Wednesday, June 29, 2005

My Hymnal...

... is not as well read as my Bible.... sadly.

After I wrote my last post I went to my bookshelf and pulled off my Lutheran Hymnal. The Lutheran Hymnal is the so called Old Hymnal it was first published in 1941. It is also called the "red hymnal" because, well, its red. The "new hymnal" is blue and was published in 1980-something.

My red hymnal means a lot to me. It was a gift when I was confirmed from the church. On the cover is stamped in gold letters: Karl Ernest Lindner May 29, 1988. I can't believe its been 17 years since I was confirmed. That's half a lifetime ago, literally.

Until just recently I had never thought of hymns as poems, but they are. Here's a hymn I just found. I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to sing it, but I like the words:

Oh, for a faith that will not shrink;
Tho' passed by many a foe
That will not trmbel on the brink
Of poeverty or woe;

That will not mur-mur nor complain
Beneath the chast'ning rod,
But in the hour of grief or pain
Can look upon its God;

A faith that shines more bright and clear
When tempests rage without;
That, when in danger, knows no fear,
In darkness no doubt;

That bears unmoved the worlds dread frown
Nor heeds its scornful smile;
That sin's wild ocean cannot drown
Nor Satan's arts beguile;

A faith that keeps the narrow way
Till life's past spark is fled
And with a pure and heavenly ray
Lights up the dying bed

Lord, give us such a faith as this;
And then, whate'er may come,
We'll taste e'en now the hallowed bliss
Of an eternal home

-- Lutheran Hymnal 396
William H. Bathurst/Alexander Reinagle

I think it would be a good and self-edifying thing to add my (less than daily) devotions. That's something I need to work on, too. Doing daily, not everyother day or once a week (maybe) devotions.

LCMS Services-- I Miss Them

I don't particularly care for contemporary services, or as they are more euphamistically called "celebration service." The church I attend has just started this unfortunate trend. We have two services one at 8 and another at 1045. Every other Sunday we have these "contemporary services," or "celebration services" at the 1045 service. I generally go to the 1045 service mainly because I work on Saturday nights and I can't quite drag myself out of bed to get to the earlier service.

The main reason I don't like them is that I don't feel filled spiritually. I find something wanting in me. My weekly spiritual "fill-up," if you will is not quite complete. I will give my church credit, though. They do have all the parts of a service-- they follow a kind of liturgy, which is something that I have found tends to be lacking in other contemporary services I have attended. I can't tell you how many times the most important part (as far as I am concerned) of the service has been left out: the confession and absolution. I need that. I need that reassurance. I need that to keep my pilot light going.

The other thing I don't like is the "hymns." They songs we sing in a celebation service tend to feel more like "petting Jesus songs," or "I really dig you Jesus" songs.

For those of you that understand the terminology: I much prefer the "old hymnal" to the "new hymnal" (to those that don't really understand this be assured that the "new hymnal" is now at least 20 years old). I much prefer the 5 and 15 liturgy to the one we find in the "new hymnal" if for no other reason that I can never find it. I miss using hymnals. It would seem that churches could safe a lot of money if they use the hymnals and forgo printing the whole blasted service into small booklets.

I don't see much uniformity in LCMS church services any more. When I visit an LCMS church I'm not sure what I'm going to get. There is a reason why McDonald's is so popular in the world: you know exactly what you're going to get when you order. In the LCMS I'm not so sure any more. You could walk in get a good old fashioned 5/15 liturgy based service, or some fly by the seat of your pants service.

I'm trying to figure out when services became sunday morning camp fires. I'm not sure.

Shelby Foote, Dead at 88


Shelby Foote, better known as the sage grey, haired fellow in Ken Burns' Civl War died yesterday at the age of 88. He was a well known novelist and historian.

He was a World War II veteran, in a gun battery. He was court martialed after he went to see a young lady he had met while serving in Europe (the young lady eventually became his wife). He reenlisted in the marines and was preparing to head to the South Pacific, but the war ended before he was able to take part. He never saw action.

His magnum opus, if you will, a three part book series totalling over 3,000 pages titled Civil War: A Narrative took twenty years to write. He liked to joke that it took him five times as long to write the war then it did to fight it. The books are massive and have a sprawling scale. They are a testement to his scholarship and writing ability (I am, at present, working my way through the second volume).

Rest easy, Mr. Foote. Walker (Percy) and William (Faulkner) both friends of Foote are waiting for you in Heaven.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I Got Tagged

I was supposed to do this the other day, but I just haven't had a chance to sit down and really think about it, much. I was tagged by Confessional Lutheran, who was tagged by Pensy. I had to back track a bit to find out the original idea behind the thing. Here it is:
Imagine that a local philanthropist is hosting an event for local high school students and has asked you to pick out five to ten books to hand out as door prizes. At least one book should be funny and at least one book should provide some history of Western Civilization and at least one book should have some regional connection. The philanthropist doesn't like foul language (but will allow some four-letter words in context, such as expressed during battle by soldiers). Otherwise things are pretty wide open. What do you pick?

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt a wonderfully written book. I couldn't put it down. Roosevelt pretty much did everything a guy could in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (cowboy, soldier, govenor of New York, President of the United States...) a must read.

Confederacy of Dunces I'm not sure why I like this book so much, but I do. I think it is one of the best novels I've ever read. One of the craziest characters I've ever met in literature.

Believe it or not I think Red Badge of Courage is another must read. The language in this book is truly poetic.

For regional fare, I'd recommend Here is Your War by Ernie Pyle (a Hoosier born writer). Pyle doesn't worry about the generals. No, he takes you to the trenches and the long hot marches and bloody aftermat of D-day. There is no romance here just stark reality.

For a nonfiction adventure story: Shadow Divers. This book is about divers who go down to sunken ships and go further down than humans should go. This was a white knuckler. I read this in a day and half and it has stayed with me. Amazing read.

I think I'll tag: Texas Cooking, PunkIsrael(aka david bledsoe), and 'Bek

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I got this as a surprise in my email box yesterday. Looks like I'm an "Uncle" (Mark was a really good friend of mine in college... we was almost Bro's.)
Hello everyone,

We've got good news. We had a baby today, June 16,
2005 at 4:46 this morning. His name is Noah Andrew
Hotopp. He was 8 Lb. 11 oz., and 22 inches long. His
baptism is going to be on July 10 at 7 pm. Jenni and
Noah are doing really well. Thank you for all of your
prayers and God bless you.

Your brother in Christ,


I Found This Today in the Parking Lot After Class


Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Milestone

Last night, I finished reading Zecharia. I have one book left in the Old Testement and I'll have read the whole thing in less than a year. I should of gotten through it faster, I didn't read every day or even every other day. Sometimes I went a week or two without reading a single word. Its not that I didn't have time, I can make time to read, I do that all the time, its just that I just didn't want to. I had no desire. Those few times when I was able to work around that and I found myself saying "I really should do some reading of Scripture" more often than not I found something that really struck home or made a bad situation seem not so bad.

It has been my experience that the harder I work on my faith to deepen it and understand it more the harder it is to work on my faith to deepen it and understand it. The harder I work to know God and His Son the harder Satan works to throw blocks and obstacles in my way. It has happened to me many times. When I was a camp counselor it was bad, when I was in seminary I was convinced that the place was Godless. But I think God uses these thoughts and challenges to His glory. I'm sure he does.

I think of Job and how God allowed Satan to throw test after test after test at Job. And Job, somehow, got through each one stronger than before. I'm no Job, but I have found myself tackling and working tests more often-- sadly I fail (in my mind) more than I succeed.

This year long bible reading started as a lark. I was chaufferring my father to a preaching gig for a couple weeks and he had to do two services. I would attend the early one and sit in the car for the second one. One day, I took my Bible (aka the Playbook) and I opened it to Genesis 1:1 and started reading. Before long I had finished Genesis and was into Exodus... and I realized that I had never read the Bible from beginning to end book by book. I have read the bible multiple times, but its usually a book here a book there (I know when I finish a book because I write the date finished at the beginning of the book in the corner-- some books have more dates than others). I'll admit, sometimes my eyes glazed over and I read, but I didn't comprehend (after awhile reading about making the Temple yeah high and yeah wide got old...) Reading Psalms and Proverbs was a great experience. I read the Song of Solomon and was amazed at the love for the Church God has-- that's how I read it-- as a dialogue between a couple: the Woo-er and the Woo-ee (that sounds funny...). God, in this case, is the Woo-er... and the Church is the Woo-ee. Daniel was another eye opening experience-- reading Daniel I see how God's Hand has been in history. The dream about the statue left me quietly shocked mainly because i realized (again) that everything written about in Daniel can be verified via secondary sources.

Another thing is I have a feeling of accomplishment. It feels really good to have gotten so far and to have kept at it (poor as it was) as long as I did. I had a goal. I was driven. I wanted to get through the Old Testement within a year. I think that was a good thing, but a bad thing, too. The reason for that is this: I was able to slough off a bit because I knew I had plenty of time and when spring started rolling into summer I kicked it up a notch and got through the minor prophets.

Now comes Malachi, the last book. I've read Malachi alot mainly because I've tried to read the Old Testement backwards from the last book to the first. In theory its kind of a good idea because getting those little books out of the way at the end give me some feeling of accompishment. I had actually gotten all the way to Psalms a couple times (there I would read Psalm 119 first, read through to Psalm 150 and then read Psalm 1-118, again accomplishment), but somewhere along the way I'd get bored and not read any more.

Reading from beginning to end had another unintended "consequence." After reading through some of the more bloody and violent episodes and reading some of the God's anger stuff I started almost begging for Gospel and the sweet sound of Jesus voice. (My reading took on a faster pace for a while because of that-- I wanted to find the proverbial light at the end of the dark tunnel).

As soon as I get done writing this I shall take a hot shower, get into bed and read Malachi. I'll get exhorted to tithe and to test the Lord in this because my "barn" will be filled to overflowing. That might of sounded cynical the way I wrote that, but I didn't mean it to be. I'm quite excited about reading that, again. I need to hear that, often. If there is one part of my faith life that I really need work on it is that (not that other parts don't need some serious work, too-- trust me, they do).

I pray the Lord continue to guide me in his Word and in my Faith. Through Him and only Him am in Grace and have Salvation.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Bill Clinton is Actually a Pretty Cool Guy**

yesterday was amazing. it was busy and crazy and nuts, but it was really alot of fun and quite cool, too. i got to work an hour early, i didn' t know how the parking lot would be. as i got dressed that morning i was watching the news and i just a long line of people on our sidewalk i figured that the parking lot would be full by the time i got work, i mean its not every day that a former president of these united states comes to my little bookstore, not to mention indiana. by the time i got to work, though, the parking lot was empty. they had given out wrist bands to the first 500 people in line for the bill clinton signing. those that got their wrist bands then left and got some sleep or did some runing around, whatever. (there were some 85 or 100 people outside the night before when we closed... it was like seeing the lines for the star wars movies, or something).

i got to work and manned the cashwrap until 12 when we were shut down so that secret service could do a security sweep. so a couple of co-workers and i went to pizzaria uno's and had some lunch. we came back and things started to happen. people had started to queue up and form the line to get into the store. there was a large area that had been "fenced in" with metal barricades that formed the line, it was the zig-zag pattern you see in amusement parks. we had a large white tent (with a red flag on top, why? i'm not sure) that we kept everyone's personal belongings in paper bags (no keys, wallets, cell phones, cameras or anything-- they all had to be left outside-- we had the bags marked with numbers).

i was outside until about three oclock when i was relieved. i was able to get inside and got involved with basic crowd control. bill clinton arrived a little early (which is unusual for him, he is notoriously late). a loud cheer went up when he came in the store (through the back and through a set of blue curtains that had been set up). he made a quick side trip to the bathroom (seriously) and then came back out (to another round of applause and hoots) and got to signing. he is left handed. he signed his name and shook hands at the same time. his handshake is not very strong. i was expecting a stronger handshake. he signed almost 700 books in a 2 1/2 hour time. i was able to shake his hand (the first time) while i was pushing a large black woman in a wheelchair, she had her book clasped in her hand. she was quite thrilled. she was so excited to speak to mr clinton. i was too, for that matter. when i turned the corner pushing the wheelchair and i saw him for the first time i was in awe. there was bill clinton, former president of the united states in front of me. i got a bit choked up, believe it or not. i didn't vote for the man, twice, but it was still amasiing to see him.

he was wearing a blue shirt, an orange tie (some of my coworkers liked it the tie, others thought it ugly and garish. i thought it looked good on his blue shirt), tan pants, and brown loafers with a buckle on the side. his grey hair was combed back and he looked quite pink. he had a small red pimple or scratch on the end of his bulbous nose. he is not as tall as i thought he was. i was under the impression that he was 6'4" or something like that, but he didn't seem much taller then my six feet. he was quite svelte, too. he's lost a lot of weight since his heart surgery.

after the singing was over he kind of relaxed and just chatted with the store staff. he walked around the store (and we followed like lemmings, or good students) and talked about the books he liked to read (mainly histories and "cheap adventure thrillers"-- his words). he was quite gracious and very funny, he was, dare i say, charismatic. i found myself thinking, "hey i think i'd like to sit and have a beer with him and talk about the world." i had a hard time getting over the fact that the former leader of the free world was standing not five feet from me. i am not easily star struck, but i was in this case.

did i get a book signed? i'm not sure. he signed about 45 extra books for the staff, but there were more staff then there are books. there will be a "raffle" for the books (which we will have to buy). i am hoping i will be able to get one. some of my coworkers don't understand why-- they have a hard time wrapping their brains around my voting record (republican) and my desire for a book by bill clinton. i'm interested in politics and history and i like to have autographed books.

i'm still processing the whole thing. it was overwhelming at times and down right exhausting. i got home and pretty much just crashed. my back hurts today and my arms are a bit numb from carrying barriers and books yesterday. i'll keep you posted on the whole "does the loof-man get a book" thing.

** reposted from my online-diary.

Half Asleep and Diggin in the Word

(note: I started to write this other day when I was half asleep. I didn't finish it, but I had enough thought left in my brain to put save it for later; however, I don't remember where I was going with it. So, I'll just let it be the way it is. It must of been very important to me at the time I don't really recall writing it as strange as that may seem).

"Now Josua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." then he said to Joshua "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you."
-- Zecharia 3:4,4

I read those two verses the other day. They have stayed with me and I've found myself mulling over them when I have a spare moment or two, when I don't have anything happening. Its the simpleness of the thing, I think, that made me stop and notice it.

I am clothed in sin. I am pig-penned with it. I have those little dirty puffs of sin-dirt floating aroud my ankles as I walk. I'm sure, if I can extend this "analogy" a bit further, my sinclothes stink to high heaven or lowest hell. In short, I need a bath and clean set of clothes. I am given new clothes, beautiful, clean, perfect clothes of righteousness through my faith and yet, I sully them at the earliest.

When I little I was always getting grass stains on my clothes, it got to the point that my mother refused to buy me white sneakers because I invariably found the mud puddle or muddy stream and would sink up to my ankles in mud and my nice white tennis shoe would turn an ugly mud brown. That's the way I am spiritually, I know this, I don't like it, but I know that because I am human and a fallen creature I sin and sin often, daily, by the minute, And yet, through Christ my spiritual clothing is washed, cleaned and pressed.

Paul, in Ephesians 6 talks about the "armor of God." Armor (which is define in my American Heritage Dictionary as a "protective or defensive covering") is only as strong as the faith that is behind it. We all have that chink in our armor somewhere. That little catch that makes us tumble, trip, and fall. Have you ever noticed in movies that deals with a creature of somekind (like a dragon, for example) there is always just one weakspot that the hero is able to take advantage of and the evil, dangerous creature is slain? That's the same with me. I have a weak spot...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Bill Clinton Coming to my Bookstore

Bill Clinton is doing a book signing in the bookstore where I work. The former President of the these United States. Secret Service was in our store yesterday. There will be snipers on the roof of the store to protect the President. There are strict security details and important rules we're going to have to follow. I didn't vote for the man, twice, but I'm looking forward to seeing him. Next to Ronald Reagan he was the most important politician, thus far, in my life. I cut my political teeth and made my political affilations during his tenure in the White House. I didn't agree with him politically, but that doesn't mean I'm not stoked that I might be able to shake his hand or at least say hello. I'm not really sure why Bill Clinton is coming to my store, I think he is giving a speech somewhere in Indianapolis and he wants to do a booksigning, so he's coming to our store.

THe next couple days should be interesting.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A New World... DSL

Well, I now have DSL internet service. Its cool, but it does have some drawbacks. The biggest is that I have to rebookmark fave sites and such, but I also have a new email address ( But the biggest one is this, believe it or not, I think I'll miss AOL. I've been on AOL for so long that I really miss the screen and the way they had the news set up on the sign on screen. I'm having a few other problems with the DSL thing, too. I keep getting an error message when I sign out of it. There is an error with the Internet Explorer or something. But it is fun to zoom from one place to another so quickly, download times are a snap and movies aren't a problem any more.

Its pretty cool all in all.