A  month ago I saw a map (HT: TwentyTwoWords) that showed how many counties away each county in the US was away from the ocean.

I thought it was an interesting look at US geography, but I wanted to see it from a less ocean-centric viewpoint. So I created two new views.

So here is map of how many counties away each county is from Lake Superior

SuperiorCounties3

And here’s a map of how many counties away each county is from a Great Lake

GLCounties3(Click on the maps to see a bigger view)

In either case, I feel bad for the sad people way down in Monroe County, Florida – a full 52 or 37 counties away!

Notable -On the Superior Map, the west coast is much closer than the east coast (23 compared to 29 counties)

Boring details:
Uses Roadwise Contiguousness (i.e. can you drive or walk there from here?)
Corners count.

“Wow,” I thought, “An on-line ad for a car insurance company that suggests that it can save me money! I need to look into this.”

I perused the information provided. And I considered it.

Insurance

If it had said, “Different Coverage for Less” I would have been less interested. But the ad clearly said, “Same Great Coverage For Less”. I thought, “Really?” but it confirmed this bit of knowledge three times, as if to answer me reassuringly, “Really.”

They truly had a clear picture of my situation: Indeed, I do work hard for my money. It’s scary how much the ad-writers know!

In fact, I was beginning to think that a friend of mine had ‘shared’ this company’s information with me, when I noted the text, “Sponsored” near the top. It was just a matter of good fortune that it came up as I scrolled. In any case, I was ready to act.

I wasn’t sure how to, though, until I spotted the handy “Learn More” button. Why, that’s exactly what I wanted to do!

So I clicked it and it brought me to a handy form to fill out my information. It took several minutes, but I thought, “I do want to ‘start saving today’, not later.”

And thus I endeavored to fill out the form, ignorant of that to which I was unaware of.

I admit, I should have noticed the clues. When they asked “How many models do you want to insure?” and the options were “0-20″,”20-50″,”50-100″ and “more than 100″ I thought, “Who owns more than a hundred cars?” But still I pressed on.

But then it asked, “Estimated Average Value of all Models” and the options were “0-$1″, “$1-$10″ and “$10-$60″, and the like.

I thought, obviously this is a typo. I should let them know. They will be grateful. So I called the number at the bottom of the page and spoke with a personable insurance agent.

After we exchanged pleasantries, I said, “So anyway, surely your dollar ranges must be incorrect.”

And she said, “Oh, here we go again.”

And I said, “Oh, I see. It must be the case that you’ve been told numerous times about this error but your IT website developing programmer has yet to update the page and that is why you sound so miffed and/or irate.”

And she said, “No, that is not the case.”

And I said, “Oh, well, then it must be the case that it is a known issue with my browser software, Inter-Awesome”

And she said, “No, that is not the case.”

And I asked, “Please tell me then what is the case.”

And she said, “What you should, but clearly don’t, know, is that our company only insures Die-Cast toy cars.”

And after a few seconds I, being a bit stunned and confused, repeated, “Die-Cast T–”

And she impatiently interrupted, “You know – like hot wheels and matchbox cars”

And after a few seconds I, still being a bit stunned and confused, again repeated, “Hot wheels and Matchb–”

And she again, but with more ire apparent in her tone, interrupted a second time, “The ad couldn’t have been more clear! It’s obviously a small toy in the image! There’s a hand holding it! Did you think it to be a giant grotesque perversion of a human hand holding a full-size navigable vehicle?!?!”

And I thought, “I wonder how many exclamation points and questions marks I should add at the end of her last remark when I transcribe this interchange.” I decided upon two exclamation points and two question marks, respectively. In any case, I re-looked at the original image and saw that she was speaking accurately.

Insurance2

So I said out loud, “I see. That makes sen-”

And she, a third time, and with yet even greater emphasis, interrupted again, “I told that dratted marketer this was going to happen! I said, they’re going to think we’re selling insurance for real cars! The kind you drive! And he said, ‘I’ll put in a picture of a hand holding the car.’ And then he chuckled, he CHUCKLED, and said, ‘I’m sure that will make it clear enough for even the least-smart Facebook viewer’. But obviously he was wrong and his dratted chuckling was misplaced!”

And I thought, “next question – when transcribing, what word should I use to replace that very offensive word that she used not once, but twice in her exasperated rant.” I considered “dang”, “fracking” and “confounded” before finally landing on “dratted”.

But she was continuing: “I told him, ‘How about the words “Toy Car” instead of “Car”!’ I suggested -”

And now it was my turn to interrupt her.

“Ma’am?” I said, and then “Ma’am!”

And she stopped, sighed and said, resignedly, “What?”

And I said, truthfully and with a calm voice, “As it happens, I happen to be in the possession of more than two hundred currently uninsured die-cast toy cars”

She paused, as if not really believing me. And then she asked, in much the same way I had only a half hour earlier, “Really?”

And I responded in like manner, “Really.”

I’m pleased to say that our conversation went much better after that. And I can report that, while I think a $230 yearly deductable is a little steep and while I’m still unclear as to why liability is an issue, my 232 yellow 1971 mint Ford Mustang models are safely “covered”. For the 21st century and beyond.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time, but I’ve neglected to because I’ve haven’t known how to approach it. I’m hesitant to say anything bad about Pelé, because he seems to have a good amount of humility and a God-fearing spirit. So I’ll be as positive as possible.

Last August, on a blog called the talks which posts interviews with interesting famous people, they presented an interview with Pelé. This name is generally known by all who are (1) Non-American or (2) Interested in Sports, but if you don’t fall into either of those camps, I can tell you that Pelé is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, considered by many to be the best football (soccer) player who ever lived.

As he starts the interview, Pelé takes it, surprisingly and interestingly, in the direction of the role of God in human success.

Pelé, when you are the best at something how hard is it not to get arrogant about it?

I used to tease the other kids because I played better than them. Then my father said, “Come here. Don’t do this with the kids, because God gave you the gift to play football. You didn’t do anything. This was a present from God. You have to respect people, because it is important to be a good man, a good person. From now on, you must be this example.”

I find this to be a helpful answer. Your skill at playing is a gift from God, so you shouldn’t be proud of your success. You should mindful of this when you consider other people who don’t have this success.

But this answer wasn’t completely satisfying to the interviewer, who must have a fairly secular mindset. So he challenges Pelé on it.

I am not sure if it was only God who gave you that gift. Being at the top of the game must be hard work as well.

Of course the work is very, very important. That is exactly what my father meant: God gave you the gift to play football, but this is a present. You must respect people and work hard to be in shape. And I used to train very hard. When the others players went to the beach after training, I was there kicking the ball. Another thing I say is, if I am a good player, if I have a gift from God but I don’t have the physical condition to run on the field what am I going to do?

I think this was a fairly polite way to respond to either (a) the possibility that the interviewer is an atheist and feels sharing credit with God is silly, or (b) the interviewer’s lack of understanding of what it means to receive a gift well. Pelé is saying that the best and most honorable way to receive a gift is to use it well. Again, this is helpful and wise.

But then the interviewer dove deeper.

Did you ever feel like your abilities were super-human?

No, we are all human beings. I have to trust something that gives me power…

Very good so far, but Pelé continues.

… I have to believe in something, but in my career I have a lot of moments I cannot explain with God. We went to Africa and we stopped the war in Africa because the people went to see Pelé play. They stopped the war. Just God can’t explain that. I don’t know why – it is impossible to know why – but they stopped the war. When we finished the game and we left they continue to fight.

Okay.

I’d like to think that the post mis-transcribed these words. I’ve actually asked them to post the full audio for the interview (no luck as of yet). Because if he really meant this, I have difficulty getting my head around it. It sounds like he thinks it took something more powerful than God to bring this about. Does he think that God is unable to stop a war? Or that God would not do such a thing?

No. God could, if he chose to, change the hearts of thousands of people in such a way that they would stop warring. He might even use a soccer game to do it.

I wish I could have a more satisfying end for this post. But for my money, I think Pelé didn’t really say (or at least mean) that it would take more than God to do this.

What do you think?

Update: I just added another post about Pelé over at my Dad Blog. It’s largely the same content but from a parent’s perspective.

It is a frightening thing to hear these words:

This is your daughter. You must take care of her for decades, and even when she can take care of herself, you must protect her until the day you die.

I recommend it.

Here some other works that it would be absurd to ask your higher being to accomplish:

• That a greater number of lesser beings in his universe will think better of him
• That he will change the course of our human world so that his sovereignty would be stronger.
• That he will change the course of the universe so that the things he wants to have happen will happen more.
• That he will affect your household status so that you would have something to eat today.
• That he will alter his opinion about a set of your own evil deeds as a result of some penitent feelings you have.
• That he will change the universe so that your life experiences will be less likely to make you want to do evil.

Or rather, again, it would be absurd to ask them, if it weren’t true that all of these requests are recommended (some might say commanded) by the Son of the Perfect Being, as a collection of beneficial petitions, otherwise known as the Lord’s Prayer.

I’m glad you’re here. Please take a look around.

Did I mention I’m on twitter?

If you’re a dad, you might be interested in my “Dads and Anger” series of Posts over at my dad blog. My hope is that these posts will help Christian dads avoid sinfully acting in anger against their kids.

And my main statement is that all anger acted out against your kids is sinful.

Also, I’d appreciate it if you took a look at our Fighter Verse Song Ministry.

Here’s a sample video. It’s bluegrass!

I say it again, prayer is ridiculous.

What is prayer? Prayer – especially the supplication kind, requires the belief that
(1) You, a finite, short-lived, self-focused, fallible, mortal being with little knowledge,
(2) by uttering (or even just thinking!) some request out into the expanse of the universe
(3) somehow might be heard and comprehended
(4) by a more-knowing, less-imperfect and more-powerful Being (to whom you are directing the request), and that this
(5) may cause the Being to take some action that will
(6) cause change in the course of some part of the universe that you care about,
(7) in a direction that you think would be better than if this change didn’t happen.

Also note:
• Often your prayer’s targeted section of existence is not at all within your sphere of influence.
• Often your utterances are made in complete or nearly-complete ignorance.
• The more powerful the being, the more presumptuous your utterance is.

So if, for example, you expect your prayer to work with a completely self-completing Being, who, by the way, created you, and who knows the beginning from the end, how insane it is for you to assume that this Being will not only (1) choose to be aware that you exist and are thinking these thoughts, but (2) to listen to them and (3) (most plainly ridiculous) make changes to His universe because of your utterances.

I note that your prayers sometimes include expectations that this Being might work towards such audacious petitions as -
• removing or modifying enough destructive cells in the body of someone of whom you are aware and care about so that it might function better
• directing a sufficient number of atoms so that weather patterns will fit in with and/or enhance your future goals.
• altering the electrical patterns in your own brain so that it will rightly choose the most optimal course of action in a specific situation
• changing the nature of a dead human soul which is currently in direct opposition to this perfect Being, so that this soul will become alive and then praise his creator.

You actually think it possible that He will work out these things, just because you a tiny collection of molecules on a tiny planet in his vast universe, ask for it. Tell me, what are you thinking? It’s insanity. It’s vanity. It’s … ridiculous.

What’s that? You say this Being (and his Son) have repeatedly communicated to you that he will listen and answer your prayers? You say he actually commands you to pray to him and ask him for things? That he wants to answer your prayers?

Oh. Well . . . carry on then.

Update: Here are some more “audacious petitions” – from a reliable source.

There is no logical way to get from “He has no sense of humor about that issue” to “He is wrong about that issue”.

Here’s a good question to ask when considering spending money on your family: How cheaply can we live and still experience joy as a family and glorify God?

Maybe it was something like this: There are some kinds of ignorance and some kinds of delusion which yield a more productive and happy life than would otherwise be.

Sometimes I make notes to myself suggesting future blog posts topics. Recently I made this note:

“Ignorance still effective”.

Looking at it, I don’t know what I had in mind. Any ideas?

Over in the “Dads And Anger” series of post at my Dad blog, I put up my thoughts about the meaning of the two “Be angry and do not sin” bible verses.

I explained that I don’t think it’s a call to Anger, but it’s a warning that the emotion of Anger often is a lead in to sin. It’s not necessarily sinful to be angry, but what it often tempts you to do is sinful.

So I was thinking that this phrasing could be used for other tricky emotional states, as well.

For example – the Bible could have included passages like these:

– Note that you would like to have a big house like the Smiths, and do not sin.

– Become aware of the pretty lady’s prettiness, and do not sin.

– Wish you could tell something other than the truth in this uncomfortable situation, and do not sin.

– Accept that you are interested in taking that CD without paying for it and do not sin.

– Feel the attraction of getting people to be impressed with you and do not sin.

– See the benefits that more money would afford you and do not sin.

– Think “Wow, I’d sure like to tell this person this unwholesome bit of knowledge about this other person” and do not sin.

Perhaps you can think of others. And please note the connection of the elements in this list – in all of the cases the initial emotion is not a sinful one, but it does come laden with pitfalls.

How good it would be for all of us to be immediately aware that we’re in a situation where sin is likely and immediately say – “I’m not going to give in – I’m going to handle this the way God wants me to.”

(Apologies for duplicate posts if you subscribe to more than one of my blogs)

I currently manage four blogs:

The Responsible Puppet – First Blog
The Responsible Father – Dad Blog
Revisiting MN State Parks – Reviews of State Parks
Fighter Verse Songs – The Ministry* I produce songs for and my Creative Outlet

But if you’d like to be alerted any time I post to any of these, you can now just subscribe to my newly created Twitter account.

I’ve got 8 tweets and 6 followers so far!

* Depending, of course, on your definition of ‘Ministry’

Or should I say, welcome back?

I’m glad you’re here.

If you’re a dad, you might be interested in my “Dads and Anger” series of Posts over at my dad blog. My hope is that these posts will help Christian dads avoid sinfully acting in anger against their kids.

And my main statement is that all anger acted out against your kids is sinful.

And don’t forget the new Fighter Verse Songs CD!

Here’s a sample video. It’s bluegrass!

So here we have the last set of funny quotes from Pastor John. They are generally on the theme of his thoughts about being a pastor and pastoral transition. The last two are the beginning and end of a pretty good story as told by the man called to replace him, Pastor Jason Meyer, in last week’s sermon.

As usual, 3 disclaimers:

1. All quotes taken from sermons.
2. All completely taken out of context.
3. None found in the Online Sermon Texts – but many are on the videos.

17 Amusing Quotes From Pastor John Piper

• This isn’t in my manuscript. This is dangerous. My wife tells me not to do this.

• And that’s where we’re going in a moment. In fact, not a moment – a second: Number 6!

• I wanted to get rid of one of my credit cards. I called them to close it down. She said, ”Did you cash out your points?”. I said, “Points?” I had 140,000 points. That’s $1400 dollars! What would you do with $1400 dollars? I’m not going to tell you what I did.

• I’m really dealing with John Piper here. I’m the preacher. I’m going to be called to account for obeying this more than any of you. At the judgment day. Let not many of you be teachers because you will be judged more strictly. You stood before those people and gave them eleven ways this works and here’s what you did: Boom, boom, boom, boom. It’s a scary thing to be a preacher.

• [Regarding our vision statement – ‘For the joy of all peoples’] The ‘s’ in peoples was put there on purpose. That ‘s’ turns us into a missionary enterprise. That ‘s’ means everything to us.

• If the Lord wills, we will live. I will finish this sermon, if the Lord wills. If a wacko walks in the door, shoots me between the eyes, it was God’s will. So make sure you don’t say wrong things at the funeral. My wife will stand up and correct you!

• Now I know there are people who are going to say, ‘You are so naïve, Piper. You are unbelievable!’ That’s what they’re going to say when they see this on the internet tomorrow, so watch the comments.

• What we need to be at the end of the age is a people who love each other so that that community of love become a protection against deception. Or if you’d like more rhyme than that: Solid affection for believers is a protection against deception. You could almost rap that. But don’t look to me to do that. At least not unless the video is changed.

• That’s another sermon.

• It’s Sunday somewhere in the world.

• We don’t choose our texts from Emily Dickenson

• … And I want to stress – that level of peace that we’ve enjoyed – is a work of God. Because Warm Fuzzies is not in John Piper’s reservoir. That isn’t the right word. Repertoire. That’s what I meant to say. It’s not in the reservoir either… You don’t know. You just don’t know.

• We could not choose a better day on which to end my ministry. Easter. This is awesome. It’s a dream come true. I mean the only better day would be my death day. And that could still happen! In fact, I was thinking – the farewell service that we have planned could be a funeral! But you don’t want me to go to that. I’m sorry. Just – that’s the kind of imagination you’re dealing with here. So morose. Happy morose!

• [In a question/answer session with Erik Metaxis, moderated by Jason Meyer]
Jason: Okay, the next one says – John ask Erik a question and Erik ask John a question.
Erik (to Pastor John): What’s the capital of South Dakota?
John: Oh, don’t ask that. . . But I’d like to ask -
Jason: The answer is Pierre, by the way.
John: I would not have known that.
Erik: You see, this is the kind of person you need in this establishment. Get a hold of this guy. He’s a bright young thinker.

• I’ll give you a dollar – no, I’ll give you a hundred dollars if you hit one of them. (To Pastor Jason Meyer just before he threw a rock and hit an eagle that had been dive bombing them).

• “Consider pledge or flying stone.
Consider vow or diving bird.
Let it be marked, let it be known:
John Piper keeps his every word.”
(In a letter – with which the promised money was enclosed – to Jason Meyer three weeks later*)

<To see this story – watch the first three minutes (or more!) of the sermon here.>

And one more quote from just before Pastor John retired:

• Entire books have been written on this subject and endless questions are going to be raised and I’ll let Jason answer these questions for the next thirty years or so. . .

====
By the way, as usual, I’d love to hear what your favorites are.

If you’d like see the other Piper Quotes posts . . .
Piper Quotes 1
Piper Quotes 2
Piper Quotes 3
Piper Quotes 4
Piper Quotes 5
Piper Quotes 6

And I’d like to also recommend heading over to my Dad blog to see my “Dads and Anger” series of posts. My hope is that these posts will help Christian dads avoid sinfully acting in anger against their kids.

And if you’d like to see information about the newest Bible Verse Memory CD made by me and other people at John Piper’s church, you can go here.

CD_Set3

There’s no logical way to go from

Person X is spending none of his time on Issue Y

to

Person X does not care about Issue Y

I will be happy if someday someone remakes the LOTR and Narnia movies and this time follows the actual detailed plot from the book. It will be as if the movie producers are saying to Lewis and Tolkien, “Yes, we feel like you knew how to write a good story. We trust you.”

Not pleased with how old you’re getting? Consider this: Every year you’re farther away from the age you’ll be when you’re twice your age.

Hello Challies People

I’m glad you’re here. Yes, I’m the guy who posted about the Messages in the Meals last week. But that was on my Dad blog.

While you’re here, please go look at the information about the newest Bible Verse Song CD

Here’s a sample video. It’s bluegrass!

As I was looking at the last set of quotes that I have from Pastor John’s last sermons before he retired I decided to split them up into two posts because there were so many and some of them are fairly long. So this month I’m posting the more theological quotes from the last set and next month I’ll post what he had to say about preaching and pastoral transition.

For the months before he retired he spent several sermons talking about the key theological themes from our church – many of these quotes are along those lines.

As usual, 3 disclaimers:

1. All quotes taken from sermons.
2. All completely taken out of context.
3. None found in the Online Sermon Texts – but many are on the videos.

17 Humorous Quotes from Pastor John

  • There are no drop outs. Nobody’s lost who’s called. . . This is rock solid, covenant keeping power of a sovereign God. It’s not an inoculation on your arm, like “I got saved, I walked an aisle, I signed a card, so it can’t happen to me, I’ve got antibodies in my blood, against lostness.” It doesn’t work that way. Do you know what you’ve got? You’ve got the promise of God.
  • The term ‘Christian Hedonism’ is found in none of our official documents.  It’s not in the Constitution, it’s not in the church Covenant, it’s not in the values booklet, it’s not in the ten dimensions of church life. Nevertheless, some of us love this statement. It’s catchy and it’s … controversial and it’s not in the Bible and therefore zero pressure for you to like it, just because I do.
  • The point of an image is to image.
  • How does Paul respond? “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness. That the power of Christ may rest upon me.” What a man! What a crazy man! What a contrary-to-everything man … called a Christian.
  • Our goal is not to live a simpler life – you move to Northern Minnesota, eat organic, grow potatoes. I don’t know if you grow potatoes in northern Minnesota – our goal is to live with a wartime mentality.
  • “Would you bring another pillow for the den, please?” That’s not what prayer is for! To ring up the maid! … It’s not a domestic intercom.
  • “He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs. Who can stand before his cold?” I love living in Minnesota! Is that cold? That’s God! You haven’t felt cold yet all you Californians, just arrived.
  • I don’t know how people pray who don’t believe in the sovereignty of God to do the impossible. Because all the things I want to happen are impossible. If they’re possible I’ll do them.
  • So I’m going to close by reading from a hero. I have unabashed love for Jonathan Edwards. Okay? Unabashed love. If you want to get my back up, say something ugly about Edwards. Like talking about my mom, you know? He’s not perfect. Boy, oh, boy, was he not perfect. He wasn’t even a Baptist. Small flaw! Small flaw!
  • The highest good of the good news is Joy in God. Period. Nothing beyond it. You will never ever in the bible after that hear God say ‘Much more’ than God himself being your totally satisfying portion forever. ‘Much more’, like golf or something. No offense to golfers. Sorry, David. It just comes to my mind, because I find it so boring.
  • There aren’t any songs about complementarianism that I know of.
  • Where is anyone who leaps for joy, thinking, “I’m hated!”
  • Evidently John has a very elastic view of the last hour or the end of the age…. They were in the last hour two thousand years ago and we’re in the last hour [now]. That’s a stretchy hour.
  • [regarding the end times] I don’t know how far off they are. I have no idea. So if you think like I’ve been sounding like the man of lawlessness will come in 2014, wrong. I have no idea! Could be. Could be six more of God’s days. A week would be a good time for the end time. I hope that doesn’t discourage you.
  • There is nothing in Biblical Eschatology that says you, or your church or your family has to be a part of the ice age coming over the church and the world. Nothing! Which means – a picture in my head – okay, “the love of many will grow cold”. So this glacier is coming over the world to freeze out Christians at the end of the age – they’re all deceived. What’s our job? Torch it! Torch the glacier! So that a big hole happens in the glacier and you see God and it can be wide enough so that Minneapolis is red hot for Jesus when he comes!  Now Bemidji and  Duluth may have gone the way of all flesh. That’s just possible. Or maybe Duluth would be white hot for Jesus and the lake would be bubbling ….
  • I’m so tired of hearing, “The condition of society is the report card of the church.” No! This is God’s sovereign plan.
  • We like to say around here, “Go for it! You can only be killed!”

=====

By the way, as usual, I’d love to hear what your favorites are.

If you’d like see the other Piper Quotes posts . . .
Piper Quotes 1
Piper Quotes 2
Piper Quotes 3
Piper Quotes 4
Piper Quotes 5

If you’d like to see other posts which had humor as a goal you can go to my attempts category.

And if you’d like to see information about the newest Bible Verse Memory CD made by me and other people at John Piper’s church, you can go here.

CD_Set3

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