Calvary Baptist Church in Nevis, a small and often overlooked island in the Caribbean Ocean about an hour flight south of Puerto Rico. We will be working with Kurvin Wallace, a good friend and alumni of our collegiate ministry (The Gate) at McKendree College. Between my dissertation and the mission trip I have spent every waking non-working moment occupied. Our trip to Nevis runs from July 21-28 and is filling up well. We'll be leaving at 3:30am on Saturday, so there will be plenty of time to sleep on the airplane, but until the trip is finished I don't think I will have much time to blog. I know I will have a lot to discuss when we return.

After the Nevis trip is over I will concentrate most of my effort on my dissertation. It will be good to get my first draft to the Saint Louis University American Studies Department to review so that I can take a week or two off to relax while they do their first review.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Are We Headed For Dramatic Global Cooling?

Here's a great article by R. timothy Patterson, in the Canadian National Post, on the global warming and cooling cycles that have affected the earth over the centuries. Is the debate over Global Warming dead, are we headed for a rapid increase on the size of the icecap? Here's the article. Link.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

America's Highway: Oral Histories of Route 66

I apologize for not being on Blogger lately. I have been between contracts at work for the last month (read out of work) and have been using the downtime to frantically work on my PhD Dissertation. I've made great progress. My Dissertation is titled A Consuming View: John Steinbeck’s Cognitive Landscape Created for The Grapes of Wrath. I using a geographical perspective to analyze the landscapes created by John Steinbeck which he uses to play out the scenes of The Grapes of Wrath. A large section of The Grapes of Wrath is devoted to describing the migration route along Highway 66 (Steinbeck's version of Route 66). So, I was excited when I came across this Google Map the other day. The Map is titled "America's Highway: Oral Histories of Route 66". It is a great resource put together by Jay Crim and Shekar Davarya. Here is a link to the Google Map that includes the map and the oral histories. Link.

Thanks guys.

Friday, March 23, 2007

BASIC Worship

Last night at our Thursday Night Worship at The Gate we were visited by the University of Illinois' BASIC group. BASIC stands for Brothers and Sisters in Christ. They are one of our sister Baptist Collegiate Ministries in Illinois. The U of I is on Spring break and the BASIC group was working on a misisons project about 10 minutes from The Gate. I was a little surprised, but very happy they came by. We had Lounge Worship (music, prayer, and reading Bible passages) planned and it worked out very well for the group. Thanks Jim Smith for stopping by. It is always great to see another group of Brothers and Sisters in Christ who enjoy worshipping the Lord.

Feeling Blue

The NCAA Men's Basketball tournament is at the point of being predictable this year. Sure we had a couple of major upsets in the first round, and there are even some teams I didn't expect in the second round. But after last night normalcy is arriving quickly as we move into the Elite Eight.

In the West Bracket Kansas (number 1 seed) beat one of my Alma Maters SIU and will face my other Alma Mater UCLA (number 2 seed) in the Regional Finals.

In the South Bracket OSU (number 1 seed) barely held on to beat Tennessee and will face Memphis (number 2 seed) in the Regional Finals.

If tonight's East and Midwest Brackets hold to form we should see North Carolina (number 1 seed) and Georgetown (number 2 seed) win in the East and Florida (number 1 seed) and Oregon (number 3 seed) win in the Midwest. The only surprise so far is that Wisconsin (number 2 seed in the mid-west was eliminated by UNLV.

I have to cheer on UCLA and Oregon. I love the Pac 10, but as a UCLA fan I can't cheer on USC. So far I am feeling blue! Go Bruins!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What Goes Around Comes Around: Partisan Politics

Thanks to the Politico for this article on the Democrats not living within their own rules. Link. It isn't the Republicans or the Democrats I can't stand. It is politicians in general. They bend the rules when it makes sense for them and scream at others for bending them when it doesn't.

Friday, March 09, 2007

VIPeR - Small, Portable Reconnaissance Robot Designed to Support Combat Within Buildings

I came across an interesting announcement in the ASD Daily Report that talks about VIPeR Robots that the Israeli Defense Force have developed to use in the near future. These robots can help save lives in the war against terrorism. We will see more and more use of robots in the military as we find the force levels dropping and explore alternatives to sesnding our troops into harm's way.

The announcement is located here. Link.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

A new controversial documentary in the UK, called The Great Global Warming Swindle, is designed to show that human-made global warming is the conclusion of bad science. The documentary uses scientific evidence to show that we are in the midst of a naturally occurring pattern of global warming, not the result of humans producing a "Greenhouse Effect." Read the article here. Link.

I stick to the belief that the human-made global warming disaster is just another hoax designed by those whose political interests lie in creating sensationalism. I really don't know how all these items become the agenda of the politically correct police and gather such a following when they are based on poor science. I don't doubt that global warming is occuring, but I don't think it is a result of human introduction of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Cre8ed Evening at The Gate

Thanks to everyone who came out to The Gate last night for our Creation/Evolution discussion. Our building was packed! My good friends and Sunday morning Bible Study teachers Bob and Liz Ridlon did an excellent job with their presentation, the crowd seemed fired up, and the discussion was awesome. I really enjoyed having the McKendree College Biology Professor in the audience. It left me wondering why we don't have a monthly meeting to discuss the topics of today.

On the other side of the arguement, it is so hard to remain objective when discussing such emotionally packed ideas as "where do we come from?" "Do the Bible and science complement each other?" And, "How do we fix the mess we find ourselves in?" We try to remain objective and look at the answeres both theologically and intellectually, and show that both can exist simultaneously, but rather quickly it turns into an emotional battle. I feel fairly comfortable being a moderator, but I know I am biased also.

Question of the night that I don't have an answer for (from a religion major):

So if you are a young earth creationist, how do you explain the fact that we can look through a high powered telescope and see stars that are over 4.5 billion light years away? If they are that far away and you can see their light, that means that that light must have originated over 4.5 billion years ago in order for us to se it today. What are your thoughts?

I honestly don't know an answer! If you do, please leave a comment.

I guess I'll check with Answers in Genesis.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sweet Music

My daughter played a flute solo and duet last Saturday for the district level Illinois Grade School Music Association competition. She did very well and I am incredibly proud of her. Before the competition we go through the ritual of sitting in the gymnasium and practicing along with every one of the other competitors. The sound is overwhelming, both because of the volume and also because each of the competitors is practicing their own song at the same time. It is both loud and confusing. (If I was competing I would not go in the gym to practice, but find a nice quiet place, maybe in the car, to let it loose).

Anyhow, as I sat there listening to my daughter practice it occurred to me that my Christian walk seems a lot like the gymnasium lately. I am happy that my family is dedicated to serving the Lord, but our family is trying to do so much that many times we are making a lot of noise, but not such beautiful music. We are all going our separate ways, and playing our own music, but it never quite comes together in an orchestrated way. I think my job is to orchestrate what we do, and make direct the effort like a conductor. I think we need to slow down a little bit and make an effort to complement each other instead of compete against each other.

Col 1:9-10:
(9) For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven't stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, (10) so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing [to Him], bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.

Lord, help us to live out sweet music in our lives.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

12 Crackpot Tech Ideas That Could Transform The Enterprise

I ran across a pretty good article on Info World that lists 12 ideas that could be the next big ideas in technology. Here's their list, it looks a little like a wishlist on I don't want to get into any depth on each item, so to get more information on each item go to the article:

1. Superconducting computing
2. Solid-state drives
3. Autonomic computing
4. DC power
5. Holographic and phase-change storage
6. Artificial intelligence
7. E-books
8. Desktop web applications
9. Project Blackbox
10. Quantum computing and quantum cryptography
11. Semantic Web
12. Total information awareness

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Heart for Nevis

I was asked this last week to lead our church's (FBC O'Fallon) mission trip to the Caribbean island of Nevis. Nevis is about an hour flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and near the island of Montserrat. I am honored to be asked, and although I prayed about it all week, I knew it was what the Lord wanted me to do from the beginning.

At our collegiate ministry (The Gate) at McKendree College we had an opportunity to minister to a talented young man from Nevis attend for a semester. His name is Kurvin. He came to McKendree, not to be a student, but to work on his 100 meter sprint skills in order to be able to represent Nevis in the 2006 Olymics. Kurvin was a very mature young man and he had endured some hardship, having to leave his wife and children behind in Nevis while he worked hard training for the Olympics. Kurvin was a very strong believer and quickly became a solid member of our ministry. Now Kurvin is a Youth Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in his native country of Nevis, and it turns out that he is the one we will be working with on the mission trip.

FBC O'Fallon, The Gate's sponsoring church, sent a team down to Nevis last year and I wanted to be a part of it to be able to work with Kurvin, but the timing didn't work out. So, when the church asked if I could lead the trip this year it was very near to my heart.

I received an E-Mail from Kurvin today and he is pondering having us help him with the following items:

Visiting Youth in their homes
Youth athletic ministry
Hosting a pizza party
Hosting a concert
Leading Praise and Worship Services in church and in the town square
Leading Youth oriented Bible Studies

I believe our ministry is well equipped to help Kurvin out, but we need lots of prayer. Specifically please pray for:

The Youth of Nevis (The church is losing the battle for the souls of the young in Nevis)
That the Lord will help us discern what His direction is
That our students at The Gate, and others, will desire and find ownership of this opportunity
That we can have an enduring affect on Nevis

It is easy to visit a place far away from home and to have a short-term impact. But, many times when you leave the impact fades away. I want us to have a long-term impact. I want to develop community with the Youth of Nevis and be able to make a difference in their lives. So, I am not just committing to a summer mission trip this summer, but to developing relationships with another community of believers and those they minister to.

I have started a Nevis page on The Gate's website. It is located here. Link. Please stop by, browse a little, and pray for us as we go.

God bless each of you. He is an incredible God who does incredible things.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Global Warming: Human Made or Natural?

I read a couple of interesting articles today on state scientists/meteorologists that don't believe global warming is a human made phenomena, but part of a natural cycle. The articles are located here. Link, and here. Link.

I think it is kind of interesting that both articles surfaced at the same time. I have long been skeptical of the current mantra of human kind's responsiblilty for global warming. I don't think there is any hard core evidence that we are responsible, only circumstantial conjecture proposed by those with deep left wing political ties. Science is full of bias, and it just happens that those with a left wing political tie have the most politically correct bias at this time. Their voice happens to be strongest right now. I do believe it is in our best interest to limit all types of polution, and I consider myself to be an environmental activist, but I won't go as far as to blame humanity on global warming.

These two scientists are being persecuted for being "contrarian" and not going along with the crowd. Personally, I believe that not going along with the crowd is what makes for a good scientist. There needs to be a good dose of skepticism in any scientist's tool box. The Governor of Oregon needs to lighten up a little bit.

Monday, February 05, 2007

ORNL scores hit with National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

Thanks to the All Points Blog for directing us to an Oak Ridge National Laboratory News Release titled, ORNL scores hit with National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. The news release can be found here. Link. NGA was so enamored with the RFID technology that they plan to implement it at their St Louis facility to maintain 100% accountability of all personnel for emergency response operations and hands off inventory control.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Google Tailors Earth for DoD Users

Here's a great article on how Google Earth is creating the ability to fuse geospatial information layers for visualization purposes for the US Department of Defense. Link.

I'll have to admit, even as a die-hard former ESRI employee, that the Google Earth visualization platform is hard to beat. It is simple and easy to use, provides a good viewing tool, and Google seems to be able to responsively make changes to Google Earth rapidly to meet customer's needs. But, it still isn't useful as an analysis tool like ESRI's ArcGIS is. The DOD executive decision makers may be asking for Google Earth to help them visualize the information needed to make the tough decisions, but most of the information creating the layers behind what they see comes from ArcGIS users.

ESRI is marketing a Google Earth-like viewing platform that will work well with ArcGIS 9.2 called ArcGIS Explorer that blends good visualization tools and detailed analysis capabilities, but it still isn't quite there. I played with it extesively last week and it still has some bugs in it. ESRI is trying to compete with Google Earth, and it is sad to say, but I believe as the Google organization gets bigger and more cumbersome it should be easeir for ESRI to compete in the viewer market.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I Want To Die A Martyr For Christ

We kicked off the first Thursday Night Alive! at The Gate by having Noah Oldham, one of The Gate's charter members, come back and share with us last Thursday. Noah and his wife Heather took the 2 hour drive north to spend an incredible evening at The Gate. Noah graduated from McKendree College in 2005 and is serving as the Youth Pastor at Little Chapel Church in Harrisburg, Illinois. His program is very successful, and Noah has the opportunity to affect the lives of over 125 students that regularly attend his program on any given week. Noah has grown a lot over the last 5 years that I have known him, and the fire for Christ that he has in his heart pours out of every cell of his being. There are only 2 people I know personally who have a fire like that and Noah is one of them. He is truely an incredible person and brother in the Lord.

Whenever Noah visits us he always says something that is profound and keeps me thinking about my committment to Christ along after he is gone. This time he said something that I have been mulling over in my mind for the last 4 days. What he said was "I want to die a martyr for the Lord". Thursday night I took that to mean that he doesn't want to live a life that is comfortable and secure, but wants to push his dedication to the Lord in new and challenging ways that will cause him to live his life on "the edge."

But, over the weekend I really looked deeper into what Noah said. Here are a couple of my thoughts:

Most of the Apostles died as martyrs for their committment to the Lord. How did they live their lives when the Lord was with them? The Gospels describe them as a group of stumbling, disconnected, ineffective men devoted to a Lord they didn't fully believe or understand. Just look at the actions of Peter and Thomas in the final chapters of the Gospel of John. Peter boldly defends Christ by cutting off the ear of the high priest's slave (John 18:10-11), but then on the same night denies Christ three times (John 18:15-17, 25-27). Thomas truely didn't believe that Jesus had been resurrected until he sawHis hands and feet (John 20:24-29). The Apostles were in horrible shape when they gathered in the upper room After Christ was crucified and resurrected, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on them their lives were totally changed. The book of Acts records their lives as a bold, daring, committed, and effective group of men. They went from a group of individuals to a band of committed men. They lived their lives for the Lord as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) as a witness to the rest of the world to the extent that it cost most of them their lives.

As I pondered the changed lives of the Apostles I also thought about what it means to be a martyr. I thought about the terrorist suicide bombers in Iraq, and how crazy I believe they are, because they give up their lives so willingly for their cause. I don't believe they are true martyrs, because they chose to take their own lives. But their actions do cause me to stop and think about what it means to give up your life for a cause you believe in? Unless the Lord comes first, and I pray every day for it and believe it will happen soon, we will all die anyway. So, why not live our lives in a more meaningful way. If our time on earth is so short and we are all going to pass away like the grass (1 Peter 1:24-25) then living a cautious and safe life to a point where we never take any chances to step out in faith means our committment to the Lord is worth nothing to us. We may extend our time on earth and make us more popular with others, but what does living a safe life accomplish? Living a life that makes people think about their mortality, their personal relationship with a living God, and why they are not choosing to serve Him is a worthy cause. The Iraqi suicide bombers are giving up their lives pretty much because they don't like Americans. Our cause is so much more noble and important.

I just want to close with a quote from the Gospel of John. I think it sums up what I have been writing about so far today. John the Baptist's mission was to prepare the way of the Lord and to point to the coming Christ. His lived to see Jesus and his mission was almost finished here on earth when he said, He must increase, and I must decrease (John 3:30). I believe that is what living the life of a martyr is today. We must sacrifice our lives in order to live for Christ. It may or may not involve the giving of our physical bodies, but it surely involves the giving of our time on earth.

I don't mean to belittle Noah's comment about dying a martyr for the Lord, because, knowing Noah, I believe he sincerely meant it the way it came out. But, the concept of dying a martyr for Christ is so hard to grasp.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

IEC Awarded DHS Contract for First Responder, Three Dimension Locator Systems

Here’s a link to good article on the ASD daily about GPS 3-D indoor use in emergency settings. Link. Maybe a new line of business for those of us involved in GIS?

U.S. Warns About Canadian Spy Coins

Yahoo has a great article on using RFID bugs in Canadian coins to track US Department of Defense contractors as they travel through Canada. Here's the link. Link.

Friday, January 05, 2007

NCAA Football Playoffs?

Yahoo has a good article on the most powerful man in college athletics and his stance on NCAA playoffs. Link. Doesn't sound like we are headed for a playoff any time soon.